December 16, 2018

Maternal Instinct and Other Myths

Maternal Instinct is a Myth (Source: HuffPost)

Maternal Instinct is a Myth (Source: HuffPost)

I’ve recently had the pleasure of working with Amy Blackstone (University of Maine Sociology Professor and non-momma blogger at we’re {not} having a baby!) as a International Childfree Day panelist. If you’re casting around for a childfree choice mentor, I suggest you check her out. You can start with her website (werenothavingababy.com) or find her on Facebook (facebook.com/WereNotHavingABaby) and Twitter (@nothavingababy).

I’m currently reviewing 2018 childfree nominations (so many outstanding people and organizations!) and an interesting trend sent me back to a May 2017 article that Amy published on HuffPost that tackled the “maternal instinct” trope.

If women were really born with a maternal instinct, we would see birth rates stay the same through the years. Even the feminist movement of the 1960s and ‘70s that expanded educational and workforce opportunities for many women shouldn’t change which women decide to be parents. But childfree adulthood has been on the rise since then.

What we think of as maternal instinct comes from our culture rather than our nature. Children – and girls in particular – are taught from a very young age that one of the most important things they can do when they grow up is become parents… (Source: HuffPost)

It’s an excellent article, well worth a read by those of us who choose to remain childfree, but it is arguably and even more important read for those parents who struggle to understand (and accept without judgment) the fact that some of us choose not to reproduce. For this reason along it’s worth resurfacing more than an year after it was published.

But there’s something else that intrigues me.

Maternal Instinct is a Myth (Source: HuffPost)

Maternal Instinct is a Myth (Source: HuffPost)

Paternal Instinct?

In Amy Blackstone’s second paragraph excerpted above she addresses the crux of the matter. Too often we acculturate girls and young women to assume that motherhood is / should be the default. In order to fully become a woman, a baby should be born. Procreation is the ultimate fulfillment, the ultimate joy, the ultimate experience of true love.

Blackstone articulates quite clearly that this widely, consistently reinforced bias is so ubiquitous that many assume that motherhood is an instinct, hardwiring, predestination. And yet, she reminds us, this is untrue. And, it is potentially harmful.

As I weigh the merits of our 2018 nominations for Childfree Person of the Year I wonder about another possible cultural bias. Is the choice to remain childfree primarily a women’s issue? Or is it a human issue? Where do men (and other non-female adults) fit into the broader conversation of the childfree choice, overpopulation, etc? Is there a similarly socialized “paternal instinct” that silently reinforces expectations that adult males will procreate? And why do we allow women to bear the brunt of the responsibility for defending the childfree choice when male partners are obviously, necessarily part of the calculation?

A Bigger Tent

Often we are thanked for helping young women and men recognize their own agency in the procreative equation. We are even thanked for “giving permission” not to reproduce, though we certainly have no illusions about our right to give that permission. None is needed, but we’re more than happy to remind our readers that they alone can/should make the choice to parent or the choice to remain childfree.

Perhaps it is time for us to help dilate the conversation, to expand the proverbial tent so that everyone feels welcome to participate. The considerations at stake are not exclusively the domain of women and/or mothers. These are not women’s issues. They are human issues. They are profoundly important, global issues that effect all of us and that demand a more ample and inclusive and intentional path forward.

Isn’t it time we acknowledge myth and cultural bias for what they are? Isn’t it time we empower everyone to live and love and let live and let love more intentionally, more generously, more responsibly than we have in the past. Isn’t it time that we weigh questions of sustainability and overpopulation against the urge to reproduce ourselves? Isn’t it time?

I think so. I hope so.

Normalize Being Childfree

A post shared by Leilani Münter (@leilanimunter) on

We’ve been documenting a pretty dramatic shift in recent years as the childfree choice has moved from fringe to mainstream, and professional race driver Leilani Münter’s public stance is perfect proof of this phenomena. She has become a staunch supporter of women’s choice to remain childfree. In fact, she’s driving an even more important cultural shift: it’s time to normalize being childfree.

