Large Families and Financial Struggles and NFP

What does the Church say about large families who practice NFP? Where I live, nobody practices NFP. Our young married friends are 5 or 6 years into marriage with no intentions of having kids yet because, they want to, “enjoy our marriage first.”

Also, I have 3 kids and practice NFP and stay at home. We struggle financially. If we are blessed again, though we plan to postpone for awhile, what is the proper response? To thkse who say we are irresponsible?

You have to let other people’s judgements of your situation fall by the wayside. If you approach life with open hands and bravery as opposed to tight fists and fear, then the money, ideas, new life, and opportunity will constantly flow in and out. There will be hope. Trust in God, and also be willing to take a look at new opportunities and living arrangements in different parts of the country. Fear is simply a dead end.

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In our society, it is geared for two income families. To stay at home it takes either a very lucrative career for one spouse or creative frugality for everyone.

I’ve yet to meet any empty nester who said “I wish we’d had fewer kids”.

Kids don’t need karate and soccer and dance lessons, when there are siblings there is always a built in group for activities! Running around the park, playing family kickball or lawn bowling is going to build memories.

Vacations that are camping in a tent with hotdogs and beans will be remembered far longer than the latest cell phone.


I don’t understand your question.

Well first, you don’t actually know that for a fact.

Secondly, what other people do and the number of other people who do it should have no bearing on what you do. What should have bearing on what you do or don’t do is the morality of the thing under consideration.

Ignore idiots.

Look aghast and say “wow that was rude”.


“Did you mean to say, ‘Congratulations!’?”

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Also, people will take their cue from your emotional message.

If you sound ambivalent, they’ll respond ambivalently.

If you say, “George and I are so excited! We’re going to have a new baby girl!!!” most people will respond positively to that (unless you happen to be living in their basement).


Once kids are big, it is actually a very good idea for them to be well-established in activities. Here are some reasons:

–Today’s 8-12 year olds are spending 6 hours a day on media, and I’ve heard even higher numbers for teens. The more kids there are, the harder it is for moms and dads to police this stuff.

–Organized activities are popular with parents because they are an ally in the battle against teen apathy and childhood obesity.
–At some point, it gets really hard to interest big kids in anything beyond screens. That’s why it’s important to lay the groundwork early on and make sure that they have other interests, so that they are already involved in their activities by the time the apathetic years hit. It’s SO much easier to keep an active kid active than to try to get an apathetic kid to care about life off of Instagram.
–Sadly, you can’t put “running around the park” on the kids’ college admissions application.

Speaking more personally, we have 2.5 kids in private school (3 next year): 15, 12 and 5. We couldn’t do karate-soccer-dance during the school year even if we wanted to, both financially and because we are plenty busy during the school year with mandatory school and church events. Our oldest is in confirmation prep this year, which means that aside from Mass, we have three different church youth things every week at different times until confirmation: junior high youth group, high school youth group, and a separate confirmation prep class. Our oldest is going to have been away five nights this month just for mandatory school and church stuff.

During the school year, we do our mandatory church stuff, mandatory school stuff, music lessons for one kid, a free community music group for that kid, therapeutic riding for her (when we have the money), Junior Classical League regionals and state for the two older kids, and race and competition fees for maybe four events a year for the athletic kid. We have no school year activities for the 5-year-old. Aside from private school, we are seriously cheap during the school year. Also, neither of our big kids carries a cell phone. When they do overnight trips, we pull an old one out of a drawer and they carry it during the trip and then turn it over.

That said, we keep our powder dry during the school year in order to spend a lot more on camps and classes and water park passes during the summer. That way we don’t stress the kids out during the school year, but are able to keep them active and engaged during the summer.

How much does this cost? Pretty much everything we have to spend on it.

tldr; Keeping kids busy and out of trouble is not a frill and it’s often not cheap.

Nothing. But in the most general terms, if you are talking about spacing births due to life struggles, the Church says this is an act of responsible parenthood (CCC 2368, 2399).

Hmm. Is there a polite way to tell people to mind their own business and keep their eyes on their own work?


Buy old used vans, say ~$2000. learn to work on cars. Go camping, hiking etc. find public spaces that are free and close(so you don’t burn a bunch of gas)

Stay out of the organized sports other than offered through school for free or minimal cost.

cut cable, expensive phones and restaurants. your clothes come from GoodWill or even better the attic. I am sure with 3 already you are getting bags of free used handmedowns.

When you walk into a store we all spend money. Dont’ go into stores.

read more here; he is an atheist but he has a lot to teach and can help us all live better Christian lives.

