Written by Elizabeth
NFP of course stands for Natural Family Planning. If you have never heard of it, I highly recommend that you read about it. Not just for yourself but also to explain it to other people.
First off, I am probably the least qualified person to ever write about this. I am young, not married and I do not have any kids. But I come from a big family and I have been asked questions about this for as long as I can remember.
When I tell fellow Catholics how many siblings I have (15) the first question is always the same. “Do your parents practice NFP?”
The question just shows that they misunderstand what NFP is all about. The basic assumption is that NFP is just the Catholic method of contraception. That is simply not true.
NFP can be used both to achieve and avoid pregnancy. The only thing is couples are only allowed to use it if there is a serious reason to do so. These reasons can include emotional, financial, mental etc. It is up to the couple to pray about it and if there is a serious reason they can then use NFP to avoid a pregnancy.
This truth reinforces the fact that children are a gift from God. Seriously, people do not take a moment to realize what an incredible gift it is to be blessed with a child! Each child is a little miracle- a gift from God!
I know that children can be a lot of work. I have seen my own Mother sick for the first trimester of every pregnancy. Really sick, she throws up a lot and she hates going through labor. All of that just reinforces the fact that children really are God’s greatest gifts. The fact that she is willing to go through that much for each of us just shows me how precious me and all of my siblings are to her.
This brings me to the second question I am asked. “Well if your parents had that many, how many do you want?”
Again this question bothers me. I know that if I have children each one will be a total gift from God! I do not have a say in how many gifts God wants to give me. However many he chooses to give me and however many he knows I can handle is really the only honest answer I can give to that. Since I am not actually in control of all of that. God is.
Therefore, NFP is unnecessary. Not every family actually needs to know it. There may be some people who never need to use it and that is a great blessing! This does not mean that the Catholic Church just wants you to have as many kids as possible. It does not mean that the Church wants you to be overloaded with kids to take care of.
The wisdom of the Church is such that it affirms that children are a gift from God. Yet it also provides NFP in order that families can be prudent about their legitimate needs. By needs I am of course not referring to the “need” for every family to have a huge house and a Porsche.
The Church does not want people to be overwhelmed and overloaded. That is why NFP exists so that couples can say yes to God’s will and plan for their families.
If you have any other questions about NFP, the Church’s teaching about contraception etc. Feel completely free to either ask in a comment or simply email me at ehartung7[at]gmail.com I will be delighted to talk about it!
Editor’s note: NFP is taught by the Catholic Church to help families plan pregnancies, but you do not need to be Catholic to use it. In fact, I started charting before I decided for sure I was converting! If you need more information or resources about NFP, check out I Use NFP.