Enjoying the Blessing of Children
What is it really like in a large family? On today's broadcast, get a realistic glimpse into the lifestyle of large families when father of six, Dennis Rainey, swaps stories with Bill and Pam Mutz, parents of 12.
About the Guest
What is it really like in a large family? On today's broadcast, get a realistic glimpse into the lifestyle of large families when father of six, Dennis Rainey, swaps stories with Bill and Pam Mutz, parents of 12.
What is it really like in a large family?
Enjoying the Blessing of Children
Bob: Imagine this – you're just one mom, but you have a dozen children. How do you find the time or the strength or the capacity to pour into the lives of all 12. Here's Pam Mutz.
Pam: The thing that I have found that's helped the most is I spend time alone with the Lord, and as I pray for our family, it's like the Lord just impresses upon your spirit a child who has an emotional need, and so that day I'll cut out time to spend with that child; to go have lunch with them, to do something special with them after school; just get them away in the house to read a book to them. You just take those slots.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, March 12th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. If you've ever wondered how do those parents with all of those kids do it? You're going to find out today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. Our guests on the program today – well, Dennis, they make the ice cream man in Florida very happy when they show up, because he goes, "All right!"
Dennis: I'll bet the guy goes out of his way when he's driving down the streets.
Bob: I think you're right.
Bill: And he stops in front of the house, that's the truth.
Bob: And rings the bell.
Bill: Rings it until they come out.
Dennis: Until the Mutz kids come out, and the reason is there are 12 – 12 children in this family, actually, soon to be 12.
Bob: That's right.
Dennis: Bill, Pam, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Pam: Thank you, Dennis and Bob.
Bill: It's great to be here.
Dennis: Bill is the president and owner of Lakeland Auto Mall. If you missed yesterday, Bob did a trial …
Bob: … commercial.
Dennis: Yeah, he did his best, but he's still working here at FamilyLife. They've been involved in FamilyLife for – well, more than 10 years – all the way back to their time in Indianapolis where they both led the conference, the FamilyLife Marriage Conference there in Indianapolis helping …
Bob: Did you call and say, "How can we get one of these?"
Bill: They actually called us, and we had been on a list somewhere as someone who might consider being city ministry directors, and we had had several couples who had had divorces that year, and that's that the Lord really flashed through our mind, and we said we could not say no.
Bob: Bill and Pam have gone on to speak at FamilyLife Marriage Conferences and do that all across the country, and I have to ask you – we talked yesterday about your children and having a large family, and you started off, Pam, you didn't want any kids, you wound up getting pregnant on your honeymoon. Bill, you were thinking maybe four.
I remember when we told one of our relatives that Mary Ann was pregnant with number five, and instead of excitement and joy, we got the response of "Are you kids nuts?"
Bill: Both of our parents were very, very negative about continuing forward.
Bob: When did that happen in the – was it after three?
Bill: That was five, that was number five. Four was okay, "You guys need to think about stopping," and five was absolutely off the cliff.
Pam's father called me one day and said, "You know, I didn't let you have my daughter as your wife so you could make a brood mare out of her."
Bill: That was pretty strong.
Dennis: What did you do with that?
Bill: I said, "You know, from our perspective," very respectfully, because I love him a lot, and he is a man who really loves the Lord" …
Pam: He's awesome.
Bill: This is an area we really are confident God is directing us, and I don't want you to feel like your daughter is certainly going to be a brood mare, and if there were ever medical reasons …
Pam: Neigh, neigh.
Bill: If there were ever a medical reason, we would certainly stop, but we believe strongly we need to trust God for the number of kids.
Dennis: You know, I want to stop you right there because I think sometimes young married couples, as they start their families find their in-laws or their parents stepping into their marriages, making observations, making statements, maybe critiquing them, and you've just modeled, Bill, a great way to truly fulfill Exodus 20, verse 12, which talks about honoring your father and your mother. You honored your father-in-law with that answer.
You didn't come back at him, you graciously told him you loved him, you were loyal to him, you made sure he knew that you were going to take care of his daughter, but you also handled it in a way of saying, "You know, this is an area of conviction before God, and this is an area that we feel like He's leading us."
And you handled that in a way that is a great model, Bob, for young couples today because I think many times they react back, and what they do when you react to your in-laws or to your parents, then you set up an adversarial relationship.
Young couples today need their parents to be pulling for them, pulling with them, cheering them on. They need that relationship, they need to be able to go to them at any point if they need help and strength.
Bob: There came a time, though, where they came back around and said, "We were wrong?"
Bill: One of my most precious memories was with my father when he called me on the phone one day, and I was sitting at the desk in my office, and he said, "I was in your office yesterday, and when I was there making some phone calls because I was near the airport and I had just stopped by, and you were out of town, I looked over at your bookcase, and when I looked at the bookcase, I saw 10 of the most beautiful faces of kids that I have ever seen in my life, and I just called to tell you that you're the wealthiest man I know."
And I'm sitting at my desk, and I just start weeping, because here we had kind of gone full cycle from where parents were really negative to where they had started to see the eternal value of the kids. So it was a precious time.
Bob: You know, there comes a time, as you're having children, though, when you outgrow minivans or you start looking for houses, and they only have so many bedrooms. The practical realities of a large family begin to force you to stop and think, "Okay, we trust you, Lord, but how do we do this?"
Pam: Bob, that is – I'm glad that you're talking about that because I find it very interesting to talk to previous generations who have come from large families, and it's amazing, the people that I speak with, they said, "Yes, I'm one of 10," "I'm one of 15," and so I ask them what was it like growing up? How did you do it? And you know what? I think we have it easier today than the people from the past generations, and yet they survived and their character was built.
As Bill and I were walking through the airport, we saw a "People" magazine that had Celine Dion on the cover, and she was one of 13 children, right? And it said, you know, a very poor family, and it's just amazing just to see how we don't go without food and how these families did make it through those difficult times, through the Depression and everything and God did provide for them, even though it was difficult.
Bob: Well, do all your kids have their own bed?
Pam: They do have their own bed. We have a storage room that we use for a bedroom.
Bill: We can sleep 17. We use lots of bunkbeds with trundles.
Pam: So you can bring your family, too.
Bob: But how many bedrooms?
Dennis: How many bedrooms in your house?
Bill: We actually have five bedrooms and two closets that are additional bedrooms.
Dennis: How many loads of laundry do you do a day?
Pam: When our children turn 10, they do their own laundry, because I can't handle all that also.
Dennis: You know, this just brings up another benefit of a big family that Barbara and I have experienced. One of the problems of youth today is they don't need one another, and as a result when they turn 13, 14, 15 and move into adolescence, they are looking around for somebody who needs them.
Your family has to pull together, otherwise …
Pam: It's chaos and, Dennis, Mom is happy when the house is picked up and clean. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it does need to be picked up, and when I left the house this morning, we have two large laundry baskets of white socks, and I remember telling people when they come over to a birthday party or something or their kids spend the night, I go, "The only thing I promise I will not return to you are your children's socks if they leave them laying around the house."
Bob: Well, it's not only the children needing one another, but I think a lot of kids who hit adolescence, Mom keeps taking care of things for them.
Bob: Doing the laundry or the things she's always done, and so they head off to college not knowing how to do laundry, not knowing how to wash dishes, not knowing how to do things around the house.
Pam: Our 17-year-old, I noticed as he was doing the laundry the other day, he just does one large load – coloreds, blacks, you know, darks and whites all together, and I said, "Jacob, why do you do it that way?" He goes, "Mom, I just put it on cold, and everything comes out fine."
Dennis: You know, though, Bob, I've got to stop right there, because one of the problems I fear in the Christian community here in America is that we're raising a generation of young people who think their lives revolve around themselves. Mom and Dad are running them in car pools, we're taking them to this place, take them to that place, we're serving them with this, we're providing all these parties.
Your children, Bill, Pam, your children have to give up daily for one another. They have to sacrifice – self-sacrifice is part of the fiber of a family that's three, four or more.
Bill: It becomes a way of life, and you have to realize that delayed gratification, the fact we don't get to do everything, that there's going to be events that get missed, that there's going to be some sports you don't play is part of it.
Dennis: Let's talk about sports.