To anyone that says anything rude just say “We are Catholic, we procreate.” Now go make some babies!

I have the awful feeling that the OP probably is doing some of those things. Also, speaking as a person who grew up in a serious camping family, camping has substantial setup costs if you don’t have the equipment already. Plus, there may be campground fees. It’s not free.

I’m a personal finance nerd myself, but it makes a big difference if the OP’s family is making $30k, $60k or $90k. If the income level is low enough, “make more money” really is going to be at least part of the answer. I would suggest that the OP listen to Dave Ramsey on the radio and read other personal finance people, but depending on the situation, there may not be a lot of easy answers.

I also have to say that a $2,000 van that needs to be worked on all the time sounds like a terrible idea for a family with little kids. You do not want mom to be regularly winding up stranded by the side of the road. That’s just not safe or practical–and it’s ultimately going to be expensive in terms of the stuff you need to do to repeatedly get rescued from that situation. (I say this having at one point this past year wound up coasting with no power downhill across 6+ lanes of traffic in an unreliable car. I had my two girls in the car with me at the time, but fortunately not being broke people and having a car in better repair at home, we were able to Uber home and get on with our lives.)

The OP already has babies and has to be living substantially below the standard of living of her DINK peers. How much hardship do we want to impose on her? At some point, suck-it-up-and-have-even-more-kids advice starts sounding like what St. James warned about:

“15 If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?”

Also, come to think of it, if they are already struggling financially, having a larger family will generate proportionately larger medical bills. You can’t thrift an ER visit or get copays second-hand. There is the potential of the family winding up at welfare level if anything goes wrong.

Let’s not urge people on the internet to take large risks when we have very limited information about their finances.


I have 3 kids, a SAH wife, and make $39k. I drive that $2000 van, about 6K miles a year.

The comment about the van is more inspirational than literal. Most people see something like that for sale and think they cannot handle it, but still end up with something 8-10 years old 90k miles and cost $5-7k. So not too bad.

We don’t know if they live substantially below the standard of living of her DINK peers and if she does I would imagine it is causing some consternation as most people enjoying being around those they feel are more closely aligned with their own values and ways of living.

With three little kids I would not go camping; see my comment about free, nearby, public spaces.

I could keep talking but I think you are getting the jest of what I was saying.

I think you are likely looking in the wrong places for friends.

Have you looked at Catholic Mom’s groups or things like St. Gregory’s pocket? Heck, even activities at the library could give you a better idea about families.

My husband has several friends from college. Some are married, a few for nearly a decade now. Maybe one has kids? Of my college friends, many are unmarried and a couple have kids.

When I worked in a setting with 300 peers, their was a common cry of “one and done” and “two and through”. One of my co-workers spoke openly about wanting to abort her 3 because “3 kids was way too much.” One Catholic mom’s group I am in basically holds off on “full” membership until you have at least 4 kids. (they say it’s a timing thing, but everyone knows the truth).

But big families–those over 2 these days–get shafted. Income is irrelevant. I think that there’s significant “poverty praise” in Catholic circles. Just look at how Catholic-blogger-mom-of-10-in-extreme-poverty wrote a nasty hit piece on Catholic-blogger-mom-of-8-with-6-figure-income and MOST people lauded the “poor” Catholic mom for doing God’s work and were hateful to the “rich” Catholic mom for “being out of touch”. Yet BOTH were speaking to how NFP is used in marriage and their choices surrounding it. Honestly, “rich” blogger mom had much better points. It’s utterly disturbing.

I think that we are subject to all sorts of judgments. Parents of one kid get judged. Parents with two get a pass, but only if those two are opposite gender and spaced 2.5-4 years. Too close in age, too far in age, same gender— judgment. Parents of 3 get judged unless the first two were the same gender, then, OF COURSE, they had to try again. Parents with 4+ get judged. At the same time I cringe at the “you’ll never want less kids”. I don’t aim to erase people, but if my kids need X amount of attention and I determine that it’s not possible to balance X needed adult attention (ie for medical things) plus an infant, I’m NEVER going to regret that choice. Don’t be shamed into more kids if it’s not right for you right now. It’s a month-by-month decision.

It’s utterly ridiculous the level of judgment parents today face. It has NOTHING to do with what other posters suggested—camping, thrift, activities, etc. Those are simply a distraction.

How you choose to spend money is up to you. Personally, I find it very good to go to a store and NOT buy. I think it’s a healthy exercise in understanding wants VS needs. Like Xan stated when kids get older activities are a must. You have to find what budget shopping works for you. For my family we get a ton of used clothes but still need to budget for things like socks…and for one of the kids this means only Brand X–because that’s all she will tolerate. So no, I don’t budget to spend $30 on an outfit, but her socks are $4 a pair for toddler/preschooler…so relying on others is just not happening.

I think what seems to be bugging you most is not really your tight budget/number of kids but how others see you. It might help to find some more positive experiences where you don’t feel odd.


It’s hard for people on the internet to know what’s meant as literal advice and what is inspiration.

Thank you for clarifying.

They have to either be living substantially below the level of their DINK peers or they’re headed to financial hell in a handbasket–maybe even a little of both.

There’s also the problem that if everybody is doing X and your family can’t afford X, there may not be any kids around to play with your kids. Obviously, there are ways around that (like create cheaper social events of one’s own), but it is an obstacle to get over if everybody is doing X and you’re doing Y. At the very least, you may need to drive pretty far to find the people who are doing Y, too.

There are a lot of isolated/lonely/socially awkward kids today, as you can tell from all of the teens and young adults on CAF in that position. It’s very important nowadays for parents to do their all to make sure that their kids are kept busy and have a wholesome peer group. Speaking as a former kid whose parents cheaped out on that stuff, it can be very socially stunting. Combine shoestring parenting with homeschooling, and you can have some real problems if parents aren’t truly proactive and energetic with regard to providing their children a wholesome peer group and encouraging kids’ friendships.

I don’t know how old your kids are, but I have to say that one has to be prepared for larger and larger cash outlays as kids get bigger. My kids are 15, 12 and 5 and there’s a pretty steady stream of $10 for this, $20 for that for entry fees, overnight trip pocket money, teacher gifts, birthday gifts for friends, costumes for plays, new tennis shoes, etc.

Sounds like you have two appropriately aged ‘money for activities’ makers. I’ll fund our kids basic needs but after that, for the other nonesense they can mow yards and babysit.

Excuse me, I’ve got some entrepreneurs to raise!

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We’re our big kids’ primary employer (although Big Girl babysits and mother’s helpers now and then).

So, on the one hand, that’s also a drain, but on the other hand, we are able to get certain services way cheaper than on the open market. For example, Big Girl (age 15) has had several years of music lessons. We have an arrangement with her where (for a small fee) she does occasional 15 minute lessons with her younger brother and occasional 5-minute lessons with her 5-year-old sister. This costs us a tiny fraction of the $25 per 30-minute lesson that the music store charges. Middle Kid is moderately interested, but if Baby Girl is very musical (as I expect she may well be), we’ll eventually want to give her real lessons, but in the meantime, she’s getting developmentally appropriate exposure very inexpensively.

Our oldest is saving for her senior trip to Europe (!). Yeah, I know.

Some friends in Russia did something similar with their kids. They got an English tutor for their older child, and then she helped her younger brother with his English.

Hh[quote=“CatOholicCatholic, post:1, topic:466621”]
If we are blessed again, though we plan to postpone for awhile, what is the proper response? To thkse who say we are irresponsible?

“I trust in God’s goodness”
“I love my child”


“I love the gifts God has given me”

“I guess I see my child as more of a gift than a responsibility.”

And so on and so forth.

( or an even better one:
“ I have a huge extended family who is always a constant help and blessing for my children and for me. We bring each other so much joy.” I’m lucky enough to use this one :wink: hahaaa)

“Mind your own business.” comes to mind.

To be honest though, I’ve heard stories from friends about people making very rude comments regarding family size. Even from doctors in maternity hospitals.

That would be one of the few situations where I’d feel 100% justified in telling someone to just **** off.



Yes, mind your own business is a good one too. I dont know, I have a large family, and Im just so used to this negative attitude that I just blow it off now. People have no idea what they’re talking about. But I was trying to think of a positive, kill-em-w-kindness Christian response…

The worst was when I was in a church parking lot before mass, and an old lady came up to me and told me she hoped I would stop having children (in front of all my school-aged kids mind you). I told her she ought to be ashamed of herself, quite sternly. And then gave her a little lecture. She was taken aback!


With older people, this may represent a decline in their mental faculties.

Yes, but it was good to stick up for myself and the kids, even just for the sake of my children seeing her absurd behavior and feeling objectified and put down. My children are beautiful, but most of all, they are happy, kind, and well-loved. Not to brag :slight_smile:

When I finished, I began to feel sorry for her and I put my arm on her shoulder. I told her I was sorry that she felt that way. We really don’t have any ideas where these mistaken perceptions might spring from—hurt, anger, self-hate, failure, who knows. It’s not our place to worry about other’s opinions.

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