December 11, 2017

Even Movie Stars are Challenged by Parenting and Non-Parenting Roles

Celebrities make it look so easy, with their $17,000 diamond studded pacifiers and twelve nannies,  but is parenting easier for the rich and famous?

Here are a few quotes from superstars on the challenging role of parenting and the joys of being childfree. See they are just like us!

Julia Roberts is playing mom to Ryan Reynolds in a new film Fireflies in the Garden but even this supermom finds parenthood demanding:

“I think it’s challenging for everybody in different ways. My challenges as a wife and a mother are very different from the ones portrayed in the movie, but I think for everybody it’s a hard challenge.”

Tori Spelling just gave birth to her third baby:

“I’m always questioning, “Am I doing the right thing? Am I okay at this?”

Kendra Wilkinson, the former Playmate and party girl,  is famous for her comments on how parenting changed her sex life.

“The sleep. I used to go to bed around 3 a.m. and wake up at 3 p.m. Now I get up at 3 a.m. and stay up until 3 a.m.”

Mad Men star Christina Hendricks‘ on screen character is currently expecting. Recently, she was asked was asked if she is ready to take on the role of motherhood for real:

“We enjoy other people’s kids very much,” Christina told Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush on the red carpet at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday, when asked if she and her husband, “Body of Proof” actor Geoffrey Arend, are planning on having children. “We’re having fun right now.”

“We’re having a lot of fun,” Geoffrey added.

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 22:  (L-R) Televisi...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

The media are obsessed with pregnant celebrities and are on constant baby bump watch. Does it help an actresses career to get publicity from pregnancy? Does it hurt a career to say no to kids? Actresses Kate Walsh and Cameron Diaz have both spoken up about not being moms and have received a lot of press for choosing their childfree paths. The queen of all stage moms Kris Jenner revealed to US Weekly in August  that she puts pressure on her famous Kardashian daughters to have kids. It makes you wonder, pregnancy or no pregnancy, if it is all just for the ratings.

Parents’ Depression and Stress Leaves Lasting Mark on Children’s DNA – The Daily Beast

Animation of the structure of a section of DNA...
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I found this story fascinating: Parents’ Depression and Stress Leaves Lasting Mark on Children’s DNA – The Daily Beast.

Here are some of the many compelling and thought provoking segments of the story:

“…when parents are under emotional, financial, or other forms of stress, it can alter their children’s patterns of genetic activity at least through adolescence and perhaps longer. And since some of the altered genes shape brain development, the effects of parental stress might permanently wire themselves into children’s brains.”

“This is the first time scientists have ever found a link between parental stress in early childhood and the condition of their children’s DNA. As such, it represents the next frontier in the study of nature and nurture: identifying how the experiences we have (nurture) affect our DNA (nature).”

“The new study shows that childhood experiences that fall well short of abuse, or even of having a mother who is depressed, leave their marks on our DNA.”

“Since we already know that parents’ marital and financial stress can hurt children’s development, a skeptic might ask whether the new study advances the ball. It does. By showing how parenting exerts the effects it does—namely, by altering which of a child’s genes are turned on and which are turned off—it makes those influences much more real and concrete, much the way brain imaging studies that show junkies’ brains when they crave heroin made addiction much more real and concrete: just as a junkie can’t simply summon the willpower to kick his addiction, so a child cannot just shake off the legacy of a troubled infancy and adolescence. That legacy has altered her very DNA.”

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2 Videos: Childfree Chelsea Handler

For those of you that saw our previous FB post of childfree Chelsea Handler and asked for more, we borrowed this one from Alvaro and our friends on “Happily Childfree“.

Ms. Handler is one of the few female comics (that I know of) with the balls to twist her own taboo baby bashing into thought provoking and funny. Louis C.K.’s “Kids Suck” rants are touching and funny and Aziz Ansari’s take is hilarious too, but the first is a parent and neither would seem to risk the wrath of mommies like a female comic does when she says

“I could have been a mother too okay, three times, but I made the right decisions.”

What do you think? Do you have examples of other women doing this kind of comedy?

Here’s Chelsea Handler’s interview that we posted on Facebook in May:

I’m not sure if the interview occurred before or after the Laugh Factory routine.

