Favorite headline of the day

Reason magazine topped its article on the “we need more white babies!” movement (and its accompanying film, Demographic Winter) with this great headline:
Best EVER! But seriously, the article also makes the excellent point that people don’t choose to remain childless for some weird or nefarious reason. Some of us, uh, just don’t want kids, and have decided our lives will be just as happy or happier without them.
When I think about my happiness and my lack of desire to have babies, I’m reminded of the Simpsons episode in which Marge starts a crusade against “Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens, and Gays,” and she has the following exchange with childless activist Lindsey Naegle:

Bart: Mom, I locked your keys in the car.
Marge: Then wait in the shadows!
Bart: Also, Maggie puked in your purse again.
Lindsey Naegle: Poor me… all my purse is full of is disposable income.

Of course, you should feel free to have lots of babies if you like them and they make you happy!

Join the Conversation

  • http://blogs.brocknet.net/eriepressible EmmaSteinfeld

    “Of course, you should feel free to have lots of babies if you like them and they make you happy!”
    …and if YOU can afford them.

  • ForbiddenComma

    Gilbert suggests that people claim their kids are their chief source of happiness largely because it’s what they are expected to say.
    OMG, too true!

  • the15th

    Reason can be surprisingly awesome for a “free”-market libertarian publication. When they turn to social or scientific issues, they come out with some great contrarian arguments.

  • purdueattorney

    Reason is a terrific magazine. As I have said on more than one occasion, feminists probably have more in common with the free market crowd than with the left wing labor movement. Unfortunately, the movement seems to have aligned itself with the latter.
    Free market advocates tend to celebrate achievement, believe in the importance of career and productivity and focus primarily on consensual relationships in both the social and economic realm. I think there is a lot of philosophical common ground that should be explored.

  • Mindy

    EmmaSteinfeld – so only the rich should have kids?
    Simpson’s bit is harrlaious.
    I do love my own children, and several other people, more than material wealth, but laughter is good too.

  • http://blogs.brocknet.net/eriepressible EmmaSteinfeld

    Mindy: I don’t recall saying that. Does one have to be “rich” to be able to afford children?

  • Book_Grrl

    I don’t think anyone should be having “lots of babies.” Overpopulation, carbon footprints???? Hello!!

  • Erica B

    @Mindy — there’s a wide range between “can afford to feed more mouths” and “rich”.
    – – – – –
    I love my kids but I also know I’d have been happy if I’d never had them. There are plenty of “maggie barfed in your purse” moments when I wonder what the hell I was thinking. But it’s also not “the kids” that make me happy, it’s stuff we do together (games, trips, conversations, etc). Barf makes me sad, whining about something makes me annoyed, playing a board game is fun, hugs are nice… it’s a mix of things.
    Children are the one area that it seems every stranger in the world feels justified to have a deep, personal opinion on my life. Many strangers in the store: “Oh, a boy and a girl, you’ve got a set! So you’re done!” A set? If that’s my attitude, I’d be better off collecting beanie babies.
    Reproduction worked out for me. I wouldn’t push anybody else into it if they don’t feel like it, though. [Except because I'm jealous about their freedom from babysitters and soccer practice...]

  • http://whyihatefunfaq.blogspot.com/ Sera

    Unfortunately, the libertarian market-worshipping contingent also supports coercive hierarchies based on who has the most culturally valued “accomplishments” and unrestrained capitalism that screws over just about everybody but rich white western men while the labor-loving left is full of fair and rational human beings. I like it when feminism allies itself with fair and rational human beings.
    Maybe you think that feminism is about careers and productivity, and maybe you are convinced that the “free” market as it stands has anything to do with consent (as opposed to capitalist bullying), but I personally find the bridges you’re trying to build really really icky.

  • Evelyn

    What Emma and Book_Grrl said.

