"the world is built for families of four"

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I'm drawing the winner on Friday morning and there are 4 ways to win!

Have you ever heard that expression? I had, long before we even had kids, but as we were considering having a third baby, we heard it a lot more frequently.

It's true isn't it? Hotel rooms, cars, most family-sized homes, vacation packages. They're all made for four people. Of course there are other options out there: get a hotel room with a cot, buy a van, put two kids in each room, get creative with holidays. But the point is, it's easiest to just stop at two kids. I get it, but obviously, we're not. Heck, I hope we don't stop at three kids!

But it can be discouraging for a parent. After Oli was born a lot of people assumed we were done having kids altogether. Forget the fact that we were vocal about wanting to adopt additional children, I heard "so, you're done?" all the time. Especially because we had a boy and a girl. Why keep going when all is so perfect? Simple - that's never what we've wanted.

We believe we have enough room in our hearts, in our home, and in our budget for more than two kids. It's not that we're not happy now or that Lily and Oli have left us lacking. If anything, I think it's a compliment to our children than we don't want to stop! Another Lilygirl or Oliboy? PLEASE, YES!

And it's funny, because many of you reading this come from completely different situations. More than two children is probably not even a question for some of you. You'll get to that place when it's time to decide on having baby number 5 or 6! But in my context, I assure you, it's uncommon. Our neighbours think we're weird. I'm the only mom in my Mom's Group with two children. Brad is the only dad on his hockey team with two children. Growing up the vast majority of my friends were from families of two kids. The church I attended all throughout university wasn't brimming with large families as many, I know, tend to be. And we'll be the first family in our own church to have three children (though, granted, there are only 4 families!).

Sometimes I need to give myself a pep talk, because it will be tough. And if the world is built for families of four, the city is built for families of two or one. Our closest grocery stores don't even have child seats in the shopping carts and it's rare to see a minivan. And here we are, dreaming of having a big (for us) family. Honestly, I read blogs like Moments With Love and I just adore the idea of a HUGE family, filled with biological and adopted brothers and sisters. But I also remember that she lives in an American suburb in a giant house and drives a crazy long van, and that's just not what God has called us to as urban church planters in Montreal.

But we are certain we want more children, so we'll take hotel rooms with cots or pull-out couches, the minivan (SO weird to have one in our neighbourhood), bunk beds, and creative holidays. The world isn't built for it, but I think we were.

What about you?
Can you relate to wanting a large family despite the set backs or pressure to keep your family smaller?
Or do you feel opposite pressure - to have a larger family? I know people who are in this boat.
What motivated you to have the # of kids you've had?
What deters you from having a larger family?
I'd love to hear your thoughts!


  1. Hello :) I found your blog through A Bit of Sunshine. I can totally relate to your post on family size. In my religious culture, there used to be a lot of pressure to have several babies, but it's not that way so much anymore. We were blessed to have 4 kids before I had to have a hysterectomy for medical reasons. I feel like our family is complete, so I'm okay with not being able to have more. We, too, were often asked if we were done after 2 kids because we had one boy and one girl. Our family feels blessed to be together and we enjoy figuring out fun things to do all together, which can be quite the challenge sometimes!

    1. coming from a family of 5 kids I get the "figuring out fun things to do all together" phenomenon. All the advertised vacations for a family of 4 don't cut it. We have always lived 15 minutes from the beach and lived on a 50 acre farm property with a bush. Lucky for us cheap family fun was always available.

      Also, do you find that with lots of kids... you don't need expensive toys/vacations/entertainment - their siblings are entertainment enough!!!

    2. Annie, that's exactly what I was hinting at in my final question "do you feel pressure to have a larger family?", because I know in certain churches or areas, the Christian community can put that stress on families. If I'm honest, I've done it myself before! When I have talked to a Christian family who only want one child I've been surprised in the past and judged their decision - but it's so so wrong and none of my business!

      It's always in God's hand at the end of it too, right? Like how you had to stop at 4 kids - God knew that and determined it was GOOD :)

  2. We definately want a big family. And it's not uncommon. I come from a family with 5 kids and my hubby a family of 4. Currently our friends come from families with 4, 6, 7 kids and most of my friends want biggish families.
    I don't know if it is the country living or dutch culture we are surrounded by in our church but I LOVE it. Our church is smallish in the # of babies but that's because there's a big generation gap. Jumps from mid/late thirties to Dave & I. My friends church however, in the next county over has 40 kids in their church nursery (3 and under).

