Our family size has been the topic of many conversations. People are always asking us various questions, some with genuine interest, others out of rudeness. It never ceases to amaze me what people will ask or will say behind our backs instead of asking us. There have been times where I have been hurt by what I have heard. Many would be shocked to hear some of the comments we’ve endured from people who think that it is crazy to actually want a large family. Society has conditioned us to believe that children are a burden and that we should want material things for ourselves instead of the joy that children can bring into our lives. I find this sad and always say a little prayer for those who are so ugly to us when they question about our family size. I pray that through meeting our family they will come to understand the happiness that comes from being open to God’s will in all areas of our lives.
There are those, however, who leave me feeling uplifted after speaking to them about our family. These are the people who look at our children and see the joy they bring. They see their smiles and the sparkle in their eyes and say, “Oh! You are so blessed!” Sometimes these people will tell us about their own families, some of them also having large families, others having small. Each one though understanding just how special each and every child is and how truly wonderful it is to be surrounded by such love. I say a prayer for each of these people I come in contact with as well. I thank God for their understanding and love. They can’t begin to know how much their comments mean to me.
I thought I would address some of the most common questions or comments that we, as a large family, get from those around us. Again, I realize many are said in jest or out of true curiosity, but many are not. I hope to dispel some of those false beliefs that follow large families wherever they go.
- Yes, we know what causes it. No, we don’t need a television or another hobby. This is probably the number one comment we receive. I can assure you that not only do we know what causes babies but we thoroughly enjoy it as well!
- No, we don’t believe that everyone should have a large family and no, we aren’t judging you because you don’t have a large family. We believe that God has called us to have many children. He may be calling you to a completely different lifestyle. What is right for us won’t necessarily be right for you.
- No, our older children do not raise our younger children. Yes, they do help out with the little ones. Just as in any family of any size, each and every person is asked to help. Helping does not equal raising.
- Yes, it is much harder to have many children at home, even when you have older kids to help out. Having a mix of ages means having more problems to deal with in a greater range of areas. It’s not just a matter of having little ones who don’t know how to share; it’s little ones with colic, middle children who are struggling to find where they fit in with their peers or at home, and older ones who are facing broken hearts, peer pressure, and growing up. It’s far more complicated that just having children of one age.
- No, we don’t make a lot of money. We aren’t rich nor do we live in a huge house. Quite the opposite in fact! We budget, scrimp and save. We buy the necessities first and then the “wants” second. Our house is small yet filled with love.
- Yes, it takes a lot to feed this many people but probably not near what you think it does. We make the majority of our food at home. We don’t eat out much at all and we meal plan. This saves on how much we spend on food. I imagine we often spend the same as many small families. Most people are surprised to hear what our actual food budget is.
- Yes, we use a tremendous amount of toilet paper. Perhaps other large families don’t go through near what we do, but with 8 females in the house and only 4 boys, toilet paper is like gold here.
- Our cost of living per person is less than most other families. As I said before, we live in a smaller home, we wear hand-me-down clothes, we shop at discount stores or thrift stores, buy on clearance and only buy what we need. We do purchase some of those “wants” but only if we have the money in hand to spend.
- Most large families are very environmentally friendly. We are conscious about our “footprint” here on earth. We grow a garden. We recycle, reduce and recycle as much as possible.
- No, we don’t want our own reality TV show nor are we competing with the Duggars or any other large family. Why would we continue to have children that we have to support financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually just to compete with another large family? This makes no sense at all.
- Yes, our children fight. Sometimes they fight like cats and dogs. Sometimes they get along so well I wonder what’s going on. Our kids are normal in every way.
- No, I’m not always patient. I’m human and have human faults. I get frustrated and irritated. I yell. I’m often not happy with my own reactions. I pray each day, sometimes all day, for God to grant me the patience I need to get through each day.
- Yes, we are able to give each of our kids the love and attention they need. In fact, they probably get more attention and love because there are more people to love on each person! When you have a large family you don’t have to divide your love, your love naturally multiplies!
- Yes, we are obviously able to have “alone time”. We make taking time for each other a priority. This is one thing that holds our family together.
- No, we don’t know if we are “done”. We are leaving that to God. We have trusted Him so far, why would we change that now?
- Yes, we have our hands full, but so are our hearts.
- Yes, we know we will have a lot of weddings to pay for and yes, we are looking forward to it! Marriage is a blessing and a Sacrament. We believe it is an incredible gift that we will get to be a part of so many.
- No, we don’t wish God had given us more boys than girls. We know that He has given our family exactly what we need. We love each and every child because they are gifts from God, not because they are boys or girls.
- No, we don’t expect that all our children will have large families. We pray that they will be open to God’s will in their own lives. This may mean they have large families, small families, or that they don’t have children at all. We know that God will lead them to their vocation and we hope they will follow Him.
- Yes, we are Catholic and no we don’t have a big family because our Church or the Pope says we have to! Our faith teaches us that all life is sacred. It also teaches that as long as we feel we have no grave reason to not have children that we should be open to God’s will in our lives. The decision is always left to us to discern. Over the years we have prayed and assessed our own lives and have seen that we want to be open to life, we want to embrace these teachings and we want to welcome any and all children God chooses to bless us with. Our arms and our hearts are open to God’s will.
We know that having a large family is not the norm these days. We also know that having a large family is a calling and vocation. It isn’t for everyone. We know that it is for us. We know that God has called us to be open to life. I feel very blessed that He has found us worthy of this calling. I know it is only with His help and grace that we can raise such amazing children. I am thankful that He continues to put people in our lives that love our family and can see what joy our children bring. We know that while we often struggle God will always provide us with the material needs we have to raise our ever-growing family. He also provides for our spiritual and emotional needs as well. We only have to ask Him and He is there.
Is there a question you’ve always had but never been able to ask about large families? If so, I can try to answer them! Leave a comment and I’ll answer the best I can.
Michelle Fritz is a daughter of God, a cradle Catholic, a Georgia peach, a devoted wife of almost 30 years to amazing husband Mike, and an eclectic homeschooling mother to eleven living children. She has experienced the loss of 16 babies in her call to be open to life, but knows that God is always loving and always gracious. She and her husband know that they have an army of Saints already in heaven!
In addition to her vocation as wife, mom, and homeschool teacher she also holds a Masters in Theology and has recently taken on the role of Youth Minister for both the middle school and high school groups at her parish.