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The Great Progeny Contest

Posted: 30 Oct 2019, 17:58
by Katzpur
Maybe it's just me, and maybe it's not even an LDS thing, though I suspect it is. My husband and I have two grown children (ages 39 and 37). Both are divorced and living with significant others. Neither of them has any children. I actually didn't want a large family myself, although I would have been happy for another child had it worked out that way. It seems to me that LDS people are almost fixated on having a huge progeny. It's as if they measure their self-worth by how many children, grand-children and great-grand-children they have. Whenever you're in a group of LDS people who are meeting for the first time (example: we took a cruise this past summer with a group comprised of all LDS people from all over the US), when people are asked to introduce themselves and tell a little bit about themselves, they always mention how many offspring they have. I feel like they're wearing some kind of a medal of honor if they can have more kids and grandkids than everyone else. You go to BYU education week and read the bios of the instructors or read a bio of any of the GAs, the size of their progeny is almost always mentioned. Often it's the very first thing, or even the only thing mentioned.

Last summer on our trip, we sat through the introductions of about 20 other couples, all of whom did this. When it was our turn to introduce ourselves, my husband said, "I'm Matt. This is my wife Kathryn. We have 23 children, 196 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchilden. There were a few gasps and then some laughter. After we got through, the same old routine carried on among the remaining couples. It drives me crazy! Am I super overly-sensitive? Is this more common among Latter-day Saints than the rest of the world?

Re: The Great Progeny Contest

Posted: 30 Oct 2019, 20:14
by mom3
It is seems to be high in Catholics, too. But we still win. My mom mentioned this just a couple weeks ago. She attended a sibling reunion with my dads six siblings. My mom didn't grow up a member of the church. She was an only child. For fourteen years there were only 2 kids in the family. Then surprisingly another cute girl arrived - making her kid count 3. We are now all adults with our own kids. Among all 3 of us there are 8 grandkids.

One of my aunts basically told my mom that we were a disappointment, since we only had 3 kids. This aunt had 7 kids. The aunt ahead of her had 5 and adopted one more. The other 2 aunts had 5 or 6 kids. - So yes, it's a big deal. It's some over sized multiply and replenish the earth deal.

Don't worry you can sit on my cloud in heaven. I only had 3 kids. We are going to be fine.

Re: The Great Progeny Contest

Posted: 31 Oct 2019, 05:03
by DarkJedi
I do see this among members, but I also see it some among the general populous. My MIL is in a nursing home and as far as I know is the only member among around 200 residents. There's lots of people there who talk about how many grand, great-grands, and even great-greats they have. That often shows up in obits too. But I do think it's sort of a bigger thing among Mormons. Even GA bios talk about how many kids they have. What difference does that really make?

Re: The Great Progeny Contest

Posted: 31 Oct 2019, 07:28
by Minyan Man
The message seems to be: quantity over quality?

Re: The Great Progeny Contest

Posted: 31 Oct 2019, 08:25
by felixfabulous
My parents (in their 70s) see this with their friends, there seems to be a huge status/bragging right status placed on: 1. Number of children/grandchildren; 2. The career/church career status of children (my son is a bishop, stake president, etc., partner, vice president at company X); 3. How often they are able to get everyone together and how many of them come for family dinners or on family vacations. There seems to be some status in being able to get everyone together frequently.

I think there used to be more emphasis on all the kids having gone on missions, married in the temple, etc. It seems like more and more now, there are adult children who either didn't do these things, or did them and are no longer active in the Church. Most families are being forced to deal with this fact and still get everyone together and relate to each other, which I think is a good thing.

Re: The Great Progeny Contest

Posted: 01 Nov 2019, 12:38
by mom3
I Love Lucy ran an episode about comparing kids. I know it's not the same, but I think the idea exists lots of places. I recently read where friends of Lori Laughlin speculate that she pulled her daughters university enrollment stunt to try and keep up with Joneses of her crowd.

Comparison on so many levels happens in humanity. Bio's are made that way.

