Thursday, December 28, 2006

Study Reveals Large Number of Older Women Are Voluntarily Childless

Common Perceptions Not Always Accurate, Public Health Campaigns May be Misdirected
Contrary to the public perception that all childless women are generally unhappy with their condition, the study shows that assumptions of older, childless women being dissatisfied with their status do not apply to the largest group of childless older women.

"Our research leads to the notion that for some women, childbearing might not have even been part of an equation," says Joyce Abma, Ph.D., lead author of the study. "Public impressions that all older childless women are eager to start a family and 'beat the odds' of increasing infertility stand to be refined." Public health campaigns to encourage women to begin childbearing before age-related issues begin are, perhaps, not relevant for a larger subgroup of women than previously realized.
It seems like every statistical study released these days somehow vindicates the childfree - but this one has particularly notable dimensions. Perhaps the only problem is making sure people find out about this. I'm afraid the Hewlett-type assumption that every woman must want a baby sill continue to prevail.

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Meet my son, Yahoo Chevrolet Smith . . .

Baby-Naming Rights

With parents naming their kids Google and ESPN for free, how long before they stay auctioning off the rights to name their children?

In addition to those mentioned in the article, there are also babies named Chevy, Celica, Infiniti, Timberland, Courvoisier, L'Oreal and Armani.[1]

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Reader Responds to Bias Against Moms

Last week, the SF Weekly posted an article about how MomsRising is fighting the "bias" against mothers:

Mother’s Work
Some working moms face job discrimination, while others encounter barriers to success. They're all potential activists for the new grass-roots group, MomsRising.

MomsRising wants to address the obstacles faced by working mothers up and down the socioeconomic spectrum and push legislation to eliminate them. The barriers vary: Some women struggle to keep their jobs while managing pregnancy or child care, while others feel they've been knocked off the leadership track by inflexible work schedules or bias against mothers. Their reactions, however, are strikingly consistent. When women can't be both model employees and stellar moms, they feel frustrated and defeated, and often blame themselves. Rowe-Finkbeiner says they're turning their anger in the wrong direction: "We argue that when this many people are experiencing the same problems at the same time, it's a societal issue, not a personal failing."

This week, a reader responded in a letter to the editor:

Where's Dad?:

While I enjoyed Eliza Strickland's "Mother's Work," [Dec. 6] I found it one-dimensional. Often, the reason employers do not want mothers as workers is because — quell surprise — they don't work as much as childless workers or men.

Unfortunately, due to pervasive sexism, women still take the brunt of child care, usually working 10 more hours a week on housework/child care than fathers (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). The missing part of Strickland's equation are fathers — where are they? Why aren't they picking up their kid when she's sick, or teaching them yoga? There's a reason her article is called "Mother's Work" not "Parents' Work."

Besides, it's unrealistic for mothers to expect they would get the same pay and prestige for doing a worse job than other employees. I'm sorry, but you just can't be as good a lawyer working 40 hours a week as you can working 60.

Having children in this day and age is a choice: to expect that that choice should not affect your career is delusional.
I'm beginning to wish that a blog could give a standing ovation.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

For about half of Aussie couples, marriage satisfaction goes down under after having a kid

Study: Marriage declines after child
BRISBANE, Australia, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- About half of all Australian couples report a significant decline in satisfaction in their relationships after they have a child, a study finds.

Not particularly shocking, but nice to see it announced for the whole world to see.

Less sleep, less time, less money, less privacy, and a complete change on how the people in the couple view each other.

Oh, and let's also throw in the fact that one of the parents may not have actually wanted a child.

Yeah, that's a prescription for "bringing a couple closer together" right there.

Look, I realize that some couples (both members) do want kids, and having kids is right for them. But it's not all of them, and it's also not all of them who say they are one of them. Especially if one of the two is talking it up bigtime, and the other isn't saying much, or is clearly browbeaten into towing the line.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Statistician Examines Birthrates, Postulates on Rates of Intentional Childlessness

Childless by Choice?
These statistics suggest that infertility applies to only a small proportion of the 44.6 percent of childless women aged between 15 and 44. But some of the increase in child-free women since 1976 is due to a decrease in teen birth rates. According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 1976 there were 101.1 pregnancies per 1,000 women ages 15-19.

By 2002 (the last year the data are available) this rate had decreased to 75.4 pregnancies per 1,000 teen women in the United States. Overall, the birth rate declined from 52.8 babies per 1,000 women in 1976 to 43 babies per 1,000 women in 2002. Could it be that in the 1970s more women had babies because they had become pregnant by accident?

A statistician takes on the recent Washington Post article on Childless By Chance or Choice. I, for one, am glad that the world of statistics is giving this subject some much-needed attention.

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Breastfeeding Older Toddlers

Nursing past three
"That is so gross," an editor said to me on the phone when I mentioned that a family I was writing an article about had a nursing toddler. "If they're old enough to ask for it, they're too old to nurse!"

That sentiment is so often repeated that it has almost become a cliché. But why are we disgusted by the idea of a toddler nursing? When I went to visit my friend Sue's family in Mississippi when we were in college her great aunt started talking about the black people in her town. "I let one touch me once," Sue's great aunt said with the same mixture of revulsion, fascination, and horror in her voice that my editor used to talk about nursing. Sue's great aunt was disgusted by the idea of a black person touching her because it went against the social norms of her generation. Though it may not be an entirely fair comparison, I think my editor (a childless woman in her 40s) was disgusted by the idea of a two- or three-year-old nursing because it goes against the social norms of her generation, not because there is anything empirically wrong with it.
. . .
When dinner is almost over, my son climbs onto my lap and leans back into me, tilting his head upward so our eyes meet, his are hazel with specks of green in them. "Mommy, can I have some nummies?" he asks, patting my cheek with his tiny hand. "Pajamas first," I tell him. He giggles happily, wiggles off my lap, and runs to get ready for bed.

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Late in Life Babies. . .

Methuselah moms: Mothers are getting older
Compared with 20 to 29 year olds, women who give birth over 40 are two to three times more likely to have a premature baby and/or a low-birth weight one (under 2.5 kilograms), with the risk increasing with age. And although many small babies will survive, the smallest ones often suffer a host of medical problems at birth, such as respiratory distress. The effects can last a lifetime: such children tend to have poorer academic records and lower IQs as adults.

The biggest worry for older moms is the huge increase in the risk of having a baby with chromosomal disorders. The most common is Down's syndrome, the risk of which increases from 1 in 1,500 at 20 years old to 1 in 30 at 45.

Compared with 20 to 29 year olds, women who give birth over 40 are two to three times more likely to have a premature baby and/or a low-birth weight one (under 2.5 kilograms), with the risk increasing with age. And although many small babies will survive, the smallest ones often suffer a host of medical problems at birth, such as respiratory distress. The effects can last a lifetime: such children tend to have poorer academic records and lower IQs as adults.

The biggest worry for older moms is the huge increase in the risk of having a baby with chromosomal disorders. The most common is Down's syndrome, the risk of which increases from 1 in 1,500 at 20 years old to 1 in 30 at 45.
This article explores the societal trends, health issues, and more . . .

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Announcing New Childfree Advocacy Project

Childfree News is pleased to announce the launch of her sister project, Childfree Issues.

It will be a place for launching various advocacy efforts on behalf of the childfree. Like Childfree News, the aim is to become more collaborative as time goes on; getting feedback from readers as to what issues to tackle next and what our strategy should be.

The first project has been launched; it is a website to advocate for equal workplace benefits.

Visit the website here to see what you can do!

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We Deserve Safety, Too!

2008 Volvo C30
With everyone designing vehicles for "families," it's great to see Volvo aiming the new C30 hatchback at single folks - along with childless couples and other modern-day American heretics.

He hee . . even automotive writers are gettting sick of pronatalism!

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Washington Post Article on Childless By Chance and Choice

Childless: Some by Chance, Some by Choice
I Lost a Baby -- and Found A Community of Women Who Won't Be Mothers
Those of us who are not mothers do not fit into any of society's convenient boxes: We're not slaves to carpools or homework. At the same time, we are not necessarily obsessed about our careers or even ourselves; nor are we anti-family. Our days are simply lived according to a different rhythm: Children don't tug at my clothes and beg for attention; I don't leave my cellphone on during films or dinner parties in case the babysitter needs me; I travel; I read books -- lots of them -- as well as the newspaper.

