August 20, 2019

Dr. Seuss: “Celebrity No Kids” Funny Follow Up

Cover of "Green Eggs and Ham (I Can Read ...

Cover via Amazon

WNK readers were amazed to learn that the guy who wrote the most notable kid’s books of all time, Dr. Seuss, never had kids of his own.

We recently stumbled upon a funny blog post from our friends at “I Kid You Not” waxing in Seussian rhyme about the argument to be or not to be child free:

(From www.choosingkidfree.wordpress.com)

“Except in this version, Sam-I-Am is a chick named Mindy Sue who believes everyone should procreate and green eggs and ham are the little buggers themselves.

I’m Mindy Sue.

That Mindy Sue.
That Mindy Sue.
I do not like that Mindy Sue.

Don’t you want a kid or two?

I do not want one, Mindy Sue.
I do not want a kid or two.

Do you want one in a year?

I do not want one in a year.
I’d rather shove glass up my rear.
I’m happy being childfree.
Now take a hike and let me be.

But don’t you like kids when you fly
Even though they scream and cry?

I do not like them on a plane.
I do not like them on a train.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere.

Don’t you like them where you eat?
Don’t you think they’re cute and sweet?

Not where I eat.
Not at the beach.
Not at the park.
Not on an ark.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere.

Do you like them at the store?
I’m sure you would if they were yours.

I do not like them at the store.
I don’t want kids.
But wait! There’s more:
I do not like them where I eat.
I do not like them at the beach.
I do not like them on a plane.
I do not like them on a train.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them ANYWHERE.

But every little girl and boy
Is a precious gift, a joy!

Holy balls, give me a break
I just don’t think kids are so great.
I like to fly and eat in peace.
Now please go take a flying leap.

  • http://whynokids.com/uncategorized/dr-suess-didnt-have-kids/
  • http://americanvision.org/975/dr-seuss-had-no-children-of-his-own/

Childfree Families

There’s Nothing Wrong With Being Child-Free (image courtesy twoday magazine)

There’s Nothing Wrong With Childfree Families (Credit: twoday magazine)

A month ago Amy asked, “What makes a family?” and drew attention to the curious exemption that childfree families often experience. If you’re married or in a committed relationship and you don’t have children (or at least a “bump” to buy you time), you’ve probably noticed the distinction.

Oh, we meant family… You know, like families with children?

Right. Families with children. Childfree families are not in the club. No kids, no family.

The Fed on Families

It’s not a legal exclusion, of course, most clubs are more tactful than that. It’s simply a social bias. And a bizarre bias at that, considering even clunky bureaucracies like the U.S. Census Bureau employ a more flexible judgment of who is, and who isn’t, a family.

The Census Bureau’s definition of “family” remains traditional: “A family is a group of two people or more (one of whom is the householder) related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together.” (ABC News)

Whether or not this definition of “family” is traditional I’ll leave up to you to decide, but I feel that it’s workable vis-à-vis childfree families. It leaves plenty of room for married couples sans children, and only the “residing together” phrase perplexes me. So once junior heads off to college and resides in a dormitory far from the family home the family ceases to be a family? Weird. Who cooks this stuff up?

Are Childfree Families Families?

But I’m wandering. The question is, are childfree families families? And who gets to decide?

An ABC news story on a 2010 survey by sociology professor Brian Powell shows that most Americans believe that kids make a family… it seems that the child-free might be considered family-free for now. (Why No Kids?)

For now, though not forever, I suspect. Childfree families are more and more common and more and more vocal. I genuinely believe that it is becoming less taboo for married couples to openly admit that they are childfree by choice. And as this life choice becomes more mainstream, social norms will shift.

Shifting the Definition of Family

I wonder if this change may even be further along than we all realize. Childfree blogger extraordinaire (La Vie Childfree) and Families of Two author Laura Carroll (@LauraCarroll88) offers some insight.

