When to start a family and how many kids to have are personal decisions. People’s well-meaning questions can create unhelpful pressure—and even pain.
“So are you planning on having kids soon?” The first time I was greeted with this question, I had been married for three weeks. My husband and I were still receiving wedding presents and setting up our new apartment. Was I supposed to have a decisive answer to that question already? The question has continued to come—and from all directions: members of my ward, my family, and even strangers at a grocery store who noticed my new ring. And each time I was asked, I felt cornered. Should I lie and say yes, or should I say no and be the victim of another disapproving scowl? Should these people be asking me this question at all?
Being the target of these questions, I began to think about what was expected of me as a female in the Church. Was I really expected to start having children right away? I found the answer to my question in the “I Have a Question” section of the August 1979 Ensign. The section features the question “Is it our understanding that we are to propagate children as long and as frequently as the human body will permit?” The response to this question includes a conversation that took place between a latter-day prophet and his daughter. She had eight children at home, and she was hospitalized after having a miscarriage. Tearfully, she asked her father if she could be done having children. He replied, “That decision is between you, your husband, and your Father in Heaven.”
Although it is normal to want to share in the excitement of a couple bringing a new baby into the world, as members of the Church we need to be more sensitive toward women, their spouses, and their personal timing. We do’nt know what a couple may be going through. Some couples may be struggling with infertility, and being asked when they are planning on having children can be a heartbreaking reminder of their inability to do so. Other couples may not feel financially, emotionally, or spiritually prepared to have a child. Still others may want to wait to have children and may feel like they are somehow less-worthy members of the Church when they are pressured to start having children.
Because of these and other sensitive issues, we need to remember to be considerate of couples and the private decision of when to have children. It’s important to not pressure couples by asking about when they plan to have a baby, but it’s also important to offer support when needed. We should leave the decision of starting a family to the couple and let them decide when to share information with us.
Read “I Have a Question” to learn more about deciding when to start a family and how many children to have.
—Breanna Call Herbert, Mormon Insights
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Find more insights
Read “True to the Faith: Birth Control” to understand the Church’s stance on family planning through birth control.
Watch “Coping with Infertility and Loss” to see how one couple dealt with the struggle to get pregnant.