I am also a filmmaker, and a few years ago I began to work on a documentary about childless women -- not only those of us who have lost or can't have children, but the growing number who don't want to have them. Their reasons vary. In the most devastated areas of Baltimore, I found women who told me they had chosen to be childless because there were simply too many children in their families or neighborhoods who needed looking after. An immigration lawyer told me she had done motherhood when she was a teenager, helping her mother with her younger sibling. Many reflected the attitudes of an academic who told me that her decision to remain childless made her feel like "an outlaw."
. . .
Just as some women talk of a visceral urge that propels them to have children, others speak of an equally visceral urge that propels them not to. Laurie, a transplanted southerner who teaches history in New York, began to realize at an early age that she didn't want children, as she watched wealthy mothers in Richmond hire other women to care for their children. "These people compelled to have trophy babies in certain socioeconomic echelons don't want to face the realities of raising a child." She is now infuriated by what she calls "that Mother Right" -- the assumption that everyone will make way for a woman with a stroller or a child in tow. She goes on to challenge me: "If we believe that this is the hardest thing that anyone can do, then why should it be assumed we should all be doing it?"
. . .
But almost all the women I've talked with describe feeling acutely aware of what they see as our national obsession with motherhood: "The Bump Watch" hounding Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Lopez; "Celebrity Babies" like the elusive Suri Cruise; and "The Ultimate Hollywood Accessory: A New Baby," popularized by Brangelina. Some use the term "child-free" to differentiate those who choose not to have children from those who had been unable to have them.

It's hard to find accurate data on the percentage of women who choose to be childless, but the National Center for Health Statistics confirms that 6.6 percent of women in 1995 declared themselves voluntarily childless, up from 2.4 percent in 1982. These days, at least in industrialized countries, we no longer need to "go forth and multiply" to provide children to work our farms. Although the United States has the highest birthrate in the developed world, it hovers around the natural population replacement level of 2.1 births per woman.
I'm a firm believer that even those who have dealt with infertility (or, in this case, an unfortunate stillbirth and divorce) can properly join the ranks of the childfree. Although they once wanted children, many of us have changed our minds from society's 'default' position. When someone makes a positive choice to stop trying - to forego fertility treatments or adoption- they have made a decision not to have children regardless of the fact that one path to parenting was involuntarily closed.

After all, lurking inside many fecund young mothers may be the same mindset - one which would - if forced to confront the decision head-on - likewise stray from the flock. Many do fall into the decision, sometimes by accident, sometimes by 'purposeful accidents' (deliberate carelessness?) and some because they just followed what society tells us is life's natural progression without giving it deep thought. Perhaps it would be better if all women gave their parenting options the thorough consideration that results from infertility. Nature, however, doesn't always force the issue. . .

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Journalist Lauds Stork Spots, Readers React.

South Florida parents get mall parking perk: A spot by the door

Bringing a toddler to the mall may help you get a better parking space.
. . .
"We hope that out of the goodness of their hearts customers will leave it open for families with children in strollers,'' said Ann Schultz, marketing manager at Pembroke Lakes Mall. "Everyone pretty much understands that moms need a break.''

But on a recent weekday, two childless young women pulled into a clearly marked family space and went into the mall. Meanwhile, Roy Bramwell of Pembroke Pines had to park farther away because no preferred spots were open.

Bramwell, who toted his 8-month-old daughter, said seeing people snub the system is frustrating.

"They should give us a sticker or something," Bramwell said. "I think it's a great idea. But when people are driving around looking for parking, they don't care. They just want to shop."
The real fun of this article is in the comments. Not all readers share the writer's blithe and slightly obtuse perspective.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Mom Bemoans Pressure to Look "Hot"

I have time to be a hot mom? Get serious!
In case you're a real-world mom who's often too busy to catch up on current events, here's your crash course in Hot Mom 101: It is not enough to hold down a demanding job, raise kids, nurture a relationship and run a household. You're supposed to look sexy and feel super while you're doing all of the above, too.

So says Los Angeles mom Jessica Denay, who's written "The Hot Moms Handbook" and now boasts a fan club claiming 300,000 members, celebrity endorsements, a TV show, and a "Hottest Mom" contest in 10 cities. So, too, says pharmaceutical company Medicis, which has its own unrelated "America's Hottest Mom" TV contest.

Sense the marketing vultures circling your minivan?

Now, part of Denay's spiel does ring true. She says moms should find ways to feel more empowered, that they shouldn't have to abandon their sense of self or sense of fun. She calls on every mom to release her "inner siren" and take better care of herself, for the sake of her soul and her family.
Perhaps the 'hot mom' trend is just another part of the false advertising campaign. They're not just trying to get moms to buy jeans - they're trying to get America to buy the myth of easy mommy-hood. I'm glad the voices to the contrary are out there - I only hope every woman has a chance to hear them before buying.

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Yet Another Study: Childless Happier (UK)

Church-goers are happiest
Childless couples and regular attenders at a place of worship are among the most contented people in the UK, claims a new study of what makes us happy.

Scientists found that childless couples were 10 per cent happier than those with children; in financial terms this equates to an extra £3,355 coming into the home annually.

By contrast, single parents were 14.1 per cent more likely to worry about their finances than couples with children. The single and unmarried were likely to be happiest of all, with the fewest financial concerns.

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Local Paper Does Story on Glens Falls, New York Childfree

A weighty decision: Children or not

The decision to not have children opens door to other joys for some;
For others, it's impossible to imagine

While some people think those who don't have children are missing out, a group of local residents say they are living life to the fullest without kids. Married for 12 years, Sarah Rishel and Tom Austin live in an immaculate home in Malta, with gleaming countertops, uncluttered floors and a hot tub where they can relax with a glass of wine after work. They have jobs they enjoy and a cat they adore, spend time with family, and have the flexibility to travel or gather for impromptu dinner with friends.

But by some peoples' standards, their life seems incomplete.

When Rishel, 35, and Austin, 38, mention to new acquaintances that they don't have children, they hear the same responses time and again.

"They say, 'You still have time, you're still young enough,' " Rishel said. " 'Oh, you can change your mind and adopt.' "

The thing is, they don't want children, now or ever. But when the standard life course is to grow up, get a job, get married and have kids, this is a decision many people don't seem to understand, believe or respect.
. . .
The decision not to have children is often made on a gut-instinct level, by people who just don't feel compelled to have kids. Some worry that, absent a burning desire to parent, they wouldn't do a good job of it, either.

But the lifestyle can afford benefits such a more time for partners and friends, more disposable income, more flexible schedules. And according to a report by the Pew Research Center, people who don't have children are just as happy as people who do.

. . .
Bowen is a member of a small, informal group that has gathered three times over the past couple of years to discuss the decision they've all made not to have children and, as they put it, "honor those who choose otherwise."

Bonnie Hoag, cofounder of Dionondehowa Wildlife Sanctuary in Shushan, helped organize the group, inspired by the women and men she knew who seem to live their lives in some ways on the periphery of society.

"I think the first time we got together, people just really wanted to tell their stories, and have their stories be told without the judgment of a culture," she said. "Without the social judgment of how can you be a whole woman if you don't have children."
. . .
Many child-free couples cite the world's burgeoning population and the stress that so many people place on the environment as a reason to not reproduce. Some express frustration with what they see as righteousness that some parents show.

"Sometimes I get annoyed with the attention we bring to the propagation of species, and the entitlement that goes along with that," Hoag said.

And in Hoag's opinion, children are no guarantee of happiness, or of a caretaker in retirement. Hoag says she thinks many parents would not make the same decision if they could do it over again. She said it's not infrequent that she hears parents say, "I love my kids, but '€-"

Fertility is finite, and the possibility of regret also looms on the horizon for some child-free couples. But it may never materialize. . .

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hey Lexicon of Spawn! For your Consideration: Mommy Mafia

Child-free women take on the mommy mafia
Although childfree-by-choice women have always endured criticism from other females, it's only recently that people like Semper have chosen to square off against the motherhood mafia: Baby-biased women eager to smother any whimper of dissonance in the ranks.

