4 Moms Q&A: the Coghlan family FAQ, part 1

4moms35kidsFor a fun change in the 4 Moms Q&A posts, I’m going to start putting together a lighthearted list of the questions I have received over the years – most of them many, many times – along with the answers I give…or the answers I wish I had thought to give at the time…or the answers I plan to give from now on.

These are not meant to be complete and comprehensive answers, but are the sort I offer to someone I’ve just met or a stranger making conversation in line at the grocery store.  I consider many of the answers a sort of “bait,” and am thrilled if my questioner takes the bait so we can delve deeper into a subject.

Are they all yours?

[Looking around carefully] Yes, I think so. Wait – that one’s not mine.  But the rest are mine, and so are those three over there.  Yes, it really happens, especially in our new neighborhood.  Sometimes I check on my kids while they are playing outside and find extras that I may or may not recognize.

calvineyeballHow many kids do you have?!

Ten – no, eleven, I think.  We’re just going on memory these day… they never stand still long enough for us to count them…

Do you work?

[long pause, as I alternately eye my questioner and my children]

Why do you have so many kids?  Are you Catholic or Mormon, or crazy?

No, we’re just Christians, and the Bible teaches that children are a blessing, so we are happy to have them.

Don’t you know what causes that?

Don’t you?

Don’t you believe in birth control?

Most kinds of birth control work at least partly by causing very early abortions.  But even if they didn’t, I can’t think of a good reason to try to keep God from blessing us.

You need a TV in your bedroom!

Why? [awkward pause]

How many more are you going to have?

As many as God gives us.

So you’re trying to have as many kids as you can?

No, we just think God knows better than we do how many kids we should have.

So you think I should have as many kids as I can?

How many do you think you should have?  Why?


 Your turn: How would you answer these questions?  What questions do you hear over and over?

See what questions the other Moms are answering:

About 4 Moms, including a complete list of all past topics


  1. Kim, I hear alot of these. We use to get
    Are you trying for a girl?
    Now that you have a girl are you going to stop?
    You need to get a big tv in your room.
    Hey Cedric make sure you enter the raffle and maybe you could win that tv you need it for your bedroom.
    You know if you stopped having kids you get buy a nice/new truck/car.

  2. Kathryn says:

    Okay, I don’t have any kids yet, but I am a HUGE “etiquette-geek” and questions like these drive me INSANE! …My tendency would be to WANT to shame the asker as much as possible with my response…but in reality, I’m super-non-confrontational so I would probably just smile and nod/laugh/deflect. But! Here are my “dream answers,” to your question were I to someday have many children and be asked super-inappropriate/invasive questions like these:
    1. “Mine?” Like, do I OWN them or something? [Gasp of horror] They’re CHILDREN!
    2. Can’t you count?
    3. Do you?
    4. Mormon?! But I’m from Earth! (Hooray for “Simpsons” references!)
    5. No, I don’t–could you please tell me?
    6. Don’t you believe in “Mouth Control?”
    7. Great idea! [insert name of TV show]REALLY gets me in the mood [wink, wink]
    8. 12. (or other other largish, arbitrary number).
    9. Actually, we’re having a race with our neighbors. First family to 20 wins (or something).
    10. I wouldn’t DREAM of sticking my nose in other people’s baby-making business. [Long stare.]
    …That was fun 🙂

  3. Janet Kiessling says:

    Love it! We are adoptive parents to 6 Blessings & before that my hubby had already had 3…whew…fun, fun! We get that all of the time! We do the same thing! God does know how many children that we can have…..really – He does! The stares are so funny!
    Have a blessed day!

  4. I am pregnant with our third child. I have two boys 3 and 18 months and I am already getting comments like this! I was in starbucks with my husband and boys (giftcard) and a lady came up to me and asked me when I was due. She said to me oh I hope its a girl when I found out I was pregnant with another boy I cried. People keep commenting on how great it is I am having a girl after two boys. Which it is…but people act like having two boys is this terrible thing it makes me feel awful! Whats wrong with boys? I love my boys.

  5. I’ve only got two so far, but I’m already getting sick of the “How many are you going to have?” I started saying, “Well, it’s up to God, but even if I have a baby every other year til I’m 45, that’s ONLY 11.” That shuts ’em up.

