September 24, 2014

Do Parents Make Better Teachers? A Childfree Teacher Responds

Teacher

Teacher (Photo credits: www.myparkingsign.com)

When I read the title of the Slate article Parents Make Better Teachers I was livid!

I’ve spent years dedicating my life to children and education. I didn’t need to have kids of my own to make a difference in the classroom.

Do eye doctors need to have glasses?

Do chefs need to be fat?

Do gynecologists need to have vaginas?

So why the sudden childfree discrimination in education?

Author Sara Mosle writes about her teaching experience as a response to an article in this week’s New York Times about high turnovers at charter schools:

“If you aren’t a parent, maybe this won’t strike you as odd. It wouldn’t have struck me that way more than 20 years ago when I joined Teach for America in the program’s first year and taught for three years in New York City’s public schools. I was single, childless, and clueless about even the most basic aspects of child-rearing. My students’ parents seemed like creatures from another planet, remote and distant from the job I thought I was doing. To the extent I understood family dynamics, it was solely from the perspective of the teenager I’d been just a few years before.

Nearly two decades later, I returned to the classroom, this time as a mother, and have become acutely aware of how being a parent has made me a better teacher.”

Fine. But what about life experience and maturity? Does adding twenty years of life to your resume change anything?

As I read more of the article I learned that the sensational headline was misleading. Besides Sara’s personal story this article says that many charter schools hire recent college graduates to teach and after a few years they leave because there is no room for financial growth or advancement. This turnover makes it difficult for students. Recent grad=cheap labor.

Childfree Teachers are Hot

This has nothing to do with parents being better teachers. So why bring the childfree into it? Because we are HOT! The recent TIME magazine cover article stirred up the debate and got clicks so now even Slate is cashing in on the action. Shame on Slate. Many childfree readers, like me, were annoyed by the deception and blatant childfree attack.

The responses to the article were amazing and worth reading. Childfree teachers called out Slate and the author for baiting the childfree for responses. Go team CF!

Still, it doesn’t seem that people actually read the article. Instead they were responding to the ugly headline, so score one for Slate.

Some of the best comments include this one busting Slate for the obvious lure:

From Tom Tildrum:“Old vs. young, school choice, *and* Mommy Wars? Slate’s editor must have plotzed from excitement when they pitched him this article.”

Other favorites include:
from TravisNelson76:

To suggest that schools should have teachers with relevant life experience is not strange. To suggest, however, (as this article does) that relevant life experience can only come with parenthood is VERY STRANGE INDEED. Who would make a better teacher? An 18-year-old mother with no teaching experience? Or a 45-year-old non-parent with twenty years of teaching experience? This article seems to (VERY STRANGELY) suggest the former.

From NinjaofSin:

“You’re not a parent, you can’t possibly understand”

Bah-loney.

From mh:

I went to Catholic schools. None of the nuns had children, but they were excellent teachers.

Childfree Teachers Rock

If you really want to know what this childfree teacher thinks about this subject check out this WNK post:

My Favorite Teacher Didn’t Have Kids

What do you think childfree teachers?

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Funny! Our TIME Magazine response (just kidding)

e7e71cb7fd7cdadfd289b19f9693b0ad

The TIME magazine article, “The Childfree Life: When having it all means not having children,” has sparked an electric storm of media attention. It’s a shame the writers at WNK are too busy enjoying a childfree summer on the lake to respond. We kid! No…wait! We DON’T kid! We have a lot to say but we are busy boating AND reading all the articles about the TIME hoopla. We promise to comment soon! For now we offer you a “Friday Funny” and hope that you all remember to laugh a little more today since everyday is Friday when you are childfree!

 

For some reason we find this cartoon hilarious.

Do you agree? Funny or not here we come!

If you have a “Friday Funny” for WNK please share!

The Happiness Project – “Lighten Up” on the Childfree

Cover of "The Happiness Project: Or, Why ...

