Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Number and Spacing of Children (Again)

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In recent months, I have discussed both Number of Children and Child Spacing on this blog. These two posts proved to be very popular, which isn't surprising considering that we are all parents in our child-bearing years. We want the absolute best decision for our families.

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.

Basic Guide
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.

Other Considerations
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.



Amanda said...

What a refreshingly christian perspective on having children! Seriously, this kind of reasoning is so rare in the popular advice given to moms. I've been told to not have more than two kids because then my husband and I 'will be outnumbered' lol! I consider it very much a decision that should be between a husband, wife, and the Lord. If other people are brought into the decision or if one of those three essentials is left out then somehow the decisions can get quite muddled.

Plowmanators said...

Yes, very Christian oriented. But remember it was written over 30 years ago...so "old-fashioned" :) But I believe it is very pertinent even if it isn't popular.

lol about the outnumbered. I hear that a lot in the reasoning why 3 is harder than 2. But I haven't found it to be an issue yet.

Twinmomwv said...

I just found your blog, while searching for some refresher information for my #5 8 wk. old.

This is such a fantastic post! And something I have really struggled with the past few years. My last pregnancy was definitely my hardest and we feel that mental health, as well as physical, is a big factor in the decision to not have any more children. What a blessing that the new Church Handbook covers this in that permanent birth control measures may be taken if there are health reasons to consider.

The guilt has finally been lifted from my shoulders. I feel that your post is an answer for me, "Your ability to be a parent (actual ability, not desire of your heart)" applies to me so much. The Lord knows my limitations in this life and I feel that still having the desire for more children is enough for now.

Plowmanators said...

I am glad it helped you! I think something to keep in mind is that the children here are not the end. There are more in the future :)

Lindsey said...

I just love your blog! We started CIO with our 7 week old daughter last week, and the first day was the worst with a bit of fussing for 15 mins before every naptime. Since then she has gone down at every nap without a fuss and sleeps 8 hours through the night!

I had a question reguarding family planning and the babywise method. When can I expect my cycle to return once she is sleeping through the night (right now)? I am 8 weeks postpartum and am wanting to chart my cycle for family planning purposes, but I'm not sure when I can expect my cycle to return. What has your experience been with scheduling your babies and cycle return. I am exclusivly breastfeeding, but have her on the 3 hour schedule.



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