"Still, there are some interesting tidbits in the study, which surveyed 1,200 childless American women.
• Highly religious women perceived fewer average social messages stressing the importance of having children compared with less religious women.
• Hispanic and African-American women were least likely to be voluntarily childfree, but were most likely to have “biomedical fertility barriers” (i.e. infertility).
• The average age of women who were childfree by choice was about four years older than the average age of those with biomedical barriers and about six years older than childless women with “situational barriers” (financial concerns, education or job demands, lack of a partner).
• Family income was highest among voluntarily childfree women and lowest among women with fertility issues."
Friday, October 26, 2012
"Now that I’m of an age when mortality is more than just a vague, faraway notion, childlessness has taken on a different meaning. To be childless in a culture that revolves around family and children means that, to a certain extent, you’re on the outside looking in.
. . .
The feeling of being an outsider is most keen when I am with a group of women. I am an oddity. The ones with children cannot imagine a life without. The unasked question hangs in the air: “You don’t have children because — —?” The implication is that if I chose a life without children, I am cold. If I can’t have children, I am to be pitied. "
Monday, October 08, 2012
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
Sunday, September 30, 2012
Ah, behold the adult without children: unburdened and carefree, the next great adventure up ahead. And over there, meet the parents: anxious and sleep-deprived, muttering about attachment-this and self-esteem-that. I have two kids but the childfree are my real people. As Liz Lemon would say: “I want to go to there.”
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
An airline in Malaysia has created a "quiet zone" in the front of its planes where children under 12 are prohibited. Unlike Malaysian Airlines, this perk isn't restricted to first class passengers, but is the same price as their other economy seats. Now all we need is some North American airlines to follow suit.
Friday, September 21, 2012
One woman who got pregnant at 42 wrote, "I hate being a mother too. Every day is the same. And to think I won't be free of it until I am like 60 and then my life will be over." Another, identifying herself only as k'smom, said, "I feel so trapped, anxious, and overwhelmed. I love my daughter and she's well taken care of but this is not the path I would have taken given a second chance."I'm sure plenty of women enjoy motherhood, at least in sum. Maybe even most. But the fact that not everyone does sometimes seems like this dirty little secret. A secret often confessed to us childfree friends in hushed whispers away from the prying (and condemning) ears of their mom friends. I've even heard confessions from complete strangers when they found out about my work for No Kidding!
Gianna wrote, "I love my son, but I hate being a mother. It has been a thankless, monotonous, exhausting, irritating and oppressive job. Motherhood feels like a prison sentence. I can't wait until I am paroled when my son turns 18 and hopefully goes far away to college." One D.C.-based mom even said that although she was against abortion before having her son, now she would "run to the abortion clinic" if she got pregnant again.
It isn't like we hide the difficulty of parenthood, and, specifically motherhood. Hell, sometimes those difficulties mount to near-martyr status as women bemoan just how busy and exhausted they are, and how reading a book, taking a bath, and even going to the bathroom uninterrupted is an unheard of luxury.
But there's a rule. When they're done garnering sympathy for their plight, they must, must end by telling us how rewarding it is. How it is all worth it. It is a trope so unrelentingly uttered that I sometimes suspect there are parenting police waiting in the wings with a gun pointed at the writer's head mouthing a command to include the hackneyed sentence. Certainly there's a figurative enforcement brigade that will attack with a slew of angry comments to punish the rare failure. Furthermore, when faced with the notion that some women don't want kids, these same women surge from all sides to tell us we're missing out on the best experience ever.
It isn't. Not for everyone. Not for all mothers. If women who chose to have kids can end up with regret, it stands to reason that it would not be a worthwhile experience for those of us who lack that drive to begin with.
Do you think we will ever get rid of the script? Or will voices like Valenti's forever be drowned out by the cacophony of parents ending virtually every single article ever written on the hardship of parenting with a mandatory sunny outlook?
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
I can't fault them for the method (offering free childcare) but the message is ridiculous. People should have more babies because the nursery industry is suffering? I also doubt these couples are failing to have more kids just because they don't have time for sex. That's something that either is a priority or isn't. It's not a casual decision.
"I have so many friends who don’t have children and are happy. Being a woman isn’t about having children."
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
If, from beyond the grave, Betty Friedan were to review the Facebook habits of the over-30 set, I am afraid she would be very disappointed in us. By this I mean specifically the trend of women using photographs of their children instead of themselves as the main picture on their Facebook profiles. . . Where have all of these women gone? What, some earnest future historian may very well ask, do all of these babies on our Facebook pages say about “the construction of women’s identity” at this particular moment in time?
. . .
But this is how they choose to represent themselves. The choice may seem trivial, but the whole idea behind Facebook is to create a social persona, an image of who you are projected into hundreds of bedrooms and cafés and offices across the country. Why would that image be of someone else, however closely bound they are to your life, genetically and otherwise? The choice seems to constitute a retreat to an older form of identity, to a time when fresh-scrubbed Vassar girls were losing their minds amidst vacuum cleaners and sandboxes.
It's amazing how many of the comments miss the point. "But my children are my number one priority!" Well, fine. That's not the same thing as your identity. I suspect a lot of them are wholly unfamiliar with The Feminist Mystique. They think that total, complete and unyielding devotion to your children, to the point you cease to matter, is a virtue.
I think this is a cultural ethic that has emerged in the past few decades, along attachment parenting and the shunning of formula moms. We have somehow engrained in ourselves the notion that every small benefit to child is worth the greatest sacrifice to mom. That it is not a careful weighing of the interests of both that should be used to make decisions, but rather that baby wins. Every time. And if you put even the slightest consideration of self above your child, you lose.
Unlike our mothers, we were not pushed into homemaker status by all-male law schools and hiring discrimination. We're not even pushed into it by cultural expectations exacted upon the moment of high school or college graduation. It is far more subtle than that, replaced instead by the concept of "having it all" and perceptions of virtue that kick in when you have a child (and in some regions, when you marry).
