October 15, 2019

Two is Enough: Childless by Choice

Two is Enough: A Couple's Guide to Living Childless by Choise

Two is Enough: A Couple's Guide to Living Childless by Choise

I’ve just read a lengthy excerpt from Laura S. Scott’s Two Is Enough: A Couple’s Guide to Living Childless by Choice. I’m hooked!

I’m pretty certain that Susan and I could have written this book… But just to make sure, I’ve ordered a copy. I’ll share my thoughts once I’ve consumed the whole book and passed it along to my bride for her thoughts. If you want a jump start, the excerpt appears in this article: “More couples going childless by choice?” To whet your appetite here’s a passage that grabbed me right off the bat.

I recognized just how strange I must have seemed to him. Here was a person who could not imagine a life without kids trying to understand a person who could not imagine a life with kids. I was struggling to find the words to explain why someone would choose a childless marriage, and “love” and “companionship” were all I could come up with. It was the most honest answer I could give, but it clearly did not satisfy him, leaving me with the very distinct feeling that the underlying question was “Is love enough?” (TODAY.com)

This is an all too familiar experience. I can only imagine how strange I must seem to my brother, the father of two intelligent, funny, athletic, beautiful girls. How strange I must seem to unabashedly relish time spent with my nieces and yet opt out of having children myself. Perhaps we’re not meant to fully comprehend one another’s choices…

I could understand why parents might have difficulty wrapping their brains around intentional childlessness. It was strange, even to me. Here I was, a healthy, happily married woman, surrounded by parents and parents-to-be, yet I had never felt a pang of longing for a child. I enjoy spending time with kids and I understand the appeal of children, but I’ve never wanted one for myself. (TODAY.com)

I suspect that many childfree couples will identify with this book. The notion of a guide intrigues me. Is that tongue-in-cheek? Or does it genuinely intend to instruct? Will it help me communicate to my parent friends why loving children but choosing not have have them is not a double standard? I’ll keep you posted! In the mean time, if you’d like to purchase a copy of Two Is Enough you can find it on Amazon. Cheers!

Top 10 WNK Posts

Kids on the bus

Why No Kids? is just over six months old! Or in “parent talk”, we’re twenty eight weeks old… Isn’t that cute?

Starting with our first post, “Why no kids? Wino kids!” we’ve posted over five dozen reflective, provocative, silly, heartfelt and/or challenging blog posts. And we’re just warming up! Expect more investigative posts and more guest posts in the months ahead.

We’re taking inventory of our parts in order to better understand you, our readers, so that we can better meet your needs. What do you want to read? See? Hear? Jump into the conversation and tell us what you’d like to learn more about and what you’ve heard enough about. We’ll do our best to grow Why No Kids? into the community you want.

Take a look at our top ten most popular posts to date. (Note that three are two-way ties!)

  1. I’m not infertile. I Just don’t want kids.
  2. Video: Aziz Ansari Is Afraid of Babies
  3. Five Reasons Childfree Adults May Be Happier Than Parents
  4. Am I Selfish For Not Having Kids?  and Are you a DINK?
  5. Happy Un-Father’s Day?
  6. Video Vasectomy Shocker: A Survivor’s Tale of Survival
  7. Childfree? Really? Common Questions and Comments (Part 3)
  8. Dr. Suess Didn’t Have Kids  and Myths About Childfree Living
  9. Sexiest Reason Why No Kids? Sex! and Ann Landers on Childfree Families
  10. Childfree Vagina Monologue

I recently posted about the top search term which brings new readers to Why No Kids? And it’s worth noting that even more than organic traffic from search engines, the Facebook Why No Kids page connects you to the blog posts you read and froward. In other words, our Facebook friends are largely responsible for spreading the news. Thank you!

Where from here? You tell us!

No Kids Trending

Recently whynokids.com has been getting pounded with traffic, an uptick that prompted me to poke around in search of answers.

What are people searching for? Are they finding what they’re looking for? What “sticky content” are we offering visitors to Why No Kids?

Why No Kids? logo on Facebook and Twitter

Why No Kids? logo on Facebook and Twitter

Combing through our stats (analytics) and tickling Google’s ivories has offered afew hints. For example, the term “no kids” seems to be driving the surge. But why? Is it possible that suddenly there’s an upward trend in couples considering a childfree lifestyle? Perhaps. Or perhaps there’s something else happening. What do YOU think?

I’m reserving judgment for the time being. It’s exciting. It’s encouraging. But it’s premature to determine why whynokids.com is experiencing a dramatic increase in readers.

