October 19, 2018

No Quiet Zones for this childfree traveler?

 

English: Air Asia X Airbus A340-300 (9M-XAB) a...

English: Air Asia X Airbus A340-300 (9M-XAB) approaching Stansted Airport (STN) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By now we’ve all heard about Air Asia X’s quiet zones, seven designated economy class rows at the front of planes where children under 12 are not allowed, a point of contention for some pissed off parents and a supposed paradise for business travelers and the childfree, like me.

 

To access this frequent flyers’ Eden, you need only pay the extra $11-$35 fee might otherwise pay for apremium seat. But what do you get for your money?

 

You get a bulkhead barrier and a childfree bathroom (which is never enforced by attendants). So In the short-term, you may, if you are very lucky, get some relief from screaming and seat kicking. But I think quiet zones are actually a huge risk, and may ultimately turn basic economy cabins into a flying free for all.

 

Noise travels and reverberates and quiet zone seats do not come with complimentary noise-cancelling headphones. If you are seated at the back of the quiet zone, a screaming, kid could still be seated directly behind you.

 

You remember the smoking section? Sure, the air was worse in the back of the plane than the front, but the entire plane reeked, and sitting one row in front of the smokers was no better than joining them.

 

I shouldn’t care how people choose to spend their money, and as a childfree traveler I should probably encourage Air Asia X’s strategy, even if it is gimmicky. If they are successful, maybe other businesses will recognize the spending power of childfree travelers and exhausted parents’ need/desire for peace and quiet when they are on a date or vacation.

 

But for now, I am skeptical about QUIET ZONES.

 

I think the risks of segregated seating could ultimately outweigh the rewards.

 

I am concerned that quiet zones may perpetuate an “us against them” mentality, a friction that is not conducive to peaceful interactions in confined spaces with absolutely NO EXIT STRATEGY.

 

Also, I don’t like paying for things that should be free. Like simple consideration of others.

 

The bar for acceptable behavior in public spaces, for kids and adults, is already set so, so low. And I think setting a precedent where people have to pay extra for a little (or no) peace and consideration may lead to the bar falling to Chuck E Chees setting, where parents can sit back and let their kids go crazy.

 

Imagine yourself sitting on an Air Asia X light in row 20. A kid’s video game is chiming and beeping. He’s kicking your seat while his sister runs the aisle (even through the premium seats) shrieking. After 2 hours, you’re compelled to say something. You politely ask the parents if they might turn down the volume or put an end to the chair soccer. They not so politely tell you that you can pay up to move up, or shut up. Then what?

 

Parents are overworked and exhausted and the last thing they want to do on vacation is worry so much about offending others that they nag and scold their child until they break down completely, start crying or screaming, and offend others anyway. These are tiresome battles to fight for the benefit of others. And the value of considering those around you already appears to be waning in our society.

 

So when Air Asia or another airline steps in to set the standard for behavior in one particular part of the plane, are they effectively obliterating the societal standard for the rest of it? Are they telling parents in the rest of the plane that they no longer need to fight the battle at all? By saying, “THIS zone is for quiet people”, are they insinuating that the other section is for loud people? By defining rules for one section, are they suggesting that there are NO rules in the other (at least enough so that exhausted, indifferent or lazy parents can let their guards down and lower their expectations even further?

 

I say yes.

 

There is no reason for parents to try at all (or at least an excuse not to) when an institution defines rules that should be self evident, and effectively assumes the role of the quiet police. Even if we all know it is just a gimmick to make more money.

 

My fear or theory is: When institutions step in, many parents check out. And we all lose. Instead of being accountable to one another, we become accountable to the powers that be, even if that “power” is a profit driven company with little interest in enforcing their policy.

 

So, for me, Quiet Zones are not something I want to encourage or support necessarily. They are not effective or realistic, not worth the extra fee, and ultimately, maybe risky.

 

What do you think?

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Study: Wanting Things (Kids?) Makes Us Happier Than Having Them

theofficebabyThis article, Study: Wanting Things Makes Us Happier Than Having Them,

does not mention children specifically, but… should it?

Is the modern desire for children, like our want for other new, shiny things, a result of relentless marketing?

 

The most defensible, obvious answer to both of the questions above is “No”.  Biology, instinct, and the innate need to survive and thrive fuel our animalistic drive to procreate. Hormones propel us to copulate and populate, so chow can one lay the blame for overpopulation at the feet of media and advertising?

