Why My (10) Children Disagree With You About Getting Enough Attention

Why My 10 Children Disagree With You About Getting Enough Attention

Why My (10) Children Disagree With You About Getting Enough Attention

Big families are a bit of a freak show, and I’ve come to accept that. When we go out in public, we prepare ourselves for the onslaught of stares and awkward questions from strangers about our fertility even though we don’t return the probing questions in kind. (This is not a perceived martyr complex, if you’re tempted to think so. It’s our reality, confirmed by my younger children’s questioning looks (they don’t know there’s anything abnormal about having the number of kids we do), and increased dread in my older children of even going anywhere.)

Some questions are born from honest curiosity, some from ill-breeding (while we’re on the subject) but one is particularly hurtful because it is, for most of us, not true, but reveals how deeply misunderstood our families are.

I took my daughter for a haircut and of course the beautician started chatting with her. Eventually, she inquired about siblings and discovered she has 9 brothers and sisters. (Look of shock, awe and horror.)

“Do you ever get time with you mother?”

“Yes ma’am, lots of time.”

“Well I mean, alone?”

(Ignore the fact that here we were, alone, including a lunch date afterwards and lots of talking in the car, just the two of us. Something that happens fairly regularly.)

In addition to my children being questioned, I have been questioned as well.

So please allow me to enlighten the public who thinks my children suffer from getting lost in the shuffle of a large family:

I’m at home.

According to PEW Research, in 2011, mothers (in average families) spent approximately 13 hours per week with their children. That’s less than 2 hours a day. (P.S. No one seems concerned about that.)

Of that time, there are other factors to consider. Are members of the family on devices? Does that include watching tv together, which severely limits actual conversation? Homework? Exactly what kind of interaction is happening in these two hours?

I am at home all day. I eat three meals a day, around the table, talking with my children. I read to them several times a day. I take walks with different children each day. Sometimes, I just sit and talk with one or two of them. When I go somewhere, I take turns taking a child or two with me. Sometimes we write letters to each other, being more open about our feelings through writing.

We do a few activities, but we aren’t scurrying from event to event every day.

I spend an exorbitant amount of time with my children because I have it and because I’m keenly aware and deliberate about their needs.

We should also understand the myth:

The American push for “quality one-on-one time” is an attempted substitute for the natural, healthy thing children need: simply to be near and around their parents, learning to live life. Because Western parents are often absent in the day to day, we developed this child-centered philosophy to compensate, which is actually harmful to children. They need security, to know mom is there, if not directly involved in the moment.

But there’s more:

Parental affection and attention is not the only thing a child greatly benefits from. Having siblings is a fantastic boon to a child’s emotional and social development, and having many siblings enhances that benefit.

There is a reason my children, each with 9 siblings, still ask for another baby (and it’s not because they feel neglected.) A reason most people simply don’t understand. They enjoy each other and they love being surrounded by people who love them. It’s fascinating that criticism centers around a child “not getting enough attention” when the reality is that they receive far more than the average child, both from me and their siblings. That counts.

I understand it’s difficult to comprehend what you haven’t experienced. But it’s also impossible to make accurate commentary on said non-experience. For all the reasons you might not like big families, you can mark this one off the list.


55 Responses to “Why My (10) Children Disagree With You About Getting Enough Attention”

  1. Brandi says:

    Great post!

    • Jody says:

      I love your post. My Mom was one of 11 (13 but 2 died in infancy). My grandparents were not as interconnected but all in all a great group of people came from my grandparents. Intelligent, motivated, loving. Not perfect by any stretch but all love the Lord and are serving even into their old age or served until taken Home for their rest and reward. I am an only child. Not by my mothers choice but The Lords Plan, however, I am blessed by cousin “siblings.” I am particularly close to an older cousin and we call each other “sister-cousin.” I would be terribly alone with my mothers passing except I have strong family ties to many remaining relatives, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I wanted a large family, myself, but again, The Lords Plan differed from my “wants.” I cherish our large family and honor those who make the commitment to theirs; warts and all. God Bless c

  2. Cheryl says:

    I deffo think you should not be judged until they know you better. But, I was one of five, and believe you me, we were latchkey kids. My mother worked till eight 0 clock at night. My father was working than in the pub or golf club. My mother loved babies, but worked. We were loved but we all learnt to cook out of necessity, otherwise we would have starved.
    What i am trying to say, not everyone is as great at it as you. Nowadays we have a choice whether or not we have large families or not. Alot of mothers had them (we were catholic) because that was our religion. All of my siblings including myself have only had one or two children. We love our mother very much but realise she could not copy with five children. but we all got good jobs and have done well in life. Attention was sadly lacking I am afraid. We fended for ourself, washing and ironing. This is just the other side of the coin. But you sound as though your wonderful at it and that’s great. So I can see why people ask about the attention aspect just from my own childhood experiences. Not everyone is as good at it as you, you see. I certainly wish you well, as it is hard being a parent, and I know people should not judge you till they know your family very well. No likes being judged badly in that way. I just wanted you to know my experience of a large family. with the kindest of regards Cheryl x

    • Cheryl,

      I don’t think your description is “the other side of the coin” as in an accurate demonstration of a not enough attention due to family size. Your mother worked. Her lack of time/attention was in that, not in the number of her children. That was part of my point in the post, that there are FAR more latchkey kids who are not getting much attention, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem in the public’s eye. Only more than the average number of children elicits concern.