1) Video: Aziz Ansari Is Afraid of Babies

2) Kids Suck?: Deadpan and Deadspin Daddies are FUNNY

3) Video: Amy Poehler’s Tip For Traveling With Children

4) Video Vasectomy Shocker: A Survivor’s Tale of Survival

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No Kids Trending

Recently whynokids.com has been getting pounded with traffic, an uptick that prompted me to poke around in search of answers.

What are people searching for? Are they finding what they’re looking for? What “sticky content” are we offering visitors to Why No Kids?

Why No Kids? logo on Facebook and Twitter

Why No Kids? logo on Facebook and Twitter

Combing through our stats (analytics) and tickling Google’s ivories has offered afew hints. For example, the term “no kids” seems to be driving the surge. But why? Is it possible that suddenly there’s an upward trend in couples considering a childfree lifestyle? Perhaps. Or perhaps there’s something else happening. What do YOU think?

I’m reserving judgment for the time being. It’s exciting. It’s encouraging. But it’s premature to determine why whynokids.com is experiencing a dramatic increase in readers.

That said, I know that our readers are responsible for spreading the word, so it’s time to thank you. All of you! You’ve encouraged and prodded and joined Why No Kids? conversations on Facebook and tweeted up a storm with Why No Kids? on Twitter. You’ve emailed posts and emailed us suggestions. In some cases you’ve even emailed us guest posts. You’ve joined the conversation about why not to have kids (and even–in some notable exceptions–why to have kids), and this conversation is what fascinates us. The four bloggers who founded Why No Kids? have chosen childfree lives, childfree marriages, but we don’t preach. We encourage breeders (I know, it’s a loaded term, but sooo catchy!) to participate in conversation. Bring on the debate. Bring on the disagreement. But bring on the civility, and bring on the levity.

Life’s too short to anger and alienate over personal decisions of childbearing. But the Why No Kids? crew firmly believes that ongoing, informed conversation about whether or not to breed stands to improve the lot for all of us!

FlashBack: Standout Stories That Previously Appeared On WNK’s FB Page Only

We wanted to share some the year’s best stories about parenting, children and the childfree, including emphasis on the environment, economy and psychology.

1) THE NO-BABY BOOM – Probably the most engaging, enlightening piece so far about the choice to be childfree, the CF lifestyle and growing community. It appeared in Details magazine. If you’re willing to read only one story, start and stop here.

2) ARE THERE DISADVANTAGES TO BEING CHILDFREE? – We’re not here to start a cult or hoist an ideology on the unsuspecting. We want an open honest discourse about what life is like and how big choices related to conceiving, adopting and parenting affect ANYBODY.

3) DOES HAVING CHILDREN MAKE YOU HAPPY? — What do you think? Have you read these other WNK stories? Are parents or the childfree more fit or healthy?

4) WHY MORE KIDS? – The Russian and South Korean governments want more babies! Riddle: Which is less sustainable:

A) A movement or community (like the childfree) that can’t rely on brainwashing their offspring to continue growing? OR

B) An economy that demands constant growth while resources are limited and fewer participants are incented to make babies?

5) HOW TO LAND YOU KID IN THERAPY – Why the obsession with our kids’ happiness may be dooming them to unhappy adulthoods. A therapist and mother report

6) WHINING IS THE WORST SOUND IN THE WORLD – Dare to disagree?

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Vicki Larson: Are Childless Couples Headed Toward Divorce?

Marriage and divorce rates in the US, 1990-200...

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Vicki Larson: Are Childless Couples Headed Toward Divorce?.

“People assume children are the glue that holds a marriage together, which really isn’t true. Kids are huge stressors,” says Scott, head of the Childless by Choice Project whose documentary on childfree couples was just released. “Despite that, there is a strong motive to stay together. The childfree don’t have that motive so there’s no reason to stay together if it’s not working.”

This article is great, really layered and probing. It answers a lot of questions about who is “childfree”, why, and what the impact of such status on their marriage may be. However, there may be some confusion, or even unintended/inaccurate conclusions, as all couples without children are lumped into the “childfree” category, including couples frequently categorized as “childless” (those who want kids but cannot conceive) that “make up the bulk of the childfree” in this story.