That said, I know that our readers are responsible for spreading the word, so it’s time to thank you. All of you! You’ve encouraged and prodded and joined Why No Kids? conversations on Facebook and tweeted up a storm with Why No Kids? on Twitter. You’ve emailed posts and emailed us suggestions. In some cases you’ve even emailed us guest posts. You’ve joined the conversation about why not to have kids (and even–in some notable exceptions–why to have kids), and this conversation is what fascinates us. The four bloggers who founded Why No Kids? have chosen childfree lives, childfree marriages, but we don’t preach. We encourage breeders (I know, it’s a loaded term, but sooo catchy!) to participate in conversation. Bring on the debate. Bring on the disagreement. But bring on the civility, and bring on the levity.

Life’s too short to anger and alienate over personal decisions of childbearing. But the Why No Kids? crew firmly believes that ongoing, informed conversation about whether or not to breed stands to improve the lot for all of us!

FlashBack: Standout Stories That Previously Appeared On WNK’s FB Page Only

We wanted to share some the year’s best stories about parenting, children and the childfree, including emphasis on the environment, economy and psychology.

1) THE NO-BABY BOOM – Probably the most engaging, enlightening piece so far about the choice to be childfree, the CF lifestyle and growing community. It appeared in Details magazine. If you’re willing to read only one story, start and stop here.

2) ARE THERE DISADVANTAGES TO BEING CHILDFREE? – We’re not here to start a cult or hoist an ideology on the unsuspecting. We want an open honest discourse about what life is like and how big choices related to conceiving, adopting and parenting affect ANYBODY.

3) DOES HAVING CHILDREN MAKE YOU HAPPY? — What do you think? Have you read these other WNK stories? Are parents or the childfree more fit or healthy?

4) WHY MORE KIDS? – The Russian and South Korean governments want more babies! Riddle: Which is less sustainable:

A) A movement or community (like the childfree) that can’t rely on brainwashing their offspring to continue growing? OR

B) An economy that demands constant growth while resources are limited and fewer participants are incented to make babies?

5) HOW TO LAND YOU KID IN THERAPY – Why the obsession with our kids’ happiness may be dooming them to unhappy adulthoods. A therapist and mother report

6) WHINING IS THE WORST SOUND IN THE WORLD – Dare to disagree?

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Five Reasons Childfree Adults May Be Happier Than Parents

"Psychology Today" magazine... Could...

Click Here for the full article: Five Reasons Childfree Adults May Be Happier Than Parents | Psychology Today.

This post may be worth revisiting, especially for those uncertain about having babies, or how doing so may affect their life and relationships.

To sum it all up, don’t have a child because you think it will bring you happiness or improve your marriage. If you’re not content with your life prior to kids, this discontent will likely continue after the child is born. Plus, it’s important to recognize the challenges that parenting will bring. There are positives and negatives in every life choice, and it’s important to weigh these out as you create the landscape of your future.

Psychology Today is an excellent resource for a variety of perspectives and studies.For more information search “parenting” or “childfree” on the Psychoogy Today website. There are many compelling pieces by Ellen Walker, Ph.D., author of Complete Without Kids.

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Vicki Larson: Are Childless Couples Headed Toward Divorce?

Marriage and divorce rates in the US, 1990-200...

Image via Wikipedia

Vicki Larson: Are Childless Couples Headed Toward Divorce?.

“People assume children are the glue that holds a marriage together, which really isn’t true. Kids are huge stressors,” says Scott, head of the Childless by Choice Project whose documentary on childfree couples was just released. “Despite that, there is a strong motive to stay together. The childfree don’t have that motive so there’s no reason to stay together if it’s not working.”

This article is great, really layered and probing. It answers a lot of questions about who is “childfree”, why, and what the impact of such status on their marriage may be. However, there may be some confusion, or even unintended/inaccurate conclusions, as all couples without children are lumped into the “childfree” category, including couples frequently categorized as “childless” (those who want kids but cannot conceive) that “make up the bulk of the childfree” in this story.

As I read the article I wondered how many of the divorced couples were simply victims of a decision to marry too early. According to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed, the rate of divorce among people that marry before 25 is astounding. I also hoped for statistics comparing older married couples. How do those who CHOOSE not to have kids compare to couples with empty nests at the same age? When the decision  for parents to divorce can be made without complicating child rearing, like the childfree by choice, then who APPEARS to be more successful or happily married? (Not that remaining married is an accurate indicator of “success”) When I was in college, my parents finally divorced, and there was a rash of divorces among my friends’ parents as well.

