Why We Have Five Kids

May 30, 2014

General, Lifestyle, Stories

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This morning we are welcoming a baby girl into our family. Her name is Esther. We are very excited, and our children can’t wait to meet their baby sister. My daughter Hannah is so excited that she will likely burst into tears when she gets to hold “her baby” later today. Over the years, I’ve noticed that not everyone is as excited for each new addition to our family as we are. You know how that happens don’t you, many have said to me. People see kids as a burden. They get excited when you get a new car, but the news of a new kid solicits remarks about how to avoid having kids or how your life is now over. Each time it makes me sad for them. They don’t see or believe that children are one of the greatest things in the world. We have been blessed with five children over the past nine years, and it’s been the best nine years of my life. So I want to share with you why we have five kids.

Note: I totally understand that not everyone is able to have children. If we hadn’t been able to have our own children, we would have adopted. We still might adopt children at some point down the road. I make some generalizations below, and I understand there are many exceptions.

1. We love children. This might seem obvious, but many people view children as a burden, or an obstacle that gets in the way of some other pursuit. We really enjoy being around our kids. My wife and I don’t think or talk about going on vacations or trips without our kids, as it wouldn’t be as much fun without them. Plus, we don’t want them to miss out.

2. Life is best when it is shared with others. Growing up, if I ever experienced something amazing, I would try to get all my friends to experience it as well. If it was food, I would convince my friends to eat it. If it was a great movie, to watch it. If a great book, to read it. Amazing things in this world are even more amazing when they are experienced with others, especially when it’s for the first time.

When I was in high school, our soccer club was on a bus in Southern Oregon heading to a match. As we were driving down the freeway, sitting in the back of the bus staring out the window, I saw a large adult mountain lion standing about 30 yards off the side of the freeway. I hopped up and started motioning for everyone to look back, but it was too late. No one else saw the great cat, and many didn’t believe me as they are pretty rare to come across out in the open like that. It was a huge bummer that no one else experienced the incredible sight.

Special moments are best when they are shared with others. Having children is one of the best ways to share life’s experiences with someone else. The natural curiosity and wonder that children have for the world, and their desire to learn how everything works is refreshing and contagious. As kids get older, there is often no one that you will spend more time with than your children. You get to experience life together.

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3. Our children are fun to be around.
We’ve spent a lot of time and effort teaching our children to listen to us as parents, and to be kind and respectful. It’s been a lot of work, especially with three boys, but we have seen a lot of fruit. I have seen many children that are little terrors, and that aren’t enjoyable to be around. I’m not going to get into it now, but parents need to teach their children to obey and respect their authority as parents, or their children will often make their lives miserable. Out of control kids are not helping to motivate others to have more children, as they see the chaos and say to themselves no thank you.

4. Children are the best long term investment. You give them love, food, diaper changes and shelter when they are young. When you are old, they will give you love, food, diaper changes and shelter! They can also be board game partners, a walking buddy, a surfing partner, hiking companion, someone to play catch with, watch a movie with and always someone to talk to. They can work with you in your business, and even take it over as they get older. Children will often give you grandchildren, which, as I’ve been told, is the great reward of growing old.

Besides the lifetime of rewards that you will get from your children, we really do need our children to take care of us when we are old. I’ll come back to this in a moment.

5. To change the world. Want the world to be a better place? There is no more effective way to change the world for the better than to have children, and raise and teach them to find ways to help others and add value to the world. With enough work, through your children (and grandchildren), you can make the world a better place long after you are gone.

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6. To remind us to enjoy life.
Kids are very good at helping us keep life in perspective. It’s tempting to work too much. It’s tempting to make ourselves so busy that we don’t have time to enjoy life. If we are willing to listen to our children, they will often remind us that life is more than just work and money. They remind us to have fun, use our imaginations and to enjoy life.

No Regrets

I used to work for an assisted living community at the end of high school and just after I graduated. I look back at that job with immense fondness, and I will never forget the friendships that were formed with many of the residents. One of my jobs was driving residents to and from dinner on a golf cart. Many wonderful conversations came from those trips, and a few of them I will never forget.

The first would come in moments of them sharing with me their biggest regrets in life. Multiple times they shared that they wish they wouldn’t have allowed the pressure and prevalent thinking of the culture to dictate their decisions. You could see the heaviness on their faces wishing they would have just lived the life that they wanted to live.

The second was what they didn’t share. This generation was one of the toughest generations ever, but old age and the ailments that come with it can cause even the toughest of people to complain about their current state. I heard every complaint you could imagine, but one. I never once heard any resident ever complain that they had too many children. In fact, it was the exact opposite. I heard more bragging, more stories, more reflection about their children than anything else. When a resident had children that were coming to visit them, I would hear about it every day for a week. When the children arrived, these sweet residents would begin to glow. Nothing brought them more happiness than their children.

