The Next President’s Family

Most of the past presidents had few children. Is this a liability or a resume enhancement?

I was interviewed on Friday by a journalist from the global AFP newswire. He’s doing an article on the “bizarre” (his words) number of children most of the Republican candidates have. It hadn’t dawned on me, really, that most of the original Republican candidates have numerous children. The Daily Beast pointed out a few months ago, “Six Republican candidates have 34 children among them…and that’s not even counting Michele Bachmann’s 23 foster children.”

My conversation with the journalist was pleasant, but he struggled with a reality that he may have thought impossible. The idea was that a father or mother of so many children would not be able to lead a country. 

I hope his premise changed after I spoke with him. I challenged him, “These parents show me that they can lead.” I told him that for me, the larger the family, the more my opinion is validated: yep, this candidate is the real deal.

By “real deal” I mean they value children and family beyond a political stump speech. They don’t just “talk the talk,” they “walk the walk.” Children are blessings. Always. And if they welcome that blessing it tells me that their faith is genuine and that their worldview is sound. The norm is to have the two cute children for perfect photo ops (like most presidents since the first Roosevelt).

I wouldn’t mind having an abnormal leader in office, one whose life isn’t so normal. One that understood the American family a bit better.

Newt is the most “normal” with three marriages and two children. The rest are, I suppose, pretty “bizarre.” Check out these pictures:

I like these images, and I like the thought of watching one of these families enter the White House. It’d be a pleasant change, in my opinion. How about you? Most of the past presidents had few children. Is this a good or bad thing?

About Chris Jeub

Chris is the father of 16 children, busily running the family businesses and learning the depths of love along the way.

  • Janine

    Well, you’ve said you are too busy to hold a full-time job away from the home.

  • Alyssa

    Actually, it depends on their fertility. How fertile are their wives? What is their own fertility like? This is a medical issue (which generally does not affect their health). Why would it be relevant to their qualifications?

    Real leaders are judged on their education, ability, prior acts of leadership, military records, etc. Not their level of fertility.

    • Sola

       Well said Alyssa.

  • Anna Mary

    True leadership begins at home.  How well you lead your wife and children is a reflection upon how well you will lead others on the job whether that be as a project manager, fast food restaurant manager, small business owner or the President of the United States. 

    • Jackie

      Yes, but why would the number of children be any indication of how well a man leads his family?

      • Anna Mary

        I’m not sure we read the same article.  The article above to me states that a man who has a lot of children can lead, he has the time and talent to do so. Also, by his having more than the typical 1 or 2 children verifies that he is indeed a man who values life.  It does not say that a man with a small family can’t lead, it just states that a man with many children can back up what he says about valuing life because he has accepted the blessing of many children.

        • MaryLou

          A man with 10 children could still be using birth control.  His wife could still have had an abortion. Having a bunch of kids doesn’t prove anything at all.

          • MRM

            A man with 10 kids could also lead his family very badly. He could ignore them, abuse them, neglect them, etc.

        • Chris Jeub

          Very well said, Anna Mary. Logical and right on.

          • Jackie

            It’s so funny how Chris responds only to those he agrees with.

            • Chris Jeub

              Not true.

            • Elizabeth

              No, I’ve seen him respond to those who disagree with him. I just thought of my childhood President, Ike. He was a good military leader and President. He had only 2 children but one died at age 3. John Kennedy only had 2 living children but he’s another who was a good military leader according to the men he served with. 

        • Elizabeth

          Apparently you aren’t familiar with infertility. There are plenty of families with 1 or 2 children, or no children, who value life just as much as you do. Assuming that a small family doesn’t value life is so wrong. You cannot assume anything about who values life by the number of children they have, or don’t have. Have you ever watched Maury? There are men who have lots of children, with different women, and I think it safe to say they don’t consider children a blessing since they are denying paternity. 

          • Anna Mary

             Elizabeth, I am sorry that you have struggled with fertility issues.  I will not claim to understand the pain that must bring. To me this article was asking the question, “Can a man with a large family lead the country?”  I still stand by my statement that true leadership begins at home.  Nowhere in my statement did I say that it had to be a man with lots of kids.  If all a man has is a wife, then he needs to lead her well.  If a man has some children then he needs to lead them well.  If the man is single then he should find a place to develop his leadership skills so if God should bless him with a wife and children he is ready to be a leader for his family.

            • guest

              “Also, by his having more than the typical 1 or 2 children verifies that he is indeed a man who values life”
              Like Elizabeth, I know many men who have many children who do not value life.

              • Anna Mary

                Guest:  If you will read my post again you will see I was giving a summation of what I felt Mr. Jeub was trying to say.    

