Tuesday, July 31, 2007

French blockade on babies? Just say non...

A book attacking the hallowed cult of motherhood in France has raised more than Gallic eyebrows. Janine di Giovanni reports.
. . .
We live in a time of rapidly increasing pregnancy rates. So how I laughed at an angry, rather bitter little book witten by French economist/psychoanalyst Corinne Maier entitled, No Kid: 40 Reasons Not to Have Children.
. . .
But it's a touchy, awkward subject. It's as close to a taboo as you can get: admitting that you don't want children and that if you have them, perhaps life would have been better if you did not. It's the kind of thing you might say to your shrink, but not something you blurt out at a polite dinner party.
. . .
"In France, people go on too much about the glory of motherhood," Maier has said. "I thought it would be fun to take a dig at the myth that having children is wonderful."
. . .
It's. . . rather odd that it has been written by a French woman. France has the highest fecundity rate in Europe, 830,000 births in 2006, the average of 2.9 children per woman.

It even surpasses Ireland. Part of the reason is religion and tradition but also the fat subsidies the state hands out to pregnant women, babies, new mothers, and families. It's one of the few places I know where young girls start talking about having a "bébé" in their early twenties and where reproduction, rather than a career, is viewed as a viable option after leaving university.

This is the only country in the world, as far as I'm aware, where a state-paid helper arrives a week after you give birth to make you carrot soup and help arrange your layette. It is the only country I know of that pays for a physical therapist to work with you to get your stomach muscles (and your reproductive muscles, but that's another matter) strong again, so that you look good in a bikini a few months after giving birth (and reproduce swiftly again).

It is also the only country that gives you a 50 per cent tax break on your nanny and awards huge discounts on rail travel if you have a child. Of course the French state is bankrupt on the back of this, but never mind.

Maier complains about all the things that most people with children feel but would never say: the loss of those wonderful lazy weekends, lounging in bed and drinking coffee on Sunday mornings; the vast expense of having a child; the overwhelming sense of responsibility for the next two decades.
. . .
It might be acceptable to write that book in New York, where women have always put career ahead of family, but not in France.

To me, Maier's book was humorous even if I could not relate to it. I had my son late in life, so his birth and his presence is a joy rather than an imposition. I had enough Saturday mornings lounging around drinking coffee to know it gets boring. I don't mind the fact that my son wears upmarket Bonpoint while I can't afford to go within 20 feet of Prada any more. I am thrilled that he takes up all my time. The way I see it, he has saved me from being a selfish egomaniac.

But Maier had her children younger . . . But, while I felt for her two children when I read the book . . . I do see the sense in some of her points. I do think society puts tremendous pressure on women to reproduce.

It happened to me, and it happens to my many friends who don't have children. Not just at drinks parties ("Do you have kids? Oh really? Why not?") but from family, colleagues and doctors (I changed doctors twice because, in my early thirties, I kept being hounded by mine to "get on with it and have a baby" when I really was not emotionally ready).

There is an unnecessary stigma attached to remaining childless.
. . .
[This book] is little more than a chance to complain. After all, ''Il faut raler'' - you've got to complain - is the national anthem here.

British readers would be well advised to read this book, enjoy it, then throw it in the bin.
The author of this article seems utterly confused as to how she feels about the book. Perhaps it reflects her own mixed feelings about motherhood, and society's pressure to procreate.

Ultimately, it falls prey to the same traps as many other childfree book reviews written by self-reassuring parents: overbroad characterization of what a childfree life is like, (I have plenty of things to do on weekends besides drink coffee) blunt self-glorification of the noble sacrafices of parenthood, ("whah, I don't wear Prada anymore") and cavalier dismissal of points she admits are noteworthy and true as "complaints".

All in all, I am left glad I don't live in France.

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Monday, July 30, 2007

NBC10: DINK Trend Growing

The DINKs Trend Is Growing
The news article companion to the earlier video:
She says, “We just decided that while we love children, the degree of the responsibility involved in having them was so high and it was such a price for us to pay and there are so many other things we'd rather do.” Patty is among a growing group dubbed D.I.N.K.s – Double Income, No Kid couples. There’s and entire network of childfree chat online. For Patty and Phil, being child free means more time together, spontaneous vacations, peace and quiet.