I think it would be wise for us all to learn from that great generation. Live the life we want to live regardless of the current trends and pressures from our culture. Learn to value children while we are young, because children become the wealth of the old.

I do things differently than most people. I was a computer nerd in the 90’s when computers weren’t popular. I read newspapers at lunch time instead of hanging out with my friends in Jr. high and high school. I was on the chess club and enjoy reading books. I encourage people to find alternatives to college and start their own businesses. My wife and I homeschool our kids. I earn my living on Craigslist. I buy almost everything used. Now I have five children. It hasn’t always made my life easy. Sometimes I get made fun of. Sometimes people roll their eyes and make snide remarks. It still makes me sad, but it doesn’t change my decisions. In a few hours I’m going to be holding my daughter Esther. I won’t regret it today and I certainly won’t regret it when I’m old.

Update: Here’s baby Esther

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14 Responses to “Why We Have Five Kids”

  1. Judy Says:

    Hi Ryan and Family,

    First off Welcome to little Esther, and congratulations to you all.

    Ryan I am a single mother of 3. I have always felt that children are a gift from God and I treated them as such. Not easy sometimes, but that was always my goal. As a result, I have two older children who I love and am honored to know and respect as adults, and a teenage son whom I can see turning into a wonderful man.

    Something you forgot to mention Ryan — children help us grow and stretch in every way if we’re raising them with love and attention to their future. They force us to reassess our lives constantly, to scrimp and save for the future, to work harder, and to improve ourselves so that we can appropriately meet their needs.

    My family members who have decided not to have children tend to be whiners, complainers, self-centered, easily spooked and scared of every little thing. They don’t know how to communicate and have a false sense of pride that actually makes their life very constricted and as they get older hopeless. Well, that’s the way I see it.

    So enjoy every day with your family, they raise us and we raise them.

    Judy

    Reply

  2. Isabella Says:

    I loved this, Ryan. We have four grown children and three dear little granddaughters. My husband and I have always believed that our children are our greatest treasures. Having our children was the happiest time of our lives, and it’s still great. God always provided.

    People and the Word of God are all that will stand at the end. Nothing else really matters. Your family is beautiful and congrats on your new little girl!

    Reply

  3. Aaron Says:

    Ryan,

    I think you and I might be the same person.

    I watch all of my coworkers constantly applying themselves to the grind and succumbing to it’s pressures and demands, and speaking of their home life as if it’s this nuisance that they have to tolerate. They buy houses that they can’t afford, and don’t spend anytime actually living in.

    Family is everything to me. Congratulations on #5, that’s amazing. I’ve got number one on the way and could not be more stoked. Over the last year, I have successfully changed my wife from thinking “No more than two” to “Two or Three, let’s wait and see”. I would LOVE to have 4 or 5 though…

    No greater joy than kids. If things go well this summer, I’ll think hard about working for myself in the future, instead of keeping up my demanding teaching schedule.

    Reply

  4. Brad Haven Says:

    Ryan,

    Welcome to little Esther and may God bless your wife as she recovers–and bless you in your business. You folks are doing a wonderful job! Keep it up! Brad

    Reply

  5. Andrew A Says:

    Ryan,
    I’ve been following your blog for sometime and without exception your insights are helpful and meaningful on all aspects of life. I’ve appreciated the variety of subjects, even though your main theme is to grow a business. I like your holistic approach and that you include the business of life. This most recent post about children is a much needed area to expose a lot of negative thinking and attitudes. Thanks for your bold stance and courageous words! Keep up the good work and may you be fruitful in all areas of life–needless to say, but including growing and raising healthy, world-changing kids!
    God bless,
    ~Andrew A

    Reply

  6. Melissa Says:

    Haha…I so identified with paragraph one! We have seven and wow, we heard it all. Then we moved them all to the mission field, it’s a great adventure and so worth the heaps of work!

    Reply

  7. Gina Says:

    Ryan,

    Hooray for you and your family! Congratulations on your latest addition!

    My mother-in-law gave me some great advice when my oldest was born: discipline your children so that you can enjoy them.

    And we did enjoy them. Now one of our two sons has a baby daughter and another on the way. And like you, he is having the time of his life.

    Thank you for talking so clearly and positively about family. Besides a relationship with God, there is no greater joy on earth.

    Reply

  8. stuart Says:

    Nice article! Good point about raising children to be a future force for good and changing the world for the better.

    Reply

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