Need proof that many parents regret having children? Fifteen ‘rents dish As you get older your mind will make up more and more reasons why it makes sense to have a kid. Don’t be fooled, it’s just evolution tricking you into reproducing — no sane, thinking beast would take on the burden of raising a child if the mind didn’t fool us into it. So, does the world need another one of you? Or are you just being fooled into making a baby… (Source: 15 Parents Explain Why They Regret Having Children | Thought Catalog)
Dear Childfree Person,
I am writing to you to share some vital information that has only become available to me in the last couple of years, since I became a parent.
Before that, I was subjected to the same saccharine clichés from parents that you are undoubtedly hearing over and over again. You’re probably being told, like I was, that you never really love until you become a parent. You’re probably hearing a lot about how no love can compare to the love a mother has for her child. Parents might be telling you that you’ll never ever EVER understand what real love feels like unless you become a parent yourself.
Well, now that I’ve crossed over from “nonparent” to “parent,” and with apologies to my fellow parents, I want to deliver this important message: You pretty much get it.
I hope you won’t let any of those rogue, self-righteous parents drag you into competing in the love Olympics.
I always felt like the idea that mothers and fathers are the only people that get love was bullshit, but I never had standing to argue with any of them until my son was born. Now that I’ve been on both sides of the fence, I’m very happy to report that things are just as I’d assumed they would be. That love is love, wherever you’re standing.
The love a mother has for her child is unique, that much is true. It would be stupid to say it isn’t. But isn’t every kind of love unique? The love I have for my sisters is different than my love for my husband. The way I love my parents is not the same way I love my best friend. I don’t have any brothers or cats or parakeets, but I would guess that those relationships come with their own special flavors of love as well.
But you don’t hear parakeet owners running around telling non-parakeet owners that they will have no idea what real love feels like until they get a parakeet.
I loved plenty of people before my son was born and I don’t feel that that love has faded or diminished at all since I became a mom. My love for my family and friends is fierce and loyal and wild and real and I will seriously side-eye anyone who tries to tell me otherwise.
I’m hoping you feel the same way. And I hope you don’t really need me to tell you that the love you’re experiencing as a childfree person is real and significant and big. I hope you won’t let any of those rogue, self-righteous parents drag you into competing in the love Olympics.
The truth is, my being a mother doesn’t make me any better at or more capable of love than any other feeling person. My son is not some mythical creature that broke my stony heart wide open. He’s not this ray of light that magically gave my pathetic life meaning or transformed me into some amazing new person with extra overhead room in the cardiac area.
My kid is just another person in my life that I love. Like a sister, like a grandfather, like a best friend.
You know what that’s like. I know you do. Don’t let anyone tell you you don’t.
This originally appeared on The Toast. Republished here with permission.
This clever “Kickstart Our Baby” Kickstarter spoof features Beth and Robert Sweeney (played by Brigid Boyle and Steve Siddell) drumming up dollars to making a baby. Too funny, almost, except for that nagging notion that somebody has probably contemplated this. Really…
Kickstart Our Baby, v1.0
The tongue-in-cheek (yes, I feel a need to say that) “Kickstart Our Baby” video comes from The PIT New York City.
The PIT is dedicated to the instruction, performance, and development of original comedy. The PIT strives to entertain and educate the community about the comedic arts in a safe and nurturing environment. (The PIT)
Team Waterbirth (@WaterbirthPITtv), PIT TV’s in-house team, is behind “Baby Projectfunder”:
Coach: Jason Messina
Line Producer: Ryan Clark
Director/Editor: Joon Chung
Director: Brian Phares
Editor: Philip Maniaci
Editor: Madeline Smith
Writer: Susannah Bohlke
Writer: Cat Crow
(via PITtv – Waterbirth)
Kickstart Our Baby, v2.0
If you enjoyed PIT’s Baby Projectfunder spoof, then you’re in luck. Here’s another by another “Kickstart Our Baby” duo:
Just in case you’re feeling inspired to create your own “Kickstart Our Baby” fundraiser video, please note that these are parody videos. Kickstarter [probably] won’t let you raise dough to make a baby.
- Baby’s First Kickstarter (soshitech.com)
- Kickstarter (babywalterblog.wordpress.com)
- Kickstarting Atheist Baby Shoes (boingboing.net)
One thing you’ll never hear at our house: “Mommy, come see my poop!”
