Mormons have a lot of kids.

11:19:00 PM

This is my absolute favorite statement – of all time.  Seriously.   It comes in a lot of forms  -
“When God said to multiply and replenish the earth, he didn’t mean YOU personally!”
“You do know what causes that, right?”
“You have (fill in the blank) kids?  You must be Mormon.”
One thing that makes me laugh about this – I have friends who are Catholic, Baptist, Christian, Jewish, and yes – atheist, with more children than the average Mormon family and yet the first conclusion drawn when most see a large family is that they must be Mormon.
Why do Mormons tend to have large families?  Contrary to (very) popular belief, Mormons are not required to have large families.  They are not requested to do so.  Couples are not counseled on the number of children they must bring into the ‘fold.’   Parenthood and family size is entirely a personal decision made by each family with the assistance of prayer.
Gordon B. Hinckley stated:

“The Lord has told us to multiply and replenish the earth that we might have joy in our posterity, and there is no greater joy than the joy that comes of happy children in good families. But he did not designate the number, nor has the Church. That is a sacred matter left to the couple and the Lord”
I had heard once that Mormons don’t believe in using birth control.  I’ve not found a single instance or statement to that fact.  I do know that each couple is counseled to consider family planning methods very carefully, in keeping with the health and safety of both the mother and her future children.  Permanent birth control methods (such as tubal ligation) should be considered with prayer – and why not? It IS a major surgery.  Each family is different.  Every mother and father is aware of their own abilities.  I can’t imagine that our Loving Heavenly Father would want us to take on more than we can physically or emotionally handle.  But, he does not want to be left out of that decision either.
What about those who do not have children either due to medical complications or for other reasons known only to themselves?  Are they considered “less Mormon” or “bad” church members? 
Elder Dallin H. Oaks said in a conference in 1993:
“How many children should a couple have? All they can care for! Of course, to care for children means more than simply giving them life. Children must be loved, nurtured, taught, fed, clothed, housed, and well started in their capacities to be good parents themselves. Exercising faith in God’s promises to bless them when they are keeping his commandments, many LDS parents have large families. Others seek but are not blessed with children or with the number of children they desire. In a matter as intimate as this, we should not judge one another”
I have a few very dear friends who have tried for years, unsuccessfully to have children of their own.  That has not stopped them from sharing their years of knowledge and experience, nor has it stopped them from having an influence in the lives of others – for the good.  They have learned to teach and share their experiences in other ways.  Together as a couple, they are a family, however their extended family has become their ward family.  They have become parents to many young people and young adults.  They are greatly loved.  The ward is their family.
Do all Mormons have a lot of kids?  No. It’s a generalization that makes us seem weird.  Large families are not weird.  Using prayer, discussion and thought as part of your family planning process is not weird.  Taking your kids to school with curlers in your hair and a cleansing mask on your face – that’s weird (but also very, very fun.)
Mormon families are not weird.  They are Peculiar.

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