I think it is because of this that we have forgotten Friedan's essential lesson. A human being cannot disappear and still be happy and mentally healthy. Nonperson-ness is not a virtue, it is a recipe for slowly boiling misery. No matter how important our role, no matter how much we love our children, we need to retain a sense of self to be healthy. We need to matter.
And although this should not be the most essential point, perhaps it will get them to listen: it is not good for your children. Do you want your son to grow up thinking his wife is a mere vassal to her family? Don't you want your daughters to have a role model of independent femininity? By wearing self-sacrifice as a badge of honor, you prioritize their immediate wants while subverting your long term responsibility to raise happy, healthy adults.
But still the comments here glaze over all we have learned in the past 60 years, instead droning the mantra that children matter most, and really meaning that only children matter at all. I wonder if they have even thought this through?
Friday, September 07, 2012
The Times identifies a second issue: “Who, if anyone, has the work-life balance higher ground: The mother with three children, the son taking care of elderly parents, or the 20-something who is learning Mandarin once a week? And should the reasons even matter and be brought to the table in the first place?”
The answer is no, according to Cali Williams Yost, chief executive of Flex + Strategy Group/Work + Life Fit. She tells the Times her advice is “to remove the why.”Technorati Tag: childfree
Thursday, September 06, 2012
The news program hired child actors to act like terrors, then filmed the reactions of other patrons with hidden cameras. The funny thing is, the behavior isn't much worse than I have seen in real life, especially if I eat in a chain restaurant in the suburbs.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Monday, August 20, 2012
Monday, July 23, 2012
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
It's true that divorcing couples without kids may avoid a lot of the nasty legal stuff -- often they can mediate or use alternative dispute resolution. They also may have an easier time getting back into the dating world; there are no custody schedules to navigate, no worries about whether your kids like who you're dating, no fear of dragging them through another breakup. Plus not everyone wants to get involved with a single parent.
But if kids were an issue in your marriage as it reportedly may have been Perry and Brand, imagine what it would be like if your former "I don't want kids" spouse marries again and then has kids with his or her new spouse -- that can't possibly feel good.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
When you're an enthusiastic member of the mom club, it's natural to want your pals to join too. But making assumptions about your buddy's baby-making plans can be offensive and invasive—and thinking you know better because you're a parent can hurt your friend's feelings. "Comments about childlessness can be taken as criticism," says New York City therapist Mindy Utay, LCSW, who often counsels infertile couples. Whether a couple is childless by choice or struggling to conceive, prying questions are likely to hit a nerve, she adds. Even if you have good intentions, "A woman without kids may hear, 'What's wrong with you—why are you different?'" Here are some gaffes to avoid with childless friends–and what to say instead.
Monday, July 09, 2012
In looking elsewhere, I am discovering that childfree living is perkier than I thought.
I dream with renewed freshness of a deeper purpose, of an existence beyond the regurgitation of my own flesh and blood, of more than just me. I dream of others, for others.
Friday, June 29, 2012
it’s hard to argue with their insistence that the decision to have a child is an ethical one. When we set the size of our families, we are, each in our own small way, determining how the world of the future will look. And we’re doing this not just for ourselves and our own children; we’re doing it for everyone else’s children, too
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
The ad continued: “This carefully selected range of resorts offers you the chance to enjoy a relaxed and independent break with your partner or a group of close friends. Thomson and the resort owners guarantee not knowingly to sell to anyone under the age of 16. See Adult Properties in the A-Z Guide for more information.”
But one person complained that the ad was misleading after she stayed at the hotel and found children were booked in.
Thomson agreed that children were staying at the resort during the complainant’s holiday, but said it was “unreasonable” to expect that this would never happen because it could not prevent people booking children in as adults.
The hotelier in the complainant’s case had told Thomson that they were obliged to take bookings from a few families with children after they received a warning from their local authority following a complaint. However, it would not be obliged to take local bookings from families with children in the future.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Los Angeles native Elizabeth, 35, is inclined to agree. She and her first husband married young, and though the two were happy and compatible in every other regard, he ended up filing for divorce because she realized that she never wanted to have children. Elizabeth felt doubly pressured as a Hispanic woman from a big family, where having lots of children is just something that’s expected after marriage. While she’s confident that not being a parent is right for her personally, she says the added social pressure and judgment from her relatives and their culture has made explaining her decision to others especially difficult. “I feel extremely guilty,” saysFrom what I have heard about online dating, the real story is about how 9/10 people who respond have "wants kids" on their profile; causing some people to launch childfree-only sites. It is good to see that such a major site is at least aware of us.
Elizabeth. Often, she admits, “I have to lie.”
Her resistance to having kids is what initially attracted her second husband, Jerry. When they met in a Los Angeles grocery store checkout line, he mused, “You’re Hispanic like me. Shouldn’t you have six kids by now?” She blurted out, “I’m never having kids. What’s it to you?” Jerry smiled and replied, “Because I want to ask for your phone number.” The couple has since become inseparable, traveling around the world together and sharing their passion for kayaking.
Only some of the pay gap is the result of discrimination by employers. Men crowd into high-paying fields like engineering, while women dominate lower-paying fields like education and social service. And women are more likely than men to fall off the career track when they have children. They take time off and lose skills, or they opt for less-demanding jobs so they can spend more time at home. Most fathers, in contrast, manage to skate through parenthood without the slightest harm to their careers. Employers could offer family-friendlier policies on leave and flextime, but they can’t be blamed for dads who don’t do enough around the house.
Friday, June 22, 2012
This is yet another article with a series of traditional quotes by childfree women and experts. It is unique in that it adds large photographs of the women involved, seemingly put there to convince us childfree women spend their extra time pursuing fitness. Not a terrible stereotype to endure.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
But children are innocent and sweet, right?
By the way, what on earth is wrong with this journalist? I can't believe what CNN has become.