  3. Smitti says:

    You and your family are a great blessing and inspiration to me and my family. Thank you. Your posts to help me raise up OUR next generation – showing them that a family of more than 4 is a wonderful thing. Keep up the great work! 🙂

  4. Erika Shupe says:

    Ohhh…that so blessed ME, Kelly! We have the same situation of being together at home (and without a TV), spending time together both at home all day and also out for one-on-one shopping/lunch dates weekly with the girls (boys same with daddy things mostly). Anyway, I’ve found myself worrying again lately about the kids having enough one-on-one time with me – because the onslaught of the world communicates that our children must be deficient! And I’ve been trying to (through guilt) figure out how in the world I could have more one-on-one time with EACH of them, since they must be suffering. 😉 LOL I am SO COMFORTED to be reassured, and affirmed that our children get lots of me even compared to the typical family in society today who questions these things. I will have a great answer prepared for the next time someone asks this (daily almost, through our blog especially). *squeeze hugs* I SO WISH you and I could be neighbors and have coffee. =)

    • Erika Shupe says:

      Oh, and we have 9 children by the way. So I just feel like you and I so relate on everything. So nice to have that with someone.

    • Neighbors and coffee would be so nice! I still remember your sweet face from talking to you at the conference.

    • Amara says:

      If it is a comfort at all, I recently had this discussion with a friend, who was one of six children. Her mom was a devoted SAHM, and her father, a professional working many hours outside the home. She mentioned that her parents made a point to take each child out to dinner, alone, 2-3 times a year. She said she actually disliked these meals. 🙂 “Oh my word, all that attention on ME,” she lamented. “It was so much more fun when we were all out together, and mom and dad could divide the attention and you didn’t have to have ALL their focus.” Ha! It was a good lesson to me on perspective. In addition, a good lesson on thinking about what each child might “most need.” For one child, I think “date times” might be very necessary…others might prefer late-night talks…and still others, a few moments a day for rocking chair-and-a-book. I think the main point is *silencing the chatterbox* of the world, and taking the time to really know your own family.

      • Amara,

        Thank you! I believe it because my kids have done the same thing. We take each child out for his or her birthday by themselves. Half the time (especially the younger ones) they ask if a sibling can come along. And when even one or two siblings is gone, everyone is “off”, constantly asking when they’ll be back.

  5. Christine says:

    Why do people think it is unique to large families for children to be neglected? I was one of three growing up in a broken home and we were quite on our own the vast majority of the time. I know plenty of households with two children who don’t spend any time with their kids. It’s the norm. Families like mine, with nine children, who spend most of our time together, are something small families can not fully comprehend.

  6. Charlotte Moore says:

    Very good read. There are many families with 1-2 children that don’t get near the time spent with them that homeschooled large families do.


  7. Lisa Whitehead says:

    What a great article, but how sad that you had to write it!
    I have 2 kids. I come from a family of five, and my grandparents as far back as I can go, on average, had 14.
    I don’t get what is with people that they want to have issue over your family, just for it’s size.
    I am most sorry that your older kids get upset by others.
    I nannied 2 boys many years ago who were terminally ill and in wheelchairs. They were only 2 but they used to get so upset because people would stare.
    They didn’t get annoyed at the people who looked, curiously, but those who talked about them and pointed.
    If only they would learn some manners!

  8. Heather says:

    This is just fantastic. I may print it out and have it ready if I get pregnant again so that I can just read it word for word to my family.

  9. […] Why My (10) Children Disagree With You About Getting Enough Attention […]

  10. Erin says:

    Amen, amen, amen… And I “only” have four!

  11. Em says:

    Here, I should confess.
    There have been times, long ago, when I was the one asking these questions. Why would you have so many children? Or whatever rude question which came to mind, trying to put down your large family. And if I’m totally honest, there are times I still think those questions (but thank the Lord I can bite my tongue!).
    But let me explain why. Pure and simple jealousy. Deep in my heart, I wanted (and still at times long for) a large family full of children. Unfortunately my husband doesn’t. I pleaded with him, prayed, begged, to no avail. Finally I came to the conclusion that if the Lord had planned for us to have a large family, He would have changed my husband’s heart.
    So I have built a life around my two children. And we are good. But sometimes I see that life that I longed for and jealousy creeps in. It is especially hard in a virtual world where many Christian women tout the holiness of having large families. But God has a different plan for each of us, right?
    So when someone gives you criticism for your large family, please recognize that most likely it reflects a hurt in that person, and has nothing to do with your beautiful life.

