The average American is having two children. The average Christian American might be having two and a half. Those in our circles probably have five or six or seven. And the world we live in just isn’t cooperating with our lofty goals both to have many children and to disciple and educate them at home.
Lindsay Owens recently pondered, “I don’t think we were meant to do this alone.” By that she meant without family nearby, family surrounding us, lots of help, emotional and physical support and godly examples.
Our families are getting burned out because we’re doing it alone.
Even if we are blessed to be in a really tight and giving church, the combined efforts of an entire church (even when they come to your aid frequently as ours has in recent days) does not come close to the work and loving attention that one motivated grandmother is capable of. I know this from personal experience.
Imagine this. Just starting with your grandparents’ generation. Assume your grandparents on both sides were godly people and also had eight children each. So you have twenty-eight uncles and aunts assuming they all got married. With their eight kids each you’d have over a hundred cousins. Once those cousins married and had eight kids, your children would have many hundreds of cousins, uncles and aunts. If we stayed in the same city, imagine that network of support and the amount of fun. There would be an endless stream of parties, the celebrations of birthdays and anniversaries and births and baptisms, cookouts, slumber parties, combined vacations.
When work is needed, I bet you could rally twenty people quite easily. Bonded by familial bonds as well as Christian love, the burdens of daily life would be shared and the pleasures of life together working and playing and worshiping would be hard for this writer to comprehend.
And yet most of us are doing it entirely alone. A few fortunate ones have their parents living nearby. That’s a dream of mine. But siblings and cousins and uncles and aunts? And dozens or even hundreds of them? No. We’re few in number and spread out across the country. Decisions made before we were born have created a world of disconnectedness, lives without hometowns, a world without the kind of love and godly examples we so desperately need.
The call for older women to mentor younger women goes mostly unheeded today. The older women are working outside the home for the most part. But if the above scenario was played out, a young wife and mother might have a dozen godly, experienced, been-there-done-that and survived, older women at her beck and call. Can you imagine the peace and comfort that would provide? And the fun?
Young men would have older cousins and uncles by the score to work with, to watch, to listen to. Dads could lean on this network to keep his sons busy with productive work with trusted mentors. Our daughters could serve in the homes of their aunts and cousins and as they serve, they learn about others and new and creative ways to run a home.
We are literally starving and God had planned for us an never-ending bountiful feast. I’m not at all surprised to see godly families around me slipping into decisions they thought they’d never make. Living on one income, having lots of children that taxes mom both physically and mentally, trying to disciple them, trying to educate them, serving in the church as best as they can—it’s too much to do alone. And we were never meant to.