Thursday, May 30, 2013

How Many Children Should I Have?

When my wife and I conduct pre-marital counselling classes, one of the questions that we ask the intending couple is whether they have discussed about the number of children they would have. Interestingly, the answers that we have gotten is always dependent on the family experiences of the individuals. The ones that had a great time growing up in a large family usually opt for a large family consisting of say, 4 and above while the ones that didn't have a good time usually opt for 1 or 2 children. However, in some cases each partner has not finalised on this issue. They may still be pondering over the fact that God has given everyone the right to be "fruitful and multiply" and the cost of living/raising a family in these modern times (usually the man). Usually, the discussion ends with the phrase - "God will provide".

What does the Bible say about having Children?

1. Be Fruitful and Multiply. Genesis 9: 7 records that "As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”  One of the primary roles of man is to "be fruitful and multiply". God requires that humans procreate and fill the earth with God-loving people. So we can say that God expects that a couple should have children.

2. Children Are a Blessing. The Bible records in Psalm 127:3 that "children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward." So it is clear that we are to regard children as a blessing and not as a burden. This seems to be different from the world's view of seeing children as a financial, emotional or psychological burden; the Bible tells us that they are a blessing and a reward. Though God gives no condition as to the number of children that a couple should have, it might seem that many children represent many blessings if you consider Psalm 127:4-5 which says "Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court." Many children represent many blessings.

3. God Is Sovereign. God is absolutely sovereign, having foreordained every birth. No matter the number of children that a woman might have, God has decreed the beginning and end of each pregnancy. It is the Lord who opens and closes the womb and he makes no mistakes. Every pregnancy has in some way been a part of his plan and his will.

However in considering the above truths, one must be wise to consider having children in the context of Life and Marriage.

1. Life Is Valuable. All of the Bible values human life and we can thus have confidence that if a mother’s very life is at stake in a pregnancy, we ought to protect her life, even if that means ensuring that she has no more pregnancies. This means that there must be at least one instance in which it is objectively right and good to limit family size.

2. Live in an Understanding Way. 1 Peter instructs husbands to live with their wives “in an understanding way.” One way a husband may be able to be understanding toward his wife is to help her from being overwhelmed by the number of children in her care. Some women are naturally equipped to deal with huge families and others simply are not. A husband and wife ought to discuss this and decide between them how they have been equipped by the Lord.

Also every couple should understand that apart from taking care of the children, they need to consider spending time with themselves, nurturing the love between them. They must also consider their own lives. Their lives should not stand still for their children and it is important to keep their own interests and identities alive.

3. Each Child is an Individual. It is important that parents should know that it is also important to be there for your children emotionally and physically. Every child is different and needs to bond with his/her parents. Every child wants their parents to attend an Open Day at School or a Musical recital every once in awhile. When we show up to these events, our children know that we care and support them. It is also important to spend time with your children just being a family. The family is our core support group and a child needs the reassurance that his or her parents are there for them always.

4. Children have basic needs. We must realise that even though God will supply all our needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19), we should know that the cost of raising a single child is of course much less than raising multiple children. This must be factored in when choosing to have additional children. Children have basic needs as any person does, but children are unable to provide for themselves so as parents we must be able to fulfill these needs. A child does not need every new toy but they do need proper nutrition and clothing, which they seem to outgrow every month. Now if you want your child to be involved in anything he or she chooses, money is involved. Dance lessons, karate, music classes, and gymnastics all cost money. These are not necessities but it is important for our children to find their passion. Money is an issue in every family whether you have a lot of it or very little. When choosing to have another child, it is important to consider how much this child will cost and whether you will be able to provide at least the basic needs of the child.

God is an awesome God and he has given us the freedom to choose how many children we would like to have. He has also given us the wisdom and understanding to consider His truths about this issue for we need to know how to live in this world for his glory. 

We are called upon to choose wisely so this answer will vary from couple to couple but in everything, let His Name be glorified.

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