The Bates Family #Homeschooling 19 Children

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do you have so many children?
When we first got married, we prayed about what method of birth control to use. Because of the side effects of most options, we were considering “natural family planning” instead. Our intentions were to wait 5 years before having a couple of children. The more we discussed our options, the more we hesitated about the choices. One thing kept disturbing us, if God said He would give us some blessings, and we didn’t know that meant “children”, would we say, “Let me wait a few years, and please, only give me a few”? As we meditated on that, we began to wonder if God wanted to have control of this important decision in our life. We had already given Him control of our vocations, our finances, our goals . . . but would He want us to trust Him in this area or would that be a lack of planning and preparation? The more we studied and prayed, the more God began to move on our hearts that children really are a blessing. And knowing that, we agreed, why should we tell God to limit our blessings? If those blessings came in the form of money, we’d all say, “Fill the pot”! So we asked God to give as He saw fit and with each child, He has given us an extra measure of grace . . . to cope, to love, and to enjoy!

Do you want more?
We are guilty of saying each baby gets sweeter and we spoil them more! It’s hard to turn down a treasured gift, isn’t it? But at the same time, we’re content with God’s plan. If God had chosen to give us only one, we know we would have still been blessed with the one treasure He had entrusted to our care. If He had not chosen to give any, we would still have had much to be grateful for in the life He had chosen for us. A lot of people assume that not using birth control will always result in multiple births, but we know many who have trusted God in this area…some have large families, some middle sized, some small, and some have no children. God has a different plan for each of us. It’s our job to walk in that plan with joy and gratitude, giving all the glory and honor to Him.

How do you spend one on one time with so many children?
First, let’s establish the difference between one on one time and quality time. A husband and wife can be on a date alone, but not say two words to each other, nor feel any sort of bond…that may be time together, but it’s not quality. Likewise, a parent can be alone with a child, but may be preoccupied or uninvolved… that’s not quality time either. Quality time involves a feeling of closeness that comes from undivided attention, loving affection, or deep communication. Quality time together can take place alone, or with others present. The husband and wife that are on a date(even if they’re with several other couples) that hold hands, gaze in each other’s eyes, and share an intimate affection with one another are experiencing much more quality time (even if they’re in a group). Likewise with your children, sometimes a child and parent can experience super quality time when little toddler is sitting on mom’s lap getting his artwork poured over by a grateful fan, even though the room is full of other siblings. Or the older children sitting on the edge of mom and dad’s bed can be having a fulfilling time of sharing their heartfelt experiences, struggles, desires, and goals even though other siblings are also participating. So, creating the atmosphere of attentiveness, affection, and consistent communication are probably the most important components of quality one on one time. We know some home school families that have plenty of time together, but they aren’t affectionate or communicative…they simply exist under the same roof. That’s not the goal of one on one time. Learn to be expressive. Learn conversation starters. Learn to show emotion, Learn to be attentive to opportunities to give attention.

Second, utilize daily errands as opportunities for one on one time…take a different child each time you go grocery shopping or to the doctor and use travel time as important talk time. Take turns taking one child out on mom and dad’s date night, as a reward for some special character quality they exhibited. Encourage them to approach you and tell you when they’d like some alone time. Allow an open door policy for any child to come to your room at any hour when they want to talk. Take special advantage of birthdays for dates together with mom and dad. Practice letter writing to one another. Hug often and say, “I love you” frequently! Look for things to praise and notice. Try to pay attention to their interests, their insecurities, their feelings. Have regular times to clear the air of any offenses or hurt feelings you might have unknowingly caused.

Third, realize that quality sibling time can be rewarding too…so, teach your children to be best friends. Teach them to enjoy one another’s company. Teach them to be attentive and caring and encouraging of little ones, by your example. Usually in big families, there’s no lack for attention or playmates…we just need to make sure that the business of life doesn’t crowd out those special one on one moments that say, “I’m interested in you. You are important, and I love you!”

What religion are you?
We are Christian in faith, believing in eternal salvation through grace by the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. We attend a Bible Baptist Church in Clinton, Tennessee where Gil currently serves as pastor.

Why do you not have a TV, yet are on a TV show?
We don’t have a TV for several reasons. First and foremost, we love it so much that we could be easily distracted from better priorities and relationships. TV in itself is not bad… It’s what’s played on it that makes it good or bad. There may be some good things on it, but mingled in with the good is a whole lot of bad. We don’t want to drop our guard and allow cursing, bad attitudes, immorality, and wrong friends in our home. Since we find that we don’t have a lot of self-control, the best protection for us is prevention. For the sake of those who do watch TV, we prefer for them to have wholesome selections available, so we encourage shows like the Duggar’s, that may offer hope to some struggling family who might otherwise turn to shows that are anti-Christian or anti-family.

