This article starts below.
What Responsible Parenthood is NOT
- Responsible parenthood is not having a limited number of children, when the couple has the physical and financial capacity to have more. This is contrary to the notion that couples should only have 2 children, at most.
When the couple decides to limit the number of their children, the common means of achieving this is through the use of contraceptives, or else through natural methods of family planning. If there are no grave reasons for limiting childbirth, the couple is going against natural law even if they use natural methods for birth control. Every marital act should be open to life and the unitive and procreative meanings of the conjugal act should always be present whenever they couples engages in it.
- Responsible parenthood is not having an unlimited number of children, especially when the couple is experiencing financial difficulty. This is contrary to the reasoning based on the admonition that we are to go, multiply and fill the earth.
Yes, we were told to go and multiply, but the instruction also gave us the responsibility to subdue or manage them properly. It is the parents' responsiiblity to raise their children to become good citizens and good Christians.
What Responsible Parenthood IS
- Responsible parenthood is the prudent and generous use of the couple's gift of sexuality in order for them to beget the right number of children according to God's plan.
It needs prudence and generosity.
Prudence is the attribute of reasoning correctly or in accordance with the right norm. A couple practicing prudence should consider postponing pregnancy when they have economic or health concerns, and should remain open to receive more children when they have the capacity to take care of more.
Generosity is the quality of being always ready to give or share God's bountiful blessings to others. A couple practicing generosity is open to the idea of having another child, more than what they perceive they are able to have.
- Responsible parenthood is the ability to temporarily abstain from engaging in marital act on days when the wife is fertile, if they have valid reasons for doing so.
The valid reasons for postponing pregnancy are:
- Economic. The couple may be in a serious financial difficulty and cannot make both ends meet, or jobless, or in debt and cannot provide for the basic needs of their children, and an additional child will add misery to their present children.
- Physical. The wife may have just given birth and is still recovering from the rigors of pregnancy, or she may have a serious health problem that another pregnancy would endanger her life.
- Psychological. The couple may not be psychologically ready for the responsibility of having a child, or another child to care for.
- Social. They may be war, social unrest, famine, calamities, or epidemics.
- It is having the right preparation for the coming of each child, so that every child is welcome and expected, and no child is considered unwanted.
Every child is a gift from God. We sould always prepare for their coming. It is a great privilege to have a child. Many couples are childless. When we accept this privilege of having children, we become co-creators with God.
- Responsible parenthood is having the right spacing between children to allow time for the mother to recover her health and for her to take care of her newborn child.
- It is having a regular assessment of the couple's capacity or readiness to have a child, or another child.
No one, not even the State, has the right to dictate the number of children that a couple must have. The discernment to achieve or to temporarily postpost pregnancy belongs solely to the couple, and should be based on their conscience. Hence, it is necessary for the couple to develop and informed conscience.