And – just to be clear – no “Daddy, come see my poop” either.
Call me self absorbed. Call me squeamish. Call me a Prissy Potty Pooper. Call me whatever you like, but don’t expect me to celebrate a floater unless we’re watching Caddyshack. That’s funny. So funny it’s almost worth celebrating. Though not quite, not unless I’m willing to risk my marriage…
So what’s up with my scatological line of ranting this morning? Déjà vu. A poop flashback!
A little over a decade ago I found myself in Turks and Caicos, miserably happy with my then-girlfriend-now-bride. Pristine beaches, zippy sailing, plein air massages, decadent food and drink, and ten days with the woman who I was (and am still) crazy about. Bliss.
One morning a 4-5 year old boy and his older brother swung by our suite in the morning to visit us before heading off to the ocean. (I’m omitting the name and relationship of the lads to preserve their post-poop years propriety.) They did this most mornings, and we enjoyed it. After eating fresh tropical fruit for breakfast on our balcony we’d debrief the previous days adventures and plan new escapades for the hours ahead. Yes, parents, this side of being around kids is actually really cool for many childfree adults. You see, we share a unique and often exciting bond with kids because, to a degree some of us don’t always admit, we’re not quite as grown up as you!
Suddenly the younger boy burst onto the balcony (I guess he’d wandered off to explore the cool stuff childfree couples leave around their bedrooms?) and grabbed me by the hand. I stood and followed dutifully, thinking he was about to demonstrate how a bra could be used as a catapult or maybe ask me to show him how to make condom water balloons.
He pulled me into the bathroom and pointed into the porcelain throne. “Look!” I looked into the toilet where a Halloween candy sized “Baby Ruth” was floating. I looked at him beaming, and instantly I understood two things. I was supposed to congratulate him in the hopes that this small victory would propel him toward diaper independence. And I would not invite a repeat performance from him or any other little boy (or girl) for the rest of my life. What’s funny in a film is decidedly less funny off-screen.
Yes, parents, I know that you’re rolling your eyes. Fair enough. Juvenile. But honest. And stop rolling your eyes, they might get stuck that way!
Come See My Poop!
So the recent [almost] repeat performance struck a familiar chord. Again I’ll keep the eager crapper’s name and relationship under wraps. It’s only fair. Besides, he’s a cool kid that I enjoy, and his parents are our good friends. Wouldn’t want any hurt feelings, especially since my gripe is with poop inspections and not this specific pooper or poop inspector. Do you follow?
After the youngster’s timely announcement (just prior to dinner), his mother dutifully trotted off to inspect. Cheers (and hugs, or so I imagine since I stayed in the living room and witnessed only the audible congratulations) followed. The turd must have been solid gold. Maybe it’s time to remix the The Golden Goose?
So I get it. Super pooper celebrations fast-track diaper independence. I’m a teacher; this is familiar pedagogical territory. Except that my lessons steer clear of toilets. Childfree bias, I guess. That said, I don’t want to wrap this rant without a heartfelt “Thank you!” to all the parents who celebrate their tikes’ turds. Golden or otherwise. Especially when it works. Because I’m not equipped to deal with a world full of crappy britches, and poop inspections and celebrations are best left to Bill Murray.
Before there was valium or prozac, there were always dubious quack remedies to help women medicate their sometimes grim realities. (The Bilerico Project)
Vintage advertising is always good for a chuckle, but Dr. Miles' Nervine struck me as especially perfect for anxious parents. Effervescent tablets too! So you can hear and feel the mellowing magic working.
Anyone know what the stuff actually was? Brandy? Laudanum? Both probably.
I'm midstream a two week visit from two of my favorite little beings in the world. The closest I'll ever get to witnessing my own (or much of my own) DNA in youngsters. It's exciting. Exhilarating. Exhausting. And sometimes scary as hell!
I have a few observations percolating that I'll try to unravel diplomatically in the weeks ahead, but for now just a couple of quick asides.
- Kids — especially 5 to 10-year-old kids — are wildly unpredictable marvels.
- Even when they don't eat and sleep, kids are veritable nuclear power plants.
- It feels really good to have little kids think you're cool and want to spend time with you even more than playing video games, watching TV, surfing on iPads…
- Kids are staggeringly stubborn and smart and naïve.