Amen!

Leilani Münter: Normalize being childfree and NEVER underestimate a vegan hippie chick with a race car! (Source: www.leilani.green)

Leilani Münter: Normalize being childfree and NEVER underestimate a vegan hippie chick with a race car! (Source: www.leilani.green)

The 44-year-old U. C. San Diego grad highlighted (Reuters, here via RT Sport News) the same motivation as Oonagh Dalgliesh (See Choosing Nulliparity to Combat Overpopulation).

Not having a child has been the biggest way for me to reduce my impact on the planet… If you look at the numbers, the Earth is finite, and the human race cannot keep growing infinitely with only so many resources. We need to normalize choosing being child-free…” (Source: RT Sport News)

It’s becoming a familiar refrain, one we’ve been singing for years. And we’re inspired to see strong, smart young women like Leilani Münter and Oonagh Dalgliesh not only choosing child-freedom, but also taking public stands and leveraging their platforms to help other women feel safe and confident with their own choices. Bravo, ladies! Thanks for helping to normalize being childfree.

Choosing Nulliparity to Combat Overpopulation

Oonagh Dalgliesh is choosing nulliparity to combat overpopulation. (Source: Daily Mail)

Oonagh Dalgliesh is choosing nulliparity to combat overpopulation. (Source: Daily Mail)

The childfree tide is rising with each passing year. Actually, lately it seems like each month reveals an uptick in the child-freedom trend. Whether zeitgeist of simply smart (and long overdue) cultural shift, it’s exciting to witness more and more women (and more and more couples) choosing not to reproduce. Career, lifestyle, health, romance, finances, and travel are all familiar reasons why adults of parenting age are choosing to remain childfree, but another explanation has become increasingly commonplace. Women are by choosing nulliparity to combat overpopulation.

Oonagh Dalgliesh is one of the daring women who refuses to have babies in order to help save the planet.

‘Humans are the greatest single driver of climate change and greenhouse gas contributions, of deforestation and the acidity of the oceans,’ [Oonagh Dalgliesh] explains earnestly.

‘The only thing that will fix these problems is to have fewer people on the planet. I don’t see it’s justified to make more people than we already have. Yes, I have a maternal instinct, but I will never change my mind.’

Drastic? Perhaps. But, astonishing as it sounds, Oonagh is one of a number of British women who are deciding to remain child-free, not because of career aspirations or an inability to find a partner, but because they are concerned about the crippling impact of overpopulation on the Earth. (Source: Daily Mail)

Bravo, Oonagh Dalgliesh! It’s a bold and inevitably emotion-straining choice to opt out of motherhood/parenthood. But choosing nulliparity to combat overpopulation may well be one of the most impactful ways we can ease the strain our mushrooming population and consumption habits are placing on planet earth. Terrry Spahr‘s soon-to-permier documentary, 8 Billion Angels tackles this very issue, and I hope that Oonagh Dalgliesh gets the opportunity to watch it.

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Childfree Vacation: No Kids, No Fun?

The WNK quartet was recently indulging in a little mid-week, mid-summer bliss (think Lake Champlain, locally grown eats, frosty libations, nary the shadow of a kidlet) when a couple of us stumbled on a particularly obvious reason we have no kids. We are kids.

Sure we’re all in our fourth decades, but maturity seems to have passed us by. Or perhaps it’s just running late?

Why no kids? We are kids!

Childfree Vacation

English: Playa del Carmen is at the heart of t...

Playa del Carmen (Photo: Wikipedia)

This childfree truism was still echoing around my gray matter when I remembered a post I’d started a while back when a couple of childfree vacation and travel themed items caught my attention.

Although it may seem like every hotel and resort is touting their child friendliness, their amazing kids’ club or their deals for families… not every hotel is courting families this summer — or at all.

