Thursday, February 25, 2010

Instilling Values in a Smaller Family?

The Question:

Dear Jane, 

I think it's wonderful that you've been able to have so many children. I come from a family of 5 children and always hoped I would have a larger family. After my husband I I were married a year and a half we learned of our inability to have biological children. We didn't waste any time and now six years into marriage we have adopted 2 beautiful children and hope to adopt at least one more. With adoption being so very expensive, we are feeling lucky to have the 2 we have! 

In your earlier posts you mention about the decline of large families and I'm with you about your thoughts of what and how children learn from having a lot of siblings with parents whose budgets need to stretch to take care of business. I only hope my children can learn those same lessons (lessons I learned growing up), but I'm afraid we'll have a smaller family. 

Do you think those same lessons and experiences can be taught and observed by children who come from smaller families? Maybe there isn't much to this question, but I do feel like the decline in family size might have a lot to do with growing infertility in couples. It's very common in today's world whereas when my mother was having children, she didn't know of anyone who struggled to get pregnant. In other words, sometime choices and options are limited (or more difficult) when it comes to building a family.  Thanks for your time! Kate

The Answer:
Dear Kate,
Let me just say first of all, sight unseen, that I just love you.  Your letter went straight to my heart.   And I'm so proud of you and thrilled that you've been able to adopt two children. 
In response, I would just say that it's very possible to instill wonderful values in your children even though there aren't as many.  Big families learn the art of give and take and doing without because they don't have a choice.  You just have to be more disciplined about it.   You have to take care not to indulge your children.  You'll need to find opportunities for them to serve.  Teach them to work.  Encourage them to earn their own education.  
As my family winds down, we have four children left at home.  I face this same challenge with a smaller family--having to create circumstances that happened naturally in a big family.  But I've discovered many wonderful benefits too.  I have more time to spend with each child.  We are more able to serve people outside of our family.   Things are a little quieter!
Each of us, as we approach our family--whatever its size, need to decide what we truly want our children to learn--what qualities we want them to develop.  Then we ponder and pray to know how to instill those qualities.  As we implement the ideas that begin to flow in, we see results.  It's an amazing process.
May the Lord bless you in your efforts.


  1. If it is any help, I grew up in a small family. I have one older brother. I felt my parents did a great job at teaching us all the values that large families learn by virtue of their size. They did this by a lot of one-on-one teaching about service and the gospel, then modeling service to others. Additionally, they tried really hard to spend time with extended family, and I grew up with cousins as if they were siblings. My brother cared about me and protected me as his little sister, because that's all he had. We all continue to have good relationships, even with our grown cousins, into our adult lives.


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