What is responsible parenthood?

Once we removed the pill from our marriage, my husband and I experienced healing we did not even know we needed. This truly was a turning point in our marriage. But after the birth of our first son, we had to trust in God another way — by postponing pregnancy. Here comes the responsible parenthood part.

Responsible parenthood

What is responsible parenthood? It’s the virtuous decision made by a married couple to either conceive a child or postpone conception. Catholics are NOT expected to have as many children as possible! We have learned to trust in our ability to parent our children in accordance with God’s providence. This hasn’t always been easy.

I’ve often heard others say that my husband is “unique,” for his willing participation in all this. While I agree that Kerry is amazing and an extraordinary husband and father, I don’t know that we didn’t become better spouses by our commitment to the practice of natural family planning (NFP) and truly loving one another versus using each other.

Our passion for natural family planning grew and we became certified teachers for Couple to Couple League (CCL). Becoming teachers wasn’t the difficult part — putting ourselves out there so intimately was. Contraception is frequently a very controversial topic, and we really aren’t controversial people. But sharing and teaching this information has felt like our penance for blatantly disregarding the Church, for turning our back on God.

A few years ago we took a leap of faith, and we’ve never looked back. We dumped contraception in favor of the knowledge handed down over the 2000+-year history of the Catholic Church. It’s been the single-most important decision of our marriage and biggest area for growth. My prayer is for all marriages to experience as much.

What is keeping you from learning more about NFP?

The fullness of the Truth is available once you search past the secular nonsense. Here are five steps that helped my husband and me fully embrace natural family planning.

  1. Learn what the Church is teaching.

Don’t take your neighbor’s word, do your research! Talk to your priest. Read the Catechism and Humane Vitae. Dive into Theology of the Body. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has insightful information on their Love and Sexuality webpage as well.

  1. Make a good Confession, and embrace the sacraments. 

There is true beauty in the marriage of science and theology, and there are untold graces for those taking that leap of faith.

  1. Learn one of the methods.

There are multiple NFP methods that are scientifically validated and theologically backed. Go to any of these websites for more information.

  1. Share the Good News, despite how uncomfortable it may feel.

Support people trying their best to follow the teachings of the Church, whether or not you have personally grasped the concepts yet. Even if you don’t believe this applies to you, share God’s message. You don’t know who that could be and God’s role for you in their life. We ALL can learn to live more chastely — clergy and religious, all married couples, those preparing for marriage, single people, and those who have passed their fertile years or undergone sterilization procedures.

  1. Teach your children about NFP.

The marital chastity NFP requires allows you to be a model for your children. This becomes a natural gateway for then teaching abstinence to your teenage children. Taking the “easy” way out and encouraging them to use contraceptives in the place of instilling the virtue of chastity can lead to many physical and spiritual consequences.

God’s will for each of us is amazing. We all are asked to make different sacrifices in His name. The graces revealed in that are innumerable. One of Blessed John Paul II’s favorite sayings was “Be not afraid.” Please, do not fear the unknown.

(Renee McGuire, Certified Instructor, Couple to Couple League, Des Moines Chapter, essay originally posted at The Practicing Catholic.com)

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