More and more hotels are putting a ban – yes, a ban — on kids. And while they probably won’t advertise it on their web site’s homepage, some hotels are simply saying: No kids allowed… (ABC News)

More and more hotels are banning kids. More and more hotels are offering childfree vacations. It’s a trend! And you thought it was just the mainstream media that discovered the childfree panacea?

Of course the childfree zeitgeist rubs tender folks against the grain, parents mostly, and they start gnashing their teeth.

Kids are awesome. We need to stop making excuses and start living… I am done apologizing. In fact, the only mistake here is that I ever told my children to be quiet in the first place. Pools are for shouting and jumping and cannonballing… Got it? … I’ve got a cannonball to perfect. (An Open Letter to People Without Children)

Easy, momma. Kids may be awesome, especially when they dazzle you with doody, but let’s remember that pools and jumping and cannonballing are as much fun for childfree adults as they are for kids. See, we CFers actually hang on to those childish pleasure principles a bit better than many parents. But that’s not the issue. At all!

And another.

Am I the only CF that loves kids? I am a kid. When I go on holiday I’d rather join the kids running around and screaming than lay on a beach. (Annika Desai on Why No Kids? Facebook page)

No, Annika, you’re not the only CF who loves kids. Many of us love kids. Many of us behave like big kids much of the time. But, and this is a big “but”, we’re also prone to adult moments. Sans kids.

Childfree Vacation Hot Spots

Anyway, it’s the usual volley. And not worth the digital ink it takes to bluster on. So let’s cut to the chase. Assuming you actually are interested in childfree vacation destinations rather than spoiling for a debate about why such should be in existence, etc. then we’ve got some fun leads for you.

Check out these eighteen hotel and resort “properties where the pool is sure to free of cannonballing kids. (ABC News)

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Check the article for more. And add your own childfree vacation favorites in the comments below or on the WNK Facebook page.

 

Friday Funny- Why No Kids? Black Thumb.

Hopefully this explains everything:

photo-35

Also this: (Who kills succulents??? Me.)

photo-34

In 2002, I had a cactus for almost a month! Eleven years later I decided to try again with little success.

In 1998, I got a puppy! In 1999, I gave it to my folks.Good news: fourteen years later they are not so eager for grandkids!

66734_10151236932382833_90671094_n

Phew! It’s good to be childfree! Also, it’s probably for the best that I don’t have any living things to look after.

 

2012 Childfree Data Dump

The Ultimate Christmas Present

Ultimate Christmas Present (Wikipedia)

So it’s almost Christmas and you’re sending your third post card (easier for elves to eavesdrop) to Santa asking for a sexy digital tablet. An iPad, Kindle, Nook, Nexus,… anything!

“I just want to read Why No Kids? from the comfort of my sofa! Is that so wrong?”

No. It’s not wrong. It’s your childfree right. And it’s very, very good.

In anticipation of your glossy new, backlit ereading device we’ve compiled a WNK digest to turbocharge your first day on the sofa. Er, ahem, your first day on the sofa reading Why No Kids? on your sexy new tablet.

Actually… that’s not 100% true. The reality is, 2012 is winding up and we’ve got almost four dozen post “stubs” that we haven’t managed to finish and publish. And we don’t want them to drag into 2013 without you’re getting a chance to plunge into the wild and wooly world of WNK wonkery. Really. So, we’ve decided to wrap up some of the best almost-published posts in shiny holiday wrapping paper and frilly Technicolor ribbon for you to enjoy. Before they get stale.

Don’t worry, it’s not four dozen. Or even one dozen. But ten. Ten you’ll-thank-us-afterward childfree gems for you to savor on your new toy. I mean, your new tool. Enjoy!

Childfree Aggression

There are two types of childfree people; those who like children but are happy without their own, and those aggressive ones who down right hate children and wish they would disappear from the face of the planet – or would at least be locked up with their breeder parents into a kennel somewhere out of sight until they turn 18, or preferably 25. The later mentioned are to the childfree what “breeders” are to parents – the ones that give all of us a bad rep.