Relationship Therapist Dr. Sara Corse works with the Council for Relationships. She says what would be taboo 50 years ago is now a trend. “I think across the board we are accepting a greater diversity of families these days. There are many ways to have a purpose filled life it doesn’t have to be through children.”

Parents like Rachel Trainor from Ardmore understandably have a different perspective. She says, “I don’t know why they’d choose that, my children are my joy, my pride and joy. I don’t know. I think it’s a little selfish.” Local dad, Paul Johnson who doesn’t quite get the DINK way of thinking either, says, “I don’t know why they’d choose that, I just think being a dad is the best thing in the world.”

Ah yes. We shall all immediately tailor our lives according to what makes Paul Johnson happy in his. I really hope he's not that into entomology.

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NBC News Covers Childfree Couples

DINK: Double Income No Kids

Since my office computer doesn't have the right software, I'll have to add my comments after I have actually seen the video.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Decrease in Aussie Marriage Linked to Decrease in Childbearing

Australians swap I do for I don't
Dr Birrell says the social relationship for a female in a couple family — marriage or de facto status — is an important indication of fertility levels.

The data shows striking differences between fertility of wives — who have more children — and live-in partners, which suggest a different calibre of relationship might be struck in those relationships.

Between 40 and 44, nearly a quarter of women in de facto relationships, for example, had no children. Only 8 per cent of wives in this category, however, were childless and this was likely to reflect infertility rather than choice, according to the research.

It also shows that despite recent increases in birth numbers and debate about a "mini baby boom", there is still a long-term decline in the mean number of children born per woman across the reproductive years. Two children remain the common number per woman.
I'm rooting around in the original report and attempting to find their source for the claim that childlessness in marriage is due to infertility, not choice. Since I doubt it is possible that Aussies are not part of the growing number of childless-by-choice, (No Kidding! has a chapter there) is it possible that childfree Aussies are simply skipping marriage? I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, shout-out to my favourite childfree, marriage-free Aussie. (she knows who she is)

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Potential Parent Scared Off By Mommy Mafia:

From the "mommies are so annoying they even piss off other mommies" files:

Stop Setting Alarms on My Biological Clock
So why don't I have kids or even the inkling right now? It's because of you. Yes, you: the fanatical mothers of the world. It may seem like ages ago now, but you weren't always like this. You, too, were sneering at the obnoxious parents who brought their infants to fancy, adult, nighttime restaurants or R-rated movies and let them carry on, ruining things for other patrons. You've been terrible advertising for the club that you so desperately need others to join.

If you want me to join your ranks—and you've made it clear with your cold, clammy hands on my stomach that recruiting my uterus is of paramount importance to you—I need to set some ground rules.

First, please stop asking me when I'm going to get pregnant.
. . .
Next, don't completely abandon your own life and passions. You're setting a bad example for aspiring mothers-to-be like me.
. . .
Now let's talk a bit about manners, as in please teach your children some. The world has rules, and kids should learn them. And being well mannered does not infringe on their individuality and freedom.
. . .
Finally, don't make your kid an extension of your own narcissism.

No one could possibly love your kids as much as you do, so stop inflicting them on others. Don't bring your kid to adult parties when you're not sure if it's kid-friendly. If they didn't invite your kid, they don't want your kid there. If you don't want to get a babysitter, stay home.

My husband thinks some people, particularly mothers, behave in these ways because it helps them validate their own choices. But he doesn't truly understand how infuriating it is, and that's because nobody badgers men with questions about procreation.
Similarly, stop by this blog to read a recent reaction to the Mama Don't Preach article posted a while back.

Seriously, we don't need MORE of a population boost. And if they find that later in life they actually -want- kids.., they -can- always adopt. Its not like there are a lack of irresponsible humans in the world. The ones who suffer most because of this irresponsibility, are the children.

So let them live as they will, and don't force propaganda down their throats. Okay?

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Tubal ligation procedures denied to young women who don’t want children

Are You Kidding?

Someone from the National Sexuality Resource Center (NSRC) sent this to me himself :
Ever since Lauren Green was a little girl, she knew she wasn’t interested in motherhood. . . . [T]hough she’s tried, and will try again, Green has thus far been denied any permanent form of birth control, specifically tubal ligation.
. . .
“[Planned Parenthood of Boston**] said it was much too permanent and weren’t going to give it to me, plus my insurance wasn’t going to cover it,” recalls Green. What’s more, according to Green, “It was all and only about my age.” She was twenty-two at the time.

