Sunday, December 14, 2008

FAMILIES are being told to keep children away from supermarkets and shops to curb customer rage in the countdown to Christmas.

Tempers explode as customers lose their Yule cool
FAMILIES are being told to keep children away from supermarkets and shops to curb customer rage in the countdown to Christmas.

The call for child-free zones follows complaints frazzled parents are causing maddening delays at cash registers.

Retail rage traditionally soars near the festive season as short-fused customers struggle to cope with crowds.

Some hot-tempered shoppers have even assaulted staff, industry sources said.
Australian Retailers Association executive director Richard Evans advised parents to leave youngsters at home when possible, especially in peak hours, to reduce the risk of abuse from aggressive and impatient fellow shoppers.

"By all means take the kids to see Santa, but don't take them shopping," Mr Evans said. "Some people snap at the sight of a mother with baby on hip, pram in one hand and trolley in the other holding up the queue.

"It's like being on a freeway when they've paid a toll and then get stuck in traffic.
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Artist breaks with tradition of childfree female artists

Neo-Maternalism: Contemporary Artists’ Approach to Motherhood
Ever since the Abstract Expressionists held forth at the Cedar Tavern in the 1950s, the unwritten rule has been that making art is a consuming obsession that leaves no time or space for worldly responsibilities like childrearing. . . . So, why then, closing in on the final years of fertility, with scant investigation or evidence that the outcome would be salutary, did I stop using birth control in 1998 and let fate take its course? My decision was more intellectual than emotional. I reasoned that I was an artist. If I did get pregnant, wouldn’t this primal experience strengthen and inform my work? If I didn’t, then I wouldn’t have any regrets. I rolled the dice, and three months later the pregnancy test was positive.

The iconic mid-century female artists I admire made different choices. Before the feminist movement, ambitious, pragmatic women like Lee Krasner and Elaine de Kooning rejected motherhood. Louise Nevelson and Grace Hartigan both had children, but ultimately left their upbringing to relatives so that they could turn their undivided attention to making art and tending their vocations.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Family and friends turn up the pressure on child-free couples

Tough choice being kid-free
Couples who are childless by choice are being labelled as selfish by friends and family, new research has found.

The Waikato University study reveals that stereotyping of such couples still occurs.
. . .
"I was called selfish by a family member, because I was failing to provide grandchildren for my parents," Ms Goldsworthy said.

"One friend told us we wouldn't be complete until we had kids."

Physically being able to have kids should not mean having to become a "baby factory".

"Look at all the people who bring babies into abusive and violent environments. They can have kids but should they?"

Ms Riley - who has herself opted not to have children - decided to research the topic after being made to feel there was something wrong with her.

"I was made very aware that not showing maternal behaviour and a desire for children did not gain social approval.

"It was met with horrified responses and social exclusion.

"I believe that every woman should have the right to do with her life as she sees fit.

"The choice to remain child-free may be perceived by some people as taking the selfish and easy option in comparison to parenthood, but this does not justify ill-treatment of the child-free."
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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fake babies ease women's anxiety, sadness

Dr. Gail Saltz looks at the psychology of adults who "play" with reborn dolls
It’s typical to think something is weird or creepy when it’s unknown, far from the norm, or common only to a different culture.
You don't say.
The reality, however, is that people often face sorrowful issues in their lives. In many cases, they use denial to cope with the loss and the resulting anxiety.

This happens to empty-nesters, who may feel they no longer have children to take care of and struggle with what identity they now have left. It also may happen to childless women, whether they have chosen to remain child-free or are childless through happenstance. They may be OK with this until they hit menopause, when they realize there is no going back, and they will never have a natural child. At which point the finality of the door being shut to possible children may bring a flood of sadness.
I'd love to see what they're basing this on. I have many childfree friends, and this sounds about the last thing they would ever want.

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Pint-sized, yes, but do children and pubs mix..?

The Scotsman
As he explained: "This year more readers than ever before have complained to us about pub visits being spoiled for them by badly behaved children running around unchecked. This is a peculiarly British problem; in continental restaurants and cafés, it's normal to see families with children, not normal to see kids spoil things for grown-ups. So we have considerable sympathy with the landlord of one Sussex pub who told us that he had decided it 'just didn't suit children', as he didn't want to do plates of chips or burgers, and didn't want to have to look after customers' children."
. . .
In Scotland, the presence of children in pubs is growing, but from a small base. The introduction of the smoking ban has hit many pubs hard, according to the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), and, in order to pull in more customers, an increasing number are rebranding themselves as "family-friendly" establishments. However, by August 2007, just 66 out of 731 licensed premises in Edinburgh had applied for a children's certificate. Although the figure is less than 10 per cent, it is expected to double by the time the new licensing law comes into force on 1 September, 2009.

The law concerning the admittance of persons aged under 18 into pubs is complicated. Under the licensing act of 1976, publicans are allowed to admit a person over the age of 14, as long as they are accompanied by an adult and do not consume any alcohol. However, for many years, very few pubs would allow an under-age teenager into their establishment on account of the monitoring involved to ensure they did not drink. Then in 1990, children's certificates' were introduced into law, allowing minors to enjoy pub lunches with their parents. . . .
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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

We keep children safe to let them run wild

British adults have become estranged from the world of children. Many of them, according to a survey released yesterday, would go so far as to admit that they are scared of youngsters.

About half of 2,021 grown-ups polled by YouGov for Barnardo's indicated that children should be regarded as dangerous; a majority of them went so far as to state that children behaved like animals.
. . .
At first sight, this perception of children does not make any sense. How can grown-ups possess such depressing attitudes towards youngsters when we are meant to be more "child centred" than ever before?

The truth is that the negative sentiments are the direct consequence of the mistrust and suspicion fuelled by the prevailing paranoid regime of child protection. It is our obsessively protective parenting culture that is responsible for the erosion of inter-generational relationships.
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The problems of being an older mum

“There doesn't appear to be an increase in postnatal depression as it is hormonally driven, but tiredness is a key difficulty, as is reduced flexibility in adjusting to someone else's needs,” she says. “An older childless couple will be accustomed to making last-minute decisions or being free to schedule what they want to do when they want to do it. This goes out of the window with children - from the early days of the four-hourly feeds right through school age.”

(For those who get pregnant accidentally). . .“Some women will have realised there was little likelihood that they would become mothers and altered the ‘ideal self' to make it a closer fit with what seemed possible within their lives - by reducing the perceived value of what they could not have - to protect themselves from disappointment,” she says.

“This may include emphasising the downside of having children and exaggerating the benefits of being child-free. If they have managed that task successfully, they will then feel ambivalent if they find themselves pregnant because the situation requires them to ‘backtrack' on a sense of self.”
Fair enough. But it is worth noting that the risk of accidentally getting pregnant after 40 is low; with the abundance of infertility treatments, I would guess that another problem attaches to even more of these births. I don't think I need to explain to my readers the possible down side of having a child enter a parent's life after being conceived in the opposite circumstance: deperate longing for, expensive treatments to gain, and indeed self-definition through motherhood.
Peter Bowen-Simpkins, medical director of the London Women's Clinic, says that while the risk of having a baby with Down's syndrome increases once a mother reaches 40, the chances of having a healthy baby at an older age are still high.
This statement is just irresponsible, since it ignores the significant increase in the risk each year after reaching 40. For example, at age 44 (the age Sarah Palin gave birth to Trig) the risk is 1 on 40.
“It certainly adds to the strain of the pregnancy, because most chromosomal abnormalities occur in women over 35 and as they get older they are more common,” he says. “Overall, the chance of having a Down's syndrome baby is 1 in 650 before you reach 40 and then it's 1 in 100. But that still means that 99 women out of 100 give birth to a healthy baby.”
*Sputter* I am sure that is of great comfort to the 1% remaining. In what world is this an acceptable risk?

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Relief for grumps: the child-free cinema

We've all been there. You're in the cinema and all around are children eating nachos, enjoying the movie and being cheerily sociable rather than immovably silent. Now, a cinema chain is offering relief to grumps: child-free film-going.
"cheerily sociable"? Is that an euphemism for "so loud you can't hear the dialoge" or "screaming during a poignant scene and ruining it"?
Adults only screenings of family films aren't just odd, they're dangerous
But it doesn't really make sense, does it? For a start, the most unruly people I've seen in cinemas in the last few weeks were not teenagers – they were people in their twenties. It's a similar story outside the cinema, too. What sort of people cause the most trouble at football matches, or festivals, or on the beach, or when the pubs shut? Adults.

