August 18, 2017

Motherhood: A Choice not a Destination

Motherhood... is a choice!

Motherhood is a choice not a destination.

Throughout much of Latin America motherhood is more destiny than decision for many young women despite limited abilities to care for a child.

Vera Cordeiro, Founder and General Superintendant of Associação Saude Criança, gives details of the situation in Brazil that spans throughout many places in Latin America about the inherent beliefs of  motherhood:

Cordeiro says, “…in the favelas of Brazil the identity of motherhood is status–a ‘destination’ sought by teenage girls who view the opportunity to have a baby as a validation of their esteem even though they are unprepared to raise a child.

Favelas can be violent places to live. The rules are often different in places affected by abject poverty. And for young girls, pregnancy is often viewed as ‘protective’ in ways that outsiders may not understand. As it was explained to me, having a baby by a leader in the community associates that girl with a powerful man. That identity can protect her as her child will be recognized as belonging to the leader. This is the destination sought by many young girls.” (La Vie Childfree blogpost: Making Motherhood a Choice in Brazil.)

The Aconchego Project

While this debilitating mindset and incumbent social gridlock are prevalent, efforts are being made to combat the underlying challenges. Associação Saúde Criança was founded in 1991 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to help “poor families by providing help in the areas of education, health, income, housing, and citizenship” (Vera Cordeiro: Making Motherhood a Choice, Not a Destination). In 2005 the organization launched a major initiative called “Aconchego Teen” targeting teenage women and birth rates.

Volunteers group

Volunteers group (Image credit: Associação Saúde Criança)

“Aconchego Teen,” which means coziness, a place for warmth and security, is designed as a public square in which teenage girls receive education regarding motherhood and pregnancy. The objective was to change the embedded view in poor teenagers that suggests motherhood is a destination instead of a personal choice. (Vera Cordeiro: Making Motherhood a Choice, Not a Destination.)

The Aconchego Project, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, spans an average of two years for each adolescent and emphasizes other interests and perspectives so that the rate of teen pregnancy decreases (Vera Cordeiro: Making Motherhood a Choice, Not a Destination).

The project seems to be a success with teen pregnancy in Brazil dropping by 34.6% between 2000 and 2010 according to Brazil’s Health Ministry.

So far, over 200 teenagers have participated in Aconchego Teen and the feedback from both parents and teenagers is strongly positive. Not only has the project helped teens understand the difficulties of motherhood but it has also paved the way for a better communication and understanding with their parents. We encourage teens to stay in school and prepare themselves for the labor market. That way, they will experience motherhood when [and if] they are ready to embrace the joys of having a child. (Vera Cordeiro: Making Motherhood a Choice, Not a Destination.)

Read the full article here: Vera Cordeiro: Making Motherhood a Choice, Not a Destination.

Follow Vera Cordeiro on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@saudecrianca

Top Twelve 2012 Posts

It’s new year’s resolution and year-in-review time, so I’m looking backward in order to look forward.

Despite the unlucky thirteen twaddle, I’m bullish on the incoming year. Much good is pent up and ready to burst out of the starting gate. Trust me.

And, despite rumors to the contrary, 2012 was a pretty jolly romp too. Is it possible that life’s just a twitch better when bathed in childfree limelight? I suspect the answer is yes. Yes!

And yet in the coming year I do firmly resolve to direct my mixed blessings upon several slightly more child-centric themes such as watersports, chocolate and uncle-dom. It’s high time I divulge my #1 reason for childfreedom and examine it methodically vis-à-vis AAA (aquatic adrenaline adventures), dark vs. milk cacao derivatives (It really does matter if you’re black or white!) and the merits of nieces and nephews. Hold onto your contraceptives, WNKers, I detect the first tremors of a maturity avalanche… And gravity always wins!

But before it does, let’s take a revealing glance in the rear view mirror. 2012 was a big year for Why No Kids? Why? Well, we suspect it has very little to do with our journalistic prowess and plenty to do with the childfree zeitgeist which is washing the globe free of preconceived baby bias just in time. The bottom line is the childfree space is buzzing. No. It’s exploding. No longer niche, childfree dialogue is mainstream. It’s — dare I say it? — almost hip.

Top Twelve 2012 on Why No Kids?

Anyway, enough prologue, and on with the top 2012 posts on Why No Kids:

  1. 10 More Reasons to Not Have a Baby
  2. Motherhood: Decision, Not Destiny
  3. Why no kids? Childfree celebrities!
  4. Childfreedom: More Happiness
  5. How much $ can I save by not having babies?
  6. Happy Non-Parents Day!
  7. Why Are You Childfree?
  8. Is Having Kids Selfish?
  9. Childfree Women Lack Humanity
  10. Photo Essay: Childfree Celebrities
  11. Childfree Families
  12. Nulliparity Health Risks

I remain a bit perplexed by the perennially popular childfree celebrity fascination, but I’m thrilled with interest in parenting as choice not default, the relationship between childfreedom and happiness and childfree finances. And the ongoing popularity of Miriam Schaer’s controversial exhibition has inspired us to take another look. What’s the artist up to in 2013? Stay tuned.

What’s on your top twelve childfree list?

My Bestie is Having a Baby: Green Baby Gifts

For the millionth time, just because I don’t want kids doesn’t mean I don’t like kids or don’t support my friends having kids. I have three amazing and perfect godchildren and I’m a children’s author – I need kids!

Still, when my besties started having babies I can’t say I wasn’t worried about things changing – I knew that they would. I’m genuinely excited and nervous about our new roles and how I will fit in. I want to be a loving “auntie” and hope that my childlessness isn’t a cause for concern.

While I’m trying to be a good prenatal buddy, I’m just not sure if I doing it right. Do I ask too many questions about pregnancy? Not enough? Am I offering too much help? Not enough? Is it bad if I still want to talk about reality shows instead of strollers? I’m afraid that I can’t still be myself and admit that I’m little jealous of junior.

But my biggest fear of all is: What if the babies don’t like me?

My solution? Buy the best baby gift! At WNK we promote an environmental agenda and prefer when people decide to have children they consider their carbon footprint by having green babies. In the past I’ve mentioned buying cloth diapers for my favorite green mama. And I just bought a personal website for a Christening gift. Unusual? Yes. Green? Absolutely!

For other green ideas check out environmentally friendly baby products from celebrity eco-parents like Jessica Alba and Soleil Moon Frye: Green gifts.

Of course nothing says you care like a signed book by your favorite kid’s author.

Hey WNKs what is your favorite baby gift?

 

 

Facebook Adds “Expecting A Baby” Option

Expecting a Baby: The Facebook Way

Expecting a Baby: The Facebook Way

Facebook seems to be feeling its biological clock ticking… another sign that Facebook is maturing as its original user base of college kids from 2004 start hatching little ones who can join Facebook 13 years from now. (TechCrunch)

I’ll be honest. I’m not a huge fan of Facebook. I use it. More than I’d like to. Especially when I know it’s the best, fastest, cheapest, most efficient way to connect with some family and friends. Which used to mean, “my Facebook friends” but increasingly means, well, everybody. As in, the world!

Facebook and the Mall

Facebook is sort of like the mall. I’d rather clip my toenails and pay bills than go to the mall. Really!

But I still end up going to the mall. Sometimes it’s the best way to get things done. So I suck it up, put on my Hazmat suit and goggles and wade into the madding crowd to buy, buy, buy…

Well, Facebook just became even more like the mall with it’s new parent-friendly “Expecting a Baby” option.

Malls are synonymous with kids. And so is Facebook. Which is funny if you consider it’s conception as a digital college “meat book”. It’s called evolution. On speed. From coed catalog to digital babyland.

Single, in a relationship, engaged, married and now, expecting a baby? Facebook is now encouraging people to share that next big life event — pregnancy — by adding “expecting a baby” as an option on timelines. (Huffington Post)

Is Facebook Expecting a Baby?

I’m not thinking this little nod to parents makes a terribly big difference since most every parent and grandparent on Facebook already opts for junior’s mug instead of (or at least, in addition to) the one they’d be stuck with in a police line-up. But it is certain to strike a chord with the childfree population already a bit perplexed with why our friends became their kids, already a wee bit tired of the baby play-by-plays inundating Facebook. Or maybe not… I’m wondering how this plays with you.

Do You Like Facebook’s “Expecting a Baby” Option?

Newly married Mark Zuckerberg may not be interested in your opinions, but we are. As a proud member of the childfree tribe, how do you feel about Facebook’s “Expecting a Baby” update? Is it time for a “Childfree by Choice” Facebook option?

Scary Mommy: Cards For New Moms

Scarey House page 1

Scarey House page 1 (Photo credit: the_toe_stubber)

Wow. This site is truly scary. Scary Mommy gets a TON of traffic and the posts and complaints alone could be used to dramatically increase the frequency of vasectomies. There may not be a need for WNK or preach to the choir childfree sites after all. Maybe we should just provide a single link to these angry moms and let them take the heat? The cards are possibly the least depressing and most amusing part of the otherwise scary….

Cards For New Moms.

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Pregnant Women are Smug (Officialy)

Check out the video here: Pregnant Women are Smug by Garfunkel and Oates: The Official Video (if it didn’t automatically load above.)

Last year we posted an early version of this Garfunkel and Oates video. But now it’s OFFICIAL, meaning some new lyrics (?), gruesome graphics, high production value and a cast of characters that includes funny girl Arden Myrin from MadTV and Chelsea Lately.

Pregnant Women are Smug (Update)

Garfunkel and Oates at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater

Garfunkel and Oates at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater

Garfunkel & Oates’ song/video, “Pregnant Women Are Smug” continues to have legs. No surprise!

Here’s what Huff Post had to say:

When they’re not singing about getting older, their love of marijuana or the ever-baffling hand job, Garfunkel & Oates (a.k.a. Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci) are probably somewhere being relentlessly annoyed by mothers-to-be.

OK, probably not. But now we can see exactly what that would look like with this new video for their instant classic, “Pregnant Women Are Smug,” a song about (you guessed it) how irritatingly precious women can be during their nine-month stints. (Huff Post)

And here’s a Jezebel weigh-in for good measure:

Listen, the “miracle of life” is amazing and all that, but hundreds of thousands of women give birth every day. And surely we all know women who act normally when knocked up. But there are the others, the ones who behave in a holier-than-thou, self-satisfied manner, those who comport themselves as though they have suddenly become royalty, and make it clear that they’re doing something incredible and you and your empty uterus are not worthwhile… Should we put women on a pedestal and treat them as untouchable bastions of goodness just because some sperm managed to find an egg? Or are we allowed to make fun of the fact that sometimes, pregnant women are smug? (Jezebel)

Want to lead a “Pregnant Women Are Smug” singalong at your next baby shower? Learn the lyrics at LyricsMania. Here’s the refrain to get you started:

Pregnant women are smug
Everyone knows it, nobody says it
Because they’re pregnant
Effing son of a gun
You think you’re so deep now, you give me the creeps
Now that you’re pregnant (LyricsMania)

What are we missing? Keep this clever song/video aliiive… 🙂

 

(Child)Free Money #2: How much $ can I save by not having babies?

In (Child)Free Money #1: Can I afford to have kids?, we introduced the USDA’s “Cost of Raising a Child Calculator” and noted the high cost of having kids.

A middle income family, defined as a married couple with two children and a before-tax income averaging $79,940, spent approximately $13,050 per year on each child for their first 18 years of life.

Assuming the $13,050 as a starting point (spending varies and depends on household income), parents spend $234,900 per child just to get them out of High School.

So, congratulations, by choosing to remain childfree. Instead of having 2.1 kids like the average U.S. family, you saved about $470,000, and that is just the beginning.

That number assumes that there is no inflation or that wages keep pace with child-rearing and living expenses. It does not account for higher education, the boomerang babies, lost wages or productivity or unmeasurable costs of added stress and inadequate sleep.

It also doesn’t account for lost savings. The cost to parents is not only what they spend, but the lost opportunity to invest that money.

If instead of spending $13,050/child annually, you invest that money the end of each year to age 18, you will earn $107,000 in interest and save nearly $343,000 by not having just 1 baby.

If you invest $26,100/year instead of having 2 kids you will save $685,000 – before college!

These results assume investment in secure tax-exempt, insured bonds. The investment is virtually riskless. Based on average yields for similar investments over the past 18 years, I assumed an average return of 4.25% for an average investment period of 9 years. Feel free to write if you want more details.

In the next installent we will calculate saving/cost through college graduation. (Hint: ouch!)

 

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(Child)Free Money #1: Can I afford to have kids?

There is ample evidence that household finances affect relationships, stress levels, lifestyles, choices and happiness. Financial security and flexibility are obviously on any list of reasons childfree or childless couples are often happier than parents.

 

So if you are planning to have kids or wrestling with the decision, you might want to consult a calculator or accountant, especially in this uncertain era in which resources are limited, household incomes are stagnant or shrinking, inflation is lurking, and the cost of raising and educating kids has increased rapidly.

 

The USDA’s “Cost of Raising a Child Calculator” is a great place to start. “Cost” is a bit misleading, because the USDA numbers reflect what parents spend on kids before they are 18.