"There has been an assumption among some mothers that I haven't really thought through my decision and can be easily dissuaded from it," says Semper.

"It tends to take on the air of proselytizing -- it's rude, it's uncomfortable.... [It's] almost as if you've attacked a person and they now feel they must defend themselves or their values."

She believes the lack of understanding may stem from other women's self-doubt, noting that "people tend to fear that which isn't the same as them and begin to question their own choices when presented with an alternative."

Jane Dahl, who by age 18 was requesting a tubal ligation to ensure she never became pregnant, had one woman tell her she was "selfish, immature and irresponsible" for opting out of motherhood.

"Women tend to judge other women very harshly," says Dahl, a 47-year-old trust accountant for the federal government. "If you aren't interested in hearing about colic and spit-up, you aren't part of the club. You're an outsider .... Now we have our own exclusive club that only we get to join."

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Friday, November 17, 2006

New Head of Population Affairs Office Anti-Birth Control

Contraception, abortion foe to head family-planning office

The Bush administration, to the consternation of its critics, has picked the medical director of an organization that opposes premarital sex, contraception and abortion to lead the office that oversees federally funded teen pregnancy, family planning and abstinence programs.
. . .
Keroack currently is medical director of A Woman's Concern, a Christian nonprofit . . .[which] works to "help women escape the temptation and violence of abortion," according to its statement of faith. And it opposes contraception, saying its use increases out-of-wedlock pregnancy and abortion rates.

"A Woman's Concern is persuaded that the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness," its contraception policy reads in part.
. . .
Keroack's appointment as deputy assistant secretary for population affairs does not require Senate confirmation. He is expected to start work in the next several weeks, Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Christina Pearson said.

I'm speechless.
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A Quarter of Scottish Births Were Unintended Pregnancies

Quarter of Scots babies are 'happy accidents'

PERCHED on the edge of the bath in the cottage she shared with her boyfriend, Eve McAlpine watched the tiny blue line on the home-pregnancy kit slowly appear. The line telling her she was pregnant for the first time merely confirmed her suspicions, but nonetheless it was only then that she realized her carefree existence would soon be over.
. . .
Although her pregnancy may have been a surprise, her story is far from unusual: a new study published in medical journal the Lancet today reveals that one in three babies born in Scotland is the result of a pregnancy that was not "clearly intended".

Researchers questioned almost 3,000 women ranging in age from 15 to 44 attending an Edinburgh hospital for pre-birth care, as well as 810 women seeking abortions.

They found that a quarter of the mothers-to-be were ambivalent about their intention to become pregnant. But a tenth of pregnancies were totally unplanned. In fact, 40 of the women questioned who chose to carry on with their pregnancy had actually taken emergency contraception on the suspicion they had conceived.
. . .
For the majority of the group, the news was looked upon as more of a "happy accident" rather than a misfortune.

"There is never a perfect time to have a baby and often couples put it off because of work, holidays or other commitments," Prof Glasier said.

"Starting a family or having another baby is such a huge decision for women. Sometimes it is easier to let the decision be taken for you - and one way is to be careless with contraception."
. . .
However, for women who really don't want to get pregnant, she suggests the message is: Get better at using contraception.

The study of almost 4,000 Scottish women published in The Lancet found that:

  • A third of pregnancies destined to end in childbirth were not "clearly"
  • A tenth were totally unintended.
  • A quarter of women were ambivalent about their intention to get

Holidays? As in vacations? It seems odd that couples who could not make the positive decision to become parents are about to raise 25% of the next generation of Scotts. I think I'll stick with that last piece of advice.

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Gasp! Young Mothers Earn Less.

Being a mother of young children significantly lowers her wage or salary
On average, the "family gap" is 11 per cent. When the sample includes only working women, the disadvantage goes down to 10 per cent. Among men, no corresponding disadvantage was found.

The negative impact on a woman's wage or salary grows steeply with more young children in the family. One under school-age child means a wage or salary reduction of about 10 per cent, two under school-age children a reduction of 19 per cent and three under school-age children a reduction of even 30 per cent.

The gap shrinks to 5 per cent when the child or the children go to school. In Finland, children go to school at the age of 7 on average (although sometimes earlier with special permission).

The results of the study underline the need to reform the system of sharing costs for young children. At present the system treats mothers of young children unfairly. There is no acceptable reason why their wages and salaries should be lower than wages and salaries for childless women.

Um, there is a very good reason they're making less money - they're doing less work. That doesn't mean they are being treated 'unfairly'.
I'd wager that any major time commitment that reduces the availability, flexibility, and focus of an employee has a negative impact on wages, taken on the whole. Getting your MBA at night, running a soup kitchen, caring for elderly parents, taking roles in local plays because you really want to be a star - there are many things that might result in results such as these. That doesn't mean there's a problem, or that society or employers have an obligation to start paying people the same as their fully-focused counterparts.
It simply means that different people have different priorities - and that they are making choices in life that reflect a value set not centered around earnings. Some of these choices will benefit society (as I'd imagine this 'journalist' would argue parenting does) some don't, but they still reflect a personal lifestyle choice that doesn't obligate anyone else to provide subsidies.
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Thursday, November 16, 2006

RC Re-emphasizes Rhythm Method

Catholic Church reaching out to married couples
In a move designed to enlighten more couples about the benefits of natural family planning, church leaders Tuesday approved the document "Married Love and the Gift of Life" at this year's U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops gathering in Washington, D.C.

The document encourages married Catholics to examine their consciences about family planning.

Sex outside marriage and using any form of artificial contraception are sins, the church teaches. Anyone who knowingly persists in sinful behavior, such as using artificial contraception, should refrain from taking Holy Communion, the bishops said.

Church leaders promote natural family planning, which involves preventing pregnancy based on a woman's menstrual cycle and abstinence.

"We're reiterating what the church is teaching," said Bishop Robert J. Carlson, 62, head of the 132,000-member Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, between closed-door executive sessions Wednesday.
Of course, the Church's self-interest in failure of this method (thereby producing more Catholics) has nothing to do with their advocacy of such an unreliable form of birth control - right?

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Evangelical Group's Motto: Breed to Succeed

But Wolfson, Moore and thousands of mothers like them call themselves and their belief system "Quiverfull." They borrow their name from Psalm 127: "Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate." Quiverfull mothers think of their children as no mere movement but as an army they're building for God.

Quiverfull parents try to have upwards of six children. They home-school their families, attend fundamentalist churches and follow biblical guidelines of male headship -- "Father knows best" -- and female submissiveness. They refuse any attempt to regulate pregnancy. Quiverfull began with the publication of Rick and Jan Hess's 1989 book, A Full Quiver: Family Planning and the Lordship of Christ, which argues that God, as the "Great Physician" and sole "Birth Controller," opens and closes the womb on a case-by-case basis. Women's attempts to control their own bodies -- the Lord's temple -- are a seizure of divine power.

Though there are no exact figures for the size of the movement, the number of families that identify as Quiverfull is likely in the thousands to low tens of thousands. Its word-of-mouth growth can be traced back to conservative Protestant critiques of contraception -- adherents consider all birth control, even natural family planning (the rhythm method), to be the province of prostitutes -- and the growing belief among evangelicals that the decision of mainstream Protestant churches in the 1950s to approve contraception for married couples led directly to the sexual revolution and then Roe v. Wade.

"Our bodies are meant to be a living sacrifice," write the Hesses. Or, as Mary Pride, in another of the movement's founding texts, The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality, puts it, "My body is not my own." This rebuttal of the feminist health text Our Bodies, Ourselves is deliberate. Quiverfull women are more than mothers. They're domestic warriors in the battle against what they see as forty years of destruction wrought by women's liberation: contraception, women's careers, abortion, divorce, homosexuality and child abuse, in that order.

