Last week in the Russian capital of Moscow, the government sponsored an International Forum entitled, “Large family and the future of humanity.” The forum was attended by an array of delegates from around the world, who all saw the need to promote large families in order to help sustain society.
This comes at a time when the demographics of most Western countries are below replacement level and the results of a world without children are beginning to be felt in the economy. That is why more than ever we are in need of promoting the value and beauty of having children. It is fitting then that one of the most watched shows in the United States is about a family with 19 Kids and Counting.
The Duggar family has been the focus of a TLC reality TV show since September 2008. At the time of the first episode, the family had 17 children and were looked at as if they were apart of a circus sideshow. The average American family has 1-2 children and so a family that has more than that is quite strange and even bizarre. Yet, what TLC soon found out is that the Duggar family is attractive because their large family is not only unique, but a thing of beauty.
The Joy of Children
While the Duggar family is not perfect, the main sentiment that comes across from watching the popular TV show is the joy of having children. From the joy of Michelle having her 19th child to the excitement of Jill expecting her first, being pregnant and raising children is a constant source of happiness for the family.
The joy that is showcased on the show is something rare in American culture. Often children are looked upon as more of a burden, than a key to a happy life. Abortion and the rise in use of chemical contraceptives by married women show to the world that a child is inconvenient and hamper the mobility of a young couple. Changing diapers and disciplining children are seen as too costly of a sacrifice and so numerous men and women decide to limit their family size.
At the same time, the fact that 2.8 million viewers tuned in to the season finale of 19 Kids and Counting in May, shows that the large family is doing something right. In fact, many of the avid fans of the series have been influenced by the joyful witness of the Duggars and have in turn freely chosen to increase their family size.
The Duggars show the world that having a large family is actually a great blessing. What is always a beautiful sight to behold is how the Duggar children call their brothers or sisters their best friends. It is rare to find such love and affection among siblings and it is a direct result of having a large close-knit family.
Now everyone is not called to have 19 kids and in many cases it would not be advisable to have that number of children. Additionally, many married couples deal with infertility and would happily accept a large family, but are unable to fulfill their desires. However, a married couple should actively discern how many children God desires to bless them with and not dismiss God’s generosity (both naturally and by adoption). It can be overwhelming to think about having even 4 or 5 children and yet God does not give us something we can not handle. The Duggars have shown us that it is possible to have a joy-filled large family and encourage us to do something counter-cultural.
In an age where the demographics of society are crumbling, God calls us to respond in whatever way we can to His original command to Adam and Eve in the garden, “Be fruitful, and multiply.”