As I read the article I wondered how many of the divorced couples were simply victims of a decision to marry too early. According to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed, the rate of divorce among people that marry before 25 is astounding. I also hoped for statistics comparing older married couples. How do those who CHOOSE not to have kids compare to couples with empty nests at the same age? When the decision  for parents to divorce can be made without complicating child rearing, like the childfree by choice, then who APPEARS to be more successful or happily married? (Not that remaining married is an accurate indicator of “success”) When I was in college, my parents finally divorced, and there was a rash of divorces among my friends’ parents as well.

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Childfree? Really? Common Questions and Comments (Part 3)

Childfree? Really?

Common questions and comments (Part 3)

“When are you having kids?”, they usually ask. Not “if”. And here are more of the most common responses to my answer:

6) “Who’s going to take care of you when you’re old?”

I’d like to say “me”. I’m responsible for myself. It’s my obligation to invest in my brain and my body and strive for healthy and happy. If or when I can’t, I should have saved enough money or given enough love to ask for and receive help.

Instead I say we’re open to adopting adults from the next generation of non-breeders, or blurt something else unfunny, dishonest and/or swarthy, while wondering:

How can I get an unborn heir to agree that, in exchange for me handling fatherly responsibilities, they will one day owe the same commitment to me?

How could I dare make my health another’s responsibility unless I managed my own body, diet, alcohol and nicotine consumption perfectly?

It’s already too late for that, so rather than saddling someone else with the burden of the bongwater I drank in my twenties, I hope that the economics of living child-free allow enough room for a giant TV and a smiley, shapely nurse with soft hands and a deep appreciation of the History Channel and eighties music.

Or maybe we’ll just invest in Long-term care insurance.

http://personalinsure.about.com/od/longtermcare/a/ltcguide.htm

7) “Go to doctor what’s his name. He’ll get you pregnant!”

This happens more often than you might think. People are understandably presumptuous, and sincerely charitable when your spouse is a gifted teacher and children’s book author. (Touchtheart.com)

So when we lived in New York, parents of her students were eager to offer recommendations and referrals, assuming motherhood was an obvious goal for someone so nurturing and bossy.

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Kiddie (Free) Lit

Ever wonder...

Doing my best Andy Rooney impersonation:

Did you ever notice how almost every book for women these days is about weddings and babies? I remember when women couldn’t even have books.

OK enough with the old man voice. I’ve been noticing a recurring theme with many of my steamy beach reads that is not so sexy – the main characters can’t decide if they should have kids or NOT! The stories are not the fun and tempting reads that the back cover teases. These fence-sitting literary couples struggle to find themselves and survive debt, betrayal and various inane obstacles only to come together and live happily ever after. Then they go and ruin things by making baby plans.

The two chick-lit novels below include the “Should we? Or shouldn’t we?” theme:
Baby Proof by Emily Giffen

Fans love her sorbet colored titles on marriage and the great void that happens next. In this story, Ben, the husband who vowed he’d live a childfree life suddenly wakes up one day and – yikes — changes his mind. Now what?
Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Four million readers loved The Nanny Diaries but when Nanny returned more people went meh? Not so much. Nan is back and fate has her crossing paths with her former charges, but can she handle a little cutie pie of her own? And will it tear her against-all-odds relationship apart?

A friend of mine mentioned that the childfree conundrum makes an appearance in Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. (A pre-Oprah Book Club copy is sitting on my shelf.) Franzen would likely freak out if he discovered his name on the same page as “beach read” or “chick lit” or “books for women”. Which brings me back to Andy Rooney…

Did you ever notice that people without kids have way too much time to read books?

Childfree? Really? Common questions and comments (Part 2)

“When are you having kids?”, they usually ask. Not “if”. And here are a few more of the most common responses to my answer:

4) “Your kids would be so cute though…”

Oh, if the gene pool was really only skin deep…

On the outside, maybe, our offspring could look fine; but the inside could be very messy. So take a good look at the size of my cranium compared to my wife’s petite body, and hold your endorsements until we all have genetic codes tattooed on our sleeves.

