I am amazed and often saddened by the comments I get almost everytime I go anywhere with my three young children. These comments remind me of the poor perspective the society as a whole has of children. Some of the most common comments I hear are:
“Wow, you have your hands full.” (What good does this comment bring?)
“Three girls? You gonna try for a boy?” (Uh…I find this one awkward).
“Three, huh? You’re not going to have more are you?” (This is so negative towards children).
My first question is: When did three children become so many? Growing up I don’t remember people thinking that three children equaled a big family. It certainly didn’t seem that having three children used to bring on these sorts of comments. I get these from people I know and from perfect strangers.
Honestly they bother me quite a bit. I don’t see the benefit in saying things like this to a young mother. Sometimes I don’t know how to respond. I want to communicate the truth of how God sees my children instead of being rude because I am offended. This is a challenge sometimes, even with people I love already.
A friend taught me a series of questions to ask yourself when you are about to say something to another person: Is it true? It is kind? Is it beneficial?
These comments above that I am almost daily asked, especially by strangers, bother me for many reasons. One of those reasons is because these questions are not really kind, not beneficial, and don’t communicate truth about what children really are and how they should be seen.
Children are a blessing from the LORD. In Psalm 127, we read:
“Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.”
Our society has been viewing children as burdens instead of blessings for a long time. Since nothing is new under the sun (“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV), our society did not come up with this notion.
However the typical modern American culture has furthered this ill view of children with the idea that our children have to do every activity they are interested in, go to a good college, have everything the parent didn’t have while growing up, and have everything (or at least most of) what their classmates have in order to give them a good childhood. Because of this, children are seen as expensive. “It costs money to have more children, you know,” is another comment I often hear.
Well of course each person God adds to your family will require food and clothes, etc, but this new person doesn’t have to be as expensive as the average American makes him. Plus there is time to save for things like college, and I believe that God always provides for our every need. This is not a blind faith in His provision. This faith comes from seeing it time and time again. He always comes through, and He will be no different in providing for what my children need as they trust in Him.
In the meantime, they don’t have to be in every sport, art class, activity, and club to have a great childhood. In fact, I think sometimes children are weighed down by too much activity and not enough family time and time to rest. Of course I support children being involved with sports and the arts, but we have to be wise as parents to not overload them. When this happens, our motives must be examined.
Plus, dare I say, not everyone has to go to college. There are many successful people who have not. Furthermore, a college education doesn’t have to lead to a full time career for it to be “worth it.” I use what I learned in college everyday. I just don’t use it in the workforce outside of my home. I use it in my interaction with family and friends, with my business, with the arts, with my faith, and with my life in general. If college just leads me to what I can use in a job setting, then I missed something.
So…yes we do let the LORD build our home. We talk to Him about it, and then we trust Him to take care of it. We love our children and would love more over the years. We strive to be parents that teach our children how to live a life worthy of the calling that has been placed on their lives. We pray they will learn to know and love God and love others as a result.
I want to look at them and see the people they are, not the messes they make or the discipline they require, or the amount of food they eat. They are people, loved by God, who have been brought to us for a time to be loved, taught, and parented by us for God’s glory. Yes, my hands are full -with tremendous blessings from the Lord on High, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.
Another friend with three children, who gets similar comments from strangers, thought of a great response. When someone says, “Wow, your hands are full,” she responds with, “Yes, and I love it.”
It’s not that people can’t ask me about my children, about how we see family, and if we want a boy one day. It’s just that the negative way, or seemingly negative way, in which I am asked is often offensive and unnecessary.
Is it true? Is it kind? Is it beneficial?
It’s hard work to be a good parent, and it takes a lot of prayer and wisdom from the LORD. But it doesn’t have to be a stressful mess all the time. Perhaps that is for another post.
Thank You, LORD, for our precious children. Whether this be all you give us or be there more to come, we praise You for them and know we are blessed. Amen.