Mum of 16 says she 'wasn't interested' in having any kids, but husband talked her into it

Picture: Instagram
Picture: Instagram 

Many parents start out initially being unsure about whether they want kids.

But while most may go from 'no thanks', to one or two, Jeni Bonell went from  'not going to happen' to having 16.

And she's not finished having kids yet, despite already being a grandmother. 

The mum shares nine boys and seven girls, aged between six and 31, with husband Ray, who she credits with convincing her to not only start a family, but to have a large brood

The 51-year-old opened up in a YouTube video about life with their large family, which includes Jesse, Brooke, Claire, Natalie, Karl, Samuel, Cameron, Sabrina, Tim, Brandon, Eve, Nate, Rachel, Eric, Damian and Katelyn.

And how she initially told Ray she was never having kids.

"For somebody who started out not wanting children. I can remember saying to Ray, I am not interested in having kids, really just don't want any," she said, joking it was 'Not going to happen'. 

"It opened up my heart to what I was called to do in life, from there it was me who asked the hubby if we could have a third baby."


As Ray wanted another boy, they had a fourth baby, which turned out to be a girl and so went on to have a fifth - before deciding they'd have eight kids.

But as their family grew, so did their love of living in a big family, so they kept going. 

"There was discussion then of extending our family to a much larger size," Jeni said, "We shut our eyes and jumped into family. We were enjoying this process of growing our family."

​Jeni also revealed she had been pregnant a total of 23 times, having suffered multiple miscarriages throughout their parenting journey.

"We got to baby 15 and were still open to having baby 16, but we had four miscarriages in a row. It was a very difficult time."

Despite being 51, Jeni said she and Ray were hopeful they may be able to have another baby. 

"We haven't managed to fall pregnant since then. Will we only ever have 16 kids? Maybe so," she said.

"Are we happy with that? Absolutely. We are so joyful with what we have been given. We just love our kids so much. I feel so honoured to be a mum, I couldn't think of a better path for my life.

Jeni said she gets a kick out of strangers reactions when she tells them she has 16 kids, none of whom are fostered or adopted, saying it was 'really priceless at times'. 

If your first thought was 'but the grocery bill!', Jeni says she often gets away with a (comparatively) modest $450 a week for the brood, though sometimes this needs to be topped up. 

Her and Ray are also grandparents four times over and recently welcomed their newest addition in their son Karl's second baby, Xavier. 

Jeni also recently shared she may be facing a second cancer battle, having had surgery and treatment for thyroid cancer in 2017, after doctor's found a likely 'nasty' tumour in one of her kidneys.