- Parents invent, nurture and enable some of the most frustrating children's behavior.
- I'm 100% confident that my childfree choice is right for me, right for my bride, and very, very, very right for our unborn children!
- Kids find it really gross when adults “kiss on the lips”, especially when “they look like they mean it”. Which, of course, makes it all the more enticing.
One more week of laboratory research to go, and then I'll fill you in on my hypotheses. Stay tuned. Until then, steady nerves!
Could parents learn a thing or two from hunter-gatherers? Perhaps.
But just as the childfree get sensitive when parents judge their choice not to have children, parents tend to get touchy when the childfree judge or advise their parenting. In short, I’m venturing into tricky territory by advocating hunter-gatherer parenting practices to my “childed” contemporaries. And yet while I may be off-base, I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t some meaningful reflection to be had here…
Many of the world’s hunter-gatherer societies have a laissez-faire style of parenting and consider young children to be autonomous individuals whose desires should not be thwarted (Best Practices for Raising Kids? Look to Hunter-Gatherers). Consequently some societies allow children to play with dangerous objects such as sharp knives and fires letting them be free to learn from mistakes but also to be hurt.
However, hunter-gatherer societies also foster precocious development of social skills in their children.
The Westerners who have lived with hunter-gatherers and other small-scale societies speculate that these admirable qualities develop because of the way in which their children are brought up: namely, with constant security and stimulation, as a result of the long nursing period, sleeping near parents for several years, far more social models available to children through allo-parenting, far more social stimulation through constant physical contact and proximity of caretakers, instant caretaker responses to a child’s crying, and the minimal amount of physical punishment. (Best Practices for Raising Kids? Look to Hunter-Gatherers)
Close Contact Among Hunter-Gatherers
Sharing a bed, or at least the same bedroom, is common practice among parents and their children in hunter-gatherer societies and many cultures throughout the world. It is only recently in Western society that isolation has become part of common parenting tactics.
A cross-cultural sample of 90 traditional human societies identified not a single one with mother and infant sleeping in separate rooms: that current Western practice is a recent invention responsible for the struggles at putting kids to bed that torment modern Western parents. American pediatricians now recommend not having an infant sleep in the same bed with its parents, because of occasional cases of the infant ending up crushed or else overheating; but virtually all infants in human history until the last few thousand years did sleep in the same bed with the mother and usually also with the father, without widespread reports of the dire consequences feared by pediatricians. That may be because hunter-gatherers sleep on the hard ground or on hard mats; a parent is more likely to roll over onto an infant in our modern soft beds. (Best Practices for Raising Kids? Look to Hunter-Gatherers)
From slings to cradle boards, hunter-gatherers employ a wide variety of techniques/devices to carry their children resulting in constant contact between the mother (or another caregiver) and the infant. Only when the child is older and mobile does the child choose to voluntarily venture away, usually to play with other children. (Note: Some consider swaddling or placing an infant in a cradle board cruel because it restricts the child’s movement. Others believe it causes the child permanent damage.)
[However,] there are no personality or motor differences, or differences in age of independent walking, between Navajo children who were or were not kept on a cradle board, or between cradle-boarded Navajo children and nearby Anglo-American children. […] Hence it is argued that doing away with cradle boards brings no real advantages in freedom, stimulation, or neuromotor development. Typical Western children sleeping in separate rooms, transported in baby carriages, and left in cribs during the day are often socially more isolated than are cradle-boarded Navajo children. (Best Practices for Raising Kids? Look to Hunter-Gatherers)
Debate and studies are still ongoing about whether it is better to leave a child alone when it is crying with no reason or if it should be held and comforted. While there is no consensus on the issue, hunter-gatherers generally favor comforting a troubled child.
Observers of children in hunter-gatherer societies commonly report that, if an infant begins crying, the parents’ practice is to respond immediately. […] The result is that !Kung infants spend at most one minute out of each hour crying, mainly in crying bouts of less than 10 seconds—half that measured for Dutch infants. Many other studies show that 1-year-old infants whose crying is ignored end up spending more time crying than do infants whose crying receives a response. (Best Practices for Raising Kids? Look to Hunter-Gatherers)
What are Allo-parents?
Allo-parents are individuals who are not the biological parents but who play a role in a child’s life and do some caregiving.
