Is not wanting more children a sin?

I have two beautiful babies and my husband and I do not wish to have anymore. We want to avoid pregnancy in the future. Is this sinful?

Our reasoning is that we can provide more financially to two children and live the lifestyle that we want with our children. We could afford better vacations, schools, social activities for our children, etc. We can give more attention to our two children and it wouldn’t be divided; we as parents wouldn’t be out numbered, so each of us could focus on one of our children at any given time.

I know that many Catholics say it is wrong to avoid having more children, but is it really if the whole family will benefit from this decision?

I’m just curious to see what the responses will be because I have been thinking about this lately.

In my opinion, not being a priest or moral theologian, I do NOT think it’s a sin.

Women don’t have to be preganant all the time, and you don’t need to have more children than the Duggars. If you want too and can give them a good life, than by all means do so. But it’s not for everybody.

Having said that, if you get preganant again, having an abortion is gravely, mortally sinful, so um—don’t do it! :wink:

It’s not a black and white, cut and dry situation…

It CAN be a sin, for sure! But it’s CERTAINLY not ALWAYS a sin.

Even the *reasons *you listed can be *interpreted *by others (that don’t know your heart and the depth of your situation - only God knows) as sinful or not sinful… but that’s just outside human judgement…

It’s really a decision that needs to be made prayerfully, keeping full charity in mind for the love of your entire family.

Of course, whatever methods you choose to avoid conception need to be within morality - keeping the sacramental nature of the marital embrace intact… so your choices are NFP and/or pure abstinence… which are tough and require constant prayer and open communication.

The beauty of these options is that if things ever change in the future (heck, you COULD win the lottery and be able to maintain your way of life with another child!) that you can easily change your mind and allow God to work in your life.

But numbers aren’t everything when it comes to having children… there are many very holy families of 2, 3, 4… it’s all a matter of what’s in your heart…

I was always under the impression that as long as NFP or absitence is used there is not sin in not having kids. It is not until the past couple of years that I heard it is a sin to overuse NFP. (ie to space kids OK but not to limit the number). But then, who judges if it is overdone?

My understanding is that the couple is called to prayerfully discern if there were serious and morally good reasons to avoid pregnancy at this time, or indefinitely. Based on my own personal interpretation of that clause, I’m not sure that better vacations, a nicer lifestyle, better social activities etc falls under that criteria. Some of the other posters will have better feedback.

God bless

As with most topics such as this, for guidance on this you should speak with your priest.

I don’t know if you are sinning in this attitude or if you would be sinning in trying to avoid pregnancy. The guidelines the Church gives us say that we should have “just” or “serious” reasons to avoid pregnancy. Whether your reasons in your circumstances are just and serious are for you and your husband to prayerfully discern.

In my own experience and reflection as someone struggling with infertility (and thinking more and more about how the cross of infertility can be similar to the cross of “super-fertility”), I think it’s so easy for Catholics to miss the message of the Church’s teachings about marriage and birth control and to think that NFP is allowed so that we can “take charge” of our fertility in a Church-sanctioned way. That’s not really what it is about. I think that there are great opportunities for grace and growth in our marriages and in our relationships with God to learn that we are always to trust in His plan.

I’m not suggesting everyone needs to be providentialists, but that we need to end up somewhere between leaving it totally up to God and trying to take all control away from Him in this area of our lives. He allows us to co-create new life with Him, rather than the other way around. It’s so easy to organize our lives according to our plan, but in doing so we miss out on the many wonderful things He has in store for us when we trust in Him.

God bless you in your discernment process.

Oh, and for a little bit more coherent take on this that’s been a lot of food for thought for me, read this blog entry I found a short while ago.