"She just hadn't realised how arduous, all-consuming and relentless parenting could be. Of course she loves her kids, but given the time over she wasn't sure it was for her.
My initial reaction was, keep this to yourself, but as I observed the cup of tea shaking in her hand, guilt etched all over her face, I realised that maybe the problem is not what she said but the fact that she felt she couldn't be honest about it."
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Friday, June 15, 2012
"I don't think husbands and kids are for everybody," she says. "I think they're really good things to have, but lots of women, either by choice or by circumstance, are not going to have that. My belief is that you owe yourself a good life, no matter what your circumstance is. ... I'm living proof, because I have a fantastic life. Having been a source of inspiration to her other single friends, Wells decided to outline, in her book, all of the benefits of singledom. Her points are not aimed at rejecting coupling, but at leading a full life while alone, which can also lead to being not so single anymore. . . . Babies aren't for everybody: "There's almost nothing else you can do in life that you can't take back or change in any way. Having a kid is. You have to be 100 percent all the way in, and so if there's doubt there, I think you should wait until there is no doubt.Can I get an Amen?
. . . I remember hanging out with my childless friends when I was pregnant with Easton, saying, “Nothing will ever come between us.” On no! I’d try to convince them that I would not cast them aside for some new friend that I’d meet because of my daughter. Ron and I swore up and down that we would stick with our current friendships and not be swayed into new ones because of our future daughter’s budding social life. I recall us saying countless times to each other, “Who would base a friendship on their kid’s relationships? That’s cray-cray!” This was of course before Easton had entered the scene and changed the focal point completely in every aspect of our lives — even our relationship, dare I say. On another note, who would change their lifestyle to accommodate their children’s needs? This is what the single unmarried or newly-married couple thinks. This is what we thought before we had a little one. . . . I’m just saying … things have changed. I was wrong!I'm not sure I'd want to be friends with someone who says "cray-cray" and thinks the opposite of parents is the "single set". I'm not surprised she has had much more trouble than her commenters in retaining her friendships after having a kid. I also can't help but think her language is a bit over the top:
these little ones are the apple of our eye and shall I say it — gasp — the center of our universe … they most certainly are our heart’s center and have become the grounding force in the latest chapter of our lives. . . Easton is growing like a flower".
Also. . . Easton? Really?
Sunday, June 10, 2012
"This phenomenon was explored in student Theresa Riley's University of Waikato thesis which developed into a book entitled Being Childfree in NZ: How couples who choose not to have children are perceived. Riley noted the presence of strong social norms for couples to have children and her research found that childfree people are commonly stereotyped as being anti-children and selfish.
In fact, accusations of selfishness are fired from both sides of this particular debate. The childfree are deemed to be selfish if they don't want their nice, cosy lives disrupted by messy, demanding offspring while parents are considered selfish if they mindlessly choose to conform to society's conventions, create someone so they'll have a caregiver in old age or opt to manufacture a mini-me just to fill a vacuum in their lives."
Monday, June 04, 2012
"The religious conservatives have it wrong ... again. Gay marriage will not destroy the institute of marriage. How can people who want to get married end marriage? In fact, gay men and women who crave marriage are the distraction, the front, the "beard" if you will for the real secret, pervasive threat to the Institute of Marriage ... childless, single, joyous, happy and free women who just can't get worked up about getting married and who do not want children. And our numbers are growing. Nearly half of the population is single and 61 percent of them have never married.I am happily married, but when my husband and I are asked about it, one of the first things we say is, "It isn't for everyone." After all, the strange confluence of factors that makes us so compatible contains few lessons for us to pass along. Except, perhaps, for one: the constant unhappy compromise, hard work, struggle, and yelling fights we see in so many other couples is far from mandatory. I see those marriages, and I know I would last about five minutes in any of them.
. . .
Yet this "right for each other" never came my way. And if it did, I apparently didn't notice. But contrary to what married folks want to believe, lack of children or husband has many rewards for an adventurous woman. Freedom is not just another word for nothing left to lose. I have had the enormous great fortune to have been able to pursue everything I've ever wanted to do and become the most full version of myself, something I hear gets lost for many women in the middle of endless husband and child demands. I do know that a family can have its rewards: Who can deny the benefits of protection, affection, support? But so many are a hotbed of tangled resentments, unspoken fears and complicated intrigues one can't deny that single isn't better or worse than being married: It's just different. Actually for some of us it seems to work exceedingly well. The secret is out."
So why do so many people accept those terms? I think it is for the same reason so many people have children. We're supposed to. It is seen as an inevitable step in maturity and the progression of life, and it takes a bold individual willing and able to question almost anything to realize it isn't really a must.
Childfree and single people are often compatriots in the fight for acceptance, perhaps mostly because so many single people don't have kids. However, it is more than that. We're compatriots in the struggle to allow all people to choose their own path, to decide for themselves what makes them happy, and not to be judged or punished just for failing to follow the script. I can think of a lot of groups like this, and I hope to continue to support each and every one of them.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
I find two things wrong with this assumption. One, the mother is no less important and worthy a person as her child. When what you are asking a women to give up is a great sacrifice (her career, pain or difficulty breastfeeding) and the gain to the child is moderate, it is reasonable to make the decision that is best for the family as a whole (the former Terry Fisher student in me wants to call it Pareto efficient). To do otherwise creates an expectation of motherhood that regards self-sacrifice as mandatory and unending, and dismisses the notion that the mother's needs matter as well.
Secondly, every mother, no matter how dedicated, is going to miss some opportunity to give their child an advantage. The mothers that sat on Facebook all afternoon arguing about breastfeeding could have otherwise taken their children to the park or to the library, so they missed an opportunity to improve their child's health or intellect. The mothers who stay home instead of working are depriving their daughters of an additional role model of an independent career woman, and perhaps of a psychologically healthier and smarter mom. At least you're depriving them of the advantages the additional salary could have made, such as organic vegetables or private tutors.