In small-scale societies, the allo-parents are materially important as additional providers of food and protection. Hence studies around the world agree in showing that the presence of allo-parents improves a child’s chances for survival. But allo-parents are also psychologically important, as additional social influences and models beyond the parents themselves. Anthropologists working with small-scale societies often comment on what strikes them as the precocious development of social skills among children in those societies, and they speculate that the richness of allo-parental relationships may provide part of the explanation. (Best Practices for Raising Kids? Look to Hunter-Gatherers)
Population numbers affect the socialization of children of various ages. In all cities, and in rural areas of moderate population density, children are separated by age, and will learn and play in age cohorts (Best Practices for Raising Kids? Look to Hunter-Gatherers). However in small-scale societies, the smaller group of children will interact more simply because there are less of them and situations would arise that make is easier to keep all the children together in spite of age differences.
A typical hunter-gatherer band numbering around 30 people will on the average contain only about a dozen preadolescent kids, of both sexes and various ages. Hence it is impossible to assemble separate age-cohort playgroups, each with many children, as is characteristic of large societies. Instead, all children in the band form a single multi-age playgroup of both sexes. […] The young children gain from being socialized not only by adults but also by older children, while the older children acquire experience in caring for younger children. (Best Practices for Raising Kids? Look to Hunter-Gatherers)
Because hunter-gatherer children sleep with their parents, they are exposed to their parents having sexual intercourse which inevitably leads to groups of mixed-gender children mimicking what they witness.
Either the adults don’t interfere with child sex play at all, or else !Kung parents discourage it when it becomes obvious, but they consider child sexual experimentation inevitable and normal. It’s what the !Kung parents themselves did as children, and the children are often playing out of sight where the parents don’t see their sex games. Many societies, such as the Siriono and Piraha and New Guinea Eastern Highlanders, tolerate open sexual play between adults and children. (Best Practices for Raising Kids? Look to Hunter-Gatherers)
State vs. Hunter-gatherer Child-rearing
[A] tentative generalization is that individual autonomy, even of children, is a more cherished ideal in hunter-gatherer bands than in state societies, where the state considers that it has an interest in its children, does not want children to get hurt by doing as they please, and forbids parents to let a child harm itself. (Best Practices for Raising Kids? Look to Hunter-Gatherers)
In the modern world there is much variation among industrial state societies where parenting practices differ from state to state and between classes and generations. But it does seem that their may be some universal lessons to learn from hunter-gatherer parenting.
Everybody in the world was a hunter-gatherer until the local origins of agriculture around 11,000 years ago, and nobody in the world lived under a state government until 5,400 years ago. The lessons from all those experiments in child-rearing that lasted for such a long time are worth considering seriously. (Best Practices for Raising Kids? Look to Hunter-Gatherers)
Some hunter-gatherer parenting practices are obviously not worth emulating.
I don’t recommend that we return to the hunter-gatherer practices of selective infanticide, high risk of death in childbirth, and letting infants play with knives and get burned by fires. Some other features of hunter-gatherer childhoods, like the permissiveness of child sex play, feel uncomfortable to many of us, even though it may be hard to demonstrate that they really are harmful to children. Still other practices are now adopted by some citizens of state societies, but make others of us uncomfortable—such as having infants sleep in the same bedroom or in the same bed as parents, nursing children until age 3 or 4, and avoiding physical punishment of children. (Best Practices for Raising Kids? Look to Hunter-Gatherers)
However, there are many less controversial hunter-gatherer parenting practices which might well server our modern state societies.
It’s perfectly feasible for us to transport our infants vertically upright and facing forward, rather than horizontally in a pram or vertically but facing backward in a pack. We could respond quickly and consistently to an infant’s crying, practice much more extensive allo-parenting, and have far more physical contact between infants and caregivers. We could encourage self-invented play of children, rather than discourage it by constantly providing complicated so-called educational toys. We could arrange for multi-age child playgroups, rather than playgroups consisting of a uniform age cohort. We could maximize a child’s freedom to explore, insofar as it is safe to do so. (Best Practices for Raising Kids? Look to Hunter-Gatherers)
I hope you’ve made it this far. Interesting, right? Before lambasting Jared Diamond (or me), pause. Consider. Sometimes we feel judged even when we’re not. Sometimes we feel advised even when we’re not. I know, the title of my blog post suggests otherwise. And hopefully it got your attention, provoked your curiosity, compelled you to read the post. Perhaps you’ll even grab the book and probe further. Your comments after reading the book would real really, really welcome. Especially since I haven’t read it. Yet.