  • Mz.Stilletto

    I’ve been saying this same thing for years. Ever since I was young, I knew I didn’t want children – EVER. And yet, all kinds of people – from family members to total strangers – keep telling me that I’ll change my mind someday, and that I *NEED* to have a baby! My answer is always that I am WAY too selfish to have children, and I love my free time and disposable income too much to have kids. And I am certainly NOT the “mommy” type.
    And yet, when I say that, people STILL glance knowingly at each other with their smug little smirks and say things like, “Oh, you just wait! We’ll see you in five years with a bunch of kids attached to you!” at which point I shudder in disgust at the very thought. Not only is it rude and arrogant for people to think that just because I was born a female, I NEED to procreate, but it’s really nobody’s business but mine.
    And if they still say to me, “Oh, when are you going to have a bay-beee, you should have a bay-beeeee, you NEED to have a BAY-BEEEE!!”, then I tell them to take that sentence and replace the word “baby” with the word “cancer” and that will pretty well indicate my feelings on the subject!!
    That usually shuts them up. :)

  • katliz

    “Perhaps it’s because they don’t like them very much.”
    I can’t remember the last time an article’s subhead made me want to turn cartwheels and scream “hallelujah”! As I approach my mid-thirties, I’ve noticed more often than not how cruel and judgemental people can be toward the ‘childfree-by-choice’ crowd. I get that my mom is disappointed (she WOULD make a wonderful grandmother), but the snarky comments I get from business assoicates or the wives of my husband’s friends are enough to make me want to lose my shit.
    I don’t like children, peroid. I don’t like the noise they make, their lack of reasoning skills, the TV programs my formerly sane friends are forced to watch with their kids, etc., etc. I don’t know if I am missing a parenting gene or if disliking children is just something that has developed in my nature, but it is what it is.
    I DON’T LIKE THEM. My husband doesn’t like them. Thank you, Reason Mag, for reminding me that this is okay. Every other day of my life I am made to feel like some sort of social pariah.

  • vtcheme

    I’ve been saying this same thing for years. Ever since I was young, I knew I didn’t want children – EVER. And yet, all kinds of people – from family members to total strangers – keep telling me that I’ll change my mind someday, and that I *NEED* to have a baby! My answer is always that I am WAY too selfish to have children, and I love my free time and disposable income too much to have kids. And I am certainly NOT the “mommy” type.
    You took the words out of my mouth. (Although it would be “daddy” type in my case.) I realized when I was 12 that I just don’t like kids. Almost 20 years later and nothing has changed.
    My mother held out hope for grandkids for years, but finally admitted defeat a few years ago. (I’m an only child.)

  • katliz

    @ Mz.Stilletto:
    Amen, my sister. Again, feels good to hear some likeminded feelings toward something I feel quite strongly about.
    When I get the “Oh, just you wait” line, I usually respond with this: “You know those people who accidentally leave their kids in hot cars in the summer, and everyone says ‘how awful that a child would die that way’ and ‘that person should have never been a parent’? I could be that kind of parent, so I’m saving my child’s life by not giving it life.”
    Seriously, I am a completely forgetful person who lives in her head half the time, riding elevators 20 stories past the floor I needed to get off on. I KNOW I would not make an even decent parent, and damn it, I’d like someone to thank me for realizing this and not bring a helpless human into the world.
    *exhale* Ok, feel better, getting back to work now.

  • triskelion

    I do agree that people shouldn’t be having “lots of babies” because of over-population concerns. In fact, I wish I could say I don’t want to have children but I have not out-evolved that pesky drive to reproduce. I think it’s fucking ridiculous that people have issues with other people making the decision NOT to reproduce. I have an aunt and uncle whom have no children and I have always loved dearly and I was dismayed to hear my other aunt (a mother and grandmother) make a snarky comment about they “didn’t like children and had never changed a diaper.” If they didn’t like children, they certainly never let it on to me as a child because I loved loved loved seeing them. And it’s pretty fucking lame to expect that everyone is going to get some sort of magical fulfillment from scraping baby shit off a screaming child.

  • http://feministstotherescue.blogspot.com FEMily!