Unless what you're trying to remedy is movie hooligans brawling in the theatre, that's not really relevant.

But there's another thing to remember here. Think of the very British practice of doing things without your children, and what it actually means. These days, more and more people leave their children behind when they go to restaurants, or parties – the latest phenomenon is child-free weddings.

But this is not helpful in the long run, is it? It's by going to these things, over time, that children learn how to behave properly. And it's by leaving their children behind that adults learn how to behave badly. Having adults around forces kids to behave better, and vice versa. Otherwise you end up with adults snorting coke and being sick while their kids watch X-Factor with a babysitter.
So having to go to the movies only during the many showings that allow children, or at another theatre is somehow going to cripple their development?

But what they are doing can be seen as an affront to multiculturalism. And think of the arguments in favour of multiculturalism. If you start segregating people, so that different groups don't have to put up with each others' customs, what happens is that each group just becomes more extreme, and the process intensifies.
I'm sorry, I didn't realize that pooping in a diaper and crying for hours at a stretch was considered a 'culture'. This myopic stretch of logic does a disservice to actual multiculturalism.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Butt Out: Advice Columnist and Readers Weigh In.

Zip your mouth about their decision
I'm printing this as a public service announcement, so that the people who do apply this kind of pressure will have a chance to see the error of their ways. For those who do like to weigh in on someone's fertility choices, a suggestion: Next time you feel the urge to comment, bite down on something instead.
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Monday, October 20, 2008

Why does parenthood make us unhappy

Remaining puzzle #11: Why does parenthood make us unhappy?
Social surveys often show that parents are less happy than comparable adults without children. This makes no sense from an evolutionary psychological perspective. Happiness (and other emotions) have been evolutionarily selected to induce us to do the right thing in order to attain reproductive success in the context of the ancestral environment.
. . .
I have discovered this to be the case in my own work as well. . . . being married is great, but it’s not as great if you also have children.

In her recent article “The Joys of Parenthood, Reconsidered,” published in the American Sociological Association’s journal Contexts, the sociologist Robin W. Simon, who has done a lot of research on emotional well-being of parents and nonparents, notes that parents have more frequent negative emotions, and less frequent positive emotions, than nonparents of comparable age. However, she also points out that parents derive “more purpose, more meaning, and greater satisfaction from life” than do nonparents. I wonder if these deeper, philosophical satisfaction with life is meant to encourage humans to reproduce despite more immediate frequent negative emotions and less frequent positive emotions.

The only reason I can think of for why parenthood may make us unhappy is that we are raising our children today in a wholly unnatural environment, in an entirely unnatural manner, relative to our ancestral environment.
. . .
I . . . wonder whether the “more purpose, more meaning, and greater satisfaction from life” that parents derive than nonparents do means that parents are in fact happier than nonparents despite a whole host of negative emotions they experience more frequently and positive emotions they experience less frequently. At any event, why the very act of reproductive success makes us unhappy, when we are designed to achieve it and everything we do is ultimately geared toward it, remains a mystery for evolutionary psychology (and, once again, only for evolutionary psychology).
So... being happy less often and being sad more often isn't a good indicator of who is "happier"? I'm going to call upon our resident psychological and statistical expert Vinny to determine whether the indications of deriving more meaning reveal actual emotional states or an intellectual excercise we conduct to make us feel better about being less happy. That is, if he can tear himself away from his own PhD research in the meantime.
On second thought, keep studying. There seems to be a pervasive pronatal psychological groupthink, evidenced by the constant strain to find some ultimate pro-parenting indicator despite glaring statistics to the contrary. I think we need some well-trained academics not prone to this intellectual dishonesty.
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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Why I, like hundreds of other young women, chose to be sterilised at the age of 21

Eight years on, the politics PhD student from London is adamant she has never suffered a moment's regret.

'It's difficult to pinpoint the moment I realised I never, ever wanted children of my own, because it's something I've always known,' says Jacquelyn, 29, who lives with her boyfriend of four years, David, 29, an advertising account manager for Microsoft.

'It wasn't a case of waking up one morning and thinking: "I don't want children, I'm going to be sterilised." I just knew.

'Even as a little girl, I was never interested in dolls or playing mums and dads in the playground. I was happier with a set of Lego bricks.

'A couple of my friends have children, but on the whole I'm not too fond of them. I'm not very good at playing with them or giving cuddles, so I tend to keep my distance.

'I also think that growing up as an only child may have exacerbated my desire not to have babies - I was very independent even as a youngster and wasn't used to being around other children.

'I don't feel any less womanly because I'm sterile, either. Femininity is about much more than being able to bear children, it's to do with your whole sense of identity and I've always been very clear about who I am and what I want.
. . .
What's intriguing about her story is that Jacquelyn is an intelligent woman who had thought deeply about her choice and was still resolved to see it through - even if she was at an age when most women are more concerned with what they wear than whether they might want children now or in the future.
. . .
Lengthy research showed Jacquelyn there were two choices; either take a chance with a sympathetic GP to get a referral (the NHS is reluctant to perform sterilisations on women under 30 who don't already have children), or go private and pay £500 to have the operation at a Marie Stopes clinic, the UK's leading provider of sexual and reproductive health services.

Sensing that at just 21 she would be greeted with dismay by the NHS, which performs around 40,000 female sterilisations every year, the majority on women who already have children, she bypassed her GP and went to Marie Stopes in Brixton, South London, in October 2000.

'I was still prepared for an interrogation because of my age and the doctor's first words were: "You're very young. Do you understand what sterilisation is and the implications it would have on your life?"

'But after a 30-minute conversation, she realised I had made an informed choice. I made an appointment to be sterilised a month later.' . . .

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Kids are supposed to bring joy. So why are parents so unhappy?

Bundle of Trouble
Americans harbor a widespread, deeply held belief that no adult can be happy without becoming a parent. Parenthood, we think, is pivotal for developing and maintaining emotional well-being, and children are an essential ingredient for a life filled with happiness, joy, excitement, satisfaction, and pride.

That’s not exactly the case.
. . .
The disconnect lies in the social conditions in which Americans now parent; they’re far from ideal for allowing parents to reap the emotional benefits of having children. Parents cope with stressors that cancel out and often exceed the emotional rewards of having children. Making matters worse, parents and others perceive the strain as a private matter and a reflection of their inability to cope with the “normal” demands of parenthood.
. . .
Of equal importance is the need to take stock of and reevaluate existing cultural beliefs that children improve the emotional health and well-being of adults. These cultural beliefs—and our expectation that children guarantee a life filled with happiness, joy, excitement, contentment, satisfaction, and pride—are an additional, though hidden, source of stress for all parents. The feelings of depression and emotional distress that parents experience can cause them to question what they’re doing wrong.
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Childless by choice, by chance

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Friday, September 12, 2008

The parent rap

Business Standard (New Delhi)
". . .all I asked was that more parents try to wrap their heads around the idea that everyone isn’t lining up to shower “cho-chweets” upon their offsprings and that the responsibility for monitoring their child in a public place rests with them.

This should not be a difficult concept to grasp. But we live in a society where boundless love for children is taken for granted and where people who are very conservative in most things don’t hesitate to ask invasive questions about why a couple hasn’t had a child yet (sometimes even offering suggestions on how to hasten the process).

Naturally, then, if you have the temerity to show discomfort when a child strays into your space, the vibes you usually get from its proud parents are: “But…but…but it’s the fruit of my loins and everyone HAS to love it — how dare you be apathetic to it, you sub-human!”
. . .
In fact, as one of the more sensible commenters on my blog pointed out, “Parents who are capable of respecting the fact that other people may have different points of view, are more likely to be good parents in the first place — the sort who will respect their children’s personal choices in future even if they don’t understand them.”

On the other hand, there’s the anonymous vermin who left this gem: “hey a child is a blessing and BTW when u r old and grey its my child’s taxes that will pay u’r pension and other govt freebies .. kids r the future ..people who dont have kids are selfish and self centred” (sic). I’m suddenly very worried for the future of his children.
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Monday, September 08, 2008

Childfree Citizens in India

Childfree Citizens!
More and more women are now opting to be childfree. Author Manju Kapoor says, “Isn’t it time to be mature enough and accept childfree women?”

