Over the weekend, I read a really good and simple article on the topic. It is old--way back from 1979--but it is fabulous. I wanted to share some of my favorite points from this article. It was written by Dr. Homer Ellsworth, who was a Gynecologist. Here are some of his standout points to help couples make these decisions.
In making your decision on how many children to have and how closely you want them spaced, Ellsworth gives an excellent question to ask yourself.
Is it selfish?
He says he uses this question in all of his decision making. Do you want more kids or less kids for selfish reasons?
He points out that parents need to be able to provide for necessities of life, but not luxuries--but he doesn't say what a luxury is or isn't. He says every human heart can quickly determine that for itself. He also says "...couples should not let the things that matter most be at the mercy of those that matter least."
From A Religious Perspective
Am I done having children? That is what some (all?) people wonder. Ellsworth quoted a man, but didn't say who, as counseling his daughter (mother of 8). She had asked her father if she could be done having children. His reply was, "Don't ask me. That decision is between you, your husband, and your Father in Heaven. If you two can face him with a good conscience and can say you have done the best you could, that you have really tried, then you may quit."
Ellsworth says, "...as to the number and spacing of children, and other related questions on this subject, such decisions are to be made by husband and wife righteously and empathetically communicating together and seeking the inspiration of the Lord."
Ellsworth says we should desire to do as the Lord would have us do.
Ellsworth points out that it is okay and absolutely wise to consider other angles in this decision. These include:
- Physical health of mother
- Physical health of father
- Mental health of mother
- Mental health of father
- Be considerate and plan carefully so the mother's health will not be impaired
- Well-being of the family should be considered--both physical well-being and emotional well-being
- Parents' capacity to provide basic necessities (not luxuries, necessities)
- Parents' likelihood of mood swings and depression
- Parents' ability to cope with pressures of many children
- Help available from family and friends
- Your ability to be a parent (actual ability, not desire of your heart)
As I said in previous posts, there is no one right spacing between children. There is also no one right number of children for all families. It is up to you and your spouse, along with the Lord, as to what is right for your family. I thought this was a very simply put article that left much to the interpretation of the reader, which is nice because it allows for a more individual experience. Hopefully this can help you make your decisions on these topics.