Nov
11
2012

Perhaps Your Problems Are Because You Have Too Many Children

The Shenks in Cheaper by the Dozen, the neighbors with the perfect number of children.

We get our share of anonymous commentators on this site. On a recent post that attempted to encourage families who struggle financially to avoid the draining consequences of the welfare system (Government Assistance), one commentator claimed:

Large families who are on welfare are so because of the number of children they have.

What a thoughtless and cruel thing to say. Her conclusion was based on a family who lived down the road from her. Their 14th child had health issues that forced them on government assistance. They also lived in an affluent and expensive part of New York. She seeks out our family website and posts her enlightened solution: “The need for government assistance would be largely eliminated if people were more responsible with their reproductive choices.”

I can just imagine this neighbor. Affluent, condescending, judgmental. You have had 13 healthy children – joyful blessings to your neighborhood and society at large – then you run into health problems with the 14th. Your neighbor pounces on you with condemnation: You shouldn’t have had THAT child.

Do you get this kind of judgment? To tell you the truth, it has been a long time since we have had anyone dare say this to us. We’re advocates for life and strive to encourage and build up wholesome households. Real quick, I have three responses to the Mrs. Shenk anonymous poster:

  1. Irrationality is not a solution. This isn’t only an anecdotal example, the conclusion (too many children) is a non-sequitur: it doesn’t follow the claim (you’re on welfare). What a pathetically simplistic view of human life, to think they’re drains on society. Here’s just as irrational (though fitting) a response: Please get on birth control to stop breeding such nonsense.
  2. Judgment is not helpful. We highly doubt this commentator lifted one finger to help this family in need. She instead searches out a website that attempts to discourage us, you, and other families.
  3. We have life; you have comfort. Check out the exchange. This mom-of-three boasts of how together her life is because “we can afford three children.” Okay, we have a houseful of noise and chaos and life. We’d take ours over hers any day.

The conclusion of the movie Cheaper by the Dozen has Mr. Shenk strongly correcting his snobby wife of her judgment. It was fitting and truthful. In other words: Children. They’re blessings. Always.

What do you think? Do you have anything else to say to Mrs. Shenk?

About Chris & Wendy Jeub

The Jeub Family live in Monument, Colorado, with 14 of their 16 children. They encourage couples to love God and love one another, building an atmosphere of love in their homes.

  • Heather

    I have a “Christian ” neighbor who thinks I am crazy and wrong for having so many children. After a sad and unexpected string of 3 miscarriages in a row from February to July, we are excitedly expecting our 12th. After she heard of our losses, she began to lecture me on how I need to stop. She included how every time we found out we were expecting, she could not understand my excitement. Her response was “another one? How awful”. I was shocked at how passionate she felt that it was a horrible thing. We may have our struggles (who doesn’t?) but I wouldn’t trade a quiet house for anything. A quiet house will always be but my treasures live on!

    • http://www.facebook.com/charity.berwick Charity Berwick

      beautifully said Heather!

  • tereza crump

    The other day I was talking to my DD9 about such things and her comments were “They (the judgmental adults who don’t like children) don’t understand that one day they were babies too. They were a child one time. What if they got killed?” Simple logic!

  • Obviously

    I would like to point out that I never called anyone’s children “drains on society”. I happen to love children. I work with them every day as an elementary school teacher. Accusing me of calling children “drains on society” simply because I advocate family planning is a non-sequitur, if you want to talk about non-sequiturs. You’re also making the assumption that I’ve never done a thing to help the family of 16 in my neighborhood. In reality, I’ve attended and donated to every annual fundraiser that has been organized to raise money to help this family. I have donated my own children’s old belongings to them. I am not knocking the idea of having a large family if that is what you prefer, What I am saying is that you need to be realistic. You cannot deny this fact: The income the parents make in the area of NY where we live could probably sufficiently support three children. They decided to have 15, 12 more than they can support unassisted. Had they decided to plan their family according to what they could afford, they would not need welfare. These are simply mathematical facts.

    I see their kids suffer every day because the parents just can’t give them everything they need financially. All 8 daughters sleep in their unheated mobile home in the driveway, because their tiny house only has two bedrooms and they have nowhere else to put them. The police are constantly there because they almost never have an up-to-date permit to even have a mobile home parked on their property in the first place. The eldest daughter misses school constantly, because she is the one needed to stay home with one of the younger siblings and provide free child care. As a result, she must repeat 11th grade. Three of the kids have learning disabilities but the parents work so many hours and are stretched so thin that they don’t have the time to give those kids extra support with their homework or provide a tutor. They are all sweet, polite kids. Their parents just don’t have the ability to support all of them. I am not saying that this happens in all large families. My Mother was one of ten and had a wonderful childhood, similar to the Jeub kids.

    The only point I am making here that families need to be realistic about what they can afford.

    • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

      Wow, this sounds really bad. Can you send me an email to put me in contact with this family? Because (1) I think you’re exaggerating, and (2) if it is this bad, I’d like to see what I can do for them. Send their name and contact information through the form at http://chrisjeub.com/connect. Thanks “obvious”!

      • Tolerance

        I like your blog, but please read your post above that judgement is not helpful. We all may have different opinions but you accusing the commentor of exaggerating is also judgmental. There is lack of respect today among people who have different values. She stated that families should be responsible with their resources. If you are barely able to support a family do not have more children. That seems like a valid point. You may not agree, but don’t accuse someone of lying because their opinion is different. I do understand both sides but respect those with different opinions and show tolerance to others.

        • Jim

          Also, Mr. Jeub, that family doesn’t need your $50 check. They need medical care for their child. And if they don’t have enough resources to care for their kids, they need to stop having them.

          • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

            And loving neighbors would be a nice perk.

        • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

          I didn’t sense the love in the post as you did. This wasn’t just a “difference of opinion”; it was a cruel and spiteful post about a neighboring family, and she came to the conclusion that children were the problem. She carries a disgusting worldview that calls for a rebuttal.

          • Reese

            I don’t really think it’s fair to call anyone’s worldview “disgusting” (unless maybe they’re a serial killer or something). I enjoy your website, as I come from a family of six kids myself. However, I certainly don’t think anyone who decides to limit their family size for financial reasons is cruel and spite. She indicates that she has participated in charitable efforts that helped this family. That seems like she was a very nice neighbor. I agree with her on the point that you can only help so much before people have to start thinking about what they have to do to help themselves, ie considering limiting their family size because they know that they’re struggling to provide. I think your family is wonderful Chris, but I don’t think your above post makes much sense.

          • Jim

            No, she came to the conclusion that the children *had* a problem. Their parents couldn’t provide for them. Some children lived in an unheated unlicensed mobile home. Others had learning disabilities. They were children who were not getting what they needed and deserved, because their parents lacked the money to care for them all.

      • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

        Two months later, I have yet to receive information about how I can help this supposed family.

  • Memoriesmama

    The logic that people are on governmental assistance because they have a large family is a faulty one, plain and simple. We were once on governmental assistance–back when we had 3 children. We felt awful about it. We worked hard to get to a place where we didn’t need it. We have been off it for many years, now have 9 children, and are much better financially. Did our income increase in this time–no! In fact, my husband has taken pay cut after pay cut because of the economy (we are thankful he still has a job). While the cost of living continues to rise, our income continues to decrease, but we are still able to provide for our family WITHOUT government assistance.

    For those who comment on miscarriage being a reason to stop having more children, that is just as ridiculous. I experienced my first miscarriage a few months ago and received the comment that it was God’s way of telling us we should be done. My question was why don’t people who have a miscarriage with their first, second or even third pregnancies get the same comment? If it was God’s way of telling someone to stop, then it would be the same regardless of how many children they have. Besides, if God wanted us to stop having children, then He would just close my womb.

  • http://profiles.google.com/heather.nations Heather Nations

    I don’t think that the two things really belong together. There are many families with 2 children who are on welfare. And there are many families with 10+ children who are not on welfare. The size isn’t really the factor here. On discussions about family size, I think people need to realize that it is how you adjust to changes, how well you can make certain sacrifices, and what your beliefs are. To just blame this family for being on welfare BECAUSE of the amount of children is wrong. There are so many other factors that do not depend on the amount of children that judging based on that is incorrect.

    • T. Gates

      I agree with you. The size of a family really has nothing to do with being on government assistance. I know of several families that only have one or two children and are on assistance because they refuse to grow up and be responsible adults.

  • http://www.facebook.com/charity.berwick Charity Berwick

    Both my husband and I came from families where our parents worked hard but struggled to provide. We LOVED family life, and I always hoped for more siblings to join our boisterous family. One year my father was finally able to complete his education while working part-time and a food pantry helped out that year. As a result of seeing how my parents educational lives had played out, I independently decided to attend tech school and obtain an Associate’s in Nursing. I began attending college full time right after turning 15 and finished and began working as an LPN the week after I turned 17. I loved it. My husband has a similar story and was on the lookout for a path of work that could provide for a family without the levels of stress he’d witnessed growing up – at 15 he began working in HVAC, and attended college while working in the field. We’ve been married for 6 years (later this month!) and have 3 delightful children. I stay home with them, and he works, but eventually this season of life will be over (I don’t want that to happen too soon!) and I hope to return to nursing work, which I loved. To my way of thought Family Planning should include/be synonymous with Prayerful Planning FOR a family’s provision well BEFORE a family could ever begin. Just my 2 cents! That said, the poor will always be with us, and our character is revealed partly in how we demonstrate our practical care and love for them as fellow creations of God and sojourners through this life. Look for good to do!