For most women caught in a family-trap having a child is part of the ‘marriage deal’. Model Shefali Talwar strongly feels, “A childless woman doesn’t feel incomplete anymore.” Reena Mehra, 32, entrepreneur confesses how her inability to have children often invites sympathy, “But I don’t care.” Dr Manju Khemani, gynaecologist, points out, “The taboo of childlessness is far more acute in the semi-urban towns.” No matter, what heights a woman scales in the corporate world she is declared truly successful only when she becomes a mother. Not anymore. In fact women who are ambitious, don’t want to have children.

Nilofer Kaul, DU lecturer says, “Most professional women don’t feel a sense of being incomplete if they don’t have children.”
The latest childfree phenomenon, as defined by, means a deliberate individual choice of liberating oneself from “the loss of personal freedom, money, time and energy that having children requires”.

How many women are comfortable being ‘childfree’? Dr Avdesh Sharma, believes, “Our society is essentially child-centric.” Joyita Banerjee, an ad-executive, who does not want to start a family in the near future, confesses, “It is easier to get sympathy by saying that I’m trying to start a family. Rather than declaring, ‘I’m not interested’.”

Says Akhila Shivdas, of Center for Media Advocacy, “The fact that the childfree option is available to women, reflects that the family is not an imposition or a sacrosanct norm any more.”
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Much ado about children and 'I do'

Australia: Sunday Morning Herald
Now that I have my own children, I find that times have changed. Most weddings are "no children" affairs. What is a wedding without children? Why should they be excluded from such an important family celebration? Are flower-girls and page-boys being phased out? This is often the only chance that they get to catch up with all the extended family as we are scattered around Australia now.
Ah, yes. because the wedding has nothing to do with the bride and groom celebrating the start of their life together. If you want a family reunion, plan it yourself! You can even plan it around the time of a wedding, to save travel costs for other family members. But do not expect the busy bride and groom to do all the hard work of planning and paying for it. It is not your right to usurp their sacred, once in a lifetime occasion for the purpose you wish it would serve.
The rationale behind not inviting the children to weddings is that it is "too expensive". How much do children eat? Just serve them a plate of vegetables and they are guaranteed to eat nothing, or order in happy meals and it will cost $4 a head.
Either the wedding industry is dramatically different in Oz, or this woman is deluding herself. The majority of professional wedding halls in the U.S. mandate paying full fare for children, no matter what they eat.

But that is not the only purpose children aren't invited. Very often, children will not enjoy a wedding. What toddler likes to sit in a church quietly for an hour? What pre-teen likes to be stuck at a boring dinner with their parents? Add that to the potential disasters on a day already fraught with tension - young children are unpredictable and often noisy. Many a sacred vow has been drowned out by a wailing child.

Unless the bride and groom are close to the child herself, what reason is there to invite her? It really only seems a ploy to save money on babysitting.
The real reason goes much deeper. Children are gradually being excluded from our family lives. The important role that they play in our community is being forgotten. Children are our next generation. They are the reason that we need to stay optimistic, fall in love, move on from the sad times in life and keep on living. Unfortunately they are also noisy, messy, naughty and unpredictable.
. . .
I don't go to these child-free weddings. My official excuse is that all my potential babysitters are attending the wedding. But the real reason is that if the bride and groom don't want my children included in their celebrations then they obviously don't share my family values - and frankly I don't really want to be included either. Harrumph!
You sound like a delightful, reasonable person. I'm sure your presence is sorely missed.
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Bring back Sunday school

The Bolton News: Letters
I HAVE worshipped in several churches over the last few years and I beg, no I demand, that the hierarchy seriously look into child-free churches. Believe me, I would put extra in the offering pot.

I have been jostled, prodded and nearly knocked over, I have listened to endless screaming and crying. Enough is enough. Now I know that there are thousands who would not agree with me, but I also know that there are thousands that would be jumping for joy at the idea.

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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Births Up -- No, Down!: Stats and the Politics of Fertility Anxiety

The Huffington Post
Presumably the rise in the number of childless 40-to-44 year olds is due to a combination of some women and their partners choosing against kids altogether, others hoping for kids but out-waiting their fertility, and still others planning to start soon. Exactly what proportions are unknown. But infertility was the inference made by the reporter who called me asking if the story wasn't evidence that working women were waiting "too late" to start their families.

The hyped-up infertility consciousness (repeated by the media ad infinitum) and the big emphasis on babies and on women's "secret desire" to stay at home with kids long term, in spite of plenty of evidence to the contrary, is a sign of another, underlying anxiety among some of us over how many women really don't want to just stay home.

That anxiety helps shape the environment that's putting pressure on women of all ages to have babies NOW, at whatever age--along with the recent highly politicized decreases in access to birth control, especially for younger women. Will it block the exits from the ways of yore? For many, sadly, it may.

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Should Theaters Offer Kid-Free Screenings?

Mark Oakley at Den of Geek says, in no uncertain terms, that it's high time for theaters to start catering to their adult customers by offering no-kids-allowed shows.
. . .
Clearly, the preferable solution would be for parents to (a) be smarter about what movies are okay for kids, and (b) teach their kids to behave properly in public. Short of miraculous improvement in parenting competence, banning kids at later shows, say anything past 8 or 9 p.m., might be a workable solution. Still, that forces adults to pick between staying out late or suffering with someone else's ill-behaved offspring Another choice especially with multiplexes, might be simply designate one screen for child-free shows. Surely there are other possibilities as well.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

US News and World Report: We're Child-Free, Not Childless

We're Child-Free, Not Childless
More American women are choosing not to have children, according to a new report from the Census Bureau.

But the Census Bureau and the mainstream media continue to refer to women without children as "childless" instead of "child-free." Child-free implies women made an affirmative decision not to have children. Childless implies women are infertile and could not have children. As one who made that affirmative decision (I had no children on purpose), I am hereby launching my own personal media campaign to make "child-free" the term of choice, not "childless."

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Children? Who needs them?

Jan Barden on the couples who are happy to live without offspring

We try hard not to resent our childless friends, who, in comparison with us, breeze through their lives flashing more cash, getting more sleep and having more fun and freedom. "Marrakesh next weekend?" they murmur to each other. "Why not?"

They must be so happy. Or are they? Could they just be filling their empty days with conspicuous consumerism to mask an aching loneliness and fear of a solitary old age?

Apparently not. Those who have chosen not to become parents are, on the whole, pretty pleased with their decision. At the extreme end of the scale, some are smug and others are aggressively evangelical. Many prefer the term child-free to childless, which implies, to them, some sort of loss. It's quite the opposite, they insist in large numbers in internet chat rooms.

There's certainly a lot of them around: projections by the Office for National Statistics suggest that, of women born in 1973, 23 per cent - nearly a quarter - will not have had children by the time they hit 45.

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Travellers in favour of child-free flights

Apologies for the long absence - I was preparing for the bar exam.

Survey indicates support for separate section on planes for babies and young children.
An overwhelming majority of air passengers would prefer that people who travel with young children are seated in a different section of the plane, according to a US-based consumer group.

The survey, carried out by, found that 85 per cent of the 10,000 travellers surveyed thought that segregating those travelling with children from other passengers was a good idea, due to their frustration at hyperactive youngsters and crying infants.

Even a large proportion of parents were in support of seating configurations that kept younger travellers separated from the rest of the cabin.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Selfish? Hey, we’re doing it (or rather not doing it) for the planet.

To breed or not to breed?
We're fed up with the absurd ongoing societal disapproval of our decision not to breed, sorry, procreate. With being pitied for our ostensibly unfulfilled, barren lives; with being suspected of turning our backs on what is considered intrinsically life-affirming, natural and Human; and, most unfair and ironic of all, with being labelled selfish.

When really, surely what we deserve are frequent pats on the back and never having to pay for our own drinks.

Because non-conception is hands-down one of the most effective acts an individual can perform to help avert the greatest crisis of our time – make that the greatest crisis of all time: global environmental destruction and the end of our species, never mind all the others. . . .