Pam: We don't go to every game. We tell the children, "This is for your exercise and enjoyment. I think it's great that a lot of parents are dedicated to be able to go to each of their children's game, but we just can't do that."
Bill: We literally can't be at every game that they're having all the time. We do our best to get to the ones we can.
Bob: How do you even get them to practice, though? I mean, if you've got one going to soccer, another piano lesson, are your kids doing all of this stuff?
Pam: Well, you know, what's great – our school offers piano lessons in school so that's a hey, bingo, right there. And then soccer, we had six or seven playing soccer, but I coach a team, and so that takes care of …
Bob: Hold it, hold it, you coach a team?
Bill: She's a great coach.
Bob: But, see, somebody …
Pam: Now, wait, Bob, it's not that amazing, because you've got to sit there at practice, anyway, so you might as well be doing something. That's what I figure. So – and then I just try and get the other kids on a similar night at the same location. However, that does not always work, and so that's why we've had to say one activity, because we've got to have family nights, we've got to have dinner together and, actually, we don't have dinner together as often as we used to. We used to do it every night. We probably hit four, five times a week, wouldn't you say, Bill?
Dennis: Even with teenagers, you're hitting five nights a week?
Bill: Well, or three. There's weeks we have three.
Pam: But the problem is more with Bill getting home because he still has to spend so much time in his job, and when he does, and I commend him for this – he's always been an early riser. In his younger days, he used to get up one day 3:30, but most days 4:30 in the morning, and now I'd say he gets up between 4:30 and 5, and usually in the 9- to 11-year-old range, that child comes down, showers with him, they talk, they do their Bible study together.
Bob: You know, as you mention that, I'm thinking about our five children, and I said to Mary Ann the other day, "One of the hard things is for me to have one-on-one time with all five of them," and all of them want one-on-one time with Dad, and I try to schedule it in and make it meaningful, but it's hard to get to all five of them. Okay, that's five. Youv'e got five more, you've got another one coming. How do you do that?
Bill: What we really have learned to do is recognize when the emotional cup is empty of the child that needs to have time spent with him, and the Lord really provides this as a second sense, and I am so thankful for it. I cannot tell you other than operatively it works, and that we are sensitive to it.
But you know the child. If you reflect before him that you need to be spending time with, you know which one that is, and you know that you need to carve out something. So we never run errands by ourselves. We always take someone with us. We use every opportunity we can for a teaching situation. So when we see something happen in the city, we point that out so that they're learning.
And we make dates with the girls. I have – the girls that I like to regularly be able to takeout one by one, and I'd like to do that more of that with the boys, but it's critical to me, as a father, to have that one-on-one time with the girls.
Pam: The thing that I have found has helped the most is I spend time alone with the Lord, and as I pray for our family, it's like the Lord just impresses upon your spirit a child who has an emotional need, and so that day I'll cut out time to spend with that child; to go have lunch with them; to do something special with them after school; just get them away in the house to read a book to them. You just take those slots, as Bill mentioned.
Dennis: Let's talk for a moment about sibling rivalry. You know, there's a lot of moms that moved to the edge of their seats right now who are listening to the broadcast – you've got to have some great, great principles to pass on around the daily conflict of so many different relationships.
Bill: Well, there's two really red-letter rules in our home. One is to have no sibling rivalry, which, obviously, is the ideal, and we will have some. And, two, is no back-talking. We believe those two things undermine the family probably more than any other relational areas. So those are capital punishment areas in our family, and we work very, very hard – the capital punishment you get for sibling rivalry is you have to apologize to each other, kiss each other on the lips, ask for forgiveness and give each other a hug.
Bob: Ooh, that's the death penalty for a child, isn't it?
Pam: Last month our Bible verse that we were memorizing was Ephesians 4:29 – "Let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth but only that which builds each other up that it may benefit those who listen." And so we have to go back and say, "Okay, were you benefiting your brother or sister by what you just said?" "Stupid," or "I can't believe you did that," you know, whatever. And so that has helped us evaluate where they are.
Dennis: What have you done for chronic situations, where you've got two children …
Bill: And that's what we have.
Pam: That's going on right now.