What troubles me the most about aggressive childfree people is that they often demand respect for their choice to not “breed”, but offer no respect to the parents choice to have children. ~ Sebastyne (insightfulpath.net

Laura Carroll on Childfree Myths

The Childless Revolution, by Madeline Cain

Childless Revolution

Laura Carroll, an early and inspiring friend of Why No Kids? is the author of Families of Two. Watch this video excerpt of Laura Carroll on The Early Show exposing myths about childless couples. “When asked about making a childfree choice, Laura recommends seeking mutual understanding, being open and truthful with family and friends as well as being selective about who you tell…” (YouTube)

42% of American Women are Childless

A blast of Pure Oxygen with Madeline Cain, author of The Childless Revolution, reveals that nearly half of the women in the United States do not have children. This interview includes two early middle age adults who’re childfree by choice. Discover why… (YouTube)

No Kids Allowed: Childfree Movie Theaters

When I went to see Spider-man… A young couple had a child of about 3 who yelled, cried, and squirmed throughout a good portion of the movie… The parents tuned out the child and blissfully watched their movie… When Jake and I were at the Avengers, there was a couple a few rows up who had about 5 children under the age of 7. Up and down the aisles they ran, while the youngest cried and fussed. The parents took nary a notice… Parents, you have to understand, whatever disturbance your children were to you during the movie, it was 10X worse for everyone around you. (Hackman’s Musings)

Bill Maher on Children and Childfreedom

This pair of Bill Maher videos uploaded to YouTube by somebody less worried about copyright than about spreading the childfree gospel is entertaining if occasionally chaotic: Politically Incorrect, Childfree People and Children, Part 1 and Politically Incorrect, Childfree People and Children, Part 2.

Malaysia Airlines Childfree Change

No children under the age of 12, including infants, will be permitted in the airline’s 70-seat coach-class zone, which will be located on the upper deck of the airline’s new Airbus A380s… The posh airline will only allow children in the 300-seat main lower deck… Malaysia is the first airline to ban children from any economy class section. Last year, Malaysia Airlines banned infants from first class sections of all of its long-distance flights. (budgettravel.com)

3 and 6 Year Olds Crash Car

A large hole is in a wall of a Fairborn [Ohio] apartment building after a young child drove a truck into it Saturday morning… Fairborn police said a 3-year-old and 6-year-old were operating the truck when it smashed through the building’s wall… The two boys took the keys to the truck while their parents were asleep in the family’s apartment, Fairborn police said. The boys hit a pole with truck before crashing through the wall… (whiotv.com)

Do Parents Matter?

In his new book, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think, Caplan tackles the conventional wisdom about parenting. In a world of Tiger Moms and helicopter parents who monitor and agonize over every minor activity in which their children engage, the father of three says that parents actually have minimal influence over long-term outcomes for their children… (Reason.tv.)

No Kidding!

No Kidding! International is an international non-profit social club created for singles and couples who have never had children… There are numerous chapters in Canada, the United States and several other countries… The stated purpose of No Kidding! is to give childless and childfree adults a place to talk about interesting topics without being alienated by peers who consistently talk about their kids, and the opportunity to make new childfree friends. (Wikipedia)

Childless Women: From Pitied to Empowered

Off to Ireland for our final childfree gem, this time to explore the increasingly open dialogue about and among childfree women with — among other unencumbered women — unmarried and childless Cameron Diaz. After you’ve read “What to expect when you’re childless” let us know what what you think about the present and future of childless women. (Herald.ie)

Two Children or Three?

Small and romantic road

Romantic Umbria (Credit: adamo1978)

Time for a timeless flashback… Topic? Children versus adventure. Children versus carefree, fiesta marriage lifestyle. Children versus spontaneous travel. Remember this riff?