And when the kids are in school? Instead of gardening, you could have been attending a free online university to teach yourself about physics and calculus and be a better homework helper when they're in high school. Heck, you could do this instead of sleeping. Do you really need a full six hours? How selfish!
My point is, at some point even these saintly LLL mothers make choices that favor their own welfare over slight advantages to their kids. It is just that breastfeeding is a more obvious battlefield of this calculus since it is biologically natural.
If you're a naturalist, by all means, breastfeeding is going to be the choice for you. However, naturalism is a philosophy, not an ethical mandate. Nature just is, it isn't a moral dictate. There is nothing inherently unethical about wearing eyeglasses or taking the subway, or many of the other unnatural acts that we do every day. So because breastfeeding is natural doesn't mean you're a bad mother if you don't do it, and just because childbearing is natural doesn't mean it's mandatory. We have to make our choices on an individual basis based on the specifics of the situation.
Lastly, I want to acknowledge that as someone without kids, I absolutely lack any experience in these matters. Considering just how much those with experience disagree, I don't know that having a child is especially helpful in finding an answer. Maybe not ever having to make this choice gives me a unique outsider opinion. In any case, the recent slew of childfree-relevant articles that concerned breastfeeding, combined with my reading of Badinter's book, created a rush of ideas I felt like sharing.
I finally finished reading this book last week. To be honest, the book had a lot more content about childfree women than I was expecting. She discussed the choice to go childfree through several chapters, although the implicit "solution" to regain our status was not limited to foregoing childbearing. Rather, the author discusses naturalism and its impact on mothers, especially in a culture where certain aspects of naturalism are treated as mandatory.
For example, she discusses breastfeeding. Yes, it is great and healthy for children. However, the author states that a lot of the advantages touted by breast-feeding advocates are overstated, citing a report by the Society of French Pediatrics on the subject. Furthermore, her history of, and quotes by the La Leche League made me realize that they are more militant than even I knew. They contribute to an overall pressure on women to stay home and forego working, and do not accept the choice to feed via formula under any circumstances. They also demand that mothers feed longer than the 1-2 years most medical authorities suggest, advocating that they let the child self-wean somewhere between ages 3&1/2 to 7. For example, they stated,
"Doctors have no hesitation whatsoever about making parents feel guilty about not using a car seat . . . by contrast breastfeeding is often treated as a choice."That's because not using a carseat can kill a child, LLL. Not breastfeeding, at worst, deprives them of some immunity and other health benefits. That's not the same thing.
The author discusses the shame and guilt we place upon mothers to breastfeed, stay home, and otherwise be a naturalistic mother whose every need is subjugated for any advantage a child may gain by it. She states that now that we are no longer being controlled by men and banned from the workplace, we are voluntarily living as we would have pre-feminism. Our culture, and the culture of many other countries, creates a pressure that has replaced sexism in keeping women out of the public sphere.
Lastly, I would like to discuss an issue that is dominant in the one-star reviews posted by the LLL faithful on the books's Amazon page. The author is part owner of a publicity firm that counts several formula companies as clients. This is an arguable, if indirect, conflict of interest. But the author is not acting as a judge in a court of law, or a mayor choosing a vendor. Conflicts of interest don't always mean that the person is not entitled to speak their piece. Especially when, as here, the author is supporting her views with citations and logical reasoning, rather than simply expecting her readers to rely on her unbiased authority. It may be relevant, but it isn't dispositive.
Dublin medical professional Eileen Reilly (40), single and childless, has struggled with the realisation that she may never have a baby.Ms. Reilly is childless, but I think her observations are relevant to both camps - childfree by choice and not-by-choice. The article goes on to discuss the CBCs, and discusses the typical issues of how society treats us from an Irish point of view.
"I think a lot of women without children feel less valued by society than women with children. They feel they are viewed as 'less than' or invisible. The standard expectations are that you go to school, get a job, meet a partner and start a family ... in that order!" Eileen says.
"If your life doesn't follow that course, it makes you different. If you are single and childfree you can be made to feel as if you haven't quite become a grown-up, or you're not a proper woman. If you have chosen to not have children you can be viewed as selfish or uncaring, not a proper woman cause you don't want kiddies," Eileen feels.
The specific idea that we're not treated as grown-ups is a big issue for a lot of childfree people. Men who don't want kids (or marriage, or either) are assumed to be in an unending adolescence. Clearly their shirking their duty to procreate (or marry) only because they are immature and afraid of responsibility. Nevermind that such men often have a mortgage or important careers. Even if they don't - so what? If a 35 year old man wants to live alone and play video games and drink beer, why is it anyone's business but his own? I don't buy into the idea that any man owes society some sort of obligation here. With so many men shirking responsibility to the kids they fathered, I think we should be applauding those smart enough to know they don't wish to care for, or support a child.
As for women, I think our issues are a bit different, if only because the media doesn't realize we also drink beer and play video games. It isn't that we're in some unending girlhood, which would require a lot more time spent at the mall and on the phone. It is more that we're in this limbo of young adulthood, transitioning directly into to spinsterhood if we're also single. There's a part of our essential identity that we're forever lacking, forever seen as a driven career woman in the style of a 1980s ball-busting feminist or just some mysterious "other" that isn't quite what she's supposed to be.
I think this is changing, though. Here in NYC, childfreedom is becoming more normal and more common, and I am usually treated as a full adult from my friends and family (for them, the transitional point was graduating college). However, through the miracle of Facebook I can see firsthand how my 30-something childfree friends who live elsewhere are still treated as children. I hear tales of childfree adults sitting at the kids table at Thanksgiving, and read derisive comments by family members on their walls.
We New Yorkers are often trendsetters, are we not? I remain hopeful that my experiences will someday be the norm and not the exception.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Here's a (totally not exhaustive) list of reasons that I don't have kids right now:
1. I love being able to grab a drink( or two) with my co-workers after leaving the office -- and not feeling guilty if I get back to my apartment a little tipsy at a slightly inappropriate hour for a weekday.
