The Roths + Children?

11/13/2011 07:07:00 PM sendtheroths 2 Comments

I can honestly say that I had zero desire to have a family that exceeds 1-2 children until recently. In fact, the idea of a large family was repulsive to me.

-    My body will never be the same after baring children
-    Cost too much money to maintain
-    Can’t have children without health insurance
-    Children will get in-between marriage
-    Children will get in the way of schooling
-    I won’t have a life anymore

The Congolese always wish that Andrew and I bare at least six children.

If a pastor were to wish that to us this in the US, a swell of snickers and laughter would move across the congregation. It’s as if people can’t take seriously the idea that a large family would actually be a blessing. 

I’ve had questions and ambiguities regarding the Biblical view on children and child rearing that I’ve put off. But the work in Congo has forced me to wrestle with these ambiguities.

Not only is Africa’s population mostly made up of young ones, but I can’t go for one day without a Congolese asking me about children: whether I have any or not; how many I’m going to have; if the random kid playing behind me belongs to me.

After responding that I don’t have children, I will often have someone look pitifully at me and ‘encourage’ me.

“Don’t worry, you’re going to have many kids. We’re praying for you.”

Congolese genuinely try to comfort me when they find that I’m 23-years-old, married for three years and still without children. They really think it’s tragic.

For the past three years, I’ve wrestled with that.

I’ve been guilty of thinking that a Congolese man and woman (or women) with nine kids and no job are irresponsible and foolish for not having any family planning. You can’t even provide for your family, I would think.

I repent.

The love that other cultures have for children is something Americans just don’t get. Giving birth to a new baby is the most joyous thing many Congolese women will ever experience in their whole lives.

Most American women cringe at the idea of childbirth.

I’ve fought this tooth-and-nail for a long time. I was annoyed when people (no matter where I was) mentioned children to me and I didn’t know why.

In search for an answer, I found that there were two messages screaming loudly at me:

Message 1- children are the biggest inconvenience anyone could ever have.
Message 2 - children are a great blessing.

Another one of life’s wonderful contradictions!

I’ve realized that myself, like many other people have attached fear to child baring and rearing. Westerners inherently fear what’s outside of their control. Children are an extremely uncontrolled variable.

So what do we get? Fear and the feeling of inadequacy in the paternal care of America. These two factors, I believe, are the root cause of abortion.

The Bible says in 1 John 4:18 that perfect love casts out all fear-- The great equalizer is Christ, because He is the only perfect love. I think that maybe 5 percent of my readership will get how this verse applies to parenting.

“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed 
when they speak with their enemies in the gate” – Psalm 127:4

The Congolese have taught me so much. But most of all, they’ve given me a healthier viewpoint on children.

The older I’ve gotten, the bigger the family I want to have. As Andrew and I consider children, we're beginning to think the more the merrier—this was not the case few years ago.

I have the Congolese to thank for that. They’ve taught me that confident, healthy, educated, God-fearing children can be raised anywhere in the world with any amount of money.

This truly does fly in the face of Western thought.


  1. Great, honest, and thought-provoking post! Thank you for sharing this. I can honestly say that parenting has brought me closer to God in a way that I wouldn't without my children. When I throw out my frustrated prayers toward Him, God the Father shows me (usually in a mildly amused way) how His own children act the same way - including me - and how He's dealt with it. The biggest thing that will grow in you as you have children, or add children to your family through adoption, is GRACE. You may not always have patience or peace, but you'll always have LOVE and the fruits of the Spirit will continuously grow and be used. They are great blessings AND great refining fires. :) Many blessings over you both as you journey toward FAMILY.

  2. 6 is easy, start with 10 and see what happens, haha! The duggars just had their 20th... If they can do it, you can ;) I enjoyed the post and generally agree with it, however I think it all depends on what circles you fly in. I don't think having children, or a big family, necessarily flies in the face of an "American" way of thinking... but I would agree that a lot of people in America don't think it is ideal. One of the strange things for Kaylyn and I is that we are in a sort of community where almost everyone has babies, so the stereotype is switched... whereas in college the lifestyle and ways of thinking was very different. But Kaylyn would be the first to tell you that babies are awesome! And for lots of people, once you have one, you want some more! I'm in full support of the Roths having a big family, I'm just saying.