Discrimination and The Power of Ten

Children are a heritage.
Children are a heritage.

I am a wife and a mother of 8. Altogether, we make ten.

When we go out, people stare. Some stare in wondrous awe, joyful smiles painted across their faces. Those are the ones who approach us with comments like, "Your family is so beautiful," or "What a blessing," or "Christmas must be so wonderful at your house."

And then there are others. Others who stare in sheer disgust. They whisper to one another. Under their hot and hateful breaths, they most likely curse me for being "irresponsible" or "leaving too large of a footprint on the earth." When I am in the store with my children and my husband is not with us, the glares are hard to miss. Those glares suggest they unjustly accuse me of being a welfare recipient with no husband and multiple baby daddies.

Some of them are bold enough to approach and comment, nastily saying, "You ARE done, right?" One woman went so far as to order me NOT to have anymore children.

My family is constantly and consistently subjected to prejudice and discrimination. I don't like it, but the gawking has become a part of our norm. I've learned to ignore the incriminating glances and to deflect the intrusive comments. But, if I am to be completely honest, there are times, here and there, when it gets the best of me. Days when I walk into a store with my guard up and guns blazin', ready to blast the first simpleton who dare bring ignorance my way. Sometimes this wall causes confusion...mistaken identity...and I become curt with the friendly ones...the ones who feel joy and love when they see my supersized brood. I catch myself when I do this. I offer a warm smile and tear down my wall as quickly as possible because that's the only way to receive the love that's being offered. I never wish to miss out on that. And I certainly never want to subject another to unfair judgment because of the actions of the mean ones. That would be hypocritical.

We get the prejudgment when we're in restaurants, too.

When judgmental patrons dining near us are finished with their meals, they make it a point to come over and applaud our well-mannered children. They tell us what a joy it was dining next to such disciplined kids. They give us their stamp of approval after they already assumed our crew was going to destroy their dining experience.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate their willingness to adjust their initial thoughts regarding our family. And I certainly appreciate the compliments. But what I don't understand is why people aren't more willing to give the benefit of the doubt or a stamp of approval...first.

Professors often say, "Everyone has an A; now, its up to each individual to keep it." Isn't that how we should all treat one another? Isn't is far more peaceful to extend kindness, love and trust with no judgment and only pull it back when the person(s) proves unworthy of said tokens?

I know what you're thinking:

Donloyn, if you're accustomed to this, then why are you bringing it up now? Has something happened?

Why, yes, something has happened.

When we sold our home last year, my husband and I decided we would rent for a short while (1 or 2 years) until we decide upon a home to purchase.

The end of the first year of renting is fast upon us, and we decided to rent a different home, in a new location...the neighborhood we wanted. Our plan was to rent there for one year and then purchase a new home.

It was an almost 3000 sqft, 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath home with an enormous bonus room and 2 formals. It was wonderful. Spacious, lovely neighborhood, close to the kids schools...perfect.

Last week, we completed the application process and satisfactorily met all rental requirements: credit, criminal background, income, rental history.

The manager of the property management company told me everything was great...except one thing. She would have to check with the homeowner regarding our family's size.

(Insert needle on record here)

I was caught off guard. "Oh, but I am sure it will not be a problem," she assured me. And so I let it roll off my shoulder.

The following day, she phoned. "I'm sorry, but the homeowner said she does not wish to approve your application based on your family's size," she said, sounding just as shocked as I felt.

My stomach dropped, my throat tightened and the tears welled in my eyes.

"Do you think she would be willing to speak with us," I said desperately as my voice quivered.

She agreed to contact the homeowner to request a conference call on our behalf. Minutes later she called back and said, "She refused the conference call. She's adamant about not renting to you." I thanked her for her efforts and hung up the phone in utter disbelief.

There are property rental laws that protect against unlawful discrimination based on familial status. But that doesn't stop it from happening.

Similarly, there are moral standards that discourage the act of discrimination, but people continue to be on the receiving end of harsh gavels pounding in judgment against them. Some deal with racial discrimination. Some gender discrimination. Some because of their religion or sexual orientation. In our case, it's because closed-minded individuals impose their thinking upon us and accuse us of having too many children.

Psalm 127: 3-5 says that my husband and I are blessed.

People try to make us feel shame for creating our beautiful family. A weaker person may be inclined to falsify the next rental application...but not me.

You know, Christmases around here are pretty wonderful. They are filled with joy, love and laughter. And I wouldn't change that for all of the almost 3000 sqft homes in the world.

I am a wife and a mother of 8. Altogether, we make ten. I am not ashamed. We roll ten deep. We are a force. Our love is far more powerful than the hate of discrimination.

Behold...The Power of Ten!

Behold...The Power of Ten!
Behold...The Power of Ten!

21 thoughts on “Discrimination and The Power of Ten

  1. Victoria

    God continue to bless you and your wonderful family! I endure the same kind of looks (I'm a widow and always get the looks when I am alone with my children) so i can relate.