2. I love living in New York City. I live in Manhattan in a lovely but small space. Where would I even put a crib? On the fire escape?
3. I never need to think about hiring a babysitter or worrying about whether said 16-year-old babysitter is a sane/responsible human being.
4. The ability to make last minute plans. On Saturday mornings I can sleep in as late as I want. When I do leave the house, I can pop over to a museum or Central Park or see a movie or have brunch, and I can decide on one -- or none -- of those things at the drop of a hat.
5. Provided I have the funds, and give my bosses a reasonable amount of heads up, I can go on vacation whenever and wherever I want.
6. I can have a spontaneous dance party at 1 a.m. in my apartment and not worry about waking anyone up. 7. My money is my own. Period.
Now let's hear from you. If you're a woman without children -- regardless of whether you see yourself having them at some point or never want them -- tell us why. What do you love most about not having kids? Tweet @HuffPostWomen using the hashtag #NotNowBaby. We'll compile your responses in a slideshow here!
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
While some parents may find solace in the fact that their choice to breed now has expert backing, perhaps we should instead be wondering why we need a bunch of experts to tell us that having children improves happiness?I'm afraid you have to register to read the whole article, but registration is free.
The bottom line is if you want to know whether children will make you happy or lead to a meaningful life, then you're asking the wrong question.
Because you're treating children as a means to your own self-gratification and self-fulfilment - and no one, least of all your children, should have to shoulder that burden.
. . .
The truth, as any parent will tell you, is that, yes, having children can be wonderful, fulfilling and fun.
But it can also be painful, boring, repetitive and dull.
Mothers with young children, in particular, are more likely to suffer from depression or be diagnosed with a mental illness than at any other time in their lives.
Listen in to any mother's group and you'll hear stories of diminished sex lives, sleep deprivation and thankless domestic drudgery.
Husband-and-wife marriage therapists Steven and Sue Simring report that extramarital affairs are common after the birth of the first child.
Let's stop looking to experts to find out whether children make us happy or not. If you're having kids to fill a happiness void, then you're on a fast track to disappointment and unhappiness.
Monday, May 21, 2012
"One user in particular, @juliewashere88, started an all-out tweet brawl when she went after Arwyn last week, tweeting, "Just because you've got an infant sucking it does not mean anyone wants to see your tits. Keep those pics to yourself. #childfree" Hoooo-boy!The comments are rife with people touting the health benefits of breast milk. And yet none of this answers the question of whether the photo is appropriate. Just because breastfeeding is natural does not mean that taking a digital photo of it, uploading it to the internet, and assigning it as your Twitter picture is at all natural. The fact that people are missing these last three steps as an essential part of the query confounds me. There are countless beautiful or natural parts of my everyday life that I wouldn't photograph or share. Or even describe for purposes of illustrating that last sentence. Heck, I won't even upload the cute pictures of me snuggling my dog if I happen to be wearing pajamas. Erm, so maybe I'm not the best judge of propriety.
Julie went on to rant:
I don't care who is sucking it, I did NOT ask to see photos of your saggy, leaky, veiny tits. KEEP THOSE TO YOURSELF! #childfree ... Just so you know, @RaisingBoychick your avatar violates twitter image policy. You've been reported.
Wow, way to make women who don't have children (or don't have children yet) look like a total nightmare, Julie! Then again, what did Arwyn expect when she made that her avatar? She had to know that posting a photo like that was guaranteed to attract this kind of negative attention. That's just how Twitter (and even Facebook to some extent, although you do have more control over strangers' nasty remarks) works."
The picture in question is. . . unappealing. The outcries about how we're "sexualizing" the breast on the comment may be missing the point. The picture in question is not sexual. But maybe that is the problem? We hold up an ideal for breasts tied to their sex appeal, so that when a set comes along that are veiny and sagging, we're put off. So perhaps this picture could serve a purpose, in desexualizing the breasts. Yet I wonder if the step of setting it as one's default photo is necessary for that step.
Perhaps that is what I find most off-putting about this. This woman has made the act of breastfeeding her child more important than her own face in representing her identity. I understand that is an important part of her life, and that the bond she shares with her child is meaningful. Yet to make it the sole representation of yourself on Twitter hints at a time when women's value stemmed from their biological functions and not their ability to think or reason.
The photo doesn't appear to violate Twitter's policies, so it her right to post it, as it is juliewashere88's right to be offended and express that opinion. But as choices go, I wish each of them had made different ones. I wish @RaisingBoychick had made the photo only part of what represents her, and I wish the Childfree tweeter had expressed herself in a way that didn't further the vitriol against the childfree.
Friday, May 18, 2012
Stay-at-home moms at all income levels are worse off than employed moms in terms of sadness, anger, and depression, though they are the same as other women in most other aspects of emotional wellbeing. Employed moms, however, are doing as well as employed women without children at home -- possibly revealing that formal employment, or perhaps the income associated with it, has emotional benefits for mothers.There's also a writeup of this story on BlissTree that concludes working mothers are happier than the childfree. Although there is a 1% difference in some of the numbers, this doesn't necessarily mean there was statistical significance enough to indicate a real difference between the groups. The Gallup site doesn't seem to indicate there is.
. . .
While many mothers are rightfully dedicated to parenting as an important and fulfilling vocation, those who desire to work should feel encouraged by these data to pursue it. And for those who choose to stay home, more societal recognition of the difficult job stay-at-home mothers have raising children would perhaps help support them emotionally.
. . .
Ensuring that stay-at-home moms are in good emotional shape is critical not only for the sake of these mothers, but also for the sake of their children's and families' wellbeing.