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Friday, July 04, 2008

Good Reason to Be Jealous of Portland, OR Residents

OMSI After Dark
Ever wanted to push the buttons on that cool exhibit at OMSI but can't get a chance because kids are having all the fun with it? Perhaps you'd like to enjoy a glass of wine as you peruse ancient dinosaur bones from China? Or discuss the science of brewing with a local brewer? Now you can do all that and more at OMSI After Dark, a museum evening geared for the 21 and over crowd complete with appetizers, wine, beer, and science fun!

OMSI After Dark is part of a new program that offers adults an opportunity to explore the museum in a child-free environment.

I can't tell you the number of times I've wished for such a night at my local science museum. There seems to be a cultural code that no matter how long you've waited, kids go first. Which, of course, means you never get to explore the exhibit hands-on unless the museum is deserted.

I'm a huge science geek, and this has always annoyed me. Especially when I'm trying to learn something, and the kid just seems to be intent on the fun of pushing buttons, oblivious to the content! The wine and food is a nice perk, but if you ask me it's just a side benefit to actually getting access.

Lucky for me, in the world of NYC art museums, there is no such unwritten code. I get to retain my viewing spot until I'm done no matter who wants in.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

The world is panicking over birthrates. Again.

Baby Bust!
“Europe is facing a demographic disaster,” said quondam Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in his February concession speech. “That is the inevitable product of weakened faith in the Creator, failed families, disrespect for the sanctity of human life, and eroded morality.”
. . .
The developed world is experiencing a wave of pro-natalist sentiment that threatens to bully the childless, tax the single, and reorient states toward the production rather than the protection of citizens. In most developed nations with below-replacement fertility, governments are attempting to align incentives so that women will use their bodies for the purpose of childbirth. In the U.S., right-wing religious groups are calling for a rollback of contraceptive freedom and a return to patriarchal arrangements, all in the name of something called “demographic balance.”

It may sound like a movement of sorts, but it is far from cohesive. Although pro-natalists share an obsession with procreation, they are driven to this anxiety by a host of different fears. As a group, they worry that their countries are admitting too many immigrants, and too few; that we have liberated women too much, and not enough; that welfare states are too strong, and too weak. Pick any divisive social issue—a lack of religiosity, say, or an excess of the same—and you can find someone to draw the connection to demographic decline.
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Saturday, June 07, 2008


For someone whose only “must have” is a life in which I am interested and that I like, the unsolicited but persistent suggestion that by not having children, I had missed some mythical boat came as quite a shock — especially when the questions wrinkled up their nose in some badly-misguided effort to empathise with the barren creature they saw before them.

Before I got the hang of dealing with these people, it was genuinely alarming when they cornered me.
. . .
So, imagine my relief when I read the latest from the Office of National Statistics (in the United Kingdom): There are more than half-a-million people like me, and so pleased are we with our unmarried, childless lives that we have created a whole new breed of women — the Freemale.
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Thursday, May 29, 2008

More kids, fewer teeth

The title pretty much summed it up

"Women who gave birth to more children tended to lose more teeth during their lives, regardless of whether they were rich or poor, U.S researchers found.
"People might say that happens because women who are poor have more children and women who are poor are not going to be able to afford the dentist," she said. "But we found that it was true across all socioeconomic levels."
Women are more prone to gingivitis during pregnancy, when the response of the oral tissues to the bacteria in the mouth is altered, Russell said.
In addition, Russell said women may be less likely to see a dentist while pregnant, perhaps in part because they want to avoid dental X-rays due to concern over radiation exposure.

Women with multiple children may also forgo their own dental care, possibly due to lack of money or time, Russell said."

I still like the term "childfree" better than "toothful."

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Some ideas for fees to improve flying
The recent news that American Airlines is charging for all coach-class checked baggage is ridiculous ("Bag fee latest sign of airline desperation," Republic, Thursday).

However, there are a couple of new airline fees I would happily pay. One is for a baby/child-free zone. If I'm paying extra to sit by a window or on an aisle, I'm not getting my money's worth if I have to hear someone's "little darling" squawking and mewling for the entire flight. . . .

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Friday, May 09, 2008

More Explanation to the Delusion that Kids Make You Happy.

Parenthood doesn't lead to joy: expert

This continues the discussion a few articles below, which features another article covering Prof. Gilbert's Australian visit. further back in our archives is news coverage from when the book was released in the U.S. a few years ago.
Professor Gilbert left the sacred cow of parenthood for last, saying that despite the belief children were the apples of our eyes, they actually had a negative impact on happiness.
. . .
Explaining why the statistics conflicted with most people's view of parenthood, Prof Gilbert made the unusual comparison to buying a pair of Armani socks.

"When people own Armani socks they can't stop telling you they are the best socks, the most amazing socks," he said.

"(But) I suspect that one of the reasons that people who own Armani socks think they are wonderful is because they have paid $US85 ($A90.30) for a pair.

"The psychologists tell us that we like things more when we pay for them - what does that sound like? It sounds like children.
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Japan slowly moving towards catastrophic childless future

Conta Costa Times
The proportion of children in the population fell to an all-time low of 13.5 percent. That number has been falling for 34 straight years and is the lowest among 31 major countries, according to the report. In the United States, children account for about 20 percent of the population.

Japan also has a surfeit of the elderly. About 22 percent of the population is 65 or older, the highest proportion in the world. And that number is on the rise. By 2020, the elderly will outnumber children by nearly 3 to 1, the government report predicted. By 2040, they will outnumber them by nearly 4 to 1.

The economic and social consequences of these trends are difficult to overstate.

Japan, now the world's second-largest economy, will lose 70 percent of its workforce by 2050 and economic growth will slow to zero, according to a report this year by the nonprofit Japan Center for Economic Research.

Um... Immigration? Work visas? Redirecting governmental spending expenses normally allocated to children (such as education) towards those centered on the elderly?

With this happening in Japan, Germany, and potentially in all Western countries (save the U.S.) with restrictive immigration laws, how about NOT structuring our economies as pyramid schemes?

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Thai restaurant bans kids under 6

I'll have a vegetable pad thai, with a side of "Don't let in the toddlers"
Management for a popular Silverton restaurant announced Thursday that young children would no longer be allowed into the establishment.The manager at the Red Thai restaurant on Oak Street said children younger than 6 aren't welcome in the eatery. The Red Thai manager, Craig Gereau, said children disrupt people who are trying to enjoy a quiet dinner.
. . .
Gereau said he's not discriminating against anyone, he just wants to run a restaurant that caters to adults, and there are plenty of family restaurants in Silverton for children.
Here's my thought... the only reason this has become the policy is most likely due to incidents that happened in the restaurant in the past. So parent of unruly children, you have only yourselves to blame. And it's the responsible parents with kids who do behave who wind up getting screwed.

As an aside, there's a recurring issue in a lot of discussions about breastfeeding in stores, restaurants, etc. Laws frequently state that women can breastfeed whenever and wherever they please, while some store and restaurant owners are none too thrilled about it, especially when it's done as a political action rather than simply feeding their kid. By having a rule that bans all kids under 6, this effectively prevents breastfeeding in the restaurant, presumably without violating the law (oddly enough, by banning an entire group, rather than a specific action). Is this the loophole businesses have been looking for?

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Kids, marriage, happiness

It's a Trap!

And despite the belief that children were the apples of our eyes, they actually had a negative impact on happiness.

The more kids you had, the sadder you were likely to be, Prof Gilbert said.

US and European studies had shown that people's happiness did spike while they were expecting a baby but sharply plummeted after the child was born.

The low point came when children reached the ages of 12-16, and recovered only when they had flown the coop, he said.

"In reality ... children do seem to increase happiness as long as you're expecting them, but as soon as you have them, trouble sets in," he said.

"People are extremely happy before they have children and then their happiness goes down, and it takes another big hit when kids reach adolescence.

"When does it come back to it's original baseline? Oh, about the time the children grow up and go away."

So, it's basically a big initial high, followed by a decline, and eventually a crash, and then you build back up to where you started. So, if you're the kind of person who can resist the draw of that initial high, you sidestep the foray into negative territory.

"The psychologists tell us that we like things more when we pay for them - what does that sound like? It sounds like children. We pay for them in time, attention, blood, sweat and tears - what kind of idiots would we be to devote all of that to the rearing of our young if they'd didn't bring us some happiness?"

The fact that parenthood crowded out all other things in life could explain why we considered children our greatest source of joy, he said.