  2. Kara Jones

    Dee I Jane seen so many examples of people having children they simply aren't prepared for, even if it's just one! Everyone who knows you and your beautiful family gets that you can handle it. I have jokingly said that you must not be human since your household always managed to run more smoothly than mine, you are active outside the home, and are incredibly beautiful. I know you work hard for what you have. Sorry anyone makes a quick judgement!

  3. Karen Snyder

    Donloyn, this beautiful post made me both cry and laugh. I cry for the ignorance that breeds such ugliness in our world, and discrimination, by any name, is ugly. I laugh because I'm sure you YOU will never have trouble sleeping at night, nor looking in the mirror. God bless you for taking the higher road even when it hurts. I hope you and your family find just the right house very soon.

    By the way, I'm the eldest child of 6 and I can recall similar looks and hurtful comments from my childhood many, many years ago. Sadly, some hatefulness in this world may never totally be eradicated no matter how much we may wish it.

    1. Post author

      Thank you for your comments and kind words. I am amazed by the outpouring of support and by how many people are experiencing this or have experienced this, as well. It is a blessing to find camaraderie and support amongst not only those who have or come from large families, but also those who adore and support us.
      Family is a blessing, always! No matter how big...no matter how small.
      Love to you!

  4. Lisa

    My daughter-in-law experiences something very similar with her family and they are 7 altogether. They experience much of what you have mentioned. She and my son have 5 children 2 teenagers and tripletts that are now almost 2 years old. She is a beautiful German girl who married my Army enlisted son. They are stationed in Germany.
    She used to tell me about the rude things folks said to her when they were out at the grocery store, etc. I honestly thought perhaps she was just being sensitive, until we visited and my husband and I accompanied her to the commisary on base. I couldn't believe it. Like you said, some people's faces light up and you can see they are joyful. They make some sweet comment to us or the children. Then you have others that look at her or the kids with such disdain that it's palpable. No wonder she (and you) puts her guard up when entering a public domain. It's just so wrong on so many levels.
    I am beyond words to express how apalled I am at what you experienced with your housing situation. This should not stand. I agree you would never want to be there under these circumstances anyway. But shouldn't this renter be held to some account for this treatment?
    I am so sorry for what you have gone through, but I am so proud of and grateful to you for putting this out there to share with others. I am also grateful to and proud of you for the mother you are patterning to your children. For the woman you are patterning for other young mothers. We need to lift each other up when we can and one of the best ways to do that is to share our real life experiences and how we try our best to deal with them honroably and with self respect. You are a hero. Thank you.

    1. Post author

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story and to share your son and daughter-in-law's with me. It really is unbelievable the amount of negativity large families or forced to bear. And until you witness it, you are likely to think the mom is just imagining it.
      I have looked into the laws regarding this and it seems they may be in violation of laws that protect against unlawful discrimination based on familial status. I have written a formal letter requesting that we be refunded our application fee, after all, there was nothing in the criteria that indicated a maximum number of occupants. I just want our fee returned. It only seems fair.

      Thank you so much for your support. Your words of love, understanding and encouragement are an honor to me. I am forever blessed by our exchange!

  5. michele fister

    Love this article !! I wish you weren't so right in the statements about how people with large families are treated or stereotyped. I am a mother of 6 together we are 8 deep, and just like you, I wouldn't change it for all the material garbage in the world !! My family has been in the same predicament and denied renting from a family on Daniel Island while we were building our new home in Mt Pleasant a few years back . We had all perfect credentials but the homeowner was concerned that with 6 children we would tear up the house. Long story short we rented elsewhere. I have to say I was very pleased with the ending. We finally finished our new home and I had called a cleaning company to come clean it after the holidays,. It was so nice to see that the lady that refused to rent to myself and my "large" family was the lady that showed up to clean my house !!! I have to say i sat back and laughed when she stated how clean my house was already and she hadn't started cleaning yet. She absolutely could not believe that there were 8 people living in the home , must less 6 of them being teenagers !!! People are funny !! God Bless y'all !! There is strength in numbers.

    1. Post author

      How awesome that God was able to use you to show that woman the error of her ways!!! Magnificent! My close friend and I just finished remarking on this very thing. I wondered to my friend if my post would circle back around to her. If she would see the outpouring of love and support and realize what she did was hurtful and wrong. My friend said, "Indeed. I have a feeling it will. God is good. Love wins." Your story confirms what I already know...My family will be on the receiving end of so much better!
      PS. That was hysterical!!! Talk about reaping what you sow!
      Love to you and your "8 Deep Crew!"

      1. michele fister

        Thank you. Things have a funny way of coming full circle in due time. Many, Many continued blessings to you and your crew !! Thanks again for sharing.

