When parents open their hearts to welcome the children God wishes to send them, they are often rewarded with many children. God lovingly answers their generous faith by entrusting new souls to their care, new lives to nurture and lead back to him.
God smiles on open-hearted, adventurous parents and showers them with his never-failing help. He uses their busy, happy family life to strengthen each child in faith and virtue. Through the parents’ sacrifices, he makes of each family a cadre of valiant, strong, self-confident men and women who will carry the Faith forward in history and influence those around them whose lives will intertwine with their own.
If you have been blessed with many children, you should thank God for this great honor and be confident of his never-failing help.
For your own peace of mind, too, you should pause now and then to think how your family life–frantic and challenging as it often is–works to strengthen the character and faith of your children, and thereby the Church of the next generation. A large family is inherently formative; it’s an ongoing apprenticeship in right living and leadership. It works to turn out young people who surpass their contemporaries, succeed in life, and emerge as leaders.
So then, consider how your family life benefits each your children. How are your children strengthened to be better men and women through the give-and-take of growing up with several brothers and sisters?
- Unlike most children today, they are genuinely needed at home. Through their chores and their handling of responsibilities around the house, they contribute to the family’s welfare. That is, every day they practice putting their powers up against problems for the service of others. Consequently they grow in self-knowledge (their strengths and limitations) and realistic self-confidence. They grow to be more mature more quickly.
- Related to this, they understand the real meaning of responsibility, that is, if we don’t do our duty, someone else will suffer. So their moral development–moving from “self” to “others”–takes root more deeply. They grow to be givers, not takers.
- Surrounded by siblings’ conversation and playful interaction, they enjoy constant intellectual stimulation. This strengthens and sharpens their judgment.
- They’re surrounded by laughter. By and large, even with its ups and downs, the home of a large family is a happy place, a place of healthy fun. Good cheer, it seems, is livelier, more heartfelt, when shared with a crowd. All their lives, children from a large family remember the fun they had together, the sheer delight of being alive surrounded by love.
- Even their normal squabbles and spats, when refereed by parents, teach them lessons of fairness, sharing, splitting differences, letting others off the hook, forgiving and forgetting. This fortifies their moral standards, their lifelong conscience. (Friction, though irksome and tedious at times, has its uses; it rounds off rough edges, forms a smooth, resilient surface.)
- Since their parents take care of their needs but cannot satisfy their whims (through lack of money and time), children learn the difference between wants and needs. They learn to wait for what they want, or to work and earn it themselves. Thus they are spared the corruptive influence of instant gratification. They internalize the virtues of patience and honorable ambition. They grow to become self-reliant self-starters.
- Through interactions with their siblings, children more deeply understand gender differences. From their sisters, boys understand and appreciate femininity; from their brothers, girls understand and appreciate what’s common among males. All the children are thus better prepared for marriage.
- One of the mysteries of a large family is the startling differences siblings display in temperaments and talents and interests. By dealing with these differences among their siblings, children learn to get along with anyone. Having to share a bedroom and bathroom and space at the table prepares the children superbly for marriage and for life.
- Older children play with the youngest ones, and thus form a bond of affection with them. Younger children receive love and learning from several older people, not just their parents. So older children are pulled out of their egos, and younger ones are surrounded by love.
- Each child journeys through life enjoying the support of his grown-up brothers and sisters. No matter what befalls them in life, your children will never be alone. Indeed, the finest gift parents can give their children, the gift lasting a lifetime, is their brothers and sisters.