Friday, November 21, 2008

But how can you meet all your child's needs.....

if you have to care for so many children?  This is a good question!

First of all, and most importantly, I can not possibly meet all my child's needs, even if I had only one!  That's God's job!  If I could do that, my child wouldn't need God!

Secondly, do our children "need" all the things that the typical American family deems necessary?  Does every child "need" to be involved in organized sports?  Music lessons?  Have their own bedroom?  "Quality Time" with parents?  Lots of toys/music/electronic devices?  New clothes?  A bath every night?  A hot breakfast every morning?

I see childrens' needs as very basic - a roof over their heads, clothes, healthy food, and a loving home.  They need parents who are willing to take the time to answer questions, teach them to be responsible people, teach them about their world, and provide for their social needs.

Social needs....that's a big one!  What are my child's social needs?  My child needs to learn to function in society - this includes our family, friends, and our world.  Will my child learn politeness, compassion, patience and such by spending a majority of the day with other children?  Maybe, but most likely not.  Most children are just as in need of training in social graces as my child.  I believe that children will learn best if they are around those who model the characteristics I desire them to have!  In some cases, that is other children, but in most, it's adults...their father and mother!  Does this have to be done one on one?  No, this is modeled in everyday life - at the table, in the car, during school time, during play time.  Just being home with my children provides ample situations for teaching and instructing them - making use of the situations as they arise!

So, we keep things as simple as possible, and I try to be available as much as possible for my kids - to answer questions, to teach them right and wrong, to comfort them when they are hurting.  I am not perfect, but with God's help, it's very doable!

Also, a biggy in large families, is the concept of training our older children to become good parents and spouses.  Having little ones to care for, under my authority and supervision, is an excellent way to accomplish this!  My older children have watched me parent and care for them, so they are taught to care for their siblings (with in reason of course) likewise!  This also meets the needs of my children, both young and old  Most families with 4 or fewer children, are usually all close in age, so they are all young adults at the same time.  This provides few opportunites to learn to care for babies and toddlers.  But in our family, all the kids learn to change diapers, feed a baby, sooth a crying toddler, potty train children, and so much more!

A really big thing that I see in large families is the concept of sharing the work load!  I for one, wasn't forced to train my children to do chores until I had 5 children!  Through the years we've worked to teach the children to do things around the house that they are capable of.  This starts when they are toddlers - they are big kid helpers - they can also get diapers for momma, carry things, get things, and so forth.  Then when they turn 5 years old they start getting bigger jobs - like making their bed, tidying their bedroom,  setting the table, putting away a specific kind of toy (like wedgits or legos).  When they turn 7 they get "big kid jobs" - like tidying one room everyday with an older sibling, clearing the table, unloading the dishwasher.  When they turn 10 they learn to do their own laundry and begin to lean skills that will make them dependable for childcare once they reach the legal age for baby sitting (12 yo's can care for chidren under the age of 6),  Lastly, when they are 13 they are old enough to be a team leader - we have teams for doing kitchen duties - a counter team, a table team, and a dishwasher team!  We also share meal preparation.  Starting as mom's helperat age 8, they progress to making meals more on their own around age 10 - two meals a week for each child and the mom doesn't have to cook unless she wants too! So when my children get married, all of them will be capable of doing all types of housework and cooking and baking!  This will make the transition to marriage so much easier than it is for most adults!

And finally, providing for their physical needs - food, clothing and shelter.  God is our provider, but He usually doesn't provide well in advance. We've never had a savings account, and usually there's a bit more month than money, but we've always had what we needed.  This might mean baking out own bread or living without some things to make ends meet, but this can be very good for our children - to make due with what you have and learn to be satisfied with it!

So, can I meet all the needs of my children when I have so many?  No!  But I can, with God's help and the help of my family, friends, and church community, provide a loving environment that will, Lord willing, produce an adult well prepared to make a difference in their world!


  1. Thanks for sharing so much of your life with us! I feel like I am at your side learning from you! We get the same questions, btw, and we "only" have 9 kids.

  2. Someone once said: " if we waited until we could afford to have children we'd never have them". Yes, it's only through the sustaining Grace of our Lord and his provision, sometimes miraculously I might add, that we can care for more then the very basic of needs for our kids.