Sunday, July 12, 2009

Offend or Be Offended?

Not a pleasant title, huh? But that's kind of how it seems to have turned out with our latest pregnancy announcement.

I am sorry to those of you who are truly happy for us and would have reacted with excitement, that I did not take the time to call you personally and tell you. I'm sorry you had to learn about our great news through Facebook or our blog. Please understand it is not that you didn't matter to us, but that we have learned we have to protect ourselves.

Have you ever had something really exciting come up in your life and then you tell someone only to be met with negativity? Imagine that nearly everyone you tell is negative about it. Wouldn't that make you not want to share? Yet the news is so happy and exciting you can't imagine anyone would be negative! Well, that's what it's like when a large family announces a new pregnancy. Sadly, we began experiencing it with our 3rd child.

The comments kept getting worse as we added to our family. The 5th was the worst. I guess we'd crossed some sort of line. But then it got a little better after that. I think part of the improvement was we quit telling people in person. We gave them a chance to react on their own before showing us their displeasure. Most people, if given time to think about it, still follow the old rule, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

Things that people don't seem to realize are not nice:

"Don't you know what causes that?" Duh. You learn that in grade school these days whether you want to or not. It wasn't funny the first time we heard it and it isn't funny the millionth time either. I don't know a single mother or father who has heard that comment and thought it was funny. You are implying that this pregnancy is something we don't want. That's not nice. Not funny. Shouldn't be said. I am telling you this so that if you ever feel tempted to let those words come out of your mouth, you can know that it will not be well received EVEN if the recipient pretends to laugh. They are just being polite. Trust me.

"How will you ever have the energy for one more?" Let me ask you. Do you think this comment is helpful? Let's say the mother responds with something along the lines of I don't know. Do you have something helpful to say in response? This comments seems to suggest that you think this person is already not handling what she has and won't be able to handle more. If you think this is the case, either offer some practical help, or keep your mouth shut. No one needs discouragement to help them through a pregnancy. I have not yet had a single pregnancy where I didn't wonder, "How am I gonna handle this? Can I really do a good job raising this child? This is such a huge responsibility!" With my first couple of pregnancies, I could talk to friends or family and be encouraged and get back to feeling okay. I can't do that anymore. Everyone seems to think that while I've done a good job so far, this time I will fail.

"Aren't you getting a little old for this?" Um, when is a comment that implies someone is old EVER a polite thing to say?

There are more, but my point is really just please, please think before you speak. It's too late with us. We won't tell you in person because we've been offended far too many times by people we never would have expected to react that way. But I'm sure you know people who will have a third child or more. Please don't be part of the reason that they someday share their news in writing so they don't have to hear rude comments. We have to hear it at the grocery store from total strangers. We shouldn't have to hear it from people we love.

The reality is that if we'd have trusted our own reason, we'd have quit long ago. I think we'd have stopped at four children. But I know without a doubt that we'd have missed out on HUGE blessings. God challenged us to trust Him and we had no reason not to. We still have no reason not to trust Him. Our children are nothing but a blessing. Roger and I often marvel at how stupid we nearly were to try to stop the blessings. The joys we had no idea we would miss out on are too numerous to count. Yes, we've had to make some sacrifices and will continue to do so. But the blessings outweigh the sacrifices.

A new baby is good news to us. We will continue to rejoice in our blessings.


Melissa said...

Well said...babies are ALWAYS good news, no matter the number they fall in a family, or the challenges they may bring. All those hurtful comments just go to prove how far we have fallen from the truth of God's word, that one of the ways He chooses to bless is with a fruitful womb.

You don't know me...I read because we would love to do what you are doing...I was thrilled for your family when you posted the news.

I for one would NEVER refuse God's blessing, or call it something other than what it is..a gracious gift from our loving Heavenly Father.


Ann said...

AMEN!! I congratulate anyone who is willing to accept God's blessings, no matter what the rest of the world calls children! Children are a blessing from the Lord!

mo said...

When we left the church and began seeking God, no one understood what we were doing. We were not going by the rules and people said some really stupid stuff to us. Some still do. Even some calling us a cult or spreading lies. Or how come we don't go to church. (Would they ask their pastor that?)

I told no one I was a minster for years, because I just didn't want to hear it. Our pastor (at the time) told us that we both needed to get jobs and forget about ministering. The CPA asked just what makes us think we were a ministry, that he could hand out Bibles at the overpass but that doesn't make it a ministry. How many times have we been told it was stupid to give away clothes or the children were too wild (they do not even seem to understand what kind of homes they come out of). How many times has the people we minister to been called "those people" I was even told "I don't like your clientele". Or that I was not educated or that I was not experienced (in addiction) or that I was a woman. How much more do I have to rely on the Holy Spirit.

I am amazed at the strength, love and dedication you have for all your children and cannot imagine how you do it. And it makes me wonder what it would have been like if I had not stopped at two. But I was taught that birth was something to be controled.

Melissa, I am sure there were times I was the one that said something stupid and offended you. I really am sorry, it was out of ignorance and was not meant to hurt you in any way.

Please just say, "that hurt my feelings", we do not want to loose you or your family, y'all mean so much to us.

I am so glad your famly came into our lives, you has brought such joy to this ministry.

Julie McCarty said...

You go, girl! I'm glad I got an in-person phone call. :-) Can't wait to meet my new niece, as Zoey is sure it will be...

Melissa Nelson said...

Interesting Julie. We have a couple of potential girl names, but no boy's names so far . . .

Janelle said...

Hey awesome post! I for one am thrilled for you (and a bit jealous too!).

Grammy said...

Just read your post today! You know I understand what you're talking about. Used to get those same comments when I took you all out ANYWHERE. And there were only five of you.

I will never forget that Joy got the privilege of calling me to tell me mom was having another baby. She was the one who finished all her chores! She was so proud!!

How can you say there are too many children? It's like saying there are too many flowers. Hope you make the even dozen you want.

Missi said...

The negative comments started with number three for us, too. Everyone figured we had a boy and a girl so why would we want another one? Enjoy those blessings!

Mrs. Trixi said...

I hope you shout it from the roof tops. We felt this same pressure after our 3rd child, as well but unlike you, we did do something about it and have regretted it ever since. We have corrected our mistake but are not guaranteed another baby. However, we pray daily for one. Congratulations on your newest blessing may he or she be healthy and strong and I pray you have many more!!!!!!!

Susan said...

Very, very well said! (and yes, I know this post is a year old....I'm a latecomer!) I really don't understand anyone's need to make comments on someone else's very personal life decisions. We regularly experience the same thing concerning our decision to add to our family through adoption. Comments concerning everything from the number of children we have (4??? Seriously???) to the wide span of ages, to the race of some of our children, etc. My husband actually had someone come up to him in the store when he was shopping with our youngest (who is black) and ask, "Whose baby is that?" Um, seriously? And unfortunately, not all of the stupid comments are from strangers.
Thank you for your post! I find it very encouraging personally and I find your faith to follow the Lord without question to be inspiring!