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10 Things You Should Never Say to a Catholic Mom

Welcome! Are you reading this because a dear Catholic friend shared it with you? Perhaps you are someone who has been on the receiving end of comments and questions that gave you pause…and you didn’t know how to respond. If either is the case, then this is the post for you! When we found out we were expecting #6, I wrote a post about all the different anticipated responses I was sure to hear from people.

10ThingsYouShouldNeverSaytoaCatholicMom

Oftentimes, we find ourselves in social situations in which people tend to fill the air with small talk, chitter chatter, etc. I’m not especially good with small talk given that I am an introvert and have fallen into some awkward conversations because I struggled to keep the conversation going. So, if you have found yourself in the same situation, take heart. Maybe you meant well and didn’t realize the comment or question could be construed any differently than you intended. That’s ok! The aim of this post is to shed some light on why certain questions and or comments can come off as intrusive, rude, or unfeeling. And let’s say you aren’t that kind of person. I tend to err on the side of giving others the benefit of the doubt.

After talking to some Catholic mom friends, they were gracious enough to help me compile a condensed list of comments and questions we often hear and are faced with, many times asked in the company of our kidlet brood, which makes the situation all the more awkward for us.

OUR SEX LIFE

Are you done yet? Asking someone if they are done having children is like inviting yourself into someone’s bedroom. Here, let’s finish this conversation in the hallway. *** More awkward is that this question comes from complete strangers. Not that it’s any less strange or embarrassing when an acquaintance, friend or even family member who actually knows you asks! When you ask someone this question, please consider that it is impolite to essentially ask someone about their sex life.

So, what kind of birth control are you going to be using after this baby? Again, in the same spirit of are you done, you have just invited yourself into a stranger/acquaintance/friend/family member’s bedroom. AWKWARD! Ask yourself the motive behind asking this question and refrain from asking.

You do know that NFP* doesn’t work, right? Apart from the secular notion that NFP “doesn’t work,” the bigger underlying issue here is that Catholics have some kind of crazy hangup about being ok with having…children. Crazier still, it is part of the vows we take when we are married in the Church. So, we are crazy from the moment we get married. 😉

*Read more from our collection of NFP articles and posts.

I don’t understand why you let the pope in your bedroom! Wait! You saw him in my house??!! Ok, seriously. This is offensive because the implication is that we allow a man to dictate actions that go on in our bedroom. Nothing could be further from the truth. We follow what the Church teaches, which in turn is upheld by a succession of popes. We aren’t being oppressed or made to be barefoot and pregnant at all times. We have freely given ourselves to following Christ and His Church, while prayerfully discerning what His will is for our family.

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 6.32.05 PMYou know what causes that, right? ::wink wink nudge nudge:: People think it’s cute and funny to ask you if you know what causes babies. As if my six beautiful children and super cute husband didn’t give it away. I often joke {to the rolling of my husband’s eyes who thinks I’ve gotten all the mileage I possibly can out of it} that we figured it out and that our toothbrushes are now safely on opposite sides of the sink, thankyouverymuch. Ok, seriously, though. It’s not cute. Yes, we’ve figured it out.

Now that you’ve got your girl/boy, is your husband getting…ya know…snip snip…”the big V”? I really hope this one is self-explanatory, but let’s just take a stab at it just in case it isn’t. First off, there is nothing wrong with our God-given fertility. In fact, there are so many who suffer from infertility and would love to have children, so instead of looking at ourselves as something in need of being fixed when there is nothing broken, let us start to look at ourselves as the beautiful beings who are made in His image.

OUR CHILDREN

You have all girls. Are you going for your boy? While this may seem like a legitimately curious question, the underlying implication comes across as though the children someone does have are somehow inadequate or lacking. Whether a family has all girls, all boys, or one of each, all children should be loved and welcomed as the blessing they are, not because they are filling up our expectation of what a “perfect family” looks like. 

fb002f23230f1e3ca6e4b9e7c8d77507Were they all planned? Strictly speaking in terms of marketing, Planned Parenthood has certainly done their job in convincing the secular world that all things worth having are things that are properly and deliberately planned. Have you ever received a surprise gift from a friend, co-worker, or your spouse? How did you feel when your husband showed up with a surprise bouquet of flowers? Did you stomp on it and toss it in the trash? Would you reject the blessing of a child conceived who wasn’t planned? Guess what. Catholics love surprises, so even while it might blow someone’s mind that an unplanned child could be considered good, we can always confidently answer this question with a confident no because we know Who is ultimately in control of our family planning.

OUR FAITH

You know, you don’t really need to believe everything the Church teaches, right? That’s absolutely true!…only if you aren’t really concerned with taking your God-given responsibility as a Catholic seriously. In matters of Dogma and Doctrine, Catholics are absolutely bound to uphold Her Teachings above and beyond personal opinions and struggles. So, when you ask whether we need to believe everything {and only talking about Dogma and Doctrine, here}, you are asking whether we need to believe in and subscribe to the very definition of being Catholic. The answer should always be a resounding yes from any Catholic convicted in the Faith!