              • guest

                You were giving a summation and I’m giving my opinion on that summation.
                You gave a great summation, but I still know many men who have many children who do not value life.
                Thank God for men like Chris Jeub and his wife wendy who do value life and encourage others to do the same. My fiancee and I read love in the house when we first started courting and agreed that only in extreme circumstances would we ever use birth control.

              • Anna Mary

                Guest: Unfortunately that is the fallen world we live in.  Many men of large and small families are falling short of what God has called them to be.  Sadly, the same is true for us women. 

              • guest


            • Jackie

              Elizabeth did not say that she personally had experienced infertility. She was saying, correctly, that Chris had ignored an important point–that some small families may be small because of infertility.

            • Elizabeth

              I personally think George Washington was a great President. He proved his leadership on the battlefield. He was married but had no children. Leaders are made, not born. Any man or women can become a great leader whether they are parents or not. Joan of Arc had no children, she was a good leader. I served in the military along side many good leaders of both sexes, how many children they had never came into play.

        • Guest

          “it just states that a man with many children can back up what he says about valuing life because he has accepted the blessing of many children.”Jon Gosselin is a man who by this logic has accepted the blessing of many children and values life. Would you like him as your president ?  

  • Bea76

    I honestly don’t care how many children the President has but I truly believe that any children a President does have are mainly raised by nannies.  Given how much traveling the President and First Lady do the time they spend with their children is probably quite minimal. So would you rather a bunch of children be raised by nannies or just a few.  

    • MRM

      Having a bunch of kids is a responsibility. Each one of those children needs time and attention. By definition, that means less time for the President to devote to other things.

      • Motherofmany13

        Like golfing?

  • Guest

    How much is large ?  For a 2 child family, even 4 or 5 children can seem large.  In many ways, my politics is more in line with Joe Kennedy who had a large family,but you bet I will not be voting for someone like him if he ran today.
    Being married and having a family, large and small is not an advertisement for being trust worthy or competent as enough politicians of both political parties have demonstrated lately. So I have learned to look beyond the pretty, posed family pictures and look at their stand on things that matter to me and  if they try to make their values into laws.

  • Emma

    Actually, more presidents since TR have had more than two children than have had exactly 2. Fertility rate in the US has also hovered right around 2.0 for the last 40 years, which means having 2 children is well in line with the national average. It seems logical that a president elected by the majority would represent the views of the majority.

    And hey, some people do have 2 kids for reasons besides “perfect photo ops”. Don’t worry, though, your smug dismissiveness towards people with small families comes through loud and clear, as always.

  • mathematician

    George Bush had 6 kids, the most recent 3 presidents have 5 together.  Rick Santorum had 8.  Am I missing 3 kids somewhere?

    • Chris Jeub

      Doggonit, you’re right. I had thought it was just Jeb and George. 

  • Elizabeth

    Michelle Bachmann’s 23 foster children were mostly children who were with the family very short term. She really did not raise them.

    Santorum’s wife lived with a much older OB/GYN, a doctor who did abortions, for 6 years. She left him because she wanted kids, he didn’t. I have found the some women who go on to have large numbers of children do so as a reaction to what they perceive to be their earlier life of immorality. Even Michelle Duggar has said it was the miscarriage she had after using birth control that made her realize children are a blessing and why she went on to have so many. Had she never had that miscarriage who can know if she’d have gone on to have so many children. Your own wife had 2 children previously to marriage. Would she have a large number of children today had she not met you? Maybe yes, maybe no.

    John Kennedy came from a large family and while he had only 2 living children he and Jackie lost several to stillbirths and miscarriages. They wanted a large family. His brother Bobby had a large family and those kids were often at the White House.  I always thought I wanted 12 children. Then I married and we learned we’d be having no bio children. We adopted 3 and I found that 3 was a good number. Had I had the 12 I wanted I’m not sure I could have emotionally handled it. Not everyone is meant to have large families, and that includes some people with large families. Good parents can be found in every size family. I know large families who don’t consider children a blessing. I know parents of 1 or 2 who do think children a blessing.
    My niece went to school with Chelsea Clinton. She was an only child but her parents were very good parents and surprisingly strict. They protected her from the media. I think the Obama girls are being raised with very loving parents. I believe both sets of parents see children as a blessing. 

    Franklin Roosevelt had 6 children. Teddy Roosevelt had the same number, 1 with his first wife, 5 with his second wife.

    I could not vote for someone based on their family size. I vote based on the issues I consider most important.

  • gilora

    Chris, your original choice, Herman Cain, has two children.  What does this say about his ability to lead?

    • Chris Jeub

      Ah, you know me too well! I did think about this when I wrote it. Bummer that my guy dropped out. 

      I’m not saying that pres’s with few children CAN’T lead (or anyone with few children, for that matter), I’m saying pres’s with many is a revenue enhancer for me, and for good reason. 

  • Karyn

    Maybe we should eliminate the couple who has had a selective abortion yet claims to be against it in all cases.

