Most people know that Mormon families are larger than most and I’d like to share with you just what that is like from my own personal experience. Growing up in a large Mormon family had some advantages and many disadvantages. One of the advantages is you are never lonely, in fact when asked what it was like I have always stated that “there is always someone to fight with.” When I was young adult, I knew that I didn’t want to have a large family. In fact I started thinking that I would want two or maybe three kids. Growing up a Mormon you are told that having a large family is what you should do. You are told to not wait until you can afford it or even to wait until you are done with your college education. You are told that the Old Testament statement of “Multiply and Replenish the Earth” is still a commandment today. When I was a Mormon and I would meet someone that had a smaller family (fewer than 4 kids), I would find it amusing how they would feel it necessary explain why they only had the number of children they did; like having a small family was a sin. Okay, so you ask what made me want to not have a large family? The main thing is growing up feeling that your parents don’t have time for you. Here it is stated at church that “Families are Forever” and that families are very important. But my father, between work and Church callings, was hardly ever home. When he was home, he was busy finding other ways of supporting us since there were an awful lot of us to support. Then there was my mother who was always busy with the younger kids. I sometimes felt that I was on my own. I can remember times as a teen getting up at 11:30 or midnight because I couldn’t sleep and finding my mom still up finishing some household chore. This is the only time I remember her ever having time to sit down and talk with me. The only time I ever had with my father was working beside him at home or some Church project. Don’t get me wrong, I did learn a lot, like the value of hard work, but still to this day I don’t feel that my father knows much about me as we have never sat down and just talked. Now that everyone is grown with families of their own all over the country, my children hardly ever get a chance to see their grandparents and they definitely don’t get the typical “spoiling” that most kids get from their Grandma and Grandpa. There is just not enough time or money for my parents to give attention and gifts to all the grandkids they have.
I can still remember driving to church with all nine of us crammed inside our eight passenger Dodge full size van. I also remember that talk about how blessed we were to be from such a large family, but yet hearing all the time about how we had to save money to survive and how hard it was on my parents to clothe and feed all of us. My parents never had time to come watch any of my sporting events or other activities I was involved in. I grew to accept this as just the way it was this because I understood they had a lot to do with my younger siblings. But today when I come home from my day at work and see the little face of my toddler and hear him yell excitedly; “Daddy’s home!” it means so much. I know that he is excited because he knows that I will be there to spend time with him and play with him. My teenager will always have the story of how he saw me fall off my skateboard when we were our skateboarding together; something I took up in order to spend time with him. I want to and try to be the kind of father that I wish I had when I was growing up and by not stretching myself too thin by having a large family, I feel that I will have the chance to make a difference in my children’s lives.