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How Many Kids Should You Have?

FAITH GAVE US OUR FAMILY

"I'll take as many kids as God will give us!"
Kate and Ray Vandegrift, Jenkintown, PA

Kate's story: Ray and I met when we were 16 — he was one of three kids, I was one of six, and we both knew we wanted a big family one day. We never talked about how many kids that meant. I just knew that God was calling us to be parents. As a devout Catholic, I don't believe in contraception. I believe in God's will for us to have as many children as He sees fit.

I'm so rewarded by the love I get back from my children. I just feel so blessed that God chose Ray and me to be parents of a large family. When my kids tell me how much they love me or when they smile at us and tell us how happy they are, my heart fills with joy. We have a family that's the size of a soccer team — and we actually do play soccer and lots of other team sports together! When we go to the shoe store and our 15-passenger van pulls up, the store owners get really excited; they know we'll be buying a lot!

It's not always easy having a large family; I've heard countless criticisms, such as "Don't you know about contraceptives?" or "How are you going to send them all to college?" Also, a big family is expensive: We go through 14 gallons of milk a week! But I'm happy. Even today, after having 12 children, if we were to have another, I'd feel blessed.

A BIG AGE GAP

"My kids are nine years apart."
Brandie and Arthur Nemchenko, King of Prussia, PA

Brandie's story: Arthur and I believed that the ideal family size for us would be two children, and we had Aly right after we got married. We were both in chiropractic school, and it was tough juggling school and parenthood. At the time, it just didn't seem feasible — or fair — to have another child when we had so little time for the one we had. Once we graduated, having another child got put on the back burner again because we were spending so many hours getting our practice started. But once our work became steadier, we started talking about having one more. Everyone thought we were crazy. After all, Aly was 9 years old by then and could take care of herself; having a baby meant starting over completely. And Aly was upset; she didn't want a sibling. After a while, though, she finally gave us the go-ahead — so long as the baby wasn't born on her birthday. (To Aly's relief, Nataliya was born a day before her birthday.)

It's fun watching Aly give Nataliya an education on the Jonas Brothers, and it keeps us young to run around the yard with Nataliya. Sure, I'm juggling bra-shopping with one daughter while potty-training the other, but I wouldn't change a thing about our family. I had nine good years with Aly all to myself. Soon enough, I'll have nine years with Nataliya all to myself.

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