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.

Technorati Tag:

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.". . .
Technorati Tag:

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?

Technorati Tag:

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.
Technorati Tag:

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.
Technorati Tag:

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.
Technorati Tag:

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.”
Technorati Tag:

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.

Technorati Tag:

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.

Technorati Tag:

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).
Technorati Tag:

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.
Technorati Tag:

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.

Technorati Tag:

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.
Technorati Tag:

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.
Technorati Tag:

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.

Technorati Tag:

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.”
Technorati Tag:

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.

Technorati Tag: