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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