Pride argues that feminism is a religion in its own right, one that is inherently incompatible with Christianity. "Christians have accepted feminists' 'moderate' demands for family planning and careers while rejecting the 'radical' side of feminism -- meaning lesbianism and abortion," writes Pride. "What most do not see is that one demand leads to the other. Feminism is a totally self-consistent system aimed at rejecting God's role for women. Those who adopt any part of its lifestyle can't help picking up its philosophy." "Family planning," Pride argues, "is the mother of abortion. A generation had to be indoctrinated in the ideal of planning children around personal convenience before abortion could be popular."
. . .
Carlson is fond of recalling early opponents of birth control such as Teddy Roosevelt and the New Deal-era "maternalists" who pushed through the traditionalist strictures written into the first Social Security Act, which defined beneficiary families as breadwinning fathers and homemaking mothers. Roosevelt, according to Carlson, associated birth control with "race suicide" and selfish white women who "import our babies from abroad" rather than honor their duty to bear children for the nation. Like Roosevelt and the maternalists, Carlson wants to construct a secular, social-policy case for natalism based on the importance of large families to sustaining a Social Security system crippled by childless "free riders." As with the "family friendly" tax policies Carlson has written for conservative politicians such as Senator Brownback and Nebraska Representative Lee Terry -- which reward large families with hefty tax cuts for each child -- Carlson says that "the sub-theme of all I do is pro-natalism."
. . .
But how well are these arguments being received in the larger society? There are signs of denominations and churches picking up the Quiverfull philosophy, not least among these the statements made by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Al Mohler last year, who wrote that deliberate childlessness among Christian couples is "moral rebellion" and "an absolute revolt against God's design." Meanwhile, Phillip Longman hardly offers a left-wing counterpoint. Instead, he's searching -- at the request of the Democratic Leadership Council, which published his policy proposals in its Blueprint magazine -- for a way to appeal to the same voters Carlson is organizing: a typically "radical middle" quest to figure out how Democrats can make nice with Kansas.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Indian Journalist Takes on Children as Accessories

Honey, the kids have taken after the maid
. . .
Yes, most women can deliver, but how many should breed just because they can? Biological or adoptive mothers are shopping for colour-coordinated babies to swing alongside their handbags. There are those making up the numbers as if laying a table; three, they think, or four will be a round figure for a family.

This Children's Day, all childless couples must solemnly swear not to populate the world just because they are bored or the cable is on the blink. Creative energy can be channelled differently and there is no shame in that. Multiplication is only for those who have the time and the inclination, not someone who bungles up birth control and then mumbles whatthehell. More and more non-mothers are fearlessly declaring their satisfaction with life and empty laps. Now that's progress.

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Czech Repblic Part of European Falling Birthrates

Fewer Czech women interested in becoming mothers
Jitka Rychtarikova of the Charles University Faculty of Science says as many as 15 to 20 percent of Czech women of child-bearing age are childless and that the percentage is likely to rise in future generations. . . .

There were 1.28 children per woman of child-bearing age last year, Rychtarikova said. "If the average is under 1.3 in the long run, the situation is alarming," she said, adding that the Czech Republic is to cross the limit next year, but no major surge can be expected, she added.

Women with higher levels of education have relatively few children, Rychtarikova said. "The continually growing proportion of women with higher levels of education translates into the falling average number of children for the population as a whole," she said.
. . .

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Et tu, China?

Some Chinese couples now urged to have two children
BEIJING (AFP) - Some couples in China, notorious for its draconian one-child policy, are now being urged to have two children.

Couples in which both people are from single-child families are being targeted in the drive.
. . .
"With both parents coming from one-child families, these couples will bear full responsibility for looking after their parents and children," said Duan Jianhua, deputy director of family planning in south China's Guangzhou city.

"As a result, many prefer even having no children to having two," Duan told the paper.

At present, Guangzhou has 100,000 childless married couples, accounting for 11.3 percent of the total number of married couples, according to the paper.
. . .
"The policy of allowing two children in some cases is adopted by many places in China, but it's not a national one, it's not implemented in all places of China," he said.
. . .

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Politicians Pass on the Childfree Vote

releases second issue. Along with articles on religion, movies, wine tasting, book reviews, demographic increase of the childfree, a new comic, and others, it includes a timely editorial:
Politicians Pass on the Childfree Vote
With politicians responding to the “war on the middle class” by putting forth a multitude of family-friendly policies, the childfree are left wondering if our votes even matter.

This being an election year, voters are being inundated with television ads and political speeches by candidates promising to stand up for American families. But when you look closely at the policies and platforms, it becomes clear that they’re only fighting for parents and children.

Tension is high this year with the Democrats trying to remove Republicans from power in Congress and the governor’s mansions. Due to the recent Foley scandal, Republicans may lose seats previously thought to be safe. And with more seats up for grabs, both Democrats and Republicans are trotting out the family-friendly rhetoric. . . .(continued)
However, in positive news, attacking your opponent for being childless is not a winning strategy. As mentioned in a previous post, a politician in North Carolina was attacking his opponent for being childless. Fortunately, he lost.

As repoted in a local paper's Six bits of wisdom from the ballot box:

6. This is not Alabama

Vernon Robinson's unvarnished brand of populist conservatism was a poor fit in a congressional district that is Democratic-leaning and where the Republicans tend to be more moderate, "Southern Living"-style Republicans. Attacking your opponent as "childless" will not win votes among soccer moms.

but Lesson 2. We luv little children
The Web site this week ranked Raleigh as one of the three top jewels of the Sunbelt because its highly educated residents have a "strong commitment to education." That might help explain the bond issue's surprising passage. . . .
is still there to remind us where we stand.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mother Admits - She's Bored.

Sorry, but my children bore me to death!
. . .
Kids are supposed to be fulfilling, life-changing, life-enhancing fun: why was my attitude towards them so different?

While all my girlfriends were dropping important careers and occupying their afternoons with cake baking, I was begging the nanny to stay on, at least until she had read my two a bedtime story. What kind of mother hates reading bedtime stories? A bad mother, that's who, and a mother who is bored rigid by her children.

I know this is one of the last taboos of modern society. To admit that you, a mother of the new millennium, don't find your offspring thoroughly fascinating and enjoyable at all times is a state of affairs very few women are prepared to admit. We feel ashamed, and unfit to be mothers.

It's as though motherhood is an exclusive private club and everybody is a member except for us few. But then, kids have become careers, often the Last Career, for millions of women who have previously trained for years to enter professional fields of business. Consequently, few of those women will admit that they made a bad, or worse a boring career move to motherhood.
. . .
The trouble for a mother like me is that not being completely and utterly enthralled with, dedicated to and obsessed with one's children is a secret guarded, if not until death, then until someone else confesses first. When I mentioned this article to my friend Catherine Fairweather, travel editor of Harpers & Queen, the relief on her face was instant.

For years she's listened to her friend proselytizingng on the sublime act of mothering. 'But no one ever told me how boring it is,' she moaned.
. . .
Those of us who are not thoroughly 'child-centric', meaning we don't put our children's guitar practice before our own ambitions, are made to feel guilty. We're not meant to have an adult life at least, not one that doesn't include them.
. . .
So it is drummed into mothers that if we find our children stressful or dull, it's because there's something wrong with us (but not dads, of course, who have a ready-made excuse for being out of the house all day because they 'have to go to work').

And yet many women have spent years studying and then working so that we would not have to do a job as menial as full-time motherhood. I consider spending up to 30 hours a week sitting behind the wheel of a 4x4, dropping children off at play centres or school, to be a less-than-satisfactory reward for all those years of sweat.

Besides, in my view, making a child your career is a dangerous move because your marriage and sense of self can be sacrificed in the process. . .
OK, she's not the most sympathetic of mothers. I think that many overwrought parents are going to be hard-pressed to feel bad for someone who has been driven to dispatch her nanny.

And no, the ideas aren't wholly original. (See Feminine Mystique, last post)

But it is good to know that many of the visions of parenting that the childfree perceive - a cult of silence, a conspiracy of unending and not-always-honest optimism - are accurate. Perhaps if more women admitted the difficulty of the transition there would be more sympathy for those women who choose to remain solely in the intellectual life.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Childless Couples Aren't Families, DC Needs More Kids, Says Post.

Families Absent From Flourishing D.C., Study Says
The housing boom that has reinvigorated the District of Columbia and pumped millions into city coffers has been lopsided, attracting waves of singles, empty nesters and childless couples but not families needed for stability, according to a study released today.