Green’s experience is not that unusual. Though no actual laws have ever been put into place, most OBGYNs refuse to provide women under thirty with permanent forms of contraception.
This story is a familiar one to many of us. The founder of No Kidding! International, Jerry Steinberg, writes fo a similar experience on his website. Fortunately, thigs appear to have changed for men. As he has mentioned in many interviews, Vincent Ciaccio prepared well, and at the age of 22-23 had three urologists agree to perform the surgery. However, from what I hear, the quest for women today is far closer to the ordeal Jerry went through decades ago.

How founded is the fear that young sterilized people will change their minds? Vincent has crossed that magical 30 threshold, and has no regrets. He would make the same decision today as he did at 23. Has he changed, was it a 'big decade'? Absolutely. However, there appears to be something about this particular decision that, if made, tends to stick. Casual feelings about not wanting to parent may indeed fade, but the deep conviction that I have known in those who have had vasectomies and tubals is quite a different matter. Perhaps a decision that is so against the grain of our society is particularly hard-won, and the choice to make it permanent rarely taken lightly. Perhaps it stems from something less ephemeral than those qualities which fluxuate in early youth - an instinct, or even something genetic, that reflects an internal, unchanging condition.

By the by, congratulations to my favourite hunk on his vasectomy last week!
For Green and the growing number of women forgoing motherhood, waiting till they’re thirty just isn’t good enough. “It’s a vast limitation of my reproductive rights,” opines Green, thoroughly unimpressed with Dr. Wiener’s approach. “Doctors will say, ‘I don’t like to prescribe elective surgeries for people who don’t need them.’ Whereas if you don’t want to have a baby, you don’t want to have a baby and it feels fairly necessary to me.”

“It’s an issue of agency, and who gets to make that choice,” adds Christine Brooks, a post doctoral fellow studying the purposefully barren at the Institute of Trans Personal Psychology in the Bay Area.

According to Brooks, “The argument that these women might change their minds is a paternalistic argument. It questions a woman’s inner knowing, her own path in life. It also suggests that women don’t know what’s best for them and that they have to defer to a medical authority to make life decisions.”
. . .
Douglas and Michaels explain that the new momism oppresses all women by reducing their worth to childbearing and rearing; that in an overwhelmingly child oriented society, a woman is not complete without a child; she must be the primary caregiver of that child, and she must devote herself utterly to her children. Lest she be called “selfish” or “immature.”
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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Stereotypes Don't Match What Many Women Want

Women Without Children Stand By Choices
It seems odd that these stereotypes would continue to live today, suggests
. . .
"Every woman's dream is supposedly to have children. Does this mean I am not a woman, because I have chosen not to have any? No," said Henderson. "Instead, it makes me responsible for my actions."
. . .
"Childlessness is growing in the U.S., and the reason is that more and more women are becoming educated and entering the work world," said Cain. "They're in a position to make some powerful decisions in their lives."

And, she said, sometimes they didn't know that they would decide not to start a family.

"(Childless women) didn't think they'd be childless. They always thought they'd have children," said [Madelyn] Cain, [author of "The Childless Revolution: What It Means To Be Childless Today".] "Often, their jobs took up a lot of energy, and they decided life was too frantic, or they didn't feel that being a working woman and a mother blended in a way they thought was right."

Cain said that these are not the "tragically childless" or those who made the decision when they were young.

"One thing that surprised me was how many childless people were in the service field as nurses, teachers or therapists," she said. "They are very nurturing people, by nature."
. . .
"We are a hypocritical society," said Cain. "On one hand, we tell women that they have the right to have an abortion, but we expect them to have children at some point in their lives."

If we're going to champion women's rights, we can't pass judgment onto those who choose to live their lives without having children, Cain said.
This is dead-on. There are ads on the NYC Subway for Planned Parenthood. The header reads "We'll be parents someday" as if attempting to placate the anti-abortion group with the warm fuzzies over these future parents, or bluntly divorcing their image from the evil childless. I can't pintpoitn articulately what is offensive about these ads, but they get under my skin each time.

But parents who have children without the expectation that their children will care for them in their older years can be disappointed. Often, children offer little more than a few visits a year.

