December 1, 2020

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

Childfree Women Lack Humanity

Childless women lack an essential humanity. (Miriam Schaer)“Childless women lack an essential humanity.”

Embroidered across the front of a delicate white toddler’s dress in scarlet letters, this searing slander offers a 21st century modern twist on the proverbial “scarlet letter”. Miriam Schaer a multimedia artist and teacher (Columbia College, Chicago), directs her creative wizardry on childfree women in her online installation for the International Museum of Women‘s MAMA: Motherhood Around the Globe.

New York artist, Miriam Schaer, has created a series of almost disturbing pieces about the perceived value of a woman who chooses not to reproduce… I think you’ll find Schaer’s toddler dresses embroidered with expressions of both confusion and disdain, hurled at women who choose not to have children, both unsettling and thought-provoking. (Strollerderby)

Almost disturbing? I’d suggest that these images are disturbing.

But they also are provocative in their simplicity and their “scarlet letter” resonance. No audio guide is needed to engage the viewer or to invite reflection. These quotations are familiar to the childfree, and they drip with prejudice and downright hostility. But rather than hurt or defensiveness, they trigger a more profound (and more important) question: Why? Why are childfree women threatening? Why do childfree women lack humanity? Why do childfree women meet with intolerance?

Baby (Not) on Board: The Last Prejudice?, addresses the question of why the existence of women who choose maternal independence over child-rearing angers or offends so many people and institutions. The work presented here is part of a continuing exploration of our culture’s pejorative views about women without kids. For Baby (Not) on Board: The Last Prejudice?, I hand-embroidered representative negative comments on baby dresses using red thread to create scarlet letters. Gathered from interviews with childless women, online research, and personal experience, the statements taunt and accuse, and are typical of an endless flow of critical statements that seem to be growing bolder even as non-traditional families are gaining greater acceptance. (Miriam Schaer)

Each image vibrates with smug intolerance, but collectively the images tell a different if somewhat elusive story.

I detect a theme of fragility, of an almost desperate attempt to denigrate and disempower women who have not chosen to be mothers. I detect fear, fragility, urgency, desperation and intolerance. I detect an unquestioning, un-curious, bullying theme. And why? I suspect it is because childfree women are actually gaining respect and acceptance.

Prejudice increases in proportion to the perceived threat, and the perception that more women are choosing not to have children threatens the beliefs and biases of many. In short, the prejudice is a barometer of the increasingly mainstream conversation about a woman’s reproductive freedom. Childfree women are increasingly visible, respected and vocal, so it is inevitable that their detractors will grow louder, angrier. But underlying these images of intolerance is a message of hope, a message of tolerance and perhaps even growing acceptance.

Do you share my optimism? What is your reaction to Miriam Schaer’s images?

Doomed Parenting

Cover of Parenting

Image via Wikipedia

Ah-ha! My suspicions all along…

A study released by the California Parenting Institute Tuesday shows that every style of parenting inevitably causes children to grow into profoundly unhappy adults. “Our research suggests that while  overprotective parenting ultimately produces adults unprepared to contend with life’s difficulties, highly permissive parenting leads to feelings of bitterness and isolation throughout adulthood… [and] anything between those two extremes is equally damaging…” (The Onion)

And this doesn’t even take into consideration the inevitable unhappiness of the parents! 😉

Shake your Babymaker – Virtual Babies!

Okay I’ll admit it I don’t want kids, but I still have imaginary baby names in my head and I’m curious about what my baby would look like. Just not curious enough to find out for real. For the other childfree and curious there is a place for us, or rather several websites that will take pictures of you and your significant other and mix the virtual, visual DNA to create, TA-DA – a baby!

Luxland Babymaker has the tagline, What will your baby look like? And promises that it’s not like the other sites because it can see the future:

Have a lust for someone? Eager to see what your baby will look like? No need to wait nine months to see your baby’s face — BabyMaker will accurately produce a picture of your baby. Satisfy your curiosity and peek into the future!