The report on District housing, produced by the Urban Institute and the Fannie Mae Foundation, recommends that the city create affordable housing in particular neighborhoods where it also would boost the quality of the public schools.

"There's a really strong consensus that Washington wants to be a city that is attractive to people with children as well as singles and empty nesters. It's that mix of households that are going to make neighborhoods stable and lively and create demand for a wide variety of services and retail," said Margery Austin Turner, an Urban Institute demographer. "The current trends do point in the wrong direction."

Part of that stems from a hot real estate market where most new housing units are expensive condominiums favored by singles and couples without children.

The city's struggling school system also is seen as a deterrent to attracting and retaining families with school-age children, according to the study. "Because the school system in the District of Columbia has had so many challenges, many families choose not to live in the city," said Stacey D. Stewart, president and chief executive of the Fannie Mae Foundation.. . .
Washington D.C. was recently confirmed as the nation's fourth most dangerous city)

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Putin Opposed to Taxing Childless

Putin against taxing childless couples
President Vladimir Putin has said that he is against levying a tax on childless couples.

"The law always carries a moral value, or it is a bad law. I think a law on levying a tax on childless couples would have no moral footing and cannot be passed," Putin said in a call-in session broadcast live on Wednesday
Glad someone said it. Even gladder it was him.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Childfree News and "Like it Is" revisit the famous Ann Landers Survey.

If You Had It To Do Over Again Would You Have Children?

The popular blog "Like it Is" revisits the Ann Landers poll from the 1970s in which 70% of parents said that if they had to do it all over agatheytehy would not have children. The blogger, BritGirl posits that:
[M]any of the observations made by parents who wrote to Ann are, in my opinion, just as relevant today. In fact, today it seems even more difficult than ever to be a parent. And, as HCF points out, this was not a scientific survey. It didn't need to be.
Indeed, has anything changed since the 1970s that would alter the responses?

Well, perhaps. I would argue that in some respects, childrearing is easier now - with the advent of greater government and employer-provided benefits (such as daycare and tax breaks) coupled with a changing social climate may indeed affect the results.

Granted, I was a mere tot in the 1970s, but I do remember that it was far less acceptable to take one's children everywhere (such as fancy restaurants) and therefore parenting put more of a social strain on people. They had to either stay home or hire a babysitter for many things that, today, would be a matter of dragging the child along. Of course, this is countered by the fact that bringing a child along is no easy thing.

Indeed, perhaps the trendiness of mommy-hood that has lead to high-end SUV strollers and soccer moms makes some aspects of parenting more difficult by raising expectations of just how much you must provide for your child and just how full that child's schedule should be.

However, it may have the opposite effect in equal or greater force - the trendiness may mean that social acceptance has been increased as a benefit to being a parent. Perhaps the fact that one would lose their mommy clique at Starbucks may mean that if they had it to do all over again they wouldsacrificeafice their status symbol - I mean child.

Lastly, it well may be that parents today were more free to choose that route. The 1970s were actually a period of declining births, due in no small part to the advent of feminism and birth control. Those who had their children before these came into full swing were then left with those children in the age of the Feminine Mystique - where women were starting to have careers and to have identities outside of mother. indeeddeeed the social impetus was shifting in that direction) In contrast, those who have children today had the full force of birth control and feminism in place before making the choice to parent, and are not faced with any such changing climate. Indeed they are faced with a climate even more accepting of their role as mother, SAHM, etc.

BritGirl continues:
The point it makes is very simple.

Many people do not enjoy parenthood but they will only admit it under the cover of anonymity.
This is very, very true. Indeed I would agree it is even more true today. However, that might effect the survey as well - we might be in an age of such rampant pro-natalism that women will not admit regret, even on a survey. Perhaps the mentality has taken ovemucho mch that women have internalized it.

However, it is possible that the modern thinking encourages women to parent, but that a significant number end up regretting it. In other words, perhaps the atmosphere puts forth attitudes about parenting that are difficult, if not impossible to internalize.

Unless you have a nanny, of course.


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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

As US Population Nears 300m, a Brief Look at the Crisis Ahead.

The next 100 million and the face of America

As many of you are aware, the population of the US is expected to hit 300 million people this week. This article presents an interesting look at the trends, and at the shortages that may follow.

Predictably, it cites curbing immigration, not births, as a solution. Why is it that when European counties face population shortages, the government bribes people to have children, but do not look to immigration to solve the problem - but when we are facing the opposite problem we react this way?
There will be 400 million Americans in 2043, climbing to 420 million by midcentury, the US Census Bureau estimates. The added numbers will change the nature of the populace, reflecting trends already begun.
. . .
Between the last official census in 2000 and the one of 2050, non-Wars, natural disasters, shifts in the economy, unforeseen social and political developments - any or all of these could affect the numbers, perhaps dramatically. For one thing, America could, as many voters and their elected officials now demand, clamp down on immigration. The country's unusually high teen pregnancy rate could drop. Scientific advances could extend longevity.
. . .
The impact of the aging baby-boom generation, whose oldest members turn 60 this year, will be felt on Social Security and Medicare. "We really are doing very well in terms of extending life, and that is going to increase the rate of population growth," says Samuel Preston, a University of Pennsylvania demographer. It could also have political impact.

As the US moves toward 400 million people, Americans can be expected to marry later in life, and more of them will live alone. Between 1970 and 2005, the median age of first marriage moved from 23 to 27 for men and from 21 to 26 for women. Over the same period, the percentage of single-person households grew from 17 percent to 26 percent. Those trends are likely to continue.
. . .
Concerns about use of resources
This kind of continuing development tied to US population growth worries many environmentalists, as well as those concerned about the loss of farmland.

Annual US population growth of nearly 3 million contributes to the water shortages that are a serious concern in the West and many areas in the East, says Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute. Water tables are now falling throughout most of the Great Plains and in the Southwest, he warns. Some lakes are disappearing and rivers are running dry.

"As water supplies tighten, the competition between farmers and cities intensifies," says Mr. Brown. "Scarcely a day goes by in the western United States without another farmer or an entire irrigation district selling their water rights to cities like Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, or San Diego."

Concern about a growing populace and decreasing resources is likely to push governments toward conservation and more sustainable development, experts say.

This may be especially true of energy. Nineteen states and theDistrict of Columbia now have renewable portfolio standards that require electric utilities to use more wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and other renewable sources.
. . .
Meanwhile, the US population clock keeps ticking: Every 13 seconds somebody dies. Every 31 seconds there's another immigrant - legal or illegal. It adds up to a net gain of one person every 11 seconds, or about 8,000 every day. It took 39 years to add the most recent 100 million; the next 100 million will take a couple of years less than that.

The US population growth rate is expected to decline a bit by mid-century. Still, by then the numbers will have increased to some 420 million, according to official calculations. Critics of US immigration policy say the number could be significantly higher.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Cambridge, UK Using Housing as Contraception?

'Lack of homes to drive out families'
CAMBRIDGE will become a city of singletons and childless couples thanks to a lack of family homes, according to a former mayor.

Coun John Hipkin, who served as Mayor of Cambridge last year, said the city council appeared to be using planning permission as a form of "contraception" by allowing hundreds of one and twobedroom flats to be built - but hardly any developments for families.
. . .
He said: "We keep getting developments of one and two-bedroom houses. I wonder whether this is putting huge pressure of a contraceptive nature on this city.

"People presumably start off single or young marrieds and have children, don't they? Where are they going to go? Is there going to be a sign outside saying 'if you want children go elsewhere or get a short-term tenancy'?"
Erm, anyway.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Purple Women & Friends: Do We Count?

Purple Women & Friends: Do We Count?