"Having children to take care of you as you get older is selfish," said Cain. "If you were a good parent, you would nurture your children and raise them to take care of their dreams, not care for their parents."

It is understandable to be concerned about the older years, but those choose to be childless seem unconcerned -- emotionally and financially. According to TheSeniorJournal.com, Baby Boomers without children fare just as well during their retirement years as their peers with children.

Many communities developed for retirees focus on active lifestyles and self-sufficiency. Individuals find that these communities offer something far different from the nursing homes from years past.

"Now that things are changing, it will be interesting to see the power and influence these women have in the future," said Cain.
I cut some very well-written portions of this article for posting here, so I recommend going to the source; the entire article focuses on the childfree, and Ms. Cain is one of our best allies. She does not make a point of telling people she is a parent, but in my mind it grants legitimacy to ehr opinions when she does.
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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Stop Talking About Your Kids

Work/Life: Don't talk about kids to people without kids

But if you want my business, or even friendship, then as one of the handful of people who don't have kids, please spare me the harping on about your kids, and see what turns up.

Someone wanted to engage in a lunch appointment with me, seeking my business. It required a bit of to-ing and fro-ing on email and phone. Every single communication of his somehow entailed a logistic around his stepdaughter Mish. . . .How could this harping on about his kids potentially leave me feeling, even for a fleeting moment?

Left out. Inadequate. One of poor furry sods hovering on the fringes of the seething furry mass in March of the Penguins, eggless and forlorn, as happy pair-nguins protectively guard their orb. . . .Did it make me want to do business with him? Not really. It made me feel we're not pedaling our trikes in the same cul-de-sac.
. . .
I am not saying that you cannot talk about things that are important to you. In fact, by doing so, you can bring people closer. But be mindful - it takes two to make a conversation. You can have all the creds in the world to do a particular job, but you might be sabotaging yourself from real success just by one small detail in the what you're unwittingly putting out. Bit like having awful BO but being a brilliant hairdresser. You might find yourself relegated to clipping poodles, at least they'll love you to death.

Fast Company is a pretty mainstream buisiness magazone - I have run across it in many a dentist's office. While this is probably just on the site, (being a 'blog) it is nice to se the topic addressed.

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Kids aren't for everyone

Birkshire Eagle
We're terrified that someone is going to break off from the group and have kids and leave the rest of us hanging. Because that's what happens when you have kids — you get too busy and only hang out with other people who have kids. And every conversation revolves around your kids. It's a good way to ruin a perfectly good friendship.

At this point I doubt I'll ever have children. At the very least, it won't be for a long time. There's just too much I want to do right now and I don't need any kids getting in the way.

And with the world population at over six billion I don't think anyone will notice if I don't partake.

Why don't I want to have kids? Well, the first reason is that I hate kids. OK, hate is a strong word, but seriously, I can't stand to be around them. It's nothing personal, I'm just not a kid person. I especially hate babies.

The worst part is that people always say "Doesn't he look like so-and-so?" and I don't know what to say because I think they all look the same.
. . .
I know, I know. "If you wait until you can afford a baby you'll never have one."

Well, that's just fine with me; better than raising them poor.
Today, the site published a response: Columnist shouldn't bash parenthood
If you follow the link to the full article, you may end up as confused as I. Her column was very personal, and addressed her own feelings about babies - not anything that purported to be objective or apply to anyone else. Is the letter's author so insecure that she wants everyone to feel the same way she does about babies?
Also included was this choice bit:
I'm sure it struck a raw nerve with the couple trying to have a baby for years to no avail; to the parent who just found out her only child has an incurable disease; to the parent who just sent his child to Iraq; to the parent who works three jobs to make it work.
Um... what? I'm sure that couple has better things to worry about than whether one columnist likes how babies smell.
Ultimately, the most confusing thing is why they decided to publish the response letter.
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Monday, July 16, 2007

Couples discuss why they don't have children

Wichita Eagle
Cristi Jackson still laughs about the day she met her husband, Johnny. "We were talking about families and stuff, and I told him I didn't want kids. It was something I had just decided wasn't for me," says Cristi, a Wichita aircraft worker.