  6. wow, just wow. And the owner wouldn't even talk to you? That's just ignorance. Anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting you would know that there would be nothing to fear -- you and your family are lovely and the home would be well maintained. While my immediate family only had 3 kids, both of my parents came from large families -- so I was always surrounded by dozens of cousins. There is something completely magical about large loving families. You are very lucky and blessed. You can't change stupid.
    Trina Johnson recently posted...What Are You Tolerating In Your Life?My Profile

    1. Post author

      You know how you hear stories of criminals who hold a person at gunpoint. A trick of the victim is to begin to talk to the assailant, to get them to view them as human. It is far easier for a criminal to murder or harm someone with whom they have no personal connection. Keeping his distance is the only way to continue to dehumanize his victim.
      Although that is an extreme scenario, I truly believe it was that same type of thought process. I believe if she allowed us to become a real family in her mind, her humanity would have kicked in and gone against her initial decision.
      I don't think there's ever a wrong time to be humane.
      Thanks for loving on us!

  7. Motivator Bridgett

    Donloyn, I’m sorry this experience hurt you. I know you were excited about this house. A 3000 sq. ft. house without peace is not a home, it’s a 3000 sq. ft. prison and that landlord would have been the warden. I'm glad you saw her ugliness before signing the lease. Please be encouraged! God has a better home for you and your beautiful family.

  8. Skegeeace

    First off, your family is BEAUTIFUL! I love, love, love that you have a large and gorgeous tribe.

    I also want to applaud you for striving to be gracious with people who...well, are not. My first reaction would have been, "Excuse me?! You don't know me and have no right to comment on my family. My husband and I provide EVERYTHING my children need, and since it looks like you can barely dress YOURSELF and you pay no bills in my household, I'll thank you to keep your stank comments to yourself. Thank YOU!"

    Sorry, what was I saying?

    Oh yeah- your GRACE under such judgement is a true inspiration and a great witness to all others. I hope to be more like you in that!

  9. Debra David

    Hello, Donloyn! I read your posts (and have commented on a few) because they are so uplifting, yet not overdone. Plenty of "real" emotions woven into your positivity. My heart felt for you and your family after reading this post, and once again I was driven to respond. My husband and I own a construction company and we are (believe it or not) honest contractors. We treat all of our clients with the same professionalism regardless of any obvious differences in economical or geographical situations. We perform quality work at fair market prices and always...always... stay in contact with our clients and are committed to leaving each job with satisfied customers. That being said, we are in an industry that has a terrible reputation in all the areas in which we strive to conduct ourselves. In other words, we pay the price for and are forever having to reassure our clients that "we" are not "that" kind of contractor. We have been prejudged before ever shaking the hands of the very people that we will be working with for a day, a week, possibly even a month or longer (depending on the size of the project). I stay ahead of the bitterness by not taking it personally. These people have been "burned" before, or they know someone who has been shafted in the past. Whatever the reason, they enter into a contract with a company that they do not trust from day one. I choose to believe that this is done subconsciously because of past experiences and I approach it as a personal challenge to change the subconsciousness of these individuals. Families, like yours, are in the minority. In today's society, you rarely find a family of 5 or even less that have well behaved children. So, unfortunately, your big beautiful family will pay the price for parents who don't parent (and there are many). I, myself, have complimented parents on their amazing parental skills and the manner in which their children conduct themselves in public. It was always meant with sincere admiration and parenting is so often such a thankless job (during the drudgery of day to day living) and I try to express my gratitude for such parents doing their job and as a result, making my dining experience pleasant. I know that it must be hard to deal with the prejudices that you face, but know that there are those who take the time to point out how well you are doing because we are appreciative and a bit in awe. 🙂

    Happiness to you,

    1. Post author

      Hi Debra! Thank you for always reading. I always enjoy receiving your feedback, and this case is ni different. Thank you for shedding light and reminding me that some people who approach in a restaurant, regardless of how it appears, may actually have the purest of intentions. There are many people who bring wonderful comments and sentiments our way, and, for that, I am truly thankful. However, there are those in the restaurant who voluntarily admit that they were horrified to see us coming and "relieved" when our family proved otherwise. Those are the ones who make it hard on the ones who, like you said, are just giving an honest pat on the back for a hard job well done.
      Like my post said, I've grown accustomed to it, all the gawking and negative comments. It wasn't until my husband and I were denied the right to provide our children with a suitable home that it really hurt. I'll never see the humanity in that decision.
      On a positive note, I am blessed to feel the love and support of friends like you. Thank you for sharing your perspective. I appreciate you!
      Be blessed!

  10. Dana

    Ugh. So sorry to read this. All I can say is.... People fear what they don't know. This happened to us for the first time when we were looking for a rental out here. And there is only six of us!! You have an amazing big beautiful family and those that don't even give you the chance or a phone call are surely passing up a GREAT thing. Love and hugs to u and your crew 🙂

    1. Post author

      Thank you, Dana...I just finished crying tears of joy over the outpouring of love my family has received since posting this story. I don't understand why a person would behave in such a way. Honestly, I wonder how well she slept that night. I wonder if she felt any remorse. I'll never know the answer to that, but what I do know is that my family is richly blessed. Not just because we have one another, but also because we have loving friends like you. I miss you!


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