"Parents tell me all the time that: `My child is my greatest source of joy'," he said.

"My reply is that: `Yes, when you have one source of joy, it's bound to be your greatest'."

You know, he raises a very interesting question. Why would people have kids if they didn't bring them happiness? With this data, it suggests that kids *don't* bring happiness to everyone (at least, not a net happiness). If people knew this, would they decide not to have kids? Or would biological drive and societal pressure still win out?

I don't want to discount the fact that some people find lots of happiness in having and raising their kids. But we need to stop pretending that it's a universal thing. And we need to stop willfully ignoring the fact that having kids can have a negative affect on many marriages.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

"Life Sherpa" Discusses Public Tantrum

St. Louis Dispatch
Dear Life Sherpa: Why is it when my kid throws a fit in the store, people act as if they have never seen a kid throw a fit when he doesn't get what he wants? I don't give in to him, we leave as soon as possible, and I don't spank him. Don't they understand I'm trying to do her best?

— World's Worst Mother

Dear World: The answer to your question is simple: The people who look at you with that superior, know-it-all attitude probably don't have any children of their own. I have discovered that childless adults always possess the most clear-cut opinions about raising kids. These textbook experts have never had to live with a cranky 5-year-old or an angst-ridden teen. That's why they still have the energy and pomposity needed to pass arbitrary judgment on those of us who struggle with parenthood.
Wow, that is obnoxious. If you don't have children, you're not entitled to an opinion. No matter that without having children, one might still be a teacher, child psychologist, or otherwise quite qualified or knowledgeable about child-rearing. But their opinions don't count if they haven't sprogged. It also leads to the conclusion that having a child makes one more qualified to judge other parents - is he stating that all children and all parenting experiences are so similar that parents are equipped to judge each other?

Never mind the strong possibility (discussed below) that those giving her looks are indeed parents. Besides, are both writer and columnist so myopic that they don't consider the possibility that what they read as judgment is actually annoyance? Or are we so stigmatized by our barrenness that we are not allowed to be irritated by wailing children?

In a recent column, the "life sherpa" invited and responded to feedback from readers about advice. One reader addressed the above column:
Kathy: Re: Your advice to "World's Worst Mother."
. . .
People who look at bone-headed mothers and father's (sorry) who allow their children to throw fits in public are not all weird childless people from another planet. If you take time to ask, they would probably tell you that yes, they have children. And, given time, they might tell you to stop "struggling with parenthood" and get down to the difficult task of instilling some discipline in your own children. And I am not taking about spanking, beating or other forms of abuse.

As you and I know, we sometimes see mothers or fathers in the mall pushing their severely handicapped child in a wheelchair. And often these children cry out or make distressing sounds that break your heart. And yet on no occasion have I seen the parent try to engage a passer-by in some "poor, pitiful me" dialogue. They usually seem self-possessed and capable of rising to what must be an extremely tiring and frustrating routine. I always smile at the children and their parents, as I often do when I see other "normal" children -- rather than look away. But when I'm in a mall or grocery store, and little Tyler or Madison is throwing a major fit, I find myself giving the "frustrated" mother a look that I hope conveys the message: "Raise your child now. So society doesn't have to do it later."

Thanks for listening to another point of view.

Life Sherpa: Kathy, you make some excellent points. I whole-heartedly agree that parents need to be firm with their children and discipline then before society has to jump in -- because society can be an extremely harsh judge.
. . .
But what is really galling is the attitude of those without children who believe they have all the answers because they read it in a book or saw it on a talk show.
My only point of my response to World's Worst was "if you don't have children, keep that annoyed smirk to yourself."
Gee I'd like to. But reading your column, I find that nearly impossible.

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Choosing to be Childless: How to Get Over the Guilt of Other People's Expectations

According to Hale Dwoskin, Featured Teacher of the Blockbuster
In fact, according to The Social Health of Marriage in America from Rutgers University, in 2004 (the latest year for which figures are available) one out of five women in their early 40s was childless, compared to just one out of 10 in 1976. Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2004 44 percent of American women of childbearing ages were childless, compared to 35 percent in 1976.
I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate my co-blogger and husband, Vinny C, on his impending PhD studies at Rutgers. He won't be working directly on the marriage project, but he will be conducting research on the subject of the childfree.
Yet, despite the many advances that have been made in terms of women's "traditional" roles in society, many couples who say they are choosing to be childless are met with resistance from their social circles, especially when it comes to family.
. . .
It's worth mentioning that while children are often thought of as joyful, studies have actually shown that childless families are happiest. And in a way, it makes sense. There is less stress about money, fewer demands to take up time, and more freedom to do as one pleases. So people may want to keep that fact in the back of their mind the next time someone tells them what they should be doing with their life.

Ultimately, though, individuals don't owe anyone any explanations. Instead, they should focus on letting go of any guilt.

"First off remember that it is your body and your decision -- not theirs. We often forget that when we are feeling guilt," says Hale Dwoskin, CEO and director of training of Sedona Training Associates. "Then allow yourself to release the guilt by either letting go of wanting to be punished for not having children or simply choosing to let go of the feeling directly.". . .
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Childless aunt resentful of all that baby talk

Tell Me About It
Question: My older sibling finally married and had a child, all within the last three years. I've been happily married almost eight years with no intentions of having children (never wanted them, still don't).

The problem is that whenever there are family gatherings, the new grandchild is all anyone talks about! There is very little adult conversation, and I find myself bored and avoiding gatherings (and more than a little resentful). How do I tell my mother this without sounding like I'm jealous?

She also continually says to other family members (used to say it to me, but I told her to stop) how she wishes I would have a child. We always had a terrific relationship before this.

Answer: You sound jealous. That will make the part about not sounding jealous particularly difficult.
No, she sounds bored. Projecting much?

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Minogue: 'I may never have children'

Yahoo! UK
But the star doesn't feel as if she is the perfect candidate for a "conventional" family life, and looks towards childless female singing icons Debbie Harry and Dolly Parton for inspiration.

She tells the German edition of Vogue magazine, "I never had the feeling I was made for a conventional marriage with a house in the suburbs.
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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Beware the Parent Trap
There is the appearance that female employees with young children are being given more latitude in terms of hours than their male counterparts and other women. . . .

While parents are not a protected class, claims based on an employee's status as a parent or nonparent may be pursued successfully under existing causes of action, frequently sex discrimination. . . .

In-house counsel can help reduce the chances of a lawsuit, generally by advising managers to treat similarly situated employees the same regardless of their family responsibilities and never to make an employment decision on the basis of an employee's status as a parent or nonparent. . . .

Employers should avoid granting flexibility according to the reason for the request, and focus on objective eligibility criteria -- for example, department or position, duration of employment, discipline history, performance record and/or history with regard to accuracy and timely reporting of hours worked that are clearly explained in a flexible workplace policy.
. . .
With employees increasingly sensitive to signs of favoritism, in a society highly focused on families and children, the balancing act for corporations is complex and fraught with peril. When employers give inferior -- or even preferential -- treatment to parents, they fall into the increasingly dangerous parent trap and create the risk of a discrimination claim based on sex or other protected status.
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Monday, April 14, 2008

Politician Proposes Spanking Ban; Journalist Trashes her for Being Childless

Spare the rod …
Ms. Lieber, being childless herself, no doubt falls into the error common among barren women, the belief that children are simply small adults, amenable to logic, rational argument and explanation. On the other hand, she regards responsible parents as children and is quite willing to employ the corporal powers of the state to bend them to her will: Lock them up; subject them to the mental suffering of "parenting classes" etc.
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Childless Couple Sues School Over Noise

Soccer vs. solitude
Now, she said, the secluded location becomes so noisy from April to June, and again from the end of August to November, the couple rarely step out onto the wraparound deck.
. . .
In a written statement, CBAA attorney Dennis Denard said, “To try and contain spontaneous human behavior in the form of youthful exuberance is not only an exercise in futility, as any parent well knows, but would also be an unreasonable selfish act.”
. . .
For its part, CBAA said it does not believe it is in violation of the township's noise ordinance, something the Stellars allege, nor does it think such regulations are intended for this type of activity.
. . .
Still, the number of practices, that run every day from 5:30 to 7 p.m., and the weekend game schedule that eats up Saturday and Sunday afternoons is unmanageable, say the Stellars.

