Thursday, December 08, 2016

New Studies - Parents Have Higher Highs and Lower Lows

Are people without kids happier? Studies offer mixed picture
The Princeton-Stony Brook study -- which involved an examination of a survey of 1.8 million Americans, including parents between the ages of 34 and 46, conducted by Gallup from 2008 through 2012 -- did find one difference between parents and the childless: Parents tend to experience more highs and lows. "They have higher highs. They have more joy in their lives, but also they have more stress and negative emotions as well," said Stone.
I'm always a little skeptical of these studies. Whenever people self report something, especially something as subjective as happiness, how reliable is the data? This would be especially suspect if something in the study tipped off the participants to the fact that they were studying this topic. Some parents have an agenda to convince the world that parenting is both the hardest job in the world and the most rewarding - an agenda that might eclipse any inward reflection. The presence of this type of parent could mar the results. Even if they didn't realize what was being studied, the mentality might be pervasive. And as I have mentioned before, we're not good in general at gauging our own happiness. We tend to remember the Kodak moments and the rest gets fuzzy.Dr. Daniel Gilbert explors this in his book Stumbling Upon Happiness. Yet all this aside, on some level this just feels true. I've definitely had this conversation with childfree people. And while there are childfree people I know who chase the highs and lows - people who own businesses, have more dramatic relationships, or just have that kind of life for whatever reason - it isn't built into our lives. I live a life without a lot of those lows, without that kind of stress. And I suppose the trade-off is not experiencing the comiserate highs. Of course, childfree people can have a great deal of happiness. We find joy in our friends and family, in our careers, in our pets, i n our passions. Parents have those things too, and some will say it isn't the same. Or that they had that life before, and it doesn't compare. Maybe they're right. Who can tell? It's hard to put ourselves in anothers' shoes, and childfree people may feel a particular way about a spouse or career that a parent couldn't understand. A way that tells them they could never, ever, cut back on time with their husband, or time pursuing their passion, to have kids. Not all of us, but it does raise the possibility that you can never really compare feelings. Ah, well. Even if they do have higher, highs, I would take this option all over again. I'm just not interested in an emotional roller coaster. I have enough joy in my life that it would never be worth buying a bit more with stress, worry, and all those other costs. But at the end of the day, it is pointless to compare happiness. A lot of women would be miserable without children, and many most) of us would be miserable with them. Perhaps even immune to that joy. Trading places just isn't an option. It's all just an intellectual exercise. At the end of the day we all just have to make the best choice we can for ourselves, then find as much happiness as you can within those choices.
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Friday, November 25, 2016

It Wasn't Our Imagination

Crying Babies in Various Cultures
Apparently, some cultures are surprised at how much caucasian babies cry. As someonebwho lives in an immigrant neighborhood, this confirms what I thought I was experiencing. It always seems so loud when I go to the Upper East Side!
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Saturday, March 19, 2016

We've placed motherhood on such a high pedestal we've forgotten the huge pros of being a child-free woman

Voices | The Independent

"In the advertising world, our vision of womanhood is barely more diverse, with the ‘Busy Working Mum’ a keen creative cliché.  ‘Housewife With Kids’ is an equally popular trope, ignoring the fact that in the 1950 working mums were the minority, and today over 70 per cent of women with children also have a career. The idea of a woman as a full-time mum is becoming increasingly redundant. 

Then, of course, there’s the political favourite: the ‘hardworking family’, just doing the best for their offspring. So what happens when you don’t fit into this paradigm? What happens when you become the Not-Mum? 

In the US elections as reported by New York magazine, single unmarried women are set to wield the most decisive influence on the run for the White House. They accounted for 23 per cent of the voting electorate in 2012, and some 40 per cent of the African American electorate."
In 2015 the Not Mum Summit was the first landmark meeting of an organisation founded by Karen Malone Wright to promote and protect the rights of those women choosing not to have children.  

Interesting!  While childfree is slowly gaining awareness as an acceptable, normal choice, this is something fairly new.  Childless women (and next, childless men) as our own demographic, our own voice, and our own agenda.  Now, getting us to agree on what our needs actually are. . . that could be a challenge.

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How I Learned Being Childfree Was A Part of My Identity


An author realized she was feeling shame, not indecision, over being childfree. Here's how she came to terms with it.

