I was watching a documentary recently about a movement called Quiverfull.
30,000 strong so far in America and increasing all the time - as well as growing in Canada and Australia. The women of this group believe that no birth control is necessary (or even right) and that how many children they have is up to God and nature.
Many of these women have 10, 12 and 15 children. And they continue to have more. Most are self-sufficient who do not depend on the tax payer to support their family. They believe huge families to be their ultimate goal and suggest that 12 children born to each woman is a viable number.
They have many challenges, from the simple day to day aspects of feeding their kids and transportation, to education and health care. But they also enjoy a lot of fun and kinship, as well as tight knit communities with the focus on their home lives. Many break out in laughter at the notion that they live this life against their will. They're aware that society, in general, believes they need some kind of rescuing and if only they were more educated, they'd know how demeaning their life choices are.
Contrary to stereotypes, not all Quiverfull women wear long dresses and abstain from "material" things. Many are educated, sporty, fit women who believe that large families make an environment strong, not weak. They are well-rounded and as opinionated as any boardroom dynamo.
They are not without their (many) critics. There have been accusations of racism and feminist women have accused Quiverfull men of holding their wives back and disallowing female independence. The women have been called "breeders" and slaves of a patriarchal society. Far more commentaries are critical than supportive. And some of this criticism may well be valid - it can be a hard and exhausting life, with little personal time or the "me time" we have come to expect in our more mainstream lives. But in interviews, the Quiverfull women say that they are happy, content and would never be in this life unless they wanted to be. They are less interested in "me" time, or the "me" concept in general. Some think this is rather refreshing.
Not many people believe them. They must be brainwashed. They must be subservient. Why else would any woman choose this life? Quiverfull women believe that real choice is being allowed to live as they wish - not how others wish them to live.
Some of the men and women who believe in the no birth control rules of the Quiverfull movement include the Duggar family (of 18 kids and Counting on TLC) and some of the families on the the show Families by the Dozen.
Whether a popular lifestyle or not, people are fascinated by these families and their TV ratings are high. Family blogs are filled with supportive messages. Less admiring articles have been published by Newsweek, The New York Times and other large publications as well as countless social commentary blogs.
For more information on the Quiverfull movement, click here : http://www.quiverfull.com/ and you can check out a show about these women on WETV's The Secret Lives of Women here : http://www.wetv.com/secret-lives-of-women/
One former leader of the Quiverfull movement has her own website, talking about why she left : http://nolongerquivering.com/
Do you find these families inspiring? Why or why not? Could you see yourself having a dozen or more kids? How many kids is enough for any family?