Sarah Jane* has five children. She’s a stay-at-home mom, homeschooling, and doing all she can to keep her brood healthy and happy. When she goes to the grocery store with all five in tow, she hears:
- Are all of those yours?
- How do you do it?
- There’s a way to prevent having so many children (wink, wink).
- “No, I kidnapped two of them last year.” Or, “Yes, I just can’t resist my husband. You ought to see him,” accompanied by a huge smile.
- “Do it? Do what?”
- “Oh, really? Thank you very much. I think I’ll give some of them back.”
We have friends who’ve adopted, and some of their kids have darker skin and some are lighter. The stares she would get, when taking her children out together!
My dad was an only child, a miracle baby. I wonder if his parents were criticized for having only one. (We have two children and have been talked about for only having two.)
How about those parents who would love to have a child and can’t? I can just imagine what they hear from nosy people:
- Isn’t about time you started a family?
- What’s your problem?
- Don’t you want children?
Consider the many parents who've suffered miscarriages.
Some women (or their babies) have nearly died in childbirth. Maybe the couple doesn't want to risk another birth.
Three women I know were told they would never have children. (Two of them married men who’d had chemo for cancer, and one had a serious physical problem herself.) God ruled otherwise, and all three are mothers today.
Other friends adopted children.
One couple I know never had children and didn't adopt. They dedicated their lives to serving the Lord together on the mission field.
So, why am I sharing these scenarios with you?
Because I believe we need to be aware and cautious with the comments we make. Soon, it will be Mother's Day, the most difficult holiday of the year for the childless, for those with babies in heaven (miscarried, passed away, or aborted), and for people who've lost their own mothers.
Here are some biblical guidelines for how to speak to people about their children:
- The Bible teaches that every single child is a blessing and God-given. If a person has ten, he is blessed. If he has one, he is blessed. If he has adopted, he is blessed. Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate (Psalm 127:3-5).
- It's simply not our business how many children someone else has. It is only the couple’s business—and God’s. In the context of how a woman should not act, the Bible says: they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not (1 Timothy 5:13).
- God is the Judge. Each couple is responsible before God for the decisions they make. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God (Romans 14:12).
- As Christians, we’re supposed to be kind and encouraging. A virtuous woman openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness (Proverbs 31:26). With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. . . . And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:2-3, 32).
- You are surely blessed.
- Your family is an encouragement to me.
- Could I babysit, so you and your husband can go out to eat?
- How I enjoy talking to your kids!
- Befriend her.
- Be encouraging and not critical.
- Don’t pry. (It's none of your business.)
- Don’t judge her. (That’s for God only.)
- If she tells you why she has one, two, or zero children, keep the information to yourself. This is private and should be guarded as such.
Let's be kind and encouraging!
Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth;
keep the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3).
* Sarah Jane, name and all, is made up. She is typical, but she doesn’t represent anyone I know.