But what if it’s not really a choice for everyone? What if some of us are simply born this way? . . . I say this not to make an argument for what some might call a “lifestyle choice,” as if it were akin to moving to Portland, but to clarify that childfree is part of my identity, a filter through which I make sense of my place in the world. This might explain why telling people about my husband’s vasectomy has felt a bit like coming out. (Incidentally, I've often wondered if my feeling of apathy toward babies at all mirrors that of non-heterosexuals watching a hetero-normative sex scene, i.e. “meh.") The fact is that childfree is not recognized as an identity — the kind of born-this-way mentality that sexual orientation and gender identity rightfully command. I can’t list how many times I’ve said in my 20s and early 30s that I don’t want children only to have it dismissed with the wave of a hand and a quick, “You might change your mind.”
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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Why Cats Are Better Than Babies

The Oatmeal
I'm on team dog: if I wanted to take care of an entitled being that doled out affection sparingly, I'd adopt a teenager. But I don't actually have one, since (like those on team cat point out) they're a lot of responsibility and work. But I think we can agree they're both less work and responsibility than babies. It's the great human continuum of what exactly we find rewarding (raising a human being, unbridled affection, furry cuddles, or total freedom) that I find, in the end, dictates how much we're willing to give up. Which expkains why I find this treacley response on HuffPo wholly unconvincing, while I am sure the artist earnestly believes it. Which brings up the Daniel Gilbert question of: how much are we letting selective memory taint our self-assessment of how happy we really are moment to moment? But that's
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Childfree shopping hours?

Daily Examiner
A reader suggestion to this newspaper sparked some parent-rage. The writer thinks restaurants are a better venue for childfree hours. I've sat next to my share of well behaved kids in restaurants, and understand these parents' ire at being included in a ban instigated by a different kind of parent. I've also pretty much stopped eating at chain restaurants and dining in the suburbs, and dread when friends invite me to the Upper East Side. A solution for both of us would be nice - the ability to ask parents to quiet or control their children when they disturb other diners (just as you would a drunken adult or loud cellphone talker). But we don't live in this world; such a request would likely create confrontation and controversy. It's *this* we need to change. Then we all - adults, quiet childrrn - could dine in relative peace. Or choose a raucous restaurant. Whatever moves you.
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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Childless and Childfree Women Find Common Ground

National Journal
In­spired by pas­sion­ate con­ver­sa­tions on her web­site, Wright has cre­ated an off­line out­let for child­less (wo­men who either can­not or do not have chil­dren but want to) and child­free wo­men (wo­men who do not want chil­dren) in the form of the re­cent Not­Mom Sum­mit in Clev­e­land, Ohio. The sum­mit was the first large-scale con­fer­ence ded­ic­ated to wo­men who, by choice or by chance, do not have chil­dren. . . . Wright be­lieves that both camps de­serve to have both the phys­ic­al and vir­tu­al spaces to es­tab­lish vis­ib­il­ity, es­pe­cially at a time when the so­ci­et­al pres­sure to be­come a moth­er is felt so acutely by all wo­men—both straight and gay—thanks to the cul­tur­al fet­ish­iz­ing of moth­er­hood (through celebrit­ies, through the In­ter­net, through the eco­nomy of mak­ing moth­er­hood an ar­tis­an­al, and luc­rat­ive, hobby). She and her key­note speak­ers, Melanie Notkin (who is speak­ing on be­half of child­less wo­men) and Meghan Daum (rep­res­ent­ing child­free wo­men), at­trib­ute the pres­sure to be­come a moth­er to the 21st cen­tury un­der­stand­ing of fem­in­ism and, par­tic­u­larly, to the false ideal of “hav­ing it all.” “‘Hav­ing it all,’ is the most iron­ic meme of the last few dec­ades, in that it be­came pop­u­lar be­cause it was the cradle of a book by Helen Gur­ley Brown, who did not have chil­dren,” Notkin re­marked in an in­ter­view with Quartz, re­fer­ring to the former Cos­mo­pol­it­an ed­it­or-in-chief’s best­seller Hav­ing It All, pub­lished in 1982.
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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Let's Stop Giving Shit To Women Who Don't Want Kids

Let's Stop Giving Shit To Women Who Don't Want Kids�|�Karen Mangiacotti:

"You want to open yourself up to a huge stinking pile of judgment? Just be a childless female over 30. Even worse, a married childless female over 30. A woman who chooses not to have a child.