While not having kids by choice is becoming more accepted with each generation… two people in a committed relationship who live together and have no kids by choice [still] aren’t considered a “family.” The childfree feel they are a family, but aren’t often seen that way by others with children or those who want them. (Technorati Lifestyle)

Certainly there’s a generational shift underway, but I think she deliberately if subtly touches on the crux of the matter in that last phrase. Married couples with children and married couples who hope/plan to have children are creating the bias. They are the gatekeepers, the bouncers at Club Family.

It’s normal to get married and have children. It’s abnormal to get married and choose not to have children. But normalcy might not be the best criterion for defining what qualifies as a family.

Childfree Families + Servants + Household = Family

Family Portrait - Montreal 1963

Family Portrait – Montreal 1963 (Photo credit: Mikey G Ottawa)

The etymological roots of the word “family” are revealing. It turns out that residing together (Thank you U.S. Census Bureau) was originally fundamental to the idea of family.

c.1400, “servants of a household,” from L. familia “family servants, domestics;” also “members of a household,” including relatives and servants, from famulus “servant,” of unknown origin. Ancestral sense is from early 15c.; “household” sense recorded in English from 1540s; main modern sense of “those connected by blood” (whether living together or not) is first attested 1660s. (Online Etymology Dictionary)

I wonder how many families with children see their “servants” as members of their family. Few, I’d guess. But maybe that’s the key. Childfree families need to get servants. And they need to stay shacked up under one roof. And then, we’ll be in the club!

It’s interesting to note that back in the progressive 1660s modern usage shifted to emphasize blood connections rather than domestic connections. Perhaps we’re overdue for another shift?

Families, With and Without Children

On the one hand, it seems academic, almost silly, to worry about whether or not the modern definition of families include childfree families. On the other, semantics are important, especially when they inform social norms, behaviors and biases. Failing to recognize that childfree families are families is unnecessarily biased, offers no notable social or linguistic benefit and is easily rectified.

A married couple who’s child tragically dies is not stripped of their family status once the memorial service ends. A married couple who choose to remain childfree or are obliged to remain childless due to health, age, etc. likewise should not be stripped of their family status.

It’s time to embrace a more ample, more inclusive, more tolerant definition of family. Cohabiting with servants under one roof and insisting that marriage produce progeny are both outdated expectations.

Creating and nurturing a family is a beautiful choice, an important social unit, and an thread in our social fabric. Let’s update our definition to include families with children and childfree families, and in the process we’ll strengthen the social fabric rather than clinging to a divisive definition that no longer serves us.

Childfreedom: More Happiness

It may be my imagination, but my friends without kids just seem happier than those saddled with parental responsibilities. Parents certainly have more responsibilities than those of us not saddled with all the daily feeding, changing, driving, homework helping and the like so it makes sense that they are more tired and squeezed for time.

Then again, those of us without kids often tend to take on more (work, volunteer activities, friendships, social obligations and so on) and people expect more of us precisely because they expect us to have more free time without the burdens of childrearing. The end result according to research? Those of us without kids are happier. Childfreedom equals happiness. Having that extra time to ourselves (or to give to others as we choose) really does seem to pay off, apparently.

A panegyric on the happiness and

A panegyric on the happiness and “Pleasures of the Married State”, published in London ca. 1780. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Independent studies show that married people are happier than singles, but married couples without children are the most content. When couples do have children, their happiness increases dramatically once their children grow up and leave home. This is all revealed in a three-part PBS series called: “This Emmotional Life.” In it, narrator, writer and professor of psychology at Harvard, Daniel Gilbert explores the endless quest of the human species to find happiness. The series features various celebrities and non-celebrities (everyday people, scientists, experts in the field of psychology and the like) with their thoughts and studies on the search for a happy life. Daniel Gilbert explains some of these findings in an NPR interview below:

“Mr. GILBERT: It really is true that if you look at the happiness of people’s marital satisfaction over time, you’ll see that the day people get married, they’re extremely satisfied with the relationship, and it kind of goes downhill from there. Relationships usually are the gateway to hard work: the hard work of raising children, establishing a household, et cetera. The good news is it begins to go up again once children have grown, and according to most studies, it reaches its initial level, or at least very close to it, when the children leave home.

… without children, your marriage might be happier in the sense that you would report more daily satisfaction. People are surprised to find this, because they value and love their children above all things. How can my children not be a source of great happiness?