Dr Mark Lino, USDA Economist, explained in an email to WhyNoKids:

“The data we use (the Consumer Expenditure Survey) examines what families are spending. Cost can be a somewhat subjective concept. For example, we look at how much families are spending on children’s clothing. This is a different concept than what it may cost to adequately clothe a child (two pairs of shoes a year, five pairs of pants, etc.).“

 

The USDA site and study are worth a look. But start with this story published July 16:

Priceless and pricey: USDA tallies child-raising costs | Management content from Western Farm Press.

 

Middle income parents of a child born in 2011 can expect to spend about $234,900 ($295,560 if projected inflation costs are factored in*) for food, shelter, and other necessities to raise a child over the next 17 years. Let’s look at the breakdown:

  • A middle income family, defined as a married couple with two children and a before-tax income averaging $79,940, spent approximately $13,050 per year on each child for their first 18 years of life.
  • Expenses averaged about $760 less for younger children from birth to 2 years old, and averaged $1,270 more for teenagers between 15-17 years of age.
  • Teenagers are more expensive because they have higher food costs, as well as higher transportation costs when they start to drive.
  • Housing accounts for the largest expense (30 percent) for a child.  Housing expenses escalate with the need for additional bedrooms and bathrooms. This is followed by child care/education (18 percent) for those with this expense, and food (16 percent).

 

In (Child)Free Money #2, we will calculate how much money couples can save over 18 years by not having children and investing what they would have spent instead.

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Dads Are Using Their Kids’ Sporting Events to Get Out of Household Chores

“at least dads are doing something to keep kids from mucking up the house with their dirty fingernails and carelessly-brandished Ring-Pops”

OK. Lets agree to save the anthropological discussion about how men are not meant to be domesticated for another post, or another era maybe? In the meantime, perhaps someone can do a study of mens’ dorm rooms, bachelor pads and fraternity houses so we can conclusively report that MEN ARE DISGUSTING! We are the last beings anyone should want to be responsible for disinfecting! Men will give themselves double diarrhea or watch The View (or give themselves double diarrhea by watching The View) in order to avoid cleaning toilets, so “I have to drive to a swim meet while listening to (childfree) Justin Bieber songs” must absolutely be an acceptable excuse to get out of household chores. No?

Those conducting the report, or commenting about it, don’t necessarily think so:

“men aren’t making much progress in taking over some of the less-glamorous housework. “The fathers we studied,” said Kremer-Sadlik, “are finding ways to create a new ideal of fatherhood, but they are not creating a new ideal with their partners.” He added that some fathers even use sporting events as an excuse to get out of doing housework”

via Dads Are Using Their Kids’ Sporting Events to Get Out of Helping with Household Chores.

Dr. Seuss: “Celebrity No Kids” Funny Follow Up

Cover of "Green Eggs and Ham (I Can Read ...

Cover via Amazon

WNK readers were amazed to learn that the guy who wrote the most notable kid’s books of all time, Dr. Seuss, never had kids of his own.

We recently stumbled upon a funny blog post from our friends at “I Kid You Not” waxing in Seussian rhyme about the argument to be or not to be child free:

(From www.choosingkidfree.wordpress.com)

“Except in this version, Sam-I-Am is a chick named Mindy Sue who believes everyone should procreate and green eggs and ham are the little buggers themselves.

I’m Mindy Sue.

That Mindy Sue.
That Mindy Sue.
I do not like that Mindy Sue.

Don’t you want a kid or two?

I do not want one, Mindy Sue.
I do not want a kid or two.

Do you want one in a year?

I do not want one in a year.
I’d rather shove glass up my rear.
I’m happy being childfree.
Now take a hike and let me be.

But don’t you like kids when you fly
Even though they scream and cry?

I do not like them on a plane.
I do not like them on a train.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere.

Don’t you like them where you eat?
Don’t you think they’re cute and sweet?

Not where I eat.
Not at the beach.
Not at the park.
Not on an ark.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere.

Do you like them at the store?
I’m sure you would if they were yours.

I do not like them at the store.
I don’t want kids.
But wait! There’s more:
I do not like them where I eat.
I do not like them at the beach.
I do not like them on a plane.
I do not like them on a train.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them ANYWHERE.

But every little girl and boy
Is a precious gift, a joy!

Holy balls, give me a break
I just don’t think kids are so great.
I like to fly and eat in peace.
Now please go take a flying leap.

  • http://whynokids.com/uncategorized/dr-suess-didnt-have-kids/
  • http://americanvision.org/975/dr-seuss-had-no-children-of-his-own/