I have never been a childless female over 30, so I am not speaking from experience. But, I can tell you that I have never heard anything good offered up about women who exercise their right to live their life in a way that suits them.

I can also tell you that whenever I meet a woman who has chosen not to have children, she confesses that right away. Sometimes she will share this information apologetically, sometimes with a bit of compensating bravado, and sometimes just as a warning or heads-up that I may find her pristine ovaries all too much and take leave of her company forthwith."

Well, I've been a married woman over 30 for over 7 years now.  I've admitted in the past that I don't get shit.  I know, I'm incredibly lucky.  I'm a native New Yorker whose parents cared a lot more about me getting a college education than whether I gave them grandchildren (and a mother in law who doesn't even know how to be judgmental).  My neighbors and community know I'm childfree, and the usual response is "kids are not for everyone" (although, come to think of it, many of my neighbors don't have kids either . . . )

So I want hear from my other married 30s women - what have your experiences been?  I have no doubts that the article is true, and it is difficult for many of you, but I'm curious what kind of range there really is out there.

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7 Reasons Why Being Childfree Isnt Selfish | Care2 Causes

7 Reasons Why Being Childfree Isnt Selfish | Care2 Causes

I've always found the accusation that we're selfish to be poorly thought out.  First of all, for many of us who know we would dislike parenting, raising a child would not be a beneficial act, since children deserve parents who really want them.

Secondly, life is basically navigating near infinite choices, some of which by necessity have to be "selfish."  If we're going to be judged by the things we don't do, it makes just as much sense to call someone selfish for not working for a charity, for not spending their weekends at a soup kitchen, for not living in a studio apartment and donating the rest to a good cause.  Are parents selfish for not having the time to volunteer that we childfree do?  There's no way I could take on the pro bono work I have for the poor or asylum seekers if I had a child.

Every day we make selfish decisions.  Few are cut out for a purely selfless life, which would be one of deprivation, hard work, sacrifice and few pleasures. Almost all of us choose to spend money on entertainment, spend some of our free time relaxing, and create lives that balance happiness with our contributions to society.

Why single out this one act - having children - as the one we are not allowed to opt out of without being labeled?  I think it's pretty simple - it's the one that's the most common, the one biology drives us to do.  But those are poor reasons for making this the one "mandatory" sacrifice when there are so many others to be had. It's simply lazy thinking.

Lastly, it's pretty easy and short-sighted to say that you're selflessly raising kids (so we should, too) when you actually *want* kids and enjoy their company.  You don't actually live or understand what you're asking us to do, since you have no idea what parenting would be like for us.

But fortunately, I hear this less and less.  In fact, in my New York City neighborhood, I hear it never.  It seems to remain in many other cultures, and in the culture of trolling on the internet.  But we're undergoing a foment in the ways we think about other peoples' life choices, toward a live and let live philosophy.  I would wager that this attitude will, in the coming decades, shrink until it is only the domain of trolls and extremists.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Why Can’t We Accept That Some Women Don’t Want Kids?

Zocalo Public Square

"In advance of the Zocalo event “Why Have Kids?”, we asked a panel of experts: If Americans have come to accept a range of non-traditional family structures, why does a woman’s choice not to have children still elicit skepticism and judgment?"

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Meghan Daum Talks 'Selfish, Shallow And Self-Absorbed' And Being Childless By Choice

Meghan Daum Talks 'Selfish, Shallow And Self-Absorbed' And Being Childless By Choice

HuffPo's video interview with Megham Daum.

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Being Childfree in Miami - The Miamian

Being Childfree in Miami - The Miamian

"So it’s established not everyone in the world wants kids, so of course a nightlife mecca and glitz capitol like Miami Beach wouldn’t be any different. After all, the fast living is perfect for couples with no dependents and on any given night the town is full of celebrities – a demographic known for going without children. Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Eva Mendes, and George Clooney all have gone public about their desire not to have kids.

Miami Beach was recently named Maxim’s number one US party city. At the same time, children make up only 12.8% of the town.

However, in the rest of Miami it’s a different story. Of course there are rich neighborhoods like Cocoplum and Brickell that boast the occasional single millionaire tycoon, but most suburbs are full of the nuclear family. Mom, dad, two-and-a-half kids, and a family dog. A lot of the culture contributing to Miami’s melting pot are family oriented, and it may be a little isolating for a children individual in Kendall or Pinecrest to feel at home."

