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Nickels, dimes and family size

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A few years ago, I spoke with a young man preparing to get married. His aunt told him that she thought he and his fiancee were too financially-strapped to have a child, and that it wouldn't be fair to bring up a baby in poverty. Keenly aware of his joblessness and his minuscule bank account, he concluded she was probably right.

The young man and his fiancee were ready to tie the knot in a few months and they expected that she would be at the infertile phase of her cycle around the time of their honeymoon, so they would be able to consummate the marriage while avoiding bringing a child into the world. They agreed they would use Natural Family Planning (NFP) after that to avoid a pregnancy. A few years later when they felt financially secure, he told me, they would have their first child. He admitted, however, that he was conflicted about whether they were really being "open to life" in their marriage if they were going into it with this kind of forethought and intention of avoiding children.

In marriage, it can certainly be challenging to harmonize spousal love with the responsible transmission of life. Janet Smith and Christopher Kaczor, in an illuminating passage from one of their recent books, acknowledge this challenge and point to the need for a "spirit of generosity" when it comes to procreation:

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