"How many children should we have?" Gospel-centered questions for family planning

"How many children should we have?" Gospel-centered questions for family planning

Below are questions that can help a family prayerfully consider the "family size" question. For more thoughts on family planning and the gospel, check out episode 59.

1)  What does the Bible say about children?

  • As you read scripture, what observations do you make about God's heart towards children and bringing forth new life?
  • Do you think that scripture takes a specific black and white position on preventing pregnancy, or do you believe it's an area of freedom?  What scriptures lead you to believe this?
  • What promises or blessings does God give to parents?
  • Is your heart oriented after God's heart for children?
  • What does the bible say about orphans, and how does that impact your family?

2)  What are your motives?

  • When you think about limiting or finalizing your family size, what is motivating that?  Comfort, control convenience, flexibility, desire for ease?  A desire to obey and and bring glory to God?  A desire to do the best you can, and recognize your limitations?  Are you making that decision in faith? 
  • When you think about having more children, what is motivating that?  A desire to measure up to a religious ideal of 'full quiver' living?  A deep personal conviction to value life and trust God?  A blind stubbornness on an issue of Christian freedom?  A well-thought out and unified vision for a God-honoring family?
  • Do you want to just fit in with your peer group?  Are you afraid to have more or less children than the other families in your church?
  • Do you want your extended family to approve of you?  Are you hearing the pressuring voice of grandparents and/or naysayers?
  • Are you making a decision about family sized based on a desire to live out biblical truth and be sanctified, or do you just want to do whatever will cost you the least amount of sacrifice?
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3)  What is the vision for your family?

  • Have you asked your husband what his vision is for your family?  Does he want a small or large family?  How close together does he want your children to be?  
  • Are you willing to patiently and prayerfully submit to that leading, even if it is more or less children than you were hoping for?
  • Have you shared biblical truth with your husband (not nagging or being his holy spirit) if you have a different opinion of how scripture comes to bear on your family planning?
  • Have you thought ahead (outside of the trenches of babies and toddlers) to the teenage / adult / and grandparent years of your life? Will you still be happy with your family size in 10, 20, 30 years?  
  • How old do you want to be when your children graduate from high school?  How old do you want to be when you have grandchildren and how much do you hope to be involved with them?
  • Do you consider the long-term and eternal investment of raising children in the Lord?  How important is that investment to you, and how do you hope that investment pays off in the future? 

4)  What are you willing to do to prevent pregnancy?

  • Have you diligently researched various methods of birth control (using this term generally)? How do you feel about each method's pros, cons, side effects, and possible impact on a fertilized egg?
  • Who will be your authority on birth control methods? Many doctors have different positions and definitions from the Evangelical Christian thought leaders. It can be difficult to sort out the truth. How will you weigh the known facts?  
  • Are you willing to live in the gray area, or is it better for you to draw a clear line in the sand?
  • What is your husband interested in doing for birth control? Is there a form that he really doesn't want to use or that he really feels comfortable with?
  • Have you considered what the bible says about sex between a married couple and its purposes within marriage?  What role do you think pregnancy prevention plays in that purpose?

5)  What about your health?

  • Have you researched and considered the connections between age and fertility, age and risk for having a child with a disability, age and pregnancy complications, age and multiples, or age and energy levels to care for young children? How does that information impact your decision? Or should it?
  • What is your experience with pregnancy? Do you have many risks / complications / pains / life threatening issues? How does or should that impact your childbearing?
  • Do you have any other health complications that would make it difficult to faithfully fulfill the task of motherhood? How might those health issues (mental / physical or otherwise) impact the number of children you can take care of?

6)  What are your life circumstances?

  • Do you have a strong support network? Do you have family nearby, willing parents ready to help or are you fairly isolated?
  • Are you planning to stay at home full-time, work part-time, work form home, or work full-time?  How much will it cost to find quality and trustworthy childcare for each child? 
  • Does your husband have a flexible job?  Does he travel a lot or work long hours?  Is he able to come home occasionally or take-off when you or the kids are sick?  
  • What role does your husband take in childrearing?  A hands-on in-the-trenches beside you approach, or more "big picture" stuff only?  Each family is different (not right or wrong), but being aware of how much support / help you will have is important.
  • What is your financial situation and how might that impact having more children?
  • Do you have any other major life transitions going on?  Are you making a major move or job change?  How does or should it impact the spacing / timing of children?

7)  Have you counted the cost?

  • Regardless of the number of children you have, are you prepared to train them up in the way of the Lord, instructing and disciplining them even when it's not easy or convenient? ...through God's grace of course!
  • Have you thought about how a small or large family might impact your children's faith and life experiences?

We know there are many more questions to ask, and every family will answer these in different ways, but we hope this is a starting point for good discussion and prayer!