Cover via Amazon

The NYTimes bestseller by Gretchen Rubin is a year-in-the-life exploration of a writer trying to live her life happier. What does that mean? Each month is broken into a theme: energy, love, play, etc. April’s theme is “Lighten Up” with a subtitle: Parenthood. Hmm. Maybe that means you don’t need to “lighten up” if you don’t have kids or you are already pretty enlightened?
Nope. Not according to the author. Rubin cites a study that says “child
care” is only slightly more pleasant than commuting, and one that says
marital satisfaction declines after the first child is born (picking up
again after they leave the nest). Then she disputes these findings, all
the while complaining about her kids and marital satisfaction mostly
relating to fights about her kids.

“Now as a parent myself, I realize how much the happiness of parents depends
on the happiness of their children and grandchildren.”

Really? But then again the kids did give Rubin a reason to write a bestseller.
We at WNK believe that by being childfree, everyday is a project in
happiness.

From the Happiness Project Blog:

Do your children make you happy? Some research says NO! I say YES!

Read the article here

Hey WNKers have you read The Happiness Project?

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

WNK? Religion (Part 1)

Corcovado jesus

Corcovado jesus (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

I have been married for 12 years and had plenty of time and practice to help me complete and refine the list of reasons I choose to be childfree. There are things I want to contribute, create and achieve. There are plenty of predicaments, contradictions, risks and duties that I hope to avoid for eternity.  I have concerns about the environment (this video is also worth revisiting), economics, my community, and vessels carrying my genes. I want to be brave and free enough to seek the best version of me, and leave more than my DNA as a legacy…

I hope to admit and articulate my childfree motivations honestly and clearly, yet, when answering “Why No Kids?” I have barely burrowed into my own psychology, insecurities, personal history or religion. It’s complicated and scary, and the opportunity to offend so many, including my family, is not exactly enticing. Nonetheless, I think it is important, and hope readers might be inspired to share some personal stories that influenced their thinking.

My own experiences with religion have certainly contributed to my decision to remain childfree. I will offer more detail in future posts. in the meantime, the following personal essay may offer some hints about my psychology and beliefs? Thanks in advance for indulging.

SPIRITS – Part 1

We were saved. My mother made sure of it. She took my younger brother and me to churches all over Denver to find the correct way to pray and give praise, and the best places in town to do it.

We had to know the right words to say so God or the devil would listen. We learned that good prayers began like letters to God. “Dear Lord,” we would say. That was the best way to do it if we were asking for something. At the end, we had to politely remind God that “we ask these things in Jesus name” to make it more powerful. If we didn’t pray right or do the right things, God wouldn’t answer our prayers. I didn’t understand, but I thought I should.

If the Devil tried to tempt or scare us, we were supposed to be mad. When I had nightmares, mom would sit down on my bed and squeeze my hand and tell me to repeat after her. In the same loud and angry way I would say “Satan, I demand, in Jesus name, that you leave me NOW. I am saved, and I am not scared any more, in JESUS name, amen”. It worked, but a week or two later I would have another dream about “The Incredible Hulk” or “Fantasy Island”. Friday night TV scared me, but my mom blamed Satan and soda pop for my sleeplessness.

Some churches were better than others. Saint Thomas Moore was only a short drive from our blue house in Acres Green, but we only went there a few times a year. That church had good aerobics classes and free tennis courts and my dad drank beer while he played softball there in the summers; but my mom called the Catholics pagans. She said they didn’t read the bible the right way and that she couldn’t be a Catholic anymore. She couldn’t say it to my grandparents though. When they came to visit, even my dad came to church. We all pretended to be Catholic, and mom told us not to tell them about our other churches or how we learned to speak in tongues.

We learned at my mom’s favorite church, which wasn’t really a church at all. It didn’t have a name or a building or little books to tell us what to say or sing. The leader of the small group was a skinny man with dirty shoes. He was young, about the same age as my mother, but glasses and baldness, and the way he knew the bible, made him seem older. He said that a church was about people and not place, and promised that God would always find a place for us to worship Him.