    This is when I like Big Brothers/Big Sisters. You can have all the fun with a kid without the responsibility of taking care of one full time. I do like kids, but the idea of popping one out and raising one doesn’t appeal to me at all.
    And I do love that Simpsons episode. “PPASSCCATAG is also a disease of the brain stem.” Everything I know I learned from that show.

  • elizabear

    I love it, I love it, I love it.
    I have never wanted kids (I’m 25) and I alway get the ‘you’ll change your mind’ line. I always tell people that when they say that to me, it just makes me more set in my ways.
    Would I be a good mom? Yes. Would my parents be amazing grandparents? Yes, because they were wonderful parents to me. But I do not like kids, I do not find them appealing, and I believe that in the time it would take to be dedicated to raising a kid (or two or three), I can invest myself in causes that need the help and that I care about.
    And triskelion, your last line was priceless. I laughed out loud at my desk.

  • betty

    I think it’s a feminist issue that so many childless here thought they need to frame their decision in selfishness or that they’d somehow be a horrible parent.
    There’s not need to “level” to the accuser. To make the accuser feel better by putting yourself down.
    Just say you don’t want to be a parent – you don’t want to have kids. If it’s a puzzle, it’s a puzzle to them.
    Frankly, I wish people would not have children as “old age caretakers” or have children because it’s the thing to do or have children because they want to be a stay at home mom, but they don’t particularly like kids (yes, there are those), or have kids to shut up their spouse or family — or have kids just on that birth control failure.
    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There is no more of a pro-life position than to have every child be a wanted child and every parent to be a chosen parent absolutely.

  • Kali Ma

    @Mz. Stilletto & vtcheme “And I am certainly NOT the “mommy” type.”
    C’mon now. What IS the “mommy type?” I may or may not be “the mommy type,” but I’m a kick-a$$ mom. I dislike the notion that there is a “mommy type” that we can collectively look down upon.

  • Mz.Stilletto

    Kali Ma – JEEBUS, seriously? Now I’m being *tsk’d* over my use of the phrase “mommy type”? Good grief!!
    I am not “collectively looking down” on the supposed “mommy types”, nor am I encouraging anyone else to do so. I’m just saying I’M NOT ONE. Is that OK with you? That I don’t feel like a “mommy” in any conceivable way? Seriously, if I had a kid, I’d be the kind to stick it in a cage hanging from the ceiling and forget about it for a few days. Do you still disagree that I should be labeled NOT a “mommy type”??
    Try to put away your knee-jerk reactions once in a while; they’re not helpful. I’m real happy for you that you’re a kick-ass mom, but personally, I couldn’t even give a shit. No offense. But surely someone will be offended anyways – someone always is.

  • walkingundine

    I am so, so tired of having to apologize for this, but it’s a touchy subject so here goes.
    Your kids are fine for you. Enjoy them; I’m sure they’re marvelous little people. I do not have kids, and I do not want kids. Please don’t take it personally. It’s nothing to do with you.
    Also I am so so tired of people telling me I’ll change my mind because it’s what every woman wants, and aren’t I greedy/selfish for not having at least one child?
    If refusing to bear a child I don’t want is selfish, then yeah I guess I am. If insisting that the only way to be a fulfilled woman is to bear children when the world is full of unwanted children already- I was one, I should know- then I do not need that fulfillment.
    Again, mothers, fathers, this is not about you or your kids. This one choice, this one decision is about me, and me alone, and that’s pretty much the way I want it.

  • prof/activist

    I don’t mind children. It is usually parents who piss me off. Not to mention a culture that rewards parenthood with everything from tax breaks to baby showers to minivans with multiple juice-box-sized cup holders to anxiety for women who choose not to bear children. That really gets me, too. But not as much as parents themselves. Ugh. Give me children any day!

