Don’t Mess With a Pregnant Lady – Or Her Husband!
In the April NOR, Kathleen Whitney Barr wrote an excellent and much-needed article (“Why Is It O.K. to Insult a Pregnant Lady?”) describing the plight of the mother of two or more children who is expecting another child. Such a mother finds herself being asked an array of questions — ranging from clumsy to intrusive to insulting — even by perfect strangers.
As a father of seven, I’ve been asked such questions too. Here’s how I deal with them.
As a starting point, I believe it is important to try to keep a loving attitude toward anyone who offers a comment or question of whatever nature about the number of children my wife and I have and about the one who might be on the way. Let’s face it, accepting the Catholic Church’s teaching in Humanae Vitae, practicing Natural Family Planning, and being eager to accept the new lives God is willing to bless your marriage with are among the most countercultural actions you can take today. You should be surprised if you don’t hear a lot of comments, not if you do. In fact, you should be prepared for them. You really do know something the questioner doesn’t know, and this knowledge is a gift from God. Therefore I try to treat the questions I receive as an opportunity to witness cheerfully to my Catholic faith. Not all witnessing is overt. You don’t have to whip out a copy of Humanae Vitae (although I have done it). A confident and surprising response can go a long way toward turning the question away from your family’s size and back to the questioner’s presumptions.
If you are prepared, you are less likely to be caught off guard when the comments do come. And you can respond adroitly even to comments that sound insulting. I don’t think all of them are meant to be. For example, I suspect that most of the folks who use the old “You do know what causes this, don’t you?” line, say it because they really don’t know what else to say. I look at this as my opportunity to help them out. After answering, “Yes,” and putting them at ease by not taking offense, I have often proceeded to ask, “Have you ever thought about what causes otherwise healthy married couples not to have children?” It gives them something to think about, and may even create an opportunity to explain your faith.
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