"And he was like, 'Will you marry me?' "
Maybe this will serve as a beacon to women bemoaning their single status. Get innoculated against baby rabies, and perhaps you'll scare off men a bit less :)
The number of married couples deciding not to have children is growing. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the proportion of childless women 15 to 44 years old was 44.6 percent in 2004, up from 35 percent in 1976.
. . .
More recently, a Pew Research Center survey . . . found that, by a ratio of nearly 3-to-1, Americans say the main purpose of marriage is the "mutual happiness and fulfillment" of adults rather than the "bearing and raising of children."
I know that I have rehashed this study in a few posts lately, but I don't remember this being mentioned - I thought it was worth bringing up.
Local couples who decided not to have children -- most prefer the term "child-free" to "childless" -- cite various reasons.

Some prefer to focus on their careers or partners, some worry about overpopulation, some prefer adult company and some enjoy the freedom to travel -- or just to go out for dinner or a movie -- without worrying about school schedules or baby-sitters. Others point to the financial strain of paying for diapers, day care, college and everything in between.. . .

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Advice to Childless Couples on Wills

Know where to find answers
Q: My husband and I are in our mid-50s, childless and retired with substantial assets, including two homes (primary residence and beach home). We also have retirement savings upward of $1 million. We're going around in circles about how to do our wills. . . .
I had actually considered this idea while sitting in the back of property class. I guess that is as close as law students can get to the hypochondriac phase of medical and psych students.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Population Report Response:

Too big for the planet?

"People think it's all about eco-nappies and hand-me-downs, but it's not quite as simple as that," she says. "You've got to consider the environmental impact across the 80 years that each of these babies is likely to live. We've calculated that each UK child is going to cost the world the equivalent of 620 return flights between London and New York across a lifetime." And then, of course, many of these children will have children of their own.

How, then, do couples who have chosen to have big families react? Do they fear becoming modern-day pariahs, or do they believe they can defend their choice?

The Russel Fishers (5 children)

To her, the Optimum Population Trust's report sounds "more than a bit dictatorial". Who, she asks, do they think they are, telling people like her and her husband, Jamie, 52, that they shouldn't have six children? "If we had 13 kids and were asking the state to bring them up, perhaps it would be different," she says. "But we're not asking anyone else to feed them or clothe them.

"I think we're having to conform to narrower and narrower norms in this country, and it's a shame. There are plenty of people around who choose to have no children at all, which surely opens the possibility for people like me to choose to have more than two."

Well, glad to be acknowledged. But that logic only works if you have four, and if there is one childless couple for every couple than has more than two. And it only works if population growth is the only problem - there are still those that think reduction is in order.

As to her first point - is she being dumb, or purposefully obtuse. "Who do they think they are?" is a non-argument, and in no way addresses the concern of the report. If she had read it, she would know that it has nothing to do with governmental subsidy and everything to do what the subsudies the earths provides, which are unavoidable. And, might I add, have self-perpetuating consequences.

"When you've got a lot of children, you don't have as much money as other families," says Jamie. "They can't be indulged in the same way, and they can't be pandered to in the same way.
. . .
What she and Jamie share is a huge sense of enjoyment from their children and their family.

As you can see, the rest of that section also was non-responsive to the population issue. "I enjoy it" and "It is hard" really don't address the argument "You're killing the planet."
The Corbets (5 kids)

They grow their own vegetables, they compost their waste, they're avid freecyclers, most of their clothes are second-hand, and to reduce their carbon footprint they don't drive anywhere on Fridays. In almost every way, the Corbets are a model green family: there's just one caveat. "We've got five kids," says Angie - Martyn, 19, Mike, 17, twins James and Jo, 14, and Sarah, 12. "And as far as some people are concerned, that completely negates everything else you do to reduce your impact on the planet's resources."
Some people. You know - such as environmental scientists.
"Much more significant to me is the fact that we're bringing up five young people who will be productive members of society and will play a part in alleviating problems rather than causing them.
It goes on as such . . .
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Population Report: Adopt Voluntary Two-Child Limit

UK needs a two-child limit, says population report

Families should restrict themselves to having a maximum of two children to stabilise the effect on the environment of Britain's rapidly growing population, a thinktank warns today. According to the Optimum Population Trust, Britain's rising birth rate, currently growing at the highest rate for nearly 30 years, should be considered an environmental liability.

It calls on the government to introduce a "stop at two children" or "have one child less" guideline and to review incentives that may lead some teenage girls to become pregnant.