    • Em,

      Wow, your honesty and kindness are beautiful. Thank you for sharing, and from the bottom of my heart, I’m sorry for your hurt. And yes, He sometimes has different plans for us.

  12. Cassandra says:

    OK….so I’ll confess too. I have had these thoughts, though I may have never expressed them before. But do you know, (I’m embarrassed to say) that I’ve never really given much thought to the fact that working mothers spend less time at home? I guess its so normal and what I’m used to. This article helped me think about that. Why do we criticize one situation but completely overlook the epidemic of kids who have 2 working parents and call that normal? Why aren’t we anymore concerned about that? We could at least be consistent. But your right..I see where if you’re home all day your kids would get lots of attention. I appreciate having this perspective brought to my attention. I’ll be sharing it.

  13. Jennifer S. says:

    So well said. We have eight children, and they clearly love spending time with each other and with us. I too eat three meals per day with my children. Usually at breakfast the older ones enjoy their coffees while I enjoy my tea and we talk and talk and talk. I treasure those times.
    As one person commented earlier our children often ask for a sibling to come along when they are going out for some one-on-one time. And when one or two of the children are away something just feels not right. You can almost feel the collective sigh of relief when we pick up the absent ones.
    My children too are hoping and praying that God will give us another baby. I find this particularly lovely because the older ones all know the work involved in a baby. #7 was a huge challenge for all of us with a HUGE need to be held constantly. He still needs vast amounts of personal attention. Knowing that they could have another sibling who needs so much personal attention does not deter them from longing for another one.
    I love my large family. God has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams.

  14. Laura says:

    I recently read a book called A Mother’s Touch. It’s chronicles the journey of motherhood of a lady who was a missionary’s wife and how she handled having 4 children in the bush, at least one as a baby. She describes the mothering tactics of the mothers in the village and how the mother and baby are together constantly–tied to mommy, at mommy’s feet, sleeping with or near mommy etc. She pointed out how capable, secure, and grounded the children of the village were (compared to the many anxieties children have today in “developed” countries), and how she incorporated many of their views into her own mothering experience (and perspective). Reading it gave me reassurance that having the children close and with you is normal and best for baby/small children.

    • Laura,

      Very interesting and I meant to work into the post the fact that, this “one on one” time is overrated in the American culture. Like you said, what is normal and healthy, is simply that children are near their parents, learning to live life from them, not that their parents are stopping everything to make the child the center of the universe.

  15. Janet Shea says:

    I am from a large family and got flack in school, and still do, because I like my siblings and get together regularly even in our 50’s and 60’s. In a time when the family is so mobile and the communities so varied, it is good to have home base ,even if there is no home.

    • Janet,

      I love this! And it’s so encouraging to hear from older siblings of large families. I would think, that as life proves, the older you get, the less everything else matters besides people. And that would make your relationships with your siblings more and more cherished through the years.

  16. Alexandra says:

    Ok I like this; it sounds great; and I want to believe it. I am almost 27 and pregnant with my 4th, my oldest is about to turn five. My husband and I know we are led to allow God to plan my family and I am excited about that, but I do already feel stretched thin. I am a stay at home mom, but I do still feel like I am always busy. I feel so often that am trying to convince my kids to go and play so that I can get something done; dishs, dinner, cleaning. Every afternoon I let the older two watch TV for an hour while the little one naps because I feel it is the only way to refresh myself and restore my patience. I love my children and I know they are a blessing, but I rarely feel that feeling of being able to just sit and be with them. I am praying that God continues to sanctify me into the image of his Son. I know I struggle with patience and being so focused on a task that everything seems to be an interuption. Sorry for my rambling.

  17. Alexandra says:

    Lastly, I do feel guilty if I don’t do enough with my kids. Like playdates, walks, the water park, playgrounds, ect; but sometimes I wonder if recovering from going is often what stretches me thin.

    • Alexandra,

      I do think we can create guilt for ourselves because of social standards that have said to us it’s our responsibility to create a “magical childhood.” It is not. It is our responsibility to love, teach and train our children. Anything extra is extra. I have found too, that when extras are more rare than the norm, the children enjoy AND appreciate it more. Give yourself grace to do what is within your season, and know that your children are going to be OK splashing around in the yard.

    • MC says:

      Don’t give up– this is the hardest part! It gets easier as the older children start getting older, and the training you put into them starts to take firm root and bear fruit.