In the beginning, God found us a dark empty room in an office building near the Denver Tech Center. I think one of the members worked there, but we had to enter through a side door and keep most of the fluorescent lights off. About 40 people attended regularly, but some skipped the service for Broncos games or good snowstorms.

We sat in a broken circle of folding metal chairs, facing the center and each other. The leader read the bible and led us in prayer before he sat down and waited for the Holy Spirit to inspire someone to start a song, any song. “He is the king of kings” was my favorite. When a song ended, another would start spontaneously, and the singing continued like that until the Holy Spirit filled the room and someone started speaking in tongues.

It was God’s language. That’s what we were told, that God knew exactly what we were feeling and saying, even if we didn’t. As others joined the prayer, the volume increased. Eyes closed and some stood and raised their hands in the air like they had just scored a goal. “They were getting as close to God as possible,” my mother explained later. I wondered why they didn’t stand on the chairs.  Some fell to their knees. Others bent their elbows at the waist and opened their hands to the sky as if they were carrying a lunch tray on their forearms. I followed their lead, moved my lips silently, peeked through squinty eyes to see if anyone was watching, and wondered if God would forgive me for faking.

My mother had her head tilted back, smiling at heaven. She looked happy there, something I didn’t realize until we got home, or I got older.

Her face changed when she carefully pulled her old white Volvo into the garage next to my father’s new blue one.  My dad was rarely happy to see us on Sunday. If he was awake he was angry or hungry or both.  He said he went enough when he was a boy, or stayed out too late the night before. He held his head and drank tomato juice and gin and stared at everything but us. When the shouting started, we were simply ordered to go upstairs and read our Bibles. We were saved.

Related articles

 

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

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?

 

 

No Kids for Fiona Apple

Former teen prodigy singer-songwriter Fiona Apple doesn’t want kids, still she carries around a curious tome: Raising Happiness,

10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents. Perhaps it’s to deal with the parentalization

Tidal (album)

Tidal (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

she experienced in her own childhood.

“When it comes to parenting, Fiona confesses that, “No, I’ve never wanted kids. But I do read about parenting a lot. For some reason it’s very interesting to me – I think because I’m just big on self-parenting. But I read this thing in a nautical book about how when ropes get frayed you’d use the whipping cords to fix the ends. The whole thing of the whipping cords is that, if I did have kids, I could either teach them how to stay out of trouble — or how to get out of trouble, which I think is more important. Because no matter how well prepared you are in life, you’re gonna fall down a hole, and if you can fix the frayed ends of things, then you’re better off.”

Apple’s new album, “The Idler Wheel…” is another critical masterpiece. Maybe she is the mother of a beautiful baby after all.

Hey WNKers, do you occasionally peruse parenting books?

PANKs and PUNKs (Professional Aunties and Uncles No Kids)

Image representing SavvyAuntie as depicted in ...

Image via CrunchBase

The number of PANKs (Professional Aunties No Kids) and PUNKs (Professional Uncles No kids) is growing and their influence on children is in the news. The founder of the auntie movement is Melanie Notkin at www.savvyauntie.com. She has an active blog and book that guides child-free aunties on all things kiddie. Notkin is the creator of the term PANK and she also owns the trademark.

From her website:

A few years ago, DINKs was the new segment marketers had their eye on – Dual Income No Kids. PANKs, while focusing specifically on women (married, partnered or single) who have no kids, is a pretty large market in the US. In fact, the 2010 US Census Report: Fertility of American Women states that 47.1  percent of women through age 44 do not have kids (check “All Races” report). And that number has been steadily growing over the last couple of decades. In 1976, only 35 percent were childless.

Notkin gives statistics on the spending potential of the emerging PANK market:

-  According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 50 percent of single women own their own homes. They’re also the fastest-growing segment of new home buyers, second home buyers, car purchasers, new investors, and travelers. (Who hasn’t dreamed of taking the nieces and nephews on their first trip to Disney World?)