… although children are a source of happiness, they tend to crowd out other sources of happiness. So people who have a first child, often find in the first year or two that they’re not doing many of the other things that used to make them happy. They don’t go to the movies or the theater. They don’t go out with their friends. They don’t make love with their spouse. All the things that used to be sources of happiness are no longer there.

So yes, the child is a source of happiness. On the same hand, it may be that average happiness goes down.” (NPR)

What do you think? Do your childless friends and acquaintances seem happier to you? Does childfreedom equal happiness?

Here’s a sneak peak at “This Emmotional Life.”

Nulliparity Health Risks

Pondering nulliparity health risks.

Pondering nulliparity health risks.

Almost nine months ago I attempted to define nulliparity in the context of childfree couples, (“Nulliparity Definition“), and I asked readers to consider stretching the definition at least, at least rhetorically, to include both males and females in nulliparous relationships.

Derived from Latin… a usable nulliparity definition would be the condition of not bearing offspring (normally applied to a human woman). (Nulliparity Definition – Why No Kids?)

A medical term used to refer to a condition or state in which a woman has never given birth to a child, or has never carried a pregnancy. (biology online)

At the time, my endeavor was mostly academic. Educate myself. Educate Why No Kids? readers. Move on. Instead, I’ve stumbled upon worrisome nulliparity health risks.

Is Nulliparity Bad?

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m drawn to dialogue inspired by (and surrounding) childfree by choice couples. I’m not a strident advocate for childfreedom, nor am I categorically opposed to bearing children. In fact, at times, my conviction is admittedly blurry, but I am always intrigued by the conversations and debate provoked by the parent/childfree divide. It’s a healthy and often entertaining topic, and — though I’m still not prepared to hypothesize exactly why — it’s a debate that provokes ample emotional and intellectual opinioneering.

That said, I’ve never given much credence to claims that choosing not to bear children is ethically wrong, biologically bad or — this is real, folks — a religious sin. Such binary reasoning strikes me as naive, not infrequently hateful and always intolerant. My world is not painted in primary colors, and it’s certainly not black and white. I believe that the parent/childfree divide hinges upon subjective opinions and preferences.

Nulliparity Concerns

But my previous nulliparity post has catalyzed some new questions and concerns for me including the potential for some troubling nulliparity health risks. Ever since publishing the post, we’ve experienced a dramatic uptick in traffic from visitors looking for information about nulliparity. Sure, that’s logical enough. But I was surprised and I remain surprised at the volume of people trying to learn more about nulliparity. Certainly they’re not all “childfree curious”…

Google Insights shows that the trend is global, and that it’s been about seven years since people began looking for more information about nulliparity. A little data mining reveals these top three search queries:

  1. nulliparity definition
  2. nulliparity define
  3. nulliparity breast cancer

The first two are effectively the same search for a definition of the term nulliparity, and their popularity explains the popularity of my first attempt to define nulliparity. But the third most popular search offers a hint at why there’s been growing interest in nulliparity globally. Fear.

Nulliparity Fears

Is nulliparity dangerous? Are there conclusive indications of nulliparity health risks? A quick glimpse at some recent articles suggest that nulliparity may indeed be dangerous.

Changes in decade of first birth and nulliparity do not explain the changes in breast cancer incidence… [but] breast cancer incidence has increased in the same cohorts. (National Institute of Health, NCBI)

A higher incidence of SPM [second primary malignancy] of the breast is observed in women treated for papillary thyroid cancer. Additionally, this risk is increased by nulliparity… (WJSO)

Catholic nuns… pay a terrible price for their chastity because they have a greatly increased risk of breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers: the hazards of their nulliparity. (The Lancet)

Nulliparous women had a 44% increased risk of hip fractures independent of hip bone mineral density… childbearing reduces hip fracture risk by means that may be independent of hip bone mineral density. (National Institute of Health, NCBI)

Incidentally, this eerie, late night film plot resurfaces in “Why nuns might be stoking cancer in quest to stay chaste“. Spooky, right? Looks like more research is in order.