I agree

I don’t think it’s a sin and the Church teaches us to have the Number of kids we are CAPABLE of taking care of (this does not only include financial needs but spiritual and emotional needs as well)

I don’t think it’s necessarily a sin, only you, your husband and God will know your true motives and whether these constitute sinfulness. I agree with the poster that said you should discuss with your priest (assuming he is a good, holy priest). But, whenever people make these comments or ask these questions, I always have to wonder…what if you DO have another child? Based on your previous posts I am certain that you would not have an abortion, that’s not what I mean really. I just mean, you say you can ONLY provide for these two children in the way that you want to, so if another child comes along, will this child be resented? Will he/she be given less…everything? When a couple is open to life, utilizing NFP, you always have to think about contingencies, and I just wonder…what would you do if, despite being quite conservative, you were blessed with another child?

Serap,
You have a 5 month old, of course you would be concerned about another pregnancy at this time! Of course you would be thinking that you already have enough on your hands right now! This is perfectly natural. Right now, you need to focus upon the little family you already have. I feel the same way after each child, right up until the time the baby reaches 2 years old. Then I start to think about maybe having another baby…
But if you are practicing NFP, then you and your husband have to revisit this question each month as you approach your fertile time. At some point, you may want to try to have another baby, or you may not want to try. The point is, you and your husband are not rendering sterile the marital embrace; therefore, you are maintaining an awareness that lovemaking can make babies, too.
From reading your other posts here, I think you are doing a wonderful job, and your posts have been a wonderful witness to me, a baby Catholic who is just learning about NFP (and who is preggo with baby #3, when I thought previously that two was enough). Only God knows what your future knows, and by practicing NFP, you and your husband are already practicing placing your trust in Him, while still exercising your God-given intelligence in order to be prudent and responsible.
God bless you and your family!

This is my and my DH’s understanding as well.

Mine, too. In fact, and I don’t want to sound like I’m “sticking it” to you Serap, but when I went through RCIA we were taught that the reasons you stated are not good reasons to avoid. :o

However, from getting to know you on these forums, IMO, I think your and your husband’s age may be a good reason to avoid. You are in your late 30s, right? So that means you are considered to be in advanced maternal age and thus raises risks to your health and the health of future babies. Also, your husband doesn’t sound like he’s very supportive when it comes to babies and you have run yourself ragged, girlfriend. Not having sufficient support may also be a just reason to avoid.

I guess my advice would be not to render the baby factory officially closed. I’m not saying have another baby or two, but leave yourself prayerfully open to the option when the fertile time approaches each month.

Some of what you want to preserve by limiting the number of children in your family seems reasonable, and not sinful. To limit the number of children you have so that you can give your children proper attention and affection is not only reasonable, in my opinion, but prudent and truly loving.

To limit the number of children so that you all may take better vacations, go to prestigious universities for the bragging rights, and drive luxury automobiles is not, in my opinion, reasonable. Indeed, I think it would be sinful essentially to choose annual thrilling vacations rather than a new human being to love and nurture for life. Photos from Disney World or Tahiti will not add to the joy of your Thanksgiving dinners now or when you and your husband are old.

Your marriage is intended to be pleasing and even joyous for you and your husband, but your marriage also is intended to be a means by which God brings new human beings into existence. Willingly to say “no” to any opportunity God gives you seems to me to require a significant and thoughtful reason. Essentially saying “no” to God’s offer of more new human beings in your family seems to me justified only if you genuinely believe you could not care for them well. I do not believe “luxury” is essential to outstanding child care. Fancy vacations, new cars every year or two, and a house that tempts you to brag about where you live are luxuries. I think it would be wrong, even sinful, to choose luxuries over more children.

To be sure, only you and your husband, perhaps in consultation with your priest and in prayer, can answer honestly whether you are considering luxury over new human life. There is a long-term somewhat selfish aspect that I think you should consider. When you are 90 years old, you are far more likely to cherish your children and any grandchildren than you are to cherish - or even care about, a vacation you once took in Hawaii.
Peace be with you and your family.

I missed the fact that your son is only five months old. If God gives you another child now, by all means keep him or her, but I think little babies are happiest when they are the only little baby in the house, and so are their parents! I think it is fine, even best probably, if you wait at least another year before you purposely add to your family.

Be at peace today knowing that you do not have to make this decision for at least many months. In my opinion, it clearly is not sinful for you and your husband to enjoy your marriage in a way, and with a schedule (natural family planning) that is unlikely to produce a new child for the next year or more.