When you're an enthusiastic member of the mom club, it's natural to want your pals to join too. But making assumptions about your buddy's baby-making plans can be offensive and invasive-and thinking you know better because you're a parent can hurt your friend's feelings. "Comments about childlessness can be taken as criticism," says New York City therapist Mindy Utay, LCSW, who often counsels infertile couples. Whether a couple is childless by choice or struggling to conceive, prying questions are likely to hit a nerve, she adds. Even if you have good intentions, "A woman without kids may hear, 'What's wrong with you-why are you different?'" Here are some gaffes to avoid with childless friends-and what to say instead.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Attention, child-free career women: the Daily Mail would like you to know that you are ruining everything for the men of the world. I mean, just look at this math! Do you know how many men’s lives you’re ruining by depriving them of parenthood?I'd quote more, but I'd just want to quote the whole article. It is brilliant and too complete to add to. Go read.
Friday, May 11, 2012
The idea that men might feel less empowered than women to voice their desire to be parents deserves our attention. However, the Daily Mail piece frames the issue in a completely unproductive way -- blaming "career women" for "denying" their partners children.She's far more generous to these men than I am. I skip the sympathy part and just want to tell them to grow a pair and take responsibility for their decisions.
. . .
I can only imagine how difficult it must be for a committed couple to disagree on something as fundamental as having kids. However, if they don't agree, that doesn't make the person who doesn't want kids the villain, especially if she never hid her feelings on the subject. Insinuating that women are to "blame" for not wanting children perpetuates the myth that women who don't want children are somehow defective females.
Technorati Tag: childfree
‘We were discussing a friend who had just announced her pregnancy when Sophie suddenly said she never wanted children,’ he recalls. ‘I was taken aback, but parenthood was an abstract idea for me at that stage and I assumed at some point her biological clock would tick and she would change her mind.’So, Philip chooses to marry a woman who doesn't want kids. Then he chooses to stay married to her after he decides he wants them. And he somehow expects sympathy for the results of his choices? And he was apparently a horrible husband for a long time to boot. I can only imagine how this whiny self-absorbed character would have been as a father.
. . .
It wasn’t until Philip reached his early 30s that he felt the pull of parenthood in earnest. . .When Philip broached the subject of babies again, however, Sophie was unequivocal. ‘Her exact words were: “Don’t make me laugh,” ’ he recalls.
. . .
‘Her drive was one of the things I loved, but it would have been easier if she was less ambitious and more of a home body.’
. . .
For years, Philip silently seethed as he deliberated over whether to remain in the relationship.
‘At times, my foot was half out of the door,’ he says. ‘But I’ve never known anyone as suited to me as Sophie. I knew no other relationship would be anywhere near as fulfilling.
Martin Stent is certainly familiar with the sacrifice involved in dating a successful career woman. His wife, Carla, is the chief operating manager for Virgin Management. Her career entails 12-hour days and frequent overseas travel. Now 41, she made the decision a decade ago that her job wasn’t compatible with motherhood.Martin is whining about his wife making the exact same decision he did. How is that selfless? Putting the blame on the woman who chooses to work rather than the man who chooses to work is overtly sexist (and the Daily Mail is just as guilty of this as Martin is) and unbelievably self absorbed. I'm actually seething a bit about the way the article lays the blame on "career women". As if that is even a thing. What is this, 1960? Oh, you gals and your "careers". Why do we never hear the term "career men"?
. . .
Of course, Martin could have given up his own career — a decision he says he is thankful he didn’t make.
While Philip and Martin may have reluctantly accepted their wives’ decisions, it’s a dilemma an increasing number of men is likely to face. And many may not be so selfless.
As the spokesperson for No Kidding who spends a lot of time talking with childfree women all over North America, I'm calling B.S. on this. Childfree women are not shelving a desire to have kids because we're mindless slaves to our careers. We just don't want them. It is this that a lot of pushy parents and British journalists can't wrap their minds around. It's not a linear decision-making process. It's messy and complicated and causes and motivations are all wrapped in together in the human consciousness.
Indeed, it is just as likely to be the other way around - women who don't want children then decide to find meaning in their careers. The childfree women I know find fulfillment in success, in devoting themselves to meaningful if humble work, or in hobbies while working as little as possible. We're not all the same, but what we have in common is the desire to find fulfillment without the need for babies.
I also know plenty of career-driven women who have, or plan on having, children. It isn't easy, but they make it happen. They don't suddenly decide to give up what they really want because there is something else they want more.
Pretending that these women are single-minded, opting out of motherhood solely because of career ambitions, is a very clever way to enforce a subtly misogyny that demonizes working women, denies our psychological complexity, and attempts to convey a sense of "otherness" on the ordinary decision to find meaningful work. Well done, Daily Mail.
#1. All Your Plans and Strategies Get Amended or Flat-Out Vetoed
I can't tell you how many times I've seen this happen. You have your first child and plan on taking a few months off before heading back to work. You just need enough time for bonding, as well as finding a good, trustworthy baby sitter. So after a few months, you nail one down and head on back to your job.
A month later, you start getting weekly calls from the sitter. She's constantly getting sick, and you know from experience that she's using her fake "sick voice" -- in reality, she's tired of not being able to hang out with her friends, instead having to listen to your asshole kid scream for hours at a time while she wipes shit off of his back. But every time she calls in, you have to do the same at your own job. Your work history is now hinged on the work ethics of a teenage girl. So you look for another month until you find another sitter. One who's old enough to have a menstrual cycle. A month after that, same problem. What the fuck?
That's when you realize that baby sitters make jack shit, so it's easy for them to say "Fuck this" and just take the day off. So you up the ante and look for a good child care service -- and then promptly shit your pants when you see how much they're charging, on top of the lengthy background checks and paperwork involved.
. . .
In my case, my ex-wife had to resort to working weekends so that one of us would always be there with the kids. What that meant was that on her days off, I'd be working, and vice versa. We rarely saw each other, because as one of us was walking in the door, the other would be walking out. And that was us being lucky that our respective workplaces were flexible enough to allow modified schedules to accommodate it.