  • Suzy

    I think one day i might want like one kid, but thats after I can have years of a disposable income and living it up and traveling so I don’t see that for a VERY long time (i’m only 20 so at the very least 10 years).
    I hate when people say that I’ll change my mind about babies and have like 12. I don’t like babies that much, but I think it’d be cool waaaaaaaaay later on.
    In the meantime, i’m enjoying buying books and shoes.

  • Kristen

    “Perhaps it’s because they don’t like them very much.”
    See…I didn’t like this part at all. I hate the implication that I must dislike children just because I don’t want one of my own.
    I love kids. They are generally adorable and far more intelligent than we give them credit for and always thought provoking. I see a baby (even the atrocious ones) and go awe…isn’t he just the cutest little thing.
    But some people insist that I’m either in denial or a child-hater because I don’t want to have one of my own.
    Why does not having children have to mean that you think they’re vile little creatures? (Answer: probably because you’re being demonized for being the baby factory the patriarchy demands.)
    I like them…but I don’t want my entire world to revolve around them (for any period of time really) particularly one that I can’t pick and sure as hell can’t return.

  • Mezosub

    The “You’ll change your mind” comment is a whole bunch of misogynistic projection. For some reason, parents seem to believe the childfree people, especially childfree women, are getting away with something by not having children.
    The common standby of “You’ll change your mind” is a feeble attempt to insult and shame childfree women (by essentially calling them immature) and make them feel unsure of themselves. It rarely works anymore.
    Take heart that once you get past 40, those comments tend to slow somewhat.

  • http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=7951639350 lizadilly

    I think another reason the children-are-the-best-thing-that-can-happen-to-you myth persists is because having kids is such a HUGE and irreversible change, having room for doubt, for the possibility that “it might not work for you” is just unbearably intimidating. When people have kids they need to take a leap of faith that it will make them happy. When feminists go around pointing out the complexity of parenthood, they get shushed because they are challenging the guarantee of “fulfillment.” That’s too much for a lot of folks to think about.
    In general I think the whole “selfish” argument is BS. Do people who have kids really do it for the future economic stability of their population? No. They do it because they guess it will make THEM happy, it will give THEM the lives they want, so THEY will have someone to take care of them when they’re old. We all make our life choices for SELFISH reasons, some just have different preferences. And I think the people who call vol-childless people “selfish” are the ones who realized too late that they are not cut out for parenthood, and probably would have had a happier life sans family. Basically, they are jealous.

  • MyBabyPanda

    Wow this is SO ME. I really have never liked kids – I was reading some of my old high school/middle school journals and even in THERE I said “I don’t think I need to have kids to be happy”. I never sayinever, and maybe my opinion will change, but maybe it won’t. I DO know that if I choose to have any, I will only have one and will not use fertility treatments.
    I’m very comfortable in this choice but a lot of people seem to think I’m just young and naive for thinking this, or a sour, nasty person for not liking children. They also like to say that since I enjoy “feminine activities” like cooking, baking, knitting and gardening, I’ll naturally want to have 4 kids. The thought makes me shudder….

  • http://scootermom scootermom

    I decided long ago that I didn’t want children. Whenever someone asked me the “when are you going to have kids question,” my answer was “never.” I got more than my share of knowing smiles in return and the “oh you will someday” comments.
    Well guess what? I never had kids. I’m now 47 years old and quite happy with the way my life turned out. I’m not old and lonley. I’m not dissatisfied. My life is great. Fortunately, I met my husband, who also had no desire for children, about 18 years ago and we’ve been selfishly happy ever since.
    Yea, we put up with massive shit from our families about our selfishness in not producing the desired male grandchild. So fucking what! I told my father in law that if he really wanted a grandson that bad, I’d spawn it if he’d raise it. That shut him up.
    Yes, I admit I’m selfish. I like my clean and quite house. I like that I can do what I want, when I want. I like the freedom of just having adults in the house.
    Any maternal feeling I have, I lavish on my dogs. One of whom is Scooter.

  • lizmosphere

    I’m sure there have always been just as many women (and men) who didn’t want children as there are now. The difference is that access to reliable contraception and abortion are historically very new. I am childless by choice and without reproductive rights I know my life would be very different.

