Be Fruitful and Multiply

Fans of Stuff’s latest about having lots of kids might find these articles interesting.

Bucking the norm, some families think big

It’s barely a blip on the nation’s demographic radar — 11 percent of U.S. births in 2004 were to women who already had three children, up from 10 percent in 1995. But there seems to be a growing openness to having more than two children, in some case more than four.

Family size in America: Are large families back?

We decided to cut through the buzz and find out whether big families really are on the upswing, and — more important, if you’re one of the 50 percent of BabyCenter moms who want a big family — what life is like for multiple-kid moms. Here’s what the experts, both the academic and the real-mom kind, had to say:

How Full Is Your Quiver?

Quiverfull beliefs are absolutist. Purists don’t permit even natural family-planning methods, such as tracking fertility cycles (the only form of birth control condoned by the Roman Catholic Church). Also taboo: any form of artificial fertility treatment. “The point is to have a welcoming heart,” says Mary Pride, a mother of nine whose 1985 book, “The Way Home,” celebrated a return to traditional gender roles. It has sold about 80,000 copies and has inspired many quiverfull families. “You shouldn’t be unnatural in going to a fertility clinic or in trying to avoid having children by regulating when to have sex with your husband,” says Pride.

‘Arrows for the War’

Quiverfull parents try to have upwards of six children. They home-school their families, attend fundamentalist churches and follow biblical guidelines of male headship–“Father knows best”–and female submissiveness. They refuse any attempt to regulate pregnancy. Quiverfull began with the publication of Rick and Jan Hess’s 1989 book, A Full Quiver: Family Planning and the Lordship of Christ, which argues that God, as the “Great Physician” and sole “Birth Controller,” opens and closes the womb on a case-by-case basis. Women’s attempts to control their own bodies–the Lord’s temple–are a seizure of divine power.

A Joy Complete

Will I never learn? The other day, I attended a Saturday vigil Mass with five of my children and without my husband. Two of the children I brought along have a combined age under 5. I didn’t anticipate any problems. Was that a sign of cockiness or stupidity?

Comments 4

  1. Donna Marie Lewis wrote:

    Is anyone else appalled by the smugness of one of the men in “How Full Is Your Quiver ?” What really gets me is when he speaks of “turning over” his eldest daughter. I want to reach through the screen and shake him. “Hello, she’s your daughter, not a set of car keys !”
    There’s a wicked little corner of my mind that is hoping that when she becomes an adult, she shacks up with an atheist just to spite the man.

    Posted 28 Nov 2006 at 9:28 pm
  2. John wrote:

    I have that same corner, but I call it my “hope that the underlying goodness of mankind can overcome evil and abusive upbringings” corner, as oppose to a wicked little corner.
    Having large numbers of children that you may or may not be able to take care of for the express purpose of breeding an army is fairly wantonly abusive.
    Do they also make them stand up straight and dress in crip tan clothing?

    Posted 29 Nov 2006 at 12:10 pm
  3. Donna Marie Lewis wrote:

    I call it my wicked little corner because of the ‘shacking up’ part – I believe ‘shacking up’ is often a lousy set-up for the woman involved – all the expectations of keeping house combined with the fragility of a relationship where he can walk out at anytime sounds like a poor deal to me. I wouldn’t really want to wish that on the poor kid.

    Posted 29 Nov 2006 at 3:40 pm
  4. John wrote:

    Ah. Duly noted. I was contemplating shacking up more legitimately :)

    Posted 30 Nov 2006 at 10:45 pm

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