      I remember feeling the same way with three (9, 3, and 1). I hadn’t put a lot of effort into training my oldest daughter, the little ones were both extremely active, and I was exhausted.

      I’m less exhausted now with kids 14, 8, 6, and 3. Sometimes I feel a little sad for the fact that, overwhelmed with the middle two at 4 and 2 and pregnant again, we decided to put an end to our childbearing. Not really regretful, but a little sniffly at times, as now I realize that I could probably handle our current life plus a 1-year-old just fine.

      Some things you can do to help yourself:

      1) Clean is clean enough. Don’t pressure yourself to have a perfectly tidy, beautifully decorated house. You have 4 small children. It is more important to teach them to do the work than to have the work done perfectly. Clean is clean enough.

      2) Fairy-tale childhoods are just that: fairy tales. They’re not true, they’re not real, and they shouldn’t actually happen down here on Earth. That’s not to say you should beat your kids or forget about their joy. But that is to say that they can get just as much happiness out of, say, running around the back yard while you push the mower and work in the garden (or being given a spray bottle and a rag to “help” while you clean the baseboards and wash windows) as out of daily excursions to the ice cream shoppe, park/playground, children’s museum, etc.

      I suffered from crippling agoraphobia for two years. Going out in the back yard was a challenge, never mind the park!! I couldn’t even GO to the park unless I took a couple of friends with me or made sure it was likely to be empty or in a town where I was unlikely to ever see any of those people ever again. We spent a lot of time inside at home, or hiking in the woods for outdoor activity (you don’t meet a lot of people on a hiking trail, and the ones you do meet are only in passing, so it was one public place where I could turn off the terror of judgment and just be with my kids).

      My kids are sure glad we’re able to go out more now– but they don’t seem to have suffered for it. I still get regular requests to “just stay home and play games” or “bake a pie together” or “help cook dinner” or “do the garden” or “clean the kitchen with Mommy” (an activity that usually involves water, slippery socks, and lots of banging on pots and pans).

      3) Don’t spend your energy on guilt for what you’re doing/not doing. Guilt is a huge energy sapper. It robs you of the ability to enjoy small things with your kids. I realize that’s a hard thing to do, but it’s absolutely necessary.

      I killed myself with guilt for all the time I spent working in the garden when my middle daughter was an infant (“We’re not in the park!” “We’re not reading as many books!” “We’re not doing pre-phonics!” “We’re not booooonnnding!”).

      Oh, what a fool I was!! At six, she reads just fine and knows what to do with a playground (although she’s usually the first to ask to leave). We’re pretty darn bonded. And one of her favorite activities?? Wait for it…

      Helping me in the garden.

      Every spring, she helps plant the seeds in their flats. She digs the holes (I scoop in the fertilizer). I take out the plants, she puts them in the hole, and we pat the dirt down together. Last spring, she had a blast naming each one of 12 pepper plants… It’s Our Special Thing. All of the older 3 CAN do the work, but she’s the one with the passion. I think she’d be awfully upset if I made seed selections without her!!

      4) Listen to the criticisms of others, just in case they have an actual valid point. Examine them a little. And then throw them out the window, because they’re probably useless.

      A lot of people gave me flak for having more than two kids (we already had one of each, dontcha know). Listening to that just drained the energy I needed to be giving my active toddler and newborn.

      I caught a lot of guff for choosing to cook from scratch and home-can on a large scale with two Littles, too. DD6 loves the garden. Guess what DS8 enjoys?? Yep– he loves to help me can. Cutting things up, putting them in jars, and making sure they are processed according to instructions makes him feel like a big boy and a scientist all in a go. ALL of them love to get greasy and floury in the kitchen. “Let’s cook something!!” is a common pick-me-up and one-on-one-time request (though usually it doesn’t stay one-on-one, as everyone else wants to get involved).

      A couple weeks ago, DS8 and I set out to make a pie. By the end of it, I’d been run out of the kitchen to play Memory with DD3. DH, DS8, and DD6 just sort of happily took over and ended up making a pretty doggone good blueberry pie!!

  18. singlebelle says:

    I’m sure there are many parents who are wonderful at sharing love and attention among a large family. I am an only child because my mom is the oldest of nine children. She grew up feeling like she had already raised her family because her mother was overwhelmed even though she was a stay at home mom and relegated many of the household and childcare responsibilities to my mother. I grew up being told how lucky I am to not be caring for a bunch of younger siblings and actually feel pretty great about being an “only”. I remember my grandmother saying she was always pregnant or nursing and she didn’t seem to find much joy in either state. This was way before the distractions of 24 hour tv and electronics. Not all moms of big families are good at it, even if they don’t work and sometimes the responsibilities fall to the children.