  • MyBabyPanda

    Along these lines, I was once having a conversation with an older male colleague of mine who lives in the suburbs with his wife and children (my nightmare). I told him I can’t imagine commuting for hours a day on the train b/c it would interfere with my personal life and he said, “Well, maybe when it’s not just you you’ll feel different.” Ugh it pissed me off so much. Don’t assume I’m going to have children just because I’m a woman, and don’t assume I’ll make the same lifestyle choices as you! It also made me mad b/c his wife stays at home with the rug rats, so the implication that I would be a suburban SAHM was there as well…

  • under_zenith

    I agree that: “Because they don’t like them very much” doesn’t really cover it. There are lots of people out there who do like children but for various reasons don’t want any of their own. Those people may prefer to be great aunts or uncles, or volunteer with children, or work with children (my sister is a teacher and is in no hurry to have children because: “I work with children all day. I don’t need to see them when I get home too!”)

  • GopherII

    “I’ve been saying this same thing for years. Ever since I was young, I knew I didn’t want children – EVER. And yet, all kinds of people – from family members to total strangers – keep telling me that I’ll change my mind someday, and that I *NEED* to have a baby!”
    Ditto. I’ve had family members tell me that since I first told them (when I was about 3) that I didnt want kids. My family still talks like I’ll change my mind saying things like, “here, take this (some family memento) because when you have kids I want them to have it.” Its like theyre in denial. Even when I went into my last doctors appointment I asked if I could have my tubes tied (I was about 22). The doctor (whos a woman) asked me why. I told her I didnt want kids, and she acted like she was thrown off course. She asked why, assuming that I was a lesbian and simply thought because of that I couldnt have kids. I told her no, its just that I dont want kids!
    (personally I identify as bi, and have a bias for lesbian familys-I just dont want one).

  • UltraMagnus

    This is where having nieces and nephews comes in handy:) Parents get the grandkids and you get to play with the babeez but hand them back at the end of the day.
    I do not want kids and like many here I always get the “you’ll change your mind someday” answer or, worse, “Yes you do,” which for some reason will send me into the red faster than anything. I think it’s because I don’t like having people who 1)aren’t me or 2)don’t know me, assume they know my “true” feelings on the matter.
    I am not selfish because I don’t want kids. I don’t hate kids but really can only take them in small doses.
    And my reply now for people who tell me I’ll want kids is, “Well, Jesus didn’t seem to think they were necessary so why should I? That is, unless you believe some contraversial version of the story.” ;)
    Usually I’ll get stunned stares and some stammering about Jesus having more “important” things to do, to which I reply, “So do I.” That usually ends the conversation.

  • katie

    to be honest, i think alot of people act shocked, or say “you will change your mind” or accuse the childless of being selfish (the ones that are the most vehement about it anyway) bc they are actually very insecure about their own choice and may have reservations about what they cannot change. so i think alot of it comes from jealousy and the wish that everyone be as miserable or unhappy as they are. thats not to say that everyone with kids is miserable or unhappy, but i just think there are probably lots that regret their choice (which doesnt mean they dont love their children) and are afraid to just own up to it.

  • RedPersephone

    Gopher II: I’ve heard others say the same thing: when they want their tubes tied, the doctor thinks they’re lesbian. Which makes no sense. Lesbian sex can result in pregnancy? It’s pretty obvious they haven’t thought that one through, probably because there’s so much societal pressure to reproduce. I know plenty of people who shouldn’t have had kids, but felt that they had to, or that it would fill some void in their soul if they did.
    Btw, I plan on having kids at some point, but not until I’m financially and emotionally in the right place. Family members remind me in not-so-subtle ways that my biological clock is ticking, even though I’m only 26. I am so ready for society to stop telling us women that they know what’s best for our bodies and lives. Good for those of you who know what you want and are sticking up for it.