Nulliparity’s Silver Lining

Fortunately not all nulliparity news is bad news.

In a linear regression model… it was found that nulliparous women and women who went through menopause later in life had significantly less cognitive decline. (National Institute of Health, NCBI)

So where does this leave us? It’s clear that many people all around the world are concerned about a possibly causal relationship between nulliparity and breast cancer and about nulliparity health risks in general. But from my standpoint, not much else is clear.

Does Nulliparity Increase Health Risks?

I’m hoping that one of our readers will know more about this and share their insights. Does (or should) the definition of nulliparity include increased health risks?
Are there additional nulliparity health risks that I’ve overlooked?

 

Is Having Kids Selfish?

The Selfish Gene

The Selfish Gene (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In his monumental book Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins suggests that we are basically envelopes to carry our genes around and make sure that these get copied and passed on into the future. It’s perhaps a little extreme a view, and he tempers his arguments, but ultimately the whole goal of existence is, well, to keep existing, and the best way to do that is by making fresh copies of the genetic material — which would otherwise suffer wear and tear — and for most of us multicellular organisms that means by having kids.

This is probably not the reason any of us would state first for reproducing, but is having kids selfish? Based on an unofficial summary of what I’ve been hearing over the years, here are the top 5 reasons people give for having kids:

  1. Because they’re so wonderful and fun!
  2. Because that maternal urge is just too strong to ignore
  3. To pass on my values and beliefs
  4. To keep me young and active
  5. To have someone who’ll love me even when I’m grey and saggy

Notice something all these reasons have in common? They’re pretty selfish. They’re all based on the parent, not the kid. So I’d be wary of labeling people who choose not to have kids as selfish. Surely deciding we’re so important that it’s worth procreating to pass our genes on into the future is the most selfish thing there is?

OK, so there will be a number of years characterized by almost total self-abnegation, as you feed, wash, cuddle, play with, protect and nurture  your offspring, but it’s like altruism. Under that selfless devotion, there’s a hidden agenda: you’re actually batting for your own team.

And then there’s the issue of overpopulation. Surely we don’t need more humans on our small planet? So to all those of you who have taken the decision not to have children — which cannot have been an easy one, and which will probably continue to be the source of much debate — I say, “Bravo!” You have overridden that seflish gene impulse and are working for the good of the planet by preventing overpopulation, at the cost of sacrificing your own genes. Luckily thanks to writing we can pass on values perhaps more effectively than via offspring!

So when my friends ask about having kids, my response is always the same : maybe. It’s an ENORMOUS responsibility, and it’s entirely ours: the children never asked to be born. Yes, kids are great, but aren’t our lives great already? Women today don’t need kids to fulfill our lives now that we have great jobs and careers and no longer live in the shadow of our menfolk.

Many were the conversations my husband and I had before taking this big step. We had such a great life, why change it? We made a list of pros and cons, and finally figured we were a happy, stable and financially settled couple and we could raise happy, stable children to become positive contributors to society. One of our arguments was that so many unhappy and unstable people have many kids, so shouldn’t there be a few stable, happy ones to balance that out? It was almost our civic duty to bear children. But if perchance we couldn’t have children, that was no big deal. It was a very logical, calculated decision. I never understood this irrational maternal urge that some women get, which pushes them to bear children regardless of the circumstances.

Until I actually HAD children myself. Now I fantasize about having more children all the time, and my motivations are purely selfish. To my surprise I loved pregnancy (and getting pregnant was fun), and thanks to epidurals I simply LOVED giving birth, and little babies are so cute, and toddlers are a scream, and my sons are heart-stoppingly wonderful. I want more of all that joy! This passion for children is completely unexpected and it mostly encompasses my own progeny. The only non-selfish reason I can bring up to justify having another child is that it would be nice for my first two to have another sibling to comfort them when we parents die.

My worry as I write this is that some day my sons will read it and think I didn’t want them, or regret having them. They were both babies conceived in love and anticipation, and I love them more than I can express without going all maudlin. They have enriched my life and changed my perspectives, and if I could relive my life I’d do exactly the same. But if they had never existed, well, things would be pretty good too, and almost certainly a lot less noisy.