The childfree blog takes on US Census numbers - why aren't we being counted? Certainly the effect that an individual has, or plans to have, on future census numbers is relevant. They propose new categories:
Family Status:
Non-parent (not planning to have children)
Foster parent
Undecided about children.
The census asks two questions to examine childlessness:
(1) How many children have you ever had and
(2) What is the date of birth of your last child?
and reports the results in its studies of Female Fertility. Interestingly, although the term childfree does not appear on the page itself, the page's listing in Google results is termed "US Bureau of Census Childfree Statistics"

We also can discern trends from the statistics of childless women, and extrapolate that, absent any reason to believe infertility is growing significantly, more people are opting out of parenthood:

Record Number of childless women: the Census Bureau says a record 26.7 million women of childbearing age had no children in 2002, a 10% increase over 1990

That number represents nearly 44% of women ages 15 to 44. The latest numbers reflect the trend of more women going to college and entering the workforce, then delaying motherhood or deciding not to have children. Just over half of women of Asian descent were childless, the highest rate among racial and ethnic groups. "Economic reasons are part of it," says Amy Caizza of the Institute for Women's Policy Research. "But it's also the effect of the women's movement; you don't have to be a mother to be a complete woman."

But questionston still remains whether a more detailed look at the why is the providence of the Census. Differentiating between the voluntary and involutary childless would certainly be beneficial to demographers, as well as to medicine. The questions proposed by Purple Women would allow us to differentiate between the infertile, the childfree, and those in that age range who will have children in the future. Currently, we can imagine that most of the women in the 40-44 age range will remain childless (19.3% as of 2004). However, we cannot differentiate between the countless 15, 20 and 25 years old respondents who will go on to have children, and those who will remain childless. Therefore, we have no basis to discern whether the trends from survey to survey indicate an increase in childlessness in those age brackets or simply an increase in the number of women postponing parenting.

I, for one, would be very happy to see just any statistical study that gave us an idea of the rate of voluntary childlessness in America. Absent that small step, I'm not confident the larger one is imminent.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Pregnant Journalist Attends No Kidding Event, Thinks Parents Should Stop Pressuring the Childfree

Honey, where are the kids? Not here!
Columnist Anne Hart attends a meeting of a local chapter of No Kidding!, a social group for single and married adults who are non-parents.
. . .
The kidless-by-choice folks have heard it all from diaper-whipped parents, who, upon hearing about such child-free commitments, go into zealot mode and try to convert them.
. . .
Those of us in the motherhood mafia, or on the verge of being inducted, need to stop trying to persuade non-parents over to our side of the playground. Life is not, after all, a big Red Rover game. Not only should we accept their decision, but also encourage them to talk about their choice, if they're feeling chatty.

After all, the child-free are increasing. U.S. census figures show 18 percent of women 40-to-44 were childless in 2002, compared with 10 percent in 1976.
. . .
Often physicians won't perform a tubal ligation on a childfree-by-choice woman before her late 30s for fear she will regret it.

"There is less of a concern among medical professionals about a man deciding not to have children than a woman,'' Lauri said. "Men are a lot more likely to get their vasectomies than a woman is to get a tubal.''

Which may be just another example of child-free women having to justify their decision not to have kids.

While those of us who do don't have to justify ours.
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Friday, October 13, 2006

Eldercare - important for the childless to grant power of attorney, etc.

Knowing when to let others decide
The ironic thing is that by being so independent and trying not to accept help from anybody, she actually gave up all her choices," said Deni, a librarian who lives in Little Falls. "Now a judge is making decisions for her."

It didn't have to be that way. Lawyers who specialize in elder issues say families can avoid these problems with two simple documents. The first is a power of attorney, which names someone to take care of financial matters in the event of incapacity.

The second is a living will, which spells out the kind of medical care you want and names someone to make medical decisions if you can't.
. . .
Deni and her cousins didn't have that kind of guidance from their aunt, who is childless.
. . .
When Deni showed up at the nursing home, she was treated with suspicion: Was she really a relative? Was she after her aunt's money? Because of health privacy laws, she couldn't even get much information on her aunt's condition. She couldn't get into her aunt's apartment to check for legal papers.
Although not strictly abut the childfree, I thought the specific way these issues bear on the childless make them worth noting. Friends and relatives who want to care for you can face even more obstacles than someone's chldren will - so there is an additional impetus for the childless to take such precautions.

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Parent to Parent: Stop Talking About Your Kids So Much!

Enough with the binkies

Don't go on too long and don't do it too often, said Elizabeth Howell of the Emily Post Institute, which publishes books and columns on etiquette. How do you know when you are going on too long? If you notice people's eyes are starting to glaze over, Howell said.
. . .
"I cherish my childless friends because of the quality of the conversation," said my friend Sally Willis, mother of two boys, ages 9 and 5. "I think what often happens when I'm with another mother is we fall into one of the main things we have in common, which is children. It's not that different from two architects or two lawyers talking about their work. But it's always nice to have some diversity in the conversation."

She also made the point that while child rearing isn't the most scintillating conversation topic, it's a pretty safe one. Politics, religion, books, the environment or most other more interesting topics can often lead to a difference of opinions.
. . .
If you're at a cocktail party or social business outing - "and that holiday party season is just around the corner - you don't want to be bragging about Sarah's achievements in the potty training department or go on and on about the 14 colleges Matt got accepted into, Howell said.

In the 179 pages of the recently released book Mental Floss: Cocktail Party Cheat Sheet Collins, $12.95, from the producers of Mental Floss magazine, there is nothing said about dropping interesting factoids about your own children.

There is no mention of getting to a party and talking about diaper changing or whatever is going on with your kid, said Will Pearson, co-author of the book. You can get stuck with people who go on and on about their kids, he said. Those who don't have kids who are in this situation, feel completely at a loss.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

New Childfree eZine Launches

From their website:

Unscripted is the premiere ezine written by the childfree for the childfree. This publication celebrates a lifestyle unencumbered by the responsibilities of parenting and discusses the important issues we face in a childcentric society.

We are all people who have, through a wide variety of circumstances, reached the ecision not to have children. What unites us is our happiness about that choice and the freedom it brings to our lives.

We chose the title Unscripted because childfree individuals are making a conscious decision not to fall into the traditional behaviors expected by most. We do not follow the “Life Script” set forth by society: marriage and children as a package. Choosing not to have children opens a whole new set of possibilities and options. Our hope is that Unscripted will give our fellow childfree a place to read about their life choices and make their own contributions to an ongoing conversation about what it means to live as a nonparent.

But who wants to read a dozen stories just about childfreedom every month? There’s far more to life, and to us, than our decision to eschew parenthood. So we’ll also be offering movie and book reviews, information on hobbies, and anything else that strikes our fancy. We invite you to come along for the ride.

The new eZine looks highly polished and professional - and the articles are top-quality and interesting. In the upcoming week, I will be posting brief exerpts and links to the articles about the childfree.

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Selfish Childfree Causing Critical Girl Scout Shortage.

Childless marriages, few immigrants account for decrease in youngest Mainers
. . .
But what about the kids?

The Ouellettes, like a growing number of Maine couples, statistics suggest, simply took a pass.

Maine’s population of young children has declined nearly 10 percent since 2000, according to a recently released U.S. Census Bureau report.
. . .
By 2010, Maine will be the state with the lowest percentage of people under age 18. That will hold true through 2030, according to census projections. By that time, just 18 percent of Maine’s population will be minors, down from roughly 24 percent in 2000.
. . .
"Some people might say it’s selfish," said Glenn, who, like Nicki, enjoys being able to pick up at a moment’s notice and go to a friend’s house to play cards or hop onto one of their new four-wheelers for a summertime ride. "But it makes our lives a lot simpler."
. . .
Immigrant and minority families tend to have more children, Reilly said. And while more diverse states have seen growth among their youngest populations, the nation’s least diverse states — including Maine and Vermont — are graying every year.
. . .
While the statistics show Maine aging and young children becoming scarcer statewide, rural Maine has borne the brunt of the decline.

While births at Maine’s larger hospitals, including Maine Medical Center in Portland and Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, have slightly increased since 2001, many rural hospitals — such as those in Calais and Presque Isle — have dropped.
. . .
The Piscataquis County program for young Girl Scouts, called Brownies, was once the council’s largest with nearly 300 girls. But that was five years ago before Dexter Shoe, one of the area’s largest employers, closed. Now there are 149 girls in the program.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pregnancy makes your brain shrink

London Study: May take six months to return to normal
The brains of pregnant women appear to shrink during late pregnancy, according to research which offers an explanation for cognitive problems some women complain of before and after giving birth. The doctors at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London found that it can take up to six months for the women's brains to regain their full size.