"A voluntary stop-at-two guideline should be adopted for couples in the UK who want to adopt greener lifestyles. It would aim to set an example," it says.
. . .

Unless action is taken the UK population will grow by a further 10 million by 2074, says the report.
. . .
"UK population has grown by 20% since 1950 - in less than a lifetime. There are more than 60 million people now living in the UK, one of the most densely populated countries in the world, and our numbers are rising faster than ever before.
. . .
Voluntary population stabilisation programmes have a proven record of success, says Prof Guillebaud. "A voluntary 'two-child' population policy in Iran, for example, succeeded in halving fertility in eight years, as fast a rate of decrease as that of China, whose much-criticised one-child policy began in 1980."
. . .
A mix of high population and rising consumption means that humanity is currently outstripping the biological capacity of the Earth by 25% a year. By 2050, when global population is projected at 9.2 billion - 2.5 billion rise - humans will be using the biocapacity of two earths.

The report suggests compulsory limits on births may become unavoidable in as more pressure is put on world resources.

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Why I Love New York

The Park Slope Parent Trap
So do Manhattanites, who roll their eyes at its mention, invariably asking how I cope with those “annoying parent types.” But for those who live here, their love for the neighborhood is like that of an infatuated teenager.
. . .
The horror stories of the “stroller Nazis” and the “mommy mafia” hadn’t escaped me. But until recently, I didn’t have a child, so the world of families was peripheral. I kept childless-person hours, and from this perspective, Park Slope, in some ways, was comparable to Greenwich Village, with its low-rise town houses, leafy streets, cafes and delicatessens.
Yes, Virginia, there is a city where strollers are seen as a sign of a neighborhood gone south - this is what I love about this city. And by the way - I live in Greenwich Village. And your town, ma'am, is no Greenwich Village. (end Benston ripoff)
I wasn’t surprised by the gangs of mothers, but I was shocked by the sheer numbers — they were everywhere.
. . .
I had stumbled upon an assembly of breasts, mine included, as I nursed my own baby. While I struggled to manipulate my son’s head to cover as much of my breast as possible, these women took their comfort with nakedness to a whole new height.

One woman had her shirt completely unbuttoned, her pretty pink, lacey maternity bra on display. Another had one breast lopped over the top of her tank top. The third had twins. She wasn’t wearing a shirt — or a bra for that matter — just a hoodie sweatshirt unzipped with a baby at each breast. She walked around the restaurant with them in her arms, her body swaying in a comforting dance. . . [I] had to admit I was uncomfortable . . .

A couple of weeks later, I was crossing the street. I had pulled my stroller up next to a mother who was carrying her child on her shoulders.

She said to her little girl in a singsong voice, “Look at the beautiful baby,” which her daughter echoed back to her as if they were singing a duet. I puffed up with pride while I crossed the street before the light changed — there were no cars coming.

Then the lady sang in a louder voice — to make sure I really heard her — “Look at the jaywalking mommy,” which her daughter also aped back.

I hated that my neighborhood was living up to its cliché of being chock-full of “annoying parenting types.”
I didn't know they did this to other mothers! I thought the mommy attention-whoring was reserved for us childless women - who always seem to assume we're in the throes of baby rabies and ready to fall to our knees to worship their fecundity. Of course, I still prefer this to their daddy counterpart, who seems to think his infant is an aphrodisiac. "Look how responsible I am. And - you know it works!" Ick. Ick. Ick.

I love that even a mom acknowledges the heinous behavior of parents. Could it be that Turtle-fodder has become mainstream perception?

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Schadenfreude of the Day: Stockholm Syndrome?

With kids gone, mom's stuck with 'alone time'

Hubby has been working out of town for months, and now I am childless, too, and free to control the remote, eat over the kitchen sink straight from the container and go to bed as early as I want.

But there is no one to laugh at the sitcom with. No one to fuss at because they raised the lid before the rice was really done. No one to call me an old fogey for wanting to retire before 9 p.m. -- and I am lonely!
Empty Nest Syndrome is nothing new. How is it that the childfree have no problem dealing every day with what this mom can't handle for a week? For half of us, we're probably childfree in the first place because we like that alone time. The rest of us simply developed full lives - friends, careers, hobbies, etc. - that scare away lonliness and boredom. Restlessness never lasts long in my Manhattan!

