Help me understand this

Hi,

I don’t know any Catholics closely in real life so I figured I might ask here and see what you all had to say. Thank you.

Here is my dilemma - I am a father of three adult girls. My oldest is married with no kids yet, my youngest is still in school pursing an MFT. My second daughter is 29 and married for six years with three kids. My wife and I raised the girls in a Methodist church, although we identify as Methodist we are more broadly just Christian.

The issue is my second daughter converted to Catholic after she got married in the Catholic church to a Catholic man. That is fine. Her mom and I had no real problem with this. As long as she is a follower Christ we are supportive. We did have some concerns about her being on the young side and not having finished her original goal for education (masters in education was the plan… she has a bachelors with no finished credential) we also questioned the husband and his goals/abilities to provide, but he was a good enough kid and so off they went and got married. She promised us that as soon as she got settled into a new home, she would return to school and finish her credential and get her master’s.

Well, three months after the wedding she was pregnant. We were of course happy to have a grandchild and happy for her, but this derailed her plan so we had some disappointments too. She swore that when the baby was a year old she would go back to school, but when the baby was 14 months she got pregnant again. At this point her mother, while supportive, asked her what was going on and she said they did not believe in birth control and were going to let God decide their family size. My wife said, “you are 25 years old, if you let God/nature decide, you will have 20 children by the time you are 50.” Our daughter said God wouldn’t send anything that she couldn’t handle.

I have a huge problem with that way of thinking, because people will simply handle whatever life hands them OR lose their marbles, have a miserable life, go crazy or harm themselves. God DOES let things happen to people that they can’t handle, or that are so cripplingly devastating that lives are ruined. We are not believers that God “sends” anything to us - we believe that he allows life to take its own course. God doesn’t “send” 20 babies any more than he “sends” cancer or a devastating car wreck or an Oscar or a job or a Superbowl championship. People make choices, things happen, we usually deal with it but sometimes it’s too much.

So our daughter got pregnant for a third time when that baby was not even a year yet and now she has a daughter and two little tiny boys and she is EXHAUSTED. She looks 40. Her mom and I help all we can with childcare, but her husband has never made enough money to support a decent lifestyle. We have to help them with rent and utilities all the time and the kids are on government health care. It’s ridiculous that they keep having babies in light of all this.

Last week we found out that she is pregnant for a fourth time. We love and adore our grandkids, but my daughter was not made just to breed and breed and breed. At this point she will never finish her education, and I don’t know if they will ever be able to afford a real home, good schools, or anything nice. My daughter drives a car that is on its last legs. She is beleaguered and she doesn’t even know it.

I am really at a loss here. Babies are great and families are great, but at some point can’t we say that enough is enough? They are all about God providing, but He isn’t going to buy them health insurance - taxpayers are covering that. He isn’t going to pay for groceries, much less a home, furniture, education, cars, and things that kids need. I feel that my daughter and her husband need to put a stop to this “God’s plan” business and start using their God-given intellect and ability to choose to get their family right before my daughter keels over and dies from the constant pregnancies.

She needs to go back to school. My wife and I have told her that if she stops having these rapid-fire babies, we will help with childcare and tuition so that she can go back to school. We have offered to help her husband with retraining for a better career so that he can support his family too. We are really willing to help them get ahead but we are not willing to subsidize indiscriminate breeding forever.

I know not all Catholics are this way. I know I need to approach this with my daughter from a religious standpoint because she truly believes that God is sending her pregnancy after pregnancy and that she just needs to accept that the next 20 years of her life will be dedicated to reproducing as frequently as is physically possible. Please help me understand her mindset, where this is coming from, and how I can help her see her way out of this mess. I grew up knowing Catholics and they did not do this.

Thank you respectfully.

The main thing I took from this is that you seem to be really obsessed with her going back to school.

Does she still want to? Or does she just nod her head when you bring it up so as to not upset you?

If I had that many children, I wouldn’t want to go back to school; I would think it’s more important to provide a stable parent figure in the home than a little more $$$.

If anything maybe you could offer to send them to an NFP class.