Anita Holdcroft, the anaesthetist in charge of the study, said poor concentration, lack of co-ordination, and memory problems in late pregnancy may be linked to the changes in brain size she and her colleagues observed. . . .

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Councilman Advocates Sterilizing Irresponsible Parents.

Shirley offers fix for bad parenting
Sterilize irresponsible moms, dads, he says.

And one of the things he says needs to be talked about is whether bad parents should be sterilized.

"What we've got is a failure in society, whether it's in Mount Pleasant with yuppie parents or whether it's on the East Side with poor crackhead parents," Shirley said Friday. "We pick up stray animals and spay them. These mothers need to be spayed if they can't take care of theirs. ... Once they have a child and it's running the streets, to let them continue to have children is totally unacceptable." Deadbeat dads might ought to be sterilized as well, he said.

Wednesday night, police arrested a 14-year-old girl and 12-year-old boy in connection with a stickup at the Hollywood Video at East Bay and Calhoun streets.

A 9-year-old who was apparently involved was taken home to his mother by police, saying he was too young to charge.

Shirley, like many in the community, was aghast that someone could be turned loose for being too young to be charged with a crime, and that the parents of these kids had no idea what they were up to at 9 p.m. on a school night.
. . .
If a child is too young to do time for a crime, his folks ought to do it, Shirley said.
. . .
State Sen. Robert Ford, D-Charleston, says Shirley is correct, that this is a societal problem, but that the notion of sterilizing people is just "crazy."

"What Larry Shirley needs to talk about is getting City Council to provide some recreational facilities and activities for these kids and creating an atmosphere conducive to a normal society," said Ford, a former councilman.
. . .
Shirley said sometimes social services is part of the problem, making parents afraid to whip their kids when they need it. Ford says that's the way it is supposed to work.
"Hasn't he heard, 'It takes a village'?"

One wonders whether such a brazen suggestion would even work: by the time one has a nine year old, they are typically done with having new children.

Of course, the State Senator wants the childless to help pay for what parents are neglecting them.

I am beginning to wonder whether the childless, be it the childfree, singles, young couples, etc, might meet the status of 'politically overlooked minority' that gave racial minorities and women greater legal protection in the past.* Since it is political suicide to back childfree-friendly legislation, our lobbying power is relatively less than other similarly situated plurality interest groups. We're a long way from such recognition, but the elements might be present all the same.

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*Legislation that classifies on the basis of race or gender is subject to "strict scrutiny" by the courts for Equal Protection challenges. While other classification legislation will be upheld when there is the barest of rational reasons behind it, strict scrutiny will cause a court to examine whether it is narrowly tailored to further a compelling governmental interest. The idea behind it is such politically weak groups will not have the same opportunity to challenge discriminatory legislation in the polls.

Childfree vs. Childless - take two: Are We Taking Over the Term "Childless"?

A Google Search for the term "childless" now turns up seven sites that are about the childfree. The other three are "Childless Not By Choice", "Childless- Support for women who want to be Mommies, but aren't",and "Childless Stepmoms" (arguably neutral). In other words, only two hits relating to infertility and those who indeed consider themselves 'less'. Also worth noting is that one of these two felt the need to distinguish the term childless from the childfree in the very title of their site.

On Yahoo!, the same search, results in one site on the infertile, four on the childfree, and an odd mix of extras that are either about both or unrelated to either.

I had the impression that, as of recently, the default meaning of the term childless was infertility, or at least pre-parenting. Has the childfree movement become so massive and influential that we are changing the meaning of a word? Especially - a word that many, if not most, have consciously chosen not to use?

Many have opted out of it, as noted in "Childless" v. "Childfree": Which term is more appropriate for the childless-by-choice?, many childfree dislike the term because it implies we are missing something; that children are such a given that not having them is a lesser state.

I, on the other hand think it is simply a matter of logistical linguistics - less means you are missing something you want, -free implies you don't have something you don't want. You're not called "debtless" or ""witfree". It is less of a normative judgment than simple language patterns that have long been established.

The term childless should be left to couples who want kids but don't have them. While the term 'infertile' applies to many, there are other childless people - those who waited too long, did not find the right partner, are able to get pregnant but physically unable to care for a child, gay couples with trouble adopting, etc. In addition, there are infertile people who do have children, either through medical intervention or adoption.

That being said, I will not take for granted the significance that this has. In my mind, at least, it signifies just how notable the childfree have become.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Seven Lies About Marriage

Lie #6: Children solidify a marriage.

It's about time that 'happily ever after' doesn't always mean the princess rides away to start birthin'. I feel that popular culture still glorifies the idea that the perfect happy ending to a romance always ends in children. Disabusing ourselves can do more than gratify the childfree - it can make future parents realize they need to sort out all the kinks and brace for what is ahead. It can also warn off those who think that children will fix a rocky relationship - a myth that has ended in more than its share of single parents.

A friend of mine is pregnant. In a conversation the other night, she cited the statistic that the first year of marriage and the first year after the birth of a child are the most likely times for divorce. I do believe that her awareness will help her marriage buck this statistic.

Another person chimed in with the fact that another pitfall time is right after the children leave. I suppose that if all you've focused on is the joint enterprise of parenting, when it is gone you might realize that you lost what had brought you together in the first place. The advice in this article, by emphasizing that you need to keep putting the marriage first, can help couples avoid this.

Of course, some of us have figured out a way to steer clear of these pitfalls altogether.

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Chicago Tribune's "Dear Amy" (updated)

Couple's choice to remain childless grieves in-laws

Dear Amy: My husband, "Steve," and I have been happily together for nearly 15 years, and we have enjoyed a close relationship with his parents.

We agreed early on that we didn't want children. Unfortunately, his parents had been suppressing a strong desire for grandchildren and are very sad now that it looks as if they won't have any (Steve is an only child). Steve is upset by how badly his parents are handling their disappointment. He is starting to feel that he has failed them.

I am concerned that my choice to not have children may ultimately come up against his slow weakening in the face of this deep sorrow his parents are experiencing.

Amy, they don't even want to spend time with us because it reminds them that they will never have grandchildren. What is the best way for us to interact with them if/when they finally come back into our lives?

I Was Happy a Minute Ago

Dear Was Happy: One challenge of adulthood (and elderhood) is the management of one's expectations and disappointments.

The saddest aspect of this scenario is that your in-laws may be pushing away the family they do have for want of the family they don't have.

You and your husband should sit down with them and restate your decision, acknowledging how difficult this is for them. Say that you hope they can find a way to accept your choice.

Many people get "broody" as they get older; one remedy for broodiness is to spend time with children -- your in-laws could volunteer at a local day care, offer to tutor children, or visit and play with kids who are in extended hospital stays.

Finding a way to satisfy their desire to have grandchildren is their job -- not yours.


Readers Respond

Apparently, most readers of the column pointed out that the parents should have had more children if they really wanted grandkids. I'm not sure about this (neither is Amy) but at least the readers agree that it is not Steve's responsibility to breed to assuage his mom's loneliness.

I should also note that even having multiple children will not guarantee grandkids.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Meanwhile, back on the other side of the Pacific . . .

With forum ahead, Galgiani fires back

"It was a very intentionally laid message," he said. "By bringing up that she's unmarried and childless, they suggested that she has no sense of family values. It's just offensive."

Machado said he would rather focus on the over-spending problem in Sacramento, the tax burden on average citizens and what he calls a "crisis" regarding illegal immigration.

"I'd rather talk about valley values and the $20 billion a year tax burden brought on by illegal immigration," he said. "If the feds don't do something about (illegal immigration), we will."
Machado backs away from 'single' remarks

Republican Assembly candidate Gerry Machado is distancing himself from a supporter's remarks painting Democratic opponent Cathleen Galgiani as childless and single.
. . .
Matthews, D-Tracy, notes in the ad that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is also single and without children and says Galgiani, who served as the assemblywoman's chief of staff, "values children and working families."

Asked about the remarks, Machado said the words didn't come out of his mouth.

"I'm the candidate. I've never raised that issue," said Machado, a financial planner and a member of the Tracy Unified School District Board of Trustees.