  6. I had to laugh at this post, although I had to do it really quietly because it’s 5:30 in the morning over here!!!

    Our son, who happens to be our only boy, is 18. People often say to him “poor guy”……he just laughs. We also get “are you going to try till you get another boy” as though sons were the only reason we’re having kids!! I’m pregnant with my 9th earthly baby and it’s so funny how everyone shouts “WOW! you’re crazy!”

    I get asked a lot if I know how having lots of kids happens, and once I looked at the questioner and smiled huge and said “oh yes, and it sure is fun!”

    The rudest comment I’ve ever gotten was on my first appointment at my former doctor’s office, when he came into the room. He looked carefully at me and said, “didn’t we tie your tubes last time?” And of course I said, “no way!” To which he replied, “we should have!” Ugh. Of course I no longer see him!!!!!! Ugh, makes me sick.

    Anyway, sorry for the long comment, but I’ve heard all of the comments before and I can laugh at them now!

    Thanks for the post. Keep them coming!

    • I am speechless. That is so rude of him! I cant believe a doctor would be so unprofessional, its none of his business how many kids you have, whether this one was your first or your 20th.

  7. Thank you for this wonderful posts!
    I have a question: what about families that have had to “stop” having children due to complications? We have three children and the last two were consider high risk…one was preemie the other was full-term induced labor. I feel guilty because I am still in my early 30s and would love to have more children but we can’t…

    • Marie,
      That’s a hard question, and not one that I would presume to answer for others, although I think I know what my own answer would be. Here’s what I said as a PS to the Quiverfull post that is linked in this post:

      If your doctor advised you not to have more children, I understand that yours was a hard decision – but it was a decision nonetheless. You had a choice and you made it. Not everyone obeys their doctor’s advice; not every doctor offers the same advice, and not everyone who goes against the advice of a doctor winds up regretting it. I’m not saying that you should have decided differently. Only that you did, indeed, have and make a choice.

    • Marie,

      If you and your husband have chosen to follow a doctor’s advice, and not have any more biological children, have you prayerfully considered adoption? You mentioned that you would love more children. There are certainly many children who would love a family.

  8. I have six, and I’ve had lots of people ask “Are you planning on having anymore?” My response is always “Well, I didn’t plan the first six, so why start now?”

  9. “Yes, we know what causes it and we’re obviously very good at it.”
    “Better full than empty.”

    Those are my go to responses to the usual lines. Number eight is due in a few weeks.

  10. I have 5 boys. The strangest comment I get is, “What? You don’t like girls?” Like I custom ordered them, like at Chipotle or something. “I’d like one boy, tall, fair skinned, good at math, not much of an athlete.”

    • Ive not heard that one before, I thought most people knew that people cant pick out the gender of their baby.

      I bet you get a lot of “Oh, are you trying for a girl this time?” comments like my aunt does, she has four boys and every time she got pregnant, she would be asked if she was trying for a girl.

  11. We have six kids and we get the “Don’t you know what causes that?” question too sometimes. One time, my husband got tired of it. When the person asked the question, my husband responded with, “Yeah. We know what causes it….Don’t you? I could give you some tips if you want!” I’m not sure who was more embarrassed–them or me!

  12. I have 9. The main one I have had is asking whether I have a TV (Yes, but there are more fun things to do than watch it). Ive also had people ask whether I am crazy (probably) or super religious (not particularly, I just like kids) or both. We have also been asked whether we are trying to catch up with other various large families seen on TV or are trying to get my own show (No, there are easier ways to be on TV, and I am way too private to have a camera crew follow me round)

    Im used to it though. I have a lot of siblings, and I often heard the same things myself when I said that my mom was going to have another baby or mentioned how many siblings I have. I thought it was the coolest thing ever though, because it was something different that all my friends were amazed by and I always had a sibling to play with.

    People often ask if my mom brainwashed me into wanting a load of kids when they hear that, but no, she didnt. She never mentioned anything about how many children we should have or said she wanted us to have large families. I did and one of my sisters has five under 10, but the rest have more average amounts or have yet to marry and have kids.

    I have three kids with J names, and I have had to call all three of them at once and people probably have mistaken me for Michelle Duggar (they dont have a Jacob though). I usually throw in a few of my non J names in as well just to stop the confusion!

  13. My parents used to answer, “Are you Catholic?” with a cheerful, “Nope! Just passionate Protestants!” I never quite understood that until I got a little older… 😉

  14. Love it!! I answer the comment, “Boy, you sure have your hands full!” in one of the following ways:

    “Yes, I do, so it’s a good thing I have so many helpers!”