Don't let any of this scare you off from having kids -- being a parent is seriously the best thing that ever happened to me, and I wouldn't take a second of it back for anything in the world. But don't let the parenting books and bubbly family sitcoms paint an unrealistic picture for you. If you go into it educated, you'll be in a far better position to make it work out in your favor. They should be required by law to teach this kind of shit in high school. Dick jokes and all.Or, I'll just keep my marriage the way it is (and avoid the horrifying results of #2-5) and NOT assume that the best thing that ever happened to John Cheese will be the best thing that ever happened to me. Yes, I like that option very much.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women . The book they're discussing proffers the notion that modern concepts of motherhood are basically a voluntary anti-feminism enforced by peer pressure.
Among them, that Badinter, who happens to be childless, sets up a false dichotomy between motherhood and feminism. And that Badinter has a whopping conflict of interest: she holds a controlling stake in and is the board chair of the p.r. and ad agency Publicis, which represents formula makers Nestle, Similac and Enfamil. But the biggest problem with her argument is that it doesn’t stand up to reality. Larger and more complex factors are at play in the status of women."The author then goes on to demonstrate an impressive lack of understanding of statistics and causality. I'll read the book as soon as I can and report back to my readers.
The Spinsterlicious Life unapologetically offers up the perks of answering to no one. Funny, insightful and wise, Wells chronicles her single-by-choice adventures and turns them into life lessons worth sharing.
“Spinster is an uninspiring word and I know there are many, many other women out there just like me. So I invented Spinsterlicious – I’m Spinsterlicious and loving it!”
Born and raised in Washington, DC, Wells now lives, loves and writes in New York City. She draws from her rich experiences in the Big Apple to frame the conversations on her blog and for the 20 lessons in the book.
About The Spinsterlicious Life
In tune with the trending demographics about the growing number of Singles in the U.S., Eleanore Wells declares that being single, free, and unencumbered can be a really good life. Her new book, The Spinsterlicious Life: 20 Life Lessons for Living Happily Single and Childfree, is part entertaining memoir, part self-help, all real, and is a spirited and clever must-read for any woman who finds herself proscribed by society for not being coupled-off. She\’s putting a spin on spinster!
Nearly two out of five New Zealand women in a new survey say they have sacrificed career advancement in order to raise their children.
The survey by company Procter & Gamble, ahead of Mother's Day this Sunday, also found 24 per cent of the women surveyed in this country said they had fewer opportunities at work because of their parental status.
Nearly two-thirds of Kiwi mums had sacrificed buying things for themselves and almost half of mums said they put their social life on hold to raise their children.
. . .
"As mums we care for our children without any expectation of reward. But a little thank you and a sweet smile makes it all worthwhile. This Mother's Day I'm looking forward to a big thank you hug from my children along with tea and toast in bed."
Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Apparently pregnancy is looking more and more appealing to British woman, who, according to a new survey, are more likely to want to get pregnant these days so they can score the 52 weeks of maternity leave that is standard in England. Yes, you read that right: Women want to have babies to avoid working for a year.Well, there are two possibilities here. 1- They're crazy or 2-They're not crazy.
Let's talk about 1 first. If motherhood is universally harder and more stressful than work, they're nuts. This could well be because first time mothers underestimate how difficult it will be to have a baby. They have friends with "easy babies" who sleep through the night and nap all day and assume they'll have the same luck. They focus on the positives, picturing designer strollers and cutesy baby clothes, shown off during a leisurely afternoon at Starbucks, and don't think about dirty diapers, the need for constant attention, and the fact that mums in the UK have so little free time and energy that they wear pajamas to the supermarket.
This could also be a function of the duality of public motherhood, which ends every rant about how much hard work it is with a sunny proclamation that it is "the best job ever" and "totally worth it." The inability of mothers to simply describe the difficulty without attaching one of these to the end could leave some with poor listening skills focused on the bright, shiny aspects of it all. This is especially true if their parent friends have "Kodak moment" syndrome, and focus on the most pleasant aspects of parenthood on their Facebook pages and coffee klatch tales.
Well then, what about 2? How could they be sane? Well, for all the hard, messy, disgusting, non-stop work of motherhood, there are perks. For one, you don't have a boss. It's a formidable job for those who internalize the impossible task of raising a human being correctly. HOWEVER, the failures are long-term, the pressure comes mainly from within, and the penalties for long-term mistakes are fairly abstract. You don't have someone looking over your shoulder scolding you when you mess up. You can't be fired. If you're not one of the aforementioned people who internalizes the importance of the task, I can understand how parenting would seem a more appealing prospect than a job.
If you feel like plopping the kid in front of Spongebob and playing online Scrabble, that is your choice. If the kid is taking an afternoon nap, you can take an afternoon nap. When you're in your cubicle doing tedious paperwork, or manning the register at a retail store, these may sound like much better ways to spend your day. I would guess that the kind of women who would have a baby to get out of work would be the very short-term oriented, cut-corners, lack-of-internal-pressure kind of folks for whom parenting (at least on paper) would be easier and less stressful.
Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Prof. Herbst, who teaches at Arizona State University, led a study of two surveys of 120,000 American adults conducted between 1972 and 2008. The surveys found that while parents were more despondent than non-parents between 1985 and 1995, those sentiments flipped between 1995 and 2008. The other study looked at longitudinal data from 52,000 British and German parents, following them for five years before the birth of their child and then for four years after the birth. This data suggested that while happiness levels occasionally dropped after childbirth, typically they did not plunge below the point they were at before baby came along.
The problem remains, though, that many people do not believe that lives can be complete without children. For many, the problem is that they cannot even conceive of a life without children. Adler’s partner and her had this discussion, and he said to her: “Think about it; with a few rare exceptions, we are all brought up in families where having and raising children is the norm. You have to be willing to think outside of how you were raised just to conceive of a life without children.” Since we are all someone’s child, the very thought of not having children for any reason breaks the mold. This can put childfree and childless women at odds with their peers who are having children and enjoying every minute.