Great news is - we can change it. Dismiss the comments. Not let them hurt us. And love what we have - however it looks, however it fits. It could be scary at first, but with practice it gets better. As you do, the world changes. And you just made it happen.

Re: The Great Progeny Contest

Posted: 01 Nov 2019, 14:06
by Minyan Man
Is there another parallel with the Family History Program of the church?
- how many names can I send to the temple?
- how many names can I index?
- what historical people am I related to?
- who in church history am I related to?

I must say, I do find this program to be very interesting.
Because, at some point, we are all related. IMO

Re: The Great Progeny Contest

Posted: 02 Nov 2019, 08:17
by Katzpur
Minyan Man wrote:
01 Nov 2019, 14:06
Is there another parallel with the Family History Program of the church?
- how many names can I send to the temple?
- how many names can I index?
- what historical people am I related to?
- who in church history am I related to?

I must say, I do find this program to be very interesting.
Because, at some point, we are all related. IMO
Oh, absolutely. There is a lady in my ward who is a direct descendant of Brigham Young, and let me tell you, there isn't anybody in the ward who doesn't know it. (Personally, if it were me, this is not something I'd be bragging about. ;)

Re: The Great Progeny Contest

Posted: 02 Nov 2019, 09:58
by DevilsAdvocate
Katzpur wrote:
30 Oct 2019, 17:58
Maybe it's just me, and maybe it's not even an LDS thing, though I suspect it is. My husband and I have two grown children (ages 39 and 37). Both are divorced and living with significant others. Neither of them has any children. I actually didn't want a large family myself, although I would have been happy for another child had it worked out that way. It seems to me that LDS people are almost fixated on having a huge progeny. It's as if they measure their self-worth by how many children, grand-children and great-grand-children they have...
It's definitely not just you; there is no question that there is something to this especially here in Utah. I have had multiple LDS neighbors with 7-8 children and multiple LDS co-workers with 5 or more. It seems like it is a fairly strong part of the traditional LDS culture that one more thing in the list of expectations of what you are supposed to do in order to be a truly good Mormon is to start having children as soon as possible after marriage and not stop as long as possible, or at least until you have more than double the national average. Of course not every active member buys into this but there are still many that do including some of my younger cousins still in their early twenties.

I'm sure there are some that just like the idea of having many children themselves for whatever reason such as that they grew up in a large family themselves and that appeals to them also without necessarily looking down on or judging others that don't have many if any children. But I also have no doubt that there are some that really do see this as some sort of measuring stick directly related to the idea that they think they are better than others. I know the Church has actually made official statements that it is a personal decision for each couple to decide how many children to have and when but I'm not sure all that many got the message so far.

In the October 2011 General Conference Neil L. Andersen was still pushing the idea that not waiting to have children to finish school or have more financial stability was the way to go and that "multiplying and replenishing the earth" was a serious commandment and obligation to fulfill. Personally I think it is irresponsible of Church leaders to encourage or let members feel so much pressure about having children because of the unnecessary stress and financial burden they could suffer as a result of this. Even if they can manage to get by what if some men end up dying fairly young in a car crash or due to unexpected health issues and then you have women that have been full-time stay-at-home moms their entire adult lives with 7 children to feed? It's like there's no back up plan or regard for any practical concerns just take a leap of faith and hope for the best which is easy for Church leaders to say when they're not the ones that will have to live with the results when things don't work out quite like the Disney movie perspective on life.

Re: The Great Progeny Contest

Posted: 02 Nov 2019, 11:51
by Curt Sunshine
Yes, that force is strong in the Church - but it also is in nearly every conservative culture. I worked for a while at a traditional Catholic university, and it is no different there.

Some of it also is economic. Agricultural work and relative poverty increase motivation for large families, since children become able to work and earn money / help produce food. A college focus among middle-upper class families can dampen the biological emphasis, since going to college is a financial drain on parents who feel required to support it.

Interestingly, there is quite a stark division between the senior apostles and the junior apostles when it comes to number of children. (At least, there was a few years ago when I last looked.) I doubt the "bragging rights" contest will disappear completely, but I definitely see it diminishing with my kids' generations.