    • I’m sorry your mother felt that way. And I’m sorry you haven’t had the privilege of sharing your life with siblings. I do think it’s a gift. My oldest daughter, who was quite a bit older than the rest, and who did help me a lot, misses home now that she’s married. The thing she misses the most? Her siblings, especially the younger ones. When she comes over, if a diaper needs changed, she won’t even let me do it. She grabs the baby before I can. Maybe it’s just perspective. From a Christian standpoint, even working and serving is a privilege, and there’s no sweeter way than to do that than to invest in other people. Just to encourage you before you start your family.

      • Erin says:

        Well said, Kelly. Your response blessed me tremendously. I had only one sibling, but when I was older my parents took in foster children. I truly did enjoy helping with them and am grateful for the opportunity to look beyond myself during my teen years.

  19. Laura says:

    I think society has shifted so much in the last 150 years or so, even to what we do with our time and how we spend our lives. This whole idea that children are optional in life seems to be reflective of the fact that we live in a time and era where we have scads of leisure time on our hands… Because, while we do need to make a living and provide food and clothing and housing for ourselves and our families, it is done so in such a different way, and isn’t as hard as it used to be. Procuring food and clothing is as easy and cheap as a trip to your local good will and discount market. In past generations, growing into adulthood meant you had to be equipped to provide those things for yourself and your own future family. That equipping took a lot of time and effort, and there were few short cuts. Clothing made by hand of either homespun/dyed fabric, or store-bought. And only a few dresses or outfits per person–sometimes only one! And those needing to be hand washed… food that had to be either caught, hunted, raised and butchered or grown from the ground or gathered from the forest or field. In old rural America, “leisure” time meant a day spent berrying rather than doing farm chores, or fishing at the creek, or listening to someone read out loud while darning socks or embroidering in the evening. In today’s mindset, our lives seem to be made for this “leisure” and most seem to find work a necessary evil, and that the only “quality” time you can share with others (including ones children) must be in the “leisure” context. That working together doesn’t count somehow. That family productivity doesn’t count as a worthwhile way for families to spend their time and that if your family size means “leisure” is lacking (because a large family means a large dish pile, a large grocery bill and a large laundry pile), that you are somehow failing as a parent. I think the difference is how the parent responds to it. If mom is resentful, so will they be. If she can somehow create a happy home despite limitations and hard work–even if she must include her children in that work, they will be pretty contented too. If she is thankful and loving–I think children will accept new babies with the same joy she does, and be willing to deal with the added responsibility of new babies without malice.

  20. Laura says:

    I sometimes fear that I am not creating a homelife that my children will look back on with fondness. Not that we don’t ever enjoy each other, but I think I AM getting burned out on the constant work myself. My 11 year old son said this morning, “that’s all we do all day every day! Laundry, dishes–I’m tired of it!” and what can I say? So am I a lot of the time. I’d love a chance to get back into drawing or painting, enjoying music etc. But where is the time to do so? I frequently work HARD all day–in the kitchen, in the garden, teaching the children, washing dishes, doing laundry–all with kids near me or hubs and helping and we get to the end of the day, and still have more of those things to do that didn’t get done. Or we try to do something else, but a one year old baby gets into everything and ruins our attempts at playing a game or whatever, b/c we are constantly rescuing him from danger or having to pause to change a diaper etc. Our budget is such that I really need to do ALL the cost saving grunt work to make ends meet and that itself is a full time job for 5 children… throw in homeschool and I start to twitch… also, a few years ago I was facing what to do after my 4th baby (with a blood clot) and whether to have more or not. I was also facing starting up homeschooling and living in an unknown area (that is largely still unknown). I remember being in the Dr’s office crying b/c I was so torn up as to how to approach the whole issue of childbearing–I felt so conflicted. Taking matters into my own hands through surgery seemed like playing God. Allowing God and nature to arrange matters seemed scary and overwhelming and I was STRESSED out over the whole thing. In the months following this, I think the stress may have started to adversely effect my thyroid/adrenals glands, and my natural, strong fertility seemingly dried up and I faced secondary infertility. I have since had another baby, but am approaching the weaning phase again and am again a little bit on edge about the future. I am at the point where I feel like I can either homeschool OR continue to have babies, but not both–due to the amount of stress it puts on me. How have others faced this? I’m still at a loss…

    • Shelly says:

      Hi, Laura. I can certainly empathize with you over what you’re going through. During my 10th pregnancy I developed a blood clot which did not develop into a DVT until almost immediately after the delivery. I was sent home on blood thinners and advised to not get pregnant again. A little over a year later, against the doctor’s wishes, I did get pregnant again. I had to inject myself with blood thinners twice a day throughout the pregnancy. My doctor’s scared the living daylights out of me at every appointment telling me that this was so dangerous. Praise God I made it through that pregnancy with no clots. However, they did scare me enough that I let them convince me to use a birth control implant, which they assured me would not increase my risk of clots. One month after receiving the implant I got a DVT. After some research (which I should have done beforehand) I discovered that there was a class action lawsuit against this implant for- you guessed it- blood clots. I also found out that this implant can work in three ways, the last of which being that it will prevent a fertilized egg from implantation. I was horrified. My doctor was aware of my pro-life stance and never disclosed this to me. I immediately called and made an appointment to have it removed. They weren’t happy about it and tried to tell me to make a second appointment after I thought about it. I refused and made them take it out. Then came the talks about having a tubal ligation. The doctor did tell me that a tubal ligation can increase your risk of a clot but it was less than the risk of another pregnancy. I prayed about it for a while and decided that I would rather take the risk of developing another clot by creating a new life, rather than preventing one. Since then I have trusted in the Lord. My youngest is now 2.
      As with homeschooling, I have 10 kids still at home, and I can tell you to read through Kelly’s posts on relaxed homeschooling. Learning happens all the time whether you are teaching them or not. It does not have to be so time consuming. Live your life and let your children participate in that. Supplement with what you feel is absolutely necessary, but let it remain that- a supplement. Curriculum does more to alleviate the mom’s fears than to teach anything.
      On to the housework. Remember that this is a season of your life. It will not last forever. Are you setting your standards too high? I used to. Believe me, no one expects a house filled with small children to look like it belongs in a magazine. I will usually straighten up the house (first floor only), do laundry, and wash dishes in the morning. About 45 minutes before my husband comes home from work, the kids will help me clean up by doing specific chores. I may have to go back over what the littles have done, but it’s still better than if they didn’t help. Then, after dinner and before baths, we do the same thing again. We save cleaning the bedrooms for Saturdays. I should add that I do laundry throughout the day whenever I find a moment, and the clean laundry is also put away on Saturdays. We relax the other chores a bit on this day because my husband has off and doesn’t mind if it’s a little messy. I just straighten here and there, but I don’t go overboard.
      I hope this helps. Relax. Remember that you’re human and only Jesus is perfect. Have a good weekend!

      • Shelly says:

        I almost forgot. If you still feel that school may be the answer, let me just tell you that I’ve been there too. When I was expecting our 9th baby, I became burned out (I was doing way too much in our homeschool), so I sent the kids to school. They were there less than two years when I pulled them back out because it was HARDER than homeschooling! (And I missed my kids!) Here is a link to a blog post I wrote a while back. (I don’t blog anymore) I hope it helps!


      • Very good words, Shelly. And this: “Curriculum does more to alleviate the mom’s fears than to teach anything.” I think with all my heart that is absolutely truth.

    • Kristen says:

      Laura, I feel your stress. I have 5 kids and I homeschool, too. And you sound like you feel trapped by a mindset/lifestyle that you feel like you cannot live up to. And I know what stress does to the body. And I know what it feels like to have to live up to expectations. You need to do what works for you and your family. My kids are loud, very energetic and they don’t like school. Relaxed homeschooling would add to my stress, not decrease it, and my kids would be completely illiterate. They wouldn’t learn to read or do math unless I forced them too, and what works best in our family is we “do school” and then we are free to do whatever. My oldest is 12 and he’s been homeschooled all the way up and we are putting him in parochial school this fall for 7th grade. I don’t care what anyone says, not all kids are cut out to be homeschooled and not every family can do it. (And I used to think otherwise, I used to be one of those “every kid can be homeschooled” people), He’s been taking summer school this summer and loves it. It’s math, no less. He is proud of his grades, his handwriting is legible now and I can actually be just mom and not mom and teacher. I guess what I’m saying is, we have our ideals and then there’s reality and between you, your husband and The Lord, you need to decide what works,

      • Shelly says:

        I don’t want anyone for even one second to think that my kids are perfectly behaved. Most of them are exactly as you describe yours- loud and energetic. They sometimes literally climb the walls- and I’ve got the footprints on the doorways to prove it! Last year while doing math with my kids, my then-1 year old “tiled” the ENTIRE upstairs hallway with maxi pads and then colored her entire belly with liquid foundation. It is for precisely these reasons that relaxed homeschooling does work for our family. We have friends from church who have homeschooled their two daughters since kindergarten with the Abeka DVD curriculum, and they are now in high school. It works for them because they are very laid back and enjoy this approach. On the other hand, my children are very physical and learn best by actually doing things. Believe me, I used to try to force my kids to learn how to read. I couldn’t continue, though, because I was afraid to destroy any hope they would have of enjoying books in the future. Two years ago I tried to force a phonics program on my son who was 5. He hated it and would sit and cry. I finally stopped doing it altogether. One month later he was reading anything that I would give him and ENJOYING it. He felt a sense of accomplishment because he did it on his own. Energetic children need to be given as much freedom as possible to expend it. It doesn’t mean they’re not learning. They will learn to read when they have a need for it. Coercion does not guarantee success. Right now I’m reading a book by John Taylor Gatto who wrote that before compulsory schooling literacy rates were at 98%. After compulsory schooling it was down to 73% by the 1950’s. I believe the difference was that by “making” children learn to read, they were removing the actual need they would have for it in a more natural setting. (Life) I guess my point is that relaxed homeschooling is IDEAL for these sorts of children. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that if you’ve never tried it.