  • http://twitter.com/SimplySherryl Sherryl Wilson

    The most common statement made to me is “I don’t know how you manage with seven children. We have two and they drive me nuts!” This just breaks my heart…we are now on the other end.. with only two left at home, both teen girls. The older five have all completed college, gotten married and are blessing us with lots and lots of grand babies! I can’t imagine an empty house. Sure we have had lean times, but we have always pulled together to make things work. I read somewhere that once you pass the fifth or sixth child, the cost per child to raise drops significantly.

    • Maggie_Blume

      I don’t know why that breaks your heart. People have different interests. You like kids. That’s fine with me. I do not enjoy having a house full of people, twenty-four/seven. Which is also okay, as we were all created to do different things with our lives.

      • maria

        it breaks her heart because folks say “and they drive me nuts” about their children – that’s what’s sad. Not the number two…..because it means people for some reason are missing out on the joy and blessing that having and raising children is

  • JAC

    I have a question for Mr. and/or Mrs. Jeub. You are both clearly “on the same page” about leaving your childbearing in God’s hands. But suppose, hypothetically, that one of you came to the other and said, “I need a break from this.” What would you do if your spouse were not in agreement with you about leaving it up to God? Thank you for your thoughts on this.

    • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

      If we disagreed on children, I suppose we’d have a significant marital issue on our hands. I hesitate to answer hypotheticals. Does anyone else have an answer for JAC?

    • Julie

      When the other spouse does not feel the same way you talk about it first. How many kids do you think we should have? Why? Then look at what the bible says. I was reading and the bible says……… Then you know what to pray for. No need to bother your spouse. Take it to the source. Pray that God will touch there heart and change their mind. Only God can do that. A few months later bring it up again. I was reading and the bible says…. What do you think? Also if you know a large or semi large family you might try to do some things with them. Dinner, park. Your spouse might just not know how to deal with children. It’s a learned trait. Most important, Pray! Only God can change hearts.

  • sfrederick

    Mr Jeub, Thank you for the article. I enjoy reading your posts! I have 14 children and think we are very successful in raising them. We are constanly looked down on in our community. It’s pretty sad how jealous people can be, It’s almost like if we were struggling, it would make them feel better. We are trying for our 15th, and people think were crazy. Mabey they should worry about their lives, and be happy for their neighbor! Take Care.

  • Ruth Nolastname

    You’re a big fan of logic, Chris. I would humbly suggest that both pov’s are faulty. I don’t think having *x* number of children guarantees a welfare dependent family. I also don’t think having *x* number of children guarantees happiness or that the children are supported in the manner they deserve. There’s a problem with both perspectives that deserves attention.
    I grew up in a large, QF family. I am one of 11. My mom and dad didn’t provide for us very well. It wasn’t just a matter of having new things or extras- it was a matter of not having the necessities and of my father receiving revelation and feedback designed to push him further into his denial of our care. If we didn’t have enough food, then it was God telling us that we needed to fast and pray. If we were cold, then it was God telling us to go out and work harder to gather non-existant wood/branches/grasses to feed the woodstove. If we were sick and needed Tylenol, but there wsan’t the money to buy enough for everyone, then we were asked to be “unselfish” and give whatever dose we had to the person with the highest fever. You may think this is exaggerated but this was my very, very real life. Asking children to go without the basics of care because you refuse to exercise control over circumstances (reproductive, financial, or otherwise) is wrong! Just as it’s WRONG to assume that all QF families are irresponsible- it’s WRONG to assume that they’re all doing God’s will.

    • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

      I’m not following you. What are “pov’s”?

      • Ruth Nolastname

        pov=point of view

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tiara-Smith/100000386126152 Tiara Smith

    My problem is I have too many cats! LOL j/king (anybody want a cat? ) ;)

  • Jennifer Torres

    As a few have already commented; the number of children a couple has does not determine whether or not they will be on gov’t asst. Personally, I think it has to do with their thinking. You can change your financial situation and circumstances. Children are a blessing. Instead of condemning them for having another child why, why is no one teaching them how to manage their money better, or how to bring in more money? Why do some people automatically assume that because you have more than the expected number of children that you are on welfare? Ok, maybe this is not exactly on topic, but this is what I was thinking as I read the article and the comments. The first solution to most people when they hear of a situation like this, is to have the family stop having children. I think a better solution is to educate the parents on ways to make money to support them without having to resort to gov’t asst. Well, it’s late and this may not be making any sense.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chrisjeub Chris Jeub

      I’d say you ARE on topic. Very good thoughts.

    • Blessed Little Homestead

      That is exaclty it Jennifer.

  • momof5

    Unfortunately, my family and I have to have food stamps with our kids. I wish we didn’t have to be on it, but it’s just how it is. My husband works really hard as a cook and i try to help out by working 1 day a week and even though he works full time, we need the help. We shouldn’t be punished for having kids or told we can’t have them because we are low-income. I have seen people use and abuse the system, but we are definitely not those people and I pray someday we aren’t under the governments thumb. Don’t ever judge until you have walked a mile in someone’s shoes.