Sunday, July 30, 2006

In a babycentric culture, the childfree have had it.

In age where it's all about baby, the childfree are fighting back
And that's what's really getting under the childfree adult's skin. Whereas generations, for generations, have wanted children, had children, raised children and talked about their children, this one seems more preoccupied with the feat than any other. And that's not hyperbole: Visit, a site where average computer users post their own amateur videos, and there are dozens of birth, C-section and ultrasound videos available for friends, family and complete strangers to view.
Ok, Officially: Ick. It is one thing to share it with friends and family, but the kind of stranger who might want to view your video isn't the kind of stranger you want viewing your video.

Shawne, author of "Baby Not On Board," thinks it's because of a convergence of Generation Xers becoming parents, along with the explosion of personal media. Generation X, after all, made a name for itself almost solely due to the paramount importance of self-expression — at any cost.

"These people are looking for ways to express themselves," says Shawne, "and what better way than to talk about their children?"
. . .
"There's a lot of consumerism around children, a lot of products, a lot of effort going into this to show that they're still cool, even though they have a baby," says Shawne, 32. "This is a generation that doesn't want to be like their parents. They're saying, 'We're not becoming boring people.' But they actually are. They're just blogging about it now."

And that's the climate that's cultivated the baby backlash. The global warming of adulthood, the hot topic of everything baby has gotten the childfree steaming mad. Mostly because of the pressure put on those in their late 20s and 30s to procreate.

"There's this expected inquisition among people where they ask you how many kids you have, and if you say none, then they give you advice," says "No Kidding!'s" Ciaccio, 29. "They tell you about infertility — not that you may have it — and they intertwine womanhood with motherhood."

Ciaccio, who made the choice not to have kids official when he and his wife decided he should get a vasectomy in 2001, also thinks the current focus on celebrities and the ubiquitous tabloid "Bump Watch" is anathema to his organization's cause.

"These actresses say things like 'I've done a lot of good with my life, but this is the most important thing I've ever done,'" says Ciaccio. "Granted, it's obviously important to be a good parent, but there's an idea that somehow they discovered it. Like, 'Look what I found.'"

When Vinny submitted this article to Fark, the fur started flying.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Housing Development Doesn't Focus on the Family.

For now, families aren’t the focus
Childless professionals and empty nesters are the new gold standard for condo developers cashing in on a nationwide migration back to cities.
. . .
The city estimates more than 3,800 new residents could move to the neighborhood in the next two decades, as the stock of condos and apartments nearly doubles.

Empty nesters and younger people without children are expected to make up the bulk of the new residents.

While they don't have much in common at a glance, Easton said the two demographic groups share lifestyles that are compatible with downtown living.

They prefer nearby shopping, restaurants, entertainment and cultural facilities to the relative isolation of suburban living, Easton said.
. . .
The downtown plan carves out no space for new schools or parks with playground equipment.

Shocking: Parents are Over-Protecting their Kids

Our cotton-wool kids
Most parents in their late thirties and forties will remember the great summer of ’76: Elton John and Kiki Dee were at the top of the charts, the weather was so hot that the Government appointed a Minister for Drought, most kids had a Chopper bike. And in that year a total of 668 children (0 to 15 year-olds) were killed on the roads in England and Wales, either in cars or as pedestrians.
Now let’s compare that with today. In 2004 (the most recent figure available from the Department of Transport) the number of 0 to 15 year-olds killed was 166 — a reduction of 75 per cent. Such fatalities and serious injuries have been falling consistently since the 1970s, thanks largely to better car safety features, child seats and road design. Nevertheless, many parents are convinced that the roads are more hazardous than in their day because there is “more traffic” and “people drive faster”.
The fear of a third person attacking or killing children has increased dramatically. Thirty years ago around half of parents would cite stranger danger as a serious fear: now it is more than 90 per cent.
An Increasing Number of Women Are Childless

It has also been crucial to thaw feelings of failure, that I haven't fulfilled a fundamental part of being female. So many women who have had fertility problems say they can't help being angry with their bodies for letting them down. For a long time, I felt the opposite: that I had failed my healthy body, that it went to an awful lot of biological effort, month in, month out, for nought. I've also had to draw a philosophical line under another irony: that for many years I took an extraordinary degree of contraceptive care in order to wind up wishing I had children.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Dog thief and adulterer is qualified to be Governor. Why? He's a dad!

