Five years ago, Georgette and I attended a wedding at a local Christian church. The bride was the oldest daughter of a client of mine. My client and her husband have four adult children, all of whom are devout Christians.
At the wedding reception, the father of the groom gave a short speech and then announced that he and his wife were expecting the new couple to have “lots of children.” He said that they had waited a long time to become grandparents and were looking forward to their new role in life.
When I heard the speech, I wondered how many children the groom’s parents’ had. I found out later that they had two children — a son and a daughter.
The bride and groom were in their 20s and were both college graduates. The bride had a full-time job and the groom was still in school studying for a master’s degree. I found out a couple of years later that the groom had received his master’s degree and had been hired to work for a Christian organization.
Last year, I saw the bride’s younger brother at a local community event. I asked him how his older sister was doing and he filled me in on what was going on with his sister and her husband. I asked him if they had any children and he responded, “No, they don’t have any children yet. They’re waiting until they’re more financially secure. It would be irresponsible for them to have a child before they are financially secure.”
I was a little surprised by the brother’s comment and wondered how the couple defined “financial security.” They both had full-time jobs. Did they think it was necessary for them to own their own home before having a child? Did they want to pay off all their school loans before having a child? Or did they have a certain amount of money they wanted to have in savings before they started their family?
A year after my client’s oldest daughter got married, their second child — a daughter — got married. Georgette and I also attended that wedding. I ran into the second-oldest daughter a few months ago and we visited for a while.
She asked how many grandchildren Georgette and I have. After answering her question, I asked if she had any children. She answered, “No, we’re not ready yet.” I encouraged her to start her family early rather than later and she became defensive, so I moved on to another topic.
Three of my client’s four children are now married. The brother was married last year, and of course, he and his wife do not have any children.
My client and her husband are very well off financially. They did not start their family until after they owned their own home. I expect that their children developed their beliefs about children and financial security from their parents.
Can you imagine the Blessed Virgin Mary telling the Archangel Gabriel that she was not ready to cooperate with God in bearing His Son because she and St. Joseph were not financially secure?
My parents didn’t get their first financial break until after their sixth child was born. Prior to moving into a house that my dad built, they lived in a two-room apartment with their first four children.
One of my mom’s favorite sayings while I was growing up was, “God will provide.” That’s what she said every time she was pregnant and the topic of money came up. God rewarded her and my dad for their faith by generously providing for their growing family.
Georgette and I were married in 1980, two months before I started my second year in law school. Our plan was to wait until after I graduated and was working before we started having children. Because we were committed to the teachings of the Catholic Church concerning contraception, we decided to practice Natural Family Planning.
Our plan to wait until I was out of law school to have our first child didn’t materialize. Instead, our first child was born 10 months after we were married. Our second and third children were born within the next two years. We didn’t get serious about learning and practicing Natural Family Planning until after we had our third child.
Although we were exhausted and had very little money during those years, we were rewarded with the most precious eternal treasure that God can give to a couple — Catholic souls who were sent to this Earth to share their love with their parents.
After Georgette and I had five children, we had a miscarriage. She ended up in the hospital where certain tests and procedures had to be performed. After she was discharged to go home, while we were riding the elevator down to the main floor, a young man inside the elevator struck up a conversation with us.
He was an employee of the hospital and told us that he was 16 years old. He asked why we were there. After we told him, he asked how many children we had. When we told him that we had five children, he responded, “Wow, that’s a lot of kids! When I get married, I’m only going to have two children — a boy and a girl.”
When I heard his comment, my immediate thought was, “He’s too young to have that belief.” Then I realized that he had developed the belief from the conditioning he received while he was growing up.
The majority of young men and women in the United States believe that the “perfect family” is comprised of one boy and one girl. This particular belief is absorbed and learned from their parents, relatives, teachers, the media, and the very culture they are exposed to while they are growing up.
Yet, when the same individuals are older, they announce to their newly married children that they expect “lots of grandchildren” as soon as possible.
My parents had 17 children — the perfect family for them. Georgette and I had 7 children — the perfect family for us. Why were these families perfect for us? Because they were planned by God, not by individuals who thought they knew better than God what was best for them.
The picture at the beginning of this article was taken last week on Halloween. It’s a picture of my parents and my 10 grandchildren, all of whom are treasures from Heaven. I’m thankful that my children and their spouses have decided to abide by the teachings of the Catholic Church concerning contraception.
Dear Georgette and Harry –
Another well-thought out and well-written lesson!
My vocation led me, without my realizing it, to have many
children! As the years of my teaching, as a Religious, mounted up,
I would count each of the children as “mine”. I had a part in each one’s life! My Jesuit brother, Bob, every Mothers’ Day, would send a greeting to Mom, my sis, Mary and to me, wishing us a Happy Mothers’ Day. He would remark that mine were “spiritual children.”
I love my memories of it! And I’m still in contact with lots of the ones I taught. God is Good! Love you! Sister Roberta
Thanks, Harry, for your informative and insightful articles. Let’s not forget the Godchildren, too. How many does that add to your list? Your Godson Luke just joined the army and heads to bootcamp on August 12. Pray for him.
Dan – We need to get together one of these days to catch on family and business news. I’m surprised by Luke’s decision. I’ll keep him in my prayers. Harry