Friday, August 21, 2015

Small Catholic Family

The other day while searching "small Catholic family" in hopes of finding some encouragement or advice about raising a small Catholic family, I came across The Catholic Family Handbook, written by Rev. George A. Kelly in 1959. The entire text is available online for free here. (I haven't read it in its entirety so I can't vouch for its content.)

Here were a few snippets from the book that brought me some comfort so I thought I'd share in case they brought comfort to others too:

"Although the first purpose of marriage is the procreation of children, Catholic couples will not necessarily have offspring. There may be many reasons why they cannot have babies or why they are limited to one or two. Some wives have difficulty in carrying a fetus to full term and have many miscarriages. Sometimes the husband or wife may be sterile-- unable to do his or her part in conceiving a new life. There may be mental, eugenical, economic or social reasons which make it justifiable to practice the rhythm method. The fact that a Catholic couple has no children, therefore, is no reason for concluding that they are guilty of any moral lapse."
"Considerations for parents of small families. If you have but one or two children, you should try to create for them opportunities such as exist in larger families to develop their characters. In particular, you should discourage selfish tendencies--a natural hazard in the small family. Since you can concentrate all your attention upon your child, you may tend to worry about him to a greater extent and to bow to his whims more often than do parents of a large family. There is a natural danger, therefore, that he will become accustomed to having his own way and will not recognize that others have desires which should be accommodated too. 

In training an only child, it may help you to remember that self-denial is the virtue from which other virtues spring. You should therefore strongly resist the tendency to do everything for him and not permit him to want for anything. So that he may learn to get along with others, encourage him to cultivate friends. Invite them to your home where he will be the host and thus must exert himself to please them. 

Finally, give him the freedom to develop in his own way. You must control the impulse to worry unduly about every ailment, to stand guard over him at play, to check up constantly on his teachers to make sure that they are doing their job right. Such actions would betray a tendency to interfere abnormally in your child's affairs. Unless you avoid them you may find yourself ultimately trying to dictate where he should work and whom he should marry, and you will make it difficult for him ever to make decisions for himself."

It was incredibly affirming to me to see these included in a Catholic book for families...from 1959! I would love to see more resources for Catholic parents of small families - both in terms of spiritual encouragement and practical advice. Maybe there are resources like that out there already and I just don't know about them yet? 

a small faithful family indeed


  1. I've read this snippet too, since then I've added to my own mental list - give them interactions through family or friends (ideal with these people in your own house do regular day things) to give them opportunity to develop their social interactions and give them ample opportunities for service and charity. Hopefully both of these will help mimic the things a child in a larger family would learn through interactions with his or her siblings. =)

  2. This is such good advice and, as you mentioned, so reassuring coming from a Catholic source.