Oh, i thought i caught a hint of concern about preventing her from becoming a mindless consumerism robot built to create children untill the whole family collapses perhaps… no? :confused:

I don’t know what to tell you FordDad, i’ve seen alot of people on this site that are rocking the “I’ll do whatever i want because its our lords plan, i dont care what happens” life philosophy. Its some kind of Catholic version of the ever so popular “YOLO” culture, very hakuna matata. I seriously see no stoping those people untill they are on the brink of bankruptcy and realize that using the gift to plan ahead is pretty important. :shrug:

Frenzy Jen said:

“The main thing I took from this is that you seem to be really obsessed with her going back to school. Does she still want to? Or does she just nod her head when you bring it up so as to not upset you?”

Exactly.

Maybe your son-in-law is the person to work on? Your daughter may be so worn out that she can’t imagine cracking a book and she may be so immersed in BABIES that she can’t see beyond her change table or stroller.

I can’t quite imagine a polite way to mention an NFP course, but that would definitely be a good idea. Maybe an NFP method using a monitor, so there’s less need for judgment? (This is a job for her mom, by the way.) You and your wife could offer to scholarship the monitor stuff.

And by the way–she’s not going to have 20 kids by the time she’s 50. Even the Duggars only have 19 and on this forum, even the really prolific families only have 9 or 10 (there might be one family here with a dozen kids–not sure).

With regard to the “God will provide” stuff, you’re right.

I wonder if their priest might be of any help. They need some guidance with developing a plan to become economically self-sufficient in the next 2-5 years.

You may find that your daughter pulls herself together all by herself in the next few years, especially as her oldest kids head off to school.

By the way, I don’t know how things work in your state, but it might actually make more sense to get a teaching job and then get a master’s after that, if that’s possible. At least in some areas, that works better than trying to get a first-year teaching job with a master’s degree, as then the school has to pay big bucks for an inexperienced person.

But, I’m sure this is different in different parts of the country. Definitely consult with any teachers or school administration people you know.

I am sorry you view you daughter as a “breeder” who should be doing other things. I am sorry that you say you love your grandchildren but if you had your druthers they would not exist. And I am sorry you cannot see that her vocation as a wife and mother is far greater than any degree or job she might get.

What I am not sorry about is that you raised a girl who was able to know God and turn into a wonderful holy Catholic mom and wife. You did at least do that right.

“Letting God decide” does not mean they will have 20 kids. You probably have no real knowledge of her fertility or sex habits. But if they did have 20 kids hopefully 16 of them will not read what you wrote on the internet sometime in the future.

They may very well be using NFP and discerning through prayer if they want kids. But all of this really comes down to it not really being about you involved in their sex.

Respect them, love them, and pray for them. Perhaps it is your daughter who is educating you right now.

My mother is like you. She thinks she knows that we should not have had 4 kids. And my relationship with her is forever tainted and damaged because of her judgement of my family and my relationship with God through His Church. She is not close with my children specifically because of this. Do your other kids fall in line with your modern idea of sexuality in marriage? What did people do before the advent of Birth control? Just breed?

Sorry if that is too strait forward but you asked, and your post definitely struck a nerve with me.

I’d be ashamed if my daughter was a Welfare Queen… and I know my parents would be ashamed if I was a Welfare Queen. She’s indsicriminantly popping out children that she can’t afford. I’m sorry- she CANNOT afford to stay at home and be a “wife and mother” when grandma and grandpa are paying the rent and utilities, and you and I are paying for their healthcare.

If you can’t afford to pay your own bills and you’re on government assistance you have no business reproducing. Either dutifully practice NFP or abstain. It’s irresponsible to bring more and more children into poverty.

I agree with you about this- the whole “providentialist” mindset does bother me.

I am not sure how much Catholic teaching you know, but although birth control is out of the question for us, we are allowed to use NFP, which is very reliable and morally sound. While we must examine our consciences and make sure that we are not being selfish, we can use one of the many scientifically proven methods to avoid pregnancy for financial, among other, reasons. We are also called to “responsible parenthood”, which different people take in different ways but I think can be applicable to people who believe they can do whatever they want and have “God” or others provide for them.

I am really conflicted about the whole thing- on one hand, the Catholic Church does not require couples to use NFP to space pregnancies, and I can understand why. On the other, to disregard the fact that we can know when we are fertile and learn a method of NFP when we are relying on funds from the government or generous family members, or both…seems imprudent, irresponsible, and unfair. I would have liked to have children sooner, and it bothers me that my husband and I put in the effort to learn and practice NFP until we could afford to support a child on our own. But that’s my problem I suppose, we did what we thought was responsible. And some people never get their finances together enough, should they just never have children? Of course not.

