January 9th, 2008


I want to see scientific studies that demonstrate the blessing of being born eighth in a family of closely spaced siblings. I want to see statistics that prove the social, psychological, and intellectual benefits of learning early on that you are loved much … and by many.

I want to know exactly how a baby’s brain develops a deep sense of security and confidence in his own unique self worth when he is cuddled by an older brother while he reads his history book.

I want to see studies proving the naturally generous, cooperative, I-am-not-the-center-of-the-universe attitudes that are fostered among a gang of kids who must accommodate myriad mealtime preferences, compromise on story time choices, and share a single bathroom.

I want the stats on how a toddler’s stress levels are lowered when he shares a bedroom with a roomful of older brothers who read him stories, sing to him, and answer his every blessed question about bears and bumblebees until at last his eyes grow heavy and he drops off to sleep while listening to the sound of his oldest brother’s breathing in the bunk above.

I want scientific proof that mothers and fathers, when they face a not-specifically-planned-by-them pregnancy, are challenged to give up selfish inclinations and controlling notions of what their family size and spacing is supposed to look like. I want to see the studies that show how, when they ultimately embrace the unexpected, they grow in holiness, generosity, and faith. I want to quantify the value of their learning to trust in Divine Providence and to lean on God’s graces to help them through tough times. I want to prove that in the end they are better people — humble people who have grown in real holiness — for having remained open to life and generously accepted God’s plan for themselves and their families.

I want to quantify that kind of real growth, that kind of real work toward holiness, and that kind of blessing.

But of course you can’t quantify it. You can only live it. And I do.

“Americans are known for generosity to your children,” said John Paul II. “And what is the best gift you can give your children? I say to you: Give them brothers and sisters.”

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