Thursday, July 17, 2008

When Did 3 Kids Become A Lot?

When I was growing up in western New York State, I can remember our family being a little bit different. The reason for this was that we only had two kids (my younger sister and me), while most of my friends seemed to come from three-kid families. There were even a decent number of families around who had four or more children.

In just one generation times have changed. In most families I see, the number of children is now two. There is nothing morally wrong with this, but it is interesting to see the significant change that has happened. When we as a family introduce ourselves to others for the first time, they often act surprised that we have three children. Three kids appears to have become a lot in many people's eyes.

This phenomenon of small families has even affected the way houses are built. We are currently looking to buy a house in the Savannah, GA area. The vast majority of homes built within the last twenty to thirty years have three bedrooms. The two non-master bedrooms are usually small. We would love to have a four bedroom house, but our options are severely limited. I have no idea what families do who have six or more kids. They must have to cram them in.

If this societal situation continues (decreasing family size), the overall population of our country will begin to shrink. Just to keep the current population the same, each family has to have about 2.4 kids (this is because some people die early from illnesses, accidents, etc.). If our country begins to decrease in size, this will put a huge strain on a smaller work force trying to support a large, older retired class. The economic impact will damage our country.

At a personal level, I'm not sure why people don't want more kids. We have been blessed with three, but I now wish we had had even more. The bible makes it clear that children are a blessing. For example, Psalm 127:3-5 says, "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate."

In just one generation it appears that three children is now considered a lot. What will happen if this downward numerical trend continues? In just one more generation, will the norm be only one child per family? What happens then? Surely it cannot be a good thing if families begin to have no children at all. If a couple purposely decides to have no children, the reason could only be selfishness (unless there is a medical issue involved). In general, there does seem to be something morally wrong with purposely having no children.

There is no doubt that raising children is a difficult task. It requires years of hard work. However, it is also a great reward. Furthermore, we were given the gift of being raised by someone. When we raise children, we are simply returning the favor.

As Christians, when we raise up children in a Christian family, the chances that they will serve the Lord greatly increases. This leads to more worshipers of God, which is obviously a good thing. Ephesians 6:4 says, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."

Children are wonderful gift from God. I don't think three is a lot. Let me encourage you to have lots of them.

4 comments:

The McCurdy Family said...

Eric,
You should see what they look like when you have 4. Always the next question is "How old are they." The response: 8, 4, 2, & 5mths. That's when the mouth drops. Even a generation ago it was acceptable to have your children 2 years apart. Now it seem that just have children is to much.
The great part is after they get around us for away. They start to compliment us on how great and well behaved they are. That they have been around one children that wasn't behaved as well as all four of mine put together. I know your children,they are extreme examples for wonderful, godly children. Together we can change their minds three or more children at a time.

Eric said...

Nicole,

Thanks for your kind words about our kids.

You are right that people's ideas about kids have changed. I hope that they will just give families with more than 2 kids a chance. Kids are such a gift.

brian said...

Three is a lot? Well, one of my friends has bun number 7 in the oven...

I think our materialistic society is another factor that has caused us to have only two kids (contrast this with 4-5 on average in Muslim contexts and the same in Hispanic families). In France, the average is one child, and in Russia the President has to pay people to have kids at all.

You are right though, having less kids will have unfortunate consequences for Western society and the US in general - we're not replacing ourselves and it will kill the economy since there will be less workers contributing to Social Security and paying taxes and other services (immigrants, especially illegals, often send the money home) so the implications are potentially severe.

As to me, I married late (34) and I am too selfish to live a tired life for longer than I have to. We'll probably have two children only because it won't be fair to the other kids to have to take care of their poor old dad at 16...

Eric said...

Brian,

I agree with you about the materialism of our society. It probably does cause people to have far fewer kids than they would otherwise.

Our country needs to keep a close eye on places like Japan, Russia, and Europe to see what this does to their societies within the next generation.