Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Family

As mothers, we live in an interesting age and time. Society seems to value children less and less-- why?

I have lots of personal opinions, *wink* but for now I will only say that I believe that God will help and support those who choose to be parents.

Of course, being a mother of a large family, I can accurately say that circumstances are not always easy and never ideal, BUT I have seen how parents trusting in the Lord and His plan for families, no matter the size, has miraculous results.

In the following article, statistics are shown that women are having fewer children, if they decide to have children at all: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,405942,00.html

What will the future bring? Hopefully, families will not go the way of many parts of Europe, and drive themselves into extinction.

Julie B. Beck, President of the LDS Relief Society (a women's organization with hundreds of thousands of members), said it this way:  
Mothers Who Know Bear Children Mothers who know desire to bear children. Whereas in many cultures in the world children are "becoming less valued," in the culture of the gospel we still believe in having children. Prophets... have declared that "God's commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force." President Ezra Taft Benson taught that young couples should not postpone having children and that "in the eternal perspective, children—not possessions, not position, not prestige—are our greatest jewels."
Faithful daughters of God desire children. In the scriptures we read of Eve, Sarah , Rebekah , and Mary, who were foreordained to be mothers before children were born to them. Some women are not given the responsibility of bearing children in mortality, but just as Hannah of the Old Testament prayed fervently for her child, the value women place on motherhood in this life and the attributes of motherhood they attain here will rise with them in the Resurrection.
Women who desire and work toward that blessing in this life are promised they will receive it for all eternity, and eternity is much, much longer than mortality. There is eternal influence and power in motherhood.

Bearing and raising children is not popular in today's world. Venues and services cater less and less to families with children.

For example, there was a recent story in the national news about airline services that separate children and parents from those traveling without children. Many people, including parents, lauded the idea. But what does this say about society's view-- that children are a "nuisance" and should not be heard OR seen?! Are adults without children so easily annoyed that they cannot tolerate non-adults? Why?

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach talks about this issue in a recent article here: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=49074

It is my view that as society continues to disregard the value of children, that cultures, traditions, and morals will continue to be lost. What ideas and thoughts get passed down if no one bears children? Who takes care of the future elderly? Who then moves into influence and power if people today refuse to provide the earth with the people of tomorrow?

There ARE people in today's society who value children and raise large families. Their children will be the ones to create the world of the future. While my husband and I did not have a large family in order to change society, the things that we are teaching our children though our family culture will have an impact on future generations.

Don't get me wrong-- it is NOT without sacrifices! But hopefully my children will realize and understand that children are of great value, that families can have an impact for good, and that each one was welcomed to our home with open arms.

Family size is really immaterial-- it is the attitude that is really important. Do we feel our children are bothersome? Do we speak negatively about them and the care and attention they require? (They DO hear our complaints, even when we think they don't.) Do we resent the sacrifices that come with being a mother? Are we so focused on the annoyance of the moment, that we lose sight of the grander scheme of eternity?

We're all guilty of these tendencies, but we CAN choose to change our hearts and our attitudes. We can choose to see ourselves as the great mothers of nations or as martyrs of our "what-could-have-beens." Will our daughters and sons want to be parents someday, or are we telling them that children are just too much trouble to bother with?

Children are an asset-- not a liability. If we can help ourselves AND others see that, we very well could change the world. One mother at a time...


  1. Hi! I came across your blog today and loved reading this post. I agree with everything you have to say ... in principle. But in practice I find this very difficult. I want to love children and love being a mother, but I just don't! I have two darling little girls who I love, but I don't love being a mother. Pregnancy was miserable, the sleep deprivation of newborns was horrendous and the tantrums and potty training of toddlers has been torture! Like you say, it takes sacrifice, but I sometimes feel like it is just too much for me. I long for a life outside of my children, for some part of me to be left-over at the end of the day for my husband, for something besides diapers and disciplining and dishes! So yes, children are important and families are vital and I believe in the LDS doctrine of the family ... but I just can't have more children. I feel it would be disastrous for me, for my marriage and for the children we already have. So I guess what I'm saying is that I totally get why some women do not want to have children or do not want to have a lot of children. I understand what they are feeling! I would have never guessed that I would be saying this. As a young LDS teen, I yearned for a large family. But now, when reality has set in, I am just not enjoying it at all! I feel like overall I have a good attitude around my children and love them, do all of the good stay-at-home-mom things, but deep-down, I am miserable. Any advice?

  2. Dear Eli,

    I am so sorry that you are so overwhelmed and discouraged. Boy, have I been there! But there really is hope and peace on the horizon...

    First of all, you are deep in the trenches of one of the hardest times of motherhood! I advise you take a deep breath and try to see into your future five, ten or fifteen years from now.

    You will NOT always be sleep deprived and mired in the difficulties of trying to be and do everything on your own. Those little ones you have now WILL grow, they will learn to do more for themselves, and they will not always be so demanding.

    The time you take now to patiently, lovingly train them will buy you more liberty and breathing room in your not-too-distant future. Is it hard? YES. But from experience, I can tell you, that when you work hard at training those first few little ones, then they become more helpful to you in your duties AND with any other little ones that may be in your future.

    Toddler-hood really is the time that ALL moms want to throw in the towle and say "I'm not cut out for this!" You are FAR from being alone in those feelings, I promise!

    It is okay to take a break and let your body and your heart heal for a time. But the secret to that and to surviving and moving forward in everything is to PRAY. HARD. Ask for a blessing from your husband, now and then. Pray for peace. For direction. For patience.

    Good grief, I even once had to start praying that I could LOVE my kids!!! LOL! The beauty and blessing was that MY PRAYERS WORKED.

    Anything worth doing is difficult-- that's the test of this life. But you don't need to hold your breath as you try to make it through the difficult years. Come up to the surface and breathe deeply in the Father's love, mercy and help.

    None of us can succeed at this alone. We need Christ, and He is willing and waiting to take those troubles and burdens from us if we will just give them to Him.

    Please don't struggle alone when you don't have to! The Lord loves you and sees every sacrifice and tear and sleepless night.

    Don't worry about having another baby right now. Just work on your relationship with Christ. Then everything else will fall into place.

    Lots and lots of love,
    Mama Rachel

  3. Thank you for your thoughtful response. We're doing the best we can here, but it is not easy! Thank you for your voice for motherhood. I'm not going to have a dozen kids like you do, but I appreciate your attitude!


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