The people who KNOW because they met someone once…

Every time I see an article that allows comments on home education or Natural Family Planning there is always at least one comment from someone who KNOWS someONE who is not home educating their children properly, or a home educated child who is “weird”, or they know couples who are using NFP with a “contraceptive mentality.” – although when this supposition is scratched it turns out they don’t actually know anyone per se but people must be… From this minute piece of information they extrapolate to ergo “home education is bad” or “NFP is just Catholic contraception” or words to that effect.  It is truly irritating to me.

Taking the second thing first I personally have never met anyone who hs used NFP “contraceptively”. I dare say such couples exist. I have seen non-Christian NFP sites advocate using condoms during the woman’s fertile time to avoid pregnancy, but then that’s not NFP. . As condoms have up to an 15% failure rate at preventing pregnancy, this seems like daft advice to me, but it’s given anyway.

But none of this proves that practicing Catholics who know what God wants are misusing NFP. Ah, say the ones in the know, just look around and see all those families with hardly any kids.  I had a woman say this to me after Mass once. Yuk. As it happens I know the stories of a lot of those “not enough children” parents and they have some serious suffering to contend with. Many of them can’t have more children and so aren’t using NFP at all. I hope they never have to deal with the snarky “soul police” themselves.

Others received “bad” advice from a priest. But in both the cases I know of where a priest advised sterilisation the situation the mother’s were in (and remain in) were so extreme I can see how a priest (especially a poorly formed one) might think he was doing the right thing.

As for home education and the “weird” children, or the children who behave badly – have I met such families in home ed circles? You bet. At least a handful. There are some truly badly parented home ed children out there.  But this doesn’t make home education bad. In fact the research, studies and USA Sat scores tell us that Home education (homeschooling) produces some of the best educated, morally mature and personable young people there are.

I live between a number of schools and so our road is the highway for lots of children every day going to the nearest six schools. The appalling behaviour, foul language, causal violence and just plain nastiness that I see most days in no way makes me wish my children were in school. But neither do I think schools should all be closed. There are plenty of lovely, well adjusted schooled children out there. It’s about the parenting, not the form of education. And sometimes it’s not even parenting, it’s that difficult to grapple with Free Will thing. Some well brought up, well educated, well loved children will go off the rails when there’s no adult with a tight rein around. It happens.

Some parents who send their children to school are pretty irresponsible and don’t care how their children behave and some parents who home educate are the same.

The final comment that always gets made is along the lines of Home Education is difficult and those who do it are “brave.”  The same “it is difficult” comments come about NFP. The subtext is always that if something is difficult it either shouldn’t be tried or it can’t be done properly, and anyway, life should be easy.

Just because something is hard at times, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.



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