“There are other nearby fields available,” he said. “We're just asking that they use them.”
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Nicollette Sheridan


"I love children. And I'm looking forward to having my firstborn when I'm 70."

Nicollette Sheridan, 44, star of Desperate Housewives, joking about being childless.

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That bundle of joy will cost a bundle


Some couples nationwide who choose not to have children cite the high cost of raising a child, Kristin Curtin and Jeff Hunt note in an article they wrote in 2005 for [X]Press Magazine.

An indicator of this, the writers say, is the fact that 44 percent of American women of childbearing age were childless in 2002, the U.S. Census Bureau reports. More telling still, they say, is that 18 percent of women 40 to 44 were still childless, up from 10 percent in 1976.

In addition to cost, "A devotion to their own sense of adventure, and a fear that 'bad genes' will be passed on to offspring are other main reasons leading some couples not to reproduce," according to the story.

Curtin and Hunt say it costs $250,000 to $300,000 to raise a child from birth to 18 in the Bay Area.

That is the equivalent of 47,965 six-packs of Budweiser, 283 Gucci Large Classic Totes or 300 iBooks, they note. It's also the cost of 115 years of Giants' season tickets, 14 Toyota Priuses or a one-bedroom San Francisco condo, the story says.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Couples with no kids make best neighbour

The Windsor Star
A new real estate survey finds more than half of homeowners - fully 58 per cent - see twosomes without tots as ideal next-door denizens, followed closely by retirees at 54 per cent (survey respondents weren't limited to one answer). Also popular among the suburban set are singles, with 38 per cent support, and pet owners at 28 per cent.

[O]n the laundry list of undesirables include . . .families with teenagers (37 per cent), and families with young children (20 per cent).
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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Sir Alan Sugar: What I really think of women at work

Not being able to find out about a person's intentions to have children (or not) creates an air of uncertainty.
I feel that the employment laws today - where bosses can't ask questions about things such as home life and kids - are damaging to women.

They are counterproductive. . . . It puts doubts in the mind of a prospective employer about the commitment and suitability of the candidate for the job.

The reality is that some employers are hesitant to employ women in key roles.

Regretfully, there's concern in the back of their minds that women may not be a good choice because they may come with complications and have their work and career disrupted by family stuff.
. . .
These smaller companies are welloiled machines with no spare parts - the boss employs exactly the staff they need.

They are not a charity and people are employed to do a job and be part of the team. . . . So it's important that these employers have workers they can rely on to be there. Things need to run smoothly, without constant absences.

I know this is not fair but business doesn't always do fair. Women have to accept this reality and be shrewd enough to deal with it.

I believe women should be allowed the opportunity to explain how their home life will not disrupt their work, rather than have their job hopes binned due to guesswork.

The law does not allow these discussions to take place, so my advice to women applying for a job is to empower themselves.
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Gerry Harvey knows baby bonus spent on plasma TVs

RETAIL giant Gerry Harvey said it was no secret that couples were splurging the baby bonus on televisions, alcohol and holidays.
The revelation from one of Australia's biggest retailers comes as the Federal Government considers dramatic changes to the baby bonus scheme, effectively cancelling out the lump-sum arrangements currently in place.

One proposal being examined would include 14 weeks' paid maternity leave rather than a $4133 payment to new mothers, which is due to rise to $5000 on July 1 this year.
. . .
The baby bonus was introduced by John Howard in 2004 to help parents meet some of the initial costs associated with having a baby.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Family Talk Forum: Is there an ideal family size?
For many people, family doesn't include children. Intentionally remaining childless as a couple or a single person works for many people. The Childless by Choice Project surveyed 171 voluntarily childless individuals and couples in the United States and Canada to find out their main motivators. The No. 1 reason: "I love our life, our relationship as it is, and having a child won't enhance it." Other motivators, such as lifestyle and economics, also play a role.
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Is Brooklyn for Kids? Residents Debate

Real Estate Round-Up
An angry childless condo owner writes that a few “loud mouth moms and dads at the expense of the other owners want to take space away from the game room . . . make a kids play room,” contrary to the original offering plan. “The kids and their nannies and parents will hi-jack the rest of the space with all their noise and screaming.”

Quickly, the debate turned to one over whether children belong in the city at all. Downtown Brooklyn, until recently, wasn’t considered an ideal place to raise children. . . . Now, with high-rises like BellTell selling apartments with multiple bedrooms, new families are moving into Downtown Brooklyn, sharing hallways with singles and “childless by choice” couples who aren’t amused by rambunctious laughter.

Parents fought back. This one takes the cake: “You people are disgusting. Who the [expletive] do you think raised YOU? Aliens? Wolves? Would you share your thoughts with your own parents?

Ungrateful [expletive]. You need to share this world. Children are part of it, and they are the future … One day that annoying kid down the hall is going to be spoon-feeding you oatmeal mush while you lie in a hospital bed with dementia.”
. . .
[J]udging by the comments, the war over the common space is symbolic of a clash in lifestyles between those who choose to have children and the growing number of people who choose not to.
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Musings of an Adoptive Mom

Adoption Adventures

I'll go out on a limb and declare this relevant. After all, for the many childfree people who are at least partially motivated by population concerns or bothered by disruptive children in public, most adoptive parents are much less "part of the problem". They don't increase the overall number of children in the world, but typically just shift those who are already here to a better situation.

In the case of the blogger here, we see another key difference from typical parents: a lack of the self-replicating drive, the drive to procreate. The author here chose to adopt despite not having known fertility problems. Imagine the impact of such a choice: fewer unwanted children without stable homes, less population growth, and a generation of parents whose motivations tend more generally toward the selfless.

But we live in a society where adoption is nearly always a solution to infertility, and genetic reproduction is the default. The social pressures that contribute to this phenomenon parallel what childfree people face about the choice to be parents at all:
That's not ordinary. In fact, it's downright weird in some people's eyes.

"Why wouldn't you at least try to have your own? Everyone would rather have their own! And for all you know you could conceive easily! Then if it doesn't work right away you can always do fertility treatments! You could use donor eggs! Medical science can do amazing things! You should at least try!"

Thanks, but no thanks.
. . .
I have to be honest and say that it really sucks to get hit with so much negativity. You tell people you're adopting and you're so excited to share the news. You want people to be excited along with you!

People mean well. They care about us and don't want to see us get hurt. I appreciate that. But I'd be lying if I said it's not a huge bummer to have your excitement met with doom and gloom. Fortunately we've got enough people in our corner that are excited for us and support our decision to balance out the naysayers. We draw strength from that support, and from the firm belief that we are choosing the path that is right for us.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

They’re not kidding

Childless and loving every minute of it
[C]onversations with “childfree” — a preferable term to “childless” by many — women hint at fairly simple reasons for the life choice: lack of interest and personal preference.
. . .
Teresa Barton, a Killingly resident who hopes to form a Connecticut chapter of the Canada-based childfree social network called “No Kidding!,” says, “The fact that I had strong women — my mother and my paternal aunts — taking care of me made such a strong impression on me that I didn’t need to be married or have children to be happy and to help others.”
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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Kids are expensive to raise

...and the numbers underestimate the cost

They're really expensive! That's bad!
According to its latest estimate, a child born in 2007 costs $204,060 to watch over, feed, cart around, educate and house from birth to the age of 18. This amounts to a tenfold increase in less than 50 years. According to the USDA, child-rearing costs have soared since the department began its annual study in 1960, when raising a kid cost a mere $25,229.
But it's not as bad as it seems. That's good!
While that may sound like a dramatic increase — and could in part explain why more families today are raising only one child — it's actually not much greater than the U.S. inflation rate over the same time period.
But it's really even worse!
But consider what the government figures don't take into account, and the onerous repercussions for families nationwide.
Take child care.
And why not start talking about college, even if said child is merely an infant?
For example, though housing makes up the largest single cost across income groups — 33% to 37% of total expenses — the estimates do not include mortgage principal payments.
Nor does the report take into account the myriad other products and services that parents today consider essential to raising a child. When you count the stroller, car seat, baby formula, crib, pacifiers and diaper cream, the bill for the first year's baby gear alone clocks in at $6,300. That's not including such luxuries-cum-necessities as exersaucers, baby sign-language class, Mommy and Me yoga and bouncy seats for the youngest set — and then soccer, tutoring, piano lessons, iPods and designer jeans once the kids hit school age.
But it may not be all that bad. That's good!
Sure, some of this stuff is extraneous.
The author neglected to mention that the report was cursed, but came with a free frogurt, which was also cursed, but came with a free topping that contained potassium benzoate.

