You might be using Natural Family Planning if…

You might be using Natural Family Planning if…  

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1.) Every time you tell your husband “we need to talk,” he gets that deer in the headlight look and assumes you are going to tell him you’re expecting.

2.) You go grocery shopping and at least one shopper tells you that “you must have a lot of children” and the cashier wonders if you are throwing a big party.

3.) You are asked if you’re Mormon; If you have a T.V.; If you know what prevents that; If you’re done yet.

4.) Every time you take all the kids out somewhere, strangers make rude remarks to you and/or your children (I actually had a lady tell me she felt sorry for me for having “all these kids”…right in front of my kids too!).

5.) Your O.B. assumes you are an uneducated, oppressed woman who has not been “liberated” yet and needs to be asked about birth control…Every. Single. Visit.

6.) The movie Cheaper By the Dozen could be a documentary about your family (recently one of the little boys brought their tricycle in the house and when I saw my son riding around in a huge circle through the kitchen, prayer room, living room and dining room I just shrugged thinking, ‘Why fight it.’).

7.) Your laundry is never, will never, couldn’t possibly ever be finished. Ever.

8.) The range of age of your children spans two decades.

Many people who use NFP have large families or are on their way to having large families. This isn’t because NFP doesn’t work but is usually because users of NFP are open to having more children and each month have to consider if they should abstain during the wife’s fertile period or not. God may also intervene and decide to bless them with another baby even if they are practicing NFP–that’s what being open to Him and to life means. However, not all users of NFP have a big family. You may also be an NFP user if…

9.) You are desperately charting every month while hoping and praying this month will be the one you finally conceive.

10.)  You have more children in heaven than on earth.

11.) You dread seeing that one person at Church who always asks “when are you going to have a baby” or “when will you give your child a sibling.”

12.) You’ve been told you aren’t pro-life enough because you have prayerfully discerned that another child isn’t what is best for your family and know pregnancy could be life threatening or very harmful in other ways to your family.

13.) Your heart breaks and you have to fight being angry with God when you know of women who can have babies and decide to abort, or choose not to have anymore and prevent pregnancy through artificial means when you would do almost anything to be pregnant.

14.) You know about in vitro fertilization but obey Church teachings and won’t consider it an option.

15.) You understand that many people use artificial birth control and are annoyed by other Church members assuming you are one of them (the not-at-all subtle remarks about big families and people looking down on you for not having more kids by now hurt no matter how much you try to not let it).

16.) You’ve given up on praying for a baby because it is consuming you and you figure it must be God’s will that you cannot get pregnant.

I have not experienced all of the things above but know many who have. We did have a period of secondary infertility and there is a seven year age gap between our oldest and second born as proof. I can’t tell you how many negative pregnancy tests I had. It was a heartbreaking time for us. I actually got to the point that I accepted we would not have any more children.

Discerning God’s will for one’s family size should be an ongoing process for all the years a couple is fertile. It should also be done prayerfully, openly between the couple, and with guidance when needed. Ideally, a couple should be prepared and understand Church teaching regarding being open to children and the use of NFP in marriage, and also aware that infertility, miscarriages, health issues and any other number of struggles can happen even though they are trying to be a faithful couple. Ultimately it is a process that is private and shouldn’t be open to scrutiny from unwanted prying outsiders whether it is from people thinking you have too many kids or not enough. When needed, advice from a good director and/or a wiser older couple or friend can be a huge help.

The main reason for my post is to say, let us be kinder to one another and careful with the words we speak. The world is already against us Christians, we need to support one another. Having once been the couple with only one child and now the couple with nine, I know how harsh people in and out of the Church can be. People assuming you are a bad Catholic using artificial birth control adds pain to what is already a very painful experience. People thinking you can’t control yourselves and are crazy for having so many kids isn’t any fun either. Whether large or small, a family’s size does not reveal its faithfulness or holiness.


P.S. I cannot address every issue related to NFP in this post nor did I intend to. Though I believe that a married couple needs to make decisions about family size between themselves, I also believe they need to be properly educated and have properly formed consciences. Education in that area can be very helpful and is an area where mature married couples can offer their own experiences and be a great help to others (of course, in a general way or when asked–not by prying and assuming anything). I have written a little bit more on this subject in this article about Chastity. Hopefully, we will write more and also welcome articles from other couples to share on our blog.

One Comment

  1. Love the article and, especially, the humor.

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