October 18, 2019

Childfree News: From Tubal Ligation to the Baby Matrix

Topless in the Adirondacks via virtualdavis

Topless in the Adirondacks via virtualdavis

Drowning beneath the avalanche of childfree news? It’s staggering how quickly and widely childfree news has been transformed from whisper-only taboo to mainstream media fodder. So much is being pondered and debated, it’d hard to believe that even a few years ago childfree news was so hush-hush that television, newspapers and magazines didn’t want to touch it with a ten foot pole.

Childfree News Glut

Today we’re awash in childfree news, and not just in the blogosphere. Mainstream media finally read that memo about more and more couples are opting to remain childfree by choice. Concerned about spiraling audiences, niche audiences took on a sexier appeal. Result? It’s tough to find a new outlet who isn’t flogging the childfree news horse. It’s always fun to swing from the fringe to the mainstream, at least at first, but it’s actually become challenging to keep up with the latest childfree news because there’s just so much of it.

We’ll attempt to distill the best from the rest, making it that much easier for you to join the childfree intelligentsia! Or at least wile away a sleepy afternoon at the office…

Top Childfree News

Sterilize Me, Please: Why is it so difficult for young women to get their tubes tied? (By J. Bryan Lowder) There are some people who don’t want to have kids. Then there are some people who really don’t want to have kids… some men and women never heed (or even feel) the tick of the biological clock. But others are more proactive. Monica Trombley is in the latter camp… [she] decided at the age of 26 that permanent sterilization by tubal ligation—a procedure colloquially called “getting your tubes tied”—was the right choice for her. But as Trombley quickly learned, many gynecologists disagreed. (Slate Magazine)

I Wish I’d Never Had Children (By Sonja Ebbels) Over coffee with a group of friends recently, there was an understanding atmosphere when one of the mums, a close friend of mine, started discussing the struggle she was having with her children. We all nodded sympathetically and sighed with agreement, until she announced that if she had her time over again, she wouldn’t have had children. At once each of us looked around, ensuring our children hadn’t heard her comment. (Stuff.co.nz)

Please, Please, Please: Do Not Make Your Kid The Center Of Your Universe (By Cassie Murdoch) It’s so hard to know whether becoming a parent will ruin your life or be the only thing that makes it worth living. We may not get a grand verdict anytime soon, but new research has at least figured out one thing: moms who believe they are the most important person in their baby’s life and that they should always put the kid’s needs first are way more likely to be unhappy. Perhaps feeding them like a bird or hovering over them like helicopter is the key to their lasting happiness, but is it the key to yours? (Jezebel)

I Want to Want a Baby (By Liz Ference) Having a baby would, of course, be terrifying – but at least I’d have the benefit of knowing that everyone else around me would be going through the same thing and I wouldn’t be alone, and that my remaining days would now be filled with a very definitive purpose. Going it alone… means that I’d be, well…alone, and entirely responsible for defining my purpose in life – coming up with some reason why I’m walking the Earth and making meaningful use of my time. (Maybe Baby, Maybe Not!)

Accidentally Childfree (By Farzana Gardee) I never imagined that I would one day be discussing a childfree life, let alone my childfree life. I had never been taught to think of this as an option… My family is large — babies popping out of every crevice — with only a scattering of childfree women… They lead fringe existences when compared to other robust women speed cycling between pregnancy and breastfeeding and changing nappies and doing school-drop offs and living lives as full as their engorged breasts… And today, I am childfree. (The Huffington Post)

10 Things Never to Say to Childless Friends (By Charlotte Latvala) When you’re an enthusiastic member of the mom club, it’s natural to want your pals to join too. But making assumptions about your buddy’s baby-making plans can be offensive and invasive—and thinking you know better because you’re a parent can hurt your friend’s feelings… Whether a couple is childless by choice or struggling to conceive, prying questions are likely to hit a nerve… Here are some gaffes to avoid with childless friends–and what to say instead. (Glo.msn.com)

Laura Carroll Interview About The Baby Matrix I want people to know what pronatalism is, its origins, and why it remains so pervasive in our society, even though in so many ways it is to our detriment. I want readers to understand why we have believed seven long held pronatalist assumptions for so long despite the fact that they either no longer serve us or have never been true to begin with. I want readers to understand why it is time to stop blindly believing pronatalist beliefs, realize their serious costs, and why it is time to move toward what I call a “post-pronatal society.” (Laura Carroll)

Childfree News Recommendations

What are you reading in childfree news? Anything we missed that you think we should pass along to other WNKers? Please add your recommendations in the comments below. Thanks!

Why Are You Childfree?

Why are you childfree?

Why are you childfree?

In the wandering, winding webs I stumbled upon a personal reflection on why a Cleveland-based woman chose to remain childfree.

Why childfree? No want. No change. I think you’ll find it compelling for it’s candor and tidiness.