-  Twenty-seven percent of American households are headed by women, a fourfold increase since 1950.

-  Of American women who draw annual incomes of $100,000 or more, nearly half don’t have children. In fact, the more a woman earns, the less likely she is to have kids.

That means that these PANKs and PUNKs have money to spend on their nieces and nephews since they don’t have kids of their own.

A November Forbes article Raising Children: The Role of Aunts and Uncles says that many adults in childrens’ lives today are not relatives but close friends that are considered stand in aunts, uncles and godparents.

Notkin says, “The more aunts and uncles the child has, the more influences a child has,” says Notkin. “If the uncle is a fantastic artist, the child may be inspired by that talent.”

For kids the diversity of influences could be beneficial. Parents who share their kids with aunties and uncles might benefit too. And it fits with the notion that “it takes a village” to raise a child.

Author’s Note:

I’m not really an aunt, but I’m a godmother three times over and consider most of my friends’ kids my nieces and nephews, so that makes me a PANK.  I just finished shopping, wrapping and mailing all their Christmas gifts. I take my role of Auntie Amy very seriously at Christmas time, and put A LOT of thought into finding the exact right gift for each child. (One gift was noisy and I’m sorry for that.) And I hope, hope, hope the kids love them! I find that books are the best gifts and still remember all the books my PANKs and PUNKs and real aunts and uncles gave to me as a child. Hope you will share your favorites.

Hey WNKers (and PANKs and PUNKs) what is your favorite book to give to kids?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saving Birth Control for the 99%

1926 US advertisement. "Birth Control"

Image via Wikipedia

From the Ms. Magazine blog Twitter feed:

“Half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended–how would making birth control less available solve this problem?”

There are some interesting points to this discussion and WNK would love to hear from our readers. Why should we pay for contraception for those who can’t afford it? Why should contraception be available and inexpensive? Would you rather pay for children that people can’t afford? Do you think people should be more responsible in making family planning choices?

“Contraception obviously is a deeply held value by American women. But the fact that in the United States a startling half of all pregnancies are unintended makes clear that birth control is used only sporadically by some. There are a number of reasons why this is so, but a chief one is that so many women cannot afford contraception, especially the most expensive—and most effective–methods, such as birth control pills, and long lasting reversible contraception, for example, the newer (and far safer) models of IUDs (intrauterine devices). In short, the same economic disparities that pervade every other area of American life manifest here as well: poor women depend on publicly-funded programs for their contraceptive services, but, according to the Guttmacher Institute, only a little more than half of the 17 million women who need these services currently receive them.”

Check out the rest of the article here.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Video: Childfree Cartoon

Something warm and fuzzy post Thanksgiving:

Well, maybe not so warm and fuzzy. I’m still not sure if these are cats, dogs, or bears.

Why No Sleep for Moms?

Stillnox

Image via Wikipedia

Moms don’t sleep, and on top of that they worry about not sleeping. Disturbed from restful nights by crying babes, and stressed by busy days they are turning to prescription meds to fight anxiety and insomnia.

“A 2007 study by the National Sleep Foundation found that nearly three in 10 U.S. women said they used a sleep aid a few nights a week. Experts said that stress and anxiety had made mothers dependent on sleep aids like Lunesta, melatonin, Ambien and even Xanax.” (ABC News)

No word on a study about dads. Maybe they slept through it.

The NYTimes reports:

“One of the cruel jokes of motherhood is that the sleeplessness of pregnancy, followed by the sleeplessness generated by an infant (a period in which a staggering — truly — 84 percent of women experience insomnia), is not followed by a makeup period of rest. It is merely the setup for what can become a permanent modus operandi.”

Is it another reason to not have kids? Or just part of the busy world we live in where we are over-scheduled, stressed out, and plugged in?

Hey WNKers do you have trouble sleeping? Do you reach for a “mother’s little helper” to get to sleep?

 

Enhanced by Zemanta