Generally I am a big proponent of people minding their own business when it comes to others’ family planning, parents included. This is a tough situation, and I feel for you. But I think you need to let go of the idea of your daughter going back to school, and work on helping them becoming self-sufficient. If they can’t afford a nice home or send their kids to nice schools, you’ll have to get over that. But if they cannot afford to even pay for housing or their utilities, something needs to change.

Obviously you know that, since you have offered your help in numerous ways. I think you need to choose what to address with them, and I don’t think it should be their rate of reproduction, especially since she is pregnant now. Find small things that can improve their situation- for instance, if you are helping with rent, could they find someplace cheaper? Can they get housing assistance instead of relying on you? Can you watch the kids while she works, even part time? I think the best way to get through to them is to start pulling back some of your financial support (slowly) and allow them to understand that money doesn’t fall out of the sky from God; and that along with the blessings of having children they have certain responsibilities to care for those children financially to the best of their ability.

FordDad1958 said:

“We have to help them with rent and utilities all the time and the kids are on government health care.”

I wouldn’t fault them that much for the Medicaid, as medical insurance is terribly expensive to pay for yourself (at our local college, the family policy they offer grad students costs $8k a year, which needs to be paid for out of a $20k stipend). The long term plan, though, should be to get them on their feet with regard to rent and utilities.

That’s easier said than done, but just as a start, could you and your wife put them through a personal finance class? I know there are a number of good ones–I’ve done Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. It would make a good date night for your daughter and son-in-law.

Best wishes!

Satan is alive and well, and working in Western society in order to bring about its collapse. One of the most effective ways he can do that is by convincing us we do not need to procreate. This is Population Control and it has several prongs, some of which are contraception, abortion, and homosexuality. Dad, you are of a certain generation which grew up on the Pill and took it for granted that nice people should have 2.3 children and then get sterilized lest they overrun the planet. Your generation was into Free Love, which meant sex “free” of consequence. I hate to burst your bubble but the outcome of sex is pregnancy and the outcome of pregnancy is a child. Your daughter is one of the lucky ones. She found a great husband and she completed a college education and then found her vocation is to raise a large family. They are in a tiny minority of Catholic couples today who believe and observe the Natural Law doctrines of the Church. They deserve to be commended and blessed for discerning that God’s plan does not involve the invasive alteration of their fertility by artificial means, and being old enough to know the difference between the commandment to honor their father and mother vs. the commandment to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our mind, and all our strength.

You have decided that this matter of her education is a hill you are going to die on; I feel sorry that it will drive a wedge between you and her and her husband. It is probably tearing her apart right now that she feels she cannot live up to your standards. Many parents would feel happy and blessed to have more and more grandchildren, but right now your daughter is wondering why God’s plan and your plan are so glaringly different. I recommend that you spend some time in prayerful discernment. Perhaps you should also consult with the Catholic groom’s side of the family. If they are also faithful Catholics then perhaps they will have some more wisdom for you that this impersonal and anonymous forum cannot provide. You and your family will definitely be in my prayers. God bless you.

Pope francis and the Bishops of Africa and real “poverty” would disagree. So would Christ.

Healthcare is a voted on issue that our government has passed. I hate it but it is no more sinful to be on government healthcare than drive on the freeway.

The OPs post was riddled with judgement and hostility to life.

I don’t think we should jump to the idea that the daughter is what we would term a “providentialist” as in the Catholic NFP debate. Not only that but that “mindset” should not “bother” you at all. Does it bother you that poor people in Africa have babies?

most of the rest of your post I have no problem with. I may not agree but you are well within Catholic morality.

FordDad,

Well, you may simply have to let this go. These choices are up to your daughter, as much as you might wish something different for her. I have a Bachelors in Biology and a Masters in NPO, and am as poor as they get. Illnesses, layoffs, part-time work, all contributed to that poverty and my degrees frankly did nothing for me in terms of wages or the types of jobs I was able to get. I even had to relinquish all my retirement funds to support myself during illnesses. The future is just not ours to predict.

I am not against higher education, but frankly it is way over-rated. Perhaps your daughter would be able to get a certificate from a trade school or something that would help her as much as anything else. I do think the husband ought to get a little more invested in finding better work, but maybe he is doing all he can.