You know, you shouldn’t force your kids to be Catholic. Let them explore all religions and make their own choice. I have a great analogy to address the faulty logic in this comment. I’ve heard and seen people make this comment all too frequently. The idea behind it is that we want our children to be well-balanced and open-minded about the world around them. How can they possibly achieve that if we are busy bogging down their brains and hearts with all this Catholic stuff? Well, two things come to mind. The first is you wouldn’t put a sapling out in the yard during the dead of winter and expect that it can survive without your intervention on some level. The second is my analogy. I want to build a house, but I don’t want to build it on any old foundation, so I use sand in one section, concrete in another, gravel in another, dirt, wood, etc. By not choosing one sturdy foundation, I have effectively compromised the foundation that the house will be built upon. And so it goes with forming our children. When we make the decision to be Catholic, it is with the knowledge and conviction of going all inI want them to have a healthy understanding, rooted in God’s love of what the Catholic Faith teaches, right down to the warts of our history. They need to know the human and divine Church. When they leave the house, they will have 18 years of being fortified in the Faith that God gave us. They will have the tools in their arsenal to weather those who will hate them simply because of our beliefs. Lastly, it will be good in helping them discern the difference between what they were raised with and other religions and belief systems. If as parents, we don’t give them something, we are choosing to give them nothing. I would rather be guilty of giving them something than shifting sands to build their morals upon.

So, there you have it! The key to having meaningful conversations is attuning ourselves and being more introspective when it comes to others. The next time you feel a {possibly unappreciated} comment coming on when you see a mom with her children out and about, consider these alternatives instead:

  • a kind smile
  • a compliment on the children’s behavior {if applicable – trust me when I say there are times when we are aware of our howler monkeys misbehaving in aisle 3 of the grocery store!}
  • an offer to hold the door
  • kind words to the entire family, such as “God bless!” or “Thank you for your witness for beautiful families” or “You’re doing a great job!”

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About Martina Kreitzer

Martina is a cradle Catholic, wife to Neil, and mother to seven kiddos here {and three in heaven}– 4/96-1/17. She decided to homeschool the kiddos in 2010 after many years in public schools and is currently transitioning out of homeschooling. She is the creator of Catholic Sistas which focuses on a feminine perspective of the Catholic Faith. The website was the result of an existing camaraderie by the contributors in a Catholic women’s group she created. She is also a Seal of Approval evaluator for the Catholic Writers Guild. Lest you think she spends all her time online, Martina has enjoyed getting out into the community by serving on the Pastoral Council from 2010-2013. She is constantly on the lookout to make her parish as welcoming as the small town she grew up in East Texas. This task is not easy given that St. William is the largest parish in the Austin diocese, serving well over twenty thousand parishioners. She loves Jesus, coffee, bacon, chocolate, photography, more bacon, evangelizing, and the company of those unafraid to use their sense of humor.

  • Raul Fernandez - What a great read! May we get more Catholic families on this same proverbial boat.January 24, 2014 – 11:30 amReplyCancel

  • CA Rhoades - Oh my gosh I LOVE the Catholic Manners Guide at the end!January 24, 2014 – 11:40 amReplyCancel

  • Amy K - Nice post 🙂 I had my sister’s girls with me in Target the other day, so that made for 5 kiddos (5, 3.5, 2, 1 and 1). As soon as I walked in I hear, “Are those all yours?” I reaaaally wanted to say yes! Later a very nice 92-year-old woman stopped me to tell me how beautiful my children were and that she had 4 boys under 4 when she was a young mother. One of her sons had just passed from leukemia. I could still see the grief in her eyes. I thanked her for stopping and sharing with me and I offered her prayers. I don’t think she realized what a blessing she was for me that day. It isn’t very often that you get the encouragement or positive remarks, but I wanted to share this one. 😉January 24, 2014 – 12:47 pmReplyCancel

  • Christy - I have to say, I love being asked most of these questions. I think even if people are making small talk or are strangers, maybe they are really questioning and I have an opportunity to teach about the Catholic Faith. I have had some amazing conversations with people that started with these questions.January 24, 2014 – 1:17 pmReplyCancel

    • Martina - Agreed, Christy! Each of them are opportunities to open dialogue. As I mentioned early on, I tend to err on the side that most people make these comments unknowingly that they can come across in a tone or manner that is derogatory.

      Of course, there will always be the group who actually means to say the comment rudely {and for those people, we just have to tackle it with charity and love and then, of course, prayer}.January 24, 2014 – 1:39 pmReplyCancel

  • Samantha - So basically, don’t talk to Catholic moms, because they (judging by this post) will have a stick up their butt or an I’m-so-special complex and take everything personally.

    Some of these are snarky and rude–like the pope in your bedroom comments–but some are just people making conversation or not realizing that you are Catholic and are against BC/vasectomies. Maybe it is good if people ask these questions, because it gives you an opportunity to share your faith.

    Or it gives you an opportunity to get haughty, your choice.

