large family
Adoption,  Family

Large Family Shaming

If you have at least 3 kids or more, you may have experienced “large family shaming”. If you have 4 or more, people start reminding you to stop while you are ahead. Families with 5 or more? Stand back! They are growing a football team! We are going to talk about this today and why it is not okay.

large family

Big Ol’ Family in the House! (…Uh, Kroger Anyway)

I can honestly say that our family has not received the worst of it. Most of the time we find ourselves entertained by the things that seem to fall precariously out of people’s mouth.

As you know, our family grew to its current size in chunks. We adopted three, then we adopted three more. I am also not ashamed to say that we will adopt again and we are still waiting on God’s timing for pregnancy, too. We didn’t really notice the difference until we went from a family of 5 to a family of 8.

As I pulled into the Kroger parking lot, I gave the kids my normal briefing before we entered through the big, sliding glass doors that beckoned for what is left of my wallet every week.

Our Pre-shopping Briefing

“We are only going in for a few things. I need you to behave. Please don’t touch, goof off, stand in the middle of the aisle, run, jump or be loud. Stay with me at all times. Got it?”

large family

“Yeeeesss Maaaaa’aaamm.” They respond with falsified enthusiasm. And yes, our kids are so literal, so black and white about everything, if it isn’t specifically listed in the “Do NOT Do” list, it is bound to happen.

I think that was the first time I had taken all 6 of them to the grocery store by myself. Garrett and I had been “practicing” with them…but at stores with bigger aisles, like Walmart, Lowes or Menard’s. That way when they walked four in a row with no regard for “oncoming traffic”, people had room to get around us.

The Kids Knew What To Do

But this trip to Kroger went amazingly well. They did absolutely everything right! They followed behind like a perfect row of little ducklings. As they followed close behind me in a single file line, talking quietly among themselves, an older gentleman sitting at a Starbucks table began to count rather loudly, “3…4…5…” And I hear one of mine in the back, “There’s 6 of us.” Hey, saved the guy time spent on that extra number, right? We all found that experience to be entertaining. No harm, no foul.

Sometimes people are just curious or interested in why you would have so many kids, much less bring them all to the grocery store with you. Others are slightly more judgmental about it.

Foot-in-Mouth Disease

Recently, I suppose the exciting gossip about our family being larger than the average house of the Jones’s (that we were unaware we were supposed to be keeping up with) made it’s way through the grapevine. Someone was so interested in whether Garrett actually had six kids that they sought out one of his closer coworkers to confirm. Asking Garrett himself would have been more polite, but what’s the fun in that?

“I heard Garrett has six kids at home. Is that true?”

The coworker’s response was, of course “Yes.”

Then she comes whipping back with the response she had set up for in the first place.

“Wow, he needs to get off her!”

Insert here: Foot-in-Mouth. Oh to be a fly on the wall when his coworker gave her the casual, “They are all adopted.”

But that is not really the point is it? What if they were not all adopted? Why is that any business of hers? Here’s the cold, hard truth. It’s not. It’s not anyone’s business but ours how large our family is…and yes, how it became so large. If you are a large family, you already know that there is much worse that people say and do regarding their appraisal of our lives. If you know someone that does this, this next section is for them.

When It’s Better to Hold Your Tongue

When You Feel the Need to Express Your Opinion That People Should Not Have Such a Large Family.

large family

First, just don’t. Keep those opinions to yourself. You’re entitled to think what you want, but your opinions do not need to impose. You have no idea the circumstances surrounding that family. On the flip side of the coin, would it be more acceptable to expect you to have more children for some particular reason or another? No. Be kind and walk away if the urge to chastise or degrade someone for the size of their family is too much for you to resist.

If You Are Curious About the Size of Someone’s Family, Talk to Them.

It is not appropriate to take your curiosities to someone else. The only reason the lady above did so was for gossip’s sake. She had something to say and she wanted to say it. You will likely embarrass yourself, and appear petty and small minded. Most families have no problem telling people about their life and how they make it work, as long as the person asking remains polite.

A Man and Woman’s Sex Life is the Farthest Thing From Your Business.

Again, just don’t. The intimacy between a man and his wife is just that, between a man and his wife. It doesn’t matter how many kids they have, or how many they desire. They aren’t asking your permission, and honestly never will.

You Cannot Know Someone’s Heart, Please Don’t Add Cracks to the Hurting Ones

It is fairly common nowadays that people struggle with infertility. Yes, it is true that some adopt because they were not able to conceive. And some adopt just because they want to be a part of the solution to a very large problem. Some are simply called to it. Others have large families biologically for many reasons. Maybe they have a calling on their lives to bear and raise many children. Or maybe they just like kids. Lots of people still see kids as a blessing, not a burden or obligation. Children are to be cherished no matter what way they come to be in a family. Please do not say things they may hurt or harm. And if you think their kids don’t hear you, you are wrong. Consider what your comments might say to them.

Just Be Kind.

When it comes down to it, just be kind. Kindness is free and takes very little effort. Everyone does not need to agree on everything all of the time, and they won’t. However, a choice to speak or not to speak can make all the difference in the world.

The Lord bless you and keep you all.


    • Emmalyn

      Thank you so much, Jennifer! People just don’t understand sometimes. 9/10 they eventually learn. Thank you for your comment!

  • Amanda Krieger

    I have four kids and I could relate to so much of this.
    Is it weird that I also hate that everyone assumes I’m an extraordinarily gifted mom? Like I don’t get frazzled or yell? That somehow, because we have a lot of kids, I’m “above” all the hardships other moms deal with.
    Here’s what I do know: we’re blessed to have all these kids. God is good.

    • Emmalyn

      You are so right! If anything, sometimes I think the “hard” is accentuated. Sometimes it feels like you get less of a pause between crises the more kids you have….but I could be wrong. I’ve never had less than 3 at a time. lol And yes, God is so good. Sometimes I’m in awe that God would choose me, an imperfect (many times impatient), person to raise these beautiful kids. Thank you so much for your comment!

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