Candidate Gallagher discusses fatherhood in new ad

TALLAHASSEE - Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher has a son, and so now he's ready to be governor.

That sums up the message in the second television ad Gallagher is airing in his ampaign to beat childless Attorney General Charlie Crist for the Republican nomination to replace Gov. Jeb Bush.
. . .
"You know, when you have a child, it changes your life," Gallagher says as he and
Laura sit on their couch with a photo of Charlie over the candidate's shoulder. "It settles you down. It lets you really find out for the first time there's somebody out there that is more important than you, and that's your child."

There is video of the couple walking through their yard as Charlie runs ahead, Gallagher and his son playing basketball and chess, Charlie holding a dog while sitting with his parents, and Charlie holding up a "Tom Gallagher for Governor" sign.

"He's a much more well-rounded person, and he has his life in perspective," Laura Gallagher says. "He knows what's important, he knows what it's like to be a husband and a father and a provider, and he's gotten the experience and the capability to lead."
. . .
The ad also seems designed to counter Gallagher's past reputation as a partier and details recently released about his 29-year-old divorce. His first marriage ended after his then wife, Ann Louise Gallagher, discovered he was having an affair. She later sought a restraining order after telling the court Gallagher broke into their home to steal the dog.

The entire childfree population of Florida just won Breeder Bingo.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Parents with children in home "no longer dominant force"

Society switches focus away from children

The USA is becoming a much more adult-focused society after being child-centered for decades, a report suggests.

Longer life expectancy, delayed marriage and childbearing, and increased childlessness add up to a longer life without kids, says the analysis, released today by the non-partisan National Marriage Project at Rutgers University.
. . .
In 1970, for example, 73.6% of women ages 25-29 had at least one minor child at home; 30 years later, 48.7% did.

In 1990, the most common household type was married couples with children. Now, single, childless households are the most prevalent.

And today, more women in their 40s are childless, the report says. One in 10 were childless in 1976; in 2004, it was about one of five.

Although Whitehead says Americans aren't "anti-child," she suggests that a society indifferent to parenting will further aggravate current attitudes and account for what Whitehead calls "the cultural devaluation of child-rearing."

"People who are rearing children and have children in the household no longer represent the dominant force in society or politics," she says.
. . .
"The so-called family-friendly programs that emerged in the '80s and '90s are being replaced with work-life programs," he says. "The terminology is changing to be more generic."
This seems contrary to much of our experiences, which indicate that since society is changing its concept of 'adult places', it is actually becoming more child-centric. Certainly places such as bars, late movies, and nice restaurants, once the domain of decorous adults, are now often filled with the shouts of children. This has changed even in my short lifetime.

Parents also seem to be developing as a louder and more influential plurality, even as the percentage of their life spent as parents of young children might be decreasing. As we can see from the AARP, NRA, and other lobby groups, just because you don't represent the majority doesn't mean you don't have a great deal of political influence.

In other words, statistics aren't dispositive of influence. Cultural factors assure that.

Also see another article on the report: Child-rearing losing appeal and the original report:

An Increase in Childlessness

Finally, a small but growing percentage of women do not have any biological children. In 2004, almost one out of five women in their early forties were childless compared to one out of ten in 1976. 8

Of course, many women who do not have biological children are nonetheless involved in rearing stepchildren, adopted children or other children in the household. But with increases in childlessness, a growing percentage of women will not spend any of their adult years in the tasks of child rearing.

This does not mean that most women are turning away from motherhood. Indeed, very few women are dead set against children from early ages. More commonly, they are childless as the result of other decisions in early adult life, including delay of marriage, marriage to a partner who already has children and doesn’t want more, or never marrying.