    The question I always get is.. "when will you have your next one" or "how many do you want?". There is absolutely NO assumption that because we are pregnant with our second that we will stop after this :)

    1. Hey Kirsten, I'd definitely say you're in one of those cultures where it's the norm to have a big famiy and I'm not surprised knowing your context - Dutch, Christian, Farming, Country community! It's not uncommon for you at all, but if you were in my neighbourhood in downtown Montreal, you'd see what I mean when I say it's uncommon!

      Most people are single here, and if they're "together" they're normally not married (even if they have kids), and if they have kids it's 9/10 that they'll have just one child, if not one than two.

  3. I've always wanted 3 or 4 kiddos.. My husband only wants two, but I think he might be coming around :)
    I agree- nowadays everyone assumes you're only going to have one or two kids. I understand it takes more "work"- bigger vehicle, more money, more planning, etc. But what fun! I want a joyful, bustling home. And family traditions, lots of little friends wanting to play at our house and big family dinners for years to come.

  4. I had extremely difficult pregnancies with multiple complications, and 2 miscarriages before each child (1 before our oldest and 1 before our youngest), so had a tubal ligation after my son was born, thus I am done having biological children. I don't think you could pay me to be pregnant again. That being said, I love children, so my husband and I are confident that if the Lord wills it, we would adopt in a heartbeat - his dad is adopted, so we have a special place in our heart for adoptees. Now that we have two kids though, a girl and a boy as well, we always get comments about our 'million dollar family' and how things are perfect now that we have one of each, which I am still unsure of how to react to. Despite this I do get asked all the time when we will have more, since the majority of families in our circle have 3 or more kids, or are planning on having large families now - seems to be the trend in Christian families in Central Ontario, or at least where we are! I am just thankful for my family as we are, and look forward to seeing my other blessed babies when we see Him face to face.

    1. love that you'd be willing to adopt some day! It's such a beautiful way to grow your family :) We will likely adopt too, after this third (and most definitely final) pregnancy :)

  5. I'm the oldest of five children. And even as the oldest child in the family I can say that having a larger family has been such a blessing! Three of my siblings are biological siblings and one is adopted but just as much my sibling as the others. I don't know what my future family will look like, small, large, adopted, natural born, no children at all, I'm trusting God to handle those details later. But if you seek God in your family planning I can assure you all those little details will work out! God knows the challenges you may face with three children in a community where 2 is the most. He knows. You are clearly a wonderful mother! The children you have and any children you may have in the future are very blessed! :)
    Romans 8:28

  6. I only have a a younger sister and the five year age difference makes getting along an effort at our age. When I am older I plan on having three kids, not too big and not the "perfect two"

  7. Anonymous20.2.13

    I would have loved to have more kids had circumstances been better, however, I do have to add that having three girls very close in age (twins followed by a single 2 years later) made for a busy family.
    when we only had the twins - it was a kiddo for you and a kiddo for me and let's go, with number 3 - it was a kiddo for me, a kiddo for you and oh heck - who's got the baby - LOL

  8. Hey Em, I agree with you, lots of people think you should stop after two..especially when you have a boy and a girl. I think it's crazy that people think it's their business to even comment on the number of children you choose to have, nevermind butt their noses in and TELL you to stop.

    for me, every one URGED...no wait...COMMANDED me that I better not get pregnant right away. I was already breaking the mold getting married at 21. Lo and behold, we were pregnant four months after getting married. For the first time, I AM taking it slow by waiting a bit to get pregnant with our second. Every time I say I feel tired or my stomach hurts, people jump up and are like...ARE YOU PREGNANT?? and not in the excited way either. People just expect me to "disappoint" them by moving too fast, in their opinion. For the first time though, I'm taking things slow, but because I feel that I need to!! Still though, when I do get pregnant (probably this year or next)..I will be met with more shaking of heads and urges to stop at two.

    One thing though I wanted to point out, and I don't think you struggle with this but I'm sure others do, is that sometimes people think that more children = more holiness. A mom with five kids is not more brave, or holier, or more biblical, or whatever, simply because she has five kids. I remind myself of that daily because we tend to look at the big families and think, wow, look how godly they are. The small families can be equally or even more godly, it matters how we raise them, not how many there are!

    1. just to follow up, every one LOVES Penelope. She is wrapped around their fingers. So even though I ignored every one who wanted me to wait, they are now so blessed and happy that she is here!! Didn't want to make it sound like my family or friends didn't like my baby!!

    2. Your final point is so true - I was hinting at that in my question "do you feel pressure to have MORE kids?" because in Christian cultures it can be a huge assumption that you will have a large family.

      It all depends on the individual family's abilities. I'd say child rearing is the single greatest refining thing I've ever encountered and has shown me my sin and driven me to holiness more than any other challenge or blessing. But for some, having one child will bring that about just as much or more as having 5 kids. Our hearts are all so different, and we serve a God who knows us uniquely :)