    Also, this list goes both ways. Perhaps a family (even a Catholic family) has decided to use NFP to avoid having children indefinitely, perhaps even after only have 1 or 2 children. Yet how many Catholic women make “nudge, nudge” jokes about when you are going to have another one or get pregnant again, under the implication that all Catholic families have discerned to let the babies come providentially? Sounds like a double standard.January 24, 2014 – 1:17 pmReplyCancel

    • Martina - Samantha,

      I’m not sure what prompted your response, but rest assured, this is not aimed at making Catholic moms look like we all have a “stick up their butt or an I’m-so-special complex and take everything personally.”

      If you read through it, you will find that I used humor throughout. If it was read as anything other than humor, then I invite you to take an overall look at what we write about on Catholic Sistas.

      We recognize that Catholic families come in all shapes and sizes, which you can read about in any of our posts that talk about family and NFP. One in particular that might be of interest to you is Why Size Doesn’t Matter?

      It would seem you are a new reader to the blog and perhaps this post struck a nerve. As I said before, just take a look around at all our many posts {nearing 1000 some odd posts altogether} and you will see that a lot of your comment is misplaced. We are faithful to the Church, while recognizing our paths are quite unique.

      I hope you’ll stick around and come to know us better than moms with sticks up our butts. 😉January 24, 2014 – 2:17 pmReplyCancel

  • Charla - I loved this, Martina!
    I made the mistake of laughing when someone called my most recent child, born seven years after the one before her, an “oops.” I laughed not because my daughter was a mistake, but because I found the idea of someone regarding my child as a mistake as utterly absurd. My response is always that we lovingly receive any children God blesses us with– until the day my fertility leaves me. (But who knows about adopted children?) My youngest child, I call my “bonus baby” as each and every one of my children are;they each have been a “bonus” to my life.January 24, 2014 – 2:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Cindy Coleman - I especially liked your response about ‘forcing’ your children to be Catholic. I have only 1 child (unfortunately) so I couldn’t relate as much to the others. As someone who was not able to have more children but wish it had been in God’s plan, is it okay if I say to people how lucky they are to have some many children? Is that too rude or personal? Not like I make a huge deal of it, but more like “You have such a great family, you are so lucky to have 5 kids.”January 24, 2014 – 2:53 pmReplyCancel

  • Laura - I think it’s so nice when someone says something like “you’re so lucky/blessed to have such a large family”. It’s true! But even more, if someone says that, it might be a day that’s a struggle because of all those kids, and it’s nice to have that reminder! My five bros and sisters are the greatest gift to our lives, and all of their kids are great cousins and friends to my kids. Big families can be crazy but if you’re all on the same path, you are a strong team of parenting, fun, and support!January 24, 2014 – 6:07 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah Fisher - THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for posting this. I am a stay at home mom and I homeschool and when I go out in public with all my small children, I get asked these questions so many times including (BOY YOU HAVE YOUR HANDS FULL – I respond, “BETTER FULL THAN EMPTY”) that I actually told my husband I want a shirt with all the answers on it. Great post!May 18, 2014 – 8:38 pmReplyCancel

  • Rosa Patterson - In regards to the last point about forcing your kids to be catholic… I certainly don’t remember my parents being able to force me to believe anything. It was more like the opposite where I questioned everything they said and I’m pretty sure most teenagers/young adults are the same. So the point is moot. You can’t force your kids to be catholic.August 6, 2014 – 9:31 pmReplyCancel

  • Amy - “Were they all planned?”

    “Well, my husband and I decided to do the ONLY activity since the dawn of time that creates babies. A lot. So yes, we were shocked.”October 10, 2014 – 11:12 pmReplyCancel

  • Erin - This is great! Thank you!

    I always get the “Gee your hands are full!!!” comment in public too. I only have three kids (here) thus far. (oldest of 11, don’t think we have time/desire to punch out 8 more. =0)

    @Cindy Coleman; I think any mom would be thrilled to have you compliment her! =) I think back on times a stranger has said something nice to me in the store, their comments always made my (probably rough, shopping w/ small kiddos…) day sunnier. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is prompting you to lift someone up. =)

    ~

    For those who think this is rude to WANT to react as such. Maybe we should flip the questions on their ear. What if we asked our Non Catholic components the following:

    “You’re only having #?!? What’s the matter? Sperm count low?”
    (Granted NFP families do and should come in all sizes. The decision is between you, your husband and God. )

    “You’re on the pill?!? Don’t you know can cause abortions, and makes you feel like you’re CONSTANTLY two months pregnant, right?”

    Etc….My point is that rude is rude regardless of your viewpoint. Why do people assume that any mom (especially of a large family) wants to talk about her sex life, especially in front of her (many) kids that prompted the questions? Our society in general needs to get out of the gutter. Sex is not the only game in town. =)December 19, 2014 – 10:32 amReplyCancel

  • julie - Funny, I am not Catholic. I have five children. I am often asked are you Catholic? The next question is are you Morman? I usually tell the rude person asking the question no, I’m a little crazy. All the other seriously rude questions usually stop after that. My kids have heard me answer this way for many years and now they laugh and say “Mom says she’s just crazy” when people ask them. Funny to see people reactions.January 1, 2015 – 7:50 pmReplyCancel

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