If you live in a strong LDS community, vehicles filled to capacity by one family are a common sight. Outside of Utah, people watching so many children unload seem compelled to ask, “Are all those yours?”
Raising six children in the ‘mission field’ I understand their confusion. They wonder why anyone--in this day of burgeoning costs, population, and crime—would ever want to raise more than one or two children.
When my husband announced to his fellow teachers that I was expecting our fifth child, one teacher gasped and said, 'don't you think you have enough already?' My husband laughed and said, "It's called job security. I'm trying to increase district enrollment. What are you doing?" That teacher laughed at his remark and later took great interest in our fifth child and even organized a baby shower for our sixth.
As Latter-day Saints, we understand their initial shock. We also have a unique perspective which teaches us of the eternal worth of family. God ordained family life for our good and from the very beginning children have been part of His plan. They are part of His plan of happiness. That is why He commanded Adam and Eve to multiply. That first commandment in the Garden was not given as a punishment or a burden but to help us understand and discover the depth of true happiness. Remember, He said ‘men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). You can’t have joy if God is commanding you to raise a 'burden'.
“Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalms 127:3).
Have you really studied this oft-quoted scripture? A heritage is something special that belongs to or is reserved for a person. Children are the Lord’s heritage. They belong to Him. What a wonderful announcement! They are reserved by Him for some wonderful work and we’ve been allowed to hold hands with that heritage while on earth! Furthermore, as His children we, too, are part of His heritage.
Yet many people have forgotten what the Lord values. How can we face those who, in innocent shock or direct ridicule, question our family size?
A lot of it comes down to attitude…our attitude. We should never make embarrassed excuses or jokes for our families. Of course, we don’t need to preach religion in the grocery store, either, but we can sweetly stand for our beliefs by returning a positive response.
An older woman stopped in shock and commented about my large family. As we visited in the store aisle, she made several negative comments about the trials of large families. Our conversation progressed and I was able to ask her how many children she raised. Strain filled her face. She had raised eight children yet society had trained this mother to cringe when making that announcment. She did so apologetically.
My comment startled her. “Eight children? How fun!”
She clearly did not expect a positive response from me or anyone. Standing in the grocery store her entire countenance softened. As she sifted through the memories, tears filled her eyes. “You know,” she nodded, “it really was fun.”
Finally she remembered right! Children are a blessing! That is why the Bible records “happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate” (Psalms 127:5).
Isn’t it wonderful that children can bring us joy! They can also help us spread the gospel. If our hearts of full of love toward our families and we are not ashamed, we can speak with others—even our enemies--about the Lord’s heritage. What a blessing! We can be missionaries just by talking kindly about our families!
So, when we encounter negative comments, return a positive attitude. Remember the blessings and the fun times. Keep a heart filled with love toward your family, no matter the size or their choices.
Never be ashamed of the Lord’s heritage!