Kids are cute but they’re not really eco-friendly. This newspaper headline from 2017 mentions a prevailing reason for many modern couples to have fewer children – or none at all. But from the perspective of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” children are so much more than just “cute” (though they are that, too). They each have a divine nature and destiny, an important purpose for being on this earth, and when we recognize that, we begin to realize just how precious and priceless each one is – how much we need them to teach us, love us, and shine their light for us. Additionally, there may be unintended consequences that result from trying to change the Lord’s plan. For example:
Many studies have found that as older adults age, their social networks shrink due to less contact with co-workers and friends. … This means that they often rely heavily on family members for help with health problems, economic insecurity, and social interaction. Recent research on the characteristics of older adults in the United States with no living kin has found that they tend to be disadvantaged in terms of health and economic security. …
The demographic changes that have led to an increasing population of kinless older adults in the United States—low fertility, childlessness and increases in non-marriage and divorce—are also occurring elsewhere in the world. …
3.8% of the adults 50+ (43.6 million) in the countries we examined do not have a spouse or biological children. As global fertility decline continues, and childlessness and non-marriage continue to spread throughout many global regions, we will likely see more older adults lacking spouses and children. … The rise of older adults with no close family members presents challenges [for the future of civilization].
Margolis, R., & Verdery, A., “Demographic change and aging without family: A global perspective,” N-IUSSP, 9 Dec 2019. Retrieved from https://www.niussp.org/article/demographic-change-and-aging-without-family-a-global-perspective/.
I heard a very thought-provoking question recently: “How can you be childlike or be like a child if there are no children in your life?” I imagine it would be incredibly difficult to try to follow an example you cannot see. And, as we have been commanded to come unto Christ as little children, I am so very grateful to have their examples to look to. When I need a reminder of how to love more purely, live more simply, smile more genuinely, forgive more quickly, serve more enthusiastically, sing more heartily, give more selflessly, learn more willingly, trust my Father more easily, and go about my everyday tasks more joyfully, I find it in the innocent, eager, light-filled countenance of a child.
Christ values children. Throughout the scriptures, we see examples of this. He calls them to do His work and teach His words – in ways that “confound the wise and the learned” (Alma 32:23). He teaches, “Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but Him that sent me” (Mark 9:37). He invites them to come unto Him. He calls down His angels to encircle them. Truly, Jesus loves and values children. And if the Savior values children, then shouldn’t we?
The Book of Mormon prophet Lehi taught, “And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men care, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:22-25).
This seems to infer that, in a fallen world with many challenges, including environmental issues, children are actually a source of joy, even a gift from a Father who understands the earth and its needs better than any human being. If He has commanded His children to “multiply and replenish the earth” – and declared in latter-days that such a commandment remains in force – then He must have wise reasons for doing so. President Henry B. Eyring’s words provide assurance, “Heavenly Father would not command men and women to marry and to multiply and replenish the earth if the children they invited into mortality would deplete the earth. Since there is enough and to spare, the enemy of human happiness as well as the cause of poverty and starvation is not the birth of children. It is the failure of people to do with the earth what God could teach them to do if only they would ask and then obey” (President Henry B. Eyring, “The Family,” Ensign, February 1998). Caring for the earth is a good thing indeed, and if done in God’s way, it need not interfere with the bearing and raising of children. “Behold, the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and He hath created His children that they should possess it” (1 Nephi 17:36).
Children have blessed my life, taught me simple lessons of eternal significance, and brought so much joy into my world. How grateful I am for them! How grateful I am for my childhood – and especially for my parents who chose to bring not only me, but four other precious souls into this world. They are, without a doubt, among the most important people in my life. I don’t know what it would be without them; nor do I want to imagine it. What joy they bring to me and to the world! And what immense capacity and potential they each have to fulfill a part of our Father’s great plan.
Author Annalee Blonquist is an intern pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Mount Liberty College with a special interest in history, law and government.
Don’t forget to check out our latest podcast on how everyone fits into “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” The interview covers a unique circumstance with someone who might not be your typical defender of the family. Hear your own invitation in the latest episode of the “Raising Family” podcast.