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Book Rails Against French Pronatalism

French woman leads rebellion against 'baby mania'
FRENCH women may be top of the European league when it comes to producing babies, but a young mother of two and author is spearheading a rebellion against what she calls an oppressive "baby mania" that makes a pariah of anyone who does not want children.

Corinne Maier's tongue-in-cheek polemic No Kid: Forty Reasons For Not Having Children, has shot into the bestseller lists, appealing both to childless women irritated by the idea that they must have babies and to parents frustrated by the sacrifices of child-rearing.
. . .
"In France, people go on too much about the glory of motherhood and you're not allowed to talk about all the problems having kids causes. I thought it would be fun to take a dig at the myth that having a child is wonderful," she said.
. . .
She rails against everything from giving birth and breastfeeding to dull holidays, no sex, stupid child-talk and the Paris Disneyland.

She is irritated by pregnant actresses appearing naked on magazine covers and loathes giant prams bulldozing their way down pavements, mothers whose sole topic of conversation is their children and those whose toddlers record the greeting on their answerphone.

French society dictates that women must want a child.

"Any dissident is suspect: neurotic, obsessed by her career, selfish or a lesbian," writes Maier.

How strongly does she believe in the child-free vision she advocates in her book?

"I'd say it's 50 per cent provocation and 50 per cent a serious book about legitimate questions people ask themselves. There are moments when I bitterly regret having kids.
Wow. Kudos to this author. For those who don't know - this attitude may sound familar, but France is actually more rabidly pronatalistic than the US. I have receieved countless interview requests from incredulous French journalists who see childfreedom as a strange, foreign phenomenon.
And y'all just know how much I love parents willing to be honest about parenting, and accept our choices. Here's to the Madelyn Cain / Selma Hayek of France :)
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Parenting Damaging to Marriage

Romance suffers when baby makes three
"You can't be somebody's parents all the time," says Stacie Cockrell, co-author of the new book "Babyproofing Your Marriage."

"If that defines your relationship, your marriage is going to wilt," she says.

Truth is, American divorce statistics are alarming even when you're not sleep-deprived. Each year, more than a million children watch their parents go through divorce.

"Kids are never the problem," says Cockrell. "The problem becomes how you as adults react to the challenge of parenthood and how you react to each other as a couple."
Of course the article fails to suggest that you just think long and ahrd about having them in the first place - it just offers advice for dealing with children you already have. But it does serve to remind us how damaging parenthood can be to a marriage. Sometimes being childfree can be an expression of "family values" - a choice made to preserve the best marriage you can. I know that was one of my top reasons for my choice.

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Tax Article Acknowledges Discrimination Against Childless

A Fair Tax for Progressives and Conservatives
* No discrimination. Straight singles and gays complain that marriage currently brings tax benefits denied to them. Childless couples complain that tax laws favor couples with children. A Fair Tax won't end the culture war, but it'll lower the volume.
Not an extensive study on how it discriminates, but it is nice to see its existence covered in a mainstream publication. The article proposes a flat sales tax to resolve this and other inequities and problems.

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Advice Column Redux: Still Rude to Prosteletize Parenting.

Infertile Couple Sick of Question
When someone asks when you are going to have children, the polite shut-down is, "I can't imagine why you need to know such personal information."
This both points out the general rudeness of bugging people to have kids (it might be a medical problem) and points out that it would be rude even if it was a choice ("Since when is it a crime not to have children?") Kudos to the distraught, childless, writer for recognizing that.

This launches the new "advice" label; as the third appearance of childfree questions in such columns posted here. Of course, there are countless instances of relevant questions, see Childfree Abby for more.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Childfree Workplace Issues in South Africa

War in the workplace
“I find it ironic that while I’m often labelled as selfish for choosing to focus on my marriage, interests and career and not to have kids at this time, some of those people could be seen to be just as selfish when it comes to sharing equitably in the responsibilities of a team at work.”
. . .
The South African legal system is slightly less pro-family [than that of the US and UK]. While it does stipulate that an employee is entitled to four months maternity leave, it does not make provision for the payment of employee benefits. Every employee is entitled to three days ‘family responsibility leave’, which you can take if your child is born (father) or sick or if a relative or life-partner dies.

However, the childfree complain that even these laws place them at a disadvantage. Employers may not adequately fill the role of the employee whilst they are on maternity leave, thrusting more work and responsibility on those not on leave. Furthermore, some childfree individuals argue that they have other responsibilities or dependants, which they are not given time off to care for.