  • mgt

    That lesbian comment in response to a request to get your tubes tied just seems bizarre to me – I mean, if your reason for not wanting kids is that you’re a lesbian, well that just sort of takes care of itself….
    Personally, I’ve had mixed feelings about having kids throughout my life, but I’ve wanted them less and less as I’ve gotten older. Now I’m 36 and I know I’ll never have them. I love kids, but I also love my life the way it is and being able to do what I want. Kids change everything.
    I have to say, however, that I have never felt pressured to have kids. Because of my work and lifestyle, I am surrounded by feminists and cool people. But even in my extended family, I’ve never been pressured. Of the five sets of cousins in my family, one of us in each set has never had children, and I’ve never even heard anyone say anything about that.
    The one conversation I remember having with my mom about it – probably 10-15 years ago – I said something about her wanting grandchildren. She said that should be completely irrelevant to my decisions since I was the one who would actually have to raise the kids. Now my sister has two fabulous kids so that’s been taken care of.

  • http://lucikali.wordpress.com L-K

    I agree that: “Because they don’t like them very much” doesn’t really cover it. There are lots of people out there who do like children but for various reasons don’t want any of their own.
    Interestingly enough, I usually hear “I do like children, but it’s just not for me,” more so than the reverse, when people who don’t want kids make an attempt to explain why they don’t want them.
    I don’t like kids, and I have no shame in saying that. I don’t want kids, not because I don’t biologically have to fulfill an obligation to procreate, not because there’s enough people already, not because the world is fucked up, not because of “carbon footsteps” as one person already mentioned, but because I don’t like kids. Have there been moments where I’ve tolerated, hell probably enjoyed, the presence of one? Sure, but it’s those rare, rare occurrences, in which the child in question has possessed an intelligence, temperament, and comprehension way beyond their age. But even then it’s just cute for a while, and back to their parent/s they go.
    Some people have tried to “shame” me for admitting so by stating the obvious: “but, you were a kid once.” No shit, Sherlock, no shit.
    Usually I’ll get stunned stares and some stammering about Jesus having more “important” things to do, to which I reply, “So do I.” That usually ends the conversation.
    Oh, nice comeback…noting it down.

  • vtcheme

    UltraMagnus: I am going to pass that comment about Jesus on to some of my friends who don’t want a child. :)

  • purdueattorney

    Sera –
    Free market advocates are usually pro-immigrant, anti-war and want people to succeed. This is not a zero-sum game I am talking about.
    And yes, I do think that feminism should be about careers and productivity. I want my daughter to grow up to be a fully independent adult who can pursue her own career, goals and agenda without being told how by the “labor loving left�. I want to her to have the ability to have a family if she sees fit, and when she sees fit. I don’t want her to have to be dependent on a husband or the government. In fact, one of my roles as a parent is to make sure my children (both my daughter and my son) have the skill set to succeed in the open market.
    As an atheist, I was amused that you used the religious language to describe supporters of the free market. It is actually the “mixed economy� that supports coercive hierarchies and rich white western men. When business gets into bed with government, it is the poor and minorities who suffer most. One of the reasons I support the free market, in contrast, is that it is the best way of raising living standards across the board.
    You stated that: “the labor-loving left is full of fair and rational human beings.� Setting aside the organized crime element, this is just historically inaccurate. It was the labor-loving left that tried to benefit white men at the expense of minorities. The 40-hour work week, 8 hour day and anti-open shop elements of labor were directly meant to shut out non-white laborers. It was the labor loving left that looked the other way while millions starved to death in the communist block, supported eugenics and basically tried to “whiten� the country. These aren’t the policies of the free market and its supporters. Last time I checked colonialism and the like was a result of mercantilism, not free markets and capitalism.
    But what burns me up the most is that somehow my belief that the free market is a good thing supposedly disqualifies me from wanting the best for my wife and daughter. As if I would want to see either of them subservient to any person or government. I can understand,and agree with, the opposition to social conservatives, but why should I have to buy into Leftist economic policies to believe that women are people too.

