Friday, April 24, 2009

Repro Men: A conversation on the parenthood choice and gay culture

Withering Glance: Repro men

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Friends With Kids

Finding time for friends saves sanity
Becoming a parent makes time spent with pals not nervously waiting for our kids to come off a ride at Chuck E. Cheese or chasing them around a park especially precious.

Parenting, of course, has its joys, but it can be an isolating experience as even when you manage to find time to spend with other adults, the conversation tends to focus on the little ones.

Having kids (or in our case, kid) tends to consume your life giving you little else to talk about.

This makes having relationships with people without kids nearly impossible.

You can at least commiserate with other parents, but the child-free live in an entirely different universe - a land where staying up past 10 and watching a whole movie on a weeknight remain possible.

For people without kids, listening to someone talk about their children is about as interesting as listening to a long story about someone's cat.

My single friends maybe want to see a picture and hear a quick update. They do not want to sit through my story about how Joshua spent three hours refusing to go to sleep while taking every item out of every storage area in his room and calling me "a fresh face."

Being a parent overwhelms your life in a way that makes it hard to remember that you are anything else.
I think I'll forgive the childfree=single slip in this instance; as a married and childfree person, this is often a pet peeve of mine. But it is good to see yet another parent who is aware that their friends without kids have a different perspective while their own has changed - that they might not be interested in hearing every detail of your progeny's life, and may barely have a clue who Miley Cyrus is.

I don't have any friendships with parents, not really. Although I've hit my 30s, my friends are just starting to get married, and the few former friends who have procreated had pretty much dropped out of my life before it happened, or live in another state. So I am kind of curious - has anyone managed to make it work?

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Life Without Debt: The Decision to Remain Childless

A Life Without Debt: The Decision to Remain Childless
However, not having children does make it much easier to stay out of debt. When one of us loses a job, we only have ourselves to worry about. When creating an emergency fund, we only have to worry about each other, not what can go wrong with several children. Our expenses in every category are less without kids (except maybe housing as we would have this house with or without kids). We don’t have college educations to save for so we are able to put away more for our retirement or other big purchases. Our incomes only have to cover us, not educational expenses, childcare, extra insurance, additional medical bills, lots of clothes, and additional food.

I know friends who have kids that have remained debt free so I know it is possible. They do a wonderful job of balancing the needs of their children with the household needs and saying, “No” when the budget does not allow for extras. But I do know that it is harder for them than for us. They say no a lot more often than we do. And while they have remained debt free, they have not been able to save as much as we have. They have very little in their retirement accounts and a modest emergency fund that would only last two months. It is harder for them and I am aware, when I visit with them, that remaining debt free would have been much harder for us if we had kids.

. . .

I know other DINK’s who are in debt up to their necks, so being child free does not confer an automatic debt free life, either. It’s about the choices you make and the priority you place on remaining debt free. I wouldn’t recommend basing the decision to have kids or not solely on your desire to remain debt free. Kids are about a lot more than money. But there is no denying that it is much easier without kids. It’s yet one more choice and factor that has to be considered when planning your financial future.
Having spent some time on childfree mailing lists and discussion boards, I know there is some resentment towards the assumption that being childfree automatically means one is well-off. Well, of course it doesn't. But - saving a matter of six or seven figures over one's lifetime has a major impact on one's bottom line. Many childfree people see this as an opportunity to choose (I am here exclusing those with unfortunate circumstances or just starting out) a life other people cannot - a career that they love and/or fulfills them, that they would never be able to support children with. Some choose to live lavishly or generously, and end up spending or giving away that same money elsewhere. These two camps end up just as money-poor as those with kids. I'm not quite sure I understand the resentment of the positive stereotype coming from these camps - it seems a great opportunity to point out the alternative one has chosen (or at the least how much worse off one would be with kids!)

I'm happy to remain one who will sit in the public eye reinforcing the positive stereotype. Sure, my discretionary spending month to month on travel and spas (and the amount I ferret away in my 401k and pretend isn't there) leaves my bank account just as sad as anyone elses at the end of the month. But I am free - free at any time to cut back my lifestyle and take advantage of the cheap real estate in my lovely NYC neighborhood. Free, should the economy cost me my bewitchingly fortunate job to reign in my expenses to a ridicously low amount and live on a Starbuck's barista salary once again.

There will always be among us great diversity, both economically and otherwise. However, what will always unite us is that no matter where we are, we are a bit more free than we would be if we had children. I have yet to come across a childfree person (and I have known hundreds) who made the decison for financial reasons. But why let that stop us from enjoying one of our lifestyle's happenstance perks?

