November 22, 2014

From Birth Rates to DINK Perks

‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Bill og Melinda Gates unde...

Bill and Melinda Gates (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you haven’t been active on the Why No Kids? Facebook page lately, then you’ve missed out on some good childfree reads. But don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Here’s the recent hit parade:

  • Melinda Gates’ New Crusade: Investing Billions in Women’s Health “[Melinda] Gates made a decision that’s likely to change lives all over the world… she has decided to make family planning her signature issue and primary public health a priority. ‘My goal is to get this back on the global agenda,’ she says.” (The Daily Beast)
  • Teen Birth Rate Hits Historic Lows “The teenage birth rate declined 9 percent between 2009 and 2010, hitting an all-time low, according to new data released by the National Center for Health Statistics.” (US News and World Report)
  • Growing Number of Women Want to Become Moms to Get Out of Work 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. (Glamour)
  • Procreation vs. Overpopulation “In ‘Fruits of Philosophy,’ Knowlton took up the subject of sex… Knowlton was worried about the hazards of fertility… Unlike Malthus, who saw no remedy except plague or abstinence, Knowlton believed that a more agreeable solution was at hand. What he called the “reproductive instinct” need not actually lead to reproduction.” (The New Yorker)
  • Why I Love Being A DINK Although this article trots out rather inane seed answers to to the following question, we know that you can do better! Why do you love being in a dual income no kids relationship? (Business Insider)

Thanks WNKers for your reading recommendations. Please keep them coming!

Celebrities Who Don’t Want Kids – Marie Claire

This story from Marie Claire spotlights a long list of quotable childfree celebrities, including, Jennifer AnistonCameron Diaz, Winona RyderEva Mendes, Jessica Biel, Rupert Everett, Helen Mirren, Taylor Hackford, George Clooney, Margaret Cho, Jacqueline Bisset, Janeane Garofalo, Jay Leno, Kim Cattrall, Kylie Minogue, Lara Flynn Boyle, Lily Tomlin, Oprah Winfrey, Renée Zellweger, Ricky Gervais, Robbie Williams, and Rachael Ray.

It came out last year and the list is just dated enough to also include Beyonce And Jay-Z; but it is worth revisiting. If not because people are googling “childfree celebrities” and finding “Why No Kids?” daily, then because we are nearing year end and the anniversary of this story, “2010: The year childfree went mainstream (thanks, Oprah!)”, which also has some good videos and lists and links.

Here are a few select  quotes from the Marie Claire piece to temporarily quench your curiosity:

Cameron Diaz: “Having children changes your life drastically, and I really love my life,” she has said. “Children aren’t the only things that bring you gratification and happiness, and it’s easier to give life than to give love, so I don’t know. That kind of change would have to be either very well thought out, or a total mistake — a real oops!”

Eva Mendes: “I don’t wanna have kids … I love the little suckers; they’re so cute. But I love sleep so much, and I worry about everything,” adding, “I feel like the institution of marriage is a very archaic kinda thing. I don’t think it fits in my world today.”

George Clooney: “Even one kid running around my villa makes me nervous, so I’m definitely not a candidate for father of the year! If I need to surround myself with children and feel like I have this big extended family, I can always call Brad and Angie and ask them to stay with me, just to remind me why I’m so happy without.”

Margaret Cho: “I do not want children. When I see children, I feel nothing. I have no maternal instinct. I am barren. I ovulate sand … I look at children and feel no pull toward them, no desire whatsoever. Actually, my fiancé and I have seen some very interesting personal ads of 50-year-olds that like to wear diapers. So we’re thinking of adopting one of these guys. A baby by choice.”

Kim Cattrall: “I realized that so much of the pressure I was feeling was from outside sources, and I knew I wasn’t ready to take that step into motherhood. Being a biological mother just isn’t part of my experience this time around.”

Renée Zellweger : “Motherhood has never been an ambition. I don’t think like that,”

Robbie Williams: “I don’t believe that to be fulfilled you have to have kids. What’s the point? I can’t guarantee my child won’t suffer pain because that kid’s going to be in pain at some point in their life. I don’t want to see that. It’s too much.”

Read more: Celebrities Without Children – Celebrities Who Don’t Want Kids – Marie Claire.

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Celebrities, WiNKs, Taboos and The Childfree Apology

Rosie O'Donnell at the premiere of I Am Becaus...

Image via Wikipedia

Many childfree celebrities keep their choices to themselves. Perhaps they’d rather let the press and public wonder about their sexuality than risk offending the mommy constituency? Others admit their choice apologetically. “I love kids but….”, begins the required apology. Even Chaz Bono and his girlfriend didn’t dare say they don’t want babies. For Becoming Chaz they filmed every day of a difficult decision and taboo sexual transition, but when Rosie O’Donnell asked them about kids, they responded sheepishly, of course, apologizing for even thinking about staying childfree.

Wow. Even gay and transgender couples have to do this dance these days? O’Donnell, mother of many, didn’t push them or suggest they might end up regretful or lonely. She said that her advice to anyone who has any doubt is not to have children. Don’t do it. Something like that. Refreshing? Surprising? To me at least.

So when Roseanne Barr said, “Don’t have babies. Don’t get married and have kids. Have a larger life than that.” on national TV, I was among the many, including her own children, who found it shocking. Not because of the content of her message. Not because I doubted her sanity, but because it isn’t something mothers say. Is it something mothers are allowed to even think in our society? Is a mother that fantasizes about what her life without children could have been or could be committing an unspeakable sin against her family and community? Yes. It seems. Because we know it happens, yet no one is articulating what they think.

And when a mother DOES speak out against mothering like Roseanne did on Roseanne’s Nuts? Is she inviting the hatred and judgment hoisted on Casey Anthony? (Also guilty of not wanting kids at the very, very least.) No. But she’s entering taboo territory, a place where people overreact and use the word “crazy”. Roseanne was bold. Because these are words that mothers aren’t allowed to speak. “Don’t have kids” or “I wish I didn’t have kids” are somehow heard as “I wish they weren’t alive” or “I hate children”. It seems. What do you think?

From where I stand, men are given much more room than Rosanne and other women to vent, admit, complain or translate their desire for silence and freedom and fresh air into advice or comedy. (See Louis C.K., Doug Stanhope, Aziz Ansari, Jason Jones and Drew Magary video links below.) Mothers seem to police themselves, vigilantly. I wonder if their own fleeting fantasies, and resulting guilt, might cause moms to judge women like Chelsea Handler and Roseanne Barr quickly and often harshly?

I also wonder if the same taboos, caution, guilt or misperceptions keep our families from acknowledging this site or our friends from clicking a little button that says “like”, even though much of the content, contributed by teachers and mentors, is about parenting, the environment, economics and psychology.

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I Am the Population Problem

This is one of the most compelling, well-written pieces I’ve read recently: I Am the Population Problem | RH Reality Check.

“Real reproductive freedom has to include social acceptance of the decision not to reproduce.”

Borrowed from friends at GINK – green inclinations, no kids, this story includes some enlightening statistics, great writing and an apology.

“I recognize that I am the population problem. I’m trying to be part of the solution.”

Here are some of the many highlights:

“Population isn’t just about counting heads, although by this October we will be counting 7 billion of them worldwide. The impact of humanity on the environment is not determined solely by how many of us are around, but by how much stuff we use and how much room we take up. And as a financially comfortable American, I use a lot of stuff and take up a lot of room. My carbon footprint is more than 200 times bigger than that of an average Ethiopian, more than 12 times bigger than an average Indian’s, and twice as big as an average Brit’s.”

“Far and away the biggest contribution I can make to a cleaner environment is to not bring any mini-mes into the world. A 2009 study by statisticians at Oregon State University found that in America the climate impact of having one fewer child is almost 20 times greater than the impact of adopting a series of eco-friendly practices for your entire lifetime…”

“Here in the United States, the Pill has been available for more than 50 years. It’s now almost universally accepted that women will use birth control to delay, space out, or limit childbearing. But there’s not so much acceptance for using birth control to completely skip childbearing. At some point, you’re expected to grow up, pair up, put the Pill off to the side, and produce a couple of kids. Deviate from this scenario and you’ll get weird looks and face awkward conversations with family members, friends, coworkers, and complete strangers.”

“Many women who have not already had children find it difficult if not impossible to find a doctor who will perform a tubal ligation. Doctors warn that sterilization is an irreversible, life-altering decision. But having a child is an irreversible, life-altering decision and you don’t find doctors warning women away from that. The broadly held prejudice, in the medical profession and much of the rest of society, is that becoming a parent is the correct and inevitable choice.

Over recent years and decades, it’s become more acceptable for mixed-race couples to have children, and single women, and gay couples, and women over the age of 40, and that’s all good. Acceptance has been slower to come for the decision not to have children. There’s now a fledgling childfree movement, but some who are part of it say they still feel like they’re violating a taboo.”

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Vicki Larson: How Not To Save A Marriage

READ – Vicki Larson: How Not To Save A Marriage.

Thanks to Vicky Larson and GINK – green inclinations, no kids for bringing us another compelling story, and an appropriate follow-up to the earlier WNK piece by Vicki Larson:  Are Childless Couples Headed Toward Divorce? Vicky is a great researcher and thinker, and certainly a conversation starter. She has responded to comments from our writers and readers, so don’t be afraid to share your own questions or thoughts.

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