Thursday, February 15, 2007

Family Planning

A very interesting (and excellent) post by R' Yakov Horowitz about taking care of young children, especially ones who are throwing consistent tantrums... and also about the issue of having many young children close in age. Excerpt: [emphasis his]
...I have found that the symptoms that a child exhibits sometimes mirror what is transpiring in his/her family. Thus, your son’s temper tantrum or meltdown may be a sign that your family is going through a meltdown of sorts. Having a few young children, especially close in age to each other, can be and usually is a great deal of nachas. It is also very, very stressful. Perhaps you should consider changing routines in your lifestyle. Attending less simchos (s’machot, whatever), going out with your husband alone one evening a week when the kids are sleeping, having your husband get more hands-on with raising the kids, even having him change his night seder to a morning shiur, all of these should be explored. And, I don’t know a more delicate way to say this, but if you are feeling very overwhelmed with the raising of your children, please, please set an appointment for you and he to meet with your Rav as soon as possible to discuss your family’s situation and seek his eitzah and psak (click here) as for what is right for you at this time in your lives.
I still remember a great piece of advice* in a [true?] story that I heard (thirdhand) from a rebbetzin speaking to a large group of wives of yeshiva/kollel men: [edited]
A couple had had a number of children in just a few years, and the wife felt like a shmatta (rag). She told her husband she wanted to go on birth control, but the husband responded, "I don't know if there is such a heter (permission), to go on birth control." She pushed, and he insisted on asking only R' Elyashiv in Israel. [They did not have a rav to ask.] They raised money from friends, and they flew and were able to arrange a meeting with R' Elyashiv. He explained the situation to R' Elyashiv, finishing by saying "but I don't know if there is such a heter." R' Elyashiv turned to him and responded, "Who gave you a heter to have 4 kids in 5 years!?"
People need to be extremely cognizant of what they can and cannot (and perhaps should or should not) handle, and be willing to ask others for guidance, especially about such serious matters. There are those for whom having 8 children in 10-12 years works just fine; but for most people, this is not the case. Do not assume that you are "supposed" to do so or are obligated to - seek the guidance of a person who understands both you [and your spouse] and the subject at hand.

* SerandEz is not a place to get piskei halacha [rulings in Jewish law] from. Please ask your local rabbi, or find someone who can direct you to a rav who is more knowledgeable about the subject. Thank you.