“Childfree people also have responsibilities such as elderly parents, troubled friends and sick animals, that mean as much to us in our lives as children mean to their parents, but I’m highly unlikely to get time off to care for them,” says Mary.
. . .
The solution? It seems that our value system needs to change. Not to favour either parents or non-parents, but to cultivate a culture that is more conducive to life outside of work.
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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Is parenthood bad for your health?

New study suggests that children's needs cut down on adult workout time.
A first-of-its-kind study released in May by the University of Pittsburgh concluded that parenthood demonstrably reduces physical activity, while marriage has only a negligible effect.
. . .
More than 500 participants were tracked for two years as part of a 17-year study called the University of Pittsburgh Physical Activity Study.

Those who remained childless lost only a half-hour of physical activity per week, while those who had children lost about 3½ hours.

Men, in particular, were affected.

Women, who exercised an average of four hours before children, lost about 90 minutes a week once they became mothers. New fathers, who used to log just under eight hours of activity weekly, cut back a whopping 4½ hours.

Only parents of newborns and toddlers took part, so the researchers don't have data to suggest the same would be true of parents of teenagers. But the study's results can help prospective parents beware of pitfalls, said Ethan Hull, lead researcher.
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Christian Science Monitor: Kids Less a Part of American life

America becomes a more 'adult-centered' nation

Also spurred by the results of the recent Pew Study, this article deserves its own post because it had the foresight to also cite Ciaccio's childfree research study on the 4th page.

I would challenge the characterization of America as more adult-centered. If anything, kids are even more a part of the national dialog, and we have less of a perception of adult spaces. However, this may actually translate into less actual parenting, and is indeed coexisting with a simultaneous 'decoupling' of marriage and parenthood in Americans' minds.

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Study finds "having children" not viewed as being very important to having a happy marriage

And the experts miss the point.
The Pew Research Center survey on marriage and parenting found that children had fallen to eighth out of nine on a list of factors that people associate with successful marriages -- well behind "sharing household chores," "good housing," "adequate income," a "happy sexual relationship" and "faithfulness."
See the Pew Research Center's report on the study.

There has been a mini media flurry about this study. Below are some other articles on the subject:
Washington Post: To Be Happy In Marriage, Baby Carriage Not Required

Salon.com: Oh, horrors: Childless marriages, unwed cohabitation!
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Companies Should not Alienate Childless Employees

Be Gutsy at Work
But when you ask another group of dedicated employees -- those without kids -- for their take, you often get a different perspective. There is growing resentment in cubicles everywhere from workers without children who are fed up with what they perceive to be too much coddling of their parenting peers.

Whose Time Is More Valuable?

They've got a good point. None of us, including this mom of 9-year-old twins, should be dismissive of our colleagues without kids. I've seen too many instances where working moms expect accommodations because they've got to get home in time to relieve the baby sitter, or they assume it's acceptable to routinely miss meetings to take their kids to any number of after-school appointments.

There's often an implicit -- and hugely mistaken -- assumption that those without kids can stay late because their time is not as valuable or they have nothing better to do outside the workplace. This attitude shows a disregard for personal time and priorities that may very well be no less important than tending to children.
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The Case Against Babies

The Case Against Babies

Babies, babies, babies. There's a plague of babies. Too many rabbits or elephants or mustangs or swans brings out the myxomatosis, the culling guns, the sterility drugs, the scientific brigade of egg smashers. Other species can 'strain their environments' or 'overrun their range' or clash with their human 'neighbours', but human babies are always welcome at life's banquet. Welcome, Welcome, Welcome—Live Long and Consume!
This isn't new, but I thought I would share it, especially based on the recent hypocritical reaction item in the Sierra Club blog. (Which wasn't good enough to warrant its own post)

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Daily Dose of Schadenfreude.

Dad finds parenting rewards

Having children keeps you from sleeping away the day. With young children under roof, you have a built-in alarm clock.
. . .
And without children, most couples would never experience the joy of competing for the opportunity to watch their favorite television show in the living room.
Yes, the "Oh I'm such a saint but it's so worth it" article. Has this guy never read the million preachy diatribes like this, or was he just trying to comfort himself that his choice was the right one?

This was in response to a study which I'll be posting shortly.

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