Last weekend I had a table for NFP at a family catechesis day at the Cathedral. Overall it went fairly well, considering the fact that NFP is largely ignored in the diocese, unfortunately. One person came to the table, though, and commented that Charlotte's presence there would be a deterrent to anyone speaking to me about NFP. He apologised for coming across wrong and clarified that this wasn't his personal view, just reality. In what was, I assume, an effort to mitigate what he said, he commented that I could tell people that Charlotte was planned. My only answer at the time was "every child is a blessing, planned or not".
That's really the crux of it, isn't it? Do we see children as a blessing or not? Or do we instead see NFP as a moral birth control with the idea that we want to avoid children? So often there's an emphasis placed on effectiveness (I'm guilty of this, too), but I think that buys into the birth control mentality more. I think it's great that it is so effective for those times when a couple do need to postpone conceiving, but I don't think that's the point that needs to be emphasised. In fact, I think it's wonderful that Charlotte was there, so that one of the purposes of marriage was shown front and centre. If we're to be a pro-life people, then surely we need to think of all children as blessings instead of running away from them.
Another reason the man's comment got to me was the discussion of a child being "planned". In many ways I think there's too much emphasis on waiting until the "right time" to have a child (this isn't a Catholic complaint, but something I see in society at large). There's never a perfect time, in my opinion. Well, at least not by the way we reckon things. My wonderful Kieran wasn't planned by us. He was planned by God, and I thank God for this wonderful gift. We hadn't planned to try for a child then because we were both working on our MAs and living overseas, but the timing worked out really well. We'd initially planned to wait longer before trying for another, but then changed our minds and there was Charlotte. Again, the timing worked out well, even though we'd given no thought to that. So, no, I can't point to my daughter and say "she was planned" as a way to promote NFP, not because she was a surprise (she wasn't), but because I see that as being the wrong attitude. All children are planned by God, and all children are blessings.