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‘Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids’ -

‘Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids’ -

"The 16 essays are cleverly arranged, creating a satisfying intellectual and emotional arc. The book opens with an appeal to the heart, by Courtney Hodell (who is, full disclosure, my friend) — a chronicle of how it felt to watch her gay brother break their mutual vow of childlessness — and concludes with Tim Kreider’s rousing defense of the child-free as “an experiment unprecedented in human history. . . . A kind of existential vanguard, forced by our own choices to face the naked question of existence with fewer illusions, or at least fewer consolations, than the rest of humanity, forced to prove ourselves anew every day that extinction does not negate meaning.” Along the way, the reader is treated to nearly every reason one might choose to forgo having children: Pam Houston loving her freedom too much to ever let it go; Elliott Holt’s suspicion that her history of depression would make her an unfit parent; Anna Holmes’s allergy to “the creeping commodification of childhood in the form of must-have status symbols” (among other reasons)."

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Saturday, March 07, 2015

Opting Out of Motherhood - Why I Decided Not To Have Kids

Opting Out of Motherhood - Why I Decided Not To Have Kids:

"If I had a child today, I'm sure I would love her more than I can comprehend. But I'm also pretty sure I wouldn't love my life. I'm lucky. I have an extraordinarily satisfying life as a writer. My career is not just a career but an expression of the very things that define and nourish my existence. I could probably find a way to balance it all with the joy of motherhood but, to be honest, I don't want to. That's not an equilibrium I'm interested in finding. I love the spare, quiet rooms of my grown-up house. I love teaching and traveling and having long conversations with people I've never met and may never meet again. I love the idea of contributing to young people's lives without being anyone's mother, of feeding their souls in ways that mothers, by definition, cannot. And while it's entirely possible that I don't know what I'm talking about (this also applies to bungee jumping), I can't think of anything more unfair than having a child for the sole purpose of finding out what I'm missing."

A rather insightful look at the choice to be free. I think it touches on nuances most people miss, such as the difference between loving one's child and loving one's life.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Friday, February 20, 2015

To My Friend Who Chooses To Be Childfree

To My Friend Who Chooses To Be Childfree

Some of the commenters seem upset by this letter, which tells a friend, Sam, that she is not judged for choosing to be childfree. I would hesitate before coming to such a conclusion, since I think we need an understanding of Indian culture before really knowing where the author, Swati, is coming from. Also, the author is not basing this on simply assuming Sam feels judged, but rather on Sam's discomfort when admitting she is childfree.

Regardless of how you feel about the author, or this letter, I think that this allows us to get some insight into what it is like to be childfree in India. I welcome comments from those who understand it better than I. While I have friends who are Indian-American, have read a ridiculous about of Desi chick lit, and may spend a little too much time eating in Jackson Heights, I still have a great deal left to learn.

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Carolyn Hax: Kids weren’t invited to the wedding? Then don’t bring them. - The Washington Post

Carolyn Hax: Kids weren’t invited to the wedding? Then don’t bring them. - The Washington Post
My sister has three sons in grade school, and they are excited about this trip, their first to California. Also, my three nephews adore my son and are looking forward to seeing him get married.

However, my son’s fiancee has informed us that only adults are invited to the wedding and she has already informed her family of this.
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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Why Having Kids Won’t Fulfill You | TIME

Why Having Kids Won’t Fulfill You | TIME:
"Had we continued having infertility issues and not been able to conceive, I am certain that I would have felt that there was something “missing” from my life. But only because I believed the narrative my mother sold – that children bring fulfillment. Since I’ve become a mother and seen that the essence of what makes me who I am has not changed, I’ve learned that nothing outside of you can fulfill you. Fulfillment is all about how you perceive the fullness or emptiness of your life. But how can a woman feel fulfilled if she’s constantly being told her life is empty without children? How can she ever feel certain she’s made the right decision if society is second-guessing her constantly?
. . .
It took me decades to realize that the maternal drive I carried with me my entire adult life, the one that led me to try for five years to have children, may not have been a biological imperative at all. It may just have been a program that was placed into my psyche by the repeated mantras of a woman who was let down by a man and comforted by her children."
Thank you to the Childless by Choice Project for bringing this article to my attention; she blogged about it as well.

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