Relationship instability and uncertainty—especially the rapidly growing trend of cohabitation — also drives the recent rise in childlessness. Cohabiting women may postpone childbearing until they have a better sense of the long-term future of the relationship. However, if they wait too long, they may be at risk for never having children. Being in an unhappy marriage is yet another source of uncertainty. Married people who are worried about getting divorced are the most likely to remain childless. 9

Finally, high levels of educational attainment contribute to childlessness. Women who hold four-year college degrees are more likely to be childless than women with lower levels of educational attainment. [See “Marriage Gap” discussion in Social Indicators section.]

Joyce Brothers Marriage Quiz - Childfree Couples are "Unusually Happy"

Check your knowledge about marital issues

Couples who've made the decision not to have children rarely last, and when they do, the relationship is rarely happy.

FALSE. Studies indicate that many childless couples are, in some senses, unusually happy and in enduring relationships, often because such couples tend to have common interests as well as economic advantages.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

We Must Preserve The Earth's Dwindling Resources For My Five Children

The Onion
As we move into the 21st century, it is our responsibility to think of the future of the earth—not for ourselves, but for those who will inherit what my husband and I leave behind when we're gone. If we do not join together and do what's best for this, our only planet, there may not be an environment left in which my five children, and their 25 children's 125 children, can grow up and raise large upper-middle-class families of their own.

Nothing less than the preservation of my descendents' lifestyle itself is at stake.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Columnist shouldn't decide what's 'fulfilling'

In response to Whoever Said Kids are Supposed to Make You Happy? a reader wrote a Letter to The Editor:

This is exactly the type of close-minded, bigoted propaganda that paints child-free couples as selfish, coldhearted people who hate children.

This is not the case at all. Children are wonderful, but not everyone is meant to be a mother or father.
. . .

I think it is wonderful that now people do have the choice.

Hopefully, fewer children born will be unwanted or resented because of our changing views.

Ms. Hart has chosen her path, which included the desire to have four children. It is unfortunate that she wants to impose her own views on the masses as the "right" or "fulfilling" choice to make.

Children are just that: choices. I've made my choice, and don't worry, my soul growth has been doing just fine.

This is just the sort of even-handed, non-knee-jerk letters that I like to see from childfree people. While we might not all believe that 'children are wonderful', saying so gets our more important point across, instead of alienating readers so that nothing gets through.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Sterilization is a Human Right

World Childfree Association Takes Action
Sterilization is a human right. This human right was laid down by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in General Comment 28: Equality of Rights Between Men and Women (art. 3) (68e Sess, 2000) in compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, at 168, U.N. Doc. HRI/GEN/1/Rev. 5. Article 20 of this document says:

States parties must provide information to enable the Committee to assess the effect of any laws and practices that may interfere with women's right to enjoy privacy and other rights protected by article 17 on the basis of equality with men. An example of such interference arises where the sexual life of a woman is taken into consideration in deciding the extent of her legal rights and protections, including protection against rape. Another area where States may fail to respect women's privacy relates to their reproductive functions, for example, where there is a requirement for the husband's authorization to make a decision in regard to sterilization; where general requirements are imposed for the sterilization of women, such as having a certain number of children or being of a certain age, or where States impose a legal duty upon doctors and other health personnel to report cases of women who have undergone abortion. In these instances, other rights in the Covenant, such as those of articles 6 and 7, might also be at stake. Women's privacy may also be interfered with by private actors, such as employers who request a pregnancy test before hiring a woman. States parties should report on any laws and public or private actions that interfere with the equal enjoyment by women of the rights under article 17, and on the measures taken to eliminate such interference and to afford women protection from any such interference.
Please visit the WCA page to hear about their petition to the HRC. Although the decisions of these bodies have no legally binding force, countries interested in maintaining membership, preventing embarassment, or avoiding scrutiny will occasionally comply with its decisions. I am not sure whether the WCA action against the Netherlands will carry any such force.

The U.S. policymakers are not influenced in this way (much American mindset is dead set against it) but bringing action against the U.S. could be a good way to bring attention to the cause. Note that treaties since signed and ratified by the U.S. (as this is) could be used to challenge these state laws in federal court, but the ICCPR is specifically not self-executing, preventing this use.

