They're all so well-behaved!
They get along so well!
We love to have your kids over because they're the nicest kids in the neighborhood!
How do you do it?
I can barely manage the 2 I have!
You've done such a great job!
Honestly, I have to say I didn't do anything special. I think it's a gift from God because he knows I couldn't handle rotten kids. ;-)
Seriously, I believe that all we did was to open ourselves up to grace, especially the grace that comes from being open to life. I love babies. I love being pregnant. I love giving birth, especially at home. I love breastfeeding. And so we kept having babies, some would say too many, until we were maxed out, so to speak, physically, emotionally, financially.
Now, that's a commentary on how we felt at the time, making the decision to avoid pregnancy indefinitely, because we felt it the right thing to do. It was a decision made together, through prayer, knowing that we could change our minds (or God could) at any time. We always knew that He would take care of all of our shortcomings if we had another child, but it's a personal decision and I wouldn't dream of criticizing someone who came to that same conclusion before 6 children, or after 6.
While I wouldn't criticize someone for stopping, because who knows what their reasons are, I have to say that it's those 6 children that made us good parents! Each child changed us in some way because of his or her own personality, or needs, or even birth number. But the biggest reason is simply the fact that I can't do it all! So they each had to help. It seems to be a societal feeling that Mom does have to do everything, so the kids can be...what?....kids? And then you end up with adults who expect to be served all the time!
- They've had to learn to wait for things, or do it themselves.
- They've had to help with chores because they make a large part of the mess. It's both a logical consequence and just being a participating member of a family.
- They've had to learn to do without luxuries like soccer and baseball.
- They've spent a lot of time together as homeschoolers and simply because I didn't have the time or energy to take them for individual playdates.
- They've learned the importance of babies, the amount of work they require, and how beautiful they are!
Sometimes I feel bad that my kids have to fix their own lunch (and sometimes I'll fix lunch for everyone!), or that they didn't all get to play soccer, or that they don't have the latest electronic game system, but then I look at them and see that while they might complain on occasion, they're actually happy. They do their chores with fairly minimal grumbling. They obey without all the lip that I hear from other kids. They all know how to cook to some degree, which is more than I knew in college! They know they have to save their money or do extra jobs for pay to be able to do special things, like go to the movies or buy a season pass to Six Flags.
I don't know if we would have been very good parents with 2 kids. It's harder then because you have more money and more time (for Mom to do all the work). We probably would have spoiled them all rotten.
A funny little aside about when I was doing some banking recently and switching over Pete's account to checking, the banker was trying to tell me how we should handle his banking, which was not to let him have any responsibility for it as a teen, and then to stay on the account after he turns 18 to maintain control, which was totally against my beliefs! Then, when he met Pete and talked with him, and found out what a great young man he is, he said, "You should buy this boy a car!" I told him that he's a great kid because he doesn't have a car, and he should remember as his 2 toddlers grow up, they'll be great kids if he doesn't give them everything they want!
My great parenting advice would be, no matter how many children you have:
- Make God the center of your lives.
- Make the kids work; it builds character.
- Don't give them everything their friends have.
- When they do get something special, make them work to help pay for it!
- And demand obedience and respect.
And then you can say the prayer that I say frequently: Please, God, let them turn out to be good kids in spite of my failings!