No Kids For Me

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

By Jamie Page Deaton

My mother, who's no fool, had three children and three epidurals. She's described giving birth as more pressure than pain.

She doesn't know the half of it. As a childless woman, and one who plans to remain so, I feel so much pressure to defend my decision that I doubt any number of epidurals could help. I know I shouldn't have to justify my and my husband's choice not to have kids. Just the same, people feel the need to butt in.

"You'll change your mind eventually," coos a relative. If I asked her when she is going to change her mind about having kids and put the little ones on the curb, it would be an absurd question. Yet because I don't plan on having kids, my decision isn't considered permanent. You're not changing your mind about having kids. I'm not changing mine either.

"It'll be different with your own kids," smiles a friend. Really? I don't have a fascination or particular interest in anyone's kids. It is vain to assume that mine would be any different. I'm not willing to bring them into the world just to test that assumption.

"Accidents happen," winks another relative. Sure, birth control can fail, but the implication is that people might take joy when couple finds themselves with an unwanted pregnancy. In that statement there's also the implication that I don't know my own mind and on some level I might want an accident.

"You'd be such a good mom!" This one is the humdinger, and it always comes from my own mother. I hate to disappoint, but I lack the very first quality needed to be a good mom: I don't want to be one.

I don't like feeling that I have to be combative about my own choices. I don't have anything against kids; I've seen the bumper stickers and heard the songs--children are the future. They're just not part of mine.

Jamie Page Deaton lives and works in Herndon. She blogs regularly at www.pudgetummies.blogspot.com.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  October 10, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Comments

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Way to go for knowing what you want and for expressing it in a way that isn't immediately offensive or which mocks the choices of others (unlike Liz and some other posters yesterday). I do have children, but I've always felt like people who don't want to should be left alone. There is a secret part of me that will always wonder what my life would have been like without children, just as there's a part of me that wonders what my life would be like if I just stayed single. Jamie, stick to your message and don't let the badgering drag you down. . .

Posted by: My 2 Cents | October 10, 2006 7:38 AM

I think Emily Yoffe at Slate has the best response to those who are childless by choice:

http://www.slate.com/id/2143659/fr/rss/

Posted by: Cassandra | October 10, 2006 8:02 AM

I support your right not to have children. Not everyone wants a child. As someone who had a child later in life, there is a tremendous pressure placed on women to have children. I always disliked the assumptions that one who decides to not have children is too selfish. Contrary to many posters here, I think childless people can have just as fulfiling a life as those who have children.

Posted by: alex. mom | October 10, 2006 8:18 AM

Emily Yoffe? Obviously, it worked for her. To then assume it's a happy ending for everyone is condescending!

Posted by: Fract'l | October 10, 2006 8:21 AM

I often wonder what effect our childhood has on our own desire to have a family. I was never the nurturing type. At one point, I didn't even want to be married. Now, I'm married with one child and am hopeful that we will have many more children. What changed? It was a slow progression. My parents are divorced. Marriage didn't seem like a good idea to me initially. Kids represented changed and in my shattered world, change only meant more hurt. In my college years, I was fortunate to be exposed to friends who came from large, loving families. My eyes began to open. Marriage and kids didn't necessarily mean unhappiness. I met my husband several years later. He came from loving intact home and was hopeful about marriage and about kids. It made me hopeful too. Our first child was a leap of faith for me, but it the best leap I've ever taken. I don't really think it is a leap of faith any longer. I think kids are inherently good for you. I was reminded of this watching "Tsotsi" this weekend with my husband.

Posted by: Cassandra | October 10, 2006 8:23 AM

"Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life." Subtext: or, if it has nothing to do with balancing your life, should be designed to stoke passionate yet useless dialogue about the validity of choice filtered through self-serving bias interspersed with pleas for togetherness, temporarily sidelined by fanatics, and finally brought to a thoughtful, rational conclusion by a dad.

Posted by: Welcome to the guest blog | October 10, 2006 8:31 AM

My husband and I are proudly childfree. It is still amazing to me how others question our choices, when it's a deeply personal choice of whether or not to become a parent.

And it's not like I just decided this on a whim. This is after several years of mulling it over, the pros and the cons of each lifestyle.

In the end, I know that I would not make a good parent. My husband has said this too. So then why do it? Because everyone else does? Isn't that one of the very lessons parents teach their kids: "Don't jump off a bridge because your friends are doing it." I was told that all the time as a child. The same rule applies here.

I find it so interesting and perplexing when some people get so defensive and worked up over other people's decision to not have kids. I don't understand it. Is it because they feel threatened that someone making a different decision than them?

When people say "You'll regret it." Maybe, maybe not. Who knows? But if I ever did, I'd much rather live with the regret of not having children, than regretting I did, and having that resentment fester between me and my child. How horrible is that?

Posted by: literarygirl | October 10, 2006 8:36 AM

I am child-free and at this point, plan to remain so. There are times that I think that I might want to have kids, but then I always wonder, do I actually want them or do I simply want them because I am *supposed* to - I think that's the biggest issue I have - trying to figure out my own feelings versus those that I am supposed to have - we are taught that we are supposed to fall in love, get married, have children and grow old. Going against the grain can be difficult, especially when you are told, as I am, that I would be a great Mom - no, I'm a great aunt, to children that are not my own! :)

Posted by: Betty | October 10, 2006 8:42 AM

THANK YOU JAMIE! You said it all, I've heard all these same things since I starting saying at 15 that I never wanted to have kids. I'm not what you might call the mothering type, I don't have the patience for the lifestyle of today's parenting. I have ZERO maternal instinct, know nothing about infants and couldn't change a diaper if my life depended on it. I'm so confident in my decision to not have children that I've had my tubes permanently clipped. Like most of society, I've found that most OB/GYNs look down on this decision and it's hard to find one that will do it. I was finally able to have the proceedure completed at the age of 32, but would have been perfectly happy at the legal age of 18. Now when the subject comes up, I simple tell people I can't have them. Saves me a lot of hassle and annoyance. People make decisions about their lives, what they want or need out of life. Having kids does not complete some cycle of womenhood in the great scheme of life. Let me use a popular phrase intended for a different purpose, but greatly appropriate; "No means no".

Posted by: NoKids4Me | October 10, 2006 8:44 AM

Why is a "response" to those who decide to remain childless even necessary? That's the point the writer is making. (And, btw, I am pregnant with my first and so am not tainted as a "childless" person.) Different stroks, you know?

I often find that people who are parents view those who decide to remain childless as a symbolic slap in the face. That Emily Yoffe article reeks of that attitude. (Yes, some childless folks come off as smug about their decision, but plenty of parents are just as smug about their providing the next generation.)

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why anyone cares whether someone else decides to have a child or not.

Posted by: JS | October 10, 2006 8:50 AM

to Welcome to the guest blog - well said!

to Jamie - why do relatives think they can give unsolicited advice? it gets worse when children are involved. Good for you, live your life the way you want to, and ignore the naysayers.

Posted by: experienced mom | October 10, 2006 8:51 AM

As someone who will have kids, I still find very few statements more patronizing than the "you'll find out when you're a parent," "you'll change your mind," "you'll regret it," lines. If you find yourself in a situation where you can say one of those awfully condescending things, try to substitute it with, "I thought that too, but my kids just don't work that way" or "I'm glad I changed my mind," or "I would have regretted not having kids." Remember not everyone is like you, so try not to place your feelings on them.

Posted by: kate | October 10, 2006 8:54 AM

I received the same comments - "you will make a great mother, you will regret it", etc etc. I also had someone tell me - "it's people like you who should be having kids". Not sure what she meant by that, and I probably don't want to know.
I do love kids and I am a terrific aunt. I am amazed how people can juggle careers and parenthood, but also know it is something I cannot do. Fortunately as I have gotten older, the comments come less frequently.

Posted by: Missicat | October 10, 2006 8:54 AM

Several of my friends are childfree as well, and I applaud your well-thought-out, well-written summary of your choices (and a choice is precisely what expanding your family beyond yourself and your partner are).

I myself am a fence-sitter. I honestly don't know if I want children or not yet, but I am strongly leaning towards not, as is my personal right and yours. Congratulations on making your decision and sticking to your guns. :)

Posted by: Rock On | October 10, 2006 8:54 AM

I am a single woman. i just turned 30. I want to have kids someday but i want to be married first so, if i don't get married then i won't have kids. i just don't want to be a single mom. so it is something i want but i know might not happen for me. this statement is so hard for people to understand. i'd rather be alone than just get married to the "almost" right guy so i can have kids. And i know that it just may not happen for me.

The assumption that young women must procreate is wrong. some don't want to. some don't get the opportunity. some can't because of biology. It's just not meant for everyone, for various reasons.

Posted by: Wendy Kroy | October 10, 2006 8:58 AM

"it's people like you who should be having kids"

I think that was meant as a compliment, because unfortunately there are neglectful and abusive parents.

Posted by: experienced mom | October 10, 2006 8:58 AM

I'm childless and plan to stay that way. However, I've given this a lot of thought and have decided that if I ever change my mind....there are other options.

Foster parenting and/or adoption is always and option. I believe that you don't need to have an infant to discover your m/paternal abilities. Children of circumstance, regardless of age, need love and nuturing as much as anyone's own children. There has been a shortage of foster families in the US for many years. Those who might change their minds can open their minds and hearts.

Everyone must chose for themselves.

Posted by: MyLife | October 10, 2006 8:59 AM

The following post is rated for:
[X] Buffoonery
If foolishness is not your cup of tea, please skip this post. You've been warned!

The Tongue Test

I've noticed that there is an increasing presence of childless posters reading this blog. Some have come to know it as the funniest blog on the web, others seem to want to take a candid peek into what today's Mommies and Daddies are doing so they can better prepare themselves to bring another life into this world.

So, if you want to know how you will best fit in as a parent, and you are struggling with your decision on how to balance it all out, you clicked the right button. I've devised an online test that anyone can take that will show you where you are most comfortable in your childraising role: Stay at Home, Fulltime work, a little of each, or absolutely none at all.

Background
Did you ever hear that rumor that if you kept your eyes open while you sneezed, your eyes would pop out? Well, I tried it, and its true! really! Trust me on this one and don't try it it at home.

Here is another one, emotional rather than physical. You can't stick your tongue out without experienceing a feeling of silliness. The reason this is true is not quite known to psychologist, but the profession generally acknowledges intensional "tongue exposure" as a simple human act that emotes both humility and a small sense of eurphoria.

So herein lies the test. I call it the tongue test. Prepare yourself! Ready?

Now stick out your tongue.
.
.
.
Hold it there!
1
.
.
2
.
.
3
.
.
Now do the rassberry. Don't woory about getting the monitor a little wet, besides, you're looking at the words of Father of 4, and he, well I, am quite used to saliva...

PBTHPbThPbhTphbtTbhthPpbPhtbPtbHpbhpbbht.....

Very Good! Now for the scoring.

If you stuck your tongue out for the full 3 seconds and did the rassberry, great! You are the stay-at-home type and will absolutely love spending the majority of your time with children. The kids will love being with you because of your own self-acceptence and willingness to be silly just for the fun of it. so, go ahead, make a baby, make several babies, the serenity you will get out of breast feeding, piggy counting and booboo kissing will far surpass the satisfaction you will get from seeing a column of numbers all lined up in a row.

If you are like most people, you probably stuck your tongue out for a second, pulled it bak in, thought to yourself "Boy, that was stupid", and cracked a small smile of embarrasement even though nobody saw you do it. You are the type of person that will enjoy being with kids, but full-time will be exhausting and unfulfilling. So those of you who fall in this category, either find a partner that is willing to share the homeward responsibilities, or be willing to work at least part-time and hire a few helping hands to fill in the gaps. Family time with the ability to recharge will be critical for you to achieve maximum happiness. Oh, and keep coming back to this blog and post your stories on life-balance issues. If you stay and post long enough, people will come to know and respect you.

If you never got your tongue beyond your lips, try again. If you still can't do it, that's OK too. You can accept your role as the office puppy, wear the short corporate leash, and outsource your parenting responsibilities as much as possible. That doesn't mean you will make a bad parent, it just means that you should be willing to spend the time to provide a solid financial foundation. Your contrabution will be appreciated as long as you show up for a few photo opts and family gatherings. Expensive, trendy Christmas and birthday gifts are nice too. Your kids will love you for that alone.

Lastly, if you just spit without sticking your tongue out and gave a big "PHOOEY" and thought "Another load of BS from fo4", well, umm, lets just say you've probably made the right choice not to have any kids. There's nothing wrong with that. It takes all kinds to make the world go round.

Jamie, if you read this post, won't you be so kind to tell us how you scored ont the tongue test. I think a lot of us would like to know.

Hope this helps.

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 10, 2006 9:00 AM

I just love that anytime someone posts their own opinion on this blog, that there are lots of people who feel the need to write in and say "don't apply your opinions to me...blah blah blah".

It's called an opinion people, we all have one. They are ours! Not yours!

That being said - while I have 2 kids, and love them, I can certainly see why people would choose not to have them. I think if we were more accepting of this decision to not have kids, and if people didn't think that everyone should have them, we'd have alot less unwanted pregnancies and abused children. Face it - not everyone is cut out to be a parent. It is really hard! I see these people at the playground and the grocery store everyday - yelling at their kids, belittling them, etc.

My husband and I decided that the two we have is just right for us. But his mom is constantly asking me if I'm pregnant again. I've already told her the factory is closed! (Got the 5-year IUD last year). Not ready to permanently say I'm having no more children, but this is the first step to it. Assuming I leave it in the full five years, I'll be 39 when it comes out and my youngest will be 6.

Of course people could hypothetically change their minds, but there is no need to point that out to them, or to try to convince them to do so. Unless you are willing to take the baby off their hands when they decide their original decision was correct, than just butt out!

Posted by: gs | October 10, 2006 9:06 AM

As someone who has decided (along with my fiance) to remain childless - and adopt greyhounds instead - I found this blog refreshing. Nothing irritates me more than people telling me what I AM going to do with my life - "you'll change your mind", etc. I have not wanted children for as long as I can remember (third grade to be exact). And it has nothing to do with my upbringing or dislike of children. My parents were wonderful. And I'm fine with kids - I love coaching youth swimming (I've been doing so since I was 15) and my baby-sitting charges love me. Children are fine as long as they go home with their parents at the end of the day. I'd much rather be the person who can share my passions with many children and 'spell' the parents for a bit...

Posted by: hounds not kids | October 10, 2006 9:10 AM

I don't think there's anything wrong with not wanting children - I know a lot of people who are childless by choice and it works for them. I don't expect everyone to be married, or to have children, and I think it's great that people can choose a lifestyle that makes them happy.

I, however, see a different interpretation of the remark "You'd be such a good mom" - I think it is intended to be a compliment, that someone who says it believes that you have the right qualities and makeup to be a loving, nurturing, interesting parent.

On the flip side, I think we have all known people that we didn't quite "see" as a parent. Of course many of them do a great job and in retrospect we feel silly wondering how they would tackle parenthood.

Posted by: Vienna mom | October 10, 2006 9:13 AM

"It takes all kinds to make the world go round."

And it takes all kinds to parent-- if you don't stick your tongue out and act silly all the time, maybe the other stay at home parents will appreciate it. Being a stay at home parnet can be a wonderful experience and it is not necessary to give up your maturity or diginity to do it!

Posted by: Capitol Hill mom | October 10, 2006 9:16 AM

I remember when someone asked feminist icon Gloria Steinhem why she did not want children, how a woman of her intelligence, talent, et al, was remiss in not reproducing. She responded that all her maternal instincts had been fulfilled by the very long caregiving necessitared by her mother's illness. Sometimes there are other reasons to remain 'childfree' and they may simply have to do with resources--financial and practical ones--- and physical and emotional exhaustion.

Posted by: Ritamae | October 10, 2006 9:16 AM

"It takes all kinds to make the world go round."

And it takes all kinds to parent-- if you DON'T stick your tongue out and act silly all the time, maybe the other stay at home parents will appreciate it. Being a stay at home parnet can be a wonderful experience and it is not necessary to give up your maturity or dignity to do it!

Posted by: Capitol Hill mom | October 10, 2006 9:16 AM

We came to the child-free decision the roundabout and hard way, through infertility treatment and unsuccessfully trying to adopt. When we realised we were happy as we were (and I was getting pretty close to my deadline - didn't want to be 50 with a child in kindergarten) we said ok, that's it, we'll be happily child-free, and we are. Looking back on it, I don't think I would have done it any differently, since we really did want children at the time we were trying to be parents, but I think someone was giving us the big hint that we just weren't meant to be. We are the cool, fun aunt and uncle, and that's just fine by us!

Posted by: anon | October 10, 2006 9:19 AM

I was once absolutely sure I didn't want to get married, and my mom used to drive me insane with her hints and "you'll change your mind" stuff. I felt her attitude was disrespectful of my decisions as an adult. Then again, I actually did change my mind eventually, and I'm glad I stayed flexible. "Never say never," as the saying goes.

I'm not saying Jamie will change her mind about kids, or that she "should" want them. But I think that a lot of people have experienced that "I never thought I would do X, but here I am doing it and I love it" scenario in the course of their lives, so that's probably what they're thinking in regard to Jamie's choices. It's annoying, but I don't think they mean to be condescending or hurtful either.

Posted by: 2Preschoolers | October 10, 2006 9:23 AM

Thank you Jamie for bringing up this topic. The one thing that I keep hearing from childfree people is that they just are not interested in raising children. They don't feel emotionally drawn to raising children. I wonder how many people choose to abstain from raising children because of balance. They have jobs that require too much time or not enough me or couple time. Or is it simply they are not interested regardless of their work/life balance situation. And people who want kids figure a way to balance it all. I respect people's decision to be childfree. I have a child and she is the best thing that happened to me. But I fully appreciate others choosing not to do it. It is a labor of love and if your not interested it is probably just the labor part.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 10, 2006 9:28 AM

Yes, my shameless begging on the achenblog worked. Father of 4 is back.

I have childless friends and have never once thought about why they don't want kids. It's their choice not mine. However, once when I was pregnant another girl my age at work looked at a childless colleague and ask her if she wanted kids. The women was polite and said that she was happy with her husband and her cat.

It's just best not to ask people if they want kids, why they don't have them, etc. You never know if someone lost a child, can't have them or simply doesn't want them. It's really none of your business.

Although the best response to why someone doesn't have kids came from one of my friends, which is: "we'd like to have kids, but we just don't know how to go about doing that, can you explain to me how you make children."

I always thought it was funny.

Posted by: scarry | October 10, 2006 9:30 AM


Had a cousin and her husband who loved to lecture at family gatherings how they never wanted to have children [many of the same statements I've seen here]. Many of the relatives gave the same 'You'll change your mind' comments.

My grandmother, however, had the best response -- she told them to stand their ground and that "The world is a better place because of your decision not to procreate."

My cousin always thought it was a compliment :-)

Posted by: FWIW | October 10, 2006 9:32 AM

I agree with hounds not kids. I like kids, I have loads of patience, and I have worked with kids with different levels of ability for several years.

But I don't want my own. I think that I would be a much more fulfilled person being able to take care of other people's kids and donating my time and money to help people and animals of all ages than if I devoted all my time to my one kid.

And my family is wonderful and loving. My husband's is too. I can't think of a "reason" for why we don't want kids. Maybe I was dropped on my head or something, or maybe my husband ate paint chips.

I have heard all of those remarks ("you'll change your mind" being my favorite). I have now started telling people that I am not able to have kids. It really had gotten to the point that I didn't feel like defending myself anymore.

Posted by: Meesh | October 10, 2006 9:32 AM

Scarry, I love that answer! I have to use it next time the in-laws ask when we're going to have "the next little [hislastname]"!!

Posted by: Meesh | October 10, 2006 9:37 AM

Adults make choices. Busy bodies make noise.

Posted by: Steve | October 10, 2006 9:37 AM

Having just submitted my bio for my 40th High School reunion this topic is fresh on my mind. If I may quote myself concerning my wife's and my position:

"We never wanted kids of our own and are in awe of all of you that have successful handled the trials and tribulations (and expense!) of parenthood. We don't doubt for a second that the joys are innumerable but I am often reminded of the New Yorker cartoon which pictures a man and woman walking down a city sidewalk with the caption, "Of course I want children, Claire, just not all the time.""

Posted by: pryorcommitments | October 10, 2006 9:40 AM

Interesting question, foamgnome. I don't have any children and probably won't ever have any. In my case, it's partly because hubby and I lead lives that feel quite busy and full and can't really imagine how children would fit in. I also have a medical condition that can be exacerbated by stress, so I don't think I'm cut out for the harried life of a working mother. On the other hand, I can't imagine myself as a SAHM either, as I'd go bonkers from the lack of intellectual stimulation. (I've been a very curious bookworm type since my own childhood.)

Posted by: Anon. | October 10, 2006 9:41 AM

I spent many years thinking I'd never have kids. I had a good amount of childhood low-grade-trauma to get over.

When we were childless by choice, all the comments from friends, family, and yes, total strangers just rolled off my back. I had no problem making a joke of it, and most importantly, no problem defending my own views.

Well, 30 rolled around, and our 10-year-anniversary, and I became more secure and more flexible. Plus, we thought that while the last ten had been fun, but we didn't need to do bars and extreme vacations anymore. We thought kids would be a great way to transition to a new part of life.

Lo and behold, all the money we spent on birth control over the years was a total waste. It didn't happen for us. It's ok, we're still great together, with a wonderful life. However, those well-meaning souls who still say what wonderful parents we'd be, and ask us about our plans for "a family"-- (as if the two of us weren't family enough)-- well, it's getting a lot harder to take. I fear one day I'm just going to snap at some simpering in-law. How embarrassed will she be when she hears that we're not just procrastinating, that we're not just one good argument away from tossing the pills? I hope I'm never so unkind as to put someone in that position...

In short, anyone tempted to bring up the very personal matter of reproduction should remember, you're not the first person to say it, and eventually, whatever our reasons may be, we all get tired of hearing it.

Posted by: WDC | October 10, 2006 9:42 AM

I'm always pleased when folks can admit that they'd make crappy parents and they spare potential children from suffering. People who say they don't want kids are about as self-centered as it gets. Can't afford to give up that Sunday morning lounging in Starbucks pouring over the newspaper? Get a REAL life and get over yourself.

Posted by: Anon | October 10, 2006 9:43 AM

" I can't imagine myself as a SAHM either, as I'd go bonkers from the lack of intellectual stimulation."

Intellectual stimulation need not stop at the threshold of your home. You can be curious and intellectual AND not get paid for it.

Posted by: C. Sagan | October 10, 2006 9:45 AM

I was pleased to see an article like this in a major newpaper. Most of time, views like this are pushed to the fringes by our society. My wife and I are in our early to mid 30's and are childfree.

We have very full lives. We can't possibly see how children would make our lives better. We don't hate children. My wife is actually a 4th grade teacher. We just don't want to have any of our own.

We also respect the rights of others to make their own decision on this issue, which is something that I really can not say about our friends and family with kids. They seem to make it their goal in life to convert others to the cult of babyhood.

Posted by: Jerry | October 10, 2006 9:50 AM

I'd go bonkers from the lack of intellectual stimulation. (I've been a very curious bookworm type since my own childhood.)
***************
Kids are actually quite intellectually stimulating. As a philosophy major, it has been fascinating watching my child become a sentient being. As he grows older, I know he'll have queries about all of the "big" questions-What is our purpose? Is there a God? What does it mean to be human? I also look forward to sharing my own love of books with my children. Your passions don't have to go by the wayside when you have kids. They are part of who you are and a gift that you share with your family.

Posted by: Cassandra | October 10, 2006 9:54 AM

I don't really see it as the cult of babyhood. I believe parents have honestly experienced a transformation, a complete overhauling of their lives, for the positive.

Haven't you ever tried to set up a friend on a date, just because being in love is so great? I sure have.

That said, I'm with you. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Our marriage, our life is frankly perfect. Kids would upset the balance we've worked to achieve.

Posted by: To Jerry: | October 10, 2006 9:55 AM

Comments like Anon's are exactly why this blog is 90% useless. Is there something inherent in us as people that makes us judge other people so harshly, just because they made a decision that is different from our own? Childfree people are not hurting anyone or themselves. They've made a choice that works for them, mind your own business.

Posted by: gradstudent | October 10, 2006 9:56 AM

I am 50. My husband and I have two sons, 21 and 15. We love them dearly and wouldn't trade them for the world. They have brought us great joy. That said, parenthood isn't for everyone and a childless person's (or couple's) life can be just as rewarding as ours. I know two couples well who are my age, childless by choice, and very happy, interesting people. As with everything in life, there are tradeoffs. It's a matter of finding the right balance for you, which is a very individual thing, not "one size fits all." Jamie and her husband seem to have made the right choice for them, which is all any of us (regardless of which "option" we choose) can hope for.

Posted by: Older & wiser | October 10, 2006 9:59 AM

There is nothing more selfish in this world than not raising children. It's not a personal choice, it's a societal choice. Before I had kids I volunteered, teaching computers, I wrote articles for kids, I ran my office's Toys for Tots drive. We were all children once and we leeched off of adults, many of whom were both not our parents and who helped us out of the niceness of their own heart. I am tired of people thumbing their nose at all that help and support they got, refusing to pay back any of it, and claiming they have some moral upper-hand by not wanting kids. Go ahead, don't have your own kids, but you either make darn sure that you help some teenager get into medical school or forfeit your privilege of seeing any doctors in your retirement. Because if you want a doctor when you're 80, that doctor has to be educated today. I'd just as soon raise my own kids than feel that crushing guilt of taking and never giving.

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 9:59 AM

Finally a blog that makes sense. To all you Mommies Dearest out there, childless people can, and do, take part in this blog. I grew up with an abusive mother and I could never, for the life of me, figure out why anybody could possibly want a kid, or 2 or 3.

To the monitor of this blog: I wish you would delete the unsigned and anonymous posters, as set out in your 'Post a Comment' section. I think they are all the same person making snarky cracks about other peoples' lifestyle choices. You live your life and I'll live mine.

Posted by: Childless by Choice | October 10, 2006 10:00 AM

HA-HA! I knew it was Father of 4 after the first paragraph or two of that entry!
So does that mean I've been spending too much time on this blog? Glad you're back.
And by the way, what happened to Lieu?

On topic: I have had aunts who never had any kids of their own. One had raised a couple of nieces. Another seems content to enjoy the temporary company of grandnieces and grandnephews. Another gave me a sourball when I was a baby, and I choked, and a cop had to reach in and pull it out to save me. On the other hand, I work in the child abuse/neglect arena, where parents do a lot worse.

Given what I have seen, not nearly enough people make the decision to not have kids.

To the guest blogger, I'm just curious: what if one of the comments you received from friends and family was a simple, non-snarky, "Good for you" or "Good choice"? How would you feel?

And "welcome to the guest blog," that description was funny.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | October 10, 2006 10:02 AM

Bethesdan - wow, that's a sweeping judgment! Where has anyone written today that not having kids is "morally superior". Most people seem to agree that one size does not fit all, and we are free to make our choices. And how do you know we are not contributing in our way?
Also, how many teenagers are there in medical school?

Posted by: Missicat | October 10, 2006 10:03 AM

Well-said, Anon!

For me, parenthood was the best thing that ever happened to my self-centered, "lifestyle"-valuing, "my choices", "what-I-like" "what-I-need" self. It was only when I learned how to really give and forget about my "self" that my life became truly meaningful.

So many of the postings on this blog take the utilitarian approach to family and children -- what about the spiritual approach?

Posted by: Anon2 | October 10, 2006 10:03 AM

Why is it that no one ever brings up all of the BAD things that happen to some parents? It doesn't take much to get a little kid to say "I love you" or all of the other earth shattering stuff parents just have to tell you.

Posted by: DZ | October 10, 2006 10:05 AM

I don't get why people second-guess other people who don't want kids. Just like I don't get people who would walk up to a pregnant woman and put their hands on her stomach without her permission (or indeed knowing her).

I want kids so badly that holding someone else's baby is like a physical ache. But that doesn't mean that YOU should want them.

Posted by: Aimily | October 10, 2006 10:06 AM

I think it's your right to not have children. No problems with that.

I would ask that you figure out what your role re: family and friends with children will be.

Will you be the doting Aunt type? Someone who doesn't have children, but makes it a point to make a difference in the lives of children and young adults?

Perhaps you will be a careerist, striving hard to make a difference in the external world.

Or someone who pursues interests that would not support a family be they monetary or time?

When my sister, who is unmarried and childless, comes there is always subtle criticism of my children. I bought back-to-college clothes this fall, and she remarks that aren't they old enough to buy their own clothes. Well, I remember her getting an entirely new wardrobe when she went through Rush Week in college. If my kids need new duds from American Eagle then I don't think that's out of line. But her memory seems so short.

Unless you want to cut yourself off from anybody who has children, I think you've got to figure out how you want to fit in, and then maybe work on that some.

Posted by: RoseG | October 10, 2006 10:06 AM

Please read the article and comments from the people who decided not to have kids, their stories are consistently how fulfilling THEIR lives are, how they can do all the things THEY want to do, and THEY don't have to give anything up.

Sure... nothing selfish about total devotion to oneself, right?

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 10:07 AM

Lieu is here but under a different name. See if you can indentify Lieu.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 10:07 AM

Father of 4

"Another load of BS from fo4"

NO, it's another BIG load of of BS from fo4!

What a crashing bore!

Posted by: June | October 10, 2006 10:09 AM

So, you have to have children to not be selfish? I am sure Mother Theresa would have been thrilled to hear that...
Fortunately, I love "fitting in" as a doting aunt, but I would never tell anyone what they "have" to do with their lives. What chutzpah...

Posted by: Missicat | October 10, 2006 10:09 AM

What a nice guest blog; thank you.

I'm not sure why the pressure to reproduce persists in our society but I can tell you it doesn't go away until you have several kids - we have a toddler and people are starting to ask when we'll be having the next. (I'm 35 and have been married 12 years so spent about 10 years getting the baby gears. :))

I think what I find odd about it a little bit though - on both sides! - is why it becomes such a thing. For years I didn't own a car and I was a vegetarian, and people took these two facts to mean that I was passing judgment on their environmental habits and I often found myself listening to them, confused about why they were either justifying their car/meat, or why they were trying to convince me to say that I would own a car someday or start eating meat.

I knew that some vegetarians and (I guess) pedestrians can be really aggressive about their choices and so I figured some of it came from that (and I find that in the childfree movement too; I totally agree with the right to enjoy a childfree life, but I hate terms like "crotch droppings" etc.) I also think with food, it was that I was rejecting a lot of food rituals - the Thanksgiving turkey, the trip to the farm to get fresh sausage.

I found over time that if I just ignored the comments, they disappeared for the most part. I didn't consider it my 'right' not to have a meat eater go on about steak as long as they were't being an ass about it. I think the childfree stuff is - well, it's deeper in terms of identity and things, but it's a bit equivalent.

I am not sure (not knowing your family) how it is, but I don't see why you would have to be combatitive. You're not having a kid. They can't make you. Throw a shoe shower for yourself instead a la Sex and the City, and enjoy the weekends. :-)

Posted by: Shandra | October 10, 2006 10:10 AM

One aspect in the decision to have kids I haven't seen mentioned is the huge responsibility involved in bringing a life into this world. What if your family falls on hard times, you and your spouse both die young, or your child is born with a disability that they will have to live with long after you are gone? Your children may or may not have the ability to thrive after you are no longer able to look after and protect them. That is a thought that always sticks with me, though I still plan to have children with my husband. It is just such an awesome responsibility that I'm always surprised by how easy the decision is for so many people to have kids, and totally respect/wouldn't question anyone who decided against having kids.

Posted by: kidssoon | October 10, 2006 10:11 AM

Most of all of you childless posters today seem very friendly towards parents and children.

Have any of you had friendships suffer greatly because of the choice to have kids?

A few weeks after the birth of my first child, I had a childless-by-choice friend invite herself to my house for "a vacation." She promised that she wanted to visit friends in the area and would be out of the house much of the time. Instead, she hung out entirely at our house and complained at how fussy and colicky our baby was (which was hell for me already as a new mom), and told me in great detail the incontinence and other complications I was likely to suffer because of having given birth.

Our friendship has never really recovered from this.

Posted by: Ms L | October 10, 2006 10:11 AM

To Anon2

It's an interesting point you raise RE: the spiritual approach to family and children.

My husband and I weigh several factors in our decision to have children. Both of us were raised in poor households so we spent a lot of time discussing what type of life we wanted for ourselves and any future children. We and our extended family live in a very high cost area. Financial concerns weigh very heavily in our conversations about the number of children, living space, etc.
For us, the utilitarian approach addresses very personal concerns we have about not replicating the stress and deprivation of our childhoods.

Just one person's perspective.

Posted by: TCY | October 10, 2006 10:12 AM

I could have written this post when I was 28 or even 32... Then my friends started having kids and though they all loooked permanently tired and frazzled they talked about children as "being in love again pemanently". We started to see less and less of them and felt very lonely as a couple. So, many years later, I am so glad that I changed my mind. It's not a judgement on childless couples its just how I feel.

Posted by: no name today | October 10, 2006 10:12 AM

I have to agree with a poster above that relatives and friends will give unsolicited advice no matter what the situation. I got it about when I would get married, about when I would have children, and now that I have a baby, when will I have the next one. When I tell them that I'm only having this one, I get clucks and head shaking... such a horrible thing to do to a child!

After a while, you just have to smile and walk away. It is a good example of what not to do to other people!

Posted by: MaryB | October 10, 2006 10:12 AM

So, if I understand, you're relating a story about an obnoxious grandmother who belittles her relatives and a cousin who is too stupid to figure it out? Is she stupid because she's not having kids, or is that a coincidence?

What was the point of that post?

Posted by: To FWIW | October 10, 2006 10:14 AM

Meesh, my friend who told me that question is very talented. I would have never thought that question up, but if I didn't want kids I would use it.

Posted by: scarry | October 10, 2006 10:14 AM

I find it so interesting and perplexing when some people get so defensive and worked up over other people's decision to not have kids. I don't understand it. Is it because they feel threatened that someone making a different decision than them?
---------

Maybe I want to have more educated doctors when I'm 80 and your decision just robbed my future of one more scientist, doctor, author, actor or volunteer?

Maybe I'm tired of hearing coworkers tell me they're using fewer natural resources by not raising a scientist who might solve our energy woes in 2050. Maybe I'm tired of people acting like it's wise they didn't raise the next Martin Luther King. Maybe I'm tired of coworkers who drive SUVs just for antiquing tell me their taxes pay for my kid's school when he's still in private daycare. Just maybe we're under attack from a small minority of every adult group we belong to who bizarrely wishes we didn't have kids.

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 10:15 AM

While I do believe that some people genuinely do not want children, I'm very curious to know how old the guest blogger is.

Posted by: Dad of kids from A-Z | October 10, 2006 10:15 AM

Noname today - it's great that things worked out for you and that you are happy. I just wish folks would give me the same credit of knowing what I wanted...
Bethesdan - YOU accuse people of having a morally superior attitude? Pot, meet kettle...

Posted by: Missicat | October 10, 2006 10:16 AM

I've known since age 15 that I don't want kids. I do like kids- other people's kids. No use forcing it. I'll marry a good man who understands this too. If I get the baby pang at 45 or later, I'll adopt. I think I'd rather do that than subject my body to fertility treatments for the sake of having one. (Different issue altogether).

Thanks for sticking up for those women who just don't need to give birth to feel complete or something. I'm happy being child free.

Posted by: H. | October 10, 2006 10:17 AM

'So, if I understand, you're relating a story about an obnoxious grandmother who belittles her relatives and a cousin who is too stupid to figure it out? Is she stupid because she's not having kids, or is that a coincidence?'

I thought the above referenced tale was very funny!

Posted by: experienced mom | October 10, 2006 10:18 AM

Bethesdan - so basically people are supposed to have kids for YOUR benefit? What if someone had the next Hitler?
You think you are under attack? Sorry, you sound a bit paranoid...feel sorry for your kids.

Posted by: noname | October 10, 2006 10:19 AM

So, you have to have children to not be selfish?
----

yawn. I said "raising" not having, not everyone can physically have kids. Feel proud about that straw man? Chutzpah indeed.

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 10:19 AM

There are 300 million people in this country, I have a feeling that you'll have a doctor when you are 80 - no need to worry - and by people NOT having children, there will be more natural resources, trees, spaces to live, etc.

Not to be rude, but I find your comments very odd and bizarre.

Posted by: To Bethesian | October 10, 2006 10:19 AM

"Maybe I want to have more educated doctors when I'm 80 and your decision just robbed my future of one more scientist, doctor, author, actor or volunteer?"

I could just as easily end up giving birth to a future serial killer. Your point?

