Birth Control

I found out the other day that my mom and dad practiced birth control. She said that they wanted to be 100% positive that they wouldn’t accidentally get pregnant. They wanted to discuss this with me, and I said there are other ways of morally preventing pregnancy, such as NFP. They don’t want to hear this. They believe that the world suffers when people procreate, and then they are not able to afford their children. They think birth control is 100% effective, and the overall best way to go. How to discuss this with them?

I am wondering what you want to discuss with them? I could never imagine telling MY parents how they should manage their marital relations. Fortunately for you, your parents did not practice birth control all the time. And apparently they could afford you, or was it an “accident”? Do you think they are being truthful about “not being able to afford” children?

How old are they now and do you have any siblings?

I would posit that anyone who comes from a Catholic family of less than four children in the past 40 years probably has parents who practiced birth control. That would be almost everyone I know from my generation (baby boomers) forward. When you go to Mass next weekend, check for how many families there have more than three kids. It should be relatively easy to determine.

I don’t want to discuss this with them. They brought it up to me because of a class I am taking. Unless they bring it up to me, is the only reason I would discuss it. That’s what I was wondering how to do.

I find it interesting that they would discuss this with you; you must have a good relationship with your parents, and you should be glad that they would be open to discussing such personal matters with you.

You have to gauge whether it is wise to continue the discussion. Rather than discuss their reasons and situation directly, you could point out something you read or heard in class, and see how they react. But I would not, if I were you, try to win an argument with them or convert them to your thinking. They have probably been married for a couple of decades, so it seems a little late for that anyway.

From what you said, they sound like good parents. It would be unfortunate if they limited their children to one or two, but I can’t judge them or their decisions. And neither should you.

It seems unwise to advise someone to judge her neighbors…at Mass! What a cause of scandal! If you are judging people at Mass, you may want to examine your conscience before receiving the Eucharist. You have no idea at what age a couple married or what fertility problems they may have had, not to mention what good reasons they may have had for spacing children using NFP.

There is a short and simple answer:

You don’t.

You do not need to discuss this with them. It is none of their business. You do not need to justify, or excuse, or rationalize, or do anything else for that matter, regarding either the actual intimate life between you and your spouse or even the theoretical intimate life between you and your future spouse (if you are not married).

If my parents approached me like that, I would simply respond with, “That is not what the Church teaches, but thank you for your opinion. Now did you see that hockey game last night?” and move right along.

Well , as a mother of a 20 y.o and a 21 y.o I would say it is perfectly OK for you to discuss it with your parents. There are several times when my kids have very gently called me out o something and I had to admit that they were right. This all depends on your relationship with your parents though. It also depends on your age as to how you approach things.

Of course because you are their child you have to be diplomatic about how you go about things. If you want a brother or sister you could suggest that you would be willing to share your room, give up some things in order that having another would not be a financial ‘burden’ to them. It is ok to respectfully disagree by showing how you feel that if God wants to bless a family with children then God will also make it a blessing and will provide a way.

Using contraception for the reasons you have stated is a disordered way of thinking. This is different to saying that you simply have no money to provide for another mouth to feed.

1st thing is that you should pray for your parents hearts to change.

Even with perfect use, I don’t think there is any birth control that is 100%. Even if everybody on this planet who was adult and sexually active perfectly used the most effective birth control, there could still be many pregnancies.

I would posit that anyone who comes from a Catholic family of less than four children in the past 40 years probably has parents who practiced birth control. That would be almost everyone I know from my generation (baby boomers) forward. When you go to Mass next weekend, check for how many families there have more than three kids. It should be relatively easy to determine.

Really??? I’ve got five and still practice ABC. No accidents, just spaced apart so we could give each of them the attention I wanted to and wanted to make sure I didn’t go crazy!:rolleyes: Pretty much done now as college costs are upwards of 100,000.00 per child! Still feel guilty as I know what the church teaches but will to take my chances. :shrug: I know I’m not a “good” catholic, but I do feel that I’m doing the best I can:o

The only 100% you won’t get pregnant “birth control” is not to engage in the activity that leads to pregnancy.

Next time somebody tells you are not a “good” catholic send them the college costs bills!!! :slight_smile:

I think you’ve done the best you can. You told them it is a sin and gave them the alternative. If they don’t listen to you, there is nothing more for you do but pray.

Artificial Birth Control (ABC) is a mortal sin. Anyone that willingly does it will not inherit eternal life. Yes, they can confess this sin before they die, but no one knows when and how they will die. Some people never get a last chance to confess (e.g. car accident or heart attack). People living like this are risking their eternal life every moment of their life. Natural Family Planning (NFP) is morally licit to prevent pregnancies if the couple cannot afford more children.

… based on the HV that was not accepted and taught by all the bishops. What does it mean?

I am not judging anyone, or asking anyone else to judge others. The point was not to determine whether any particular couple is using or has used birth control, but to “survey” the congregation and observe. It would be obvious that the great majority do use some type of birth control, whether it is NFP or something else. I have also been around long enough to recall when families came to Mass herding their 6 to 12 children into the pews. Not anymore!

Perhaps I didn’t explain my point well, so you misunderstood. I didn’t want the OP to think that his parents were unique or unusual; rather, they are quite typical of married Catholics of the past 45 years or so. Nor did I want the OP to judge them wrongly as to their reasoning or morality.

