Does the Size of Your Family Matter?
Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
- 2014 Jan 29
I’ve previously blogged about intentional childless, so today I want to address the logical “next step” to that topic: family size. If children are a blessing – which they are – can a couple have too many kids? Is there an ideal family size?
In his book, “What to Expect When No One’s Expecting,” Jonathan V. Last cites how a growing number of Americans want less. They want fewer kids and smaller families. Between 1936 and into the 1960s, Gallup polls pretty consistently showed that roughly two-thirds percent of Americans said three or more children were ideal, with only 34 percent saying that zero, one or two children were. Today, however, only one-third of Americans think that a family with three or more children is ideal.
Last cites how various factors, from declining church attendance to mandatory car seat laws, have worked together to drive the decline in American fertility. Add things like easy access to birth control and abortion, couples entering marriage at an older age and the increasing cost of raising children into the equation, and you find that Americans’ “actual fertility” rates aren’t even reaching their “desired fertility.”
And so we see the culture as a whole has moved away from large families. That might help explain why larger families so often face ridicule and judgment. Nowadays even news media outlets tackle issues that add to the “stigma” against large families, like articles on the Duggar family and overpopulation.
Yet when the Duggars came to visit Focus on the Family a year or two ago, all of us who had the pleasure of meeting them were charmed by this tight-knit family and the sweetness of their children. I’m tempted to ask those who would criticize the Duggars, which of their 19 children isn’t valuable? Which of them don’t deserve to live?
Our role at Focus is to provide encouragement and Bible-based advice to families large and small. While it may be debatable if there’s an “ideal” family size, and ultimately God has the last word, we as believers should support families.
That’s why I’m excited about Focus’ first feature-length film, Irreplaceable. This documentary will follow Tim Sisarich, who heads up Focus on the Family New Zealand, as he explores culture’s view of families and compares it to what God has revealed in His Word. The film will seek to answer the questions: “What is family?” and “If family fails, does society fail, too?”
We’re excited to share Irreplaceable with you during a one-night event on May 6 in select cinemas nationwide. You can buy your tickets in advance.
I’ll leave you with the exclusive debut of our newest trailer promoting Irreplaceable, The Gift of Children.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments: Tell me about your family. How many children do you have? How large or small was your family growing up? If you had to do it all over again, would you want to have more?