"Maybe I'm tired of hearing coworkers tell me they're using fewer natural resources by not raising a scientist who might solve our energy woes in 2050."

Actually, by some people choosing not to have children, it adds some BALANCE to the picture, so our world isn't as inundated with people contributing to the depletion of our natural resources.

Posted by: literarygirl | October 10, 2006 10:20 AM

It's a given that family and friends will always give you their opinion whether you want it or not. Be it getting married, having a child, having another child (because 1 is taboo!!!), your job etc etc. Family and friends only meddle because they love you so don't take offense to it - roll with the punches. As long as you are confident with your decision then you should be fine. I find we are most defensive when we are insecure with our decisions (myself included).

Posted by: fabworkingmom | October 10, 2006 10:20 AM

What if your family falls on hard times, you and your spouse both die young, or your child is born with a disability that they will have to live with long after you are gone?
------------

Most parents desperately hope and pray their children live long after they're gone, that's the point, children get to do that. they don't "have" to do that.

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 10:22 AM

Hilarious that Bethesdan thinks there won't be enough doctors around in the future if I personally do not have a child!

Posted by: What a joke! | October 10, 2006 10:22 AM

To anon2: You wrote, "So many of the postings on this blog take the utilitarian approach to family and children -- what about the spiritual approach?"

My guess in the secular society that the US is, we have decided that people need to choose their spiritual approach themselves. They need to decide what their God or higher power requires or requests the procreation of children. I know different faiths have really different views on the subject.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 10, 2006 10:23 AM

I think Bethesdan needs to change the tinfoil in his hat.
What a Joke - I agree! Nice to know we have such major influence on the course of human existence!! hehe

Posted by: me | October 10, 2006 10:23 AM

Bethesdan - YOU accuse people of having a morally superior attitude? Pot, meet kettle...
------

Definitely did not, that would be way too ironic. Is anyone reading more than one line of my posts?

Buh Bye!

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 10:24 AM

Natural selection takes many forms. Those who are too self-centered to have children are doing future generations a favor.

Posted by: Rufus | October 10, 2006 10:24 AM

Fo4, welcome back! You were sorely missed.

And Scarry, thanks for going after him... ;)

Posted by: niner | October 10, 2006 10:24 AM

"I often wonder what effect our childhood has on our own desire to have a family."

Just wanted to give a perspective on this. I grew up in a wonderful family. Loving and nurturing, with parents still happily married after 40 years. Don't know why it is, but of three daughters two have decided not to have children. Luckily -- for my parents -- the middle one did. I have heard all of the comments the guest blogger shared. My parents have finally stopped bugging me, but it helps that I am the oldest, so they think it is too late for me. The youngest still gets some pressure. It doesn't cause too much tension, but it is hard for my mother and sister with children to understand. Sometimes I also get the impression that they think my not having children is somehow a judgement on their choices or a rejection of my upbringing. It absolutely is not, but it does hurt me to know that my mother sometimes thinks "what did I do wrong, that my daughters don't want children of their own." It is hard for me to articulate, but I do emphasize that it had nothing to do with my childhood. I think it really has more to do with my adulthood -- when I learned that having children was an option and not an given. It took my getting out into the real world to see all kinds of different examples of how people lived their lives.

Posted by: Great Childhood | October 10, 2006 10:25 AM

Some of the comments made to the people who have chosen not to have children sound a lot like the comments I hear when I tell people that I don't want any more children than the one that I have. I've been told that my son needs a playmate and that it's selfish to want only one child and that he'll grow up spoiled if I don't give him a brother or sister.

I can never understand why the choice my husband and I made to share our lives with just one child is anyone else's concern.

Posted by: RT | October 10, 2006 10:25 AM

Ms L, you simply should have told your friend that she could not use your house as her "vacation base" at that time. Sorry, but you allowed her to abuse your friendship. On the other hand, what a pill she must have been! Don't worry about losing that "friend", I'm sure you have many better ones.

Posted by: Tami | October 10, 2006 10:26 AM

Hilarious that Bethesdan thinks there won't be enough doctors around in the future if I personally do not have a child!
----

Wow! Again, never said that. Defensive much? One less child means one less talented adult, not many less talented adults. Your interpretation makes no sense.

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 10:26 AM

sooo...just because some folks don't want children because they are selfish, it means that ALL childfree folks are selfish? For goodness sake, did anyone take a course in Logic in college??? How about people who have kids for selfish reasons? Does that mean ALL parents are selfish???
(Answer - NO!)

Posted by: Missicat | October 10, 2006 10:27 AM

Something of a curious topic to post on this blog...the decision not to have kids.

I respect the choice, but do find it a curious topic nonetheless.

Posted by: Glover Park | October 10, 2006 10:28 AM

When people ask me if I have children, I tell them I am allergic to them (because I do practically break out in hives when children are around....)

Posted by: NoRegrets | October 10, 2006 10:29 AM

sooo...just because some folks don't want children because they are selfish, it means that ALL childfree folks are selfish?
-----
Yes. They're both selfish for different reasons. I HAVE taken logic and you haven't refuted me.

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 10:29 AM

Posted by anon:

.. always pleased when folks can admit that they'd make crappy parents and they spare potential children from suffering. People who say they don't want kids are about as self-centered as it gets.

_________________________________

I know I should assume troll and move on... but I want to say that some of us are not really concerned about lattes and vacations and more with balance. I have a job I find meaningful (teaching) and I don't think I would be as good at it if I needed to balance. Right now I am able to put my students first. I disagree vehemently with those who say you could never look back and regret not working hard enough.

I have seen a few friends get burned staying at home & having the marriage not work. I am not sure I would be happy taking the risk to walk away from a career I spent so many years toiling away for in grad school for (and which I truly love).

I also know that I don't handle pressure well. I think I would handle the trials of balancing worse than most. I am also prone to try to think through the worst case scenarios... parenting requires a leap of faith that can be hard for some of us. I have read about some of the struggles of parents with special-needs children & those only amplify the questions I have about my own strength.

Posted by: to the troll | October 10, 2006 10:30 AM

actually, I really don't understand a point for today's guest posting. I thought this is a blog for work-family balance for parents. This submission will just pit those who don't have children by choice against those who do.

Posted by: no name today | October 10, 2006 10:30 AM

Anon2, I didn't need to have a child to learn to "really give" and to be less selfish. I think some parents feel that children made them less selfish, but I actually think maturity just comes from age, not only through raising children.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 10:31 AM

Also to Bethesdian:

There is a great sense irony in your argument. You say that because I don't want kids, I am selfish.

And because of that decision, I am depriving YOU?

Wow...

Posted by: literarygirl | October 10, 2006 10:31 AM

Also to Bethesdian:

There is a great sense irony in your argument. You say that because I don't want kids, I am selfish.

And because of that decision, I am depriving YOU?

Wow...

Posted by: literarygirl | October 10, 2006 10:31 AM

"It's just best not to ask people if they want kids, why they don't have them, etc. You never know if someone lost a child, can't have them or simply doesn't want them. It's really none of your business."

Scarry --

This is so true. In much the same way that people -- strangers included -- feel free to go up to pregnant women and touch their bellies, many people -- strangers included -- feel it's their business to ask childfree women intrusive, personal questions and advise them as to when and why their minds will change.

But none of us can know the reasons behind anyone else's decision, and none of us has the right to probe.

Thanks for reminding us of this!

Posted by: pittypat | October 10, 2006 10:32 AM

I think it's hard in this day and age to look at the rising number of childless couples and not see selfishness. For the good of the world, literally, well-off individuals in committed relationships should be having children.

Logically the only actions or lack of actions that should be considered immoral are the ones that we would not suggest the entire world do or not do. I'm sure we can all agree that the entire world should not stop reproducing, therefore, morally speaking, the decision to not reproduce is arguably immoral. It becomes more so when the excuse given is you're not the 'maternal' type, or it would make your life less pleasant--even though you could afford it with no real issue.

People who say they would not make good mothers/fathers and that, though they see others doing it, they could not juggle their demands at work and home successfully, are subscribing to a theory of life totally devoid of personal responsibility and choice. They say that you should have the choice to have children or not, and yet, in the same breath, say they couldn't do it. That isn't really a choice. Luckily for them, they actually do have a choice. It's just a choice they're not willing to make.

They're not willing to make the financial and lifestyle sacrifices necessary to raise a successful little human being that will be alive when they're dead and gone and capable of making sure our civilization continues to thrive. I fail to see how one could call that decision anything but selfish. Either such people should embrace selfishness as a positive quality or acknowledge it as a flaw within them and attempt to remedy it--rationalizing it away with words like 'choice' and/or 'freedom' is delusional. No one is making anyone have children, but that doesn't mean that out of hand there isn't a right and wrong choice.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 10:32 AM

DON'T FEED THE BETHESDAN TROLL!!!

It's what the trolls want. Just ignore them, and they'll go away, I promise.

Posted by: WDC | October 10, 2006 10:33 AM

I really have to agree with Glover Park - this guest blog seems to me to be out of place on this blog. The blog as far as I understand it is about balancing work and family/life. Now I understand that family/life doesn't have to mean kids it could me elder parents or even pets. But this topic is solely on the fact that the poster doesn't want kids. How does this help those of us who are trying to figure out how to juggle work and family life???

Posted by: fabworkingmom | October 10, 2006 10:33 AM

Just something to toss out there: how much has the element of "parent as everything" to their child factored into decisions to not have children?

Consider:
1. You must play Mozart to your fetus
2. If you don't breastfeed, you're a terrible person
3. Be sure to get those Baby Einstein tapes.
4. You must get your child into the "right pre-school"
5. Find the right play group
6. Schedule every minute of your child's time

Most of us did not grow up with this idea of parenthood, but it seems to be the new standard. Maybe parenthood would be a more appealing option if potential parents felt there was more community support, less pressure to be perfect and greater encouragement of just letting kids play and be kids.

Posted by: mizbinkley | October 10, 2006 10:34 AM

Fabworkingmom, you're spot on. I was fine defending my decision not to have kids.

It was only when I wanted them and learned I couldn't have them that all that familial interest started to feel a lot less loving.

Posted by: WDC | October 10, 2006 10:34 AM

In response to Ms L & nonametoday-
"Most of all of you childless posters today seem very friendly towards parents and children. Have any of you had friendships suffer greatly because of the choice to have kids?"

"We started to see less and less of them and felt very lonely as a couple."

My husband and I are the only childless couple in a pretty big group of friends. We love kids and have never treated those friends differently now that they are parents.

What we have noticed is that we have slowly been "let go" of the club b/c we are not parents. We don't get invited to the usual adult get togethers or birthday parties for the little ones.

Despite our genuine/sincere interest to see how our friends and their kids are doing, we are not viewed/thought of in the same manner.

If friendships have suffered, it has been on the parents side with their new obligations and time constraints.

Friendship, no matter what stage it is in, is a VOLUNTARY relationship. As time passes, we, as a childless couple have given more than our fair share and really haven't seen ANY reciprocation.

Posted by: LM | October 10, 2006 10:36 AM

...just because some folks don't want children because they are selfish, it means that ALL childfree folks are selfish?

Nope, not at all. Many people choose to remain childfree for excellent reasons. Author Dean Koontz comes to mind as he has chosen not to have children because of the risk of a genetic disease that runs in his family.

I don't worry about population levels, though. For every childless couple in the US, there's a Mormon couple having their eighth, ninth, or tenth child to fill in the gaps.

Posted by: Rufus | October 10, 2006 10:37 AM

I guess I don't understand why some people care so greatly about how others live their lives. I'm interested in what people are doing, but only in a kind of objective way (I hope). I do have children, but if others don't want to, fine with me.

Scarry, LOL about "how do we do it"! Talking about snappy comebacks (which I usually think of 4 hours later while soaking in the tub), whenever I was asked "how much longer are you going to breastfeed" with any of my three kids, I would respond "I don't know. When do you think I should stop?" That usually drove the point home that it was, in fact, none of the questioner's BUSINESS -- as is anyone's decision to have or not have children.

Posted by: La Mer | October 10, 2006 10:40 AM

Morgan, I am sorry but that is an extremely judgmental attitude. What if I told you that you were selfish because you were not raising your children a certain way, the way I think is correct?? Where does the judging end? What happened to live and let live? Our right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness, etc.? What about people who DON'T raise a successful human being, rather a sociopath bent on destroying society?
What about the childree people who work in orphanages, or are taking care of sick parents? or disabled siblings? This sweeping generalization is really sickening...
also, the world is not going to become depopulated anytime soon. sheesh.

Posted by: me | October 10, 2006 10:41 AM

And thanks scarry for getting Father of 4 back on board.

As we can see from today, his mere presence alone is a "Tongue Test" for those who have no sense of humor whatsoever!

Posted by: Rufus | October 10, 2006 10:41 AM

I have a job I find meaningful (teaching) and I don't think I would be as good at it if I needed to balance.
---------
You do understand that you're raising kids, right? Or at least "raising" teenagers or young adults in college. I mean, being a teacher is absolutely getting right in there and raising kids. So why would you think that any of that selfishness relates to you? My comments specifically state (though they seem wildly mis-read) that raising children is paying back for all the help we also got as kids. You're front and center paying society back, moreso than even some parents. So you've got that balance and of anyone, none of these criticisms fit you. Why did you read them that way?

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 10:42 AM

To Fabworkingmom:

"I really have to agree with Glover Park - this guest blog seems to me to be out of place on this blog. The blog as far as I understand it is about balancing work and family/life. Now I understand that family/life doesn't have to mean kids it could me elder parents or even pets. But this topic is solely on the fact that the poster doesn't want kids. How does this help those of us who are trying to figure out how to juggle work and family life???"

I think this is a good resource for people who might still be on the fence about the decision of kids or no kids.

Also, I like reading the posts here because it gives me a sense of what others lives are like.

I still consider my husband and I a family unit, even though we don't have any kids. We have balancing issues as well, just not the kind that involves children.

Posted by: literarygirl | October 10, 2006 10:43 AM

It's really weird that people care about other people's choices. Is there some kind of wacky religious agenda going on?
The choice to give birth includes a number of risks, including infidelity by the husband. The majority of men who cheat on their wifes cheat on their wives the FIRST TIME when their wives are pregnant with their FIRST CHILD.


A lot of people who set workplace polices aren't married and/or don't have children,
but they do check out this blog.

Posted by: Elaine | October 10, 2006 10:43 AM

Pittypat, you are correct. People do feel the need to touch a pregnant women's belly. That's a no no too, unless you are friends. Riding on the same metro car does not make you a friend. :)

Rufus,

Many other people besides "Mormons," who by the way prefer to be called LDS, have big families too, no need to signal them out.

Posted by: scarry | October 10, 2006 10:43 AM

To "no name today":

Actually, it illuminates another way to balance -- eliminate some of the issue. There are choices to be made to balance home and work, and for some this a conscious decision to not have children and keep their own balance.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 10:44 AM

I am sort of the opposite. My husband and I are trying to have kids, but have not been able to so far, despite just completing our first attempt at IVF. We have 3 frozen embryos and will try again soon. If those don't work, not sure we'll have the $$ to try another fresh cycle of IVF *and* still have $$ for adoption if that does not work. BUUUUUT, I constantly feel judged incorrectly to be "one of those" women have "chosen" not to have kids. It is so ironic!!!! Just b/c I do not wear our numerous stuggles on my sleeve and try to keep a positive upbeat face to the rest of the world, people assume: 1) that I am "a career woman" (I hate my job and wish I could stay home with kids. . I only work for the $$ for these treatments), 2) that we are "waiting" (no, we started "trying" one month after we got married), 3) that we are "preventing" (this comes from my Catholic family who casts a morally disapproving eye towards this point of view. . ummm, no, it just hasn't happened), 4) that I waited too long (I am 33) (ummmm, no, I met my husband when I was 28, got married when I was 30, and just started trying), 5) that we are too financially strapped to have kids (ummm, this may eventually get to be true if we have to shell out $15K each time we want to try to have a kid, or more if we eventually turn towards adoption), AND SO MANY MORE ASSUMPTIONS THAT, AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT, ARE FALSE. :( It just makes me feel sad and misunderstood. It is so ironic that people who want to be childless feel they are misunderstood, people who have children often kvetch about their kids on this blog, and people like me WANT to be in the latter category but are assumed to be in the former category! AGH! Maybe we are ALL just misjudged. :( Maybe the lesson is that nothing is "black and white" and we should treat everyone with a little bit more compassion and understanding, b/c you really just never know what is going on in people's lives.

Posted by: trying to have kids | October 10, 2006 10:45 AM

Rufus - don't forget the Catholics! :-) I am from a family of 8 kids...my siblings are picking my "slack". ;-)

Posted by: Missicat | October 10, 2006 10:46 AM

Maybe if I had a kid I'd be producing a future doctor, but I might be spending more time with doctors now as a patient, rather than working and being a productive member of society rather than a burden on others.

I'm sorry other people without children treat you and your children poorly. I have great respect for parents, and am not one of those who complain about having to pay taxes for schools etc. I'm on this blog partly because parents' needs and desires for flexibility at work has helped employers I've had be more aware that employees have needs and desires for a life outside of work. Too much time working, or rigid inflexibility, means less time available to do the other important things in life, whether it's raising the next generation, volunteer work, friendships, community involvement, etc. I don't think any of these are purely "selfish" pursuits.

Posted by: To Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 10:47 AM

So, Bethesdan, you're saying that I should "give back" by simply birthing a child? And, if I'm too selfish to do that, I should put someone else's kid through med school?

If all it takes to pay one's societal debt is to produce offspring, then I'm quite sure there are more than enough people out there producing more than enough offspring to compensate for my lack of a contribution.

Posted by: pittypat | October 10, 2006 10:48 AM

exactly missicat, and don't forget the baptists.

Posted by: scarry | October 10, 2006 10:48 AM

There are some trolls out here today--not many, but please don't feed them. Ignore them and they will go away. And some of their names are anon and bethesdan.


Meesh, I feel exactly the way you do, but about dogs!) I have 2 kids and a cat. We have thought about getting a dog because I had one when I was a kid and loved her. The reality is --we just can't handle it. We may be selfish for not adopting a pound puppy, but it would not get the attention it would need, the walks, the medical attention. Or it would, but I would resent it. They are a big expense. It's not just food and water! I really do love dogs, and if my life was different, I might have one, but since it is what it is, I enjoy my sister's dog, my neighbors dog. (sometimes--freaking yappy dogs--why does she let them stay outside until 10 p.m.? Sometimes I feel like wringing their cute little necks, but I know it is just the nature of the beast. I should be wringing hers for not taking care of them. She doesn't even walk them--just lets them out in the back yard. No structure. )

Did anyone read the article in the WaPo magazine about the two friends--one who had cancer but adopted a child anyway? The one friend said she couldn't support this choice. The friendship ended, the cancer ridden friend died and left a five year old girl behind. Since she was single, the child was adopted by another couple. It was well written. I really enjoyed (and totally related to) the description of her 'flawed marriage', etc.

And to the childless posters--you rock. I needed to have kids like I needed to breathe. If you don't want them, don't have them! Sell your fab genes and make some money -- or don't. Why people care about this escapes me, but I agree with the vegetarian post. Kids can put a damper on your life, even if they are wonderful. Maybe they see you spontaneously rushing off to the islands in Jan because of that last minute good deal--they can't. You have a house and a beach condo cause you aren't saving for a kids college education. I think we all have a tendency to measure our life against anothers. Personally, as someone who had to have massive medical intervention to even take my first breathe, I am just happy to be here.

And please, all you dog lovers, please don't rush out to tell me how I would be a great dog owner. I do love dogs! I just don't want one of my own! And I really wish those of you who have them and don't take care of them (you know who you are, and this isn't for those of you who do) would clean up their messes, keep them from barking outside all day and night, keep them on a leash, and train them. If you do, I will continue doing these very same things with my children!

Seriously.

Posted by: parttimer | October 10, 2006 10:48 AM

DON'T FEED THE BETHESDAN TROLL!!!
----
Someone with a strong opinion you disagree with equals troll now? Actually, I am hurt. I can't see a single person who seems to responded to what I wrote with any kind of critical eye. This is why I stay off public blogs, because the quality of discussion is quite low. Strong ideas are squashed because they might offend. Well, some activities are worth criticizing. Almost every response to my strongly-worded post created a bizarre straw man and some purposely mis-quoted me. Okay... that makes ME a troll in your eyes? I'm lost.

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 10:50 AM

I'm a parent who can see both sides because I've seen both sides. I have two grown children--one a happy, well-adjusted adult who was a joy to raise, and the other a desperately unhappy person who was unhappy from day one. Perhaps it was all her mom's and my fault, but perhaps not. In any case, we did neither her nor ourselves any favor by having her. So, in retrospect, it was a crapshoot. Would I advise someone else to take that chance? Maybe not.

Posted by: Ambivalent Parent | October 10, 2006 10:51 AM

People, Bethesdan and Anon are what we call "trolls". They keep posting vitriolic posts trying to pick a fight until someone responds to them-- then they're off to the races. Ignore them, do not feed them-- it just rewards negative behavior.

There's virtually no opinon in the world (even offensive ones) that can't be expressed with some degree of manners. You can be passionate and opinionated without being mean and nasty. Let's all work to reinforce some basic decorum on this blog, even if we disagree about the issues.

Posted by: JKR | October 10, 2006 10:51 AM

I shouldn't be suprised that some posters are still insisting that people without children are selfish even after all the thoughtful posts.

Why are we wasting our breath?

Posted by: Meesh | October 10, 2006 10:52 AM

"The characterizing feature of trolling is the perception of intent to disrupt a community in some way. Inflammatory, sarcastic, disruptive or humorous content is posted, meant to draw other users into engaging the troll in a fruitless confrontation. The greater the reaction from the community the more likely the user is to troll again."

Posted by: Et tu, Bethesdan? | October 10, 2006 10:52 AM

"So many of the postings on this blog take the utilitarian approach to family and children -- what about the spiritual approach?"

How do you know that the spiritual approach isn't part of a childfree couple's decision? If you're assuming it wasn't, then you apparently acknowledge spirituality only when it produces the outcome you want.

Posted by: pittypat | October 10, 2006 10:53 AM

Parttimer - thanks for the post! Dogs are great,but prefer cats...

I also find it hysterical that people think I am rolling in money because I don't have kids. Believe me, I do NOT take off on glamorous and expensive vacations, nor do I have a closetful of designer clothes. I have a 7 year old car and while I live in a decent part of town, I have a very small condo. Not on the beach, unfortunately...

Posted by: Missicat | October 10, 2006 10:53 AM

Wow - I never realized that people I did not know would be so angry with me for deciding not to have children!

And Scarry was right on about the various reasons people may or may not have children - I do not ask even very good friends as to their plans - you don't know the reason and if it's because they cannot or are having a hard time, they may not want to share (of course then I had a friend who could not believe that I had no idea that they were having fertility problems, since she was 33 and had been married for 7 years - I just told her that I assumed they were waiting and it was none of my business to ask - guess I could have! :) )

Posted by: Betty | October 10, 2006 10:53 AM

Every time I read a post arguing that refusing to have children is immoral or selfish, I can't help but suspect that the poster really wants "people like me" (well-off, educated) to reproduce. Otherwise our country will be overrun with Mexicans, or some other unfavored group. Anyone else getting that impression?

Posted by: Suspicious | October 10, 2006 10:54 AM

When my husband and I married, I was committed to being childless. I didn't believe I "liked" children, particularly any of my own. After 8 years of marriage, I did change my mind. You just never know. But, especially during the first few years of my marriage I would get very bothered by those well-meaning fold who would try to convince me I did't know myself very well. In fact, had I become a mother early on, I probably wouldn't have been a very good mother. Now, I think I'm a great mother because I wanted to be one. Forced or coerced motherhood is never a good situation.

Well, as the story goes . . . the blogger today is not alone. I was once there. But, now I am here. I was happy in both places.

However, I think that the person who wrote about the people who convince others to get a dog had a good point. When someone is very happy with a choice, he or she often can't help himself/herself with sharing that knowledge. The well-meaning people aren't really condemning the "childless choice" as much as saying what a wonderful thing they've found in their choice to have children. Once you view it that way, it's easier to see that the comments aren't criticisms, but reflections on the people's own situations. Make sense?

Posted by: Mom of 2 | October 10, 2006 10:56 AM

"Maybe I want to have more educated doctors when I'm 80 and your decision just robbed my future of one more scientist, doctor, author, actor or volunteer?"

What if someone follows your advice and (instead of taking the time to become a doctor) focuses on raising a lot of sons and daughters who follow your advice and (instead of taking the time to become doctors) focus on raising a lot of sons and daughters who follow your advice and (instead of taking the time to become doctors) focus on raising a lot of sons and daughters who follow your advice...?

Posted by: Maria | October 10, 2006 10:57 AM

Give back? Pay back what others 'gave you'? What wacked out kind of logic is that? Sorry, but from my pov, a gift is a GIFT. Not a loan. What you do with that gift is up to you. To all of you taxpaying, childless people who do not have kids clogging up our already crowded schools (Loudon is a MESS!), I thank you. You are giving back simply by working at whatever job you have chosen, even if it is xyz (can't think of a good example), because you are contributing $$$. I sincerely wish my cousin had had HER tubes tied at 18. Or my aunt and uncle, who had 4 kids even though they were the poster people for selfishness. Talk about some neglected children.

Posted by: parttimer | October 10, 2006 10:58 AM

Suspicious - read my earlier posting re: someone who said people "like me" should have kids...it made me uncomfortable because I am pretty sure she meant what you are referring to.

Posted by: Missicat | October 10, 2006 10:58 AM

I've heard a lot of people with kids talk about how having kids has made them better people - more giving, loving, generous and less sefish. I don't buy it.

The patience, love and generosity were already there. They just weren't being fully expressed.

Posted by: Friend | October 10, 2006 10:59 AM

Thanks Pittypat, for the very good point.

A lovely, fulfilling kind of spirituality is to turn yourself over mind, body and soul to ONE other individual or idea, or to a community. Priests and nuns seem to do a pretty good job of finding spiritual fulfillment without reproducing. The freedom and trust to give yourself entirely to something outside yourself (like parenting, or marriage, or teaching) produces some wonderful results.

The problems lie in a society which tells us we must be all things to ALL people. Like our own parents who insist we can't be whole until we have children, (eg: provide grandchildren for them) or our friends who badger us to go on blind dates...

And parttimer: I don't know how you sleep at night, being so selfish that you won't adopt a pound puppy! For shame!! ;-)

Posted by: WDC | October 10, 2006 11:00 AM

"Unless you want to cut yourself off from anybody who has children, I think you've got to figure out how you want to fit in, and then maybe work on that some."

RoseG --

It's unfortunate about your sister, but really it's your baggage that's allowing her comments to bother you. So what if she got clothes for college years ago? Why is that still an issue for you?

Maybe you need to work on some of your own stuff.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 11:01 AM

Exactly. And those people will be raising their kids to think and act just "like them". Thanks for the contribution to society, jerks.

Posted by: To suspicious | October 10, 2006 11:03 AM

I am sorry your childless friend was such a pill... My general read (though I could be wrong) is that my friends with kids enjoy my visits because I am low maintenance, flexible, and they have an extra set of hands around to prepare dinner, etc. I have never been much of one for dressing up, clubbing, exotic vacations, so I the parental social scene is fine for me. I thorougly enjoy kids - but don't want my own (I posted as to the trolls at 10:30).

p.s. Fo4 I am great with the raspberries. Some first time parents don't know that they can magically quiet a child as young as a few weeks old - so I can come off as a skilled babysitter with just this trick.

Posted by: to Ms. L | October 10, 2006 11:08 AM

I have no problem with people deciding to have kids or not to. But I am all for people keeping themselves open to the possibilities, whatever they may be. In my 20s and early 30s, I did think kids were in the picture for me. I did not have that yearning for children, and my life circumstances were not great for having kids either. But one day things changed. I married a man I love, and who also wanted kids. Somehow, it felt right, so we had a child. It was a lot of work, so much that for a while, I thought we could only do one child. But then that child got a little older and independent, and he is such a joy that we decided to try for another. So we are trying. I am 40, and it may be too late for another child, so I have to be open to the possibility that it may not happen either. Still, I am grateful for the opportunity to try. I am grateful that I changed my mind about children and had one. I am grateful for a loving husband and good life. I would have never had these had I shut the door on the possibilities.

Posted by: Rockville | October 10, 2006 11:09 AM

The US birthrate is 1.9 children per woman-- that plus immigration makes for positive population growth, so we needn't worry that our society will collapse because of lack of doctors or social security payees in the future.

However, in Europe they ARE having a problem with low population growth. (E.g. Germany's birthrate is 1.4 children per woman; a recent German magazine had a picture of two forty-somethings on the cover and the headline "How will we live?" meaning, who will pay into the generous social security system when the current generation gets old.) Two stories on NPR recently discussed how France has managed to have one of the highest birthrates in France by offering numerous incentives to moms, and in particular, by supporting mothers in their careers (extended maternity leave, 3-year job protection if you take longer unpaid leave, universal free pre-school, numerous "on-ramps" back to part- or full-time employment, etc.). 80% of French women work outside the home-- and a French government official said on the NPR story "No woman should be forced to choose between working and having a child." There are additional supports, e.g. family discounts on train tickets, tax breaks and direct payments to families with small children, etc.

The US doesn't need these policies for population growth (whether we'd like them for other reasons is another debate); but hypothetcially speaking, if these policies were in place, would that induce any of the childfree folks posting today to reconsider having kids? It doesn't sound like it would-- perhaps it would just push fence sitters over the edge. Or perhaps it would make families with one kid go for number two and three. Germany already has some, though not all, of these policies in place and it doesn't seem to be helping much. Thoughts?

Posted by: JKR | October 10, 2006 11:09 AM

I'm reminded of an old Ann Landers column which queried parents about whether they'd have children if they had it to do over again. Seventy percent responded with "no" but with the caveat that they loved their own individual children. I can't help but feel that some of those who replied "no" were women who didn't really want kiddos but were pressured into doing the expected. In the twenty or more years since that column appeared there still seems to be pressure to produce.

I don't think that I can recall having heard anyone publically query a parent about whether she or he would still have children if the choice was hers or his to do over again yet childfree people are frequently asked about their reproductive plans.

My husband and I have been married for more than thirty years, have never wanted children, and don't have any. We've not regretted that choice.

Posted by: footloose and childfree | October 10, 2006 11:11 AM

To WDC--I know; I will probably rot in hell for it and live an unfufilled life, have an old age full of regrets. But for the here and now, I am not scoopin poop--just cleaning up hairballs from my cat (nice a.m. graphic for ya).

Posted by: parttimer | October 10, 2006 11:12 AM

I can't get over people who say it is selfish NOT to have kids. Quite the opposite--having children is a decision that people make to fulfill their own lives while taking a gamble with the life of the one(s) they are creating. No doubt, children involve great sacrifice and selflessness in order to nurture and provide for them once they are here, let's be real here--the actual decision to have children is a selfish one at its core.
I have one child, I love her dearly and I would go to the ends of the earth to make her happy. But I know that the decision to have a child was FOR ME and to satisfy MY needs (including the expectations for my life). If people are really honest with themselves, I think they would have to admit that the decision to have children is a selfish one.
Now I just hope and pray that I didn't sacrifice another human being's happiness to satisfy my own need for fulfillment at this point in my life.
I don't think for a moment that everyone reading will even understand my point, but for those who choose to remain childless, I think they would agree, at the most basic level, the decision to remain childless is not selfish at all.

Posted by: Who is selfish?? | October 10, 2006 11:12 AM

I believe that people who are always questionning/judging/belittling other people's choices do it either because they feel this puts their own choices in question or because they truly think that their choice is "the" only right choice. This goes for stay at home moms vs working mom, vegetarian vs omnivore, parent vs childless. The truth is very simple: there is not one right choice and we should all feel secure enough in our own choices for our own lives and families not to have to question other people's choices, motives etc.
Can we accept the fact that some people know themselves well enough to know that parenthood just is not for them? My brother in law decided early on not to have kids because he felt that parenthood was too much of a responsibility, too expensive and too stressful. My in laws, especially my father in law, have had a hard time accepting that. Given how long he has been married, they practically mourn the teenage children he would have had by now. Yet, everything about the way he lives he life validates his choice, including the fact that he hardly shows any interest in his niece and nephew. So why should anyone question his decision to remain childless? He spared himself and the potential kids a lot of heartache.
Different strokes for different folks, people. Learn to respect other people's choices and lighten up.

Posted by: FC mom | October 10, 2006 11:13 AM

Suspicious, I get a similar vibe. There's a large group replenishing the population in the States right now. They're poor and hispanic. Why aren't they "enough"?

Posted by: mizbinkley | October 10, 2006 11:13 AM

I'm 50 years old, and my mom would have preferred to remain childless, and probably single, and pursued a career instead. Back then, that wasn't considered a respectable option, so she did the marriage and kids thing. I always knew that my mommie didn't love me quite as enthusiastically as the other kids' mommies, but until I was an adult I always assumed it was because there was something wrong with me. It's taken me well into my middle age to heal that wound. Tell *that* to your nudge-and-wink friends.

Posted by: baby boomer | October 10, 2006 11:13 AM

"Something of a curious topic to post on this blog...the decision not to have kids. I respect the choice, but do find it a curious topic nonetheless."

Glover Park --

Why would you say this? Once again, this blog is not exclusively for parents. It's for anyone interested in the subject of balancing work and life. And, once again, the concept of "family" is not restricted to parents and kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 11:14 AM

To Rockville - I always find your comments and insights interesting, so thank you. I do not think that I want to have kids, nor does my boyfriend. I am 30, he is 40, so our ages will eventually come into play (especially since marriage is at least 18 months away). Right now we are at no, but leaving the topic open for discussion, just in case. I think what I find interesting is that you mentioned on more than one occasion that when you met your husband and fell in love with him, things changed. I think that's something that makes me leaves things open - I have never been in such a loving relationship and it's already changed my mind on marriage, so who knows? But thank you for your comments and your experiences, they are very helpful to me and my life "balance" (and maybe one day I'll have my granite countertops too - sorry couldn't resist! :) )

Posted by: Betty | October 10, 2006 11:15 AM

To JKR - I can see the policies helping someone who wants kids but don't think they could afford them to decide to go ahead and have them. Not sure if it would change the mind of serious child-free folks...
The U.S. does seem to be behind the times as far as helping families/working mothers, etc.

Posted by: Missicat | October 10, 2006 11:15 AM

Way to go.. I have one child and I applaud your decision. No one ever looks from your point of view only their own.
People ask me when am I going to have another. My decision is I have what I want. I get that my son will be lonely..he needs a playmate...my son get that from kids at school and he's has additional activites involving other kids.
People need to respect others decisions and know that we make the decisions that are best for us not them.
Kudos...and I especially loved the part about your waiting for them to change their minds and sit the kids on the curb..lol

Posted by: Jennifer Jenkins | October 10, 2006 11:19 AM

"To Ms L", I also have childless friends like you who are wonderful, supportive friends who welcome our children. They have our undying loyalty-- and we try to include them in our lives as much as possible.

With some other friends it has taken more open communication to resolve some issues. For instance, one childless friend made fun of my 20-month-old for being whiny-- about every 10 minutes. When I confronted her about it, she said she was mostly trying to make fun of herself, since she thinks she whines like a toddler. She has since stopped with these references and our friendship has continued undamaged.

Posted by: Ms L | October 10, 2006 11:21 AM


Also to Bethesdian:

There is a great sense irony in your argument. You say that because I don't want kids, I am selfish.

And because of that decision, I am depriving YOU?

Wow...
-----------

Look, there is NO irony in what I am saying and if you follow the argument you will see that both points you make above are true and have no irony. We were children once, we leeched off of adults, some were our relatives and others were coaches, teachers, childless neighbors, other parents, heck to an extent we had people like Mr Rogers and Joan Ganz Cooney at Sesame Street were people who went out of their way to help us. We owe them a hard debt. To divorce oneself from ones childhood, to claim that one has the right to not get involved in the raising of children in anyway is selfish and is the denial of all the assistance that we received as children.

Also, by not raising kids, by not being a parent, teacher, volunteer, etc, one is depriving society of the future benefit those children can make to society. I had a part time job after school where the childless gay manager of the store made a BIG effort to teach us accounting. He and the assistant manager who had a son, made a LOT of effort to teach us how real estate worked and I learned tons from them. If one is religious, I'm not, one can add in all kinds of church activities. This is how civilization and society are created, from parents, teachers, and other helpful adults. Creating a successful civilization is no more selfish than Mother Theresa- she helped people and she created great power for herself and the Catholic Church in a Hindu/Muslim country. You can't say she was selfless because of her political ambitions, nor can you say she was selfish because she h

We all benefit from civilization. I may never take a train, but my produce does. Not only will I personally benefit from having more doctors, artists, and other positive figures who can help change society in 20 years, but we will ALL benefit from that.