You’ll Change Your Mind: Why No Kids? Celebrity Edition

One of the comments that the childfree just love to hear is, “You’ll change your mind!”

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 05:  Actress Port...

Here’s a gallery of celebrities from our friends at mommyish.com  that are still rocking the childfree lifestyle.

The list includes the childfree celebrity “all stars” Cameron Diaz, Simon Cowell, Jennifer Aniston, and

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi with a funny quip about why they don’t have kids:

“We thought about it. We love to be around children after they’ve been fed and bathed. But we ultimately decided that we don’t want children of our own. There is far too much glass in our house.”

What Makes a Family?

The definition of a family has changed to include same sex couples and single parents, even unmarried couples with children, but if you are in a child-free partnership you are not a family.  What makes a family? Children. According to dictionary.com a family is a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not: the traditional family. That means same sex couples and married or unmarried couples are still not considered equal in society. While it warms my heart to see people post charts that include same sex couples and their children as families, I am sad to see that my choice to be child-free keeps me out of the family category.

An ABC news story on a 2010 survey by sociology professor Brian Powell shows that most Americans believe that kids make a family:

“In 2010, almost everyone — 99.8 percent — agreed that a husband, wife and kids count as a family. Ninety-two percent said that a husband and wife without the kids made a family.

“Children provide this, quote, ‘guarantee’ that move you to family status,” Powell said. “Having children signals something. It signals that there really is a commitment and a sense of responsibility in a family.”

For instance, 39.6 percent in 2010 said that an unmarried man and woman living together were a family — but give that couple some kids and 83 percent say that’s a family.

Thirty-three percent said a gay male couple was a family. Sixty-four percent said they became a family when they added children.”

So while we are making baby steps with our wider definition of family it seems that the child-free might be considered family-free for now.

Hey WNKers do you consider yourself part of a family?

Related articles
  • ‘Traditional’ family not typical (bbc.co.uk)
  • http://www.themotherco.com/2011/11/what-is-the-traditional-family/
  • http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/features_momsatwork/2011/07/guest-post-what-makes-a-family.html

United: No Preboarding for Kids

English: United Airlines Boeing 777 (N223UA) t...

United Airlines wearing the post-merger livery combining the United name with the Continental logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are you and your family heading off for Memorial Day weekend? Don’t forget your patience pills and noise cancelling earphones because United Airlines has jumped on the “no preboarding for children” bandwagon.

Is this a step forward or backward for childfree air travelers who resent special treatment given to families flying in coach class with babies and young children?

Though it’s still too early to say, what initially looks like an egalitarian step forward for childfree fliers could prove to be an aggravating setback. Though special treatment for parents may seem unfair, it actually speeds the boarding process by sorting and situating families (and their mountains of travel gear) so that childfree travelers can efficiently board without waiting in the aisles.

What better way to find out if United’s policy change is a step forward or backward than a travel swarm weekend? Memorial Day dishes up notoriously congested travel conditions, so we should have a pretty clear assessment by early next week.

“We figured it would be better to simplify that process and reduce the number of boarding groups,” said United spokesman Charles Hobart. The airline does allow passengers with children traveling in first class or business class to board early. (CNN.com)

United changed their preboarding policy back in Apri, but likely kept the the topic mum to avoid a public relations backlash.

“There are very few things a parent can count on when it comes to air travel these days, but one of those things was always the ability to board first to get your children settled in and all of their needs met before the throngs of people board the plane,” said [Kate] Hanni in an e-mail to CNN. “I hope United changes their mind.” (CNN.com)

While ending preboarding for children may be perceived as a less family centric customer service initiative, United still invites passengers who need special assistance for any reason to present at the gate prior to boarding so that a United agent can accommodate them. Stemming at least in part from United’s 2010 merger with Continental, the policy apparently represents a reasonable consensus across both airlines.

“We transitioned to a common boarding process across all aircraft,” Hobart said. (CNN.com)

Ready to be a guinea pig? Safe travels and don’t forget to weigh in afterward.

Why no kids? Childfree celebrities!