In The Juggle,  WSJ.com blog about “choices and tradeoffs people make as they juggle work and family” John J. Edwards III waxed nostalgic for the early days of marriage before he had children.

Like many married-with-kids jugglers, my wife and I look back fondly on our pre-children days… we had many fun times and adventures, from frequent parties in our apartment to a surprise long weekend in Paris. (WSJ.com)

He ruminates on the lifestyle freedom enjoyed by couples who opt not to embrace parenting but concedes that

it’s a cohort that often finds itself misunderstood or even ostracized as friends procreate. (WSJ.com)

He refers to a story posted at DINKlife.com by a woman who has endured countless painful experiences due to her childfree choice.

“but the statement we feel best sums it all up was when a very close couple told us that they did not see us in their lives anymore as we were making the ‘unnatural choice.’ ” (WSJ.com)

The author wraps up with a palpable yearning for the days when he and his bride could zip off to Umbria, Italy like his childfree colleagues at work, but is quick to admit that his suburban social bubble is kid central with nary a childfree couple in the mix.

In fact, the big question generally is “two children or three?” rather than whether or not to have kids. (WSJ.com)

Childfreedom: I Hate Being a Mom

67 of 365 ~ Mum

Childfreedom: I hate being a mom (Credit: tanya_little)

Just to be clear, I don’t hate being a mom. In fact, I’m not a mom at all.

So what’s with the title, “Childfreedom: I Have Being a Mom”? Good question. I’ll try to explain.

Some people Google their name. Others scour Twitter for self referential tweets. Google gargle, chirp-chirp…

While it may seem just about as peculiar, Team WNK Googles (and Twitter searches) for childfree topics. For fun. In our spare time. While waiting in line at the grocery story. Or riding the elevator and trying not to stare at the gargantuan pregnant lady huffing and puffing beside us.

Yes, it’s a little obsessive, but we’re fascinated. The more we think and read and talk and blog about childfreedom, the more curious we become. And it turns out we’re not alone. The media and the social web are every day more obsessed with the parenting vs. childfreedom debate(s). It’s become a “thing”!

Google Noodling Childfreedom

So the other day I was searching Google on a whim, “noodling” as some say. My search term? Childfreedom.

There’s something undeniably slogan-y about the slang term “childfreedom”, but I love it.

I picture it emblazoned across the bikin’ed buttocks of a fetching middle aged lady striding down an exotic beach. Perhaps my bride? Or embroidered into an elegant bodice. Definitely my bride. (I wonder if I can dig one of those up for Christmas…)

Linguists recoil at words like childfreedom, a derivative of a derivative. Diluted. Meaningless. Except that it’s not. Childfreedom is the conjunction of childfree (a slang conjunction in its own right) and freedom. My eyes pour over the newest results for “childfreedom” and I follow a few links, read, take notes, click back to Google.

At the bottom of the page I freeze.

I Hate Being a Mom

What? At the bottom of Google search result pages — and just above where you can click to go to the next page of search results — Google provides a list of related searches. In this case it reads, “Searches related to childfreedom” and it lists the following:

Most of these search queries make sense. I expected them. But the first one, the top recommendation from the smart, smart, smart robots over at Google was not what I expected. And yet here it is:

Google searches related to Childfreedom

Google searches related to Childfreedom

Of course, I was simultaneously appalled and fascinated. Google, in it’s infinite wisdom — deduced from millions of searches all around the globe all day, every day — associated “I hate being a mom” as the most likely related search term for somebody interested in the idea of childfreedom. Even before the rather obvious “Childfree by choice”!

I can’t help but imagine the desperate keystrokes of a frantic mother.

Bye-bye, bikini.

Bye-bye, bodice.

Needless to say, I clicked and discovered that Google indexes about 70,200,000 web pages for the search term “I hate being a mom”. Yes, over 70 million!

Why no kids? Enough said.

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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