Teaching NFP to our teens; when and how? And whether there should be an holistic teaching of NFP as part of family rights and responsibilities.

Talking with a fellow HE mum the other day, I wondered at what point I should be teaching the children not just about NFP, but how to chart.

Obviously, I have taught them (the older ones) what Christ expects of them in terms of chastity, preparation for marriage and marriage itself, but the mechanics of NFP are still, to a large extent, to be taught and learned.

So, when to do it and how? Do I approach the lessons now with my daughter as she is nearly 18? Do I teach the whole kit’n’caboodle to my sons, (aged 20 and 22) or just the bits that will help them help their future spouse? Or do I leave it until they are engaged? That seems a little late. I did wonder about teaching my daughter and getting her to chart for six months just so she had the system, but if her body changes before marriage – and it might – she may need to relearn.

I did wonder about her charting for a while when she was unwell, and we suspected thyroid problems. A chart would have shown it up, but in the end we didn’t get around to it.

So folks, when do you teach yours?

Then there’s the question of which method of NFP to teach. I must admit I think the sympto-thermal method is the most thorough and is excellent at showing health problems and possibly risks to fertility. But the Billings method with symptoms can also be a good aid to spotting health problems, so if a single woman charts, it would really be for health reasons and not fertility or child spacing. I have no doubt that spotting health and fertility problems early is a good thing – getting a doctor to listen, understand and not just prescribe the Pill is a whole new obstacle course.

I am inclined to teach NFP as a complete and graded holistic package, for want of a better word. First of all the children need to know how to eat a healthy diet.

Perhaps the next area I might want to teach is how the endocrine system works. Knowing how hormones are produced and balanced in a healthy person is a massive first step to appreciating the beauty and complexity of fertility, and will hopefully mean my children are well enough educated to avoid the sledge hammer approach of using the Pill to hide, rather than cure, any fertlity problem they might have. Obviously they don’t NEED to know all this to successfully use NFP, but I have met so many women who have problems conceiving or have repeated miscarriages and have no idea how their own body works. Most women I have talked to don’t even know what a Luteul phase is, much less how it might contain the answers to why they miscarried their baby, or can’t get pregnant in the first place.

There are many good reasons for teaching and learning NFP. One is, as Michael pointed out IN THIS POST ON STRONG FAMILIES, that the divorce rate among couples who use a natural approach is around 3% which is significantly lower than the over 50% in the general population.

The separation of sex from having babies has helped increase the distructive influence of pornography. The spread of this poison has been enhanced by technology and very poor supervision of children by parents and other adults.

By teaching our children some self respect, and respect of others we can hopefully curb some of this.

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3 responses to “Teaching NFP to our teens; when and how? And whether there should be an holistic teaching of NFP as part of family rights and responsibilities.

  1. I’m very interested in this, although can’t help with when to introduce the children thing as my eldest is only 6! The closest I’ve come to NFP is using Persona for a year before having DS (planned). Cycle was too erratic after that for it to work. Hade to google Luteal! (blush)

  2. As a mother of adult children as well as a teacher of the Sympto-Thermal method of NFP, this is indeed an interesting question and one which I did grapple with myself. How much information do we want children to have, especially girls? Might they be tempted to misuse the information? In the end I got them charting on the premise of seeing if cycles were regular and telling them that the information would be invaluable to them when they got engaged. Then is the time for the details of use as a couple. It is also for this reason that it is to be preferred over Billings which of its nature leaves interpretation of the symptom to the woman and not her spouse. Once taught all of the symptoms in all their fulness, couples can opt for only one of course – that is their prerogative – but not initially. My sons are 19 and 23 and not in steady relationships though they know my husband and I teach NFP and my hope is that when the time comes they would want their future spouses to learn NFP (whether Catholic or not) to protect their health and their marriage.

  3. Clare you can chart with erratic cycles, and even correct the cycles when you know what you are seeing. NFP seems to be a well kept secret on so many levels. Most women who have ever heard of it, think it’s a daft way to avoid pregnancy. A very few realise it could help achieve pregnancy the rest haven’t been told anything.

    Pat, that’s interesting. I think that we need to tackle this with our choldren so they can take care of their health. I have even wondered about offering to teach all the girls in my oldest dd friendship circle. My dd has been concerned that they seem to know so little about their own bodies and have had needless panics over things happening.
    Teaching the self respect that is part of NFP has to be a massive foundation for the future.

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