You know, if you help too much they may never figure out how to move on. If you are always there to rescue them they may feel a little to safe for their own good. Easy to say and hard to do. And of course I would never let children go without, but maybe you need to cut off some of the help you have provided.

I do hope things can improve for her, and I will pray for God to help your family --all of them.

:thumbsup:

This is the best post here so far.

OP some of the responses you get will be harsh because of the bad experiences many here have had with others looking down on them for having large families and trying to interfere to “help” them avoid this horrific fate of having a large family, or, of not having the standard of living that particular individual feels is necessary. So, when they read your post the fact that you speak of your concern that they have four kids already and don’t have a high enough standard of living it is not surprising that they would see you as being rude and meddling where you have no business. And if this was the only evidence you gave for having concern I have to admit I would agree with them.

You do go on though, to say that they have adopted a providentialist mindset and can not even afford their own rent and utilities. That, to me, is something that would raise some concern. Even then, it is an extremely delicate situation, and how much concern is really warranted depends on how much they are actually doing and working on to improve their situation.

All in all it seems like a very delicate situation, of which we really don’t know enough to know how to react, especially as we only have one side of the story and it is unclear how much of it is biased due to a personal opinion of what kind of standard of living “ought” to be attained, or what amount of income “ought” to be earned, or how many kids is an appropriate number etc.

Perhaps the OP should be a little more critical of the SIL than his daughter. The answer may not be that the daughter abandon the children to spend more government money on an education to then get a job to pay for daycare.:shrug:

I think the OP is a little too blinded by vicariously living through the children and has this idea that somehow a mother of several children can just get a degree and stop being open to life because the society we live in thinks she should.

I support the daughter and would happily do the best I could if the daugher was my own. Including snuggling those darling grandchildren until they forced me to leave. Even the next one and the next etc.

Since we are all up in some poor girls sex business, how does the OP limit family size? How many kids did they have following Christ? And what methods did they use?

Imagine if the whole republic of China thought like you and had 10 children each. Then you would snuggle us all into devastation, swarm the planet and deplete every natural resource in a matter or double digit years. Think about the poverty your grandchildren would face then? Oh wait, only africa suffers from real poverty. Carry on…

But you know what? Why should i care when i can snuggle… right?

No, “we” cannot say “enough is enough” because “you” are not the “we” in the marriage.

It is clear that you had a “plan” for your daughter. It is clear you had ideas about how her life would be and should be.

It is clear that she has a different idea and different goals. It is clear that when she was younger she adopted your goals, your ideas about how one should run one’s life.

But, as an adult she has since adopted different ideas and goals. That is hard for parents.

You do not understand her choices, but you do not get to disrespect her choices. They are her choices.

While I agree that the OP is more than likely biased here in favor of the mentality that certain high standards of living are necessities, it does also sound like there is some legitimate concern that the family in question has fallen into a providentialist mindset.

Now, while it is possible that the OP is confusing their desire for a larger family and lack of caring about high standards of living as meaning they have a providentialist mindset, but the fact that they have gotten to a point of not even being able to afford their own rent is an indicator that there may in fact be a real problem here. Also the whole “we will let God decide our family size” and " God will not send us anything we can’t handle" are two sentiments that, especially when combined are definitely an indicator towards a providentialist mindset. Again, they may have just been avoiding the subject of NFP or trying to shut-down the questions being asked of them by refusing to talk about them and giving vague answers instead, but combined with the fact that they can’t even afford their rent it is possible that there is a deeper issue here. And, in light of that, I think we need to be less harsh on the OP and instead make more of an effort to gain a better understanding of the situation and help the OP discover how much of their opinion is coming from their own biases and preconceived notions.

To me it is more likely that they know about NFP but cannot explain it to the OP because the OP is so against their sexuality and lifestyle. When we practiced NFP we most often replied to judgemental and nosey family who asked us how many children we would have “However many God wants” That is not necessarily providentialist just a view that is contrary to a family and culture that is increasingly anti family. When my cousin asked me if I needed him to show me how a condom works I didn’t see the value of discussing theological ideas of the purpose of sex and marriage.
Lets cut a fellow Catholic a little slack because she is not here to defend herself from these “providentialist” accusations. To me, we are more able to deal with the OPs obvious hostility to their living out their faith.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.