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August 1st Happy Non-Parents Day!

 

Over 30 years ago, the National Organization for Non-Parents (which became National Alliance for Optional Parenthood, or NAOP) ), deemed August 1 Non-Parents Day.

via La Vie Childfree.

Hey WNKers how did you celebrate your Non-Parents Day?

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Permissive Parenting


Interview with LZ Granderson on taming your toddler from: www.cnn.com (share this clip)

LZ Granderson tackles a sensitive topic in “Permissive Parents: Curb your brats“, reminding parents that consistent, ongoing discipline is critical to good parenting. And to preventing your friends from hating your kids!

We’ve all experienced it, even the most kid empathetic amongst us. You’re waiting to see the dentist, and a three year old is spreading magazines all over the waiting room floor. Or you’ve just settled into your seat for an overnight flight across the Atlantic Ocean and the ten year old in front of you starts playing video games with the volume cranked, bouncing back and forth in his chair, gradually pounding your knees to oblivion. Every day we come across absentee parenting scenarios that frustrate, annoy, even anger us. But can you parent somebody else’s kids? The verdict’s still out on that one.

“The rest of the world should not have to be subjected to your bratty kids.”

I’ll second that! And yet we do. Every day. “Kids are not the center of the universe,” Granderson reminds us, and we shouldn’t allow their whims, urges and needs to dictate our social interactions. And yet so many parents do exactly that. And in the process they allow their kids to alienate others in their social circles.

So what should parents be doing differently when it comes to raising and disciplining kids? I won’t try to armchair quarterback the question, because I don’t have kids of my own. I’ll admit up front that the best ones to answer this question are parents, and ideally parents with well behaved kids. Nevertheless, I am an uncle four times over, and I told middle school and high school students for enough years to learn a few things.

I agree with Granderson that discipline must start early and never waver. It must be real and fair and reliable. And infractions aren’t mortal sins; they’re learning opportunities. But discipline’s an easy out. As Granderson acknowledges in this interview, discipline means different things for different families. And I don’t think that there’s much merit in arguing what universal yardstick could be applied to all families and all situations. It’s probably also worth admitting that I’m not a fan of physical punishment.

I submit to you that even more important than discipline is ongoing instruction. Teach your children what is appropriate again and again, and most will eventually grok the big picture. Create consistent, inalienable expectations and parameters. Kids need boundaries. They need to test them and even need to break them sometimes, but they need boundaries. I’ve literally had students tell me this. I’m not kidding! Exceptions are confusing to kids, and your “nice” exception today blurs expectations tomorrow. I also believe that parents often neglect to teach their kids that different domains/situations demand different behaviors. So many youngsters operate in only one mode. No good. Help your kid understand the difference between interacting with children and adults, informal situations like play dates and formal situations like school or church, home and school, etc. Vocabulary, voice, gesture, physical interaction differ in all of these contexts. Help your kid recognize and understand these often subtle differences, and the world (and my day) will be better. Thanks!

Childfree? Really? Common Questions and Comments (Part 3)

Childfree? Really?

Common questions and comments (Part 3)

“When are you having kids?”, they usually ask. Not “if”. And here are more of the most common responses to my answer:

6) “Who’s going to take care of you when you’re old?”

I’d like to say “me”. I’m responsible for myself. It’s my obligation to invest in my brain and my body and strive for healthy and happy. If or when I can’t, I should have saved enough money or given enough love to ask for and receive help.

Instead I say we’re open to adopting adults from the next generation of non-breeders, or blurt something else unfunny, dishonest and/or swarthy, while wondering:

How can I get an unborn heir to agree that, in exchange for me handling fatherly responsibilities, they will one day owe the same commitment to me?

How could I dare make my health another’s responsibility unless I managed my own body, diet, alcohol and nicotine consumption perfectly?

It’s already too late for that, so rather than saddling someone else with the burden of the bongwater I drank in my twenties, I hope that the economics of living child-free allow enough room for a giant TV and a smiley, shapely nurse with soft hands and a deep appreciation of the History Channel and eighties music.

Or maybe we’ll just invest in Long-term care insurance.

http://personalinsure.about.com/od/longtermcare/a/ltcguide.htm

7) “Go to doctor what’s his name. He’ll get you pregnant!”

This happens more often than you might think. People are understandably presumptuous, and sincerely charitable when your spouse is a gifted teacher and children’s book author. (Touchtheart.com)

So when we lived in New York, parents of her students were eager to offer recommendations and referrals, assuming motherhood was an obvious goal for someone so nurturing and bossy.