Somewhere on my bicep you’ll then find addiction, male pattern baldness, acne, a degenerative eye disease, and the undiscovered gene for mouth breathing. Sure, my wife’s line brings artistic ability and great teeth, but there are also angry ovaries and OCD. Somewhere in her tattooed code there must be mysterious genes that cause older members of her family to mispronounce the most common names and brands and retell the same damn stories every week.

If the gene pool was really only skin deep...

If we were crazy or careless or lucky enough to bring a child into the world healthy, it would likely be a clumsy, athletic, tone deaf, heroin addict with back hair and enough artistic ability to paint a self portrait, but a head too big to fit on the canvass.

5) “The world needs more intelligent people to have babies!”

Really? It’s a reproductive arms race? Is this about Politics? Ideology? You’re going to breed yourselves to victory? Cars run on IQ points? With every additional baby the ice caps are unmelting?

Can you provide some evidence that intelligent = happy? Have you never met smart, peaceful people with stupid, violent children?

So how does the race end?

Does Thomas Malthus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Robert_Malthus) earn a very posthumous Nobel Prize? For economics or peace? Who wins if a lot of smart people live in bankrupt countries run by fertile descendants of Osama Bin Laden and Mitt Romney… ?

Can’t we just distribute birth control and sign the non-procreation treaty already?!

Not a Loser, Baby

Kate Walsh More cover girl

The Hollywood headline reads “Kate Walsh (television star of Gray’s Anatomy and Private Practice) Embarrassed For Not Having Kids”.

This newsflash did its job and caught my childfree eye. I had to read more. Maybe not coincidentally, the article is in MORE magazine, a magazine “that celebrates women over 40”. However, it seems that in this case, not having kids by 40 means this star is more likely falling or failing.

In the article Kate Walsh says, “I feel like a loser. I would definitely love to be a parent. But I definitely don’t think I want to do it on my own. Things are just going to go the way they go… I thought I’d be married and have three or four kids. I always knew I wanted to be an actress, but I think I always wanted a quote-unquote normal life because I had a very untraditional upbringing.”

So normal is two kids and a dog right? Not for the nearly 50% of American women who are not moms. (source savvyauntie.com)

Maybe Kate should talk to Oscar winner Dame Helen Mirren, who swore off childbirth after seeing a film on the subject as a kid, “I swear it traumatised me to this day. I haven’t had children and now I can’t look at anything to do with childbirth. It absolutely disgusts me.”

Childfree and carefree Cameron Diaz

Or she could listen to outspoken environmentalist Cameron Diaz, who recently defended women who don’t want children in Cosmo by saying, “I think women are afraid to say that they don’t want children because they’re going to get shunned. But I think that’s changing too now. I have more girlfriends who don’t have kids than those that do. And honestly? We don’t need any more kids. We have plenty of people on this planet.” Diaz adds she might still have kids of her own.

Every celebrity rag is filled with photos of pregnant or potentially knocked up stars. We are obsessed with bump watch and all the joys of charting famous bellies and how quickly they grow then disappear.

Maybe Kate Walsh’s PR agent thinks she is a loser for not cashing in on the craze and publicity nexus of the moment. (Although, her article has caused quite a stir of its own.) It seems more and more actresses are joining the Hollywood Baby Boom. Currently pregnant stars include: Kate Hudson, Jessica Alba, Natalie Portman, Selma Blair, Maya Rudolph, Alyssa Milano, Alicia Silverstone, and three of the five Spice Girls.

Suri cruisin' with her $1,700 purse

The paparazzi have gone after the celebrity spawn as well. Photos of the little fashionistas are making cover stories. We’ve always wanted all the goodies and clothing of the rich and famous, and now we want our kids to wear what their kids are wearing too. Does that include the $1,700 Dolce and Gabbana purse of Miss Suri Cruise, age 4? For Ms. Walsh, her ability to protect a child from the paps and lack of privacy might be influencing her decision.

With the Hollywood baby boom exploding, we could use some other childfree personalities to speak up and share that their lives without children are still worth living, and that having less is sometimes more.

Some Notable Childfree Movie Stars

George Clooney

Cameron Diaz

Hugh Grant

Renee Zellweger

Katharine Hepburn

Oprah Winfrey

Hilary Swank

Charlize Theron

Angelica Houston

Steve Martin

Marisa Tomei

Ellen DeGeneres

Portia DeGeneres