Suggestions on formulating an appropriate response --

I am a proud, Magesterium-loyal, husband and father. My wife is 34 weeks pregnant with our newest son. She has been on bed rest since week 26.

This is my wife’s ninth pregnancy and we have two other living children. This is her first experience of pre-term labor.

Now, I hate to sound ungrateful, because we have received a humbling amount of prayers and assistance during this challenging time. I need to vent, however, about some comments I’ve received that have annoyed me.

A few people( most recently my son’s wonderful Catholic school teacher) when asking how my wife is doing during bed rest, have said, “now this will be your last child, right?”

I know the stress and lack of sleep can make me irritable, but I really hate comments like that. My usual response is something like, “we will see. I think that is up to God.” Most times, I’m met with eye-rolling or some other dismissive reaction.

I trust the level-heads in this forum. Do you have any suggestions on how I can address these comments in a way that allows me to offer a testimony to life and Catholic teaching?

I want to remain thankful and charitable for all the charity and compassion we have received, but I do not want to let anyone think we tolerate “modern” attitudes about how family size is something you should “choose” based upon “convenience.”

Hi Prodigal~

Congratulations to you and your family! My prayers are & will be with you for a healthy delivery…this week I start into week 35 of gestation with our first, and believe it or not, I have actually had a co-worker say (twice, for some reason!), “This is your first? You’re not having any more, right?” To which I have responded, both times, with a big, hearty guffaw, “Oh my goodness NO! Why would we ever want to stop with one?! We’ll gladly accept as many as God thinks we can handle!”

I think it’s good to arm yourself with some good one-liners & a charitable sense of humor—most people, I believe, do not actually wish to be unkind or rude or invasive. They simply don’t deal with pregnancy on a regular basis, so therefore it’s a novelty topic about which they find it impossible to resist commenting. Doesn’t make it right, but nonetheless…

Here’s a link to another thread in this forum on the topic:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=964&highlight=family+size

Here’s another one on a different website
geocities.com/~plomp/largefam/comebacks.htm

On the other hand, I have also learned to smile sweetly (ala “Miss Manners”) bat my eyes and say, “Oh, my, that’s such a personal question!”

I agree that pregnancy is a wonderful visible affirmation of life, and a unique opportunity to evangelize our faith with strangers who approach. But sometimes, like you, I recognize that I am exhausted–physically & emotionally–and I know my most likely response would be to “put them in their place” for asking such nonsense…so I charitably keep my lips zipped!

Keep in mind that being the recipients of prayers & assistance does not, then, somehow obligate you to bare your soul & discuss your intimate family planning details with those who have provided you with such assistance.

God bless~

StephanieC

P.S: I’m sure you have heard of St. Gianna Beretta Molla, who was canonized this year and whose intercedence has aided many difficult pregnances: gianna.org/

[quote=prodigal]I trust the level-heads in this forum.
[/quote]

W :whacky: W … we have you fooled.

Do you have any suggestions on how I can address these comments in a way that allows me to offer a testimony to life and Catholic teaching?

But seriously, simple respond with, “If it’s God’s will.”

Prodigal,

My heart goes out to you. My husband and I are 24 and have been married 15 months and we have the opposite problem–everyone wants to know, “when when WHEN” we will conceive.

I have serious health issues we are struggling with right now, though I hope to have them resolved in God’s time. But I can be very tearful (privately) when a well-meaning acquaintance, friend, co-worker, neighbor, church member or whomever asks me why we haven’t conceived yet. Two people have commented that we must be using NFP as contraception. Those comments were very, very hurtful. I want nothing more than to be a mom. But right now I have to keep my health in mind so as to not hurt a little one.

My husband, a very easygoing and generally hilarious guy with a great sense of humor, has lately gotten more and more impatient with supposedly well-meaning people who make unsolicited, random comments to us about this issue. He has simply started telling them, depending on the situation, that we will let (the person) know if we ever want to discuss our family planning with them, but for now, it’s between us and God. He’s even told one lady to “stop asking about my sex life.” She has been particularly rude, however, and was predictably “outraged” by my husband saying that to her. :wink:

It usually takes people somewhat aback, but it inspires no further questioning as it seems to penetrate their cloudy mind that perhaps inquiring about something as private as a husband and wife’s marital embrace and the results (or lack thereof) are just…none of their business.

I tend to say “well, each baby has been planned by God for all eternity, so when ours arrives, it will be His perfect timing.”

I like to answer innapropriate questions with another question, thus refusing to enter into the hoped-for dialogue.

“Why would you ask such a personal question?”
“Why does that interest you?”
“Why is that important to you” and
"Do you think it’s really your place to be asking that?"