Fathers: Masters of Self-Delusion

Does Fatherhood Make You Happy?

This is the Time article discussed a few posts back.

Harvard Psychologist David Gilbert points out that most men just assume children make them happy. Based on basic logic (you only remember the really good moments, it zap you of other pleasures making you think its joy) he constructs the conclusions that the recent happiness and depression studies have found.

Our children give us many things, but an increase in our average daily happiness is probably not among them. Rather than deny that fact, we should celebrate it. Our ability to love beyond all measure those who try our patience and weary our bones is at once our most noble and most human quality.
Of course, the requisite happy ending is inserted. Like dying for a useless war, just because something is noble doesn't mean you have to do it.

Dear Carolyn Advice column: Should we have kids?

Stay childless until you're ready for responsibility

To a reader who wonders if he should have children to please his wife:
Not everyone who has children loves to be around children. But it would be unconscionable to have one when you don't feel a profound sense of responsibility to be there, and to show steady, devoted and fierce love and support.
And to a couple who is unsure whether they want them:

Unfortunately, those safeguards aren't always so simple -- you can simultaneously ove your kids and miss your freedom -- and they aren't guarantees against parents who shouldn't have kids.

The yea- or nay-maker, I guess, is commitment. Are you ready to be the kind of parents you'd want? No matter what happens? If you're ready to say yes, you're ready to say yes. And that's as close to your decision as outsiders like me can get.

Maybe Ms. Emily Joffe should be writing a Dear Carolyn about being a better advice columnist, and not projecting one's own insecurities onto readers.

Two Strange Articles from China

It seems the Chinese media has had a spike in interest in childfree issues lately, not unlike the French media's obsession of years past:

Childless husband mad at wife

A husband who is desperate to have a child asked to divorce his wife of eight years after she refused to have a baby.

Can DINK continue to be childless?

From China Daily. Have your anti-nausea medication ready. Does anyone know if this is government-written?

China's DINK class (Double Income No Kids) began more than twenty years ago. Just when people are beginning to acknowledge and accept the existence of DINK families, DINKs themselves began to regret their choices and one can observe the phenomenon of "post-35 childbearing" DINK women after passing 35 realizing that if they were to postpone having children they might never become mothers. Or they realize that without children in their midst, their flat marital life would drift towards isolated quietude and therefore they gave up their DINK lifestyle.

Chunmei, 43 years old, is professional manager with a son 2 years and six months old. She said she originally chose to be a DINK. When she accidentally became pregnant and was told that she might never conceive again if she chose to abort the fetus, she made the decision to have the child.

Wen Yu, 41 years old, is free-lance writer with a two-year old daughter. She said she chose DINK to begin with but realized her choice required much courage because many people could not understand her decision and were talking behind her back. After toughing it for eight years she could not hold on and also realized if she persisted she would never have a chance to choose to bring a new life to this world. She gave up and gave in.

The emergence in China of the phenomenon of a return of DINK family to tradition is caused by different psychological frame of mind induced by different age groups. Accelerated societal competition made it easy for people to feel hatred and anxiety, resulting in loss of psychological balance. Only a triangular family model can form stability, can build a platform to bear and neutralize these negative psychological feelings. A healthy, complete and happy family is man's heaven and woman's Eden.
It sounds like:

1 - The Chinese have as much trouble understanding the difference between postponing parenting and those who don't want children, not unlike Sylvia Hewlett. They do stem from similar social phenomena brought on by increasing ability and awareness on choosing to parent, but are two seperate things.

2- Chinese society is so resistent to the childfree lifestyle that people like Ms. Wen are simply bullied into parenting. I know it might be easy to judge them, but I have a feeling that most of us in the Western world cannot really understand what it is like to live there. Keep in mind, among other things, the Chinese government censors all media, including the internet. I think I just got this blog censored.

3- The propaganda wheel is in motion even in a country with a one child policy. Odd.

But what's the point of breeding if you can't name your child 'Manzana'?

Mexico Just Says No to Funky Baby Names