    “Yes, but many hands make light work!”

    “Yes, and I love it!”

    I have only said this a handful of times, when I thought the questioner would ‘get’ my sense of humour- when asked “Don’t you know what causes that?” I have said,

    “Yes, why? Is there something you had a question about? I can probably give you a good book to explain it, if you want.”

    I am now getting questions like this about my married daughters- each of whom have or will shortly have 3 children 3 and under- “so how many more do you think your daughter will have?”

    Most recently I just laughed, shrugged, and said, “Well, only God knows, but she’s 30 now, and fertility rates do tend to drop drastically after that.”

  15. Love your answers!! 🙂

    Any suggestions for “Just wait till they’re older” comments. Probably not needed as much since you have older kids now though. 🙂

    • Anna, I used hear that often but would have forgotten it since it’s not exactly a question and – as you pointed out – we don’t hear it so much now that we have teens and even a married daughter. It definitely calls for an answer though, doesn’t it?
      A good start is just playing dumb. Ask why? Teens aren’t always unpleasant and rebellious, so why would someone expect yours to be?

  16. Amber Watts says:

    I’ve been blessed with two children and have decided that it is best for us to stop there. My question for families with many children is how can you afford it?

  17. THanks for posting this! It was refreshingly funny. 🙂 But I totally got lost in the links! That Quiverfull post really got me thinking. Is it ok if I link it in a blog post of my own? I thought it was a really classy way to address such things.

    • Elizabeth, you can feel free to link to anything on my blog. Thanks for asking, and I’m glad you appreciated my posts.

  18. Please, oh, please, tell me how you answer the comment: “Wow, you have your hands full.” I only have 3, but I take all of them with me on errands, and there are days I hear this 1 comment several times in a row. It’s not rude or prying. I just get sick of hearing the same thing over and over. I’d almost welcome some of the above comments and questions just for some variety…almost.

    • Bethany says:

      Oh my goodness, me too! I’m pregnant with my fourth, the oldest is five, and I get that comment all the time! Sometimes if I’m in a good mood I just laugh and don’t answer, sometimes I just respond with “in the best way possible!” It is really the most annoying comment. Especially when everyone says it right in front of my kids like they can’t hear or understand!

      Side note: I also am sick of “so, no baby yet?” when I’m getting close to my due date and it’s very obvious that the baby has not decided to come yet.

      • Bethany,
        I went overdue a few times (have nine). I completely understand the aggravation of hearing that last comment you mentioned. Sometimes I would say, “Oh no, the baby is at home. I just love the look and decided to wear a pillow under my clothes” 😉

    • I just say, “Yep they are full…. I like ’em that way! FULL of BLESSINGS.”

    • Stephanie says:

      I have 5 and hear that almost every time we are out and I just smile and say “yes, and they are such a blessing”. Because the truth is that they are full and I am busy, but it is a blessing.

    • Renee, I think I hear that more than anything else. It seems to be the default comment for people who don’t quite know what to say or ask. I usually just cheerfully agree, and often add that they keep me out of trouble. If it seems to come from a more serious or thoughtful point of view, I reply in kind. “Yes, kids are a lot of work, but it’s important work and a great privilege.”

    • I just smile and say, “Yup, sometimes”. And that’s just with twins. It’s the truth, and people aren’t trying to be rude… Parenting isn’t a wonderful experience every single day, so why make it out to be. Yeah there’s some days they drive me crazy.. I’m not afraid to say it.

  19. A woman I met with 4 very energetic very young boys had a great answer for some of the comments she received. She sometimes responded, “My husband and I finally found something we’re really good at, so we just keep doing it.”

  20. Emily M. says:

    One time when we got the comment that we need a TV in our bedroom because we have FIVE (gasp!) children, I had the courage to say back, “If you think TV is better than, well… you know, then you aren’t doing it right!” I usually just smile and nod at the absurd things people say to us and ignore the insanely personal questions. But I guess I was feeling feisty and annoyed that particular day. Admittedly, it was a little fun to embarrass someone who was trying to embarrass me. 😉

  21. I love these! Your answers really turn the tables and make the asker realize if the question was rude/inappropriate in the first place.


  1. […] thought long and hard about this particular post, and was quite inspired by Life In A Shoe’s Q & A post today, and the digging I did through her linked posts, particularly her Quiverfull, and […]

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