That's bad.

You can go now.

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Babies in the Office


I selectively cut-and-paste the more...outlandish things.

The perk isn't just for working mothers: 10 fathers at T3 have participated. Toys that one parent used often are passed to other new moms and dads returning to work with their babies, company spokeswoman Courtney Layton says.

"It's been fun," she says. "You can't be in a bad mood when there is a baby there."


"I would wear him in a BabyBjörn (carrier) in meetings and just stand and bounce him around. At 12 weeks, he would make noise and flap his arms when co-workers would walk by," Gemperle says.

To avoid problems, she sent an e-mail to co-workers within 15 to 20 feet of her cubicle and warned they would sometimes hear a baby going "blah blah or gurgling."


"It's for the good of the child," says Sandra Turner, director of the company's employee assistance program. "It's better for them and for the parent."

Employers who allow babies in the workplace say it's a way to retain valued workers.

"Four women got pregnant within a couple of months of each other, and they were in fairly senior roles," says Gay Gaddis, president and founder of T3, which has 250 employees. "I thought, 'What if they don't come back?' Now the babies are here, in internal meetings and being fed on meeting tables. It does a lot for morale."

Hey, what's this? I just found a crystal ball on my desk. It's getting all foggy... wait a minute, I can see the future in there! I see..... lawsuits. Lawsuits, and lots of pissed-off workers on all sides of this issue.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Moving back in with the 'rents

in your 50s

After being laid off from her job as an events planner at an upscale resort, Jo Ann Bauer struggled financially. She worked at several lower-paying jobs, relocated to a new city and even declared bankruptcy.

Then in December, she finally accepted her parents' invitation to move into their home -- at age 52. "I'm back living in the bedroom that I grew up in," she said.

Taking shelter with parents isn't uncommon for young people in their 20s, especially when the job market is poor. But now the slumping economy and the credit crunch are forcing some children to do so later in life -- even in middle age.
A bad economy and/or imprudent financial decisions can cause this to happen, and I'm definitely not going to criticize anyone for either moving back in, or taking the kids in. But this is more evidence that parenting responsibilities (including financial ones) don't necessarily end when the kid reaches 18. One way or another, parenting should be thought of as a lifetime commitment.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Childfree and Single in a Changing Australian Society

Gaping hole in generation gap
Now, of course, it's an over-simplification to suggest that past generations all followed those basic patterns of existence, that inevitably, life was lived within those narrow, pre-ordained paramaters. But the fundamental truth of that generalised outline is evident in the statistics.
. . .
According to "the Mosaic 2008 Analysis" - a research study carried out by Pacific Micromarketing - marriage rates, and parenting rates, are falling dramatically. Now, . . . up to 25 per cent of women are unlikely to have children - a figure the researchers expect to increase even further in the next three decades.
. . .
And all the while, time ticks by. For Generations X and Y, the risk is that in pursuit of "personal fulfilment", they might overlook the most fulfilling of all aspects of the human experience - which is the production of their own part of the next generation.

For some, it is not a choice but a matter of chance and circumstance. And for those who do make the choice to be single or childless, that is their right.

But for all that, life is our most precious gift. It seems a pity not to be able to pass it on if possible.
Ah, pity. How condescending. Why is it so many people fail to understand that happiness is different things to different people? Bowlers understand that League Night isn't everyone's joy, nuns understand that a life of service to their G*d is not everyone's calling, and even the intrepid volunteers of Doctors Without Borders don't proselytize young people to follow in their footsteps. Why in this overpopulated world do so many fail to have the same enlightenment about parenthood? It's fulfilling for you, my dear. Unless you want me writing diatribes about how fulfilling Patent Law is, and what a mistake you're making with this little journalism career, get some perspective.

See also: SPUDs, single women taking over Australia

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Something I'm Not - Latest Childfree Novel?

A woman's choice to be childless
Lucy Beresford's accomplished debut, Something I'm Not . . .follows Amber, a successful, happily-married woman who has very consciously decided to eschew motherhood. It's a tale that draws heavily on Beresford's day job as a psychotherapist (and the fact that she also happens to be childless), and surely owes much of its success to this well of personal experience.
. . .
It follows a rather Freudian line perhaps, but as her behaviour becomes increasingly irrational - from jealousy of a female cat to an anonymous infidelity and even an unhinged act of vandalism - Amber is propelled towards the inevitable confrontation with her estranged mother, where unwelcome parallels and unexpected tragedy emerge to make sense of things.
. . .
And Something I'm Not - which incidentally acts as a refrain uttered by almost every single character - constitutes a complex odyssey that is ambitious in scope, carefully structured and highly accessible. It trumpets the courage needed to make - and stand by - difficult, life-defining decisions, as well as the hereditary effects of unresolved trauma and the importance of friends to our mental well-being.
Of course, without knowing what the ending is, I can't tell you whether the book will appeal to childfree readers. I'm sure many of you would not want to waste your time if the book "jumps the shark" and ends up with the protagonist solving all her problems via a broken condom. But I can guess that this is not one of those books by the fact that the author herself eschewed motherhood. I'll open the comments to readers who have read the book or know the ending, so possible spoiler alert if any readers take me up on this.

Of course, judging by the description, this is no No No Kidding, or Baby Proof that focuses on one woman's struggle to be childfree in a pronatalist world - there are far deeper themes.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New York Times Magazine

Your Kids Are Their Problem
There have always been people with children and people without. Why all this anger now? The answer lies in the confluence of nearly every major social and economic trend of the past 30 years. Start with the birth control pill, which transformed parenthood from an assumption to a choice. Add the women's rights movement, which sent women into the workplace in record numbers, forcing employers to find ways to accommodate families, particularly women who become mothers. Mix in the baby boomers (who have produced a baby boomlet of their own) and technology (which allows infertile couples and gay and lesbian couples to have children). Then there's the fact that, statistically, parents are older and more affluent, meaning youngsters can now be found everywhere -- at the theater, in upscale restaurants, kicking the back of your airplane seat. The world as we know it can sometimes seem infested with children.
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Monday, March 10, 2008

Environentalists Convince Themselves Breeding OK

Why Eco-Activists Still Have Children
If you only have two kids, you and your spouse merely replace yourselves, thus only temporarily adding to world overpopulation. If you only have one kid, then you leave the world with one less person when you and your spouse become compost. One argument for having a child or two is the quest to pass on "green" skills to the next generation. If it's only the thoughtless polluters and environment-rapers who breed, then eco-conscious people will take themselves out of the pool--kind of like the Shakers.
Why do so many ignore the fact that an ecoactivist child still pollutes and consumes far more than no child at all? (Pretending for a minute you can guarantee who your child will grow up to be) That adopting allows you to raise a child that way without contributing to overpopulation? I guess when it is convenient for them, eco-activists are just as capable as the next guy of convincing themselves their contribution to the problem is not that bad. Landfills are full of recyclable products thrown out by masses using the very same reasoning.

I threw my fears to the wind

This put things in perspective. I hated flying. So, like most people, I threw my fears to the wind. I was going to have a low-carbon, politically engaged child, and I wasn't going to think too far into the future. My husband, George Monbiot, an environmental campaigner, caved in.
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Should Kids Be Invited to Weddings?

The Opinionator
Children belong at wedding celebrations more than anyone else. They are a central reason for couples to marry. Who but those among the most selfish of us would restrict children from wedding celebrations? Clearly, it is a family celebration, not just an adult fling. What a lost opportunity to shape the future to shut kids out of weddings. In another time, in most other cultures, it would be seen as outrageous to exclude kids from weddings. Weddings need to promote children, not marginalize them.
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Baby Not Olympic Medal - Uganda's Top Athlete

The column appears in Uganda's leading Sunday newspaper - the Sunday Monitor. Reprinted with permission of the journalist.


Dorcus Inzikuru will be bringing back no medals from the Beijing Olympics in August. Ugandans may ask, "who is to blame?" And the simple answer is, "Ugandans are to blame". Or put more accurately, the level of socio-economic development in Uganda is to blame.