Therefore, when one looks at the benefits to society that having children or raising children (because it takes a village) then to divorce oneself from the circle of life, to pretend that one doesn't owe a debt to the direct influence of the next generation, is selfish.

Selfishness is not the worst crime in the world. But some people here seem unable to address this guilt in themselves and called me a troll.

Bethesdan.

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 11:21 AM

YAY JAMIE! You can be an honorary aunt to my (eventual) kids any day. You'll be awesome.

Posted by: Ann Marie | October 10, 2006 11:21 AM

My wife and I are happily childfree and will celebrate our 34th Anniversary next month. We have heard similar comments "You'll change your mind, You'll make such a great parent, etc." throughout our marriage, along with "What are you waiting for?" and "You know, your clock is ticking." and variations on this theme. Now we mostly get asked "What happened that you couldn't have kids?"
The choice to have children is a personal one, and I respect the decision of any individual to exercise their inalienable human right to reproduce. I find, however, intolerance toward our decision to exercise our inalienable human right to remain free of children. I do not owe anybody an explanation of my choice. Quite frankly, it is nobody's business but my own. It should be sufficient to say that I do not have children and be done with it.
Isn't it enough that we must endure official government-sanctioned discrimination for our choice? The higher rate of taxes I must pay is subsidizing the services enjoyed by the childed. I am angered that society and even the government does not consider my family to be a "real" family. It is quite real. We are a family of two, and it is far more stable than the majority of families with children. Just ask any kid spending the weekend with his non-custodial parent.

Posted by: Bill Sullivan | October 10, 2006 11:22 AM

There are parents who either are good at parenting or bad at it. There are childless adults who may or may not make good parents.

Frankly, I'm more worried about the people who have children and are bad parents.

I think one way or the other, we all participate in "preserving our future." For the people who decide to not have children and perhaps focus on our careers, they help to. They're the ones that have to stay later and work odd hours so that you (the parents) can be home for your children.

As for me, I'm 25 and single and on the fence. I'd like to have kids, but probably wouldn't go to extreme measures to have one (fertility treatments, difficult adoptions). I think I would make a good parent, and will most likely do all the good things (teaching values, getting them a good education, etc).

Posted by: Undecided | October 10, 2006 11:23 AM

I want kids and am pregnant with my first-- but it was TOTALLY annoying when my in-laws kept badgering us about it. I am only 30 now, for crying out loud, and when I was 27 my father-in-law reminded me (when the family was all together in the car on the way to the airport no less) that my fertility was peaking and it was only downhill from there! My FIL kept saying both before and after we got married that "life doesn't begin until you have children". I smiled and said, "I feel perfectly alive right now. It seems to me life just changes a lot when you have kids."

"Smile and nod" has helped me through many a discussion with the in-laws-- also I'm lucky enough to be able to zone out because they speak a foreign language that requires me to actively listen and concentrate in order to understand. I'm sure I spared us many arguments by just tuning out during family discussions and gazing out the window (if it were all in English, it would no doubt be impossible to ignore). The thing is, though they are old-fashioned and I hold polar-opposite views, I know they love us (they truly treat me like a daughter) and just want us to be happy. Are they sometimes irritating? Yes. Malicious? Never. That makes it easier to keep up the smile, nod, "Mmm-hmmm" routine instead of going nuclear on them (which I save for anonymous internet postings :-)

Posted by: JKR | October 10, 2006 11:25 AM

"I think it's hard in this day and age to look at the rising number of childless couples and not see selfishness. For the good of the world, literally, well-off individuals in committed relationships should be having children."

Morgan --

Are you a Catholic priest?

I won't waste my breath explaining why your post is arrogant as well as absurd. Others on the blog will do that, I'm sure.

But, in addition to the complete absence of morality, ethics, logic, and basic human decency, your post ignores the simple fact that the world is already overpopulated. How is it immoral not to add to the human misery of a world in which too many children are born and then die the agonizing death of the malnourished?

Posted by: pittypat | October 10, 2006 11:25 AM

I need to interject a little statistics today. The Ann Landers experiment is really not representative to the whole population. She did not perform a randomized trial. She simply put out an article and people responded. So the results are higly biased. At best one can conclude that the people who do not want children feel more strongly about the topic and are more likely to respond. While people happy with the choice of parenting, are less likely to defend that choice. Just a little statistics 101 today. My own personal small sample (non randomized) show that 30% of my friends (highly educated women ) would choose not to do it again. 50% say they would do it again but with no real passion on the topic. And about 15% feel strongly about doing it again. 5% absolutely love the whole experience of parenting and could not dream about their life any other way. Again not a randomized representative sample but interesting to note.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 10, 2006 11:26 AM

I once had a girlfriend that I loved very much. When she was getting to that stage where the marriage hints began to surface, I asked her how many children she wanted.

She told me that she was unsure if she wanted any at all.

So I dumped her.

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 10, 2006 11:27 AM

Baby boomer, I could have written that post! (Except I'm a few years shy of 50.)

My mother was on track to do some really neat stuff with her life-- cutting edge research, specifically. But in her late 20s, she married a sweet guy (in part because of the family pressure to "settle down"), had a crowd of kids, and has never set foot in a lab again.

I also thought that I wasn't a good enough kid, because she was constantly at a low simmer about how her life turned out. She'd boil over sometimes, and while NOW I can recognize how enormous her disappointment was, at the time, it was just scary and confusing.

For her, having kids was selfish-- not that I'm complaining, now that I'm here. It was her way of gaining status the only way she could get it back then. It was her way of ridding herself of unwelcome pressure. Her regrets ruined my dad's life, and didn't make ours any too peachy, either.

Once more with feeling: different strokes...

Posted by: Me too! | October 10, 2006 11:28 AM

Isn't every decision selfish? You do it for some reason, right? You pay your bills so you can take a hot shower. You stop at the red light so you don't take the chance on dying or getting a ticket. You help someone else because it makes you feel better or because you didn't want to feel guilty.

Likewise, those who have children are making a selfish decision. People have children because:
-They want to (many reasons enclosed here).
-They gave in to a spouse (so they would ostensibly be happy).
-They want to give themselves a doctor (sorry, kids, you have to be my geriatric doctor, nothing else).
-They don't want to have an abortion.
-Many others.

People choose for their own welfare, and to me that's selfish. And who cares that you are, it makes you like everyone else. I don't like hearing that ALL of the childless people around are selfish and everyone else isn't. Everyone's selfish. As well they should be. Who else is going to look out for you?

Posted by: kate | October 10, 2006 11:28 AM

Do you wish you had never been born?

There are a lot of people who complain that their parents did not love them enough, did not choose to have them, what have you. So my question is, would you seriously preferred the only possible alternative, which is not having been born? Not being snarky, just a question.

Posted by: To baby boomer | October 10, 2006 11:29 AM

To the childfree who complain about taxes -I don't mind at all that my taxes go towards education - for one thing, I benefitted from it growing, for another, having educated children benefits everyone!

Posted by: Missicat | October 10, 2006 11:29 AM

"How does this help those of us who are trying to figure out how to juggle work and family life???"

Fab --

The decision to have kids is a very serious one (at least it should be), and it can be a difficult question for many people. A discussion of the choices and how different people arrived at their decisions is completely germane to this blog. It's helpful to hear others' stories of choices and the consequences of those choices.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 11:30 AM

I disagree that this topic is out of place--it's been cropping up a lot during other discussions lately, and I think it deserves its own day. Thanks, Jamie, for providing the food for thought.

And I think someone already mentioned this, but even if you have to answer all of those lame questions asked by well-intentioned relatives and friends well into your 40s, you'll never have your husband's crazy aunts lecturing you about childbirth options over Thanksgiving dinner! :)

(And Meesh, pittipat, Betty, and all you other childfree regulars, please don't go away if today gets ugly! I always look forward to your posts and perspectives on things.)

Posted by: niner | October 10, 2006 11:33 AM

I'm really surprised that the decision whether to have children is at all controversial. I'm puzzled.

Live and let live. My family has a range of people from those who don't have any children, to a cousin with six children. I've never heard anyone in my extended family criticize anyone else's choices.

Posted by: Kate | October 10, 2006 11:35 AM

"Many people choose to remain childfree for excellent reasons."

Rufus --

Who decides what constitutes an "excellent reason"? You?

What a joke.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 11:35 AM

No one gets to choose whether or not they're born, or to whom they are born. We can only work with what we've got once we get here.

Such rhetoric can't figure in to discussions like this.

Posted by: Me too | October 10, 2006 11:36 AM

Good for you Fo4 - seriously!

I had some woman tell my boyfriend that he should never tell a woman that he didn't think that he wanted to have kids b/c he would never meet someone. Luckily (for me!) he ignored this advice! Too funny - what was he supposed to do - get all involved with a woman and then spring it on her! :)

Posted by: Betty | October 10, 2006 11:36 AM

Actually from what I understand of my Catholic theology lessons, the Roman Catholic church does not require all people to procreate. Even their clergy and laity are not required. They do require that all married couples seek to have children. They believe marriage, parenting, and single life are different vocations. Not everyone is called to be married, single, or to parent. But they do require if you wish to be married through the church, you must also consider having children. They do not believe that marriage without children is alright. But they don't have problems with unmarried parentless people. Now, other faiths feel differently about it. But this is what I understood about my premarriage classes. If anyone else knows differently, please correct me. Oh you also don't have to have biological children according to the RCC. They strongly encourage adoption of children. It is the vocation to raise children; not give birth to them.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 10, 2006 11:38 AM

I like the post that says that the child free person has more time to devote to causes. As a mom, I have no disposable income and not much time to devote to charity work. I'm glad you guys are out there keeping things going! My kids adore my friends who are child free. We laughingly call them their "other mothers". My friends visit us all by choice. They merge into the family. It's a nice dynamic when they're around. They aren't frazzled and they can carry on a decent conversation with children and are great pals and mentors. I would hate it if they got kids and suddenly turned into.... me!

Posted by: I like child free friends | October 10, 2006 11:39 AM

To Jamie - It sounds like you know exactly what you want, and I admire you for it. I agree with the posters here that you should not feel pressured to have children and that others shouldn't doubt your self-knowledge.

But there is one thing in your post that's not quite accurate - just because you're not crazy about other people's kids, doesn't mean you won't enjoy your own. That's not to say that you in particular should have any. I'm just saying that, to other childless people out there reading, do not make the assumption that one equates with the other. My parents loved us dearly, and I often heard them say that they didn't really want much to do with other people's kids. I'm the same way. I can't interact with my niece and nephews, or my children's friends, but am happy with my own kids. So one doesn't mean the other.

Posted by: Sam | October 10, 2006 11:42 AM

No one gets to choose whether or not they're born, or to whom they are born. We can only work with what we've got once we get here.
Such rhetoric can't figure in to discussions like this.

But some people say, "My mother had me because of societal pressure. I could always tell she did not love me as much as other mothers loved their kids." So does that mean that person should never have had kids?

My point is that people are different. They love their kids in different ways. In order to have kids and be good parents, do you necessarily have to be the warm and affectionate type who always desperately wanted kids. Is it not possible that some people who are less demostrative can also be good parents. Face it, some open affectionate types who desperately wanted kids also can turn out to be lousy parents.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 11:43 AM

There are PLENTY of selfish parents out there. There are also plenty of parents who are selfish on their kids' behalf -- these are the ones berating teachers and coaches for not giving their kid an A or putting them on first string, the ones who barge in front of you in line somewhere because their kid wants something, the ones who think it's cute when their kids fling open the doors of the SUV and ding your car doors, the ones who bring their screaming kids to restaurants and movies, and so forth. A selfish person doesn't change just because s/he has a kid; s/he just has a new (and societally-acceptable) reason to be selfish. They insist they aren't being selfish and are putting the needs of their child first, but no, they are just being selfish for their family unit now instead of just themselves. I've met a lot of families where the kids are great, but it's the parents who need a reality check.

There are also plenty of unselfish childless people. Mother Teresa never had a kid, and there are many childless doctors, teachers, and philanthropists, so the you-are-living-a-selfish-life-if-you-don't-raise-a-kid argument holds NO water with me.

I also think that I'm really fine with being so-called selfish, if that means that I think I am a person of worth and value, that I like to do things to make myself happy, that I live my life the way I like to live my life, and that I am not in a rush to give up everything I like for another person. There is nothing wrong with any of that. No, it's not necessarily 100% generous, but where is the crime in it? I feel sorry for the parents who suddenly start behaving as if it's unacceptable to do ANYTHING for yourself once you have a kid. Even if I ever have a kid, I don't plan to stop doing things for ME. I am still important to me, even if I also have other people to worry about. A little selfishness is okay in my book.

Note: I'm single and 30 and haven't decided whether I want kids. I like kids and think I may eventually want one or two if I meet the right guy, but will cross that bridge when I come to it and will do it because it's what I want, not because it's what someone tells me I should do.

Posted by: J | October 10, 2006 11:45 AM

"Anyone else getting that impression?"

Suspicious --

That's the message I got from Morgan's post. The subtext was, It's your moral duty to produce white, middle-class offpring to make sure we're not overtaken by THE OTHERS.

Ugly stuff.

Posted by: pittypat | October 10, 2006 11:46 AM

Foamgnome, I don't dispute that the data in Ann Landers column was scewed...it was gathered from totally voluntary responses. However, the results were surprising in their volumn. If parenthood had been the wonderous/life-affirming event that it's portrayed to be, I imagine just as many people would have been motivated to extol its benefits.(You see that result here.) If anything, the poll shows that parenthood is a mixed blessing and not for everyone.

Posted by: footloose and childfree | October 10, 2006 11:46 AM

We know people with no children. We know people with twelve children. We would never be so rude as to ask anyone, "Why don't you have any children?" or "Why do you have so many children?"

Once, a young man we knew was in a store with his six children. Another customer asked him, "Don't you people know when to stop?"

What happened to good, old-fashioned, "mind-your-own-business" manners? If you were on your way to St. Ives, and you met a man with seven wives, and each wife had seven kids -- would you ask him why he has so many wives and children?

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | October 10, 2006 11:48 AM

Congrats to those who have, want to have, and don't have and don't want to have kids. Its a personal choice.

My wife and I have a 4.5 month newborn, and I'm newly 39. The old sayings of 'it will change your life forever', and 'you can't imagine what its like' - full of sh*t. It does change your life - like everything you do and decide can change your life. It adds to your life if you want kids; I'm sure it would take away if you didn't want and had kids.

My wife's friends swore up and down that she would not be able to shower - too much time. Bullsh*t. She's showered everyday since our baby was born. Friends said we'd never be the same; never be able to do anything; never, never, never. They are all full of it. Every couple is different, every baby is different. Every person is different, and has their own choice to make.

My mother wanted to 'not be an early grandmother' as she said when I was 16. At 27 it became 'when am I going to be a grandmother'. And I'm a guy! I can only imagine mothers and daughters having a simlar conversation.

We hired a nanny for when my wife went back to work (after being at home for 3.5 months), and again, everyone said 'how hard is must be to go back to work' - actually, it was a relief to her to do things outside the house, non-baby related, and with adults.

You will feel different about some things, but its all good. (For example, we have very large trees, not until our daughter was born did we even consider worrying about a tree falling on the house during storms. Oh, then 3 weeks later one did!)

My only advice is that you be prepared financially, emotionally, and expect zero help from anyone. If you get assistance from family/others, great, if not, no loss. (My favorite one was "can we bring you food when you get home from the hospital?" Great, except it was 3 days late, and I ended up going shopping the first day home from the hospital.)

Good luck to all, with or without kids.

Posted by: New Dad | October 10, 2006 11:49 AM

OK, this is a seriously slow day at work. But I wanted to say something to the childfree people who claimed that their parenting friends suddenly dropped them. I have actually experienced a bit on the other side. When I got married a lot of my single female friends dropped me. I guess they thought I lost my identity when I got married. Then after having our daughter, I found a lot of my child free friends have dropped off. It is harder for me to schedule time but I am really up for trying. The few child free friends that are willing to meet us 1/2 way, we have maintained great contact with. We have a montly rotating pot luck dinner with 3 couples. We are the only ones with a kid. We requested that our daughter be allowed to come. And we have carved out 2 outings per year where we get a baby sitter and we spend a whole evening with just adults. The three couples go to the theatre once a year and we have a big Christmas adults only party. So it has worked out. But one of my dear childfree friends simply told me that she never wants to see us if our daughter will be present. How can I work with that? So that friendship has ended. It is too bad because I did enjoy a lot of time that we spent together. But she needed to realize that my daughter is a part of my life and I can't just place her in a corner and ignore her.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 10, 2006 11:49 AM

Parttimer, with 2 kids you are exempt from adopting a pound puppy. I personally told a coworker with 2 kids under age 6 that having a large dog is a lot like living with a 3 year old (she paled at this comparsion), I don't know why I said 3 year old, it seems to be somewhat the mental level of my dog... the constant interest and desire to explore.

Anyway I suggested she not even consider a dog until her youngest boy was 8, and she said "I AM TELLING MY HUSBAND THAT." (Her husband wants a dog).

Besides, you have all your life to have a dog if you choose to do so, you don't have that for having kids. Just as long as you are exposing your kids to dogs and helping them learn appropriate dog manners etc.

Besides how much of a burden a dog is really does depend on your situation (fenced yard?), your other commitments, your time and ability to pay attention to a dog.
It just so happens my dog is a service dog and helps me so muh more that the "burden" is insignficiant compared to what he gives me. However I waited 11 years since my last dog died so I was SURE I was ready for the responsibility of a dog again-- money, maturity, etc. I know people who had gotten dogs in college or right after college and then had to give them away because their living situation changed.

One thing I did was to post pictures of dogs on my walls and see if I started thinking about ways to make a dog work in my life. Sure enough, I did, and got a dog a little ahead of schedule after all.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 10, 2006 11:50 AM

Congrats to those who have, want to have, and don't have and don't want to have kids. Its a personal choice.

My wife and I have a 4.5 month newborn, and I'm newly 39. The old sayings of 'it will change your life forever', and 'you can't imagine what its like' - full of sh*t. It does change your life - like everything you do and decide can change your life. It adds to your life if you want kids; I'm sure it would take away if you didn't want and had kids.

My wife's friends swore up and down that she would not be able to shower - too much time. Bullsh*t. She's showered everyday since our baby was born. Friends said we'd never be the same; never be able to do anything; never, never, never. They are all full of it. Every couple is different, every baby is different. Every person is different, and has their own choice to make.

My mother wanted to 'not be an early grandmother' as she said when I was 16. At 27 it became 'when am I going to be a grandmother'. And I'm a guy! I can only imagine mothers and daughters having a simlar conversation.

We hired a nanny for when my wife went back to work (after being at home for 3.5 months), and again, everyone said 'how hard is must be to go back to work' - actually, it was a relief to her to do things outside the house, non-baby related, and with adults.

You will feel different about some things, but its all good. (For example, we have very large trees, not until our daughter was born did we even consider worrying about a tree falling on the house during storms. Oh, then 3 weeks later one did!)

My only advice is that you be prepared financially, emotionally, and expect zero help from anyone. If you get assistance from family/others, great, if not, no loss. (My favorite one was "can we bring you food when you get home from the hospital?" Great, except it was 3 days late, and I ended up going shopping the first day home from the hospital.)

Good luck to all, with or without kids.

Posted by: New Dad | October 10, 2006 11:50 AM

Welcome back Father of 4!

Love your entertaining posts, and glad to see you've kept your name.

Posted by: Fan of Father of 4 | October 10, 2006 11:51 AM

Another eloquent opinion on the decision not to be a mother.

http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/1999/03/19feature.html

Posted by: No we have a dog | October 10, 2006 11:54 AM

Well I agree that Morgan post's was insulting. I didn't get the feeling that it was about white people. That being said, no one wants to be the minority or held down or oppressed. I think some people are afraid that if they ever do become the minority they will be treated badly and lumped together with people who treated the previous minority bad. I just wish that in this day and age things didn't have to be framed in the terms of minority, white, other, etc. I wish everyone could truly see people just as people.

Morgan, if that's what you were proposing, shame on you, if you weren't come on out and say so.

Posted by: scarry | October 10, 2006 11:54 AM

foamgnome - Nice job dumping the idiot friend. Who in their right mind would say that to you? ("..she never wants to see us if our daughter will be present..") He/she should really be ashamed of her/himself. Thats just utterly disgusting, immature, etc..

Posted by: New Dad | October 10, 2006 11:56 AM

Wow -- great comments today. After the whooping Fo4 took two weeks ago, and the run of negativity since then, I was pretty scared about running this guest blog. Thank you to everyone for reading Jamie's story with respect (for the most part!). Phew. And Fo4 I really missed you (although I understand why you took a break -- I wanted to also).

Off to Minnesota for a biz trip. Will check back later.

Posted by: Leslie | October 10, 2006 11:57 AM

I can fully identify with Baby Boomer and Me Too. Our mother couldn't stand to be in the same room with her kids. She never let us forget that she wasted her life raising us. She'd frequently threaten to 'walk out of here and never come back' and sit in the car for hours pretending to leave. Before PMS was made a legitimate condition, I thought she had PMS 24/7/365. When you are a child, you believe every other family is the same as your own. I am truly astounded when I see parents actually talking to their children, not bawling them out or slapping them silly.

Now I'm grown up, self-supporting, lead a full and busy life, do volunteer work with social service groups, have friends with kids and friends without kids. 50% of my County tax goes toward public schools, so we childless folks do contribute to society. I look at married couples with children the way one looks at the aftermath of a hurricane or a horrible traffic accident. I feel sorry for them and am genuinely glad I'm not in their position.

Posted by: Childless by Choice | October 10, 2006 11:58 AM

Thank you Ambivalent Parent for being honest about your children and your choices. I think most parents on this blog are here because they are interested in parenting and balance and don't regret their choices. It doesn't mean there aren't many out there who DO regret having children, or honestly wish that a particular one of their children hadn't turned out the way they did. (Not that they don't love the kid or wish the kid had never been born, they just acknowledge that life would have been different and maybe a lot better/easier without that child.)

Because I am straightforward but not nasty about not wanting a child of my own and being happy in my own choice, people have opened up to me in weird ways about their own ambivalence and regrets. They know they can tell me things they fear would horrify another parent and bring judgment on them. I think there are a lot of hidden and unspoken regrets and negative emotions among parents out there, and maybe if more people were honest about their choices, or that they never consciously made a choice, or that they wish they had done things differently, it would help others to make a better decision for themselves.

Posted by: Joyce | October 10, 2006 12:01 PM

I look at married couples with children the way one looks at the aftermath of a hurricane or a horrible traffic accident. I feel sorry for them and am genuinely glad I'm not in their position.

This is why people post snarky responses to you.

Posted by: scarry | October 10, 2006 12:01 PM

Morgan says:
"I think it's hard in this day and age to look at the rising number of childless couples and not see selfishness. For the good of the world, literally, well-off individuals in committed relationships should be having children."

I'm glad you have it all figured out for the rest of us. Could you be MORE condescending?

Posted by: Rockville | October 10, 2006 12:04 PM

To to babyboomer,

Actually, there was a right-to-death case in the last couple years in Europe. A severely developmentally disabled woman was suing her parents for deciding to have children even when they knew the chances of passing on a genetic defect.

And if one were to say "I'm glad my parents made the decision to have kids because I'm alive," wouldn't they be selfish, which is the favorite insult hurled on childfree people?

Posted by: Meesh | October 10, 2006 12:05 PM

Don't we owe the debt you're speaking of most directly to our parents and other members of previous generations? That's why I'll do what I can to take care of my parents if and when they need it, and don't mind paying taxes for Social Security and other programs for the elderly.

Another comment re: selfishness- the ideal for me is to find as many things to do as I can that are both productive and enjoyable. Then the whole issue of selfishness vs. sacrifice goes away.

Fo4- If having children is something you really wanted, it was a good decision not to stay with your ex. DH and I are not parents and both ambivalent-at-best about the prospect. Not having at least somewhat similar thinking on this is a complete relationship deal-breaker, IMHO, more than religious differences or just about anything else.

Posted by: To Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 12:08 PM

Sam, I understand what you're saying, but the reverse can be true also. I genuinely enjoy most children (and teenagers!) and like interacting with them when I can, but I don't want one of my own. With someone else's, you don't have all the responsibility. It's kinda like being a grandparent. By the way, where are the grandparents on this blog? They need to get on here and tell us all about how the best thing about being a grandparent is that you can love and interact with the kid(s) without all the responsibilities and worries.

Posted by: Joyce | October 10, 2006 12:09 PM

At first, I thought, why even have a childless person on this blog? It doesn't make sense. But isn't "On Balance" about balancing our own lives with our work demands? Yes, kids have their own schedules, which makes the balance a bit harder to do. You can't just reschedule when they eat or go to bed like you can reschedule a yoga class. I work with a lot of childless people, and a good number of them are trying to just work 40 hours a week so they can go out, hang with friends, walk the dog, whatever, and those of us parents are trying to squeeze in the 40 hours so we can get to daycare or aftercare on time and get the work done. I'd like to know more about Jamie's attitude towards life: is she interested in balance? What is her sense of balance?

Posted by: ArlingtonMom | October 10, 2006 12:10 PM

Thanks, Scarry, and Father of 4 for coming back. This discussion would be less without you both

Posted by: Columbia MD | October 10, 2006 12:12 PM

Something to think about (at least, something that I've thought about):

Is it really possible for a person to make an informed choice about whether or not to become a parent? I don't think that it's possible for a person who doesn't have kids to _really_ know what it means to have a child- either the positive stuff or the negative stuff, nor is it possible for a parent to explain. It was certainly true for me and my husband when we had kids. We're glad we did it, but I must admit that we had no idea what we were getting into.

I'm not trying to criticize the childless-by-choice folks. But I wonder if they are making their decisions based on realistic ideas of what it is to be a parent, and what kind of choice they will have over what kind of a parent to be. Depending on what kinds of parents you know, you could have the idea that being a parent means going totally crazy over your kid's every poop and never having a life of your own, for example. Or you could have the idea that the early, heavily dependent years are what it's like until the kids go to college.

Posted by: randommom | October 10, 2006 12:13 PM

RE: comments about childless people on this blog...isn't part of balancing your life understanding each other's life choices? For we childfree, it is helpful to realize what parents go through and to be more understanding and flexible (not to mention helpful).

Posted by: Missicat | October 10, 2006 12:13 PM

About Morgan's post and Suspicious.
I don't know what Morgan meant. If he meant that only white middle class people should be reproducing, then I do agree this is ugly. This is my take on this. Many people reproduce without giving it a second thought. They may not be financially stable, emotionally stable, or able to sustain a family and raise children in an appropriate environment. I am not saying that people who do not want children should have them anyway. It just seems sometimes as though the people who give it some thought are the ones who choose not to have children whereas the people who don't give it any thought and who probably should not be having children are the ones reproducing.

Posted by: Rockville | October 10, 2006 12:14 PM

Ok, Morgan, I give up. I'm totally selfish. I am wealthy, so I take time off (sometimes a year) to travel the world. That means I'm lazy and unproductive and don't pay enough Social Security (or whatever). I don't have a child and don't want one. So I'm selfish and bitter and lonely and blah blah blah. I am so tired of all the jealousy directed toward people who simply make a choice that's different from their own.

My husband and I do make time for our relatives and friends and their children. We contribute to our community in many ways. How is that so selfish?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 12:15 PM

Count me in with the child-free. I hate kids, and always have, so it boggles my mind when the a-holes tell me that 'when I have my own, I'll change my mind'.

Yeah, right. I'll be in jail for child abuse, 'cuz I beat the bugger to death for wailing all night long and keeping me awake.

I don't want kids. Leave me alone!

Posted by: Phillyfilly | October 10, 2006 12:16 PM

I've also heard the "For the good of the world" reason I should have kids. It leaves the impression that poor children aren't considered to have the same potential, genetic or otherwise.
And when I am "paying back" society, it will be me paying my parents back by taking care of them (I am the only daughter).
I love my friend's children! I have awesome friends who fill their children's lives with adults of all kinds and haven't retreated from a diverse world.

Posted by: Suspicious, too | October 10, 2006 12:16 PM

the thought is that educated, responsible people who make a good living and will do their best to raise good citizens should have children, because uneducated, poverty striken people who don't nuture or supervise their children are having many, many children who run the streets, sell drugs and commit crimes, and have many children of their own, at young ages.

Before you tear me apart, I don't agree with this theory, but I've been hearing it for years (from republicans!)

Posted by: experienced mom | October 10, 2006 12:19 PM

i find it curious the people who get pressured to have more than one child. i'm an only child and i was never lonely or without playmates. when friends couldn't come out and play, i learned to entertain myself. i guess it's another case of people wanting others to fit their mold of what is expected.

Posted by: belgie | October 10, 2006 12:20 PM

To Ms L -

Right at this very moment my best friend from grad school is about to have her first baby - I have been in mourning for our friendship ever since they got pregnant. I am happy for them because they really want parenthood, but I know that our friendship is pretty much at its end. I will miss them terribly - but I also know that I am pretty sure that wI do not want to have children and that having a kid just so that our friendship doesn't end is the wrong reason to have a kid. I have always been torn about having them - my husband told me that he didn't want to while we were dating.
My friend is convinced that she won't change so much - I am more skeptical as this is not the first friend to have a baby - I have other friends with kids that I am barely still in touch with - friends from much further back.

We are thinking about having foster children for a while to see how we feel about having them around. As I will be 38 next spring, I won't have my own children - and that is totally fine with me, but have always been drawn to adopting anyway, so if we decide that we like having them around, we will do that.

I sure wish I could meet more of the posters who are not having kids.

Whether it is politics or kids, it always shocks me that everyone thinks that their choices are the right ones for everyone else.

Posted by: missing my friend | October 10, 2006 12:22 PM

Randommom, you can't know what it's like to have a child until you have one, and you also can't know what it's like NOT have a child and to build your life without one until you've gone through the whole experience. I'm old enough to have thought it over at several stages of my life and continued making my choice against a bio child, though still thinking of adoption or fostering. No, I don't think anyone can make a totally informed choice, but that's no reason to just plunge in and have a baby when you're not at all sure (or even very sure) you don't want one.

I have been totally shocked over the years to realize that my expectations of life with a baby were far MORE realistic than those of the large majority of my friends, who seemed to me to be astonishingly clueless. Sure, most of them coped quite well, but it became hilarious to me that, even in their early 40s, some of my friends simply had no idea about the changes a baby would make in their lives/schedules, etc.

Posted by: Joyce | October 10, 2006 12:24 PM

I still think we need a blog day on something positive, not contentious. I guess some people enjoy all the sniping here, but it's not very useful is it.

I can't believe that Ann Landers survey either. If Leslie asked for input from parents one day on reasons fence-sitters should consider having kids, I'll bet there'd be an avalanche of GOOD stories about parenthood.

Posted by: 2Preschoolers | October 10, 2006 12:25 PM

On the flip side I often wonder if most who decide to be parents have thought through all potential difficulties...

I can imagine that working with kids with special-needs can be extraordinarily rewarding, but also emotionally draining and many days heartbreaking. It can be a tough world, and I can't imagine being able to handle a situation where I am not able to give my child a reasonably happy life or the skills to survive out there. For most the up-at night, dependent phase is short lived and the kids then head off to school and progressively more independence... but there are no guarantees that you will not have a child who is much more dependent on you and for much longer.

Parenting requires a leap of faith - and faith is not something I have heard a good recipe for.

Posted by: to randommom | October 10, 2006 12:26 PM

'if we decide that we like having them around'

children are not house plants. foster children may have needs greater than the typical infant. please research and learn about child development and discipline before you experiment on real humans.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 12:29 PM

I don't get the "childless people are selfish" viewpoint either. It implies that the world is a better place just because you procreate. Having children is one of the most selfish things I've ever done, because I simply wanted them. Having my second child was even more selfish than having my first, because after having been a working mom for a few years I strongly felt that my kids would have been better off if born into a family where one parent stayed at home, and (according to my husband) we weren't able to afford to do that. With my daughter I didn't know how I felt about working with a young child. With my son, I did know how I felt about it, and went ahead and selfishly had him even though I didn't think I was bringing him into the best situation. Then 9/11 happened and I REALLY wondered why I brought the poor little kid into this world! As of now, however, both my children seem to be happy and well. My sister-in-law will soon have her fourth, and I think that's extremely selfish because it's at the expense of the older kids' college education. Plus I know it's in part a response to pressure she's gotten to work now that her kids are older.

Posted by: Sam | October 10, 2006 12:29 PM

At this point in my life, I have chosen not to have children. Why? I don't feel that my having a child would be to the best benefit of society, given it's present state (overpopulation in many countries, taxing of resources, so many unwanted children as it is). I feel that I can best contribute to society in other ways than to devote the time, energy and $$ it takes to raise a child. I can devote the time, energy and $$ it would take to raise a child and instead touch many more people's lives in other ways than by being a mother. Is that selfish? HOWEVER, if I felt that the world population were in danger by my choosing not to reproduce, I would consider having children, seeing that it would be beneficial to my fellow human beings. But, as of today, one can hardly argue that there is a dwindling population crisis going on. It's quite the opposite, last time I checked.

Posted by: So.VA | October 10, 2006 12:31 PM

I certainly can't speak for anyone else, but I feel that I've made an informed decision not to have kids. I do have to point out that we childless people do not live in a void. We interact with parents and children every day. All of my friends either want kids or already have them. I am well aware of the daily trials and tribulations of having kids. I also made the decision based on my income, my temperment, my health, and what I want out of my life.

And we're constantly told what life would be like (i.e., better) if we had kids. Why do you think we defend our choice and make excuses ("I volunteer and I give blood every 56 days! I swear!" or "I had a rough childhood") but no one asks you to defend your choice to have kids? The clear message is that having kids is right and not having them is wrong. If you don't have kids, prepare a brief statement including your rationale and general apology to the human race. Be prepared to recite ad naseum.

Posted by: Meesh | October 10, 2006 12:32 PM

Thank you so much for writing this! You have given voice to something terribly important in this day and age. Childfreedom is a legitimate choice that should be respected.

Best wishes to you for a wonderful childfree life!

Posted by: NevelC | October 10, 2006 12:36 PM

Then 9/11 happened and I REALLY wondered why I brought the poor little kid into this world!
--------

I'm raising my children with the idea that they have the power to solve the problems 9/11 addressed. I am not powerless in this world and neither are they. I've already seen them mend grandparents' damaged relationships, so I have no doubt that they are giving more to the world than they are getting.

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 12:37 PM

My sister-in-law will soon have her fourth, and I think that's extremely selfish because it's at the expense of the older kids' college education

***************************

GASP! To think they might have to help in paying for their education.

Also, I don't think they will be complaining about having brothers or sisters instead of a free ride!

Gimme a break!

Posted by: Lou | October 10, 2006 12:38 PM

Peepol who dont have kids is good. Means there is something in there jeans that stops them and we all betteer off.

Posted by: Mom of 14 | October 10, 2006 12:41 PM

There is not a population crisis people. There are too many countries with LOW birthrates. There is a food/wealth distribution problem.

Also, Mother Theresa would probably argue that she had many children, she just hadn't given birth to them.

Posted by: Lou | October 10, 2006 12:41 PM

I think those who say "It'll be different with your own kids" really don't care about children. The scariest thing is that they are willing to take this chance with a (possible) child's life. I've had several friends who did not want kids who either relented when a spouse really did want them and gave in to the "It'll be different" or, well, things just happened and are miserable. They truely did not want children, and do not want the ones they have. Tehy parent out of responsibility and regret the biggest mistake of their lives every day. No matter what kind of "game face" they put on in front of the kid, children are smart and will grow up knowing mom or dad didn;t want them. Great thing to wish on a child.

Posted by: Alexandria, VA | October 10, 2006 12:42 PM

Having Children is a personal choice. My wife and I have two of our own. While we are overjoyed with ours I do not feel the need to bother someone who chooses not to have children. That is as ignorant as the "person" who said,

"I look at married couples with children the way one looks at the aftermath of a hurricane or a horrible traffic accident. I feel sorry for them and am genuinely glad I'm not in their position."

Don't feel sorry for us as we chose this path just as you chose yours. It was no accident, well thought out, and planned. Our lives have changed yes, but it has in no way gotten worse. Sometimes we take trips with our children and sometimes we go alone we have our balance without compromising either.

We've been to 2 bowl games, catch a Redskins' game every year,went to ND for a game, go to the NCAAs every year, visit the Kennedy Center as well as Broadway, and we've been to no less than 10 different baseball stadiums. We've also been to he circus, museums, and other kiddie events. I'm not trying to compete or prove anything just showing that life does not end.