Dennis: We go through these cycles, and there's a pair who just get at each other. It's like they have each other's number, and one knows how to aggravate the other, the other knows how to slip under a cover and get them back.
Bill: We have done some things where we have, for example, assigned them a date to have with each other. In our case, it is the 17-year-old son, and the 9-year-old daughter, and they both are strongwilled.
Dennis: Now, that's an interesting rivalry – a 17-year-old, and a 9-year-old.
Pam: Eleven years old, Bill.
Bill: I'm sorry.
Pam: They are the strongwilled ones in the family and, I'll tell you, they are both awesome kids, but they want to help the other one in ways, which we don't understand.
Dennis: Okay, I've got another one for you.
Bob: Now, wait …
Pam: That's why we came to see you, Dennis, for the answer.
Bob: So you send them on a date together?
Bill: Yeah, and it was very effective. We also had …
Bob: What did they do? What did they do for their date?
Bill: He took her to dinner. They talked, they came back much more cooperative.
Pam: It's time to do that again.
Bill: And we were there in the window again with them because we've had a bad week, just this past week, with the two of them. However, there is deep love for both of those kids for the other person, and that's what we emphasize. These are going to be your best friends your entire life. You may not feel it right now, but they are going to be the faithful people. So make sure you do everything you can to maximize the relationship.
Dennis: And, you know, he said some key things there that we need to make sure we underline, because helping two kids get away from the rest alone, just having some time to focus on their relationship, to be honest about it, to talk about what it is that aggravates you about the other person or how am I aggravating you, and to discuss that honestly – and then, again, just reestablish the need to relate to one another out of respect.
Because it seems like there is this alarm clock – that's how I've always pictured it. You wind it up, and they get along okay, but it slowly begins to unwind.
Pam: That's a good picture, a great picture.
Dennis: And a parent has to step back in there and wind it back up again. It doesn't automatically rewind.
Bill: That is correct.
Dennis: What have you done with children who try to parent younger children.
Bill: We also have that.
Bob: I think you've got everything.
Bill: We have some strong examples of that. Some of it's appropriate. Some of the parenting is pretty good, and some of it is kind of filling in the gap for us. That is also another one of the ways that God makes it possible for us to have large families. And we admire the way the kids generally communicate with each other and help try to raise situations up. But there are some cases that get out of control, there's no question.
Dennis: And they really do try to control their younger siblings, and you've got to step in there and say, "There's only two parents in this family."
Bill: That's correct, and we sure do.
Dennis: Always being careful to reinforce the positive influence and positive modeling, because you want that, and I'm glad you said that, because a lot of this can really be an asset to you later on as your children move into later adolescence and help with the younger children.
Pam: Jacob, who is the 17-year-old, when he was younger, maybe six or seven, we would see him taking gum and selling it to his younger siblings, but he was selling it for a dollar a piece.
Bill: A slice. He was a younger entrepreneur.
Bob: A chip off the old block.
Pam: And that was one of those situations where we had to say, "Jacob, do you think that's fair?" "Well, if they're willing to pay for it, why not?"
Bill: I have the gum, they have the money, that's Jacob's attitude.
Bob: I've known some car dealers like that, by the way.
Dennis: Oh, that was a bad joke. And so what's the rest of the story?
Pam: So we had to go back in and converse about how would you feel if you were the younger sibling?
Bill: For Jacob, it was a windfall profit law that he didn't like, you know?
Bob: A little imposed regulation on there.
Dennis: And there's one last one I've got to ask you about – "That's not fair!"
Bill: Oh, we're really good about that. We agree that life is not fair, and we make no representations for fairness. In fact, when we buy a gift for the kids, we don't worry about whether or not somebody else has gotten one recently, to the left or to the right or providing equality – you will get your turn. You will be old enough someday to be able to do this. Sometime when we're out, and we see something you like, we will get that for you, but we don't make any representations for equality and fairness.
Dennis: And so your children never say, "That's not fair."
Pam: Well, we won't say never, but, Dennis, we take it back to really a scriptural principle, too – that the Lord gives and takes and different times, and we want our children to understand that even as they get older we may have some children that are involved in ministry that might need more help financially, we may have some that are in the business world that do not. But I tell our children, you know, I said, "You know, I'm praying that each one of you will go to a different continent," and if that includes Lakeland Auto Mall, that's fine, too, but that is my prayer, that the Lord will take each of these children and use them how He desires.
