I am a new Catholic who has a teenage daughter. I would like to teach her about family planning. Can anyone tell me where to start? Also, what is the difference between family planning and birth controll?
One of things that puzzles me is that condoms and other birth control items are often considered family planning and found in family planning isle in store when they are really family prevention. Condoms and birth control don’t plan families, they only prevent them. Intelligence is family planning. It’s knowing when not to have sex and when to have it. The secular world defines family planning as using any means of birth control to prevent or terminate families. In the Catholic Church it’s a system of natural techniques that can plan when to have children including things like charting your cycle, abstinence, and being open to what God has planned for you. Thus it’s the use of non artificial methods that can either increase or decrease the chances of husband and wife conceiving, hence Natural Family Planning or NFP.
To a teenage girl though, the main thing for her to know is why marriage and abstinence is so very important for her and the consequences that can result for not adhering to it. Why sex is such a beautiful gift from God and how waiting until time is right is the correct use for such a gift.
You could probably start talking to her about some NFP methods like Creighton or Sympto-Thermal and Billings.
I wholeheartedly agree with **stringbeanduck **about learning the value of abstinence and why it’s a good idea to wait until marriage. It’s not really enough to tell her “don’t do it”. It’s so much better if she is inspired to do so. I recommend reading John Paul II’s Theology of the Body or any of the books Christopher West wrote to help explain ToB to the everyman. He also has a book on ToB for teenagers. But since you claim to be a new Catholic, I suggest, reading it yourself first instead of just giving it to your daughter so that you two will be on the same page.
It’s just that I personally wish I knew these methods before I was engaged because I’ve benefited greatly from a health standpoint. I’ve always had problems with my reproductive system and using NFP eventually led to me to finally getting a PCOS diagnosis. (Well…I’m just happy to have a name for it…for years I’ve been told I just have to deal with my problems because no one knew what was going on).
So…when my daughters are old enough, I do plan to teach them myself. Even if they never get married and remain virgins their entire lives, from a health standpoint, being so in tune with my body has just been invaluable. :o
I suggest the website www.nfpandmore.com as a start.
There are several methods of natural family planning, which when discussing with your teen I would call “fertility appreciation.” There are books and courses that can be purchased.
Contact your diocesan family life office. Some offer programs specifically for teens on fertility appreciation. Ours does. The focus at this stage is not on achieving/avoiding pregnancy, but rather on awareness and understanding of and appreciation for the female cycle. It is taught in the context of chastity education.
Explain to her exactly what NFP is and when it would be called for in a marriage (just reasons, health reasons, etc.). Personally I don’t think it’s necessary to give a teenager-- who’s not anywhere near marriage-age-- the blow-by-blow details of various NFP methods unless they specifically ask, but that’s up to you of course. I think if it’s presented this way, it makes it seem like the use of NFP is a foregone conclusion and “the norm”…when it’s not. It’s an option that can be called upon in a marriage for a just reason, that’s all.
I think it’d be best at this stage to stress what the Church teaches, and what sexuality is in the context of a sacramental marriage. IMO getting her a book on Theology of the Body, and then discussing it together, would be much more relavent than discussing the ins and outs of NFP.
Respectfully, I totally disagree with the first paragraph above.
I absolutely would teach a teen how to track her cycle. Like another poster that sort of information is invaluable from a health point of view, especially if reproductive disease runs in your family (it does in mine.)
I’m not married and I didn’t learn NFP ‘til I was an adult, but I sure wish I had learned earlier, so I didn’t have to walk into doctors’ offices all those years totally unarmed and uninformed and with the doctor ready to push birth control for any and every symptom. I think anyone old enough to have a cycle should learn how to track it.
On the other hand, there’s no need to teach a teenage girl who’s not married and not going to be any time soon any of the rules for achieving or avoiding conception.
To the OP: I second nfpandmore.com. I would also present her with the information on tracking her cycles and leave the conception rules out. But I would explain (or get a book on) the Catholic view of sexuality and the gift of life.