I'm actually glad there are people who know themselves well enough to not have children. I would rather have that over someone who did not want children having one. There are too many neglected children in the world already. Now I am NOT saying people who choose to not have children would be bad parents, what I am saying is if you're not inclined to want them maybe you should not.

As New Dad said earlier, you should be prepared financially and emotionally for children as it is a committment. There are people on both sides of the fence that make this a bigger issue than it needs to be. There are the parents who frown on the childless people *wrong* and there are the smug childess folks who are super defensive *also wrong* What is good for me is not good for you.

Whatever your choice don't feel the need to defend yourself nor should you look down on the others for their choice. Understand that some people on both sides just don't understand and leave it at that.

Posted by: Another Dad | October 10, 2006 12:43 PM

To: 'children are not house plants.'

Perhaps I did not phrase my statement the right way, but I think that you understand the point I was making. Please do not distort my well-intentioned words.

Posted by: missing my friend | October 10, 2006 12:47 PM

To Lou

It's not simply the case that the kids will have to "help" pay for their own education. From what I understand, there is close to NO money. They are going to whatever school will give the most money/costs the least, regardless of what how qualified they may be to get into other schools. I don't think children should be entitled to have their full expenses paid, but there should be SOME consideration of how adding another member to the family will affect the ones that are already there. And that includes financial implications.

Posted by: Sam | October 10, 2006 12:52 PM

to: Mom of 14

I don't even know where to start - there are so many things in your post that are so offensive. First of all, I do hope that your children have better grammar than you do. There is a difference between 'jeans' and genes' and perhaps it is yours that should not have been reproduced. That is meaner than I intended but I can't think of any other way to put it.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 12:53 PM

To missing my friend,
Having a child does not cross you over to this realm of another world. It just means they have children. They may not be able to always wisk away on a whim but if you are true friends you will always be friends. We have friends who do not have children and some who are still unmarried. We don't have "special" events just for them. When we meet sometimes it is with the children and other times it is not.

This is not as difficult as everyone makes it to me. Heck I have friends who are Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians and that does not change our relationship. Just be willing to know there will be some changes but you'll still be able to be friends, kinda like when your single friend all of a sudden got in a serious relationship with "the one" sure they changed a little but you still have that friendship.

Posted by: Another Dad | October 10, 2006 12:53 PM

I'm going to allow myself to post one comment, just to address some specific points people raised.

F04: I scored a three, but I work in a pretty forgiving office and get a lot of leeway for being the lone "creative" person on staff.

Dad of Kids from A-Z: I'm 27. How old are YOU? :)

ArlingtonMom: Of course I am interested in balancing work and life, and the decision not to have kids is one strategy I use to attain balance. Beyond that, I do what a lot of people, parents or not, do: I set limits on my availability, I found a job that I love so it feels a little less like work, I make sure to maintain my own interests and identity, I work on communicating with my husband, and most importantly, I prioritize. I put family first, but my family just happens to not have kids.

Ann Marie: I am going to be an awesome aunt to your kids. I can't wait for Sunday afternoons where I'll feed them nothing but pixie sticks and jolt cola before strapping them to the back of my Harley and heading out. ;)

Everyone who's questioning why this got posted: I submitted this guest blog because I was lurking (I lurk a lot) a few weeks ago and someone asked for input from people without kids. I would have gone more deeply into how I achieve and maintain balance, but there's a word limit. The short point is, respect is an integral part of balance, and balance becomes much harder to achieve when it feels like the entire word doesn't respect individual choices.

Thanks to everyone who's being so nice, none of whom appear to be my mother--so that's even better.

Posted by: Jamie Page Deaton | October 10, 2006 12:55 PM

Being judgemental is actually a positive trait, no matter how much our current culture would like us to believe otherwise. There are good choices and bad choices--pointing out which is which based on logic is a positive trait. Of course, the government should not be involved in a lot of these choices--we're free, we have the right to make bad choices. But just because we're allowed to make them, doesn't suddenly make these wrong choices equal to the right choices.

People who don't have children, when they're physically, financially, and mentally able to support and bring up a healthy, viable child, are selfish due to the following reasoning. Argue with the reasoning, not the conclusion.:

Barring the existence of a God, the easiest rational way to come to a decision about what is a moral/right or immoral/wrong is the old "would I suggest everyone do the same thing that I am currently doing"? Aka, if everyone did this, would society be worse off? If yes, once can argue that the choice is immoral/wrong, if no, then it cannot be an inherently wrong decision.

I would not suggest that the entire world stop reproducing. I also would suggest that it is better for some people to reproduce than for others to reproduce--people who have large genetic defects, for example, I would not suggest reproducting, since the benefit for society is negative. People, barring large mental/physical defects in their genes, who are capable of proving a supportive home environement and for all physical needs, on the other hand, are exactly the sort of people who are most likely to raise successful offspring. Therefore, those are exactly the sort of people who if all of them weren't breeding would dramatically lessen the successfulness of a society--thus, it is arguably immoral for such people not to bring forth children.

Once again, just because it's the right decision doesn't mean I believe that it should be mandated, but I would love some counter-thoughts. Perhaps a different view on how to define morality if God doesn't exist? Perhaps my logic is flawed somewhere?

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 12:58 PM

First I think it is ridiculous to even let yourself feel pressure from others on such a decision as this. Personally I give outside opinions on something such as this ZERO importance and attention. If a person understands just what having and raising kids is all about and how much 24/7 responsibility it entails and still wants children then, by all means, have them. On the other hand, if child-rearing is not your cup of tea then it is in EVERYONE'S best interest for you not to have them. Face it, how many times a day do you run across people who have no business having children, yet have them anyway, as if is the thing(societally)to do. That task is the ultimate responsibility you will face during your life and you need to be absolutely sure it is what you want. When done there is no going back. It is no one elses business whether or not you choose to have children, I have never understood people/societys thinking it is and then going so far as verbalizing it. People, shut up and mind your own business. More power to you and your husband for making the decision you made and not bending to outside pressure.

Posted by: Gary | October 10, 2006 12:59 PM

Bethesdan wrote: "I am not powerless in this world and neither are they... so I have no doubt that they are giving more to the world than they are getting."

Bethesdan also wrote: "We were all children once and we leeched off of adults, many of whom were both not our parents and who helped us out of the niceness of their own heart. I am tired of people thumbing their nose at all that help and support they got, refusing to pay back any of it... I'd just as soon raise my own kids than feel that crushing guilt of taking and never giving."

So your babies are giving more than they are getting, but we as adults should make up for taking more than we gave as babies? That makes no sense.

Posted by: Meesh | October 10, 2006 1:00 PM

Sam-

I still think it's ridiculous that you would think it's selfish to have a large family if the implications were, your children would have to figure out a way to pay for a high end college. Those things work out.

Posted by: Lou | October 10, 2006 1:01 PM

Arguably there is a (lack of) immigration problem - rather than a low birthrate problem.

I consider myself to be a very devoted teacher. I happily spend many more than 40 hours per week doing things related to school (not just the obviously required lectures/grading/research). While I think I do more good helping many others a little than hypothetical children of my own a lot - I think it would be a bit creepy to claim I have many children. My students have their own parents and my role is entirely different. This came up earlier on the blog today - I don't think it helps to remove all of those in careers like teaching and healthcare from the discussion because we are is some very loose sense helping to "raise" children. Having singleton vocation is a different choice from having your own children (even for Mother Theresa). And choosing not to have children because you don't think you could balance them with your existing life (job and family) is another component of today's discussion.

Posted by: to Lou | October 10, 2006 1:03 PM

I'd like to rephrase--childless people due to flawed reasoning aren't any more selfish than the majority of people w/children. They're merely making the wrong/immoral decision.

Thank you "Who Is Selfish??" poster, your post was apt.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 1:03 PM

To Sam,
I'd have to give your children vs education example a C-. While I agree financial considerations should be taken into account when having children college is an entirely different story. Personally, the people I know who worked for their education were much more appreciative of that experience. Many children now are being raised in this era of "entitlement" where they are owed something when they have proven nothing. If a child wants to go to a particular school they can and will find a way. If the older children are bitter because of a sibling "causing" them to not go to their school of choice they have much bigger problems.

Living in the DC area I see way too many of these "entitled" children and that would easily turn me off to having children.

Oh and I do know of a person who was 1 of 4 children in a single parent home who not only went to a top school but then went to graduate school for free so there is always a way.

Posted by: Another Dad | October 10, 2006 1:03 PM

12:53,

I is not sure how I culd have made that joke any clearer. Did I rite "jeans"...I meant pants. Now I will go have anuther kid.

-Soon to be Mom of 15

Posted by: Mom of 14 | October 10, 2006 1:04 PM

I really don't understand the argument that not having children is selfish. I think there's nothing more selfish than having kids. What else explains people's determination to have their own kids when there are millions kids already here who need good homes? It all boils down to the biological imperative to pass your own genes on, which can only be described as self-preservation at its most innocuous, and simply selfish at its least.

Posted by: Ashley | October 10, 2006 1:04 PM

My wife and I have dogs instead of kids.

Posted by: Rob | October 10, 2006 1:06 PM

"I think it's hard in this day and age to look at the rising number of childless couples and not see selfishness. For the good of the world, literally, well-off individuals in committed relationships should be having children."

"Morgan --

Are you a Catholic priest?

I won't waste my breath explaining why your post is arrogant as well as absurd. Others on the blog will do that, I'm sure.

But, in addition to the complete absence of morality, ethics, logic, and basic human decency, your post ignores the simple fact that the world is already overpopulated. How is it immoral not to add to the human misery of a world in which too many children are born and then die the agonizing death of the malnourished?"

Why would my opinion carry a different amount of weight dependent on my career choice? As for the world being overpopulated, the vast majority of first world countries aren't producing replacement rate babies, much less babies past replacement rate. Also, please respond to my points, not what you imagine are my points. I rely heavily on the concept that those that are Able/Capable should have children, not just any Dick, John, and Harry.


Posted by: In Response | October 10, 2006 1:08 PM

To Sam: Don't let them get you down. I very much want to pay for my DD education. I place family size a high priority to ensure the succes of the ones already here. That being said, I think the parent's of large families, in general, feel that the additional love that a sibling brings is immeasurable. As long as they can feed, they can breed them. I do think there are some priceless things that children in large families can learn. But on the flip side, one of my dear friends is one of 10. She will definitely tell you that you can't always live on love!

Posted by: foamgnome | October 10, 2006 1:09 PM

IT isn't selfish to remain childless. Then the people who are really into parenthood can have three or more, and the birth rate (in this country) is still around replacement level. Not selfish at all.

Posted by: Green Mom of 2 | October 10, 2006 1:11 PM

"They do not believe that marriage without children is alright."

The Roman Catholic Church does not explicitly require married people to have or raise children. However, in order for a marriage in the Church to be valid, the couple has to be open to children. So the default assumption (not requirement) is that a married couple will have kids if they can. Individuals who are infertile or those beyond the childbearing years can marry in the Church and are not required to adopt children.

If someone gets married in the Church with the intent never to have children, then that's a no no, and the marriage is considered invalid (aka, the couple isn't actually married).

Posted by: RockvilleDad | October 10, 2006 1:11 PM

"IT isn't selfish to remain childless. Then the people who are really into parenthood can have three or more, and the birth rate (in this country) is still around replacement level. Not selfish at all."

That theory has not been working well in European countries...even France and Ireland (some of the highest birth rates in Europe) have subpar replacement levels in terms of births.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 1:15 PM

Here is a try at why I am missing something in your logic.

Part 1: Pick a "good" career. We need doctors, but only some doctors. If we have an entire world of doctors we would starve, buildings would fall, etc. If there were no doctors our quality of life would be lousy. It is helpful if those who are drawn to be doctors are doctors and those who are drawn to other callings pursue those. (We also need some people who have jobs rather than callings and get there emotional and intellectual fufillment elsewhere - likely as a parent.)

Part 2: There are a limited number of hours in a day. If you have someone who is a terrific pediatrician, who pursues there craft well over 40 hours per week, and makes a difference in the lives of many children - the world could be a substantially worse place if they decide they want to have children and make the appropriate cuts to their career to support this.

Posted by: to Morgan | October 10, 2006 1:16 PM

Father of 4:

My husband and I are very silly people who like to make faces and speak in silly voices and do all other manner of kid-type funny things. I passed your idiotic tongue test even though my husband and I never ever want to have children.

*THPT*!

Posted by: nellodee | October 10, 2006 1:16 PM

Fatherof4, I usually like you and enjoy your posts and your humor, but why today did you have to write "so I dumped her"? Why "dumped"? Why not, "broke up with" her? I mean, did you love her or not? Are you sure that she was able to have children and didn't want them, or was she perhaps unable to have them so decided to accept that she would not have them? What if you had married her and then learned she couldn't have children? I just think it was very ugly of you, and not really like you, to use the word "dumped".

Posted by: Mel | October 10, 2006 1:17 PM

Thanks for clarifying Rockville Dad. I thought I had said that but I see you made it clearer. Actually the priest that married us refuses to marry people who do not wish to have kids. But he never had an actual number of children he thought we should have. But the priest that taught my confirmation class (many moons ago) said Americans should have at least 3 to 4 kids. And if you can't produce biological children, then you should consider adopting some children to get to the minimum number of kids (3 or 4). His reasoning was your grand parents could not afford your parents. Your parents could not afford you. So you should not be saying you can't afford more then 2. I wonder what that priest would say today.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 10, 2006 1:18 PM

Morgan, your view on how to define morality if God doesn't exist works for me to a certain extent.

If you take an extreme point, however, the argument falls apart.

My friend happens to think that focused sterilization is the answer to our society's overpopulation problem and the key to the survival of our species. In his view, people with incurable, life-altering genetic disorders should be sterilized. Our socitey would benefit because the number of citizens who can not function and use a majority of healthcare resources would be minimized, and the number of citizens who have great genes would be maximized.

However, this view limits people's rights. I'm sure most people would argue that this view is very wrong for that reason. So just as people who want to have children are marginalized by this view, so would people who do not want children be marginalized by your view.

Posted by: Meesh | October 10, 2006 1:19 PM

i've never actually viewed having children as what one would call a rationale decision--humans were designed to mostly choose what's in their best short-term individual interests; mother nature gets around this by making the sexual encounter desirable or impulsive, not childbirth or parenting. discussing parenting as a lifestyle decision at first strikes me as kind of belittling to the continuation of the species and the fragile, precious nature of life itself, but i suspect any one who discusses it in these terms, actually thinks about it much more deeply than as just another consumer option. through technology and culture, we have allowed ourselves to escape biology and it seems the trend is that the wealthier and more educated a society becomes, the lower the birthrate. while i acknowledge the benefits our having a son has or may have on a society, i can't honestly say that's why we had a child. i happen to love children, but like many of the childless posters, i would find myself "complete" or "satisfied" without children (so long for me personally as i was involved with children in some way). you can't guarantee you'll raise the next nobel prize winner or that you won't raise the next manson. i guess i think having children is a gamble on the future and a willingness to write the next chapter--although i'm only 31, after having a child, i do feel that much of what i do is about paving the way for the next generation. having children to me was simply a natural choice like eating or breathing and i'm glad to say most people don't wait until they're prepared financially, mentally, professionally, etc.--for 98% of the world, i don't think this is really an option. not everyone is going to feel like this and i have no problem with people not having children (as long as many people still are). and for what it's worth, all we ever heard out of friends and strangers mouths (but not family) was how we weren't really parents because we only have one child and that we had to have another.

i do sincerely hope that those who are choosing not to have children are not primarily refraining because it would unbalance their lives. most change is unbalancing, but little of it is as rewarding.

Posted by: marc | October 10, 2006 1:20 PM

Jamie, while I respect your right to a child-free life, please allow me to add my 2 cents. The sad paradox you face in giving up parenthood, is that you truly can't understand what you're missing unless you were to first experience it.

For me, becoming a dad was like falling-in-love all over again, a life-altering and transcendent experience. The first time my little girl fell asleep in my arms I was overwhelmed with a happiness that I had never known. And in time, I realized that being a dad gave a special meaning to my life that I would not have had otherwise. So while I used to say I can't imagine my life with kids, I now can't imagine my life without them.

And while I sympathize with your having to constantly defend your decision, please cut us parents a little slack. When we say your life would be so much richer for the experience, we are not lecturing, we only mean to share the profound joy with you. Like most people, you are basing your decision on what you know, but being a parent is "unknowable" to you and requires a leap of faith into the unknown. Trust me when I say that it will change you in such an unimaginably wonderful way, you will never regret it.

Posted by: Josh | October 10, 2006 1:20 PM

"Perhaps my logic is flawed somewhere?"

Yes, your logic is flawed. You are trying to make something a black and white issue when it is not. Many people can look at themselves and know that having children would not be something positive to them, and therefore, having children just because they were financially and physically capable of it would be wrong. If they know they do not want the emotional responsibility of raising a child and don't believe they could give that child the love and respect all children deserve, then that right there is reason enough NOT to have a child. And in fact, having a child when you know you do not want to is actually completely irresponsible.

You said "People who don't have children, when they're physically, financially, and mentally able to support and bring up a healthy, viable child, are selfish due to the following reasoning" but what you fail to take into consideration is not wanting to have a child means someone is NOT mentally able to support a child.

Posted by: Jolie | October 10, 2006 1:22 PM

"Arguably there is a (lack of) immigration problem - rather than a low birthrate problem"

What country are you living in?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 1:23 PM

My husband and I don't want to have children so am I selfish? The reasons to not have one are not all selfish. One major reason for me is that my husband has a serious chronic illness. When he's in remission, he's great. When he's not he is very ill, can barely walk, loses weight, is very weak and in and out of the hospital. That can get scary.
When he's sick I am his caretaker. It's exhausting at times but worth it and I know he'd do it for me. I just don't see how I could fit having a kid into that scenario as well.

So we don't plan to have one any time soon. If he stays healthy for a long period of time and if better treatments become available we may be more open to it. I'm 26 and though not a mom, I already know what it's like to completely devote all of you to someone else's wellbeing. And there are so many cases that people are called to this duty be it a child, a sick spouse or friend or aging parent. So when I get all of the old lines--"when are you gonna start think about having kids?", "give me grandbabies!" or when people suggest I must be pregnant because I put on a few pounds--I get upset. They have no idea what it's like. This blog has helped me see what it's like to be a mom and really think about can I be a caretaker to my husband and mom to a child if that's what it comes down to one day?? I don't know yet. We're not all selfish people thinking about Me, Me and Me only and sit around woshiping our dogs/cats...okay I admit--my husband and I spoil our dog to death! Some of us may have a lot more going on in our lives that you'd think.

Posted by: caretaker | October 10, 2006 1:24 PM

"I once had a girlfriend that I loved very much. When she was getting to that stage where the marriage hints began to surface, I asked her how many children she wanted.

She told me that she was unsure if she wanted any at all.

So I dumped her."

Fo4 --

Think it's possible that, if she had asked the initial question, and you had answered "four," she would have dumped you first?

Why do you have to make it sound so one-sided? If the two of you didn't agree on this fundamental issue, of course you shouldn't have remained together. But to say "I dumped her" -- and then to relate this with great pride to the blog -- just seems like a testosterone thing. And it belies your claim of having loved her.

And here I thought better of you . . .

Posted by: pittypat | October 10, 2006 1:24 PM

"Anyone else getting that impression?"

Suspicious --

That's the message I got from Morgan's post. The subtext was, It's your moral duty to produce white, middle-class offpring to make sure we're not overtaken by THE OTHERS.

Ugly stuff.

Posted by: pittypat | October 10, 2006 11:46 AM
>>>>>>>

To all who are going down the path of the email above. While I agree there is a scary white power element to the pro-breeding comments of certain individuals in this country, I wish I could set all these poor souls straight. Latinos are white!

My husband is Latino his ancestors are from Poland and Italy, much like many of the white people making these crazy claims. Latino simply means you are from Latin America. It is an ethnic description, not a race.

Posted by: alex. mom | October 10, 2006 1:25 PM

There is a glaring double-standard that confronts the childfree every day. The more rabid childbreeders out there expect us to put our personal lives on hold for them, and refuse to return the favor when requested. We also are labeled as "selfish", "immature" and "immoral" for our choice not to have children.

Many of us who are childfree made this choice for deep, personal reasons that are no one else's business. Some of us do not wish to pass on genetically-linked illnesses, while others may wish to devote their time to careers and/or public service. Our choices are our own, and not your business.

Every childed person who I have ever asked about their choice to bring children into this world gives an answer starting with, "I wanted...", followed by reasons too cliched to repeat. There is nothing more selfish than bringing a child into this world and expecting him/her to love you unconditionally, take care of you when you are older or carry on your family name. Anybody with an inferiority complex that deep needs more help than a child could provide.

Posted by: Kate | October 10, 2006 1:25 PM

great post, josh. it's nice to hear other dads pine away over their children.

[excuse me, i have to run and beat mine right now--as he's fighting with his friend! i'm joking about the beating part.]

Posted by: marc | October 10, 2006 1:26 PM

Ugh. I know a Catholic man who used the "she didn't want children" to attempt to annul a 15-year marriage. The thing is, she DID want children, but because he didn't love her when he married her (rebound from relationship his parents disapproved of and made him break off) and they married fairly young, he kept pushing off having kids. Then they began to have marriage problems, so he said he didn't want kids, even though she thought they should try. Then he dumped her after cheating with various women he met traveling for business and then starting a relationship with a divorced woman he worked with. This woman demanded he leave his wife, so he did, and then a few years later, after he dumped divorced woman, he found a girl he wanted to marry so he used the "SHE never really wanted kids" thing to try to get an annulment. Nuts to that!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 1:26 PM

While I think your job as a teacher is a very admirabe one (my mother is as well), it is in no way comparable to Mother Teresa's vocation to care for the most unwanted. As our priest is considered a Father to many, Mother Teresa was considered a mother to many as well.

Those titles are not a coincidence. I guess if you are not accustomed to it, it might seem creepy, but quite the contrary.

Posted by: Lou | October 10, 2006 1:26 PM

Part 1: Pick a "good" career. We need doctors, but only some doctors. If we have an entire world of doctors we would starve, buildings would fall, etc. If there were no doctors our quality of life would be lousy. It is helpful if those who are drawn to be doctors are doctors and those who are drawn to other callings pursue those. (We also need some people who have jobs rather than callings and get there emotional and intellectual fufillment elsewhere - likely as a parent.)

Response:
People aren't inherently drawn to where they are needed--supply and demand helps smooth out a lot of the issues you mention. Perhaps, if we need more doctors, some of the people with children would join that field. Perhaps, if we had too many doctors, their fees would go down and less people would want to go through all that training for such minimal rewards.

Part 2: There are a limited number of hours in a day. If you have someone who is a terrific pediatrician, who pursues there craft well over 40 hours per week, and makes a difference in the lives of many children - the world could be a substantially worse place if they decide they want to have children and make the appropriate cuts to their career to support this.

Response:
I'd disagree the world would be a subtantially worse place. If that pediatrician is unequalled around the world, truly a person that cannot be replaced, then it would be a far, far greater waste if she never attempted to pass on her unique genes. If she is replaceable, than the issue could be solved through the hospital hiring another person of equal skill set. Either way, the world is saved.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 1:29 PM

The one I most often get is "But you'd make a great mom." And while that's probably a true statement, it's just not the right choice for me right now.

ArlingtonMom you asked a great question. For me choosing not to have a child right now in my life is completely because of balance. With the priorities that I have in my life right now, I don't want to make the sacrifices that having a child would require.

And honestly I think because I view them as sacrifices to begin with shows that it's not really the best choice for me. To me, having a child would not work with WHO I AM right now.

While I've trained my family on the marriage/kids thing to simply accept my choices and be happy (or shut up), there's nothing one can do about societal or random stranger rudeness except smile, act superior and then make fun of them sarcastically in private later.

OK I rarely act superior to their faces...

But I think all parents need to realize that this IS an element of their lives that they will need to face in finding THEIR balance- dealing with a world full of people who make completely different choices and learning how to make sure everyone's needs are met. If you ignore or put off the non-parents of the world, you're never going to be able to find the balance that you need.

Posted by: Liz D | October 10, 2006 1:32 PM

""Anyone else getting that impression?"

Suspicious --

That's the message I got from Morgan's post. The subtext was, It's your moral duty to produce white, middle-class offpring to make sure we're not overtaken by THE OTHERS.

Ugly stuff.

Posted by: pittypat | October 10, 2006 11:46 AM "

The fact that you inherently assume that anyone who is able/capable of having children and raising them successfully must be white and middle-class is rather disturbing. I find that view far more distubring than mine.
There are large amounts of ethnic minorities and people in low-income situations who are perfectly capable of raising successful children--I hope you don't disagree with that statement.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 1:33 PM

I all of you parents out there are feeling this "overwhelming love" and "profound joy" that you write about, then why don't I SEE more of it? I mean this honestly and not trying (too much) to provoke. But really. I see a lot of "happy" parents -- meaning more or less content with their lot. But I don't see evidence of these great and deep and mystical feelings, and I rarely hear anyone speak of them unless they are talking about infants or small children. I see far too many unhappy, overstressed, angry, harried, tired, and and that's all they seem to talk about (or the fact that their spouse isn't doing enough as a parent or housekeeper), when they're not bragging that Little Junior got into Harvard.

Posted by: Show us the love! | October 10, 2006 1:33 PM

RE: Fo4

"As we can see from today, his mere presence alone is a "Tongue Test" for those who have no sense of humor whatsoever!"

I have a fine sense of humor, I just don't think he's all that funny.

Posted by: Julia | October 10, 2006 1:34 PM

Josh:

Becoming a parent is not a revocable decision. Once you have the child, you are its father or mother. If you decide one day that you don't wish to be a parent, you cannot just remove the batteries and stick the child back on a shelf or return it to the guest services counter for a refund. Things do not work that way, and even if you put the child up for adoption that child will always be there.

You are lecturing us when you presume that parenting is something everyone needs to experience. I experienced parenting from the standpoint of being the oldest child in a very, very large Catholic family and being the assistant father by default. Mom and dad worked, and it fell to me to parent my siblings when I was in need of parenting myself.

Not everyone wants to have children, and if you make that choice, so be it. Do not expect others to fall for all of the Kodak moments that childed people assume exist in their world. You assume that everyone wants that experience, and that is patently false. I do not need to experience an auto accident to know that I never want to be in one. Nor do I ever want to know what it is like to walk on the moon.

I was one who changed diapers, mixed and fed formula and cooked, cleaned and awakened children and put them to bed at night. I knew fatherhood was not for me and I made my life choices around it.

Stop trying to validate your own choices through the prism of convincing others that they must do it as well. Live with your own choices and the consequences of them.

Posted by: George | October 10, 2006 1:34 PM

"Trust me when I say that it will change you in such an unimaginably wonderful way, you will never regret it."

I know some parents for whom having children changed their lives in an unimaginably negative way. And they have no hesistation to say that they regret having children.

So, not all parents will say they never regreted having children.

Posted by: So.VA | October 10, 2006 1:34 PM

"Well I agree that Morgan post's was insulting. I didn't get the feeling that it was about white people. That being said, no one wants to be the minority or held down or oppressed. I think some people are afraid that if they ever do become the minority they will be treated badly and lumped together with people who treated the previous minority bad. I just wish that in this day and age things didn't have to be framed in the terms of minority, white, other, etc. I wish everyone could truly see people just as people.

Morgan, if that's what you were proposing, shame on you, if you weren't come on out and say so."

...I believe I may have already covered this, but I'd also like to state I'm certainly not a proponent of harassing strangers. On the other hand, I'd have no problem informing my friends or family of my views on this issue.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 1:36 PM

How sad that this situation has not changed more in the 30+ years since I made the same decision. One person even had the gall to tell me "If you don't have any children, there won't be anyone to take care of you when you get old." What an appalling reason to have a child--built in elder care. I often wonder if that woman's children did, in fact, take care of her.

Posted by: eb | October 10, 2006 1:38 PM

I agree that was a great post Josh.

I personally feel my decision to want children came from my own family experience both with my parents and my siblings. I had a wonderful experience with my dad growing up and we still have that relationship. Having children had little to do with my needs or wants but rather having the opportunity to help mold a child and help them grow into a positive member of society. My wife felt the same as we discussed this before marriage.

I also felt having grandchildren for them would be one way of saying thanks to them for what they did for me as I was never pressured to have children. I also had fond memories of times with my grandparents.

Our relationships, while never perfect, were always loving and what I learned from I still keep close to my heart. I only hope I can do the same.

That is why I neither judge nor blame those who choose not to have children. Their reason is as personal as mine is to want children. It's also not my business and they do not have to answer to me.

Posted by: Another Dad | October 10, 2006 1:38 PM

I shall reiterate, for those who haven't read all my posts, I regret my statement that childless couples are more selfish than couples with children--I now state that they are merely, if part of a certain demographic, making a flawed/immoral choice.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 1:39 PM

to: Jolie

'but what you fail to take into consideration is not wanting to have a child means someone is NOT mentally able to support a child.'

I hope that you didn't really mean this the way it comes across. Of course those of us who choose to not have children are able to mentally support a child - we just choose not to do so. We are perfectly mentally together - it is just a choice that we have made.

I am not sure why so many view not having children as a negative - the thing about it is that it should be neutral to those outside of the couple, just as choosing to have children should be neutral to those outside of a couple who chooses to. Judgement should not be passed either way.

Sure, I wish my friends were not having a baby, but I am not judging them on that. Things will be very different and our friendship will most likely fizzle out, and it makes me sad, but there isn't anything we can can do about it. I am worried about the reasons they gave for having a baby - they felt left out at Christmas with their families - but again, not for me to judge.
There is not right or wrong for anyone else - just for me and my husbad.

Posted by: missing my friend | October 10, 2006 1:39 PM

The *global* birth rate is above replacement rate - so why can't we call that supply and demand being in balance? It might be better to work at leveling the playing field for the next generation - rather than saying we should just be sure the advantaged provide another generation of advantaged (instead of sharing resources).

A unique skill is not passed on so simply from generation to generation. I don't think MJ cutting back on his basketball to raise a next generation would guarantee kids with the same skill. And wouldn't the other person of equal skill be derelict in their duty to create a next generation?

Posted by: to Morgan again | October 10, 2006 1:40 PM

And is anyone else out there with relative's or friends with genetic disabilities slightly alarmed at all those people who wouldn't have children because there is a chance of passing it on?

Do all of those wonderful Down's people look like they really hate life? Seriously, is there life less worth living because it doesn't stand up to someone else's standards???

Posted by: Lou | October 10, 2006 1:41 PM

"

Morgan, your view on how to define morality if God doesn't exist works for me to a certain extent.

If you take an extreme point, however, the argument falls apart.

My friend happens to think that focused sterilization is the answer to our society's overpopulation problem and the key to the survival of our species. In his view, people with incurable, life-altering genetic disorders should be sterilized. Our socitey would benefit because the number of citizens who can not function and use a majority of healthcare resources would be minimized, and the number of citizens who have great genes would be maximized.

However, this view limits people's rights. I'm sure most people would argue that this view is very wrong for that reason. So just as people who want to have children are marginalized by this view, so would people who do not want children be marginalized by your view."

I'd concur, rights shouldn't be trampled. All of my views on morality and making the right choices rely on people, not government. I tend to lean Libertarian, I don't think the government should tell us what we should or should not do for the most part. But that doesn't mean I don't think that there's a clear right and wrong in a lot of situations---I just don't think in most cases you should be forced by anyone to make the right decision.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 1:43 PM

Show us the love;

I can take you to a place where you WILL see all of this in action. It just so happens that those who are willing to share these feelings happen to be online right now.

We could use the same argument in discussing marriage with the divorce rate being so high. It's a matter of perspective and where you live. If you're serious about wanting to "see" these types of families, let me know.

Posted by: Another Dad | October 10, 2006 1:45 PM

To Jolie:
Knowing that you don't want responsibility for a child is not a mental flaw that means that you're not Capable of raising successful children. That is a flaw of selfishness, just like having a blood child if you had a major genetic defect would be a flaw of selfishness.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 1:45 PM

"They do require that all married couples seek to have children."

foamgnome --

If you're responding to my coments on Morgan's post, let me point out that Morgan specifically said that it is immoral for "well-off individuals in committed relationships" not to have children. I think you can read "married" into that.

Posted by: pittypat | October 10, 2006 1:46 PM

Josh - I really am glad that you love fatherhood and your kids are very lucky to have you as a father....but when you make comments like that, you are invalidating the fact that I am an adult and I have made my choice! Would you like someone telling you that you should not have kids because he/she is deliriously happy not having any? We have to find our own definition of contentment and happiness.

Posted by: Missicat | October 10, 2006 1:46 PM

Good for you! I think the question you could ask your aunt (but haven't) is a good one to pose to all busy bodies who think they know more about what's best for your life than you do. People who have thought about children (not just cuddly babies) all the way through the teen years and into adulthood are my heroes. You all will not be the cause of someone crying to Oprah about how horrible their parents were. Why don't more people ask why they DO want kids? That's a better question. Our society puts so much pressure on everyone to get married and have kids that I think there are millions of people who did just that without really doing the soul searching that's required before you bring a human being into the world. Enjoy your life and don't let anyone make you feel bad about your decision. You have to live your life - not them.

Posted by: DC Fem | October 10, 2006 1:47 PM

Morgan, your idea of "if everybody did it, would society be better off is inhuman. Not inhumane... inhuman.

Wolf packs have symmetric cooperation, which means all the wolves do basically the same task-- hunting. Once the kill is brought down, they stop cooperating and snap over who has the greater right to the spoils.

Humans are unique in having what is called heterotechnic cooperation. HETERO- meaning different, not the same.

I will paraphrase a quote from Pter Reynolds the anthropologist describing how australian aborigines cooperate together in making knives, like they have done for thousands of years. "one of the men handed a stick to the other, who in turn raked the coals... the another picked up a stick and joined in... one of the men takes the warm, viscous liquid and molds it into a bal... then the two men divide the labor into two tasks...

We use this exact same division of labor to this day in factories-- heck, in all business, agriculture, commerce, even in child-rearing.

You have confused "giving back to society" with "raising children." Bill Gates could never have kids nor fund a scholarship and he would still use his wealth for the better of society by addressing the problems of AIDS in India, helping develop educational software that benefits disabled kids in classrooms, and finally by providing a business that is the income for thousands of microsoft employees. He would be as selfish or not whether he had kids or not.

The journalist who forefeits having kids because his/her job is too dangerous, takes too much travel, and yet takes photographs and writes stories about important scandals, such as toxic waste affecting the health of hundreds or thousands, including children, born or unborn, is also contributing positively to society-- perhaps having more of an impact, no matter how indirect, on more children's lives than he or she could have done staying at home, taking a nice safe job, and raising a couple of kids.

You also say barring God. Well, I happen to believe in God and I also believe that he made us all different for a reason. If you don't, at least wake up to the reality that nobody nowadays is an jack-of-all-trades, and a life of sharing talent and service with society does NOT automatically mean parenting, raising kids, or even liking kids. It can in fact mean the dead opposite.



Posted by: Wilbrod | October 10, 2006 1:50 PM

to pittypat:No, I was responding to Lou who thought slammed on Sam for thinking that people should limit the # of kids in order to pay for their education and other expenses.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 10, 2006 1:50 PM

"Things will be very different and our friendship will most likely fizzle out, and it makes me sad"
--
missingmyfriend

I'm sorry to tell you this but if your friendship fizzles out because of a child then you never really had a friendship.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 1:50 PM

Ok, so if everyone should have the child they are having, despite learning that the child will in some way be disabled, or ill, or what have you, then why do we do all this pre-birth testing? Seems to me the major reason is to ABORT the child if it's going to have some sort of problem, NOT, as a few will say, to better prepare the parents to deal with that problem.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 1:50 PM

"The *global* birth rate is above replacement rate - so why can't we call that supply and demand being in balance? It might be better to work at leveling the playing field for the next generation - rather than saying we should just be sure the advantaged provide another generation of advantaged (instead of sharing resources)."

Response: If the disadvantaged were advancing society as much as the advantaged, I'd agree. But the statistics lead to the conclusion that the advantaged are more likely to contribute heavily to society than the disadvantaged. As for sharing resources, most third world countries have far different cultures than ours. I personally view the majority of first world cultures as above-and-beyond the cultures of a lot of the third world. Advancing them with money, until their cultures have 'advanced' (changed) as well, seems semi-useless.

"A unique skill is not passed on so simply from generation to generation. I don't think MJ cutting back on his basketball to raise a next generation would guarantee kids with the same skill. And wouldn't the other person of equal skill be derelict in their duty to create a next generation?"

I agree it isn't a guarantee, but with the assumption that this is unique to you alone--what better chance of recreating it, besides cloning, than reproduction? If the other person of equal skill had a stay-at-home Mother/Father, than no. Or perhaps two people work part-time. There are many ways to get around this, they're simply not easy. Very few things are easy.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 1:51 PM

wow, this guest blog hit a nerve...