Source for Hunter-Gatherer Parenting Post:
- From The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? by Jared Diamond. Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. Copyright 2012 by Jared Diamond.
- Newsweek and The Daily Beast
“A bored kid at home might be dangerous…” (Childfree Commercial)
Aside from the generally crumby quality of this video (Let me guess, recorded on smart phone from a hazy old school television?) the imagery is disturbingly hilarious.
Wait. Did I just say that?
Please scratch that insensitive remark.
The commercial for a kid’s crafting book to occupy your bored child is amusing. In a decidedly sick way.
Part of what makes this video sticky is that you don’t really know whether the bored child is pulling a prank or trying to help. Favor? Or Oedipus Complex.
A bored child might be dangerous either way. In fact, that’s one small part of the concern with kidlets. Sometimes the line between prank, favor, and devious retaliation is blurry. And shifting. And unpredictable.
During a recent visit with my darling nieces, the four year old straight arm cold-cocked me in the family jewels. Bull’s eye! For a few minutes I stood on the pier sucking wind and seeing stars. When I got my act straight and bent down to ask her if it was an accident she smiled and shook her head from side to side slowly.
“You hit me on purpose?”
Still smiling, she nodded her head up and down.
“Do you have any idea how much that hurt?”
Side to side.
“Do you think it’s funny?”
Laugh. Up and down.
We sat. We talked. She apologized. And went back to building her sand castle.
I haven’t the slightest doubt that she considered the sucker punch to her uncle’s zipper zone a prank. I’m big. She’s teeny. I’m a man. She’s a girl. I like to roughhouse. She likes to roughhouse. We’re both pranksters, and we’ve frequently conspired on practical jokes. But her 4-year old filter for sifting appropriate from malevolent is limited. And sometimes it can’t keep up with her actions.
The video is goofy. And real. And sort of pitiful if you’re willing to purchase a kid’s craft book as a simple plug-and-play alternative to parenting a bored child. Lesson needed? No nut knocking, kid!
And then on to the next learning experience…
Sometimes there isn’t anything to add, extract or analyze, and bite-sized blog post isn’t enough to satisfy. Sometimes the writing is so compelling the only thing to do is present the entire story. So here are some full meals to chew on (again if you’ve seen them already) repeatedly. The comments are also must reads.
I am only slightly embarrassed to say that while my wife and I were busy explaining to friends and strangers that the answer to their “When are you having children?” questions was “Never”, we also brainstormed names for the little genius. I liked Romie Lane, the name of a street in a Steinbeck novel, East of Eden I think. She liked the sound of Roma. What can I say? There is either some deep psychological well to drill here, or we are simply pretentious semi-literates that enjoy naming things. The car, for example, is named Bess, after my wife’s grandmother, who had similarly sturdy, wide hips and a heavy backend. We also unapologetically and ruthlessly offer name suggestions for friends’ companies, boats, and especially babies. Yes, we know we are annoying.
At least none of our baby branding ideas were highlighted as ludicrous in Drew Magary’s semi-hilarious story: American Baby Names Are Somehow Getting Even Worse.
Now, you and I both know that Americans of all stripes have grown progressively worse at naming children. It’s not enough for your child to have a normal name and then try to stand out on their own merits down the road. No, no, no. Every parent now wants every child to be unique and special from the moment the doctor wipes all the amniotic fluid off of it, even though all babies look alike and contribute nothing to society.
There’s a bizarre assumption that if you can make your child’s name unique, the child will be unique. And that’s NEVER the case. Chances are, if you name your kid Braxlee, he or she is gonna end up bent over the sink in the back of a TGI Friday’s, offering tail in exchange for a better skim off the tip pool.
Magary seems to have a point, and I’ll bet that baby names become even more bizarre as expectant parents choose names based on the availability of their dot-com address on GoDaddy. (As I write this I think I might finally understand the inspiration for the name of that company…)
- Kids Suck?: Deadpan and Deadspin Daddies are FUNNY (WhyNoKids.com)
- It’s Okay To Love Your TV More Than Your Children (Deadspin)
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”