Bob: You know, there are some of our kids that I'd like to have go to a different continent tonight. Have you felt that way before?
Pam: Send them to our house, Bob.
Bob: Antarctica would be good.
Dennis: Well, you know, I was thinking that maybe an offer we ought to have on the broadcast today is you can send your child to Bill and Pam Mutz's house …
Bob: Their boarding school?
Dennis: That's right – for a week to get some training here, because you get the feeling here that there is a lot of training taking place in this family through modeling, through purposeful instruction, getting up in the morning and spending time with a child, taking them with you on an errand. What a beautiful picture of a family.
You know, I think we had this picture that a family is all perfect, like Norman Rockwell, and it's spit-polished and everyone is seated and clothed and in their right mind. Well, it's not always that way.
Bill: No, it sure isn't. There's a lot of stuff on the floor.
Bob: And that's okay, right? I mean, that's the point we're trying to make here is that stuff on the floor is not what matters in eternity, but the hearts and lives of children are what matter in eternity, and that's where our focus needs to be as moms and dads.
I want to point our listeners to our website, FamilyLife.com, if I can, because we've got a couple of articles on the website, Dennis, that you've written -- one that talks about how we ought to view children biblically. We need to rethink what we think about children. There may be some folks who have been listening to us this week talk about these large families, and they think this is just irresponsible, this is not right, it's not appropriate, and it may be that they're not thinking biblically about the value of children.
And there is an article on our website, where you deal with that subject specifically, and then there is also an article on our website where you offer some guidelines, or some thoughts, about the use of contraception and what Christians ought to think through as they make a decision, a personal decision, about what they choose to do in the area of family planning or contraception use.
Our website is FamilyLife.com and, in fact, the website has been freshly redesigned. It's easier to use, it's easier to find what you're looking for. I want to encourage our listeners to check out the new site. If you're looking for the specific articles I'm talking about, when you get to our home page, click on the box on the right side of the screen that says, "Today's Broadcast," and that will take you to the area of the site where there are links to those articles, and some suggestions on resources that we have available that can help you raise your family.
If you have a large family you might be interested in the book by Chris and Wendy Jeub called "Love in the House," where these parents of 13 talk about their large family and some of the lessons they have learned raising 13 children. And then no matter what size your family is, there is a book by Dennis and Barbara Rainey called "Growing a Spiritually Strong Family," that I think is helpful for all of us.
Again, the information about these resources is available on our website, FamilyLife.com. You can also call if you'd like to order these books. The toll-free number is 1-800-FLTODAY, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY. When you call, someone on our team can let you know how you can have these resources sent to you.
Let me also, before we're done, just say a quick word of thanks to those of you who help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. There are listeners in most cities where our program is heard who, from time to time, will stop by our website or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY, and they will help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation. It's those donations that make it possible for us to be on the air in this city and in other cities all across the country, so we appreciate your partnership with us as you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
This month, if you are able to help with a donation, we would like to send you a thank you gift – a DVD of the most viewed movie of all time. It's a move called "Jesus," and this film has been shown, literally, around the world. It's been translated into hundreds of languages and been viewed by millions of people.
It tells the story of the life and the death and the Resurrection of Jesus from the account that is found in Luke's Gospel. We'd love to send a copy of this DVD out to you this month as our way of saying thank you for your financial support of this ministry. If you make a donation online at FamilyLife.com, and you'd like to receive a copy of this DVD, on the donation form, there is a keycode box. If you'll just type "JesusDVD" as all one word in that keycode box, we'll know to send you a copy of the movie.
Or if you call and make your donation over the phone at 1-800-FLTODAY just ask for a copy of the Jesus film on DVD and, again, we're happy to send it out to you. We appreciate your financial support of this ministry, and it is always great to hear from you.
Well, tomorrow we are going to talk to a couple of moms who have made the choice to stay home. We're going to talk about the challenges and the joys of being stay-at-home moms. I hope you can join us for that conversation.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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