Jamie's right: the time to figure out you don't want kids is BEFORE you have them. And it's important when marrying that both persons have the same views about having or not having children.

But I have always been a little puzzled by those who are judgmental of childless-by-choice couples...and less than thrilled with child-hating people who deride those of us who are responsibly raising our children. It's the chasm I don't understand. Live and let live.

Posted by: single western mom | October 10, 2006 1:52 PM

JOSH SAID:
Like most people, you are basing your decision on what you know, but being a parent is "unknowable" to you and requires a leap of faith into the unknown. Trust me when I say that it will change you in such an unimaginably wonderful way, you will never regret it.
==============================

You see, this is the kind of attitude that rankles me. You can just tell that deep down, Josh thinks he's superior to me in some way, and he's speaking to me from some higher plane that I can't possibly know because I haven't reproduced.

Well, Josh, you won't ever know what it's like to be a child-free 50 year old looking back over a lifetime of community service, travel, political engagement and strong, meaningful connections to family and friends -- all free of the burdens (financial, time-related, etc.) of raising children. You are basing your decision on what you know, but being in this position is "unknowable" to you.

Trust me when I tell you that the joy is so transcendent and amazing that you cannot possibly know it unless you experience it.

How's *that* for condescending?!?!

Posted by: A.non | October 10, 2006 1:52 PM

No big deal about not having kids. I figure if that the instinct to have children is gene related, there will be fewer of you in a few generations.

Posted by: Darwin | October 10, 2006 1:52 PM

Pittypat, Mel, so how does one terminate a loving caring relationship thats lasted for 2 years or so in order to make time and resources to culture a relationship with someone else for what we knew would become a better choice in the long run?

We kept calling each other and still got together. We couldn't just quit one another. And we talked about how we were going to do it. We both knew that it would have to involve anger or bitterness.

So in our next squabble, we "dumped" each other. That's true love, and it hurt.

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 10, 2006 1:54 PM

To pitty pat: Actually, now I am a little confused pitty pat. I think I was responding to your post to Morgan. I was just saying what Catholic theology teaches. Not really how I personally feel. It wasn't an attack on you or Morgan. BTW, I don't understand where religion got the idea everyone should have kids. Maybe they are just scared if people don't have kids the donations might stop.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 10, 2006 1:54 PM

Well, all I can say is that I'm glad we live in a world where we have the choice. Just a couple or three generations ago, that wasn't the case. How nice that those of us who want children can have them, and those of us who don't want them, don't have to.
BTW - I have four children but my best friend and her husband have none. Everyone's happy.

Posted by: Pam | October 10, 2006 1:55 PM

Although most parents don't regret having children, I've know quite a few that regretted their parenting choices because they felt their failures as a parent led to their children's later failures in life (drugs, alcohol, mental illness, violence behavior, etc.). If a person doesn't want to be a parent, for whatever reason, then it's just stupid to continue harrassing them and telling them they are doing the "wrong thing" and not contributing to society.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 1:56 PM

""They do require that all married couples seek to have children."

foamgnome --

If you're responding to my coments on Morgan's post, let me point out that Morgan specifically said that it is immoral for "well-off individuals in committed relationships" not to have children. I think you can read "married" into that."

You can also read any other sort of committed relationship. I haven't see any conclusive evidence that homosexual committed relationships produce flawed children, so I include them as well. Or polygamy for that matter. I stand by that until someone can bring forth a document showing statistic problems with those sort of home enviroments for children.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 1:56 PM

Morgan...sounds to me like you want to create the "master race". FYI, someone already tried that.

Posted by: me | October 10, 2006 1:56 PM

Having a child is not the same as parenting a child.

Posted by: Right on | October 10, 2006 1:58 PM

I completely agree that whether to have children or remain childfree is a personal choice that should not be ridiculed or dismissed. That said, virtually all of my friends that were vitriolically opposed to reproducing have changed their minds as their biological clocks aged. Myself, I'm on the fence for now but know my mind might (and probably will) change. It has many times before.

Posted by: Bawlmur | October 10, 2006 2:00 PM

society does put a lot of pressure on having children -- but actually it makes it very expensive to have them! Aside from childcare/nanny/private school expenses that you just can't avoid until they are old enough to enter a public school system (and that's assuming that you would want to put them into that system) you have to pay for larger housing, safer car, more clothes, and zillions of other things. So, if you like having disposable income, don't have children.

Posted by: no name today | October 10, 2006 2:01 PM

I don't have children. I love kids - all of my friends have kids. We visit all the time. When they were younger they would spend the night at my house a couple of times a year just for fun (and so mom and dad could have a "date"). I don't feel selfish at all. If something happens to one of my best friends I am to be the guardian to her children and am honored that she chose me - the one friend she has without kids. I would have loved to have had children but I never found the right mate. Sure, I could have settled for any guy or gone to a sperm bank but that route wasn't for me. I knew I wouldn't be able to work and be a single mother. Some people are awesome at it but not me. I am sure I would have managed but I didn't have to. I am childless by choice but not because I didn't want kids. Does it really matter WHY you don't have kids?

Posted by: KB Silver Spring | October 10, 2006 2:02 PM

I find those individuals who have made the determination to not have children and stuck with it to be admirable. So many people aimlessly have children without even thinking about the awesome level of responsibility. Just like with having children, not having children can be a huge discussion point within families and your circle of co-workers and friends. I say stick to your guns and know you are making the choice that is right for you.

Regarding the thoughts of others -I feel that people become intimidated by the choices of others. I have experienced this recently as I prepare for the birth of my 1st child. When mentioning the decision to proceed with natural childbirth and to breastfeed -I often receive lots of counter advice such as you will never be able to manage the pain and breastfeeding is hard. Even though my plan all along was to deliver naturally I also have a severe allergy to all of the medications used in an epidural -so now when asked this highly invasive question of "do you plan to have an epidural" - I say no, because I can't. It is interesting the difference in the response I receive from people when they view my choice as being soley derived from a medical standpoint versus a personal position on the matter. Very interesting....

Posted by: TEJ | October 10, 2006 2:02 PM

Wilbrod:
I think there are few people who make large positive changes to the world they live in. One of the few ways to make a large positive change is to produce children who can, in turn, make positive change---collectively, through the generations, this seems to be the best bet for the majority of people to make a large positive contribution.

As for one person forfeiting having children to make substantial changes in the world around them, that you're theorizing couldn't be done w/children--that's why children have at least two parents. My mother and father both worked in heavy duty careers while I was growing up, but because they together devoted time to me I ultimately got what I needed. I would not suggest that journalist, flying about to dangerous locations to change the world, to have a child alone.

I agree that division of labor is very important--I just see it on a small scale, as well as a large scale.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 2:03 PM

"virtually all of my friends that were vitriolically opposed to reproducing have changed their minds as their biological clocks aged"

And most of my friends who were opposed are still childfree. And content with their choice. It's different for everyone!

Posted by: Missicat | October 10, 2006 2:03 PM

You may want to discuss with a genetic counselor the value of pre-birth testing. It's true that many conditions cannot be fixed before birth, however some infants have gotten heart surgery in the womb. Also, many infants are born with immediate health needs that can be better anticipated by prenatal testing. I also have a firm belief that in many cases, appropriate prenatal nutrition measures can help reduce or diminish eventual symptoms. Our medicine and nutritional technology simply is not there yet. But we'll never know if we don't do prenatal testing and see the difference between the babies that come out with the "same genes".

For instance, I needed a respirator right after birth. Had my mom decided to have a midwife birth or travel to a foreign place or whatnot, I could have died.

Cerebral palsy seems to be most likely related to infections at or before birth, with risk factor going up for premature infants. The causes are still unknown. I know many people with cerebral palsy who are happy and successful, but they are the milder cases. I also know of people with it who died at age 20 or younger because they were so severely impaired they could not move well enough to take care of themselves or feed themselves. These children are at sky-high risk for child abuse and neglect because it's just too easy to make a mistake-- leave them in an overheated room and they can't complain or leave, and so on.

Every year children with developmental disabilities from prenatal factors are warehoused or otherwise turned over to the state because the expenses and burden of taking care of them are far too great. I would be greatly surprised if even half of them were doomed by genetics to that fate.

Prenatal testing is NOT equalivent to abortion. And that's my pointy-headed sciency opinion. What kind of opinion do you have?

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 10, 2006 2:05 PM

father of 4 comment on dumping someone didn't offend me in the least. I hear women saying it all the time.

Posted by: scarry | October 10, 2006 2:06 PM

>>But I don't see evidence of these great and deep and mystical feelings, and I rarely hear anyone speak of them unless they are talking about infants or small children.<<

A couple of reasons for this:

1. Things that are deep, mystical and intensely personal do not come up much in daily conversation. It doesn't mean no one is feeling or thinking about these things! But when you greet your coworkers in the morning, do you say, "hey, did you catch the game last night?" or do you say, "hey, let me tell you about the incredible spiritual bond I have with my daughter" How many "deep" conversations do you have per day?

2. It comes up more with infants than older kids because we parents eventually learn that other people get sick of hearing about how much we love our kids, and we learn to shut up about it as time passes. Kind of like newlyweds soon stop rhapsodizing about being in love, because other people get tired of hearing it, but that doesn't necessarily mean they love their spouses less.

Posted by: Showing Love | October 10, 2006 2:06 PM

"Morgan...sounds to me like you want to create the "master race". FYI, someone already tried that."

...if Hitler had proof that Jews were a subpar sect of humanity, then encouraging them not to breed (which is akin to my suggestion to encourage those who are successful to breed) would have made sense. A huge flaw in your comparison is that I'm for voluntary agreement for people around to me to do the 'right' thing, while Hitler was for forced agreement. It's a rather large difference.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 2:06 PM

I'm sad for my dear friend because, at the age of 40 she decided that everyone was right and she was missing something, so she decided to have a child. And then her child was diagnosed with a serious neurological disorder which means she will probably be severely handicapped all her life. If the child lives to be 40 -- the average lifespan for those with her illness -- she will die when my friend is about 84 years old. The father of the child will be over 100, so probably won't be around.

My friend is now on antidepressants, having lost track of her career because of needing to care for her child. They have gone through all of their savings, and their marriage is to all extents over. My friend loves her daughter but she told me quietly that she wonders what her life would have been like if she had not had her. She mourns the loss of the life she wanted for herself.

This is not to say that people shouldn't take the leap of faith and have children, only that sometimes it is NOT the blessed, amazing, profound, and glorious thing that so many people try to sell it to be. Sure, having a handicapped child can be a life-changing experience that turns out quite positive for the parents, but so can never having a child at all.

I also learned that some idiots will give their opinion and try to tell others what's best no matter what the circumstance. Many who learned of my friend's child being disabled told her and her husband, "Oh, you should try right away to have another child! You need a 'typical' child so you will have that experience and it will balance everything out." I had never heard of anything so selfish and ridiculous in my life. This couple had no time or money for another child, but these people, some also parents of disabled children, were advocating having another child right away! Don't think, just procreate! Gag.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 2:08 PM

I have no issue with people who don't want to have kids. My basic rule: if you want kids, have them, if not, don't. However, I do wonder sometimes when single people, not in a relationship, are sure they don't want kids. I mean, while many choices start with your individual opinion of things, once a person enters a relationship, some individual choices really become couple choices. So I find it difficult to accept as absolute a single person's desire not to have a child in the absence of them being part of a couple. So, depending on age, I find it a little drastic that an individual might permanently (i.e. sterilization) render themselves unable to have a child.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | October 10, 2006 2:10 PM

Who is more selfish? Someone who doesn't have children for personal reasons or someone who DOES have a child to either trap or keep a man/husband? That is truly selfish.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 2:11 PM

I concur with the view that remaining childless is not selfish and in fact is no else's business. As several have pointed out, giving birth and being a parent does not necessarily make you an unselfish person. I know some selfish parents whose children, if not for the intervention of others, some parents, some not, would not be the happy, contributing people they are now. Many people who do not have children give back to society in many ways, especially to others' children. Also, it's very easy to tell someone else that they should have children. But are you going to give them the financial resources to care for these kids? Are you going to raise them yourself?

Posted by: TMW | October 10, 2006 2:11 PM

When couples try to have children later in life (close to 40) the chances of that child having some disability tends to be higher. Studies have shown this to be true for both the mother and father.

Posted by: Another Dad | October 10, 2006 2:12 PM

It's sad that my co-workers will poison the workplace with their misery and anger, and show everyone around what a lousy life they are living, but they won't share their intense joy and deeply personal mystical parenting experiences.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 2:12 PM

To Fof4

1) You're changing your story. First, you say you dumped her, then you say you dumped each other.

2) You say you loved her, but you loved yourself a lot more. She was lucky to be rid of you.

Posted by: George | October 10, 2006 2:13 PM

"I also made the decision based on my income, my temperment, my health, and what I want out of my life."

Thanks for your message.

So many of those who don't approve of our decision seem to think that that decision boils down to this:

"Hmmm, do I want to have a kid? Well, let's see. I'd have less time to myself, less money to travel with, fewer nice clothes, more sacrifices to make, and I don't even know if I'll like the kid. So, no, I don't want to have a kid."

In fact, there are soooooo many things that can figure into the decision. And, yes, temperament is one of the big ones. If you (and I) can be honest enough with ourselves to acknowledge that we don't have a temperament compatible with raising a kid, then we do the world a favor by not having one, and NO ONE has the right to question that.

Posted by: pittypat | October 10, 2006 2:13 PM

Isn't it ironic how many childless people read a blog dedicated to those with children? Sounds like you haven't really made you mind up about having kids or not having kids. If you really didn't want to have kids, you wouldn't be reading this blog.

Posted by: Ironic? | October 10, 2006 2:15 PM

Can't afford to give up that Sunday morning lounging in Starbucks pouring over the newspaper? Get a REAL life and get over yourself.

Newsflash: We DO have a life, it just isn't your life (and that's probably what's really bugging you).

Posted by: cf girl | October 10, 2006 2:15 PM

"They do require that all married couples seek to have children."

This is a mischaracterization of Catholic theology. Married couples are required to be *open* to children. That said, it is entirely possible to put off having kids or to not have them at all: you're doing NFP, but if you happen to get pregnant, you will welcome the child.

Being open to children and actively seeking to have children are two very different things.

Posted by: Lizzie | October 10, 2006 2:16 PM

Pittypat:
"And, yes, temperament is one of the big ones. If you (and I) can be honest enough with ourselves to acknowledge that we don't have a temperament compatible with raising a kid, then we do the world a favor by not having one, and NO ONE has the right to question that."

Could I have an example of innate, unchangeable temperament that would make raising a successful child, with the support of a partner and assuming financial, mental stability, impossible?

As for no one having the right to question you--people actually have the right to question anything they want. And you have the right to ignore them.

It's a wonderful world.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 2:17 PM

So being a teacher is ok if you don't have children. What other occupations would you consider a childless person to be unselfish?

Posted by: To Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 2:18 PM

"When couples try to have children later in life (close to 40) the chances of that child having some disability tends to be higher. Studies have shown this to be true for both the mother and father."

So why is medical science pushing ever-older women to have babies? I mean, really. I went to a new gynecologist a few months ago and he was STUNNED that I wasn't there because I was an older woman who suddenly decided I wanted a kid and needed fertility treatments. He couldn't believe I was quite happy without children, and no thanks, don't want to have one, just want to get my annual checkup please. Had it not been kinda funny, I would have been deeply angry, especially when he kept making the joke(?) that I was "bad for business". No, not his OB business, his fertility treatment business. How many millions of dollars a year is that generating?

Posted by: LK | October 10, 2006 2:20 PM

When making decisions about my family I always stop and consider society and humanity. Always.

So I had a child because to let my awesome genetic code die with me would be a mind boggling disservice to world.

Posted by: M. Odest | October 10, 2006 2:21 PM

The title of the WaPo link today is No Kids for Me - I don't think you need to read the about section before clinking the link on the homepage.

... as for the regulars - thinking it is an interesting topic is not the same as wanting kids. This is how some childless folk remain friends with the procreating folk.

Posted by: Not so Ironic? | October 10, 2006 2:22 PM

to lizzie: I stand corrected. By seeking, I meant being open to having children. But my priest did tell me that you should only consider NFP, if you absolutely could not afford a child or had some grave physical, mental or emotional reason to prolong parenthood. But that was my priest's interpretation.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 10, 2006 2:22 PM

I think people have been misunderstanding Bethesdan today. I don't think s/he is trying to say that everyone should have their own child. I think the point was more about "it takes a village." Everyone should be contributing to the raising of the next generation, whether of their own, or mentoring other kids in whatever way. And I don't think that meant you had to have a particular profession that dealt with kids.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | October 10, 2006 2:23 PM

{{Isn't it ironic how many childless people read a blog dedicated to those with children?{{

I thought this blog was about balancing work and family life. Who says "family" has to mean people with children?

Posted by: lurker | October 10, 2006 2:23 PM

Re "Mom of 14" post --

Folks, I think this was a joke. In really poor taste, but a joke, nevertheless.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 2:24 PM

Morgan writes:

"Logically the only actions or lack of actions that should be considered immoral are the ones that we would not suggest the entire world do or not do. I'm sure we can all agree that the entire world should not stop reproducing, therefore, morally speaking, the decision to not reproduce is arguably immoral."

The idea that "the only actions or lack of actions that should be considered immoral are the ones that we would not suggest the entire world do or not do" is nothing but the so-called "Categorical Imperative" invented by the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804).

For Americans, whose polity has its roots in English, Scottish and French philosophy, there is nothing imperative about Kant's "Imperative." No one should be a farmer, because if everyone were a farmer, there'd be no sailors to bring home manufactured goods from China? No one should be a sailor, because if everyone were a sailor, there'd be no farmers back home on land to raise crops?

Kant's fallacy -- and Morgan's -- lies in assuming that the rules and choices should be the same for all people. In real life, people are different. What may be excellent advice for some couples (e.g., have a dozen children!) may be terrible advice for others.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | October 10, 2006 2:29 PM

For instance, I needed a respirator right after birth. Had my mom decided to have a midwife birth or travel to a foreign place or whatnot, I could have died.

***
Not quite right. 1. You would have been less likely to need the respirator, assuming you were a full-term baby, without the "helpful" hospital interventions, for a variety of reasons. Did your mom have pain meds? Drugs to stimulate labor (pitocin, et al) 2. Homebirth MWs carry supplemental oxygen. 3. Depends on the "foreign place." The U.S. ranks 35th in infant mortality now. You'd be shocked at some of the countries that rank above us.

***
Cerebral palsy seems to be most likely related to infections at or before birth, with risk factor going up for premature infants.

Also, not quite right. CB is also strongly correlated with the use of forceps during delivery, which is linked with some of the pain meds and labor "assistance" that women have been given in recent decades.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 2:29 PM

Foamgnome-

That's not just his interpretation. That is correct. We have used NFP for both wanting and trying to avoid (for medical reasons) having children at any given time.

Posted by: Lou | October 10, 2006 2:31 PM

Latinos are white!
My husband is Latino his ancestors are from Poland and Italy, much like many of the white people making these crazy claims. Latino simply means you are from Latin America. It is an ethnic description, not a race.


Not that it matters, but although many Latinos may be of European ancestry, many also are of indiginous ancestry, and therefore, would not be considered white. The vast majority of people from South America are in fact of mixed race, European and indiginous).

Posted by: Rockville | October 10, 2006 2:31 PM

My wife and I had kids three years ago after many years of no children (she's 39, I'm 51). We adopted boy-girl twins from Russia and then my wife unexpectedly got pregnant, so we had three kids in less than two years (talk about changes). Neither of us had wanted kids before this. I didn't really like them and was never interested when people brought theirs to work and showed them around.

Something changed in both of us, though, and I don't really know how to articulate it. We just began wanting kids, and a family beyond the two of us, and knew that our ages we'd better get moving if we were going to do it.

We decided to adopt because we had not been successful conceiving our own. The thought of taking in children who had been orphaned was especially appealing because we'd be helping someone who truly needed it. The biological surprise baby that followed was a tremendous extra gift.

Now, I can't imagine life without our children and am so, so glad that we made this choice after so many years.

But I'm not trying to talk anyone into having kids or blaming anyone for not having them!! Just telling you our story so don't anyone beat me up. I've noticed a fair amount of beating up here.

Posted by: Daddy Mike | October 10, 2006 2:31 PM

"Could I have an example of innate, unchangeable temperament that would make raising a successful child, with the support of a partner and assuming financial, mental stability, impossible?"

So I should force myself to change just to have a baby and make YOU happy?

I'm not having one because I don't want to. Move one. I come here to tell people that it's ok NOT to have a child, because it's a situation that many people don't get a chance to see or hear about: a happily married childless couple. I'm willing to talk about my choice and how it has been a choice, that I have had thoughts about whether it was right, that I do know I have given up certain things and that I got other things instead.

But so many people are here to say, "You're missing something! We're so happy we had kids! YOU MUST change and have a child because we had a child and we're HAPPY! So you need to be just like us or you're BAD in a million different ways."

I say that there's nothing wrong with having children. So, why do you tell me there is something wrong with the small minority who don't want to have them?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 2:31 PM

Latinos are white!
My husband is Latino his ancestors are from Poland and Italy, much like many of the white people making these crazy claims. Latino simply means you are from Latin America. It is an ethnic description, not a race.


Not that it matters, but although many Latinos may be of European ancestry, many also are of indiginous ancestry, and therefore, would not be considered white. The vast majority of people from South America are in fact of mixed race, European and indigenous).

Posted by: Rockville | October 10, 2006 2:31 PM

On the Catholic issue,

Yes, you can put off having children through charting your cycle and using the rhythm method. You are not allowed to take or use birth control unless you have a medical reason for it, for example, endometriosis. However, even that is cause for debate with some priests.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 2:34 PM

Few people? I think there are millions of people who make positive changes to the world they live in. They just don't get the fame or press.

Yes, so teachers are "helping raise kids"? Everybody is a teacher in some way. Everybody helps society in some way, or detracts from it yadda yadda.

Bottom line: if any of our actions benefit others, you can't say that it won't benefit children somewhere down the line. It's just not as tangible.

I also find your "Wealth=better parents" offensive. The best people I know came from poor backgrounds. They have the drive, the values, and yes, even the education to succeed. This is a benefit of the public education system of America and their own parents' values.

If they chose not to have kids because they'd rather help out their siblings with their kids (like Dolly Parton did), that's their own business.

I've also met rich kids who were massively insecure about whether they could really cope with life without daddy's money and all.

Above a certain threshold of income necessary to ward off malnutrition and lack of housing, and to gain access to education and health care... wealth=better parents argument becomes iffy. Children of very rich parents can be excluded socially, too.

It's much more important to show kids by example and letting them meet all kinds of successful people what it takes to succeed in this world, rather than be wealthy to raise kids.

Nobody is really entitled to say that I MUST spend my life raising kids. If my talents would help society in other directions, I'd rather do it.

The time to contribute to society is NOW not through our kids. Our kids don't need to be doctors, lawyers, presidents, etc. for our sake. They should be growing up and finding out what their talents are.

Posted by: Confused Godmother. | October 10, 2006 2:37 PM

Prenatal testing is NOT equalivent to abortion. And that's my pointy-headed sciency opinion. What kind of opinion do you have?

>>>>

I went through initial genetic testing for some things. I didn't get tested for Cystic Fibrosis. I didn't consider CF to be as serious as it used to be. Medical science has come a long way treating CF.

The reason I went through the other testing is due to limited family support... meaning if I and my husband should die together, we currently have no one capable of caring for our children. I would have worried more if my child had had a serious medical issue.

Posted by: alex. mom | October 10, 2006 2:38 PM

To Fof4

1) You're changing your story. First, you say you dumped her, then you say you dumped each other.

2) You say you loved her, but you loved yourself a lot more. She was lucky to be rid of you

This is a really petty thing to pick on someone about. It's not like he said I like to stomp on cats! Give it a rest already.

Posted by: to george | October 10, 2006 2:39 PM

To Alex Mom;

"To all who are going down the path of the email above. While I agree there is a scary white power element to the pro-breeding comments of certain individuals in this country, I wish I could set all these poor souls straight. Latinos are white!
My husband is Latino his ancestors are from Poland and Italy, much like many of the white people making these crazy claims. Latino simply means you are from Latin America. It is an ethnic description, not a race."

Actually, although some Latinos may be white, many are not. Many are indigenous to South America, Central America, and Mexico. Many (most) are of mixed blood. Not that it matters, but I have found tha need of many Latinos to classify themselves as white is just a form of racism against other indigenous, darker skinned people of hispanic origin.

Posted by: Rockville | October 10, 2006 2:40 PM

"People who don't have children, when they're physically, financially, and mentally able to support and bring up a healthy, viable child, are selfish . . . "

Yes, Morgan, your logic, as well as your human decency, is flawed. I will address only your faulty logic here.

The above statement ASSUMES that these people -- in addition to being physically, financially, and mentally capable -- are EMOTIONALLY capable of bringing up a "healthy, viable child." Big assumption.

Lots of people out there are physically healthy, mentally sharp, and financially comfortable, and they've found mates with whom to make a life; what many of them don't necessarily have, however, is a healthy emotional life.

People who have children despite being emotionally less than healthy themselves are almost guaranteed to raise kids who will have impaired emotional lives.

People who know themselves well enough to realize that they're not emotionally stable enough to tackle the lifetime job of having a kid are to be commended, not chastised. It's the folks who can't or won't acknowledge this (often because of relentless pressure from family) who end up raising troubled kids who spend their own lifetimes trying to figure out what's wrong with them.

Morgan, once again, this critique applies only to your logic. I won't even embark on an examination of your moral fiber.

Posted by: pittypat | October 10, 2006 2:40 PM

Matt:

I assure you I certainly wasn't claiming that my theory was exclusively my own, but nor do I blindly subscribe to all another theorizes.
For example, the word arguable is there because I believe the vast majority of 'rules' have exceptions somewhere down the line. Which is also why I didn't say since if all of us stopped breeding the world would end, that means we should all have as many children as we could. There are degrees.
As for your example, I think that the majority of the exceptions to that rule are found in very simplistic situations without context. Overall, if you wouldn't want the majority of the world to participate in what you're doing or to make the choice you would, due to the harm it would cause your society/world, it's a bad idea for you to do it. I'm sure we can all agree that is Usually the case.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 2:42 PM

"So why is medical science pushing ever-older women to have babies?"

I'm just telling you what recent studies have shown. Heck we all know the effects of smoking yet I don't hear about tobacco companies have down years financially.

I also only said the chances are higher, not that they WILL have a child with a defect. I have cousin who was pregnant at 39 and she had to have many mandatory tests during her pregnancy as she was considered a high risk pregnancy due to her age so they had to monitor her. Her child was born without any birth defects but still it was high risk. Not trying to discourage just respond to a previous poster's comments.

Posted by: Another Dad | October 10, 2006 2:42 PM

Today's discussion has probably been one of the most active in a long time. Just looking at the number and variety of responses really astonishes me.

Posted by: 215 | October 10, 2006 2:44 PM

"As for the world being overpopulated, the vast majority of first world countries aren't producing replacement rate babies, much less babies past replacement rate."

Ah, so it IS a racial thing, eh, Morgan? We need to start reproducing so that all the little brown babies from the third world don't take over the "first world"?

Not just ugly. Sick.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 2:46 PM

"Mandatory" tests during pregnancy? Yet another reason I will not be having children.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 2:46 PM

"So why is medical science pushing ever-older women to have babies?"

The first generations of women who put family on hold for career are getting to the point where they've made partner, or whatever significant career-related milestone they set for themselves before deciding to have family, and are discovering the awful truth--it does get harder, and riskier, to have kids as both women and men get older. Medicine is accomodating those women who waited.

I actually cancelled my NOW membership because of their attempts to block ads about how waiting to have children when you're older can lead to fertility problems. I'm a librarian, so I get pretty upset when anyone tries to block information from anyone else. Women need information to make informed decisions: career first, kids first, no kids ever, whichever path they choose.

Posted by: niner | October 10, 2006 2:48 PM

I'm not having one because I don't want to. Move one. I come here to tell people that it's ok NOT to have a child, because it's a situation that many people don't get a chance to see or hear about: a happily married childless couple. I'm willing to talk about my choice and how it has been a choice, that I have had thoughts about whether it was right, that I do know I have given up certain things and that I got other things instead.

But so many people are here to say, "You're missing something! We're so happy we had kids! YOU MUST change and have a child because we had a child and we're HAPPY! So you need to be just like us or you're BAD in a million different ways."

I say that there's nothing wrong with having children. So, why do you tell me there is something wrong with the small minority who don't want to have them?

Response:

I simply wanted to examine the reasons you had previously posted, so I could more thoroughly understand your position. I believe I've quite thoroughly outlined my opinion on why I think you, assuming you're mentally and financially stable and in a committed relationship, should have children. My moral argument has been poked at a bit, leading me to question it, but the point being that the more successful children raised the better the next generation is rather indisputable.

I apologize that you were offended by my question.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 2:50 PM

My husband and I knew early on in our engagement that we wanted children and have been blessed with three. Are we occasionally envious of our childless friends who seem to have a lot more freedom and discretionary income than we do? Absolutely! In no way, though, do we think their choice not to have children is selfish.

I do think it is terribly selfish, however, when childless people derisively call parents "breeders", demand that children be banished from all public places and voice loud resentment toward school referendums, child tax credits and other family-friendly benefits. Who do these people think will provide them the goods and services they need to survive as they age?? Fairies and leprechauns?? Or, could it be . . . other peoples' children!

While the vast majority of childless people do not display antipathy toward children and parents, those who do might want to consider that in the long run society depends on procreation to survive, so those who choose not to become parents still have a stake in supporting the parenthood of others.

Posted by: MP | October 10, 2006 2:50 PM

I agree with niner. People need all the information they can get about fertility.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 10, 2006 2:52 PM

"Re "Mom of 14" post --

Folks, I think this was a joke. In really poor taste, but a joke, nevertheless."

Thanks for catching that chief TIC
Oh, and Morgan is one sick puppy...

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 2:52 PM

To Confused Godmother: Just in case you're responding to me:

I'm sorry if I wasn't clear, I didn't mean any sort of positive result in the world we live in, of course many people do that, I meant large positive results. I was responding to someone who was referring to Bill Gate's and his charity causes as large scale positive results, to give you some context.

As for wealth = better parents, I'm sure I've posted somewhere earlier that financial stability does not automatically equate middle-class or above. You can be financially secure enough to ensure your child is well cared for while remaining in the lower brackets for income.

I'm really not sure who you were referring for, so I'm just covering the bases here...

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 2:54 PM

""Mandatory" tests during pregnancy? Yet another reason I will not be having children."

This isn't correct; you have the right to refuse any prenatal testing. There are several recommended tests, and I've taken all of them during my 2.5 pregnancies, and I do it so that I'm informed about my baby's health. (No amniocentesis though--can't stand needles that big.) Would I have an abortion? No. But like Wilbrod said, you may gather information that will help you plan for your child's birth and infancy.

Posted by: niner | October 10, 2006 2:54 PM

The correct phrase is "childfree," not "childless by choice." "Less" implies that something is missing. A childfree person does not feel that way, as baffling as that sentiment may be to a parent.

It goes a little something like this: I don't begrudge you your choices, so don't question mine. I don't want kids, and I don't want your condescension, commentary, helpful advice, or homespun wisdom about the topic. It's not up for discussion. Just ask the surgeon who tied my tubes in February.

For what it's worth, I love kids. Absolutely love them. I especially dig babies.

It's their parents that I am not crazy about.

Posted by: Childfree And Loving It | October 10, 2006 2:55 PM

None of those prenatal tests is "mandatory". We declined all because we were going to have the baby no matter what.

We then decided to do an amniocentisis when a problem was discovered through a rountine ultrasound, to determine what we were dealing with and the best approach to care from that point on.

Posted by: Lou | October 10, 2006 2:57 PM

To Pittypat:
"The above statement ASSUMES that these people -- in addition to being physically, financially, and mentally capable -- are EMOTIONALLY capable of bringing up a "healthy, viable child." Big assumption...People who know themselves well enough to realize that they're not emotionally stable enough to tackle the lifetime job of having a kid are to be commended, not chastised. "

Response: I was including emotional with mental...sorry for the misunderstanding. I agree that if you're emotionally unstable, which I would assume was due to some sort of mental issue, it would be unhealthy to bring a child into that sort of living enviroment.

Please refrain from personal attacks about my own morality or human decency, which include mentioning them in disparaging tones. I believe I've been extremely polite in all my posts, including the comparison to Hitler, and request the same treatment in responses to me.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 2:57 PM

Allow me to amend this:

Women AND MEN need information to make informed decisions: career first, kids first, no kids ever, whichever path they choose.

Sorry guys, didn't mean to exclude. :)

Posted by: niner | October 10, 2006 2:59 PM

"I rely heavily on the concept that those that are Able/Capable should have children, not just any Dick, John, and Harry."

Morgan --

Are you also, then, in favor of restricting Dick, John, and Harry's right to have children?

Full-blown eugenics -- is that what you're talking about?

Posted by: pittypat | October 10, 2006 3:00 PM

I think that the thing that has been overlooked is that while your life can be rewarding without kids, who's going to be there for you when you get older? Earlier this year I spent time at my dying grandmother's bedside. It had been a long and hard illness, but she had her family coming in from all over the country for months before the illness finaly took her.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that you may not want children right now, but it is nice to be surounded by those that love you (warts and all) when the time comes.

If you think that your sister's kids are going to spend half as much time at your bedside as they would for their mother, you probably have another thing coming. I hate the idea of being alone in my 70s because of decisions I made in my 20s and 30s.

Posted by: jr | October 10, 2006 3:01 PM

Morgan, I would be interested to hear what you think about blind diabetics bringing 4 kids into this world.

Polluting the gene pool?

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 10, 2006 3:01 PM

I don't want children and I'm tired of being told "you'll change your mind" as if it's an irrefutable fact. I've flet this way since I was 10, I'm 43 now and I haven't changed my mind.

I'm tired of the variations on the "you should have them anyway" response. If I said I didn't want a dog, would anyone repsond by encouraging me to get a dog? No. But a child, which is a much larger responsibility, I should have even if I don't want one.

What I really don't understand is the venom and vitrol of people with children who seem so angry at those of us who don't want children. Why the intnse anger?

People who don't want children generally don't make good parents. I know I wouldn't. I would be angry and resentful towards the child. Yet you think I should have one?

And stop calling me selfish. You had children to satisify your own wants and desires. You use much more of the planet's resources and take my money to educate your children. Now who's selfish?

I should have children because it will make me happy and fulfilled? First of all, that's another selfish reason. Secondly, no it won't. I am happy and do feel fulfilled. Having children would make me unhappy and unfulfilled, since I would no longer be able to do the things that make me that way.

I don't criticize your decision to have children. I don't try to persuade you not to have children. So why criticize and try to persuade me to have them?

Posted by: child free and happy | October 10, 2006 3:02 PM

No I think that was Meesh's friend.

Posted by: to pittypat | October 10, 2006 3:02 PM

I'm with you niner, any test they wanted to give me I took. Although I will not do the amniocentesis because there is a slight chance it may cause miscarriage. Most of the tests are done to let you know what is going on with the baby and prevent disease. Sometimes people have HIV and don't even know, you can take drugs during pregnancy to cut the risk to your baby being born with it, who wouldn't want that?

Posted by: scarry | October 10, 2006 3:03 PM


My Post: "As for the world being overpopulated, the vast majority of first world countries aren't producing replacement rate babies, much less babies past replacement rate."

His Response: "Ah, so it IS a racial thing, eh, Morgan? We need to start reproducing so that all the little brown babies from the third world don't take over the "first world"?

Not just ugly. Sick."

Response from me:

Please attempt to take a step back and recognize that there is a much large difference between the third world and the first world than the color of people's skin. I assure you those countries aren't referred to as third world based off of skin color.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 3:03 PM

also like Wilbrod said, some things are fixable when the baby is still in the womb.

Posted by: scarry | October 10, 2006 3:06 PM

Childfree implies that you're 'free' from a burden. Childless by choice implies you're missing something the majority has, but that you're doing it willingly.

I prefer the second, myself. Seems more neutral.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 3:06 PM

"Who decides what constitutes an "excellent reason"? You?"

To the Anonymous Coward, did you expect me to poll on the answer first? Sorry dud, my name's not John Kerry.

Posted by: Rufus | October 10, 2006 3:08 PM

Response to:

"I rely heavily on the concept that those that are Able/Capable should have children, not just any Dick, John, and Harry."

Morgan --

Are you also, then, in favor of restricting Dick, John, and Harry's right to have children?

Full-blown eugenics -- is that what you're talking about?