In Uganda, an average woman has 7 kids. In rich countries the average woman will have 2 or less children. Both a cause and a result of a country's development is reducing family size.

Back to poor Third World/Seven Kid Uganda. The socio-cultural pressure on a childless (I prefer the term "childfree") Ugandan woman in her mid-twenties
to "produce" is huge.

So Inzikuru conformed, and no doubt there were wild celebrations in Arua when she "produced" in late December.

But many people in the athletics world did not celebrate when they learnt of Inzikuru's pregnancy. For the timing of the birth made athletics nonsense. It meant that:

. She did not defend her World Championships steeplechase title in Japan in 2007
. Her preparation time for the 2008 Beijing Olympics has been so slashed, that she will do remarkably well just to reach the Final, let alone win a medal.

For God's sake, Inzikuru is only 25-years old. Uganda already has more pregnant women (and resulting poverty) than it knows what to do with. We really did not need a pregnant Inzikuru.

The contrast with the UK's outstanding marathon runner, Paula Radcliffe, is striking. She waited until she was 33 years before she had her first child. Yet the same methods of family planning were available to Inzikuru.

Running is a cruel sport in the sense that when you stop for any significant period, the fitness quickly disappears. Thus for Inzikuru, when she begins serious training again, it will be like starting from zero. And now there is just not enough time to reach the very high standards needed for her to win a medal in Beijing.

It is arguable whether even a fully fit Inzikuru would have won Gold - the women's steeplechase is a relatively new event. All over the world women are taking it up, so standards are rising much more quickly in female steeplechasing, than in other events.

Inzikuru is a wonderfully talented athlete whose World and Commonwealth Gold Medals mean that she will always have a special place in Ugandan sporting history. But the ultimate prize was to have joined John Akii Bua and become the only Ugandans to have won Olympic Gold in any sport. She had a chance of Gold. But the timing of the pregnancy, through her conforming to the norms of Ugandan society, and doing what so many of her fellow Ugandans expected of her, means that she now has no chance.
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Welcome to the nuthouse

The first weeks of my daughter's life aren't going exactly as planned. Especially the part where I am losing my freaking mind.
Wasn't that whole maternal-instinct thing supposed to stick around after that first night in the hospital? Wasn't some maternal gene supposed to switch on and keep me all stoned on bliss and beaming at this child like she is pure light? Like she is the sun? Like, by having her, my life has finally begun and I am finally complete? Isn't that what everyone says at the end of "A Baby Story"? Isn't that what my mother meant when she told me labor was "wonderful pain"? Because I'm not feeling wonderful. In these two weeks since we left the hospital, my emotional range seems to have collapsed in on itself, trapping me in a hole where I feel only overwhelmed. And frustrated. And afraid.

I'm terrified, really. Terrified that Thad and I have made a horrible, terrible mistake by having this baby. And I want to tell Thad, explain it to him. But that scares me, too. He won't understand. How could he? He's too busy wondering where his wife went.
There are also some excellent comments, including the following:
. . . many people assume bringing home your first child is a blissful soul-changing experience, but it's complete culture shock, akin to moving to a foreign country where you don't speak the language. Especially if you're a woman used to her independence. Used to finishing a task. Used to finishing a thought.

I suffered panic attacks the first three weeks of my newborn son's life. Like the author, I was certain we'd made a horrible, terrible mistake. I resented being on call every two hours, round the clock, to pump breast milk. I resented that my husband could leave the house and go to work and adult conversations but I only got to leave for one hour at a time to go to Target because I had to get back and pump.

I got over most of that, eventually.

There would be a lot fewer women with postpartum depression if mothers were honest about these feelings and experiences instead of, "It's the most wonderful thing in the world." New mothers are already petrified about screwing up and killing the kid... they don't need this propaganda making them feel worse about very natural and understandable feelings.
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The breast of times

I've nursed my son through four birthdays now. I know what the critics say, but it's what he wants.
For us, nursing has become a brief bedtime ritual that lasts as long as it takes me to sing the alphabet song. It involves little overt emotion; most of the time the process is as perfunctory as the tooth brushing that precedes it. It no longer offers much nutrition: My milk has dwindled to a few desultory drops.
. . .
American Pediatric Association guidelines recommend breast-feeding for 12 months, and after that for as long as "mutually desirable." But what to do when the desire -- on the part of at least one party, anyway -- shows no real sign of abating? When physical nourishment is almost beside the point, and what we are talking about is mostly the emotional kind?

In some quarters, my decision might still be considered criminal. In 2000, a 5-year-old in Illinois was taken from his mother when a baby sitter reported to police that he was still breast-feeding. In 2003, a Dallas mother was arrested after having taken a picture of herself breast-feeding her 1-year-old. Even in Madison, Wis., where I live -- once famously described by radio host Bill O'Reilly as a place so liberal you expect "people to be communing with Satan" -- the line separating "OK" from "Oh, yuck" still seems thinner than a bra strap.

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Ore. urologists: NCAA tourney good time for vasectomy

Ore. urologists: NCAA tourney good time for vasectomy
"When March Madness approaches you need an excuse ... to stay at home in front of the big screen," the clinic's radio ad says. "Get your vasectomy at Oregon Urology Institute the day before the tournament starts. It's snip city."

Institute Administrator Terry FitzPatrick . . . reported filling 15 slots by Thursday afternoon and expects to fill all 24.

The sports radio station broadcasting the clinic's ads promises to send each patient a recovery kit of sports magazines, free pizza delivery and a bag of frozen peas.
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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Child Free Lifestyle Featured on British TV

A: The subject was “What’s wrong with not wanting kids?” The host interviewed us both for our views, then the panel (of chosen celebs) has their say. I focused on the fact that I had never wanted kids for as long as I can remember - and the fact that I recall prams and dolls being forced on me as a child which I didn't want. I wanted bikes and cars etc. I corrected them on the fact that I had not had to give it much thought over the years, that it was a core part of who I am.
. . .
Q: What else happened on the show?

A: There were a few callers (they have a dial in to the show). Luckily, the 1st caller was a childfree lady - she said she had known since she was 8. She said that not being a mummy was brilliant! The 2nd caller was a mum by accident. She said she didn’t regret it but knew that she would have had a great life without child, so she understood us too. Two women on the celeb panel had kids late and said we may regret it, but they respected our choice.
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Couple Recieves Cash Award to Start Up New Child-Friendly Restaurant

Intuit Awards $50K Grand Prize
Ever wish that just once you could take your kids out for dinner and skip the obligatory glass of whine? Or the evil looks from childless restaurant patrons? You're not alone.

Alissa and Noah DeRouchie of Columbus, Ohio feel your pain and hope to build a restaurant that not only serves healthy foods for both kids and parents, but also offers a play area where kids can burn off energy while Mom and Dad get to enjoy their meal in relative peace. Their idea was so good that it won them $50,000 worth of cash, products and services in Intuit's Just Start contest.
I don't know abot you, but I think this is a great idea. Much like "mommy and me" movie showings, giving parents a choice keeps at least some of them out of the restaurants and movie theatre showing I hope to enjoy quietly. Since, of course, hiring a babysitter or staying home (takeout, DVD rental) don't seem to be enough choices for most parents.

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The number of women in their 40s having babies has reached a record high in New Zealand

Are Kiwi women waiting too long for Mr Right?
And a fertility expert says women are delaying motherhood not because they're committed to their jobs, but because they can't find the right man to have children with.
. . .
In the 30-34 age group, for example, 50% of those working fulltime would be childless, while only 12% of part-time workers would have no children.

He believed that apart from the trend towards later conception, there were simply more parents in those age groups available to have babies.
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Tennessee considers mandatory paternity testing

Tennessee: The Maury Povich State

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - State Rep. G. A. Hardaway is backing a bill requiring a paternity test performed on all babies before their fathers' names are listed on birth certificates.

"They'll bring tears to your eyes," said the Memphis Democrat. Hardaway said personal pleas for help in his district prompted him to sponsor what could be called the "paternity proposal" in the Tennessee Legislature.

His proposal would affect single adults as well as married couples. "Well, at some point society has to weigh the rights of the parents against the rights of the child," he said. "And I think this is one of the basic inherent rights that should go with the child."

Judging by the Fark thread, this seems to be breaking a bit on gender lines. But not entirely.

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