George Clooney, one of the world's favorite childfree celebrities

George Clooney, one of the world’s favorite childfree celebrities

“You really don’t plan to have children?”

“No.”

“Really? Like, ever?”

“Like, never.”

“Weird. Why no kids?”

“Childfree celebrities.”

“Oh, you mean like George Clooney?”

“Right. Like George Clooney.”

“Oh, and Patrick Swayze, he was childfree too, right.”

“Right. Though not by choice, I’ve heard. Perhaps childless rather than childfree.”

“So, you want to be like George Clooney, not Patrick Swayze.”

“I’m not a great dancer. Enthusiastic, but not great. Not even good. But see where my hair’s going gray? I am good with that.”

“Right. I can totally see where you’re coming from. So childfree, not childless.”

“At this stage, I qualify as both, I think. Still working on the George Clooney part.”

“Well, good luck with that. He’s such a hunk!”

“Still working on that too…”

 

Childfree Celebrities Role Models?

As mundane and fictional as the foregoing dialogue may be, it’s not unrealistic. I could have cribbed it from a chance encounter during an urban elevator ride or in a rural grocery checkout line. In the North Country or in the Southwest.

Celebrities are de facto role models (often despite concerted efforts to ditch this mantle), and we rely upon them as credible spokespeople for saving dolphins, building oil pipelines and losing weight.

Recently this has become especially true for celebrities without children, especially celebrities who are childfree by choice. Having a hard time explaining to your mother-in-law why you and your wife have chosen not to have children? No worries, plug in George Clooney.

“Oh, George Clooney’s childfree? I love George Cooney.”

Mission accomplished. Or so it would seem.

 

Searching for Childfree Celebrities

In recent months Why No Kids? has experienced a dramatic spike among folks looking for information about childfree celebrities. Over the last few months four of the top eight search queries delivering new readers to the WNK blog have been:

  • celebrities without children
  • childfree by choice celebrities
  • childless celebrities
  • childfree celebrities

Curious. This is good news for AmyWNK who is our resident expert on all topics pop culture and celebrity-hood. But I’m a bumbling dunce when it comes to celebrities. My bride would offer a more colorful description.

In short, I’ve never been particularly fame-centric, childfree celebrities or otherwise.

That said, I’m fascinated with the fact so many others are drawn to celebrities in general, and especially intrigued by the increasing numbers focused on childfree celebrities. Here’s a quick glimpse at some non-WNK coverage:

Can we infer anything from the this trend? Are more and more people looking for childfree celebrity role models?

Deadbeat Dad with Thirty Kids

I love my deadbeat dad!

I love my deadbeat dad!

Is Desmond Hatchett is a deadbeat dad or just a really good reminder why more people should remain childfree?

This 33-year-old Knoxville, Tennessee man has fathered (and I use the term loosely) thirty children by eleven different mothers in 14-15 years. Although he’s offered an explanation — “I had four kids in the same year. Twice.” — his rationale is lacking. In 2009 when he was apparently last in court he had 21 children, so he’s fathered nine more children in the last three years despite agreeing to curb his uber breeder ways.

‘I’m done. I’ll say I’m done,’ he said. (Mail Online)

Unable to fulfill his pledge, Hatchett is also now unable to fulfill his child support obligations he’s turned to the state for help.

Hatchett reportedly asked the court to give him a break on his payments, claiming that he’s struggling to make ends meet with his minimum-wage job. Currently, the state requires him to divide 50 percent of his earnings among the 11 women, some of whom receive as little as $1.49 a month, WREG reports. (Huffington Post)

Outrageous. What was he thinking? What is he thinking?

“I didn’t intend to have this many children,” he told WVLT-TV at the time. “It just happened.” (NY Daily News)

Oh, he wasn’t thinking. And apparently the mothers of these thirty children weren’t thinking either. Getting pregnant is pretty old science at this point. One man. One woman. Unprotected copulation. Not too many mysteries.

Or are we to believe that all thirty mini Hatchetts were Ooops! babies. Steep learning curve.

And one last question in a post full of questions: who’s going to teach those mini Hatchetts that they have a childfree option when they grow up? Their parents?