My response:
Full blown eugenics by choice, yes. People who recognize that by having children they're bringing more problems than solutions, should abstain. I don't condone abortion, I support thoughtful planning before pregnancy occurs. I don't condone in any fashion the government being involved, I'm 100% behind personal choice. I just think people should willingly make the right choice.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 3:09 PM

In my opinion, Morgan, the major flaw in your discussion is in asking an argument based in logic to rule a choice based in emotion.

Yes, it'd be logical for us all to eat perfectly balanced diets, to be on time all the time, to turn off the TV and read Crime and Punishment, to fall in love with the rich man, and so on and so forth. However, the world is really ruled by emotion, not logic, so sometimes (often!) the actions that make perfect sense on paper don't translate to life. I WANT chocolate even though I don't need it; I'm late to work because I don't feel like getting out of bed; I like trash TV, and if even he's beautiful but poor, well, I still can't help but look.

You can't make a choice like children just based on a Socratic why/why not list. If your emotions tell you that you don't want them, well, it ends right there.

Posted by: J | October 10, 2006 3:09 PM

To whoever posted this" 'I'm sorry to tell you this but if your friendship fizzles out because of a child then you never really had a friendship.'

The truth of it is that these people mean the world to me. I cried and cried when my husband and I had to move away from them. I cried when they told me later that they would be moving in the opposite direction - now they were only further away.
Between the distance and the kid thing and all of the stresses of day-to-day life, it will be very difficult to maintain the friendship. They are the greatest people - at our wedding, EVERYONE said they wanted this couple to be their neighbor. It is just HARD to maintain friendships today.

As to people deciding after they are married that they want kids, the reverse also happens. I wanted them before we got married, don't now. We only got married about 4 years ago (I am now 37) - right now, our family feels complete and I love the time that I am spending with just my husband (ok - the two dogs, too). Like I said, we may or may not adopt in a few years, but I don't need anything else to make me feel complete (and I am not saying anything about people who do have kids not feeling complete - really, I am not).

Anyway - time will tell what happens with our friends. I think I am just preparing myself for the whole thing.

The colimn caught my attention today because of the topic, but I sometimes do read the column when the topic is not of such personal interest. I am always shocked by the amount of hate, judgement, and lack of understanding of personal choices that is present here. No one is ever right or wrong - we just all do the best we can and what we can. No one person is on a higher moral ground than another one. It is very sad. I am glad that humans get along better in person than they do in this space, otherwise I would be afraid to go out every day.

Posted by: missing my friend | October 10, 2006 3:10 PM

I think all people should be sterilized at birth. Then, if you could prove that you are mentally, emotionally, and financially able to raise a child, you could have the procedure reversed.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 3:10 PM

How about childless/free by circumstance?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 3:10 PM

In my opinion, Morgan, the major flaw in your discussion is in asking an argument based in logic to rule a choice based in emotion.

Yes, it'd be logical for us all to eat perfectly balanced diets, to be on time all the time, to turn off the TV and read Crime and Punishment, to fall in love with the rich man, and so on and so forth. However, the world is really ruled by emotion, not logic, so sometimes (often!) the actions that make perfect sense on paper don't translate to life. I WANT chocolate even though I don't need it; I'm late to work because I don't feel like getting out of bed; I like trash TV; and if even he's beautiful but poor, well, I still can't help but look.

You can't make a choice like children just based on a Socratic why/why not list. If your emotions tell you that you don't want them, well, it ends right there. Emotion will win almost every time.

Posted by: J | October 10, 2006 3:10 PM

To:
"who's going to be there for you when you get older?"

There's no guarantee that your children will outlive you. There's no guarantee that they will visit you when you are old and sick.

There is no guarantee that you will not be alone when you are seventy. Look at all of the people who are in nursing homes whose children NEVER visit them. They can't all have been bad or neglectful parents.

Posted by: George | October 10, 2006 3:11 PM

Arlington Mom:

I'll put your self-righteous condescension aside and answer that comment for you.

First of all, check your envy at the door. It's as obvious as it is pitiable. You created your life, with all of its scheduling conflicts and limitations, for yourself and you have no one but yourself to thank for it.

Second of all, I am a childfree woman who owns her own home-based business. I work, on average, 80 hours per week just to turn a profit. No evenings off. No weekends. No leaving early for soccer games/birthday parties/recitals/parent-teacher meetings. I have to force myself to take a night off to go out for dinner with my husband (sometimes ruined by some thoughtless childed couple unfamiliar with the concept of a babysitter...tell me, why would you take a toddler to a $50 per plate restaurant?).

When I worked in the corporate world, it was always the childfree people who were EXPECTED to work late. Why? "Well, you don't have children, after all." Of course, this apparently meant that the childfree person had no life, either. Parents were always given priority in holiday scheduling, and there was never any question whatsoever about doctor's appointments, school meetings, sports matches, recitals, Girl Scouts, karate, whathaveyou. The company didn't want to seem "unfriendly to families," after all.

Just who do you think gets the work done when you leave to take care of your children? The work still has to get done, whether or not you "can" be there to do it.

I have a family: me, my husband (also proudly and happily childfree), two cats, four nieces and nephews, sisters, brothers, and dear friends. I have a life: my own business, and I am a freelance writer, and I am a political activist working for policies that benefit parents and children. My passions, desires, and needs are no less importance than yours are, although you obviously do not see it that way.

I was regarded as a shrew when I was a corporate drone, when I wrote up one of my subordinates for missing an inordinate amount of work and constantly missing deadlines. It was not fair to my crew, some parents, some not, to have to pick up her slack for her. She was busted for lying about her whereabouts, saying her child was sick, when she was spotted at Pottery Barn by another coworker who happened to be on vacation and called me about it. She was caught, but she still tried to come up with some lame excuse. Finally she pulled the "but I have a chiyuld!" card, but it didn't work with me. Shortly thereafter, she was caught saying vicious things about me, all untrue, about how I "hated parents." No, I was just interested in EVERYONE doing their job and EVERYONE contributing to the team, regardless of their life choices.

Posted by: Childfree and Loving It | October 10, 2006 3:11 PM

"Then, if you could prove that you are mentally, emotionally, and financially able to raise a child, you could have the procedure reversed."

Right. And what is that proof? And who decides?

Posted by: niner | October 10, 2006 3:11 PM

Father of Four:
It depends. 100% Blind? Accident caused or genes? I also don't know the current treatments available that might be able to help with that disability. As for being diabetic, one can live a full, normal life with that disease--so it shouldn't matter in terms of reproduction.

I can't out of hand say aye or nay.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 3:12 PM

"When we say your life would be so much richer for the experience, we are not lecturing, we only mean to share the profound joy with you. Like most people, you are basing your decision on what you know, but being a parent is "unknowable" to you and requires a leap of faith into the unknown. Trust me when I say that it will change you in such an unimaginably wonderful way, you will never regret it."

Josh --

You're wrong -- and you're tragically misguided.

The very fact that you referred to "falling in love all over again" when you first had your daughter demonstrates that you have a romantic view of life that is simply not shared by everyone.

That you should then use your experience as a basis for claiming that having a child will work the same magic for everyone simply shows an immaturity that, with luck, will evaporate as you grow older and learn a little about life.

As to the "unknowableness" of being a parent if you haven't tried it, that's a bit of a catch-22, isn't it? What do you suggest for the folks who follow your deliriously happy advice and find that they truly don't like parenthood? Are you available to take their kids?

Posted by: pittypat | October 10, 2006 3:13 PM

Random thoughts...

Another Dad, I had my first child at 36 and the second at 39. I refused to get amnios or anything other than the initial blood test for possible genetic deformities. I wanted them regardless. They have no genetic defects. There are plenty of women 40 and over who bear healthy kids. The risk is not always equal to the reality.

Rockville, there are black Latinos too.

Morgan -- child, please.

By the way, did anyone read the Washington Post magazine article this past Sunday on the woman who had a friend who didn't want kids until she was diagnosed with terminal cancer? Interesting commentary on deciding whether and when to have kids.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | October 10, 2006 3:14 PM

To Ironic?: I don't normally read any of Leslie's stuff because I assumed it was all for-parents-only. I followed a link over here to this specific article, saw the number of comments, and thought, "Oh man, they're all just going to be a bunch of bingoes." (I can see why Leslie was nervous about posting this article.)

I am very pleased to see that most of you are reasonable people who are not insisting that Jamie or other posters will change their minds. Thank you for that.

And to Rockville Mom: I am single and don't think I will ever want children, even if "the right man" came along. Yes, some people apparently do convert to wanting a baby in order to keep a man (as the previously cited Emily Yoffe did), or whatever. But not everyone. I don't think "the right man" is going to turn me into "the right mommy." I wasn't born with maternal instincts in the first place, and being a caretaker for an ill parent for the entire last decade has sucked any nurturing instinct I might have ever had out of me. I don't think True Wuv can fix what doesn't exist in me. At any rate, "the right person" is the one who wants the same future as you do, not someone who wants to convert you to what they want, even if you don't want it.

Posted by: First-time reader | October 10, 2006 3:15 PM

to foamgnome:

religions are hung up on people having kids because they need to justify sex!!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 3:15 PM

RockvilleMom

While I agree that "some individual choices really become couple choices" - I don't think having children is one of them. There is no room to compromise on this. If one of the couple does not want kids, then s/he should not compromise - otherwise there is a kid out there with a parent who does not really want them. And if the partner who does want a child compromises - s/he usually ends up resenting their choice.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 3:15 PM

I can't really understand someone's choice not to have children, because I have always wanted them, but that said, I respect that choice. If someone does not want kids, they shouldn't have them.

Although I certainly believe that people who never have kids lead completely happy, contented lives, it isn't always the case. As I've read through these posts, there seems to be a theme that many people that have children regret it (never seen that, but I'm sure it happens) while other people post that all the people who remain childfree have never regretted it. My mother is in her 60s and many of her college friends never had children. Several have said that they regret that decision (using the word devastated), although they didn't regret it until their 50s, when it was too late for them to have a child of their own.

Obviously, choice is wonderful and we should all be thankful to have the choice whether or not to raise children, but I think it's naive and short sighted to say that people who decide in their 20s and 30s not to have children will never regret it. Many do, so keep that in mind when making your choice.

Posted by: Dylan's Mum | October 10, 2006 3:16 PM

"Father of Four:
It depends. 100% Blind? Accident caused or genes?"

Um, how much do you know about diabetes?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 3:17 PM

"To all who are going down the path of the email above. While I agree there is a scary white power element to the pro-breeding comments of certain individuals in this country, I wish I could set all these poor souls straight. Latinos are white!"

alex.mom --

Who said anything about Latinos? I believe the post referred to "the others" -- i.e., anyone not white. Latinos were not given as an example.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 3:18 PM

To J:

One of the few benefits of being human, even when compared to the fact that we're forewarned of our own demise, is that we're capable of overuling our emotions through logic. Throwing out logic by saying emotion has ruled us, and always shall rule us, is a defeatist (sp?) attitude. Following that theory, we should have thrown up our hands before birth control and simply accepted that there was no way to control pregnancy--luckily for us all, we didn't. People used logic over emotion and physical desires. We did it then, I'm sure we can accomplish it elsewhere as well.

A white flag of surrender from our brains to our 'hearts' is rarely acceptable in my eyes.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 3:19 PM

I know you can't eat candy and pop and be alright.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 3:19 PM

Thank you niner and I should have said strongly suggested instead of mandatory. I stand corrected.

Posted by: Another Dad | October 10, 2006 3:19 PM

Pittypat said:
As to the "unknowableness" of being a parent if you haven't tried it, that's a bit of a catch-22, isn't it? What do you suggest for the folks who follow your deliriously happy advice and find that they truly don't like parenthood? Are you available to take their kids?

I don't suggest that anyone do anything they don't want to do. Having kids is a risk. It is a huge one. You can have life insurance, a job, a mate, and good health, but there is no guarantee that tomorrow you will have any of that. People who have kids do make a leap of faith. Having kids is an expression of hope. It is looking into the unknowable and feeling that whatever happens, you can deal with it. Not everyone wants to go that route. So be it.

Posted by: Rockville | October 10, 2006 3:20 PM

Dylan's mom,
The first part of your post was great - saying you could not understand someone's decision but still respecting it. That is all I am asking for. But then you finished by telling stories of women who regretted being childess and the sentence about "keeping that in mind when you make that choice"...sorry that is condescending. Do you think we really don't think it out? How about if I said to you - well, what if your daughter shows up fourteen and pregnant, how would feel then? Would you regret having her? No, I don't think you would or should.
Anyway, sorry if I sound oversensitive, but really step back and see how you are sounding!
Thanks! :-)

Posted by: Missicat | October 10, 2006 3:21 PM

Who said anything about Latinos? I believe the post referred to "the others" -- i.e., anyone not white. Latinos were not given as an example.

I didn't know that the others automatically meant white. Who has a problem now?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 3:22 PM

Diabetes can lead to blindness. Happened to one of my grandparents. Some people end up better off with the disease than others, especially if they have very tight control, others may start losing their sight or their feet.

Posted by: Just an FYI | October 10, 2006 3:23 PM

...Or raising people with good compassion who will spread it through the world, no matter their genes. Cultural transmission is as or more valuable to humanity than genetic transmission is.

They used to claim that the Catholic church was harming the world by taking the best and brightest out of the breeding stock. Many monks and priest were noble-born second sons and could not inherit the lands or a job anyway, and the church was a good place since it removed the possiblity of family infighting.

And many made good cultural and yes, scientific and literary contributions to society as well as caring for the sick, opening up orphanages, doing the rote tasks of weddings and funerals and so on.

Morgan needs to realize that while (s)he has been polite, he is actually repeating a lot of information, implications, and conclusions associated with eugenic and anti-catholic propaganda, and this is the source of umbrage from other people and asking him the flip side of what he believes in-- eugenics, preventing poor and unworthy people from having children? Finally, saying people are immoral and selfish isn't really conductive to a warm response.

Yes, there are people out there who seem like they would be perfect parents who don't seem to want to be, and that can hurt when the evidence of screwed-up parenting is all around you.

Or when the mass media seems to involve promoting endless sex, taut bellies, looking young, single, and so on, rather than the more society-affirming values of families, social service, making connections with people, exceling in a field, and so on.

But don't demonize people who have made choices you wouldn't make in their situation AS YOU SEE IT. They may see their situation very differently. Take the case of a person who has learned that he may develop Huntington's disese by age 45. He already saw his parent in the process of losing all capacity, that kind of crushing pain.

Does he want to have kids and gamble on 50% chance of passing it on, OR a nearly 100% chance of making his kids go through the same thing he's going through right now? Remember, the theme is "contribute to society and the future." Logically if he was devoted to making the most of his life, he may well choose NOT to have kids and make the best of his career and life while he will still be functional. Or if he really always wanted kids anyway, he would go ahead and take the risk.

Or he decides to go ahead and enter a highly dangerous occupation and live for the present. Any or all of those choices come from who that person is and has wanted to be. He can't unwant what he wants or his disease just because somebody said so.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 10, 2006 3:23 PM

I think there's a rather large difference between regretting a child ever being born (considering that the vast majority of people will agree that most people love their children unconditionally--a rather good evolutionary quirk, if you ask me) and regretting not having children, period. One is regretting a human being's existence, which I'm not sure a lot of us are capable of doing even against people we truly dislike, and another is regretting not having experienced something.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 3:24 PM

"Thank you niner and I should have said strongly suggested instead of mandatory. I stand corrected."

No worries--I just didn't want people thinking that OBs turned pregnant women into science projects. :) I'm sure there are plenty of OBs who put pressure where it's not needed. And your friend's right, they really do step up the testing after 35, which is considered "advanced maternal age." I realize that they have to have an arbitrary age cutoff somewhere, but I find myself wondering if my body, which turned 35 last month, is really so different now than the last time 20 months ago... :)

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 3:26 PM

Just An FYI Response:
Yes, Diabetes can have horrible effects, but if taken care of it doesn't. My father has diabetes and is less than perfect when it comes to sugar, but still has managed to have quite a wonderful life. Diabetes is a manageable disease.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 3:27 PM

jamie: it's pretty unfortunate that you feel you have to "be combative about your own choices. have you sat down with any of these family members or friends and actually explained to them how this constant hinting/badgering/pressure makes you feel and that you would like them to respect your current decision? most family make these kind of off the cuff comments all the time with no awareness of which of them actually hit a little too deeply or personally.

[i'm feeling like this post is one of those stereotypical male responses of looking for a "solution" when maybe all most people--including jamie--are doing is venting a bit. in our family, it's usually the when are you getting married question, not the when are you going to have children question. this blog is probably not the place to come if one is sincerely tired of being combative about their decisions.]

Posted by: marc | October 10, 2006 3:27 PM

"I think there's a rather large difference between regretting a child ever being born (considering that the vast majority of people will agree that most people love their children unconditionally--a rather good evolutionary quirk, if you ask me) and regretting not having children, period."
Oh, so thats why no parent has ever abused or killed his/her child!
oh, wait...

Posted by: me | October 10, 2006 3:27 PM

The very fact that you referred to "falling in love all over again" when you first had your daughter demonstrates that you have a romantic view of life that is simply not shared by everyone.
-----------

Therapy has been VERY successful in changing people with negative, self-limiting worldviews into people who find joy and happiness in both their old pursuits and the new. Do not accept self-destructive behavior in yourself and you will find that there's a big beautiful world out there and depressed does not equal "deep" or "smart" or even "realist" it just equals "sad."

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 3:29 PM

nursing homes

I think the point was that someone else's children will be staffing the nursing home.

Posted by: experienced mom | October 10, 2006 3:29 PM

"Do you think we really don't think it out? How about if I said to you - well, what if your daughter shows up fourteen and pregnant, how would feel then? Would you regret having her? No, I don't think you would or should."

Missicat,
I sincerely apologize for offending you. If you have thought it out, then fine, as I said I do believe you can live a wonderful life without ever having children, but honestly, yes, I do think some people don't think it out, as was the case with my mom's friend. She said that she only thought of the dirty diapers and no sleep, which last maybe 2 or 3 years. She regrets her decision, obviously not everyone will. I was just trying to help some of the "fence sitters" out there by pointing out that some people do regret their decision never to have children later in life. Of course a lot of people don't and there is nothing wrong with that.

Posted by: Dylan's Mum | October 10, 2006 3:33 PM

Does he want to have kids and gamble on 50% chance of passing it on, OR a nearly 100% chance of making his kids go through the same thing he's going through right now? Remember, the theme is "contribute to society and the future." Logically if he was devoted to making the most of his life, he may well choose NOT to have kids and make the best of his career and life while he will still be functional. Or if he really always wanted kids anyway, he would go ahead and take the risk.

-------

I find some of these discussions to be completely straw man arguments. A family friend saw every female relative she had die from breast or ovarian cancer (I think maybe 6 people) and it was through a lot of painful painful discussions that she had her ovaries and breasts surgically removed. Her son was adopted from Russia and her daughter was adopted from China. Paid for from her inheritance from her late aunt. From the tragedy of genetic reality comes a new family.

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 3:34 PM

"So in our next squabble, we 'dumped' each other. That's true love, and it hurt."

Fo4 --

Why couldn't you just say this in the first place?

As my post made clear, you and your girlfriend obviously needed to split. But why did you have to say to us, "I dumped her"?

You made it sound as though you were ridding yourself of garbage, when that's apprently not what you meant at all. Sometimes it's better to sacrifice the pithy wording in order to make the point clearly and sensitively. You don't always have to be entertaining.

Posted by: pittypat | October 10, 2006 3:34 PM

Wilbrad:
First, thank you for acknowledgingly I'm not a default male.
Eugenics is not out of hand an unreasonable opinion, it's when eugenics begins to infect laws that it becomes flawed.
As for calling people who were childless by choice selfish, I retracted that statement multiple times, based off of compelling posts in this forum. The immoral point was made after thoroughly going over why I considered them immoral, what my logic was, and willingly opening my logic up for debate. I don't think it was unreasonable of me to expect people to respond to that by a polite debate based off of points, not personal attacks.
As for your points on genetic flaws, I have thoroughly covered that. In many of my posts I have attempted to make clear that
I am solely referring to those who are genetically, mentally, physically, and financially stable enough to have children. I even include that people should be in a committed relationship of sorts before-hand.
As I've mentioned, just because someone wants something doesn't mean that they should get it. No, I reitrate, I'm not suggesting someone should deny him what he wants. I'm suggesting that he should use that wonderful human brain that we have to logically come to a conclusion, instead of relying on flawed emotions. Perhaps adoption, in that particular case.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 3:35 PM

And Morgan-- logic vs emotion-- you need to learn a little more about why emotion exists in the first place. The world rarely presents us with all the facts we need to make an accurate logical decision. Logic also can be slow and cumbersome.

When a dog charges at you from nowhere out of a dark alley suddenly, your limbic system (the emotional brain) is processing this information far faster than your logical brain could ever do and plugging in the instant response to jump back before your brain could even catch up to just what is happening.

And just WHO has "all the facts" about parenting anyway? We don't know what kids we will get, if they'll be happy and healthy or not, all that.

Emotion has to be the deciding factor to the choice to have children, period. Maternal love is a biological emotion for the express purpose of being sure that a mother will always react instantly to save the child from the attacker, not stop to think whether it's really such a smart choice after all.
Somebody who is predisposed to be very emotional towards children before motherhood is a better bet than a woman who is not (although due to the hormonal changes of pregnancy and other factors, such tendencies to love will also be released).
However, parenting does demand a bit more than sheer emotion-- that's where thinking about food, money, other factors making it possible to raise kids comes in.

There are in fact strains of mice and chickens raised without the maternal instinct whatsoever. It's traceable to a mutation in a single gene. Those animals fail to exhibit appropriate maternal behavior at all.

As of yet, nobody has managed to teach a mouse or a chicken the sheer logic of being a good mom.


Posted by: Wilbrod | October 10, 2006 3:37 PM

Ah, Morgan, but these "flawed emotions" are what make us so wonderfully human!

Posted by: Missicat | October 10, 2006 3:37 PM

Josh,
You sound like you're very happy to be a Dad. And that's great. But listen to yourself:

"And while I sympathize with your having to constantly defend your decision, please cut us parents a little slack. When we say your life would be so much richer for the experience, we are not lecturing, we only mean to share the profound joy with you. Like most people, you are basing your decision on what you know, but being a parent is "unknowable" to you and requires a leap of faith into the unknown. Trust me when I say that it will change you in such an unimaginably wonderful way, you will never regret it."

I read that and substituted a few words in my head and your words came out as someone who is trying to convert someone else to their religion!

It doesn't work. It may be great for you but not for others. Just let them be.

Posted by: rockvillebeth | October 10, 2006 3:37 PM

My Post: "I think there's a rather large difference between regretting a child ever being born (considering that the vast majority of people will agree that most people love their children unconditionally--a rather good evolutionary quirk, if you ask me) and regretting not having children, period."

Their Response: Oh, so thats why no parent has ever abused or killed his/her child!
oh, wait...

Response from me: Please read the conditionals included. The words 'majority' and 'most' was used for a reason. A response including the words "no parent" therefore doesn't apply. Sorry if I wasn't clear enough.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 3:39 PM

Believe me, with my millions to leave to someone, I won't be alone in old age. I expect to have plenty of younger relatives who could use the cash!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 3:39 PM

Wilbrod - are you a professor/teacher/instructor? You have a knack for explanations...

Posted by: Missicat | October 10, 2006 3:39 PM

"While I agree that "some individual choices really become couple choices" - I don't think having children is one of them. There is no room to compromise on this. If one of the couple does not want kids, then s/he should not compromise - otherwise there is a kid out there with a parent who does not really want them. And if the partner who does want a child compromises - s/he usually ends up resenting their choice."

While I'm not saying that someone should have kids just because their significant other wants them, it does seem a different decision in the context of couplehood vs. singleness. And I certainly wouldn't advocate it as a way to "keep a man" as 3:15 put it. But it seems like a major life decision that could be greatly affected by whether one or not one is in it alone or in it with someone else. Maybe if an individual is absolutely sure then there is no room for compromise and that should certainly come up before any lifetime commitments are put into place. But I guess I feel that individuals who've made the childfree decision in singleness may want to at least review that decision in the context of couplehood.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | October 10, 2006 3:40 PM

And let's not interpret Kant's ideas strictly to the individual, because that's a fallacy. One can look at his "if every country did that, would there be a negative consequence" when dealing with promoting child birth or child-free lifestyles. Child-free lifestyles are pretty damaging to a culture- let's look at the results of the baby bust cycle on our social security. If we had more babies from 1946-64, well we should have continued that trend.

Think Globally, act locally. It's a legitimate theory. Living childfree, complaining about kids at the coffee shop, is comparable to me to living in a racially segregated community and all one has to do is review the posts from the angrier childfree adults in this very thread to see the connections.

But what do I know? I'm branded as a "troll."

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 3:42 PM

"subpar sect of humanity"

Morgan,

Would you please give your definition of this?

Posted by: pittypat | October 10, 2006 3:43 PM

Thank you so much Leslie! I too have chosen to remain childless for many good, solid reasons (the most pressing one being that I have never felt even the slightest interest in reproducing). Yet at 42 (and single) I still have to defend my decision when people tell me the same thing - you'd make such a good mother, you'll change your mind. As if there is some absolute necessity for anyone who CAN bear children to do so. Of course I wouldn't make a good mother, I can't even keep a plant alive. Not to mention the genetic pre-disposition I have from both sides of the family for raging alcoholism and mental health issues. I will leave motherhood to those better suited, I am well aware of my limitations. As I always tell people who question me - it's not for everyone.

Posted by: Linda | October 10, 2006 3:43 PM

Thank you so much! I too have chosen to remain childless for many good, solid reasons (the most pressing one being that I have never felt even the slightest interest in reproducing). Yet at 42 (and single) I still have to defend my decision when people tell me the same thing - you'd make such a good mother, you'll change your mind. As if there is some absolute necessity for anyone who CAN bear children to do so. Of course I wouldn't make a good mother, I can't even keep a plant alive. Not to mention the genetic pre-disposition I have from both sides of the family for raging alcoholism and mental health issues. I will leave motherhood to those better suited, I am well aware of my limitations. As I always tell people who question me - it's not for everyone.

Posted by: Linda | October 10, 2006 3:44 PM

And let's not interpret Kant's ideas strictly to the individual, because that's a fallacy. One can look at his "if every country did that, would there be a negative consequence" rather than focus only on an individual. Child-free lifestyles are pretty damaging to a culture- let's look at the results of the baby bust cycle on our social security. If we had more babies from 1946-64, well we should have continued that trend.

Think Globally, act locally. It's a legitimate theory. Living childfree, complaining about kids at the coffee shop, is comparable to me to living in a racially segregated community and all one has to do is review the posts from the angrier childfree adults in this very thread to see the connections.

But what do I know? I'm branded as a "troll."

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 3:45 PM

What about no room for compromise when you have medical problems that make you infertile, and you would rather accept life with no bio kids than go through tons of medical treatments, which might not work or which might make you need to abort several children in order to have only one? Sorry, no compromise. No matter how much I loved a man, I would not put myself through that just to have a baby. I accepted being infertile long ago, mostly looked at it as free and 100% effective birth control, and basically it affirmed what I already knew -- that I didn't want to be pregnant, ever. So, I'm not going to reverse that now, at age 40, and put myself though all sorts of crap when we could adopt. That's my compromise.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 3:46 PM

Wilbrod:
You're right. I was too flippant. There are times that emotion is the way to go merely because you need to make a decision quickly or because important facts are missing---having a baby I would argue is usually not one of those times. It isn't a split second decision, a, and, b, all things being close to equal, emotion plays a very large role, but often that is not the case.

I take great exception to your statement, "Emotion has to be the deciding factor to the choice to have children, period." You would argue then that a women who was racked with disease, barely had enough money to pay her medicine, and was having trouble moving about should, based off of a deepset emotional desire to have a child, become pregnant with her abusive, druggie boyfriend? This is your argument? I'm sure you have some sort of qualifers...?

As for teaching a mouse the logic of being a good Mom, I point out again that the ability of a human to overcome emotion through logic is what makes us so special. Any half-way rational female, even without any maternal instinct, would manage to keep a child alive, merely to ensure that she didn't go to jail.

Mice don't compare favorably to humans when it comes to logic skills.


Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 3:46 PM

I have to laugh over this person who claims they don't criticize people with children, and then s/he writes: "You had children to satisify your own wants and desires. You use much more of the planet's resources and take my money to educate your children." Bitter much?

Note to all those whining about paying taxes to support education for other people's kids: we all pay taxes for things we don't all use or agree with. Food stamps, bombs and tanks, highways, whatever. It's part of living in a society. Get over it.

I also would like to say to all the people posting here about how you shouldn't have a child if you might pass on a disease or condition like blindness: Are you all perfect? Goody for you then. I have a congenital condition myself and yet I have excellent quality of life. Some nerve of you assuming that my life isn't worth living because I'm physically just a bit different.

There are some ugly, ugly people here today!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 3:47 PM

Missicat:

A time and a place---and the head should almost always lead the heart.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 3:48 PM

Bethesdan - I agree with your "think Globally, act locally" point of view. Just remember not to paint all the childfree with the same brush...I personally love the kids that come into my local coffeeshop. Yes, there are angry childfree ranters and I cringe when they post, but I think the majority of us (at least the ones that I know) are the "live and let live" types.

Posted by: Missicat | October 10, 2006 3:48 PM

"Isn't it ironic how many childless people read a blog dedicated to those with children? Sounds like you haven't really made you mind up about having kids or not having kids. If you really didn't want to have kids, you wouldn't be reading this blog."

Ironic --

Once again, since every new person seems to make the same assumption: This blog is not exclusively for parents. It's for people interested in balancing work and life/family (whatever their family may consist of).

Leslie --

Maybe you could put something to this effect on the blog homepage?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 3:48 PM

A lot of people cite macro reasons for having children or not having children -- you know, like concerns that the world needs children to help create a bright future for humanity (cited by parents) or that the world is overpopulated (cited by nonparents).
But I think that in truth the decision about having children is an intensely micro thing, deeply personal and sometimes difficult to explain. Most people DO want to have children, and it's not always an entirely rational decision (that's not to say it's a bad decision) but plenty of people do NOT want to have children, and that's a perfectly valid choice, too.
Also, for some people, it's not even a choice. Some cannot have children, for various reasons, a few of which have been cited by others here.
All in all, it's really rude and a really, really bad idea to probe or pressure people about the child decision. I would highly recommend that even close relatives not question others' decisions on this subject, including the decision that some parents make to have just one child.
(Personal aside -- For me, one of the benefits of motherhood is that it helps me come to terms with my mortality. Having kids makes me aware that they are the future, and I am the old-fogey past, and I'm OK with that, and even with the Dick Lamm idea that I might eventually have a "duty to die" and get out of their way. On the other hand, I know a guy whose concerns about mortality led him to not want children. He's a big-time mountain climber, and decided to get a vascetomy rather than 1. curtail his climbing lifestyle and 2. potentially leave a young child fatherless. Everybody has their own individual reasoning that goes into this decision.)

Posted by: anon mom | October 10, 2006 3:49 PM

The ugliest people here today seem to be the ones who simply can't accept that others have made a choice different than their own and are truly happy with it.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 3:49 PM

This blog sprung from a book about the mommy wars. Face it, childfree people. You are tolerated on this blog, but it is not about you.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 3:52 PM

Pittypat-
I suppose the definiton would have to be related to flawed genes that meant negative qualities being portrayed in the population across the board of that particular sect. It would def. have to be traced in exorbident amounts to that particular sect of humanity though...

*shrug* I can't think of any group that has ever existed that people today would unanimously agree were inherently flawed due to genetics, but that's likely due to our distaste for eugenics due to Hitler's flawed works.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 3:52 PM

To 3:46:

Your compromise makes sense to me. While I may have implied that I was only talking about having biological children, I didn't really mean it that way. I personally am amazed by the amount of stuff some people will go through with fertility treatments. More power to them but adoption often seems like a better option.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | October 10, 2006 3:53 PM

Eugenics is not out of hand an unreasonable opinion, it's when eugenics begins to infect laws that it becomes flawed.
--------

Actually Eugenics has been pretty strongly refuted on every count.

1. People with dysfunctional genes often are pushed by societal pressure to do more with their other faculties. Blind musician. Cartoonist with childhood disease that kept them in bed. Matty Stepanick. The physicist with muscular degeneration that I forget about. IF genetics were a determinant in success, and studies pretty much show they aren't, then it would be true. It's not.

2. Parents with dysfunctional genes can have children with no issues. I had a friend who was a guitarist of reasonable talent whose parents were both deaf and one was in a wheelchair.

3. People with no testable issues can have children with developmental issues. We know three people who passed tests but the children have developmental issues, including Downs.

Solve Eugenic issues with more children not with fewer. If you're concerned that society will have to support adults with limited means of earning potential then make sure they have a peer group. We live in a world with limitless abundance and no scarcity- obesity is a bigger problem than starvation, even in the third world- scientists with enough prompting could cut oil consumption dramatically.

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 3:55 PM

The ugliest people here today seem to be the ones who simply can't accept that others have made a choice different than their own and are truly happy with it.

-----

Indeed, it reminds me of arguing with my racist relatives. They are so proud they found the secret of the universe in race, but they are frigging nuts and immoral.

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 3:59 PM

I am really tired of hearing how my taxes that pay for school benefits me. All that most parents are concerned about is having a taxpayer-paid baby-sitting service.
Follow the money trail, hypocrites!
If you were really as concerned about education as you claim, then teaching would be the highest-paid and most respected profession one could aspire to, and only the best and the brightest could become a teacher.
Now let's look at reality. For the level of training and education demanded of them, teachers are grossly underpaid. The best and the brightest are all getting MBS's and knocking down huge salaries in the business world. What we have left to teach our kids is less than mediocre.
You get what you pay for.
You want proof? Why is it that there is not so much as a letter to the editor when the school cuts math, science, art, or language programs, but if they DARE to suggest that maybe we ought to scale back the football team, the school board finds themselves surrounded by a rioting mob of apoplectic parents? How does it benefit our community to spend taxpayer money on football rather than academics?
When my taxes are spent on true education, solidly grounded in math, science, history, arts, literature, and language skills, then I will agree with you. When the schools start turning out some literate students, I will agree with you. But as long as they continue to turn out functional illiterates incapable of counting past ten with their shoes on, then I strongly disagree.

Posted by: Childfree Guy | October 10, 2006 3:59 PM

I am yet another woman who chooses to remain "child-free" - from the number of comments, there appears to be many more of us than one might initially think. My husband and I have many friends who question our choice and try to convey the "joy" they have experienced being a parent, the joy that we are apparently missing. Yet, when we invite our friends to join us on a trip, or even a simple late night out, we often find ourselves waving goodbye as we leave our "joyful" friends behind scurrying to find babysitters and catch up...

My thoughts? There are some people who are meant to be parents, some who use parenthood as an attempt to fix/fill some void in their life, and some who become parents because thats what others expect - I do not fall into any of those categories, so why make myself and a helpless child miserable? I'll leave the joy and misery of parenthood to others and enjoy the earth that God has created...

I'm off to Spain... Ciao!

Posted by: Jennifer | October 10, 2006 4:00 PM

Bethesdan, somebody already mentioned the story on the cancer survivor having a child and dying, leaving a 5-year old orphan. My second point is : 100% chance of having the child suffer from watching a parent die from a wasting disease and losing all sense of self (Huntington in its latter stage is similar to Alzheimer's) at a relatively young age. This holds whether the child is adopted or biological. Merely adopting children at least means the children won't have the hereditary problems.

And it's not so straw-man for people who have actually seriously thought about the impact a disease may have, not genetically to their kids, but on their ability to be a good parent to their kids.

You missed my point: you can evaluate a person's life and think this and that, but you never know the full truth. Many people keep the full extent of their illness or health problems hidden from even their good friends because they don't want to be always complaining.

I have an in-law, a new mother, who worries about her fibromyalgia and how she can mother her baby when she's an active toddler since she remains in pain daily from a car accident and has poor balance and back problems. She knows I understand due to my own history, but she wouldn't be telling people the full details of her life even if she was childless.

As it is, she considers her baby to be a miracle baby, she was told with her health problems she might need to use in vitro, and she LOVES kids and had experience working with kids. As it was, she got pregnant very soon after she got married.

YES, we all know people who did things "in spite of", but the reality is that chronic illness extracts a high emotional and physical toll on people, and not all marriages withstand chronic illness to be stable enough to raise kids in. For this reason, people MUST know they will want and love kids unconditionally no matter what, to consider having kids.

Life is not always easy. "Success" can end overnight with a castrophic accident, illness, disability, or whatnot. Logic won't haul people through that. Emotion and will does.

