Saint Stephen's Statue.




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Integrate your Catholic faith with your family life.

The Issue of Family Planning

Family PlanningIn the course of my practice I often joke/tease my patients about them having another child, or tell them something along the lines of- not to worry that by the time they have their 4th child they’ll be experts at whatever problem they have at the time. Their reactions vary widely from mild expressions like laughter to outright vehemence. Never! God forbid! As if I had just told them they would have a cancer.

Some get so mad when they have a child by ‘accident’ one begins to wonder, and I put all blame squarely at the feet of the contraceptive mentality. Even from women who I know had problems with conception and infertility, and prayed for many years before they had a baby, I still get the same reaction, it makes you wonder… I met a lady recently who happened to be on one of the new generation implants- a highly effective contraceptive and she still got pregnant, but she was so mad at the baby she refused to register for antenatal care! I had to jokingly reproach her and tell her to take care of this baby because it was very special and God definitely has a plan for it.

Sometimes I think this is because we have let the world dictate to us what is acceptable in all aspects of our life including fertility. Its two kids, a big house, cars, and holidays abroad=happy. While anything more than that = ignorance, poverty, sadness. Thankfully people don’t tout the whole the world is overpopulated theory as often as they used to, because it is evident that many countries are becoming underpopulated, with majority of the population ageing and a dwindling youth who are not enough to keep the economy afloat.

We very often forget that God remains the Lord of history, that His ways are not our ways, and especially not the way of the world. He has willed to share with us His gift of creating. He has asked us to cooperate with Him in bringing new life into His world. We commit every part of our lives to God except the area of children, the area where He has specifically asked us to co-operate with Him in His work of creation. Go multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Having one child isn’t multiplication its division.

The Church does not say have all the children you can, it is more along the lines of have the children God has planned to bring into the world through your co-operation. It might be one, two, ten, or none at all. So we ask Him to bless us as He wants. I don’t know anyone who will tell God he/she has enough money, houses or cars. Children are a gift from the Lord. They are not a right. The point is to be open to God’s plan whatever it is and how hard or not it is. That takes grace and courage.

So how do we practice responsible parenthood and still be open to life? Natural Family Planning (NFP). NFP makes use of the plan that God himself has put into the design of the human body to space children. It is by design open to life and extremely effective. NFP takes the burden of planning the family from the woman alone. I have met quite a few patients whose husbands remember when last they ovulated, the time of their last period, when they have completely forgotten themselves. NFP builds intimacy within the family. How come? Because chastity is an expression of love, abstinence is an expression of love.

By the way, I have to mention that I really hate the expression having children like rabbits or rats. I think it is demeaning of the whole procreative act. Yes, parents should be responsible and a measure of continence within marriage is desired, but when even Priests talk to the lay faithful and use such terms I have to wonder what message they are trying to pass across- are they asking them to get rid of the babies when they have too many? Especially when little knowledge about their options are advocated at the same time.

We should be responsible, absolutely, but this very essential part of married life should be open to life and open to God’s Will, just as every aspect of our life should. Love is not selfish, love gives itself completely. God loves us, so let’s be generous and open to ALL the gift that He wishes to give us.