Again, Peace to you all.

There’s nothing wrong with deciding with your spouse that your family is complete provided you believe that really is God’s will for your family. DH and I have fertility issues and a history of miscarriages–emotionally and physically there is only so much we feel we can handle so I know there’s going to be a day when we decide that for now we’re done trying to have another baby. We’ll also factor in being able to send our kids through the Catholic schools and provide for them. I think you know whether your decision to use NFP to no longer have more kids is good or not. If it’s based on what you honestly feel you guys can handle and on providing what your children need, then you’re doing the right thing. If it’s based on selfish reasons, then you’ll find that out through prayer and talking with your spouse and may find that God is calling you to add to your family.

Good for you for using NFP and providing for your family–I hope you find God’s will for your family size!

KG

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! :smiley:

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:
mysticalrosedesign.blogspot.com/2010/04/pro-life-tuesday-siblings-are-best-gift.html

God Bless you and your family as you discern your future! :smiley:

In Christ,
Lucy
www.mysticalrosedesign.blogspot.com

The response from “Mysticalrdesign” seems like perfect advice to me. I don’t have direct experience with a family like she described, but I have seen that work very beautifully in other families. Only you can know if what she described is the sort of family that you and your husband can bring about, Serap, but I have personally known such families, and they are beautiful. They also include a lot of work from both spouses, but the work appears to me to be well worth the effort.

Peace.

Ask all the people who haven’t had lots of vacations and and lived an upper middle class life if they would rather not have existed.

Ask all the souls in heaven if they would rather not have existed and suffered on earth so they can now join in God’s glorious reign .

Think of the bigger picture, the final destination. You get to take part in creating more lives with God! Think of how you would be if he would share the ability to create a mountain or ocean with you…its infinitely more special to be able to have a decision in the creation of another human beings existence.

There are valid reasons to avoid pregnancy. I’m not casting judgement on yours, but I beg you to consider just one more.

This might seem a bit simple and too much like a fairy tale, but I have known couples who decided to have another child when they first were separated from their kids for a day or two. If you can get your parents or your husband’s parents, but only someone truly trustworthy, to take care of your kids for one or two entire days, you might be amazed at how much you want your kids back, and how much you want another one or two kids to fill your life.

In the interest of “full disclosure”, I recommend that you read my name literally. I am a mere uncle, not a dad. I’m a good uncle, but I have never taken care of a pregnant wife, nursed a sick child for days and days, nor tried to make a woman feel loved and beautiful when she is exhausted from the demands of a house full of kids, and still made sure that we all get to mass dressed presentably and on time.

I don’t know for certain what I am encouraging you and your husband to do, so take my advice as sincere, but maybe naive. I used to work out in a gym that had almost all old guys in it. I was only about 25 at the time, and many of the guys I worked out with had grandchildren as old as I was. Some of the guys were very wealthy, but not one that I remember talked about his money. Many of them had only modest incomes. They all talked about their kids and their grandchildren, and what they and their wives were doing with their kids and grandchildren. They constantly encouraged me to get married and produce a family, as many kids as God would provide.

My experience listening to people with lots of experience - the very old, is that kids are worth a thousand times their weight in gold. When people get to the last decade or two of life, they only rarely care about money, as long as they have the necessities in life - food, clothes, shelter and needed medical care. When people get to the top of life - in their eighties and nineties, when we can trust them to have some real wisdom, they don’t generally recommend that people my age make more money. They recommend that people have fuller more loving families.

Peace to you.

Good points!

I don’t think it is neccessarily “sinful” to not want something that God has not (yet?) called you to. What you should want is what God wants. We should allign our attitudes and hearts with God’s will. God doesn’t call every couple to be parents of large families. Even if He is calling you to have more, He usually just gives parents one child at a time. Be open to His will for your life. His will might include nice vacations and fine schools for your existing children or it may include another child or children. Or maybe both. Or something entirely different. You don’t know what the future holds, but right now you hold a rather young baby. Embrace what God has already given you and be open to His will for your life and your family in the future. :slight_smile:

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