Of course, it is not just peers that vilify the decision not to have children. Employers do it too. We know that working mothers are penalized for taking time off to raise their children, but women who decide not to have children are often seen as cold, uncaring and odd and are sometimes passed up for promotions and raises because of it, according to Dr. Caroline Gatrell. As women, we just can’t win.
Saturday, May 05, 2012
The study, published in the Journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science, found that in recent years, parents have been less likely to give their children popular names. For instance, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, about 5 percent of babies were named the most common names then (John and Mary), reported LiveScience. More recently, that dropped to a scant 1 percent being named Aiden or Emma, this decade's most popular names.I've been pondering for some time why I and others in the childfree community have such a visceral reaction to unique or trendy names. My husband and I both love how our names link us to our family history and cultural legacy, and I do think we're losing that sense. The kids are missing out, just a bit, on the way a family name links you to a great-grandmother you never knew.
The researchers even adjusted for immigration rates, which could arguably lead to fewer Jacks and more Juans. As Jean Twenge, PhD, one of the researchers concluded, "The most compelling explanation left is this idea that parents are much more focused on their children standing out. There's been this cultural shift toward focusing on the individual, toward standing out and being unique as opposed to fitting in with the group and following the rules." Then she went in for the kill: "I think it is an indication of our culture becoming more narcissistic," Twenge says.
Moreover, I think that unique spelling or trendy names show a lack of concern of the child. It will be the child who has to constantly respell the name (with three ys) into adulthood. It is the child who has to put Neveah or Madison on a job resume, and hope the person receiving it doesn't jump to conclusions (even subconsciously).
But perhaps this narcissism plays into it as well. Of course each human is unique, and completely fitting in isn't the ultimate goal. But shouldn't that be your son or daughter's choice? Each person is unique in their own way, not in the way their parents pick out for them. Isn't it better to let the child develop her own uniqueness? Let your daughter turn 6 and discover an obsession with Star Wars, let your son turn 7 and realize he wants to be a puppeteer. Until they find the qualities that define who they are, why saddle them with something that makes them stand out in a way that may well be a hindrance? Why not let them fit in just long enough to figure out how they want to stand out? The early years are the hardest to be "different", and a little conformity in kindergarten can be a benefit for psychological development. Also, it can prevent some psychological scars.
It is not the name Mykaylah that will make your daughter special. If it is, she's not that special. Indeed, the idea that the name you gave her makes her unique is narcissist. It also evinces a lack of consideration of your child as an individual separate from yourself. Making that child's life more difficult in order to satisfy what you want makes it sound more like you're having a doll than a future adult. It is no surprise that the same parents often coo over the trendiest and most expensive strollers and designer children's clothes. Are you having a child, or are you adding an accessory?
Friday, May 04, 2012
Apparently pregnancy is looking more and more appealing to British woman, who, according to a new survey, are more likely to want to get pregnant these days so they can score the 52 weeks of maternity leave that is standard in England. Yes, you read that right: Women want to have babies to avoid working for a year.
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
The list comes from Laura Wattenberg, author of The Baby Name Wizard: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby. She conducted an "informal" study and came up with the list. In general she found people hate "gender-bending" names in which a masculine name becomes feminine -- like Addison or Madison. As well, people despise trendy names ... though obviously not everyone does or they wouldn't be trendy, right? Also on the list of hate are names that are difficult to spell (Kaitlyn) and those that are similar versions of other names (Jayden, Brayden, and Kayden).
Child-free women, on the other hand, are closing in on pay equity. They make 90 cents to a man's dollar, according to Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, CEO and executive director of MomsRising, an advocacy group in San Francisco.Yeah. It is terrible that women choose nurturing jobs and jobs that let them spend more time with their children. We must get on this at once, and make them value only salary like normal people.
Child-free women, on the other hand, are closing in on pay equity. They make 90 cents to a man's dollar, according to Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, CEO and executive director of MomsRising, an advocacy group in San Francisco. . . . Moms Must Be More Punctual Here's more: Women with children are--for some inexplicable reason--held to stricter standards of punctuality than women without children, Benard said. Fathers, incredibly, are actually given more leeway to arrive late to work than men without children.
Monday, April 30, 2012
1. You beg your doctor for an infertility test and hope that the results come back doomed. 2. You notice/prefer people's dogs over their babies -- and don't hide it. 3. There is a pacifier in your house but it's from a 1995 rave in Providence. 4. When someone texts you a picture of their baby, you fall asleep. 5. You hang pictures of baby clothes on your closet... to inspire yourself to fit into them.I see so many, "Why I don't want kids" and "I don't want kids, and people treat me like a freak" articles that I couldn't help but notice this strayed from the format with humor - it is written by a comedian.
I have to wonder, though, does she really not know other women in NYC who don't want kids? She must travel in very different circles than I do.
1. Personal space Even if you have the best husband, wife, babysitter, grandparents, etc. who assures you that you'll get some "me" time every now and again, when you become a parent, it's inevitable that your personal space will be violated ad infinitum. Children are your emotional shadows. But they will also be your literal shadows. And as with your other literal shadow, you'll never be able to shake it. As long as you know and accept that, you might just be a little less frustrated each time you take a step and there's a tiny hand or foot not belonging to you that is necessarily standing in (or under) your way.This is followed by #2: Being alone in the bathroom. I have to admit, I gave up both when I agreed to dogsit again this year. Bebe follows me everywhere, and yes, sometimes even into the bathroom. Then again, all I have to do is say "Want a bath?" and that gets remedied right quick. But sometimes it is a little silly when she stands so very close to me that I have to maneuver my legs on either side of her just to walk.
But you know what? I think these things would actually bother me if it were a child instead. A child who never demanded her own personal space the way Bebe does. A child who had actual constant needs that I couldn't just ignore between occasional butt scratches.
Ah well. I could never give up 3. So a doggie it is. And when her owner gets back from Kabul, I'll relish giving up responsibility and reclaiming personal space nonetheless.