How to Respond When Someone Criticizes Large Families

Over the past week, there has been a strange bubbling up of criticism for large families. One of the judges on President Trump’s shortlist for a Supreme Court nominee, Federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett, is a Catholic and mother of seven, and buzz about her potential nomination has garnered criticism that her family size indicates a disregard for women’s rights.

And then, on The Patrick Madrid Show, Patrick pointed to a tweet that he saw last week that equated a smiling family of 10 kids with terrorism.

Patrick responded to the above tweet with a tweet of his own.

Part of a Catholic marriage involves being open to life, and accepting children lovingly from God. Catholics are not required to have as many children as they possibly can, and Catholic families come in all sizes, but large families are often Catholic families. And they often receive criticism for it.

As a father of 11 children and grandfather to 25 grandkids, Patrick is no stranger to people making rude, invasive, and critical comments about his large family. But he shared that this Twitter exchange brought back the memory of an encounter he had more than 20 years ago, and shared how he responded when someone criticized the size of his family.

“It reminded me of a situation that I ran into personally when I was at a store to buy some stuff,” he said. “I had a friend with me, and we were in line waiting for the checkout counter. We were chatting, and I don’t remember how it came up, but in the conversation it came up that at the time we had only nine kids.”

“I’ll never forget the moment when the lady in front of us turned around and she was glaring at me,” he recalled. “She said, ‘You have how many kids?!’ And I was shocked, because what business is it of hers? But I said, ‘We have nine. Why?'”

She was really glowering at Patrick and she said, “Well, that’s the most selfish thing I’ve ever heard in my life!”

Patrick explained that he was confused about how it would be selfish to choose to spend your money on Pampers, milk, cereal, and clothes for your children rather than a nice car or vacation. That it doesn’t seem selfish to get up in the middle of the night to clean up the vomit of a child who was sick.

“It didn’t compute,” he said. “I couldn’t figure out what she meant by selfish.”

Patrick recalled that the woman responded, “It’s selfish because you are taking up resources, you’re crowding the planet! Think of your carbon footprint!” And then she finished by saying, “And I bet you’re anti-choice!”

“She was really unhappy with me,” said Patrick. “And she was making a scene. Other people at the store were looking at this thinking, ‘What on earth is going on here?'”

She said, “Get over it.”
“Get over what?” Patrick responded.
She said, “You’re anti-abortion. Get over it.”
Patrick again said, “I don’t understand. What do you mean get over it.”
The woman told Patrick, “It’s legal. Get over it. It’s the law of the land.”

Patrick recalled that he pointed out that slavery used to be legal. It was once legal for white people to own black people, and that was backed up by the Supreme Court. It was also legal in Nazi Germany for the Nazis to round up millions of Jewish people and kill them. And prior to 1920, it was legal for men to deny women the right to vote in elections. Just because those things were legal didn’t make them right.

Patrick concluded this story by encouraging listeners to respond to those who criticize large families by pointing out the inconsistencies of their position. Someone who is pro-choice who criticizes large families is criticizing the choice that woman made about her family size. That is not consistent with their own worldview. Someone who says abortion is right because it is legal probably wouldn’t think slavery was right when it was legal. So that logic doesn’t align with their own worldview.

He encouraged listeners who hear or receive criticism of large families to not get upset or worked up, but kindly point out the flaw in their reasoning.

“The key here for me was that I used her own logic against her position,” he said. “I wasn’t shouting, I wasn’t tub-thumping, I wasn’t lecturing. I wasn’t doing anything. I was just taking her logic that abortion is legal because it is morally permissible, and it wouldn’t be legal if it weren’t morally permissible. I just took that argument and turned it around.”

“What’s nice about that technique is you can use it very calmly. You don’t have to get upset. In fact, don’t get upset. Ask a few questions, point out a few things. And eventually, that inconsistency will come to the surface.”

Listen to the full conversation below:

The Patrick Madrid Show airs weekdays from 8:00 – 11:00 a.m. Central on Relevant Radio® and the Relevant Radio App.

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Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at relevantradio.com and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.