I know people who have been divorced, dumped, or had their marriages destroyed by suddenly disabling conditions. They went into depressions or had problem adjusting OR their partners were the ones who couldn't cope. Often it's a mix of both.

Marriages that survive that can survive about anything parenting throws at them.


Posted by: Wilbrod | October 10, 2006 4:02 PM

Bethesdan:
eu·gen·ics (y-jnks)
The study of hereditary improvement of the human race by controlled selective breeding.

The above is a rational point. We can improve livestock through selective breeding, we can improve people through selective breeding. I don't see anyone arguing with that basic theory.

That's all I was really attempting to say by the following:
"Eugenics is not out of hand an unreasonable opinion, it's when eugenics begins to infect laws that it becomes flawed."

I do happen to believe a bit more than though, though.

Your points about flawed genes having fine genes and fine genes having flawed genes are apt--but using eugenics those flawed genes would undeniably go down. As for the brilliant people that have a genetic problem that enhances their brilliance, I'm rather sure that's the exception not the rule.

I am for people willingly attempting to not have children that have a high potential of not being able to have full, productive, active adult members of society one day.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 4:02 PM

"Yet, when we invite our friends to join us on a trip, or even a simple late night out, we often find ourselves waving goodbye as we leave our "joyful" friends behind scurrying to find babysitters and catch up..."

Jennifer, it may come as a surprise to you but not everyone thinks a trip to Spain is the ultimate in "joy."

You're awfully narrow-minded, aren't you?

Posted by: Ugh | October 10, 2006 4:04 PM

Arlington Mom:

Are you saying that those of us who are single and childfree, and opted for a permanent solution are somehow frivolous? Or that somehow we should have waited until we were married?

How much respect would I have for myself, or would my wife have for me if she would have tried to force me into parenting against my will? The answer: NONE. Anyone who changes their mind about their reproductive choices after they are married is probably someone who did not have strong convictions to start. That still does not mean that another person should have the right to determine their reproductive choices. Nobody should ever be forced into parenting unless they choose to do it.

My choice was made after a very careful review of my own circumstances, and I do not need to be lectured by someone who is trying so desperately to validate their own choices.

Posted by: George | October 10, 2006 4:08 PM

Morgan, you happen to be talking to one of those people who have "genetic problems that enhances their brilliance."

*Ahem* ;).

Spend some more time with successful disabled people. I won't bore you but I happen to have a fair background in genetics and I will keep it short:

No one gene is equally successful in all genomes (sets of genes) or all conditions. Some genes that give an disadvantage in "normal" conditions can give a focused advantage in times of catastrophe (famine, floods, disease-prone areas).

I invite you to read Dawkins' books for a brief introduction to the conception of the selfish gene and other subjects. I don't agree with all of Dawkins' conclusion, for one thing epigenetics and genomic imprinting is not covered in his books (yet).

We are the sum of our genes, epigentic influences, nutrition, upbringing, environment AND luck.


Posted by: Wilbrod | October 10, 2006 4:13 PM

"Your points about flawed genes having fine genes and fine genes having flawed genes are apt--but using eugenics those flawed genes would undeniably go down."

But who decides what's "fine"?!? And what about diseases that are predominant within ethnic groups? If the Great Deciders determine that sickle cell anemia and Tay-Sachs disease are "unacceptable" to the gene pool generally, what does that mean for African-Americans and Jews?

Posted by: niner | October 10, 2006 4:16 PM

"Please refrain from personal attacks about my own morality or human decency, which include mentioning them in disparaging tones. I believe I've been extremely polite in all my posts, including the comparison to Hitler, and request the same treatment in responses to me."

Sorry, Morgan, but when you are advocating a policy that is tantamount to selective breeding, you deserve to be compared to the Nazis.

It doesn't make any difference that you give lip service to "voluntary agreement" not to reproduce. What happens when the volunteers aren't forthcoming and we still have that annoying stream of mediocre humans populating the world? How long before "voluntary" becomes "compulsory"?

That's the slippery slope when you're talking about preserving a civilization through selective breeding. You can make umpteen "rational" arguments for your position, but it is ultimately morally flawed and ethically depraved.

So, don't whine about personal attacks on your morality and insist that, because you're polite, your comments should be treated with equal regard. Your ideas are in every way reprehensible.

And Hitler, as I understand it, was big on manners, too.

Posted by: pittypat | October 10, 2006 4:16 PM

"Your points about flawed genes having fine genes and fine genes having flawed genes are apt--but using eugenics those flawed genes would undeniably go down."

But who decides what's "fine"?!? And what about diseases that are predominant within ethnic groups? If the Great Deciders determine that sickle cell anemia and Tay-Sachs disease are "unacceptable" to the gene pool generally, what does that mean for African-Americans and Jews?

Posted by: niner | October 10, 2006 4:16 PM

I can't believe I forgot this anecdote: I was in my 20s and my mother started complaining about all the teenagers in her neighborhood. Really negative stuff- they're too loud, they're too crazy, are rude, listen to loud music, etc. Then at one point she volunteered to do literacy tutoring with some of the kids in Jr High and within a year it was "Hello Mrs. Bethesdaaaaannnnn" as she walked past teenagers who knew her. All smiles. Kids weren't nameless and faceless, they were people she liked and who liked her.

I think she brought candy.

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 4:17 PM

And actually, I don't believe eugenics is a reasonable strategy for people. Humans have overbred dogs into tottering wrecks of hereditary diseases agalore by breeding for appearance in less than a century or two of breeding dogs.

We don't have the wisdom to do eugenics for ourselves until we do better for our own dogs. And really, we would need somebody much longer lived than humans to keep track of the generations and make the decision on how to breed.

What we can do is rely on the old-fashioned pheromones, chemistry and all that in falling in love, marrying, deciding whether to have children.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 10, 2006 4:17 PM

Wilbrod:
Hehe, modest, modest...*Grin*

I certainly don't claim to have background in genetics, but I am relatively sure that there exist heridatory, negative conditions that make it relatively impossible to live a productive life.
Since I have no background in this, I won't fathom an attempt to guess one. My sole point is that those genes should not willingly be passed on. Since you do have a background in genetics, if you could explain to me in a relatively simple way why this isn't accurate, I'd be appreciative of it.


Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 4:19 PM

No one can tell you how your life will turn out. My mom's friend had two children, but both passed away by the time by mom's friend was 70. The two grandchildren did not live close and they rarely came to see her. She passed away in an assisted living place she and her sister shared. Yet I'm sure she had nice memories of her children to look back on in her final days, even though she had the pain of seeing them buried before her. On the other hand, another friend of my mom's has a son who has become so mentally ill that he attacked his parents and is now in jail. They are spending all their money to keep his family (wife, three kids) afloat. I'm sure their great love for their son makes them happy to do this, but I'll bet it's been many years since they looked at their lives and felt happy with what has happened to them. They are sad and in therapy and just trying to cope. Children are no guarantee of happiness. Just as there's no guarantee you'll be unhappy if you don't have them. In some ways, I wish I did have children, but more for reasons that have little to do with the day to day reality of raising kids. I am just not cut out for it, so I passed on those experiences for other experiences instead.

Posted by: Joyce | October 10, 2006 4:19 PM

Doesn't selective breeding already happen-ie abortion?? Hello, it's already here.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 4:19 PM

"Morgan, I would be interested to hear what you think about blind diabetics bringing 4 kids into this world.

Polluting the gene pool?"

Hear, hear! This is the Father of 4 I've come to know and admire.

Way to go, Pat. :>)

Posted by: pittypat | October 10, 2006 4:20 PM

any childless men out there sick of being judged for deciding not to have children? to the childless out there who are being pressured to have children: does that pressure apply to your spouse, as well (for those married/partnered)? the social pressure on women seems about 500x worse than for men, and yet most of the posters seem to be judged mostly by their own family and friends.

Posted by: marc | October 10, 2006 4:20 PM

Ugh, I see nothing narrow-minded about Jennifer's choices. Many of us lead fulfilling and interesting lives without childbearing being part of the equation.

I found this blog while looking over the usual political ones that I read. I saw no warning that it was for parents only.

Posted by: footloose and childfree | October 10, 2006 4:21 PM

Nine:

I'm sorry if I haven't been clear, but I'm referring to genes that result in problems that mean one cannot live a productive life and must be cared for until they die.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 4:21 PM

I sometimes wonder if there are parents out there who are afraid to admit that the decision to become a parent was a poor choice for them personally. We are always told that parents love their children "unconditionally," and I do believe this is the case. So, I wonder how many parents are simply embarrased, too shy or afraid to admit that, while they love their children unconditionally, that it was a poor choice for them to become parents, for whatever reason (financial, emotional, negative effects on their marriage, etc)? I know of a handful myself.

I think it would take guts to admit that you made the decision to have kids and then regretted it (even though you still love your child), and so I wonder how many such people are out there. To admit to this would invite a floor of criticism from others, so I'm sure many people might feel this regret but never speak a word of it, especially knowing that their kids might someday learn that they were a poor or regretted decision.

Posted by: So.VA | October 10, 2006 4:22 PM

"Nine:

I'm sorry if I haven't been clear, but I'm referring to genes that result in problems that mean one cannot live a productive life and must be cared for until they die."

My question still stands: who determines what these "unacceptable" diseases are? Many of them vary in severity and how they affect quality of life. And what's a "productive life," for that matter? Do the same people decide that?

Posted by: niner | October 10, 2006 4:26 PM

To Ironic?

It's those sorts of statements which make up what today's column discussed- pressure and undermining of the choices that people make to not have children.

Amazingly enough, some people find interest in things beyond their own immediate life experience- without necessarily wanting to go there.

I'm not confused, I'm curious.

Posted by: Liz D | October 10, 2006 4:26 PM

Morgan, in many cases Nature in fact does take care of the possiblity of reproducing: 1) infant mortality 2) mother mortality and 3) father-to-be's impotence and sperm count.

Statistically, men are much more likely to pass genetic defects on than are women because of the effects of paternal age and the fact that sperm are continually being produced throughout life and are much more prone to mutation from radiation and other insults.

And men wonder why women are so picky about whom they sleep with.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 10, 2006 4:30 PM

No regrets here, and it hasn't been easy. But there is nothing like the love that I feel for this little human being I am raising. I would go thru hell and back for my child, and do it again in a minute. She is such a gift. Maybe some people do regert having children. I just can't empathize with that.

Posted by: From one parent | October 10, 2006 4:30 PM

Not even I have the foresight to know whether having a child will be the right decision for you, and you can't know until you have one (or don't have one), so don't sweat it, do your best, have some fun and try not to kill each other.

Tonight's pick 4: 1, 3, 17, 9

Posted by: Nostradamus | October 10, 2006 4:30 PM

PittyPat:
I'm a Conservative with a strong Libertarian leaning--I also have far too much respect for my own opinions to pay lip-service to anyone who doesn't have a direct effect on my ability to feed, clothe, and house myself.

A comparison to Nazis is automatically a comparison to an attempted genocide--I don't appreciate that in the least, and I personally consider it rather offensive to those who have experienced genocides.

Perhaps I am not being abundently clear. I truly believe that people should, without government incentives or any such government involvement, willingly control their own breeding when their genes call for it.

"don't whine about personal attacks on your morality and insist that, because you're polite, your comments should be treated with equal regard. Your ideas are in every way reprehensible.

And Hitler, as I understand it, was big on manners, too."

Hitler was heterosexual too...oh god...if you're heterosexual you're LIKE HITLER! Let's take a moment and acknowledge the absurdity of that argument.

As for my comments being treated with equal regard, I'm sorry that it upsets you, but they should be. They should be examined for logical fallacies, not dismissed out of hand while you inform me that I'm "morally flawed" and "ethically depraved".


I thought the prevailing theory here was that one should be open-minded and polite to other people's decision--all I'm asking is that you're open-minded and polite about my opinions. You'd think it would be easy to accomplish such a small thing.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 4:31 PM

To Marc's question - my boyfriend gets asked about marriage and children by family. (If we make it an HOUR into an extended family gathering without the marriage question alone it's a good day!) It doesn't bother him one bit because in his words "he doesn't live his life for other people". If you combine that with the Taoism from yesterday I think you have a the beginnings of a good recipe for personal happiness.

As I mentioned yesterday I read this blog to enlighten my own decision-making and learn from others. Parents like scarry, Father of 4, Megan, marc, and Laura reassure me there are still people out there raising children to be adults that they'll want to hang around.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | October 10, 2006 4:32 PM

Wilbrod-
Breeding for overall health in humans likely would produce the same results of eugenics in dogs.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 4:32 PM

"I think it would take guts to admit that you made the decision to have kids and then regretted it (even though you still love your child), and so I wonder how many such people are out there. To admit to this would invite a floor of criticism from others, so I'm sure many people might feel this regret but never speak a word of it, especially knowing that their kids might someday learn that they were a poor or regretted decision."

I have a friend with two autistic children who admits that she wishes she hadn't had them. The first child isn't too badly off, but the second one is. They're very broke. Her marriage is on the rocks and looks like it probably will tank, and she chalks it up entirely to the difficulties with the children. I am afraid of what could happen should she become a single mom, because I suspect her husband wouldn't stay too involved with the kids after a divorce and together their heads are barely above water as is.

But what can she do? It's way too late now.

Posted by: Regrets... | October 10, 2006 4:33 PM

Wilford:
Oops. I meant that it likely wouldn't produce the same results.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 4:33 PM

I for one am shocked to hear that Morgan is a conservative, absolutely shocked.

Sorry, just could not resist, as I find your opinions very offensive and I try my darndest to respect everyone who posts here.

Posted by: Betty | October 10, 2006 4:36 PM

Bethesdan --

Did you just learn the word "strawman"? You seem to use it in every other sentence.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 4:37 PM

"I think it would take guts to admit that you made the decision to have kids and then regretted it (even though you still love your child), and so I wonder how many such people are out there. To admit to this would invite a floor of criticism from others, so I'm sure many people might feel this regret but never speak a word of it, especially knowing that their kids might someday learn that they were a poor or regretted decision."

I have a friend with two autistic children who admits that she wishes she hadn't had them. The first child isn't too badly off, but the second one is. They're very broke. Her marriage is on the rocks and looks like it probably will tank, and she chalks it up entirely to the difficulties with the children. I am afraid of what could happen should she become a single mom, because I suspect her husband wouldn't stay too involved with the kids after a divorce and together their heads are barely above water as is.

But what can she do? It's way too late now.

Posted by: Regrets... | October 10, 2006 4:37 PM

Nine:
This is my assumption on what productive means, but I'm not firm. I think of it as being able to produce something that has value to others. Be that a book, painting, song, whatever--doesn't really matter.

Once again, since this would ultimately be up to the people contemplating having the child they'd likely rely on their own experiences of what the disease meant for their relatives to contemplate whether it was a good idea to bring forth a child that might suffer the same fate.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 4:37 PM

Bethesdan:
eu·gen·ics (y-jnks)
The study of hereditary improvement of the human race by controlled selective breeding.

The above is a rational point. We can improve livestock through selective breeding, we can improve people through selective breeding. I don't see anyone arguing with that basic theory.
----------

Yes, I read a popular magazine article... Time? Newsweek? Popular Science? that completely refuted Eugenics as a theory. I also saw part of a Discovery or History Channel piece that refuted Eugenics. Review literature on this.

At this point, in 2006, we do not know how much genetics play a part in developing successful self-actualized human beings. Scientists definitely have acknowledged this. We only know how it plays a part in promoting physical and medical characteristics. I say this as someone married to a research scientist who worked in genetics for a few years.

Is practical or pragmatic intelligence passed down genetically? No. A designer baby raised by wolves is still a wolf-child. A big, strapping, wolf-child.

Thus the Eugenics fallacy- we aren't raising a farmed salmon that will be dead in 12 months, we're looking at the sucess of humanity over 90 years and science does not have a Eugenic goal for that.

What's bizarre in this discussion is that you bring up livestock. I think everyone knows that we do not breed livestock to be the best possible cattle or chickens they can be, but they are bread to be the ones that can be controlled, killed, and eaten to maximize corporate profitability over a short period of time. There are animals, such as highly-bred dogs, that are great show-animals that have massive eye problems and die early. So you have certain breeders looking for one trait and others breeding for other traits. But the goal is not the "best" all-around animal, but one with a very narrow focus. That is livestock farming.

Eugenic and social biology studies do not have a goal of a perfect human, nor a perfect balance of genetic traits in a population. Standard 1920s-era Eugenics has been refuted as not good enough and built on faulty theories.

Who is the best cow to be bred for ground beef. We know, we want that goal. Who is the best chicken to be bred for chicken legs. We know, we want that goal. Who is the best human? No idea due to the variety of mental goals that we have as a society.

I hope that was clear. Check the literature or even wikipedia. Eugenics has been refuted.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 4:38 PM

I mean, people who are that disabled to the point they need constant care don't get asked out on many dates, Morgan. Even if it's caused by illness or accident, not genetics.

WIth technology, many people with serious illnesses are in fact being allowed to live to reproductive age who wouldn't otherwise. These people DO KNOW very well the costs of their disability and with a qualified genetic counselor, they will make their decision.

I know a deaf-blind couple who made such a decision for themselves not to have children.

I need to say that I do NOT support in-vitro fertilization (or even, really, anonymous sperm donation).

If people are against abortion, they should be against in-vitro as well. A huge number of embyros die or are never brought to live by in vitro fertilization procedures.


Posted by: Wilbrod | October 10, 2006 4:38 PM

Pittypat, when are you going to get yourself knocked up? I think you would make a terrific mother!

How's that for being a brat?

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 10, 2006 4:38 PM

"We live in a world with limitless abundance and no scarcity- obesity is a bigger problem than starvation, even in the third world"

You MUST be joking

Posted by: To Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 4:39 PM

Many have written that they would not be a good parent because they do not want children. I would say that you might still be a great parent - this does not mean that it is wrong to decide that you do not want children. Not wanting to be a parent is reason enough, you don't need to assume that you would be bad at it to validate your decision. I didn't have kids until my late 30s and find it silly to suggest that one cannot have a fulfilling life without the little ones, even though I love being a daddy.

Posted by: CJVa | October 10, 2006 4:39 PM

I mean, people who are that disabled to the point they need constant care don't get asked out on many dates, Morgan. Even if it's caused by illness or accident, not genetics.

WIth technology, many people with serious illnesses are in fact being allowed to live to reproductive age who wouldn't otherwise. These people DO KNOW very well the costs of their disability and with a qualified genetic counselor, they will make their decision.

I know a deaf-blind couple who made such a decision for themselves not to have children.

I need to say that I do NOT support in-vitro fertilization (or even, really, anonymous sperm donation).

If people are against abortion, they should be against in-vitro as well. A huge number of embyros die or are never brought to live by in vitro fertilization procedures.


Posted by: Wilbrod | October 10, 2006 4:39 PM

"Ugh, I see nothing narrow-minded about Jennifer's choices. Many of us lead fulfilling and interesting lives without childbearing being part of the equation."

Footloose, you obviously did not read what Jennifer or I wrote. She was crowing about being able to go out late at night or fly off to Spain while mocking her "joyful" (her sarcastic use) parent friends could not do those things without a babysitter.

I said NOTHING about Jennifer needing to bear children! What I pointed out was that going to Spain or staying out late is not everyone's defnition of "joy"! If it makes her happy, fine. But she thinks her life is MORE joyful because she can do those things, whereas to me those things have nothing to do with joy.

Posted by: Ugh | October 10, 2006 4:39 PM

Wilbrod:
As health care goes up, doesn't infant fatality, and the culling it used to accomplish, disappear? And, no, to all reading, I'm not supporting the concept of allowing infants to die. I'm for pre-pregnancy choice, not after-pregnancy choice.
I don't suppose you know statistically how much more likely it is to get a child with a genetic problem if the father is over a certain age? One would think that'd be more widely known.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 4:40 PM

I used the term straw man only because multiple people tried to tell me I believed in something or said something that I did not. This happened repeatedly through this thread.

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 4:41 PM

I am childfree. Fortunately, I've haven't faced too many ignorant and stupid comments from people with children. Further, I try not to let ignorant and stupid comments bother me. I'm generally a "live and let live" kind of person. Some people would love to force everyone to have children, but fortunately that is not possible.

I think being childfree is an excellent choice for the reasons already mentioned. The world is not suffering a population shortage. Some people seem to think that the wrong people are having babies, which I agree with partially. Some people shouldn't be having children, but I see no great need for the "right" people to have children when they do not want to have children.

I also have to comment on the "it takes a village" thinking. It smacks of socialism. I think it shows that the real problem is the people who should never be allowed to procreate. Having children should be a privilege, not a right. And if you don't have the resources to do the job, you shouldn't be allowed to have a child. People who have accidents as a result of carelessness (not those who truly have accidents after being as careful as possible), or who are open to an "accident", or who casually change their minds about children, or who use some rythm method of contaception are reckless.

I see people of all socio-economic levels have babies and then complain that the government is not helping them out enough or that companies should institute more policies to faciliate their choice or that they deserve help and assistance of one kind or another. I wonder why they decided to have children if they were not prepared to do the job. I have no problem with my taxes being used to pay for education. However, there is no need for any further tax credits, day care assistance, etc. Do not have children if you aren't prepared to do the job.

I do agree parenting is a hard job. Day care workers should be paid at least four times what they are normally paid now. Unfortunately, only some high end nannies get paid a reasonable salary and benefits. Of course, any responsible parent would have considered that cost and found that it was within their means before having a child and be ready to pay it eagerly. Paying someone to raise your child is the most important service you buy isn't it?

Posted by: Manuel | October 10, 2006 4:41 PM

"We live in a world with limitless abundance and no scarcity- obesity is a bigger problem than starvation, even in the third world"

You MUST be joking

-------

Nope, that's the truth. It was all over the news this summer.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=third+world+obesity&btnG=Google+Search

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 4:43 PM

Josh and Another Dad

Maybe you didn't mean to, but wow, what condescening and arrogant posts. To assume that your experience is what other people will experience --again, wow. You both must be in the fog of babyhood (with good sleepers). I like sushi. What? You don't like sushi? Well, how can you know you don't like sushi if you don't try it? The smell? The texture? The fact that you are a biologist and know what gross organisms are still in there? YOU MUST TRY IT. I KNOW BETTER THAN YOU! Sheesh. Go enjoy your kids and give Jamie a break. Don't waver, Jamie, because I know better than you--you shouldn't have kids! Which is worse?

Re the Anne Landers thing. If you reworded the question and asked if you could go back and not have them or go back have them at a different time in your life you might see a lot more people saying that they would have been better parents, etc, if they had waited until they were older, more mature, financially stable, whatever. Or younger, more energetic, etc.

People keep throwing around the word 'selfish' today. Like it is a bad thing! My very good friend has a mother who is a A #1 basket case. She is toxic and will suck you dry of all goodness in you. My v.g.f. moved half way across the country so she wouldn't have to have daily contact with her but still keep the relationship. She knew herself well enough to know that it would be a detrimental thing to be in daily contact with her mother. They see each other a couple of times a year and talk weekly. My v.g.f. is not someone you might call selfish. She is a nurse, a mom, a great wife. Her sister, however, you might call selfish, even though she has three kids and is a great wife ( I don't know if she works). She lives in the same town as her mother, but people might consider her selfish because she can go weeks without seeing her mother, just an occassional phone call. She is selfish in a good way--she is self-preserving. She is protecting her family from the poison her mother would surely inject if they saw each other too often.

But to use the dog analogy again, my b.i.l. had two dogs and could never stop by after work because he had to get home to let the dogs out, or couldn't go to the beach for the weekend because of the dogs, etc. They are great dogs--I even invited him to bring them to my house for an extended stay. They could never go a restaurant with the dogs. While they made things inconvenient for us at times, we always enjoyed the dogs when we were there and asked about them when we weren't (really, great dogs).

To all of the people who don't want kids; please do not be persuaded by the pro-kid people to pro-create when you don't wanna. Not that I think you will. Resist the pressure!

O.K. Stopping now. Look at the time!

Posted by: parttimer | October 10, 2006 4:44 PM

I also have to comment on the "it takes a village" thinking. It smacks of socialism. I think it shows that the real problem is the people who should never be allowed to procreate. Having children should be a privilege, not a right. And if you don't have the resources to do the job, you shouldn't be allowed to have a child.

--------

Because socialist China would never have such a fascist policy as approving certain births.

we need more kids of all kinds. period.

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 4:46 PM

In Response to Blank Name:

My Previous Post: "eu·gen·ics (y-jnks)
The study of hereditary improvement of the human race by controlled selective breeding.

The above is a rational point. We can improve livestock through selective breeding, we can improve people through selective breeding. I don't see anyone arguing with that basic theory."

The above is not saying that the flaws of the human race can all be weeded out, and we can produce super-humans. All I am saying is that the premise that if you breed two larger animals together you're more likely to get larger animals from that union than if you bred two smaller animals together is valid to humans as well. And, yes, no one is arguing with that.

Once you decide what traits you value above all else in the human race, you would likely be able to successfully breed for people with a higher likelyhood of being capable of exhibiting those traits.

My sole actual point based off of eugenics is this: If you have really flawed genes, you shouldn't willingly have children that might inherit them.

I don't understand why this is so controversial.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 4:47 PM

Wilbrod:
Heh, yes, thank you for that clarification...I'm referring more to people who know that their family history means they have a chance to pass on something highly negative, not that they themselves are exhibiting it. Once again, no background in genetics--so I admit that my entire premise is based off of unwhole genetic knowledge.

"These people DO KNOW very well the costs of their disability and with a qualified genetic counselor, they will make their decision."

And that, right there, is my entire point. Tada, we're happily agreeing. Except for the fact that you'd likely accept their decision, if they were your friends/family, while if I disagreed with their choice I'd let them know...

Details, details.

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 4:51 PM

WHY WHY WHY is it ANYONE'S business?? I never understand this. My uterus is MY uterus, not a community organ! I actually love children, but have zero desire to have any and that feelings grows stronger as the years go by. I often wish other people had given the decision as much consideration because there are a lot of children out there with parents who should not be parents.

Posted by: happily childless | October 10, 2006 4:52 PM

Ummmmm, Childfree by Choice?

That was reading a bit too much into my post... I just wanted to pose the question in a way that meant we're all looking for balance in work and life issues, and some of us happened to have chosen kids. I don't think that's fair at all to say that I'm upset and feeling sorry for myself or whatever, because I'm not whining -- I'm stating a fact about kids having more of an impact on one's schedule/life, based on what I see with me vs. my child-having & childfree friends' schedules (and they work at similar jobs to mine). I actually agree with many of your points, just think that anyone should have an opportunity at balance. You've made your choice, and that's great. I don't hate you, as you seem to hate anyone who's a parent and holds a job.

I'm sorry that you got screwed. It sounds like that lady had it coming. Maybe you should look for another job where your (worthy) desire for a life is valued? Balance shouldn't just be for parents -- that was my point.

yeesh.

Posted by: Arlington Mom | October 10, 2006 4:53 PM

There are a lot of child-free posters here who don't want to be judged for their choice, but they sure feel free to judge parents for overpopulating the world, driving up tax rates to pay for schools, siring a child with Down syndrome (horror of horrors, right?), being 'bad' parents (because they're experts on what makes a 'good' parent and can accurately judge situations they're not part of).

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 4:56 PM

"Footloose, you obviously did not read what Jennifer or I wrote. She was crowing about being able to go out late at night or fly off to Spain while mocking her "joyful" (her sarcastic use) parent friends could not do those things without a babysitter.

I said NOTHING about Jennifer needing to bear children! What I pointed out was that going to Spain or staying out late is not everyone's defnition of "joy"! If it makes her happy, fine. But she thinks her life is MORE joyful because she can do those things, whereas to me those things have nothing to do with joy."

I read and understood what both of you wrote. Just as parenthood is a great joy for many people, travel and the ability to participate spontaneously in a variety of activities are some of the joys of living a childfree life. Different strokes...as you said. Your post to Jennifer sounded angry to me.


Posted by: footloose and childfree | October 10, 2006 5:00 PM

Once you decide what traits you value above all else in the human race, you would likely be able to successfully breed for people with a higher likelyhood of being capable of exhibiting those traits.

My sole actual point based off of eugenics is this: If you have really flawed genes, you shouldn't willingly have children that might inherit them.

I don't understand why this is so controversial.
-----------

That was me, Bethesdan, above.

Because it's demonstrably untrue. Because that's not true. Because it's false. Because people who store 4 fertilized eggs see 4 different types of genetic characteristics. Because of the logic of statistics.

Modern-day genetics has refuted the core components of 1920s-era Eugenics. Read the wikipedia article. Talk to a doctor about it.

People with low intelligence have children with high intelligence and vice versa. The concepts that control this are not currently known to science. Your core argument is wrong and has been refuted.

From wikipedia:
Eugenics has also been concerned with the elimination of hereditary diseases such as haemophilia and Huntington's disease. However, there are several problems with labeling certain factors as "genetic defects":

* In many cases there is no scientific consensus on what a "genetic defect" is. It is often argued that this is more a matter of social or individual choice.
* What appears to be a "genetic defect" in one context or environment may not be so in another. This can be the case for genes with a heterozygote advantage, such as sickle cell anemia or Tay-Sachs disease, which in their heterozygote form may offer an advantage against, respectively, malaria and tuberculosis.
* Many people can succeed in life with disabilities.
* Many of the conditions early eugenicists identified as inheritable (pellagra is one such example) are currently considered to be at least partially, if not wholly, attributed to environmental conditions.

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 5:06 PM

"I think it would take guts to admit that you made the decision to have kids and then regretted it (even though you still love your child), and so I wonder how many such people are out there. To admit to this would invite a floor of criticism from others, so I'm sure many people might feel this regret but never speak a word of it, especially knowing that their kids might someday learn that they were a poor or regretted decision."

I have a friend with two autistic children who admits that she wishes she hadn't had them. The first child isn't too badly off, but the second one is. They're very broke. Her marriage is on the rocks and looks like it probably will tank, and she chalks it up entirely to the difficulties with the children. I am afraid of what could happen should she become a single mom, because I suspect her husband wouldn't stay too involved with the kids after a divorce and together their heads are barely above water as is.

But what can she do? It's way too late now.

Posted by: Regrets... | October 10, 2006 5:06 PM

Bethesdan:
* In many cases there is no scientific consensus on what a "genetic defect" is. It is often argued that this is more a matter of social or individual choice.

--since I'm referring to diseases that make it impossible for you to live a life without constant help/supervision and that severely dimish your ability to make any sort of contribution to society, I believe this isn't a pt that applies.

* What appears to be a "genetic defect" in one context or environment may not be so in another. This can be the case for genes with a heterozygote advantage, such as sickle cell anemia or Tay-Sachs disease, which in their heterozygote form may offer an advantage against, respectively, malaria and tuberculosis.

---refer to my last point

* Many people can succeed in life with disabilities.

--refer to my last point

* Many of the conditions early eugenicists identified as inheritable (pellagra is one such example) are currently considered to be at least partially, if not wholly, attributed to environmental conditions.

--early eugenicists made mistakes in what they considered heritable, that doesn't mean modern doctors do

My father has diabetes, are you trying to tell me that my likelihood to get diabetes is just as low as someone who doesn't have a history of it? When doctors ask for your family history in terms of medical issues, are you saying there's no reason?

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 5:16 PM

People like Bethesdan make my blood boil. Those of us who live in a Democractic society have the right and obligation to make our own choices. We should not have to suffer the derogatory remark of someone like Bethesdan who says that "not having children is selfish". She obviously assumes that the childfree stay in bed all day on Sunday reading the newspaper. I know many childfree people and they contribute more time and more money to charity than any parent who is busy raising children.

Just because a person doesn't have children doesn't mean that they don't pay taxes. In most cases the childfree pay much more in taxes than parents and they are the ones paying for the fruit of your loins to go to public schools. You get the exemption - they do not.

Stop bashing the childfree... you don't know them and you have no right to judge them.

Posted by: tltfaas | October 10, 2006 5:19 PM

Morgan,

I strongly suspect that you'll not find too many conservatives -- although maybe slightly more libertarians -- who advocate eliminating the genetically flawed through selective breeding.

Furthermore, you say you favor "voluntary agreement" for people to "do the right thing." In other words, you want them to choose to do what you think is right?

And, if I understand you correctly, what you think is "right" is for people not to have children if they have genetically transmittable diseases, including (but presumably not limited to): diabetes, Down, deafness, blindness, Tay-Sachs, sickle-cell, MS, CF, Parkinson, and so on.

And you can't understand why this position is not morally acceptable to the vast majority of our society?

Finally, I did not say that you are "morally flawed and ethically depraved."
What I said was that your POSITION is morally flawed and ethically depraved.

Another poster, earlier on, said that you are "one sick puppy." I'm afraid that I have to agree with that assessment, Morgan. I think you are ill and could probably use some professional help. Believe it or not, even logical, morally superior persons can be seriously mentally ill.

Posted by: pittypat | October 10, 2006 5:19 PM

Cap't Kirk: KAAAHHN!

Posted by: Eugenics | October 10, 2006 5:20 PM

To tltfaas:

You said
"Those of us who live in a Democractic society have the right and obligation to make our own choices. We should not have to suffer the derogatory remark of someone like Bethesdan who says that "not having children is selfish"."

Actually, living in a democratic society means EXACTLY that we have to suffer the derogatory remarks of someone like Bethesda.

OK we don't have to suffer- we can move on, or not participate. But we certainly should support her ability to make the statements she wants on such a forum as this.

Do I agree with Bethesda? No.

Do I think those statements would be appropriate in a casual social context of conversation at work or among strangers? No.

But this is exactly the place and context Bethesda should say exactly what Bethesda is saying- that's why we have the discussion comments at all. Personally I think Bethesda is doing a great job of showing how ridiculous not respect people's choice to not bear children and how great and irrational the pressure to have children is.

Posted by: Liz D | October 10, 2006 5:24 PM

LOL, Father of 4.

Actually, since my 50th b-day is coming up in January, I guess I'm beyond hope. (wink)

My mother (who didn't really ever press me to have kids) used to say I'd be a terrific mom because I surround myself with all kinds of silliness -- toys, animals, goofy stuff. Actually, I think this makes me a terrific kid (something I didn't have much time for as a child). :>)

Posted by: pittypat | October 10, 2006 5:29 PM

Pittypat:
"I strongly suspect that you'll not find too many conservatives -- although maybe slightly more libertarians -- who advocate eliminating the genetically flawed through selective breeding."

You make it sound like I want to sterilize people. If you phrase it that way, I bet you would find very, very few. If you phrased it thusly, "People who have inheritable, vastly negative diseases should seriously contemplate the morality of their decision to have children", I bet I'd get a lot more ayes.

Of course I want them to do what I think is right, don't we all want everyone to follow our own moral codes? My moral code says don't encourage needless suffering. I'd like to think most others do the same.


"And, if I understand you correctly, what you think is "right" is for people not to have children if they have genetically transmittable diseases, including (but presumably not limited to): diabetes, Down, deafness, blindness, Tay-Sachs, sickle-cell, MS, CF, Parkinson, and so on."

No. Jesus. Why doesn't anyone ever take the time to search and read all the posts I've made? I very clearly stated that diabetes was a disease that caused no huge issues in life if taken care of, so no harm, no foul. I shall state again that unless the disease makes it impossible or highly unlikely for the person to ever live without a caretaker and makes them basically completely unproductive for society than it isn't a problem.

At the same time I can Understand the idea that if you had any identifiable disease you wouldn't/shouldn't breed--I don't agree with it, but I understand it. I certainly wouldn't call such an idea requiring of mental health professionals.

This kind of irrational attack, especially when you haven't taken the time to read and understand all I've posted today, is highly annoying. Unless I was pro-government enforcement of these concepts, I fail to see why anyone would be so angered/disturbed. I'm simply giving an opinion about what other people should choose to do, I'm not condoning forcing them. Hell, you should go take the time to berate people who want to outlaw smoking--they're not simply trying to impact people's choices, they're trying to take that choice away!

I simply cannot believe we've had this entire conversation and you thought I was anti-diabetics breeding...

Posted by: Morgan | October 10, 2006 5:30 PM

To Morgan: So we get you're not opposed to diabetics having children. But you are opposed to, for example, people with intellectual disabilities such as downs syndrom having children? Or people who require caretaking and therefore have nothing to offer society, according to you? I suggest you take another look at what you define as what counts as something to offer society.

Posted by: Wondering | October 10, 2006 5:40 PM

"Becoming a parent is not a revocable decision. Once you have the child, you are its father or mother. If you decide one day that you don't wish to be a parent, you cannot just remove the batteries and stick the child back on a shelf or return it to the guest services counter for a refund."

What about giving a kid up for adoption or foster care?

"And is anyone else out there with relative's or friends with genetic disabilities slightly alarmed at all those people who wouldn't have children because there is a chance of passing it on?"