I’m pretty sure not even the Pope knows who makes it to heaven or not! Like I said I know the Church’s teaching but I’m hoping my life will be judged by its whole, not just what I do in the bedroom with my husband. And if I don’t make it, I’m sure I will have lots of company there:eek:

To a certain extent, it’s not your job to argue your parents into faithfulness. You can refuse to be bullied yourself by their assertions against the faith, but don’t be tempted to return fire and condemn them for their mistakes. Honoring your parents sometimes means accepting that they aren’t perfect and loving them anyways. I doubt this is the first imperfection you’ve noticed in them, eh? :wink:

To Chauncey,
As to smaller catholic families these days, NFP simply works far better than rhythm ever did as a means to prevent pregnancy when necessary. We’re less than a decade from menopause and have never used ABC in our marriage, yet 3 kids, none surprises. Go figure. NFP users tend to have more kids because it methodologically produces kids in two ways rather than just one way like ABC. ABC sometimes ‘fails’ and the couple has kids anyways. That happens to NFP users as well. But NFP ALSO tends to produce “oh what the heck” children and ABC users don’t even comprehend what that means, much less have any. IMO, that’s one of the major reasons NFP is moral and ABC isn’t. NFP retains the biological-spiritual link between sex and babies and ABC severs it. Not coincidentally, contraceptive societies ALL are below replacement total fertility rates.

Nice to see people judging others. It makes just gives people from small families such a nice, warm fuzzy feeling knowing that we are probably sinning since we only have a couple of kids.

I have two kids and have never used any form of ABC in my marriage. We do use NFP. I cannot rely on natural spacing that breastfeeding supposedly gives women. I get my cycles back immediately after each pregnancy despite nursing my babies. If I didn’t practice NFP I would risk pregnancy every single year with every child less then a year apart.
I can honestly say that I couldn’t cope with that physically, mentally, financially or spiritually and neither could my husband.

As for everyone else? My grandparents were devote Catholics and could never conceive, they adopted my mother. Their one and only child. They’d certainly be a couple in the pews who are certainly using ABC because they only have one kid.

My parents only had two babies. Must have been using ABC, right? Well, no. My mother had to have an emergency hysterectomy after my sister was born and were unable to have any more babies after that.

I don’t even bother to think about other parishioners and their family sizes. That is not my business and I’d probably be dead wrong based on my own family.

I’m going to just say right now, my husband and I are planning on three kids and that is it. I cannot imagine having anymore then that. I’ll practice NFP until menopause. We cannot afford more then 3.

As stated in my earlier response, no judging; just asking the OP to observe and think about why and how it is that that large Catholic families are few and far between today.

I have two kids and have never used any form of ABC in my marriage. We do use NFP. I cannot rely on natural spacing that breastfeeding supposedly gives women. I get my cycles back immediately after each pregnancy despite nursing my babies. If I didn’t practice NFP I would risk pregnancy every single year with every child less then a year apart.
I can honestly say that I couldn’t cope with that physically, mentally, financially or spiritually and neither could my husband.

As for everyone else? My grandparents were devote Catholics and could never conceive, they adopted my mother. Their one and only child. They’d certainly be a couple in the pews who are certainly using ABC because they only have one kid.

My parents only had two babies. Must have been using ABC, right? Well, no. My mother had to have an emergency hysterectomy after my sister was born and were unable to have any more babies after that.

I don’t even bother to think about other parishioners and their family sizes. That is not my business and I’d probably be dead wrong based on my own family.

I’m going to just say right now, my husband and I are planning on three kids and that is it. I cannot imagine having anymore then that. I’ll practice NFP until menopause. We cannot afford more then 3.

The examples and experiences you give provide a good overview of the various situations and conditions that can result in a couple having only a couple of children or even no children. But those situations and conditions are not the norm. Studies show that a very small percentage of Catholic women use NFP. Many more use some other method.

Personally, I see very little difference between those who limit the number of children by NFP or through ABC. It is simply a matter of method used. I have experience with both of those methods. When we were attempting NFP, the emotional and mental torment it caused my wife was obvious (due to very irregular periods). And I would have wanted more children than the two we had, but she had a tough time with our second and had experienced miscarriages (ran in the family). So two was it.

Please understand I am not criticizing you personally or trying to judge you or anyone else. I am simply trying to show what little difference there often is between those who use an accepted form of birth control over others who use an “unapproved” method. It seems it should be more a matter of intent than of method.

I will also point out that over the decades the Church at the parish level has generally avoided this issue. I have yet to hear any priest talk about birth control in a homily or other venue (but do hear a lot about right to life and abortion). I never had a priest (or bishop) tell me that we should not be using ABC in our marriage. When the subject was broached, it was always stated that it was a personal decision to be left to our own conscience (it was not even to be “confessed” to).

It is way too easy to say there is a “rule” without considering all the ramifications and possibilities of what that rule includes. There are much better ways, more compassionate ways, more Gospel of Jesus oriented ways, of viewing issues like this. I think there are some in the Church (like Francis) who intuitively see that, but way too many are more stuck on following rules than they are on following Jesus.

I tend to favor Jesus and compassion in instances like this.

Are your parents Catholic? Are they aware of Church teaching about this subject? According to the Centers for Disease Control, no method of temporary birth control is 100% effective.

cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/unintendedpregnancy/contraception.htm

You should read what the Church teaches about marriage. Simply put, marriage must be open to life. That means the possibility of pregnancy. How is their belief that others they don’t know suffer when they procreate relevant to their own decision?

Peace,
Ed

Whether you call it “judging” or “surveying”, the focus needs to be on God.

There was another, unrelated thread, where a mom mentioned how her child would count how many parishioners left early. Not to judge, of course. To be entertained! :frowning:

Distractions sometimes come upon us during prayer, but we should not court distraction by creating games or surveys. You are in the presence of all of Heaven…focus on that! The gift to pray for is reverence.

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