A few months after announcing they’d end their HGTV show “Fixer Upper” after the current season, which opened Tuesday, Chip and Joanna Gaines announced this week they’re pregnant with their fifth child.
Hint #3 You might recall a few months back.. the ever amazing, ever romantic @JOHNNYSWIM was in Waco. And they put on a little too romantic of a concert.. anyways, one thing led to another, & we are officially pregnant. And I could not be more EXCITED! #5 #7ThePerfectNumber
— Chip Gaines (@chipgaines) January 3, 2018
While Us Weekly chose to focus coverage on a few random Twitter users’ rude reactions, the responses in Chip’s Twitter feed to the announcement have been overwhelmingly positive.
Renovating rooms to renovating wombs. pic.twitter.com/01T979AdfX
— Jarrid Wilson (@JarridWilson) January 3, 2018
— Alyssa Beaird (@alybea88) January 3, 2018
That is great news! Congratulations to YOU ALL! What a Sweet Family! God Bless You All.
— Randy W. Williamson (@Rwwmsontree) January 3, 2018
The Gaines’ current child lineup is Drake (12), Ella Rose (11), Duke (9), and Emmie Kay (7). For a June cover story, Joanna told People, “The kids are always asking me, ‘Mom, can you have another baby?’ Emmie has never really wanted one, and now she’s like, ‘Okay. I want a brother or sister.’ So I’m thinking that might be a sign.” At the time, however, the 39-year-old Joanna also noted Chip wasn’t so sure. But “I would love another baby — or twins!”
Looks like Joanna won that one, which means the whole family wins. And so do the rest of us, as the Gaineses are fully capable of great parenting, which means thanks to them the world’s going to have another happy human being to be loved and love others.
While five-kid families are rare today, between five and six kids was the standard for Americans back when we and the world were a lot poorer. Even up until the 1950s, the average U.S. family size was between three and four kids. Today, most people would like to have at least three kids. Nonetheless, U.S. fertility rate keep dropping to record lows. Most recently, it’s at 1.8 kids per woman.
Money Can’t Buy You Character
People nowadays raise many objections to adding kids to their family, even if they desire more. Most of these reasons aren’t as patently ridiculous as the fringe view that “humans are bad for the earth.” A major concern is cost. We keep hearing about how it’s so hard to support a family nowadays, although the facts are that the average inflation-adjusted income has continued to increase significantly, the cost of living has declined (most especially food and clothing prices), and Americans keep buying much bigger houses for their much smaller families. We’re also spending millions more on luxuries like pet amenities, eating out, and social-signaling vacations.
In fact, it’s the richest and best-educated Americans, the ones best-positioned financially and in social capital to care for a few more kids, who are having the fewest. So as much as some say it’s about the money, that’s only a rather distorted perception. More true is that deep down we all want having children to be super comfortable, and it’s really just not. Good, absolutely. Rewarding, definitely. Comfortable, no. Just like exercise, career achievement, and basically everything truly, deeply good in life.
Now, while parenting is inherently challenging, unfortunately lots of parents make it way worse and far less rewarding for themselves. This is another big objection to having a child, that it’s really annoying. Now, while there are some built-ins you can’t fault the kids for — say, babies needing to nurse at night, although that really only needs to last about six to eight months — kids also have a way of revealing parents’ character flaws in unflattering ways.
People don’t like to look at themselves in the mirror and see an impatient, selfish, domineering, cowardly person staring back. Yet this is what parenting does to all of us. It reveals who we really are, and that truth is usually really uncomfortable. Motherhood and fatherhood demand not only our personal best in interpersonal management, human leadership, and personal character growth, but that our personal best continually becomes better in all these respects and more.
Parenthood Is an Indelible Mark of Maturity and Love
My parenting besetting sin, for example, is trying to make my job easier by ignoring and avoiding my kids’ wrongdoing, rather than stepping in to restrain verbal or physical violence and using the incident as a learning opportunity for both mom and child. This aspect of my personality could have long laid hidden, revealing itself much less obviously or frequently in friendships and professional life. Not with kids. You can hide from friends and colleagues, but you can’t hide from your two-year-old going postal on his brother.
When you do that, however, you are doing a service to both the perpetrator and victim, helping them become adults who restrain their worst impulses and unleash their best. We obviously need lots more of those, and always will. You are also doing a service to yourself in learning exactly how to lead and serve others, which are higher and purer forms of love because they involve self-sacrifice.
Lastly, you are doing a service to society in helping refine and develop your local and not-so-local human ecosystems through attention and care. In so doing, you make yourself a better person, which also benefits your neighbors. Without this common, ongoing human cultivation effort, society disintegrates.
Thus our increasing refusal to perpetuate and improve humanity through cultivating our own families as much as we are able is a sign of individual and collective degradation. We need as many Chip and Joanna Gaineses as possible, because until the end of time we need as many happy, self-giving humans as possible.
That doesn’t mean somewhere out there someone else should do it. It means, to the fullest extent possible, you should. If you can’t grow your own kids, help grow someone else’s. Doing so is one of the primary marks of a fully adult, fully actualized human person.