When I was 15 years old, I wanted to be a Marine Biologist, which has drastically changed over the years; I thought that there was nothing worse than not being liked by someone, and that has changed drastically; I was extremely self-conscious of my body and only wore super loose clothing, which has also changed as I have gotten used to my figure; I thought that my mom was soooo annoying, which has drastically changed and now I realize what a fantastic mother she is and always was. But for some reason, my thought of being childfree has not changed at all. There has never been a time in my life when I really wanted children. There was a time when I tried to make myself think I wanted them because I started to realize how unusual my decision was, but I never really wanted them. It’s so curious how different of a person I am today than I was when I was 15, and yet I still have the same thoughts on that extreme major life decision. (dinkschildfree)

Perhaps this “why childfree” explanation grabbed my attention because I also figured out early on that I wasn’t destined for fatherhood. Keen on kids, but not even a flickering desire to reproduce.

Of course, marriage fit in the same Not me, not ever! category. That changed. Not quickly. Not early. But it eventually changed. All credit to my bride. But I never caught the procreation bug…

Why are you childfree? I wonder if we can attempt a formal poll of our readers in the comments below. You don’t need to divulge your most profound emotional/psychological motives if you’d prefer not to, but even a short sentence or two capturing the gist of your choice to remain childfree would be intriguing. Up to the challenge?

Why are you childfree? Did you always feel this way or has your conviction evolved since childhood?

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?

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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Childfree? Consider The Economy?

Chart of Birth Rate in USA between 1934 and th...

Image via Wikipedia

If you are listing pros and cons and asking questions of parents and people like us to determine if you want to remain childfree, for now or permanently, you may do those of us that have already made the decision a favor by choosing to breed.

What? What about all those posts about saving the planet and your relationship and your money? What about giving voice to individuals and outliers? What about confronting taboos and exercising your right to think for yourself and CHOOSE?

Well, as readers of WNK may have already seen, we are here to provide a broad base of information and varied perspectives, so that one may make an informed choice and feel supported, regardless of what that choice may be. To that end, we need to talk about the economy.

The real and hidden costs of raising children, personal finances and lifestyle etc. are certainly worth addressing. And we at WNK. like many others in the child-free community, try to.

UNLIKE others in the CF community, including a child-free blogger that wrote “Going Child-Free To Save The Economy” and “decided that breeders are to blame for our current high level of unemployment”, we (Okay, I) studied economics, worked in finance and have a mathematical and theoretical grasp on reality that isn’t overwhelmed by anger or idiocy or child-free ideological extremes.

And, oh yeah, before we “decide” something, we research and read. On our Facebook site we previously posted stories about how Russia and South Korea are taking steps to increase the birth rate in order to bolster their economies. Check out the links.

Yesterday, Bloomberg News ran this story:

Births at 11-Year Low May Extend U.S. Housing Slump Amid Consumer Cutbacks – Bloomberg.

The piece identifies a nasty Catch-22 ensnaring the childless and child-free lately. Some of us are deciding against raising kids, or postponing, because we are struggling financially; and our decision is in turn hurting the economy.

While many reading this piece don’t want to make or raise babies, the reality seems to be that we need more kids to feed our fierce economic machine. In capitalist, consumption-based America, if we are not growing, we’re dieing. Inflation is not necessarily our friend, but deflation (decreased demand, less consumption, fewer jobs, a shrinking population and shrinking GDP) is definitely our enemy. So the government adopts policies (that many of us claim are discriminatory) to encourage the population to make more babies. And if more people join the ranks of the child-free, federal tax deductions or credits may only be the beginning.

If you don’t want to believe, won’t read the stories or do research to see what not having kids can do to a capitalist economy, look overseas please. Asia is struggling, and Japan may reveal the path that our low birth rate having country will be following: A real estate bust followed by over fifteen years of low interest rates and meager job growth combined with an impossibly slow housing recovery and constant fears of deflation further shrinking the value of their assets and their entire economy.

Now, on a resource-strapped planet riddled with pollution and populated with too many that are abused, poverty stricken or starving, this is an admittedly simplistic view of how breeding, or not, affects the economy. It is an equation that does not account for environmental costs and wars and other negative externalities. But market economies like ours are insatiable beasts. And unless or until we are ready to face the flaws of capitalist, consumption-based religiosity (which will likely involve some serious suffering) we may soon run out of ways of keeping our economy functioning for most of us unless we get behind immigration reform and this baby making thing.

There may be few alternatives?

I guess we can have more pets or just become more obese? Many of the child-free appear to be animal lovers (someone please explain the link), and while Fido and Frisky consume enough to create jobs (the U.S. pet industry is worth $55 billion annually) , they will never drive a car or need public schooling. Obesity may also be working as a growth strategy. One person can consume enough for 1.5 or 2 people and get sick along the way to feed the booming healthcare industry maybe?

Questions? Critiques? Need more clarity? Please comment or contact me.

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Ellen DeGeneres and partner Portia de Rossi Don’t… | Stuff.co.nz

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 30:  Actress Portia d...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

There are a few things other than celebrity that make this story interesting I think. For starters, Ellen DeGeneres is 53 and her wife nearly 40. If they’d married 10 years ago though, i wonder if the question would have even been asked? Oh, that’s right, they couldn’t get married 10 years ago. So along with the right to marry and the choice to do so, comes the assumption that there will be babies? Or is it truly just a query aimed at EVERY celebrity? Also note the standard childfree apology and some artful, humorous dodging.

Ellen DeGeneres and partner Portia de Rossi Don’t… | Stuff.co.nz.

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