        • Shelly,

          I was going to comment too, and say essentially what you have, that children do learn even if they aren’t being taught, even how to read. We don’t believe it because we’re too scared to try it (I’m even still in that camp) but I’ve seen too much proof to believe otherwise.

          • Shelly says:

            Believe me, I have my moments of panic. Last winter I bought “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” as a back-up plan for my son who has really shown no interest in learning how to read. The plan was to use it if he wasn’t reading by the beginning of 3rd grade because our state requires standardized testing in 3rd, 5th, and 8th grade. I was starting to get antsy because he’ll be 7 in July and can only recognize the names of a few family members. He just hasn’t found the need for it yet I suppose. I think we’re on the verge of a breakthrough, though, because yesterday he ran up to me out of the blue and spelled “dogs” for me, and today he did the same and spelled “God.” This may not sound like much, but it’s huge for him because he’s been getting upset since his 5 year-old sister can read and write several words. I’m confident my “back-up plan” won’t be necessary.

            • Shelly says:

              I should probably clarify that the son in my first comment will be 8 in July. I didn’t want you to think I was contradicting myself by saying 2 different things about the same child. The one in the first comment will be 8 in July, and the one in the second comment will be 7 in July.

        • liz says:

          I was going to say the same thing about the literacy rates. And I second what Kelly says about kids learning to read/math when they need to among other things. I am an RN by profession and my husband is an ER Attending Physician…we don’t use any curriculum. I also have 5 kids they range in age from 9 years down to 11 months. 4 rambunctious boys I may add. I can’t imagine if we didn’t unschool/child led/relaxed homeschool. There is just too much going on with very young children and logistics. I “taught” my oldest tow kids to read with “100 Easy Lessons..” With my almost 5 year old we haven’t done a thing and I believe he is closer to reading than my other kids were at a much older age. And if not thats ok too. My 9 year old just started reading picture books aloud to his brothers. He can read, but just dosnt care to read say a chapter book. He spends his day “landscaping”, making business cards, coming up with ideas for his lawn service, hanging out (and getting paid her and there) with our landscaper for our sub. Life is just too short to try and live up to anyone else’s standards. We clean as we go. Thats what works best for us. Its summer and warm where we live and so we eat a lot on paper plates on the deck(no sweeping inside)

          This is only a season I remind myself. We have adopted all 5 of our children and I pray we can keep going. Yes I am tired. Yes I have health problems. Yes my kids have some BIG challenges…..but being at home is where they thrive!

  21. […] Why My (10) Children Disagree With You About Getting Enough Attention […]

  22. Jess Connell says:

    Brilliant! Yes, the time together is life-on-life discipleship, non-stop, all day. Almost no kids nowadays get this, unless they live in a third world country. It’s a gift to have this much time with our children.

  23. D. says:

    Perhaps it was already mentioned in the above comments. My understanding of Scripture is that God wants us to be faithful regardless of having 20, 10 or 1 child. The command to “be fruitful and multiply” does not give a specific number, but should rather be left up to each family to seek the Lord about. It is all of God’s grace to raise 1 child or to raise 15! I have often wondered about siblings raising siblings in larger families and yet there is no where in Scripture that forbids large families out of concern for feeling neglected, etc…

    What I do believe should be taken into consideration within each household is how different each child is. Some children are just fine with no special one-to-one, while others crave that time for privacy and individual affection. This is not selfish of the child, unless it becomes an issue of a heart full of jealousy or bitterness. For my own family, one-to-one time is very, very important as it allows me (their mother) to guide them through Scripture in areas they are struggling with. Or perhaps they want to share something with just mom or dad. That said, it’s important to create an environment when the family all enjoys being together and is not constantly arguing over who gets to have mom or dad “all to myself!”

    The principle to live by comes from Deut. 6 where it commands parents to teach our children at home, when we’re out, in the evening and in the morning. This would infer that as parents we are doing the majority of training our children and this simply is not possible when they are gone to school (or day care) for 6-8 hours a day.And while we do homeschool our children and are passionate about our reasons why; I have had the unfortunate “pleasure” of mingling with other homeschooling families that are spilling over with pride. Like somehow we are the elite for having larger families and for being a full-time stay at home mom and schooling on top of it! It has helped me understand why many non-homeschooling families are turned off!

