China has its evil and harmful “one child” policy.
I propose for American Catholics a “one child more” policy.
I think we should encourage all American, Catholic, married couples to ask themselves, “Could we have one child more?”
Who Benefits from “One Child More?”
- The child who is the “one more.” He is blessed to have life, not just life on earth but eternal life. He will be born into a Catholic family, be baptized, and begin to live a life of grace as an adopted child of God. He will continue to be nourished as he grows in faith, and hopefully his time will not end but rather reach its fullness in Heaven for all eternity.
- The child’s siblings. As Pope John Paul II said, sometimes the best thing you can give your children is another brother or sister. Your children’s lives will be immensely enriched by this new family member who will need everyone’s care but who gives back so much love.
- The child’s parents. This “one child more” will demand more of you. You will grow in generosity and selfless service, making you even more pleasing to the Lord.
- The Church. There will be another baptized member of the body of Christ. Who can predict the ways your child will benefit evangelization?
- The world. We live in the most rich, healthy, and free nation in the world. Your child will have the advantage of living in freedom and will get a good education. He will be able to give back much.
“One Child More” and Responsible Parenthood
The Church expects us to exercise “responsible parenthood.” Responsible parenthood is the fully human decision to act so as to have a child or not. Some things to note:
- Responsible parenthood is “fully human” when it is conscious and free and in accord with human nature.
- Because children are the supreme good of marriage, the decision not to have them is a serious one.
One decision parents may responsibly make is to space births or to postpone another pregnancy indefinitely. But given the prevalence of contraception and the myth of the population bomb, our focus seems to be on the correct criteria for limiting family size. The decision is important, and thus must include an obligatory discernment of God’s will. According to Humanae Vitae, the couple may rightly take into consideration physical, economic, psychological, and social conditions.
- Physical—e.g., an illness or injury of one of the spouses or of one of the children.
- Economic—e.g., loss of a job.
- Psychological—e.g., postpartum or some other form of depression.
- Social conditions—e.g., war or governmental pressure (China’s “one child” policy).
But if no serious reason exists or even if there are some serious concerns, the couple can still opt for generosity and have another child.
“One Child More” Questions Parents Can Ask Themselves
- Can our new child expect to grow up with a loving mom and dad? This love is necessarily imperfect. That is okay.
- Will our new child be able to grow up with enough material goods? Do not compare yourself to other Americans but with the vast majority of people in the world and through history. Having everything is different than not having enough.
- Will our new child be able to receive a good education? This will be the case if you are diligent and vigilant.
- Does our new child have the likelihood of being born healthy and have the resources to stay healthy? If there are birth complications, are we ready to welcome the child with love regardless of his physical imperfections, and do we have the resources to take care of him?
I think most Catholic parents can easily answer these four questions with a yes.
Time to Consider
So, Catholic parents, why not talk with each other about “one child more?”
About eighteen years ago, when our fourth child had just been born, my new boss said to me, “You really shouldn’t have any more children.” I assume he was thinking about the good of my career.
Thank God we said yes to “one child more” three times after that. We never regret it, and neither will you.