Machado would not answer questions about press reports that Orrock said at a September fundraiser, "(Galgiani's) only family is the 20 cats she lives with."
. . .
Orrock declined to explain his comments.

Andal, who represented the 17th Assembly District from 1990 to 1994, reportedly said, "(Galgiani) is not married, doesn't have any children and, in my view, she's never had a real job." Andal did not return phone calls.

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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Finally, a nation recognizes childfree leaders have more *time*

She drinks. She dances. She's a DJ. And she's Japan's new First Lady

The article discusses Japan's newest first lady; she is 44 and the couple is childless. Just about the age where major intervention would be necessary - and at a time when it would be more unwise than ever. With Japan's last PM still a bachelor, have we finally found a country that recognizes the values of childless leaders?

While here in the US, it is not unheard of to attack your opponent merely for not having children - kids are an accessory much-needed in every campaign. We are left with female governors abusing her position to gain childcare and transport to her kids, fathers who are completely absent in their kids' lives, and a host of other elements of fallout from trying to do two all-consuming jobs at once. You'll either do each half-assed or one piss-poor. Why do we demand that of our political leaders? American culture baffles me. Maybe I should start practicing Japanese.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Russia Mulls Childless Tax to Encourage More Births

a top government official has come up with a plan to re-introduce the long-abandoned childless tax in Russia.
. . . Russia health and social development minister Mikhail Zurabov suggested that childless taxpayers should help the state support families with children and thus at least partially assume the cost of encouraging more births.
. . .
In his state of the nation address earlier this year President Vladimir Putin said the most urgent problem facing Russia was its demographic crisis.

The country’s population is declining by at least 700,000 people each year, leading to slow depopulation of the northern and eastern extremes of Russia, the emergence of hundreds of uninhabited “ghost villages” and an increasingly aged workforce. Official Russian forecasts, along with those from international organizations like the UN, predict a decline from 146 million to between 80 and 100 million by 2050.
. . .
Birth-rates in many developed, industrialized countries are declining. Seeking to remedy the situation, governments in many European countries talk increasingly of sanctions against the childless.
. . .
But, experts see no reason to believe that sanctions against the childless will do much to raise the birthrate. Germany, for instance, already spends more than any other country on family subsidies, and has the world’s second-highest taxes on childless singles (after Belgium).

Russian observers also doubt that such measures as re-introduction of childless tax in Russia will prompt people to have children. While rights activists denounce sanctions against the childless defending their freedom of choice, even those who back the idea in principle are not sure it will work.

These days in Russia many married couples are reluctant about having babies, even if they are well-off and can afford to multiply. Many of the generation of those who are now in their 30s and 40s have already developed a set of personal values and there is hardly a place for a kid in their lives. Maybe, they would not mind a surcharge to exonerate themselves. If, of course, they ever experience any pangs of guilt…

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Kid-friendly policies don't help singles

Kane County Chronicle

"Since corporations started paying attention to "family-friendly" benefits in the late 1980s, child-free and single workers have wondered where their benefits were. They have expressed dismay that they felt they were asked to work more when employees with families needed time away from work. Others thought they were given more difficult jobs with less financial reward because those with children were considered to have greater financial needs.

The proportion of single-person households increased to 26.4 percent in 2003 from 17.1 percent in 1970, according to 2003 census figures. Add to that married couples without children, and that's about 55 percent of U.S. households.
. . .
Childless workers thought they worked more than people who were married with kids and that they had to work holidays more often and did not have access to as many benefits, "Beyond Family-Friendly: Singles-Friendly Work Cultures and Employee Attachment" reported. The lead author of the study is Wendy Casper, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Some companies are working to accommodate singles. Dickstein Shapiro LLP does not limit an alternative-schedule policy to people who want it for child-rearing reasons, said Michael Nannes, managing partner. "We can't discriminate based on lifestyle."

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Childless women run the risk of earlier death

Childless women run the risk of earlier death and poorer health in later life.

Childless women run the risk of earlier death and poorer health in later life.

A new study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) finds that not only childless women but also mothers of five or more children, teenage mothers and mothers who have children with less than an 18 month gap between births all have higher risks of death and poor health later in life.

Findings are based on a study of three separate datasets of women born from 1911 onwards in Great Britain and the USA. "We already know quite of lot about the impact of a person's very early life or their socio-economic history on health and mortality in later life," explains researcher Professor Emily Grundy of the Centre for Population Studies, School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London. "But, in this study we were able to analyse the long-term health implications of a person's partnership and parenting experiences while taking into account education and other indicators of socio-economic status as well."
. . .
In terms of the influence of partnership on later life health and mortality, this study confirms other research which indicates that marriage provides more health gains for men than women. For men, spending a long time in a stable marriage and avoiding multiple marriages and divorce contributes to long-term health. For women, too, marriage may be better for their health than they currently believe.

I will be the first to question the validity of this. As Vinny, an experienced researcher with statistical know-how, has pointed out, the studies that do not separate out the intentional childless have serious flaws. Including women from an earlier era during which birth control was unavailable or unreliable necessarily means that the infertile will populate the study. Women who are unable to bear children are more likely to have other health problems. Women who have serious health problems which would make bearing or raising a child difficult, or who do not want to pass on genetic probability of these conditions, will also affect the pool.

Correlation does not imply causation!

Even if one were to include a study which focuses solely on the childless by choice, many of these same problems would occur. Those who opt out for health reasons, as above, are only part of the problem. Of the potential pool of women who will not choose to be parents, some will get pregnant accidentally. Those who are infertile, whether aware of it or not, will skew the pool by being represented in greater numbers in the final, childfree population. (Of course, that is not to say all such women will choose to keep the children and be parents, but some will)

We are a far cry from having a conclusive study that shows the choice not to bear children has an adverse affect on one's health. If we were to account for all those above, and segregate out those fertile and choosing not to have children for non-health reasons, we would still be left with a group of women who are more likely to be affluent, and have certain determined personality traits (meaning they're more likely to seek medical help?) The data might therefore skew the other way.

When someone publishes results like these, with out any real medical significance, one must wonder what the motivations are.


Hollywood's Baby Obsession Not Affecting Everyone

It looks like even the boldface name journalists are noticing us. Next thing you know, Page Six will be supporting Steve Martin's vasectomy and open childfree choice, and George Clooney's right to buck the trends.

Well, maybe eventually. They'd eventually have to stop obsessing over baby-spotting and bump-watching.

Jenice Armstrong Childless by choice

BABIES MAY BE the hot new "accessory" in Hollywood, according to a cheesy celeb magazine I found myself flipping through recently.

Britney Spears is having her second one with Kevin Federline. Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise are showing off their love child, Suri, on the cover of this month's Vanity Fair. But out here in the real world, an increasing number of women are deciding to skip motherhood.
. . .
According to the latest census data, roughly 81 percent of women ages 40 to 44 have children. In 1976, that figure was 90 percent.

"With a lot of people, you've got to have a baby to become an adult... it's almost a given," said Kate Prioli, 24, a biophysics major at Temple University. "I feel like my life will be full and complete without ever having children," said Prioli, who wants to become a doctor.

Gwyn McVay, 33, a professor of English at Millersville University, is on the site. Despite some wavering on her husband's part following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, McVay said she's committed to their child-free lifestyle.

When people question her about her decison not to be a mother, she tells them she has cats. Of course, that immediately puts her into the weird-cat-lady category, but she's OK with that. She said it's better than hearing yet another person tell her what a great parent she'd make.

"There are so many reasons why it would be wrong for me personally," said McVay, who suffers from a host of medical ailments, including depression. "I think that people should give credit to the person for knowing themselves."

Girlfriend's got a point. When a woman gives birth, she's treated to a baby shower and other attention, essentially affirming her life choice. But aside from strange looks and intrusive questioning, what does the woman get who decides to remain child-free? Shouldn't there be some sort of way to recognize and applaud those who've looked inside themselves and decided to embrace another lifestyle?
. . .
Regardless of what you think of his choice, you have to hand it to him and the rest of the childless-by-choice folks for knowing what they want - and what they don't. Too bad more people don't ask themselves the same hard questions.

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