There are even baby maker apps and celebrity baby maker sites in case you want to see what your baby would look like if Ashton Kutcher is the baby daddy. I hear he’s available!

I tried Makemebabies.comwith mixed results below:

It is very entertaining if you want to laugh some milk right out of your nose. Amazingly my baby looks just like the baby on the ad and nothing like me or my mate. Baby G even has blue eyes and blond hair which is genetically impossible! This is kind of addictive and I can totally see why the Duggar family is eagerly expecting their 20th real child. It’s fun to make babies! But I will stick to virtual kids.

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Ten Celebrities Give Their Reasons For Being Childless By Choice

Eva Mendes

Eva Mendes (Image via RottenTomatoes.com)

Here’s a good piece of celebrity eye candy coupled with some intriguing answers from some that are childfree: Ten Celebrities Give Their Reasons For Being Childless By Choice | Mommyish.

We promise to post some more celebrity and childfree intrigue soon. Some of these things are old news, but never dated, and still an interesting reads or resources maybe…

From Mommyish:

Celebrity reproduction is a huge industry. With websites devoted to Hollywood pregnancy and starlet offspring, celebs are constantly pressured to explain their choices about having children. We here at Mommyish feel pretty sympathetic towards these celebrities, because hey, awkward questions suck! Unfortunately, actresses like Jennifer Aniston and Cameron Diaz seem to be regularly harassed about the contents of their uterus and just when they’re going to procreate.

The slideshow and quotes are worth examining. Here are a few highlights:

Simon Cowell:

“At my age, definitely. The reality is, with the way I live my life, I wouldn’t have the patience. I’d sort of want people born at the age of 10, I think.”

Fergie:

“I don’ t want anything clouding my focus.”

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 30:  Actress Portia d...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

“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.”

“I love the little suckers; they’re so cute but I love sleep so much and I worry about everything.”
Related articles:
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Fast Forward

fast type

Image by mightymoss via Flickr

Wednesday already? I keep bumping the fast forward button!

Seems like only yesterday Susan, Amy, Brian and I were bumping along the highway from Costa Rica‘s Papagayo Peninsula to Lake Arenal psyching each other up for windsurfing with crocodiles, slurping up coconut milk from roadside vendors, and brainstorming a blog about our childfree lifestyle choices. Fast forward and we’re entering our 9th month and 107th post. Wow!

Thank you for making it possible. Thank you for reading our posts, commenting, sharing on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and submitting guest posts. You continue to inspire us, and we’re enjoying every minute of it. Even when I bump the fast forward button…

While everything’s zipping past in a blur, there are a couple of quick snippets I want to showcase, sort of a “Wednesday WNK Digest”. First up, Brian nailed it in a recent post about how taboo a topic the childfree choice remains. Though he focused largely on celebs (a category that I’m thoroughly unqualified to address), the following excerpt about gender distinctions is oh-so-spot-on:

when a mother DOES speak out against mothering… she’s entering taboo territory, a place where people overreact and use the word “crazy”… Because these are words that mothers aren’t allowed to speak. “Don’t have kids” or “I wish I didn’t have kids” are somehow heard as “I wish they weren’t alive” or “I hate children”. It seems… From where I stand, men are given much more room.. to vent, admit, complain or translate their desire for silence and freedom and fresh air into advice or comedy… Mothers seem to police themselves, vigilantly. (Celebrities, WiNKs, Taboos and The Childfree Apology)

Another highlight? The clever crew over at The Onion nailed it with ‘This Is The Happiest Day Of My Life,’ Lies Man Holding Baby. Just to tickle your childfree fancy:

Looking out at a sea of expectant faces, new father Dan Rudloff commemorated the birth of his daughter, Elizabeth, by holding the small, vulnerable child in his arms and blurting out a series of lies and half-truths about how happy he was at that moment.

“Oh my God,” said Rudloff, staring down at the squalling, vernix-covered infant who will depend on him for everything from eating, to bathing, to keeping her head upright. “She’s beautiful.”