In our home we often watch selected videos and DVDs that are wholesome and character building. But we’ve found that even that has to be limited, or pretty soon we can tell it in our behavior. We all get a lazy, couch potato spirit because we’d each prefer to sit and be entertained. Our communication also weakens and arguments erupt more frequently. Those are signs that tell us to put up the box and pull out something more meaningful. That’s when a good family game of UNO or Rook, a good book, or quality talk time needs to take precedence. It also shows the difference in choices we can make in life: good, better, or best. The best choices will draw us closer to each other and closer to Christ.

Why do you dress the way you do?
We do not want in any way to be condemning of those who are not carbon copies of us. We are responsible only for our family, but we do believe it is our duty to do what we think pleases the Lord. Our goal in anything—including our appearance—is to represent Christ in our lives. And for us, that means modest clothing that draws attention to the inward person not the outward. But appearance goes much deeper than outward clothing . . . We could be dressed to a “T” on the outside, but have a rotten attitude on the inside, and our whole appearance would be marred. So more importantly than our outward dress, is our inward spirit.

What do you believe about dating?
We love dating . . . every week! Every married couple should make a habit of it. It will improve their romance, their communication, and their anticipation! We also enjoy special date nights with the children. It offers great one on one time and allows for heart to heart talks.

Our children, of course, have natural attractions for the opposite genders. That’s a normal and exciting part of life that we encourage! In getting to know some of these youth, along with their families, we enjoy meaningful times of wholesome fellowship. Traditional dating often focuses primarily on good times and physical attractions. Courtship (or dating with a purpose) focuses more on deepening friendships, learning commitment, and developing the inward qualities of selflessness and self- control. The youth learn to communicate in a wide variety of settings and experiences, often with other family members and friends. Since the time together is quality time, they have a big head start on a lot of couples that get physically involved, but after several years of marriage, realize they don’t even know how to talk to one another. These sad couples feel like they don’t really know each other at all. They feel little to no romance or appreciation. They wonder if they made the right choice, and many end their marriage in divorce, beginning again with many wounds and scars from their previous relationships. We desire for our children to have relationships that prepare them with patience, purity, and character development. That makes for a healthy, happy, harmonious marriage! So whether you choose to call it courtship or dating with purpose, the distinction is a commitment to purity and a commitment to honor Christ throughout the relationship.

Are your girls allowed to talk to boys (and vice versa)?
Some of our children’s best friends are of the opposite gender. We encourage wholesome, Christ honoring friendships that provide opportunity for ministry, fellowship, and fun together. If they treat these friends like they treat their own brothers and sisters, then they are able to maintain wholesome relationships that press each other to grow closer to Christ.

What’s a typical day at your house?
There’s nothing typical about our house! Sometimes it looks more like a 3-ring circus (and sounds like one too!), but the ideal schedule that we aim for is:


  • Get self and partner ready (30–45 min. @ 8:15-9:00)
  • Personal Bible/prayer time (30 min.–1 hr. @ 9:00) *Some of the older children prefer to do this at night
  • Self-serve breakfast—for yourself and your partner (ex: oatmeal, cereal, toast, granola bars, muffins or pancakes)(15–30 min. @ 9:30)
  • Chores: bedroom plus one other room that is rotated monthly for variety (30–45 min. @10:00-10:30)
  • Family Wisdom Study: memorize and review scriptures of the month, songs, testimonies, Read wisdom book (ATI curriculum) or Proverb of the day, and read- aloud book of the month (45 min.–1 hr. @ 10:30-11:30)
  • Extra time—early start on school and music practice(11:30-12:00)Afternoon:
  • Lunch (ex: sandwiches, soup, tacos, pizza, leftovers) (30–45 min. @ 12:00)
  • Naps (or book time) for little ones (2 hrs. @1:00 – 3:00)
  • School time and music practice for older children (12:45–4:30)
  • Playtime (or catch up on unfinished school or music practice) (4:30–6:30)Evening
  • Supper and Bible study around the table (reading through the Bible) (6:30–7:45)
  • Chores: Quick pick up! (15–30min. @ 8:00 -8:30)
  • Games or free time
  • Baths, brush teeth, and bed for little ones (9:30-10:00)
  • Older children help prepare for next day, talk time, or Personal Bible study/ prayer time (10:00 – 11:00)
  • Bed for adults (11:00-12:00)*As with any schedule, there are exceptions to plan for—church nights, weekends, or company nights. There are also once a week activities—participating in singing and preaching at an assisted living or passing out gospel tracts. And there are the unexpected changes in schedules—like house remodeling, or filming!




Published by



One thought on “The Bates Family #Homeschooling 19 Children”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s