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Am I Selfish For Not Having Kids?

Prince Albert (later King George VI) and his w...

Prince Albert and his Wife Elizabeth with Their Labrador (Image via Wikipedia)

Despite my friend’s frequent reminders of “yet another woman over 40 who has successfully had a healthy baby” stories, I’m not the gambling type.

My friend thumbs through People magazine, identifying the aging celebrities touting their late-in-life offspring.“Look, 50 and a healthy baby,” she beams.

“That one had a surrogate,” I quip.

“Oh, right, she did. But she had twins at forty-two,” she’ll protest.

“And a staff of forty nannies and household servants, and tell me in ten years that she doesn’t get cancer from all those hormone injections,” I counter. She sighs and closes the magazine, failing to put me on the parent track.

The truth is, it isn’t really about my age. It’s a convenient excuse, but if I were in my twenties with all else being equal as it is now, I think I’d still make the same decision not to have children.

Early in my first marriage and in my twenties, before I got a dog I stopped every dog I passed on the streets of New York City.

“Oh, look at that one – soooo cute!  And a yellow lab and a chocolate lab.  I just looove labs.  Can I pet your dog?”  I would coo.

I finally got a yellow lab who became my pride and joy for fourteen years.  She outlasted my first marriage.  Everyone thought I was practicing to be a “real”  mom with her.  When she died she was succeeded not by a ‘real” baby but by an energetic male yellow lab instead.  As it turns out, I was practicing all along only to be a dog mom.  Sorry to disappoint, but I think I’ve done well with those skills.  Does this mean I don’t get to celebrate mother’s day?  Can I be a mom if my dependent happens to be canine?

The same impulse for babies, however, never emerged.  Passing strollers never merited a second glance from me.  That was a strong sign to me to avoid having a baby.

Okay, so not every happy parent started off ogling babies on the street.  Nonetheless, the fact is there is just so much I still want to do with my life that I don’t think even if I were twenty years younger I’d be able to accomplish all that I hope to do.

I’m not just talking about my career. We’re busy people, busy seeing friends and family, busy doing volunteer work, busy working, busy traveling, skiing, biking, hiking, kayaking, waterskiing or windsurfing, in short busy being involved in our community, and in our world.

So, then, why do so many people think I’m selfish for not having kids? Is it selfish to forgo children when you could perhaps raise one successfully, when you have no obvious major impediments to parenthood? Is it selfish for me to want to work on myself, to be the best person, citizen, sibling, wife, daughter that I can be? Could I work on myself and achieve the same goals if I had kids? Knowing me, probably not.

Some people would say it is self-centered to reproduce yourself.  The world is already overpopulated and there are already so many parent-less children who need a good home.  It’s a good point. We’ll have more thoughts on this topic later.  It’s in important one but since this piece is an introduction of one founder’s background and viewpoint, I will save that meaty conversation when I can interview multiple folks on the issue.

Frankly, the thought of disseminating my genes multiple times over just scares me.  I like who I am and I’m proud of my family and heritage, but, boy, I think one person like me in the world is really enough. I’m a handful all my own.

The way I see it, I can have an influence on a greater number of kids if I don’t have my own.

My hope is to be the adult who doesn’t treat them like a parent would, to be the person they can ask embarrassing questions, the person they can call in the middle of the night and say, “I need help. Please don’t tell my mom.” I want to be the person who takes them on safaris in Africa, fashion shows in Paris and hang-gliding in Bora Bora. That doesn’t seem selfish to me.

As my cousin’s 8 year old child said of me in the car once while I was driving a heap of kids down a dirt road in the country: “You can talk about it in front of her. She’s not a mom.” That made me feel good. They all nodded in agreement and spoke of a subject that would have been just too embarrassing or dangerous in front of their moms. It was an enlightening moment.

I recently became a CFES high school mentor in our local public school. I help juniors with the process of choosing, applying and gaining acceptance at the colleges of their choice. It’s a great program and if I had children when the majority of my friends did, I’d likely only be thinking about college preparation only for my own kids instead.

Let me be the mentor, friend, aunt, water ski and windsurfing coach to a number of kids.  Most children don’t have enough positive adult influence in their lives outside of their parents.  That’s where I enter.

Upcoming Posts:

  • Wednesday March 16: What I’ve learned From Hanging Out With Moms and Why are The Dads Having More Fun?
  • Friday March 18: Forging My Own Kid-less Path
  • Monday March 21: Dog Mom and über Aunt Will Travel
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