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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Thursday, March 06, 2008

What were these parents thinking?

10 Worst Baby Names of 2007

E-: E...what? You'd think if you had to name your kid after a letter, Jay would be much better than this one, which was selected by parents in Washington. And while we're (grudgingly) willing to accept the use of apostrophes in baby names, we can't say the same for the hyphen. At least not when there isn't any more name to follow it.

Story: Actress Jenna Elfman's pick. It just doesn't make sense and certainly won't start a literary trend. Article, Essay, or Narrative, anyone? Every baby has a tale to tell, just not this way.

Ever: This is an adverb, not even an adjective or a noun, which do okay as names if you're in a pinch. It's going to get confusing when actress mom Milla Jovovich scolds the kid, "Ever, don't ever do that again!"

Heaven Rain: The only good news here: Brooke Burke's two older daughters are named Neriah and Sierra Sky. Though little Heaven's got a pretty lofty title to live up to, she'll fit right in at home.
. . .
Superman: No explanation necessary for why this New Zealand name made the list, but how about the story behind it? The parents' first choice was 4Real (as in, "when we saw him on the ultrasound, we realized he was for real"), but government officials didn't go for it. Mom and dad settled on Superman but insist they'll still refer to him as 4Real. Way to get the last word in.

Maybe they were naming their child after the famed Justice Story? Can I please believe that it is a misstep in the surnames-as-given-names trend, and not as bad as it seems? And for once we can have glee with this without seeming like hateful child-free - this list was created by The Knot's marriage site "The Nest".

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Why are People Having Fewer Kids?

Perhaps it's because they don't like them very much.

Demographic Winter asserts that "every aspect of modernity works against family life and in favor of singleness and small families or voluntary childlessness." And surely they are right. Modern societies offer people many other satisfactions and choices outside of the family. In particular women find that their time becomes more highly valued in occupations outside the home. There are no iron laws of demography, but one that comes pretty close is that the more educated women are, the fewer children they tend to have. Eberstadt also noted the best predictor of fertility levels is the desired family size as reported by women. And finally, the most profound event of the 20th century may have been the sexual revolution's drive toward gender equality, enabled by modern contraception. Unlike other creatures, people can have the fun of sex without the side effect of parenthood.

So, modernity essentially transforms children from capital goods that produce family income into consumption items to be enjoyed for their own sakes, more akin to sculptures, paintings, or theatre. But that's just the problem—according to happiness researchers, people don't really enjoy rearing children.
This article also sparked a heated discussion on whether people who cannot afford to have children should have them.

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Toys in Texas

Sex toys now legal in Texas

A federal appeals court has struck down a Texas law that makes it a crime to promote or sell sex toys.

"Whatever one might think or believe about the use of these devices," said an opinion written by Justice Thomas M. Reavley of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, "government interference with their personal and private use violates the Constitution."

Under Texas law it is illegal to sell, advertise, give or lend obscene devices, defined as a device used primarily for sexual stimulation. Anyone in possession of six or more sexual devices is considered to be promoting them.

While this is news, it really isn't childfree news. Or is it?

The state also argued in a brief that Texas has legitimate "morality based" reasons for the laws, which include "discouraging prurient interests in autonomous sex and the pursuit of sexual gratification unrelated to procreation."
What a nice slap against the childfree, childless, and post-menopausal women. Or why not open it up a bit more? At heart, the logic is simply misogynistic. Male orgasm during sex is directly related to possible procreation, while female orgasm is not. This essentially states that fulfilling the sexual needs of women is actually counter to the interests of the state of Texas.

Real moral.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Screw career, have a baby NOW!!!

Are we feeling a wee bit alarmist today? I think we are.

Women who want to have children should make it a priority in their twenties to find a partner. That's because one of the most dramatic issues facing Generation X is infertility. No generation of women has had more trouble with fertility than this generation, who received the terrible baby boomer advice, "Wait. You have time. Focus on your career first."

But in fact, you have your whole life to get a career. Obviously, that's not true of having a baby. If you are past your early twenties, and you're single and want to have children, you need to find a partner now. Take that career drive and direct it toward mating - your ovaries will not last longer than your career.

Take that career drive and direct it towards mating! You know, the only thing you really want out of life, if you're honest with yourself, you walking uterus! And maybe you would have found a man already if you spent more time trying to get your MRS instead of your PhD.

And stop being so damned picky! You don't need to find Prince Charming, just find a guy that will marry you and impregnate you. After the kids, husbands are afterthoughts anyway. Why are you still reading?! Go find a man and HAVE A BAYBEE!!!

What the hell is wrong with people...

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No child. Left behind?

Tulsa couple start social group for adults without kids
“It’s really hard to find people to go out with who have the same interests,” he said. “When kids come around, everything changes.”

With this in mind, Darrell and his wife, Alice Calkins, 44, also of Catoosa, founded a new chapter of “No Kidding!” It is a social group for adults, both couples and singles, who do not have children.
. . .
Alice Calkins said they have been married more than 20 years and have many friends with children, but found it hard to schedule social activities around people with children.
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Number of pregnancies among women over 40 soars to record high
The statistics come on top of an ONS analysis which showed that one in five women has not had a child by the time she reaches her 40s.

Most of this group will remain childless.

Sex education groups yesterday welcomed the shift towards older childbearing. Julie Bentley of fpa, formerly the Family Planning Association, said: "Every woman has to make her own decision.

"As long as women are aware that their fertility naturally declines over the age of 35, and that it will probably take a bit longer to get pregnant, late motherhood is a valid choice.

"These figures illustrate that the traditional approach of, 'Get married young and have children' isn't the reality for many British women.

"Improved education and career opportunities, different lifestyle choices and expectations mean their lives may take a different path."

But Anastasia de Waal, of the Civitas think-tank, said: "These figures are a reflection of the assumption that couples will both have careers.

"That means there is often no room for children.
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