 

For starters, in developed countries at least, children no longer have utility beyond fulfilling the (selfish) desires of parents. As many others have reminded us (as in the first story on the following link) children are no longer needed to work the farm or otherwise help support modern families. While children were once a valuable asset, they now appear exclusively on the debit side of a family balance sheet. They are expensive, and the return on capital is not something that can be measured with a calculator. (Nor should it, I promise all the detached, cold calculus leads to something resembling a point.)

 

So how do we modern, western humans place a value on having babies and raising families? Well, this is where one might reflect on what we see in commercials or hear from celebrities. What about the endless celebration of babies on movie and TV, starting with Disney movies? Which life events are repeatedly, FOREVER, packed with the most drama, joy and possibility? How many babies do you think are born to TV characters every year during sweeps week? More importantly, WHY?

 

Money?

 

Babies are big, big business. Since the value of children can no longer be calculated, corporations are compelled to fill us with fantasies of a perfect life dependent upon, or punctuated by, a perfect child. The messages we constantly hear and see tell us that babies are priceless, and they make us happy. So, am I imagining things, or is this possibly the western worlds most effective marketing scheme?

 

Since babies are priceless, there is no ceiling on the amount of money that can/should be spent on them. If you do not spend every earned and borrowed penny on them, you are depriving them, and probably guilty of bad parenting. Your kids probably won’t succeed because you didn’t buy them every possible toy, tool and opportunity. No one is allowed to openly disagree. Parents, especially celebrities, must constantly and publicly repeat the same vague platitudes like “It’s amazing!” or “It’s all about the baby.” or “It gives my life meaning.” If you have 1 child, their birthday better be the best day of your life. (Meaning that it was all down hill from there?) If you have 2, it better be a tie!

 

Biology does not account for these things, does it? So what does? Marketing? Brilliant marketing?

This item is priceless + it is virtually guaranteed by your neighbors and celebrities to make you happy + fear + guilt + insecurity = ?

 

What do you think?

 

The links in the text above provide more links to related stories. And here is one about an actor swimming upstream:

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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

 

 

 

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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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Free Reads

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.

1) Think Before You Breed – NYTimes.com.

2) Child-Free: Do They Change Their Minds?. – Slate

3) Laura Carroll: Why Childfree Couples Have It All. – Huffington Post

4) La Vie Childfree blogpost: Why Isn’t There More Talk about the Ethics of Reproduction?.

5) In Praise of Downtime – Ellen Ruppel Shell – The Atlantic.

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Happy Non-Parents Day!

When I was in my early-ish twenties I asked a lot of questions of friends and colleagues that had kids and/or were married. What’s the best part? What’s the worst? Would you change anything? What are you not telling me? No, seriously…

As you would expect, I got a wide range of answers, and some questions in return. A lot of men that were then my current age, 40, cautioned me about marriage. No one with kids told me they regretted it, but several made sure I knew that kids would change my life and my relationship drastically.

Most repeated thoughtless shit they heard somewhere (everywhere) else.

“You have to work at it.”

“It was the best day of my life.”

“Marriage is hard.”

“It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.”

“… a miracle…. a blessing”

And when I asked again, “how?” or “why?”, they said nothing. I was young and dumb, but knew that skepticism is warranted whenever people are saying the same damn meaningless things, repeatedly. And what the hell does “marriage is hard” or “kids are a blessing” mean anyway? Nothing! People just said, and say, what the culture tells them they should say.

Looking back on this non-parents day, I want to thank those that were honest with me. I also want to express some regret that I didn’t really have any committed childfree adults to talk to. So I also want to encourage readers to share (in the comments or on Facebook) their most bare, honest answer to:

“For you, what is the best thing about being child-free?”

Because I know there are young people out there with no one to ask or no one that will respond honestly; and because I think all of us should be able to note, today at the very least, why we are celebrating.

Related articles:
August 1st Happy Non-Parents Day! – (whynokids.com)
Childfree? Really? Common Questions and Comments (Part 3) (whynokids.com)
Childfree? Really? Common Questions and Comments (Part 2) (whynokids.com)
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Photo Essay?: Childfree Celebrities

Celebrities

Celebrities (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you recognize these faces? Can you tell who’s missing, based on previous Why No Kids stories about childless or child-free celebrities? Are there any celebrities without kids missing? Do you recognize anyone who has recently had a baby?

Related articles

 

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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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