  • http://leading-lady.blogspot.com/ Bea

    See, the thing is, I like kids. I like talking to them, hearing what they have to say and what they’re discovering about the world. When I was younger and went to Take Your Daughter to Work day with my mom, who is an early childhood special ed teacher, one kid latched onto me for the day and talked his pregnant mother into naming the baby after me. I used to babysit and had a damn good time playing dinosaurs and watching Disney movies with the kid.
    But I don’t want any myself. I don’t want another human being depending on me that completely. I’m going into theater. It’s going to be hard enough keeping -myself- fed and clothed, let alone another person. I’ll probably have to move around. I’m going to have to work a lot to stay alive. So unless I had a partner who somehow had a higher paying job AND more time to spend with the kid, I don’t think that would be a great way to grow up. If I were going to be a parent, I’d want to be the kind of parent *my* parents were, and offer the same kind of love and support and wisdom. I can’t do that if I’m going to live the life I want. And I’m not going to restructure the course of my life for somebody else. It makes my mom a little sad sometimes, but she’s pretty much accepted it, and is looking forward to my brothers having kids someday. They want to, and they’ll be awesome dads.
    . . . my dad still thinks I’ll change my mind. And I don’t dare say anything about it to my extended family, because they’d think it terribly selfish of me not to become a baby machine.

  • Persephone

    I’ve decided that I probably won’t have children either, but instead adopt children. I would have a very hard time actually giving birth to a child when there are so many children being brought into the world by people who don’t have the resources/emotional maturity/mental stability to care for them and so they end up in foster care. But even just wanting to adopt children instead of giving birth to them gets me self-satisfied looks from people. You know, that, “Oh, you’ll change your mind later” look, or occasionally a comment along the lines of, “If you can have children why would you adopt?” Which PISSES ME OFF.
    It’s not like I don’t WANT children, I just don’t want to GIVE BIRTH to children. And STILL people are weirded out. I don’t get it…what is this society’s hang-up with choosing not to give birth or have babies?

  • http://missclairol.blogspot.com The Brunette

    Not having children appeals to me because while people would criticize me, I’d only be criticized for that one thing.
    Meanwhile, parents will be constantly told that they’re raising their kids wrong, no matter what they do. I know years and years of all those criticisms would hurt me more than the criticism I’d receive when I say I don’t want kids.

  • wanderwoman

    I chose not to be a teacher, a firefighter, a lawyer. I am not writing a thread about how awful the day to day lives of people in those professions are. (the hands full of chalk, the pain of burns and high cancer rates, the real drudgery of paperwork and protocol.
    As far as I can see, any profession, including my chosen one (not talking about parenting here) has its share of drudgery, financial challenges (if you follow a career in the arts say) and awful days dealing with bad bosses, editors or clients.
    I am not writing in defense of motherhood. I am writing to say that there is a bent in feminist discourse I find awkward.
    I understand that for women it is different: that the choice to be a mother has traditionally been expected, but also under-respected. I understand that childless women are tired of well-meaning and even nasty comments and inquiries and of feeling like they failed expectations. That is what the women in this thread are venting.
    No one who doesn’t want to have kids should feel obliged to have them. The job is tough and demanding – I have two.
    Still, I have noticed as I parent two girls that men and women (often childless) can treat the choice to parent is somehow a feminist failure, or at least a burden on the economy, as attested by the first comment which says that only those who can afford to have children should have them. (now only rich women should have kids.)
    I want to say that I think the work woman and men do to raise kids (feminist, world changing kids) to be respected, not in the “that’s the work god meant you to do, so give up the rest of your life” manner of respect. But in a way that matters: that there is real support for those who decide to raise kids(access to daycare, incentives, work flexibility), that we aren’t parenting in a vacuum, that we don’t have to lose so much of our income just because we chose to share our lives with, admittedly, little tyrants (but cute ones to us, at least as cute as the dog Monty is to his (her) owner.
    A feminist of my aquaintence said to me that an educated women who decide to raise kids are “wasting their degrees”, that they should be using their education to further the feminist cause instead of changing diapers and introducing a new one to the world.
    Children are still pretty important to this world – global footprint and overpopulation taken into account. They are essential to community and essential, I think, to understanding oneself. That does not mean that breeding (I am not using contractions because my eight-month-old decided to help type my message and somehow changed the setting to criatian language symbols…) is required of every woman, but that we recognize the importance of children in our society, that we are all a part of a family somehow and that we need to support families (I do not mean this in any right-wing christian way, but allowing women of many different backgrounds to have children without being so harshly penalized financially). Maybe I am thinking of France.
    Anyway, the older one, wants my participation in some imaginative drama involving talking donkeys, a death-defying rescue and magic.
    That said, I am coming to the end of my mat leave and am looking forward to more of my life not focusing on day to day demands of children, while my husband stays home while juggling part-time freelancing.
    We should not pretend parenting is easy or pretty or not full of days where someone does puke in your purse. But I want to feel respected for my choice as well…