    We are all in the process of sanctification which means not all mothers have reached the point of recognizing that having our children at home is a privilege. Not all have been convicted to homeschool or not use birth control or not put their kids in differing activities (and the list goes on). We all need to show each other grace, realizing God has been gracious in dealing with us.

  24. Christine B says:

    This was an interesting read for me, as this is something I struggle with as we consider expanding our family. I currently have a 3 year old who’s super clingy and a 1 year old who is still nursing frequently. My daughter is so jealous of her brother, I’m afraid it will get worse if my attention is split further. We have a lot of regression issues even being a year out from my son’s birth. How do you cultivate an environment where siblings welcome additions to the family?

    • Christine,

      Hmmm….I’m a bit stumped on this one, hoping some wiser moms will jump in. We just haven’t ever dealt with this at all. Our kids have always been so excited about a new baby. Maybe it’s just a short stage with the age of your daughter that will quickly pass.

    • 6 arrows says:

      Hi Christine,

      I can’t claim to be wiser than Kelly, but I’ll jump in anyway. 🙂

      Just a couple thoughts off the top of my head. Feel free to disregard them if they don’t apply to your situation.

      For the most part, my children were excited whenever a new sibling was born, and they didn’t exhibit any jealousy. However, my firstborn started to not get along with my second-born very well when the younger became mobile and got into his stuff. I simply trained her to not take the things that belonged to her older brother, or mess up what he was doing, and then things were fine again between them. I didn’t tell the older child things like, “Oh, she likes your toy so much; why don’t you let her play with it for a while?”

      I’ve tried to teach my kids the concept of ownership. You don’t take what doesn’t belong to you without permission. (And you don’t keep asking permission again and again if the owner says no.) 😉

      Sharing can be taught in the context of using items that belong to more than one person in the household. But everyone should have the right, IMO, to some things that are exclusively one’s own, and be able to expect that no one is going to take that from them.

      I say all that because sometimes a child can come to resent the presence of a sibling if one gets an unfair advantage over the other. We obviously can’t make everything equal for all the children, nor should we try, but some boundaries need to be in place so that one isn’t always in the position of having to give up legitimate rights so the other one will be happy. If that makes sense.

      (Not saying you’re doing that, BTW.)

      My other thought was, is your daughter on the autism spectrum? Change of any sort, particularly major changes like a new baby in the house, can be very difficult for an ASD child to cope with. Yet, in my experience, kids on the spectrum can learn coping skills better after they’ve had experience being in those situations for a while that were troubling to them initially.

      Whether your daughter is on the spectrum or not, she will mature, and just by virtue of her age, likely be able to view siblings in a new, less-threatening light. She’ll grow, her brother will grow, and there will be more insight and reasoning ability in her throughout that process.

      And you asked, “How do you cultivate an environment where siblings welcome additions to the family?”

      Let them see other babies. Sit in a part of church where families with young children tend to sit, if your church welcomes families worshiping together. Or get together with other families with babies. I’m sure there are more ideas, but you get the picture.

      With each new child comes a new opportunity for the other children to form a new bond. They won’t understand it at first, but the bonding happens even when they don’t comprehend the process. (Do any of us, really?) It’s a wonderful thing how God puts children into the families He intends.

      As hard as I know it is when things are challenging on the home front, Christine, don’t give way to fear that having another baby will make things worse. Both of your children will be older if at some time in the future you have another child. Family dynamics are fluid, subtly changing over the years.

      God knows, and He can be trusted. Ask Him for wisdom, and believe that He will not fail to supply all your needs.

      Blessings to you and your family.

  25. Jacqueline says:

    I just found your blog tonight and have stayed up until 12:30 reading several of your posts. I’m trying to understand. I did not read all the comments on this thread so forgive me if this was mentioned earlier. Maybe I’m going about this mothering thing all wrong but for me each child we add does seem to be a sacrifice for our family. We have two (2yr old and 4 yr old) when the baby was born my first was very excited for the first week until he realized I was constantly caring for baby. Countless hours spent rocking and nursing baby in pitch black room upstairs while my oldest was glued to videos. It makes me so sad to remember those days. I wanted so desperately to spend more time with him but baby needed all those darn naps and my 2 year old couldn’t be quiet enough for the time it took to put baby down. When I wasn’t rocking or nursing or changing diapers I needed to make snacks and meals and clean or even take a nap. Am I doing it totally different then you all or what? That baby is 2 now and still demands more attention than my oldest. Although he doesn’t get as much as he’d like. I’m scared of adding more babies! Will my 2 hate the new baby because it’s taking away their mom? Will they be safe when I’m upstairs with baby all those hours? How will all 3 fit on my lap at once? Or who will I have to tell to go away, my oldest who has already been neglected for the last 2 years? *sigh*
    I have no supportive family, I have no one but my hubby and he is a truck driver so gone quite a bit.

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