My sister-in-law and her husband just had their 4th child. Having their 4th has caused quite a stir for them, or more for the people around them. They keep getting asked, “Why on earth did you have another child?” and, “Why do all the Mormons I know have so many kids?”
My brother-in-law requested that I cover this topic so he can shorten his answer to, “Go check nextdoormormon.com, it’s all there!”
This is a very interesting subject and also a very personal one so I’ll start out with a disclaimer—not all Mormons have lots of children. Also, ‘lots of children’ is a relative term. What one person thinks is a lot of children another may think it’s nothing to get excited about. Since currently I only have one child I thought it would be interesting to do some digging to see what other ‘Mormons with lots of children’ have to say about it.
Kara, mother of three living in Minnesota says this:
Mormons believe children are more valuable than gold. The Mormon perspective is one that extends beyond this life. We believe in a life after this one where worldly titles and treasures will be left behind and meaningless. However, our relationships are eternal; families can be together forever. A loving family is the crowing blessing of all existence. Children are not seen as a burden, but an everlasting source of joy. And isn’t it natural to want more of something that brings you joy?
Karen, mother of 6 and grandmother of 8 said:
People often asked me why we had so many children. I usually told them in just a few words about the plan of salvation. How we believe that we lived in a spirit world and wanted to come to earth to gain a body. Also, that we believe that after this life we can have the opportunity to live with our families forever. Most people seemed interested in that explanation. Of course, I would never have children if I didn’t think I could give them all the love they need and deserve. My children were the greatest blessing. I adored them (and still do!).
So if Mormons believe in having children is a blessing, do we just keep having children without considering different family and living circumstances? Absolutely not. How many children someone has is a very personal decision. And trust me, all things are considered: money, shelter, education, emotional stability, etc. But, the thing that is considered most heavily is what is right for our family in God’s eyes and the answer is not to always have more children.
My good friend and her husband were considering having their second child a few years ago and felt very strongly that that was not the right time. Over the next few years they went through different circumstances that would have made having a newborn possibly too much for their family. Heavenly Father knows what is best for our families. So, how do we decide when to have children and how many to have? Brianne, mother of three from Massachusetts explains quite eloquently:
As a couple we had carefully considered and prayed about the timing of having our first child. We felt strongly, prompted by the Holy Ghost, that it was time to start our family. So, as things got difficult or a bit tricky after he came into our home, I could always remember back to that answer to prayer and know in my heart I was doing the Lord’s bidding. If ever I felt overwhelmed or daunted by the task, I could take heart in knowing I would be guided and lifted, as this was a decision based on faith. Faith in following the Lord’s commandment to “multiply and replenish the earth.”
The same pattern holds true even today. As we moved forward in life and discussed the possibility of more children, step one was always prayer. When the answer came to have another, we followed. We have been so blessed by each addition to our family. We now have three beautiful children. It has not been perfect. We are not in an ideal place financially, career-wise (my husband still in graduate school), or location wise (still in a tiny apartment) to be having three children. But, we prayed, received answers and felt impressed to act – even if we were not sure how it would turn out.
In the end I’m not sure if our ideal “plan” is what the Lord has in store for us. But I do know as we follow Him and do our best to rear these children in love and righteousness that we will be strengthened and blessed. Just last night at dinner my three-year-old daughter turned to me and blurted out, “Mommy, you are the best mother in the whole wide world,” and she truly meant it. Some things are just irreplaceable – including children.
Everyone has unique circumstances and abilities. Mormons place the highest priorities on family and also find their greatest joy from family. Having large families is not unique to Mormons but some Mormons chose to have large families. It may seem peculiar to some, but so do a lot things we do. If you still have questions about why Mormons tend to have large families, feel free to ask! If you haven’t noticed by now, I love to give my 2 cents.