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

I Won’t Roll the Biological Dice

Because of my ominous genetic history, I decided I would never have children. Got a problem with that?
. . .genetic testing showed that I have a 67 percent chance of passing on the illness responsible for my younger sister's death. The statistics were sobering, and they meant that my husband and I would never have a child of our own. I grieved the loss of that version of our future. But knowing my child was likely to carry danger in her cells, I chose not to take the risk. My husband understood.

I knew that in deciding not to be a mother, I was making a choice that would define the rest of my life. But my fear surpassed longing: fear that my child would be ill and die before her time, or that my child would be well and I would worry her away from me.
Now that is a selfless choice.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Dear Amy Response

Los Angeles Times
Dear Amy: I am responding to a woman who wanted to know how to respond when people ask when she's going to have a baby.

I am 64, and my husband and I elected not to have children. Knowing what we do about the rise in human population and the problems that today's children will face in the future with climate change, global warming, peak oil, and that in 100 years this planet will be a very different but not better place -- those are reasons enough not to have children.

We are "child free," not "childless," and proud of it.

Jennifer in Oregon

Dear Jennifer: Though I don't necessarily share your dim view of the future, I certainly respect your choice.
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Friday, April 10, 2009

Secret to marital bliss? Don't have kids

Couples' satisfaction declines after birth of first child, eight-year study finds
An eight-year study of 218 couples found 90 percent experienced a decrease in marital satisfaction once the first child was born.

"Couples who do not have children also show diminished marital quality over time," says Scott Stanley, research professor of psychology at University of Denver. "However, having a baby accelerates the deterioration, especially seen during periods of adjustment right after the birth of a child."
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Thursday, April 09, 2009

I was a career women who boasted about being childless ... until a puppy sent my maternal instinct into overdrive

Author of Childfree and Loving It eats some humble pie after seeing what being a devoted dog-lover turned her into.
And where, given my experiences as a canine carer, do I now stand on the whole childfree business?

In the same way as I didn't want to get pregnant, I would never have voluntarily become a dog owner.

For starters, our minimalist flat in central London is all cream rugs and polished wood floors.

Then there's the fact that I have the near-perfect work-life balance. My job as a freelance TV and radio producer is stimulating and varied, working on shows such as the BBC's Breakfast and Today programmes.
. . .
They're the banal conversations of parenthood that I always feared, but with Chula I love it.

And it's exactly because she's a dog not a person that it's so much more entertaining.
I love the eccentricity of our semi-parenthood. Our trips to the cafe are a ritual I look forward to. Dogs are allowed and for that reason it's like a canine kindergarten.
Her friends are always there - Brock the bull terrier, Atash the Alsatian, posh pugs Charlie and Oscar.

I much prefer it to being surrounded by children and am thinking of beginning a campaign to make all cafes, restaurants and cinemas dog-friendly.

For someone who in the past has criticised the workplace divisions between those who have children and those who do not (all that sloping off early for little Jimmy's sports' day) that might sound a tad nonsensical? Well, what can I say? That's doting mothers for you.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Harper's Bazaar: Baby blues
Ambivalence about having children isn't a particularly welcome stance in this culture of childcentric ├╝bermommies, with their tangle of parenting accoutrements — nannies, twin Maclaren strollers, Tumble Tots classes, socially vetted playdates. Questions inevitably arise as to why one wouldn't want to join their Pampers-changing ranks. . . .

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Friday, April 03, 2009

Women Who don't Want to Have Children
I am a woman. I have all the biological requirements to have a child. Yet, I do not have the instincts or rational desire to do so. Does that make me less of a woman to not want to have a child either by using my body, my eggs, or my money to adopt?

My parents are the only people who, when I said I didn’t want to have kids, responded with, “Sounds like a good idea.” They married because I was on the way and had two more after me. They know how hard it is to raise kids, but they also love us very much. They wouldn’t change what had happened, but they wouldn’t force their want for a grandchild on me. Besides they have two already (I’m off the hook!) . . .

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Child-free couple want to stop the questions

Dear Amy

My husband and I haven't even been married a year, but already people are starting to ask, "Are you pregnant yet?"

My husband and I don't want to have children. Whenever I tell people that we aren't planning to have any kids, they seem to make it their personal mission to persuade me to have a baby, or assure me that this is only a phase and I will change my mind. How do we avoid these conversations?

We will be deflecting these questions for the next 50 childless years. Help!
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Britons Say 'Yes' to Child-Free Zones on Planes

TripAdvisor(R) Survey Reveals Challenges of Travelling With Children
. . . 79% of Britons believe there should be child-free zones on planes.

Whilst 88% of travellers without children would like to see the introduction of adults-only sections on flights, a surprising 71% of parents also agree.
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