Asked slowly, deliberately and loudly, all of these replies work wonders. There’s no need to be rude. Neither is there any need to answer or acknowledge the original question as if it were valid.

Best wishes!

My prayers are with you.

How many children you have is no one’s business but your own and you can politely tell that to anyone nosey enough to ask.

You could exclaim, “My goodness, what a personal question! Why do you need to know??”

Or–a suggestion I saw in a Dear Abbey column years ago-- “If you’ll forgive me for not answering, I’ll forgive you for asking.”

I am not Catholic but I would say that you are right on the money with the responce you are using. I have five children . They are the result of 13 confirmed and 1 unconfirmed pregnancies. One was a set of twin girls carried to 32 1/2 wks. So I have only had four total births. I get snotty commments like that allot and I have found that it is best to be honest and say that it depends on what God has in store for you.
PS tell your wife that I feel for her. I was on bed rest for pre-term labor from 21 week with the twins and I have never made it to 38 weeks with my other three babies.I’ll pray for her!

[quote=Sweetcakes]“If you’ll forgive me for not answering, I’ll forgive you for asking.”
[/quote]

I like this one.:smiley:

prodigal, you’re in my prayers. I hope it goes better with people now that you’re armed with more knowledge and responses and I trust that your good faith will continue to help you with this trial. May God bless you on All Souls Day.

you must be very strong family. I hope ur wife is heathly and delivers the baby well.

Congrats! I saw a t-shirt that you should get.

Before you even ask:
Yes, they are all ours.
Yes, we know where they come from.
Yes, we did plan them/want them …

Well you get the gist. I saw this one at little Catholic shop in Cincinnati. If you would like, I would be happy to arrange to get them shipped to you.

The shirts were tasteful and on various color tshirts. I wanted to get them for a friend.

Hang in there and keep preaching the prolife message. I have neighbors – who aren’t Catholic – with 13 kids. It is a wonderful family and I love their kids.

Dear prodigal,

My wife and I have heard some of these kinds of comments, and we only have six children, and she was on bedrest with several trips to the hospital for hemorrhaging during the last couple months due to placenta previa.

Some time back I decided that showing them my irritation really wasn’t what I wanted to do. To someone who “understands,” they either are asking in jest or semi-jest or might be truly concerned for us and they mean well even though it may not have come across. To someone who might understand, it makes us appear snappy and defensive and could alienate them at a potential teaching moment. They’ll just think, “if I had that many kids I suppose I’d be that irritable too.” To someone who can’t understand, they aren’t going to learn anything anyway so I may as well not waste my condescending ire.

I decided the best way not to show irritation is to truly get over being irritated. Patience is a characteristic of love, which this person has given me an opportunity to demonstrate.

If she is a “wonderful Catholic,” then she has set you up for a perfect response. You assume that her statement obviously is ironic and intended to convey her understanding at what “the world” normally deals good Catholics such as us. Perhaps a nod conveying agreement and gratitude at her understanding, coupled with a statement such as, “you are so right. You wouldn’t believe how often I get questions like that.”

I know the stress and lack of sleep can make me irritable, but I really hate comments like that. My usual response is something like, “we will see. I think that is up to God.” Most times, I’m met with eye-rolling or some other dismissive reaction.

Their reaction sounds like they either judged you as preachy or condescending, or that they branded you “hopelessly religious” and there’s no point in trying to reason with you. At least that ends the discussion, but it may be possible to do better.

Maybe instead of taking the bait you can start a whole new direction to the discussion that will allow them to “minister” to you and explore your Catholic thoughts out of curiosity. For example, you could take a “caught red-handed” approach. Look a bit startled, then maybe a small sigh and say, “to be honest, I admit that sometimes I think the same thing.” If it doesn’t look like they’re getting it, maybe sigh again, shake your head a bit “Then again, I thought that after the third child and so far I don’t know which ones I would be without.” This puts is back to them, like throwing the grenade back to them without pulling out the pin. If they are curious, they will pursue and they will learn. If they are not, the discussion is over with no hard feelings.

I want to remain thankful and charitable for all the charity and compassion we have received, but I do not want to let anyone think we tolerate “modern” attitudes about how family size is something you should “choose” based upon “convenience.”

If they don’t share or understand your faith, then what they think you “tolerate” in your own opinion is completely unimportant except to your ego. For it to be important means they must know you are better than them.

On the other hand, if your concern is not about what your opinion is, but your opportunity to help shape their opinion, then you can only plant a seed – preferably a loving one and not one of harsh judgment – and let God use it as He sees fit. You really don’t know whether the seed is in fertile ground, so you can’t take responsibility for whether the seed grows or whether they have a sudden awakening. A surprise response with no hint of negative attitude I think is the most likely to grow into such an awakening.

Alan

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