Realizing he was now forever tethered to this utterly helpless new life… Rudloff rattled off a series of patently false pleasantries about being overjoyed with his new baby girl. (The Onion)

For overly sensitive readers who sometimes miss humor, farce and send-ups, this is funny. Not snarky. Or cynical. Okay, maybe it’s all three!

Onward. Julie, The Hiking Humanist, took a protracted and reflective look at the term, childfree, in a recent post that’s worth passing along. She explains why the word is necessary descriptor to distinguish those who choose not to have children from those who are unable to have children.

We don’t want to be encouraged to have kids, or pitied for not having them, or seen as lonely or sad, or as selfish and hateful. The word we identify with exists to legitimize our choice, and to be a word for the lifestyle that we’re keen to talk about among ourselves and encourage acceptance of in the public sphere… This word is “childfree.” The word differentiates us from the childless, and from parents. More importantly, the word communicates that the absence of children is a positive thing for us, something we’re happy about and do not wish to be pitied for. (Defending The Word “Childfree”)

Julie’s a little huffy, but many of us have been at one point or another when slighted bingo’ed one time too many.

As a follow-up to Amy’s recent post on “Childfree Getaways” and my post on “Childfree Dining Tips“, I’d like to pass along a few childfree travel suggestions from Child Free Nation:

Here are a couple quick tips for avoiding the diaper set during your getaway:

  • Spring for Luxury
  • Consider a Private Resort
  • Enjoy a Bed and Breakfast
  • Read the Reviews

(Seven Tips for Child Free Travel)

That catches me up a little bit… Of course, I’m liable to bump the fast forward button again before long. Sorry!

No Kids for Kim Kardashian?

With her mulitmillion dollar wedding and now, after only 72 days, her impending divorce in the news, Kim Kardashian, 31, is rethinking her fairy tale dreams.

She famously stated that she would have four children before she was 35, but her more recent comments on having children is a complete 180:

“At first I was like, I want six kids. Then I went down to four, then I was down to three, and now I’m like, maybe I won’t have any,” she says glumly. “Maybe I’ll just be a good aunt…at this moment in my life, I feel like maybe I’m not supposed to have kids and all that,” Kim says in a December 6 Glamour Magazine article (source Us Magazine)

The self proclaimed hopeless romantic plans to be a little more realistic in the future.

Perhaps, Kim, you should consider the idea of not having kids as genuine option and discover that being child-free can also be a happy ending.

English: Kim Kardashian Fragrance Launch, Glen...

Image via Wikipedia

Childfree Dining Tips

Restaurant Enoteca

Image by Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains St. Moritz via Flickr

We’ve covered this territory before of course, but a the risk of seeming a bit curmudgeonly I’d like to pass along a half dozen simple, straightforward childfree dining tips “borrowed” (Thanks, CFN Editorial Team!) from a recent Child Free Nation post, “Eating Out: How to Enjoy a Childfree Meal“.

It’s no fun to go out and listen to the soundtrack of crying infants, whining, or even the sounds of responsible parents trying to discipline their children.

It’s not that these kids are necessarily doing anything wrong. Babies cry. Toddlers lack adult communication skills. Parents do need to intervene (please oh please) when their six year old is chewing with their mouth open.

That being said, it doesn’t mean we want to witness the experience! (Child Free Nation)

Sound familiar? For sensitive readers in our midst, exhale. I’m not bashing restaurants that allow kids. In some cases I’m a fan. Other times not so much. But that’s not the point.

The point’s just to remind adamantly childfree diners (let’s call them ACDs), that ensuring an agreeable supper normally is an easy enough ambition if you follow some obvious pointers.

  1. Avoid Family Friendly Restaurants
  2. Sit in the Bar
  3. Ask for a Quiet Table
  4. Adjust your Timing
  5. Dress for Dinner
  6. Consider Take-Out

No brainers, right? Right. Except when they don’t’t work. In which case you move on to “Plan B”. And that’s the real point of this post… What would you suggest for #7 on the Childfree Dining Tips?

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?

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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.