Let’s talk about large, Christian families

When people talk about large, Christian, families, they often think about the quiverfull movement, or the new one “pronatalists“. Both of these have elements of Christian Nationalism in them, even if the second isn’t actually Christian per se, and both believe that you need to have large families to ensure the proliferation of your beliefs.

What we don’t talk about is other large families – certain types of Catholics. Certain Catholics don’t take the whole quiverfull movement as a set of instructions, they just follow the Catholic Church’s teachings. Not to disparage this family specifically, they’re just the example which is in the media right now.

Caroline Langguth feared she may never be able to have children after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a 16-year-old.

More than a quarter of a century later, she’s preparing to give birth for the 14th time, excited to find out whether she’s having a girl or a boy.

“Every single time we’ve fallen pregnant has been this overwhelming excitement because we weren’t going to have these children, it just wasn’t going to happen,” says Mrs Langguth, who has daily insulin shots to survive.

“We just never put a number on it. Every time they turn up … thank you God for giving us another one.”


My husband, is one of 9 (surviving) children from a Catholic family. His family were friends with another Catholic family in the same town who had 15 children, and only stopped because the husband died of cancer. All these families clearly believe that contraception isn’t right (as the Catholic Church teaches) and that you get what God wants for you (lots of children).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church specifies that all sex acts must be both unitive and procreative. In addition to condemning use of artificial birth control as intrinsically evil, non-procreative sex acts such as mutual masturbation and anal sex are ruled out as ways to avoid pregnancy. Casti connubii explains the secondary, unitive, purpose of intercourse. Because of this secondary purpose, married couples have a right to engage in intercourse even when pregnancy is not a possible result


I mean thanks, Catholic Church for allowing me to have sex with my husband even though a viable pregnancy was not a possible result.

My mother probably would have gone down the same route if a doctor hadn’t told her 2 years after her stroke and pregnant with her fourth child that further pregnancies could potentially kill her. My dad went off and got a vasectomy. I’m not entirely sure how they squared that away with their Catholic beliefs, but on the other hand, it’s always better to save a living person’s life than future potential lives.

My father in law was furious when he found out that my sister-in-law’s husband had had a vasectomy, because “sex is for procreation, not recreation” and, this mindset is fucked up, just saying.

The thing about very large families is that the older children inevitably end up looking after the younger children. In some examples (such as the article below), this results in teenagers effectively becoming parents to their siblings (parentification), which ends up with childhood trauma, neglect and/or abuse.

Good luck to the Langguth family and to Caroline’s continued health. I hope the children feel loved and supported and that they got to experience their childhood versus having it taken away from them due to the expectation that they would care for and raise their younger siblings. I hope that as they go out into the wider world that they feel they have the freedom to question their beliefs and experiences and end up wherever they choose, and that they are happy.

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