I attended a lecture on NFP a few weeks ago put on by my diocese featuring Creighton and NaPro Technology. It was geared specifically for medical professionals and clergy and was really quite informative. They had a Creighton trained OB/GYN physician walking us through specific treatments, surgeries, and subsequent outcomes. After that they had a woman (who was also an instructor) give her testimony of using NFP to recognize and treat multiple disorders and then ultimately use it to treat her infertility and conceive. I cried, of course. It was great.
Until. Of course there was an until.
Until a young priest who taught at a local high school asked "When should we be teaching this to girls?" The instructor responded "As soon as they start their period." She then told a story about how her younger sisters learned to chart at 14 and 17 and how one of them had similar issues but was able to treat it early and not struggle for years with infertility as she did. I couldn't have handpicked a better story to display the importance of teaching girls about their fertility when they're young.
So you're wondering what the foreboding "until" was about, right? Well here it comes. One person chimed in questioning the morality of teaching young girls about their fertility. She questioned "Aren't they very likely to abuse it? Shouldn't we not be teaching this to children because of that?"
I remember the instructor answered eloquently and intelligently to this but I cannot for the life of me remember what she said because my rage set in. I just cannot understand the reasoning behind withholding truth because people could possibly misuse it. Should we no longer teach children science and math because they, as we well know, can be warped and twisted for the creation of horribly evil things? Of course not.
The same mentality should be used for fertility awareness. Yes ,of course, it can be abused and in my opinion those most likely to abuse it are the ones we're actively promoting and teaching it to, the engaged. They already know they're with the person that will become their spouse and that it would be a very inopportune time to become pregnant. Yet here we are teaching them how to have sex and not get pregnant! Tsk. Tsk. NFP should only be taught after marriage, right?
Doesn't that just sound ludicrous? Instead I think that every girl should be taught the basics of her fertility from the time she first becomes fertile. Wouldn't it have been a much easier transition into using and trusting NFP as a newlywed if you had been using the concept from the advent of your fertility? Maybe our compliance rate with these newlyweds would be considerably higher if fertility awareness wasn't a completely foreign concept. Maybe, just maybe, teaching girls how to understand their fertility and become self sufficient in managing it would keep them out of the hands of Planned Parenthood who is quick to tell them that they need their fertility to be augmented.
Planned Parenthood has intentions of teaching children about sex and fertility when they're as young as 10 years old, don't we then have an obligation to ensure that this teaching in counterbalanced with a message of dignity and truth about their bodies? We cannot expect for kids to be preached the gospel of Cecile Richards for 15 years and then expect to win them over to the lifestyle of NFP with one lecture during Marriage Prep!
We need to become more proactive with what we teach our children. I'm not advocating for teaching every 10 year old girl out there every single rule for avoiding pregnancy with NFP but I think it is at least prudent of us to teach them how their bodies work and how they can know it's working. I find those advocating for NFP (myself included) often promote it as a philosophy or lifestyle and to pitch a lifestyle we need more than just one really good powerpoint. We need to invest the time and energy in teaching our daughters and assisting them in this journey so that when the time comes to implement NFP they have a solid foundation of understanding of their own fertility on which to build upon.
If you are in the Kansas City area and have a daughter you want to teach about NFP/fertility let me know. There's a GREAT event coming up in the area. I'll send you the info for it!