The good thing about using NFP rather than sterilization, is that you can always change your mind later. I say that because my pregnancies were so difficult, as were the early years with the little ones being so dependent. When I had two, I didn’t think I would be able to handle any more. When I agreed to a third and became sick and pregnant, I felt resentful about it and had to confess my selfishness.
However, I can assure you that a larger family has more postitives than negatives, and I’m so glad I was able to at least have five. Now I would so love to have more if I could.
Having younger brothers and sisters made my oldest children realize that they were not the center of the universe. They learned to help the younger ones put their seatbelts on, feed them, dress them, tie their shoe laces, etc. They learned through repetition how to resolve conflicts and forgive each other. They learned how to share bedrooms, toys, food etc. In return, they reveled in the joy of baby smiles, silly antics, and fun games. Vacations are more fun because there is always someone to play with. The younger ones learn faster as we read aloud to the older ones, and they develop a greater vocabulary by listening in. All in all, it’s a win/win for everyone.
When my oldest was 10, my husband took him to get a new baseball bat. All the kids from the two parent families were sporting these very expensive titanium? bats. When Danny asked if he could get one of those, my husband put it this way. "Well, would you rather have a fancy baseball bat or Mickey (his little brother #4). His answer was, “Definately, Mickey!” He’s 17 now and will make a wonderful father some day. All of my kids want to have a very large family, like 12 kids!
Now Mickey(11) and Kevin(8) are asking for a little brother, but I can’t have any more. “We can adopt,” they say. I tell them that I would love to, but my health has to get better first. “That’s okay,” was their reply, “we could take care of him!”
In short, siblings teach children how to love. Our goal as parents is to raise holy kids–saints really–who are ready to enter Heaven upon death. The best education, vacations, and smothering attention from parents cannot achieve this nearly as well as a large family which is a kind of “saint-making machine”.
The Catechism states that NFP can be used for “grave” reasons. The old translation said “just” reasons, but that was a poor translation for that passage so they have revised it to reflect what it was supposed to say origionally. This means for reasons like serious illness, lack of employment etc. So we are to be open to life and children. If there is something blocking the ability to have another child, we should be looking at what can be done to overcome the obstacle. We need to ask God how many children He wants us to have, rather than the other way around. If we use NFP with a contraceptive mentality then we have a false sense of "control’ of our lives, rather than submitting to His will. It can cause us parents to become selfish too.
I know that having more children caused my husband and I work harder at holding our marriage together when it would have been tempting to divorce. If we only had two it would have made divorce a more “manageable” option. When a family only has two kids, it is very hard not to spoil them and very easy to consider the kids as a kind of “side dish” to your life where career, friends and hobbies become the “main dish”. With a large family, family has to be the main dish.
I was one of three growing up and the only girl and was somewhat spoiled. Parenting a larger family has literally turned me inside out and caused me to grow in virtues I never would have otherwise. When people gawk and say, “I don’t know how you do it!”, I respond, “It is a sacrifice, but they’re worth it.” That’s the bottom line. They are soooooo worth it! I can’t imagine life without them; I love them so much. Most of all, they each have an eternal soul, including my miscarriage, so I know that if God’s grace allows, I can continue to enjoy being with them for all eternity, as will He.
Here is a recent post at my blog that you might enjoy on this topic:
God Bless you and your family as you discern your future!