    Goodbye, Rick Santorum.

    • Chris Jeub

      I do not understand your comment.

    • Beka

      I am interested in where you found this information. When I tried to research it, all I found were pretty unreliable articles (ie, on blogs, etc) that stated she didn’t stop a naturally occuring pre-term labor after finding out that stopping the labor would kill both her and the baby; not that she had a selective abortion. I would love to see where you read this, perhaps you found a more reliable source than the ones I came across.

    • Salamander99

      i haven’t seen anything about this.. I know they had an early delivery in the 1990s of their son gabriel. But i don’t believe it was an abortion.

  • Bobbi

    Great post!  I’m sure you did a great job in the interview.  I pray that the reporter’s eyes were opened, and that he can open the eyes of his readers!

  • Sola

    “One that understood the American family a bit better.”

    I’m a little confused by this.  Are you saying that a president with a large family would understand the American family a bit better?  That is what you appear to be saying.  The thing is the average American family was 2.6 children in 2009.  Therefore going by what you appear to be saying, a president with a smaller family would have understand better, and have more in common with the average American family.

    • Chris Jeub

      More average doesn’t necessarily equate to exceptional. You’re mixing numbers in the same way the reporter did to make it sound like many kids is a handicap of some sort. I don’t believe it is. 

      To put it another way: Many children enhances my faith in his/her ability to be a good president. Having the picturesque #of children (2.6) only validates they’re just like everyone else, not that they’re exceptional.

      • Sola

         I didn’t say it did equate to exceptional.  What I said was the average was 2.6 children.   Neither am I trying to state that having many children is a handicap, please do not try to put words into my mouth. 

        You stated that a president who had many children would understand Americans better, that really doesn’t equate at all, not least because of the average family size in the US.  Now a president with many children might well understand YOU better, the Duggars and the Bateses too, but you are not the average Chris.  And remember, size isn’t everything you know!

        Surely there is some importance in having a leader who knows what it is like for the average American.  For example what would a man born into a billionaire family (I’m not singling out any candidate here, obviously), afforded all the privileges that comes with it, know what it is like for the average family?  I would rather vote for someone from humble beginnings who knows what it is like than someone who was born in an ivory tower.

        Coming back to children; having many children is not a prerequisite for faith.  Faith forms from many different ways.  Whilst it may have strengthened your faith, to others it may have been something else that gave them a stronger faith.

        Now finally I will leave you with a controversial thought; why should faith be in the picture?  Tell me, would you vote for an atheist if they had the right policies to make America strong again?  Or would you vote for Christian with faith but weak policies?  What if the atheist is exceptional?  Would you ignore all that and still vote for the Christian candidate?

        • Chris Jeub

          Sola. You’re dragging this conversation into dark corners that interest you. Hypotheticals isn’t what this post was or is about. It is about real candidates with real children, many of them at that. Send me a personal note if you want my opinion on atheist politicians.

  • Lia

    When the disciples asked Jesus if they should pay taxes, he asked for a coin and inquired whose picture was in the coin, Cesar’s , they answered. He then said, give to Ceaser what belongs to Ceaser and to God what belongs to God. Pick a dollar bill, look at its back, why is there a Masonic pyramid in there? Jesus said, you are not from this world. The prince of this world is not Christ yet, why should Christians believe that any government will ever be Christian? There is no reason why Satan, the prince of this world would not want be behind the most powerful nation in the world, at this moment in history. Just something to think about….

  • guest

    I would like to see a woman in the white house but i guess i will just have to wait a little longer. 

  • Chris Jeub

    Here’s the article
    You need to translate it into English, unless you know French.

  • Salamander99

    Go Santorum!

  • Princessofthebarn

    I hate the assumption that all large families must be fundamental Christians.  We have 8 kids and, while we are Christian, we don’t tout it as the reason we have so many kids.  We built our family through adoption and firmly believe that God put each kid in our family for a reason and a purpose.  Our kids know God.  They also know that there are many dishonest politicians on each side of the political isle that use God to get votes.  To assume that only the Republicans are Christian and therefore they must be the only ones who love their kids is a farce.  Some neat little package that They conjured up for the masses to swallow, hook, line and sinker.  If you don’t believe me, try going to a homeschool group and not going rah-rah enough over God for their tastes.  Those so-called Christian women will slice you from one end to the other if you’re not evangelical enough or Right enough for their tastes.  I wish I could say it was one person who was that way or one group, but when four women from two different groups ‘lovingly pulls you aside’ and tries to talk to you about how you need to get ‘more into God’ you begin to see the light.  Instead of getting their desired results it made me put a filter on that dims religion.  If a person says they’re Christian and they’re on good terms with God, then that’s good enough for me. Shouldn’t that be between them and God?Their lives usually bear out the proof.