  • janet

    “my formerly sane friends”
    Commenting that people who have children lose their sanity/interest/ability to hold a conversation/ambition are just as rude and infuriating as comments that the child-free are selfish. Both types of comments come from insecure people trying to make themselves feel better about their choices.

  • http://blogs.brocknet.net/eriepressible EmmaSteinfeld

    RE: being able to afford a child:
    I wouldn’t buy a car if I couldn’t afford the gas, maintenance, and insurance. Why would I have a child if I couldn’t afford the food, clothing, and childcare?

  • banana44

    wanderwoman and janet:
    what you said!!!

  • Persephone

    “I wouldn’t buy a car if I couldn’t afford the gas, maintenance, and insurance. Why would I have a child if I couldn’t afford the food, clothing, and childcare?”
    EXACTLY! How is it that people are getting ” only rich people should have kids” from “people who can’t afford children shouldn’t have them?” Being able to afford children isn’t necessarily the same as being rich. My aunt and my mother have been teachers for about ten years, so while neither one of them are rich, both of them can afford the children that they have without a whole lot of difficulty.

  • spirina

    wanderwoman: I completely agree with you.
    My mother, a lifelong feminist, has never worked more than part-time since she’s had kids (although she is a pre-school teacher, and most of those jobs are part-time). A lot of people find that to be incompatible with being a feminist, which she (and I) have never understood. My mother has always felt that it was her life’s calling to raise and teach kind, aware, mature kids (and make sure her chldren were feminists!) That doesn’t mean she isn’t a feminist, or doesn’t think that women should have full time careers and kids or no kids if they want, it simply means she wants kids for herself.
    While I think most people on this blog, and the majority of feminists, agree that women should have choices, and that any choice they make in terms of childbearing, careers and otherwise is valid, I think there is still a minority of feminists and mainstream society, that looks down on women who decide to raise children (just as there are those who look down upon women who choose the reverse.) Feminism is about choices, and making any of those choices shouldn’t diminish your feminist cred.

  • puckalish

    wanderwoman: on point!
    feminism is about liberation, right? why replace one set of judgements and strictures with yet another?
    brunette, that’s mad funny…

  • kryrinn

    “I don’t hate kids but really can only take them in small doses. ”
    Exactly. I worked at a summer camp, and I loved the kids – but it was really great to hand them off to the counselors at the end of the day. I think that if I were to have a kid, I’d end up getting so frustrated and annoyed that I wouldn’t give them the care they need.
    My best friend is planning on having two kids, and we’re both hoping to live within the same geographic area. So, she’s decided that I will teach her kids to ride and I can do the whole “teaching little girl to ride and taking her to horse shows thing”, and at the end of the day, they’re hers.
    And between my best friend and five siblings, I think I’ll end up with PLENTY of children to be around, if I so choose.
    If I want something that’s messy, eats it’s head off, is expensive, is always requiring new shoes, brings in plenty of medical bills, always needs something new and shiny…. I think I’ll get a horse.