NFP and Family Size

It’s the start of NFP Awareness Week! As you may know, I teach NFP in my diocese and frequently teach couples who are preparing for marriage. A fair number of these meetings start out like so:

Couple: You have 4 kids?! How well does this actually work if you have that many kids?!

Me: *forced laughter* Well, we wanted the kids. . .

At times like that, it seems that people forget that it is called Natural Family Planning, implying that children will be a part of that family. NFP does not have a set family size, and those who use it often do not have a magic number of children they will accept. Some may originally think they want x number, only to find that they either can handle more children than they originally thought or that they cannot, for whatever reason. There will be couples who have surprises, couples who plan every pregnancy, and couples who desperately want another child but cannot, or any combination of those at different points.

My own personal fertility and family-planning choices should not be construed as proof of the efficacy of the method I teach, or of NFP as a whole. After all, if I were an OB/GYN, patients wouldn’t ask about my family size, or imply that a method didn’t work because I had more than 2 children. No, the doctor’s family size probably wouldn’t come up in conversation, and if it did one would likely assume the children had been planned, whether that was true or not. The same courtesy should be extended to an NFP-user or instructor.

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