Anyone out there with relatives or friends conceived by rape alarmed by all those non-rapist guys who have fewer children than they could if they did rape? Are their lives less worth living?

"I agree it isn't a guarantee, but with the assumption that this is unique to you alone--what better chance of recreating it, besides cloning, than reproduction?"

Teaching? For example, isn't the percentage of medical students who become doctors higher than the percentage of doctors' sons and daughters who become doctors? I bet a doctor could produce more doctors by teaching at a medical school than by giving birth or getting someone pregnant.

"The above statement ASSUMES that these people -- in addition to being physically, financially, and mentally capable -- are EMOTIONALLY capable of bringing up a 'healthy, viable child.' Big assumption.

"Lots of people out there are physically healthy, mentally sharp, and financially comfortable, and they've found mates with whom to make a life; what many of them don't necessarily have, however, is a healthy emotional life."

Besides, not everything affects everyone's emotions the same way. Some people are emotionally healthy now, are likely to become emotionally unhealthy if they make certain choices, and so they choose alternatives in order to stay healthy.

"Sometimes people have HIV and don't even know, you can take drugs during pregnancy to cut the risk to your baby being born with it, who wouldn't want that?"

Someone who is afraid her mother-in-law will accuse her of adultery and hurt her for having HIV, can't keep her mother-in-law out of her delivery room or house, and so doesn't take AZT or use formula in order to hide her HIV+ status? I heard that happens in some places.

"There's no guarantee that your children will outlive you. There's no guarantee that they will visit you when you are old and sick."

There's no guarantee that they won't be too busy raising their children to visit you (especially if they're raising their children hundreds of dollars in airfare away from where you'll be).

"Child-free lifestyles are pretty damaging to a culture- let's look at the results of the baby bust cycle on our social security. If we had more babies from 1946-64, well we should have continued that trend."

Continued for how long? There isn't enough room for it to continue forever.

"I am really tired of hearing how my taxes that pay for school benefits me."

If there was no tax-funded school available to you as a child, would you be childfree today? Or would you be a SAHM whether you liked it or not because staying at home watching your mom left you with no job skills for anything else (that is the fate of some girls in places where the only schools are expensive)?

"And actually, I don't believe eugenics is a reasonable strategy for people. Humans have overbred dogs into tottering wrecks of hereditary diseases agalore by breeding for appearance in less than a century or two of breeding dogs."

I heard the problem was by breeding for "purebreds," not just for appearance, and trying to keep less-related dogs out of a pedrigree. Similar problems happen in some arranged marriages when matchmakers try to keep non-blood-relatives from joining a family:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/4442010.stm

Posted by: Maria | October 10, 2006 5:44 PM

Morgan,

I've read and digested all your posts today. I could go back and reread them, but frankly they make me physically sick.

You are trying to justify the unjustifiable by saying things like, "You make it sound like I want to sterilize people." No, you just want them to be willing to sterilize themselves because you think they shouldn't reproduce.

And another one: "I'm simply giving an opinion about what other people should choose to do . . . "

In other words, YOU decide what THEY should choose to do. That is the hallmark of a totalitarian society. The kind of society in which elections are held but only the incumbent is on the ballot. "But of course it's a democracy; we hold elections!"

You can insist from now 'til doomsday that you're advocating "voluntary" selective breeding, but any society that can't tolerate and care compassionately for its weakest members is not long going to be a free society.

In fact, I believe it is our very willingness to embrace with compassion those whom you would call a burden which makes our society decent and noble. It's what bonds humans with other humans and with animals -- an inclination to mercy and compassion where defect or flaw renders one weak.

I don't expect you to understand or agree with this viewpoint, but thankfully there aren't too many of you out there.

Posted by: pittypat | October 10, 2006 5:55 PM

Wow - look at he number of posts from today's column - I bet they never thought this topic would cause such a fuss. MANY more posts than the last few columns today.

It is good for poeple to talk and to share opinions. Who knows - I am sure there is one person who started this day and read these posts thinking he/she didn't want to have children and now they have changed their minds. And I bet there is one person who started the day and read these posts thinking they wanted to have children and now they have changed their minds - that is what this is all about, folks.

It is hard to hear what some of these posters have to say - but that, again, is the point.

I am not the person who changed her mind - I am still certain that I don't want to.

Posted by: missing my friend | October 10, 2006 6:03 PM

Yay, Anon Mom: "But I think that in truth the decision about having children is an intensely micro thing, deeply personal and sometimes difficult to explain."

I'm getting married in a few months, and we definitely don't want children. We both knew this without a shadow of a doubt before we met, and 3 years together, falling in love, and getting engaged have not changed that.

We have nieces and nephews we adore and dote on, we are loving people, we are dedicated to our families, we had great parents ourselves, and yet...there is no desire to have a child. None. I don't know why. We just both know that we have no physical or emotional desire to have a child, and that's that. Not even for a second have I thought "what if." I'm not even curious.*

I wish I could explain it more, or articulate something that the people on this board who think everyone should have children would understand, but I can't. You felt that ache of wanting a child, of needing one. We haven't. That's all. No judgement, no criticism, no Kant or cannon law. It just is what it is.

*For those who will ask me why I read this if I'm not curious about having kids, it's because I saw the headline "No kids for me" and clicked. Otherwise, I never read this blog.

Posted by: Non-Mom Anon | October 10, 2006 6:14 PM

After reading through a large number of posts here, I think I finally get it. Smart, successful people need to have children because:
a) You wrongly assume that our offspring will be normal, smart, happy, and well-adjusted members of society;
b) You wrongly assume we will change our minds and suddenly embrace having children, otherwise we are selfish because we aren't being subjected to the torture of having to attend to something/one we never wanted in the first place?

Why is it so hard to embrace the concept that some people simply do not want children? That maybe, just maybe, it's not about 'sacrificing' one's lifestyle, time, and disposable income? There is absolutely NO moral imperative that smart and successful people MUST have children - that's just wishful thinking on behalf of those who simply assume too much (or who, like my mother, say that raising kids is hard and that I too should have to suffer the same punishment that she did). That was her choice to make, and this one is mine. It's the same choice I made when I was roughly 13 or so, and at 31, I stand steadfast in my resolve. I too have heard from countless people that I would change my mind, that I wouldn't know what I was missing, that I would feel differently when it was my own child, etc. All bits of flawed logic, I'm afraid. If anything, my resolve is stronger today than it has ever been.

And I have to say, I wouldn't say that I hate all children. But I look at them, even good friends' children, and feel absolutely nothing for them. And that's just when they aren't screaming/whining/crying/throwing tantrums. To wit, I am okay with people calling me cold and unfeeling; after all, I am happy with my career and enjoy partaking in activities of my choosing, therefore, I must be selfish... but quite frankly, I am okay with being called selfish. At the end of the day, I still have my sanity, my free time (hey, I'm a government attorney), and I get to engage in activities of my own choosing. That is true happiness - and I don't regret a thing.

Posted by: attorney | October 10, 2006 6:15 PM

The only downside to intelligent, successful DINKS like myself not having children?

Republicans keep winning elections because all 14 of their children keep voting republican.

Posted by: DCist | October 10, 2006 6:21 PM

Republicans won't be winning this term. Thank Foley for that.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 6:26 PM

Republicans keep winning elections because all 14 of their children keep voting republican.
--------

Right because I've never heard of a child rebelling against their parents EVER!

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 6:34 PM

"The only downside to intelligent, successful DINKS like myself not having children?

"Republicans keep winning elections because all 14 of their children keep voting republican."

That's not fair. Some Republicans don't have 14 kids, some people who have 13 siblings don't vote the same way their parents do, etc.

Posted by: Maria | October 10, 2006 6:36 PM

Assuming that only healthy, economically stable, disease free, perfect individuals should be having children really misses the point of what life is all about. Saying that those who are sick or impaired in some way shoud voluntarily refrain from reproducing is reprehensible, and taking this position is advocating a master race. I am afraid that in a society with no weakness, we also would not have empathy for weakness. The struggles in life are what make it worth living. They teach us about ourselves, and make us rise to our most noble natures. The way we treat others, the poor, the sick, the disabled, speaks to our true natures. Plus, people who are impaired can still make tremendous contributions to society. Look at Richard Feynman (sp?) for example. I have a friend who is raising a son who is mentally retarded, and although he is impaired, he has a job and is an important and integral part of the family. His life is not worthless. Morgan, I find your views very scary. In your perfect world, there would be no kindness and compassion for others. I once saw a documentary about a man who through an accident, became a paraplegic. Despite his disabilities, he was able to work and have a fulfilling life. He stated that if he could go back in time, he would not change anything, because his accident and the struggle he endured to overcome it in the end made him a better, kinder more empathic person. And because he liked himself, he would not change his past, because it shaped him. There are a lot of people out there who are disabled or impaired in some way, but their lives are just as valuable as anyone else's.

Posted by: Rockville | October 10, 2006 6:39 PM

Wow, I have never thought of choosing not to have a child (or another child) as a selfish decision. In my ideal world, all children would be wanted.

Having said that, I can relate to the annoying relatives who ask "when are you going to have kids?" (although I keep my mouth shut). I like kids, and I like being a mom, and I think it's fun for people I care about to have babies. Of course I don't expect, or even WANT my opinions to factor into a couple's decision to procreate. Which is yet another reason to keep my mouth shut.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | October 10, 2006 6:39 PM

My father has diabetes, are you trying to tell me that my likelihood to get diabetes is just as low as someone who doesn't have a history of it? When doctors ask for your family history in terms of medical issues, are you saying there's no reason?
------------

Yes, I'm saying the reason is minimal and you are incorrect. Not only that, but pretty much every scientific site I found online details the same things- Eugenics was founded on primitive ideas of genetics that came out of livestock breeding. It's disproven. Give it up OR point me to a website that supports it.


Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 6:40 PM

"Right because I've never heard of a child rebelling against their parents EVER!"

My husband and I tease my parents that now that we're all in the same state, our votes are going to cancel theirs out. :)

And re: the whole eugenics thing, pittypat and Rockville, well-said at 5:55 and 6:39.

Posted by: niner | October 10, 2006 7:01 PM

I've found that people realize just what boneheads they've accidentally been when I respond that I don't have children because I think that children deserve parents who really *want* them. It changes the focus of the conversation to the repercussions *for children* when parents have kids that they don't truly want. This decision is not selfish - it's thinking ahead and realizing that maybe not everyone is meant to be a parent.

Posted by: JW | October 10, 2006 7:03 PM

The correct phrase is "childfree," not "childless by choice." "Less" implies that something is missing.

Childless is correct. It's your interpretation that makes it a negative.

(So would parents be "childplus" in this scenario or "childblessed"?)

It's another attempt to overlay awkward meaning onto words (handicapable anyone?)

Posted by: Kate | October 10, 2006 7:22 PM

I'm a 25 year old woman in a committed relationship who's on the fence about having children. One thing I'd like to point out is that there are plenty of terrible reasons that people use to justify having children: forcing commitment out of an unsure mate, for governmental support, trying to fill an emotional void due to low self-esteem, etc.

For an example of the latter, my aunt -- who is 40, single, and unemployed -- spent her entire savings in a sperm bank last year and now is the new mom to twins. She has no means to support them and guilts my grandmother into sending her money once a month. I once asked her why she chose to have babies and she told me that she wanted someone to love, and who would love her back.

I fail to see how her reasoning isn't selfish -- more selfish than any couple that chooses not to have children because it's just not their lot.

Posted by: Logan Circle | October 10, 2006 7:37 PM

I for one am thrilled that Jamie (and Emily) won't have children. Kids don't need 'parents' who don't want them, after all. And of course women and men can have a fulfilling life without offspring. I never ask a woman if she's going to have kids--why should I care? Jamie and Emily are making statements about their respective self-important stances, but the reality is that many women don't choose to give birth nowadays. And most don't make a big deal about it. Please spare me the chest-thumping.

Posted by: MsDCF | October 10, 2006 7:42 PM

I'm glad to see my and my wife's sentiments in writing. Thanks for writing this. My wife and I have been married for 12 years and no kids. It wasn't originally as much a choice as a procrastination. Now, we're happy the way things are. I look at people who have kids and wonder what the attraction is.

Posted by: Doug | October 10, 2006 7:43 PM

I have a friend with two autistic children who admits that she wishes she hadn't had them. The first child isn't too badly off, but the second one is. They're very broke. Her marriage is on the rocks and looks like it probably will tank, and she chalks it up entirely to the difficulties with the children. I am afraid of what could happen should she become a single mom, because I suspect her husband wouldn't stay too involved with the kids after a divorce and together their heads are barely above water as is.
****************
I wonder if she would still feel this way if she was in a loving, supportive marriage.

Posted by: Cassandra | October 10, 2006 8:57 PM

Do I agree with Bethesda? No.

Do I think those statements would be appropriate in a casual social context of conversation at work or among strangers? No.

But this is exactly the place and context Bethesda should say exactly what Bethesda is saying- that's why we have the discussion comments at all. Personally I think Bethesda is doing a great job of showing how ridiculous not respect people's choice to not bear children and how great and irrational the pressure to have children is.

----------

oh cut it out. How overly-sensitive is your workplace where this isn't a valid discussion? We ALL talked about it today. I work with two Europeans and they get both paternity and paid-maternity leave in Denmark and Sweden AND they don't pay extra taxes due to lack of military. People at work who disagreed with me admitted they had selfish reasons for not wanting kids or helping kids. A woman I work with volunteers at her church's Sunday school for the kids and considered that her duty. None of the people I work with disagreed with me. Why would I have continued if people outside this board convinced me otherwise?


he time. I talked about this thread at work today as it was going on.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 8:58 PM

I've found that people realize just what boneheads they've accidentally been when I respond that I don't have children because I think that children deserve parents who really *want* them. It changes the focus of the conversation to the repercussions *for children* when parents have kids that they don't truly want. This decision is not selfish - it's thinking ahead and realizing that maybe not everyone is meant to be a parent.

---------

oh please, how convoluted can you get? Why won't you spend your time with children? Selfish reasons. How does that make it not selfish?

Do people need to be reminded of the meaning of the word selfish? It's hardly a nasty vice, but it's right there in your post. You're too selfish to care for kids, ok, fine, live with it.

You know libertarians PRIDE themselves in their extreme selfishness. Why are people jumping through hoops to deny it in this thread?

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 9:01 PM

I look at people who have kids and wonder what the attraction is.

________________________

I look at people who don't have kids and wonder what the attraction is in a barren, lonely existence.

(I'm trying to show you how rude and ignorant you sound, Doug. Get it? Don't try to judge a lifestyle you know nothing about.)

Posted by: to Doug | October 10, 2006 9:11 PM

To the one who posted the Star Trek reference, I LOVE YOU.

That said, hereditary disease does not corrupt the whole person's genome. Anybody who thinks so MUST take a course in human genetics or study Dawkins' books in detail AND take a general genetics course. No excuses.

There the eugenicist would learn that ALL of us carry a few mutations that are lethal but do not affect us because we have other genes compensating for those.

For best vigor, we MUST have a variety of genes. This is for the immune system, and also for the brain, etc.

Most geniuses do not come from genius parents.

Inbreeding invariably destroys health. Just read about cheetahs and florida panthers, the endless hereditary defects affecting various dog breeds, and so on.

Yes, a single tragic mutation can have manifold effects on a person and be lethal. However that same person can carry some great genes worth passing on.

And in spite of my background in genetics, I consider individual humans to be more than bags of genes.

So, Morgan, you better learn about REAL genetics fast. Or at least watch Gattaca.

And no, you don't agree with me. You proposed that as a policy. I had a teacher who died of pancreatic cancer. I found after her death she had 6 kids, 5 of whom died of cystic fibrosis.

That is a very bad roll of dice. cystic fibrosis carriers who marry and have kids normally only have a 25% chance of any given kid being affected by cystic fibrosis; 50% that they will be a carrier, and 25% that the kid will be neither a carrier or affected.

You see, the odds are EQUALLY GOOD that a kid will be sick with a lethal disease, although nowadays people with cystic fibrosis can live into their 20's, or live lifelong and healthy.

Which is the top reason why anybody with any background in genetics and math would be highly offended by your assertion that genetic illnesses should disqualify people from having children. They should see a genetic counselor and make the decision whether they can live with the risk or if they'd rather adopt, go without kids, etc.

Unfortunately yes, it does create the specter of abortion as a selective tool, especially in diseases where one sex or the other is predominantly affected. Heck, just have in-vitro fertilization and pick the right embryos to implant and discard the rest. Hooray for modern technology.

As for me, I have a hereditary disease that has variable penetrance, meaning it doesn't always cause the same symptom in every person it affects. It may or may be worsened or not by other secondary genes that vary all over the population.

Many hereditary diseases are like this-- multifactorial. THe secondary genes are not even damaging. It's just the mixture, maybe odds of one in thousands. Or of hereditary AND upbringing.

Muhammad Ali has Parkinson's disease because he was born with a genetically sensitive corpus callosum. That might not have given him Parkinson's if he hadn't become a boxer and gotten some blows to the head. Most boxers that show neurological problems from boxing tend to be "punch drunk" and show serious cognitive problems, but not Parkinson's.

Again... before you start doing a grand theory of eugenics or ANYTHING in the world, at least learn the basics of the field first. I mean, read a book by an expert or two who actually work in the field.


Posted by: Wilbrod | October 10, 2006 11:17 PM

"Childless is correct. It's your interpretation that makes it a negative."

No, it isn't, and no, it doesn't.

So...because all black people do not hail from Africa does not make them "African American"? It what the phrase means to the person to whom it refers that matters. It is that person's choice, NOT YOURS.

I do not have children, and that's by choice. That makes me CHILDFREE.

Posted by: Childfree and Loving It | October 11, 2006 12:04 AM

"There are a lot of child-free posters here who don't want to be judged for their choice, but they sure feel free to judge parents for overpopulating the world, driving up tax rates to pay for schools, siring a child with Down syndrome (horror of horrors, right?), being 'bad' parents (because they're experts on what makes a 'good' parent and can accurately judge situations they're not part of)."

As long as we help to foot the bills, we most definitely get a say. Don't like it? Pay for your own schools.

Posted by: Truthteller | October 11, 2006 12:09 AM

Truthteller, with your point of view I would be begging on the streets because I have a disablity and no education, instead of having an college degree and paying taxes into the system for your social security.

You should go to India sometime and see how the begging system works. Children get more money than adults, so they never get to go to school. I've seen beggars beating kids in public. Sometimes they actually disable the children to get more income in. They do this because a beggar can earn more money than a government employee by begging.

Of course, I forgot, you don't actually live in India, and probably would never want to live there.

But, so why do you want to end compulsory free public education, which is one of the major things that makes America the land of opportunity?

And no, 1% of your tax dollars does not give you the right to a say in anything but the voting booth.

Go on over to the Pentagon and tell them how to fight the war and inspect their tanks and all and see exactly how far you get.


Posted by: Wilbrod | October 11, 2006 1:04 AM

As long as we help to foot the bills, we most definitely get a say. Don't like it? Pay for your own schools.

Well because I pay taxes too and those taxes go towards roads, I want to be able to tell you what kind of car to buy!

Posted by: to truth teller | October 11, 2006 8:02 AM

Jaime - Thank you so much for expressing my exact feelings, and not calling parents names while doing it.

My husband and I recently made the decision to become childfree. We are both Christians, raised in somewhat conservative families in which married couples are expected to have at least one child, and we are conservative ourselves politically in many ways. We assumed when we were first married that we'd have a child "someday" - meaning after my husband finished graduate school and was in a stable job, after we could afford for me to quit working, after we bought a house, etc.

However, things do change. We decided to be childfree for several reasons, including the fact that, although we live modestly in a small house, we can't afford for one of us to be a stay-at-home parent, and juggling careers while raising a child isn't appealing to us. I've also developed health problems in the last few years that will probably make it difficult for me to properly care for a child, and we've decided that the energy and effort that we believe is necessary to raise a child is not something we can provide.

In addition, we've decided to not have a child for a very important reason - my husband simply isn't enthusiastic to be a parent, and I refuse to have a child if it means my husband would not be involved in helping me raise the child.

My husband and I are happy with our choice to be childfree, and we do respect the wishes and desires of others to have children (even if we don't understand certain things like why a couple would consider artificial means to conceive instead of adoption).

However, I still feel like a freak sometimes because of the pressure our family members and others have put on us to have "at least one" child. I've heard the "You'll be great parents" argument because we are a wonderful aunt and uncle to our seven nieces and nephews. I've heard the "You'll have beautiful children" argument. I've heard the "You don't know what you're missing" argument.

And, from other Christians, I've heard the argument that I can't possibly understand God's sacrificial love because I'm not a parent. But I think you can understand it and experience it by making sacrifices for your spouse, as I have done at times, or by taking care of aging parents, which I will probably have to do because my siblings are too busy with their children.

You would think that Christians would be the last people who would not call a childfree couple "selfish," but I've heard it - even though my husband and I are active church members and have time that parents don't have to spend on service for the church.

I don't understand the name calling. Maybe we are selfish in others' eyes because we're not willing to risk health problems for me and problems in our marriage, and add stress to our lives by having a child, but it's our decision alone and should not be questioned by others.

Posted by: Nancy | October 11, 2006 10:05 AM

"You would think that Christians would be the last people who would not call a childfree couple 'selfish,' but I've heard it - even though my husband and I are active church members and have time that parents don't have to spend on service for the church."

Nancy,

It's been my experience that Christians often don't follow what Jesus taught.

Ignore those who question your decision -- on whatever grounds. It sounds like you and your husband are living a life of care and compassion, and that's all that matters.

Posted by: pittypat | October 11, 2006 10:17 AM

"I hope that you didn't really mean this the way it comes across. Of course those of us who choose to not have children are able to mentally support a child - we just choose not to do so. We are perfectly mentally together - it is just a choice that we have made. "

I'm late getting back to this, but no, I do not mean it how it comes across. What I mean is that people who have children and want children are in a position where they have made the decision to have a child and are in the right "frame of mind" to raise that child. People who don't want children shouldn't have to have children just because they may be smart people if they arent emotionally or mentally willing to have that child. I'm using mental to imply "of the frame of mind" not "crazy". I dont mean to imply that if they wanted children they wouldnt be capable of raising them, but not wanting children does make someone less ideal as a parent than someone who does want them. Its not a flaw, just a choice.

Posted by: Jolie | October 11, 2006 11:21 AM

"In addition, we've decided to not have a child for a very important reason - my husband simply isn't enthusiastic to be a parent, and I refuse to have a child if it means my husband would not be involved in helping me raise the child."

Nancy:

Since living with my husband, I have honestly learned that he would not make a good father. I already know I would be a horrible mother, so it's quite fitting that we're together.

He's also admitted to me that he would not make a good father. I say if you know in your gut that this is true, then don't have kids. It's just not fair.

I have a good number of friends who are married and the woman does is the one who is involved with the kids. The man is just kind of there. I know it's not like this in every family, but when I see that in them, I see what our life would be like if we had kids too. I'm not cut out for that. I'll pick up and clean after him, but that's where it ends for me.

Good luck, and I wish you a happy childfree marriage!

:-)

Posted by: literarygirl | October 11, 2006 11:33 AM

Footloose - Thank you for reading my post for what it was, simply my expression of what makes me happy.

"Footloose, you obviously did not read what Jennifer or I wrote. She was crowing about being able to go out late at night or fly off to Spain while mocking her "joyful" (her sarcastic use) parent friends could not do those things without a babysitter.

I said NOTHING about Jennifer needing to bear children! What I pointed out was that going to Spain or staying out late is not everyone's defnition of "joy"! If it makes her happy, fine. But she thinks her life is MORE joyful because she can do those things, whereas to me those things have nothing to do with joy."

Ugh - My mother always told me "we find the flaws in others that we see in ourselves" Please do not put words in my mouth after you've just finished calling me narrow-minded. It only shows your ignorance to the definition of the term.

I did not claim that my life was more joyful than others - I was commenting on the irony that I have experienced with my friends. While trying to convince me to live my life their way, they are constantly unhappy that they cannot do the things that I can. While my travels make me happy, I do not think that I live a better life than they do - for their kids are all very special people - an did not state that I do. I was commenting that I live my life my way and do not try to convince others that my way should be their way - while many of my parental friends cannot say the same.

Maybe as one who finds joy in other areas of life, you can enlighten us with those tales, so that we may learn to be as happy as you so obviously are - instead of insulting others thoughts and opinions? I, for one, would be fascinated!

Posted by: Jennifer | October 11, 2006 1:36 PM

Congratulations to Jamie Page Deaton for making her decision and staying committed to it, in the face of immense pressure. I have four children, but it is not the right choice for everyone. I would never argue with someone about their decision, although at times I have run across parents who I might have wished had remained childless, if for no other reason than that they are clearly making their own children crazy.

People should respect other people's decisions, and if that is the right decision for her, then more power to her.

Posted by: noh | October 11, 2006 4:16 PM

I had a vasectomy after my (now ex-) wife's second miscarriage. Mutual decision, not the wisest one in retrospect.

But I have decided (somewhat heroically, I think) to continue to attempt to spread my powerful seed. With enough attempts, I think the little guys will be able to break through the barriers.

Posted by: Bob S. | October 11, 2006 5:00 PM

To Jennifer:

Don't assume your friends don't enjoy being parents just because they sometimes seem frustrated they can't do what you can do and seem frazzled. You're not seeing the everyday ineractions that make it all worthwhile. I sometimes wish I could do things without worrying about getting a babyitter (which I never do because it's too expensive and we haven't found a reliable one) and am sure I seem frazzled to others, but still wouldn't trade being a parent in for my old life.

And no, I'm not one of those posters saying it's right for everyone just because I enjoy it. I'm just saying that looks can be deceiving when trying to evaluate whether someone else is happy being a parent. There are times when the kids used to act up in public where I'm sure I didn't look like I was enjoying myself, but there's a lot going on behind the scenes that the average observer wouldn't see that make it all worthwhile. Something as simple as watching them do something new. Or my son telling me he loves me as much as pigs, and sincerely thinking that's a huge compliment.

Posted by: Sam | October 11, 2006 5:21 PM

Most of us did not grow up with this idea of parenthood, but it seems to be the new standard. Maybe parenthood would be a more appealing option if potential parents felt there was more community support, less pressure to be perfect and greater encouragement of just letting kids play and be kids.

--------------------

I haven't read to the end of all the comments, but I couldn't agree more with this post. I also don't want kids, considered sending in a guest blog about it too. I'm glad that this conversation is being had.

I'd love to know how many people reading this blog are childless/childfree? I read it because I think it's good to be informed. Mostly, I'm horrified by the level of anger and judgment people throw around this blog.

Posted by: vb_lady | October 11, 2006 5:45 PM

honestly, the reason i read this blog (once in a while) as a childfree person is to gloat over how much better my life is than the parents i read about here.

i know that is mean and condescending, and i never would have posted that, if you hadn't meanly and condescendingly suggested that the reason i read this blog is because i secretly do want kids.

Posted by: to "ironic?" | October 12, 2006 10:55 AM

To "ironic?":

"honestly, the reason i read this blog (once in a while) as a childfree person is to gloat over how much better my life is than the parents i read about here.

i know that is mean and condescending, and i never would have posted that, if you hadn't meanly and condescendingly suggested that the reason i read this blog is because i secretly do want kids."

I know exactly what you mean. I still believe that those who are the most offensive about our choices, are really jealous of the lifestyle.

And isn't it sad, too, that some of those that are parents, seem to be childish themselves? It's no wonder I'm surprised and delighted when I meet a courteous, mannerly child these days.

Again, just because we don't have children doesn't mean we can't seek balance. It's just balancing different things than what a "traditional" family might have to.

My husband and I are a family. And we need balance, too.

Posted by: literarygirl | October 12, 2006 11:34 AM

Not only do childless couples need balance, we're also stakeholders in issues that many parents think are theirs alone, particularly those that relate to balance. We're all linked. To find the best solutions, a number of perspectives need to be considered. Being childfree doesn't mean we don't care about children or the policies that may affect them, or are uninterested bystanders in child and parent-focused debates. We play a part. It's a different part than the part parents play, but it is no more or less important.

Posted by: JP Deaton | October 12, 2006 11:50 AM

I have two kids and I applaud thier truthfulness. I hate seeing self absorbed people with kids, whose careers, friends and money mean that their kids are a burden and are often offloaded to a nanny or just neglected. My wife and I have made a pact, family first and if that means a lesser title,lesser money and lesser social status so be it.

Posted by: Patrick | October 12, 2006 3:40 PM

About regrets: I have two kids, and I regret that I did not start earlier and have more kids. I would have liked to have had at least four, personally. I grew up in a large family and I always wanted one of my own.
But to have a big family, you probably need a good, solid, happy marriage above all, and I never had that.
So I do regret many of my life choices. . .including, to a large extent, my choice of a (soon-to-be-ex) husband, who is just not a family kind of guy. I should have chosen differently long ago. but we do have these wonderful, beautiful children, who are the light of my life, even if there are only two of them.

Posted by: i have to be anonymous here | October 12, 2006 5:48 PM

It's amazing that in some circles, questioning whether women are required to reproduce is still considered heresy. I think it's part of the push to return women to the kitchen, tending a frying pan as Dad trots off to make big bucks. Celebrity moms in every magazine, making it look easy and prestigious; the freedom to control one's own bodily functions throttled by legislatures; it all makes for a subtle conditioning of which its proponents are mightily defensive.

Jamie's blog addresses this trend on a less sinister scale. Friends and relatives take pokes at childfree women most frequently, because of their comfort level with intrusion upon personal choices. While we deal with taxation and health benefit inequities every day, we don't dodge them in the lunch room, hair standing on end as we repeat our stance for the umpteenth unnecessary time.

Thanks to the Washington Post for allowing Jamie's thoughts to reach a larger audience. Those who abstain from reproduction need all the help we can get! :)


Posted by: Abbie F | October 13, 2006 10:15 AM


I think the choice should be that of the parents. If you are happy without kids, fine.. if you want them then go ahead. I married at 23 and before long there were prurient queries about being in the "family way". There was pressure from my inlaws about "being a mom" as if it were a race that one must win. If I had the same courage that I have now I would have waited. I think that when you really want children, you become great parents; rather than when parenthood is being foisted on you.
So please stand by your own convictions.

We have 2 kids that we love most dearly, but I wasn't ready for my older one when he came. I wanted my 2nd one desperately so I was a better mom. That guilt is always there.

Posted by: a mom | October 13, 2006 12:57 PM

Perhaps the "happily childfree" people need to ask themselves, "Why am I reading, much less commenting on, a blog for parents?"

Posted by: Cynthia | October 13, 2006 2:21 PM

I'm a volutarily sterilized childfree woman. I knew I've never wanted kids practically since I've been sentient, and I've never regretted my tubal ligation for an instant.

I haven't read all the comments, because there are so many of them (wow!), butI personally find babies repulsive. I do not enjoy holding them, taking care of them, or any other dealings with them. Can't even look at them on TV!

I do not enjoy young children for much the same reasons. I am SO much better off without any to deal with!

I do not CARE whether children learn to do something new. I don't CARE if Jenny or Jimmy learn how to go to the potty. I don't CARE if they learn how to eat with silverware and not a bottle. I have dealt with children in the past, and I can honestly say that I KNOW that all that would never balance out the cost, time, effort, and hassle of dealing with kids.

I'd also like to say to Bethesdan: It's people like you I really, really hate paying so many school taxes for. You think that not having children morally invalidates you to doctor visits?? Then maybe the childfree and childless should lobby to take our hard-earned tax dollars OUT of your schools, and OUT of your pockets in the form of disproportionate tax returns for the childed!!

That said, I've also heard from women with multiple children why they "don't have more", which I find just as insulting as those who ask me why I don't have any at all! I seem to read that here, a lot, too. It's like the children people *already have* aren't good enough or something!!

Posted by: Rox | October 13, 2006 2:46 PM

"Perhaps the 'happily childfree' people need to ask themselves, 'Why am I reading, much less commenting on, a blog for parents?'"

It's a blog for people interested in work/life balance issues, and one can have work/life balance issues with or without having kids.

Posted by: Maria | October 13, 2006 2:58 PM

Perhaps the "happily childfree" people need to ask themselves, "Why am I reading, much less commenting on, a blog for parents?"
---------------------
Because I normally read the political blogs and noticed "No Kids For Me" as a topic and responded. I have no kids. Why shouldn't I respond to that topic?

I've become curious for the last decade or so about people having more and more children per household. Large families weren't the norm for my friends and siblings when we were of childbearing years. I sometimes think many college educated women are afraid of entering or staying in the work force and have made professional childrearing their career... to the point of micro-management of their children's lives.

When I grew up, my father worked from 7 in the morning until 6 at night but he was the parent who was most involved with us. We knew he loved us and he always tried to find activities to share with us. My stay-at-home mother on the other hand always seemed overwhelmed by cooking, cleaning, and general chores. We spent most of the time in the yard or at friends' houses and the few times she "played" with us, she micro-managed our activities to the point of frustration. I wish she had been the teacher that she had trained/planned to be because I feel our home life would have been more pleasant. My father spent "quality time" with us and she didn't...even though she was present always. I didn't see anything in her role model that I wanted to emulate.

I'm curious about some of the topics and I'll read and comment on any section of the Wa Po that interests me.

Posted by: footloose and childfree | October 13, 2006 3:36 PM

". . .butI personally find babies repulsive. I do not enjoy holding them, taking care of them, or any other dealings with them. Can't even look at them on TV!

I do not enjoy young children for much the same reasons. I am SO much better off without any to deal with!"

Wow. Good thing you're sterilized. The world is SO much better off with you not having children.


Posted by: shaking my head at your cruelty | October 15, 2006 2:11 AM

Yeah, I'm a cruel b.... for knowing I don't like babies and small children, being RESPONSIBLE enough to get myself sterilized, while so many mothers are out there killing, maiming, and otherwise abusing the kids they have and purportedly love to pieces so much!

I'm awful. :)

Just remember, the next time you hear about the next Andrea Yates, the childfree are the truly cruel ones!

Furthermore, not everyone likes dogs, or cats, or lawyers, or dentists. Why should children and babies be any different?

Oh, I guess babies and small children have some sort of divine protection in the fact that everyone, especially every WOMAN, just LOOOVES them and wants ten of them. Whatever.

Posted by: Rox (shaking my head at your social and biological programming) | October 15, 2006 12:06 PM

Plenty of people, including many wonderful people, are not cut out for parenthood. If they make the commitment to be childfree, good for them.
But to describe babies or any entire category of human beings as "repulsive" is disturbing. Just substitute any other group of people -- the elderly, Jews, the disabled, for example -- for that "repulsive" label to see how disturbing it is.
Sadly, such sentiments are not unheard of in our history.

Posted by: anonymous | October 15, 2006 10:09 PM

"There is nothing more selfish in this world than not raising children. It's not a personal choice, it's a societal choice. Before I had kids I volunteered, teaching computers, I wrote articles for kids, I ran my office's Toys for Tots drive. We were all children once and we leeched off of adults, many of whom were both not our parents and who helped us out of the niceness of their own heart. I am tired of people thumbing their nose at all that help and support they got, refusing to pay back any of it, and claiming they have some moral upper-hand by not wanting kids. Go ahead, don't have your own kids, but you either make darn sure that you help some teenager get into medical school or forfeit your privilege of seeing any doctors in your retirement. Because if you want a doctor when you're 80, that doctor has to be educated today. I'd just as soon raise my own kids than feel that crushing guilt of taking and never giving.

Posted by: Bethesdan | October 10, 2006 09:59 AM "
________________________________________

As someone childfree by choice and a total policy wonk, this is the argument that always interests me. The US is unique among developed nations in having a higher birthrate and not just among recent immigrants. The lower birthrates we see all over though will strain our social safety nets - I'm in the Gen X trough of the population graph and will be supporting 3+ retirees on social security and medicare pretty soon. I wonder how many of us look at that relaity - and working until we are dead while still having our boomer parents move in with us! - and think a child is more of a burden on the financial outlook....


And on personal level I do wonder - as I watch my parents deal with elderly grandparents: Who will check on me?

Posted by: childfree wonk | October 17, 2006 10:50 AM

THANK YOU! If I go to one more party & get asked the 'big question', I'm going to vomit on them. Everytime there is a block party in our neighborhood, the questions come like bullets. In fact at one party, one of my husband's best friends realized I was getting attacked & tried to announce I had "a problem with conceiving." Either they didn't hear it or chose to ignore b/c I still get the same ?s all the time. The thing that drives people crazy is that I am VERY maternal but have no interest to have my own. I admit. I have ALOT of free time & sometimes feel empty when my husband is out doing his own thing. But, isn't that the point??

Posted by: Courtney | November 1, 2006 9:48 PM

Great work!
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Posted by: Barbara | November 2, 2006 2:02 AM

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