Who Needs Kids Any Way? asks TIME Magazine

22 08 2013

 Who Needs Kids Any Way? asks TIME Magazine

I miscarried my first child less than a month ago, so I see babies or lack of babies everywhere. When the latest issue of TIME arrived at my home (it was free, okay, shut up) with the words “THE CHILDFREE LIFE” emblazoned across the cover, I just sort of rolled my eyes. “When having it all means not having children,” read the sub-head. I looked at the cover photo of a young, relaxed couple lounging on the beach. The woman wore giant sunglasses and a little Mona Lisa smile that I guess is supposed to communicate her disdain for her uterus and her utter satisfaction with her size-4, cellulite-free, vacation-filled life.

Cover Photo Lady has lots of company: the American birth rate has literally never been lower in our recorded history. That includes the Great Depression, when people were too busy being Greatly Depressed to have babies. TIME tells us that the birth rate declined 9% between 2007 and 2011, which apparently is like whoa.

In other words, more and more American women are looking at the motherhood and saying, “You know what? No.” And after exploring the many reasons why women might decide not to procreate (and it’s usually looked at as a woman’s decision, not so much a man’s), TIME‘s Lauren Sandler decides that this is a pretty cool decision.

So what are the reasons? Unfortunately, they are painfully obvious and, in my openly biased opinion, tiresome. “Our lives are so great already.” “My mom had 16 kids and she was always tired and her life sucked.” “I wanna do what I wanna do.” “I’m afraid I would be such a devoted and awesome parent that everything else would suffer.” Et cetera.

But in some of the women interviewed for the article, there are – surprise, surprise! – hints of regret. Take Leah Clouse, a 27-year-old Knoxille, Tenn. woman who keeps a “baby box” in the closet “with a pink tutu she once bought for an imaginary infant girl.” Her explanation is that the box is “indulgent of a life I have to grieve. If we decided to have children, we’d have to grieve the life we currently have.”

And what life do they currently have? Leah “commits her time to working on her own creative projects and starting up a bakery.” Her husband writes a blog and works in customer service at a credit card-processing company. Ahem. Ahem hem.

Does anyone else feel like one day Leah and Paul might find the grief for the family they never had far outweighs their grief over blogging and baking?

Hey, it may sound nuts to me to give up the most creative project of all – baby-making – to write blogs and bake, but then that’s me. Who am I to judge? I am one of those rare pro-lifers who doesn’t believe in forcibly impregnating women with the seed of country music singers and Republican senators and replacing all their highfalutin’ books with Bibles and recipes. I know most of you are totally into that, but hey, not me.

Look: if you don’t want to have a kid, no one is forcing you to. But even when I try extremely hard to be objective, I can’t help but think some of the reasons couples give for avoiding parenthood are deeply, deeply lame.

And guess what! This means I’m dumb. At least that’s what Satoshi Kanazawa at the London School of Economics says. He has “begun to present scholarship asserting that the more intelligent women are, the less likely they are to become mothers.” But don’t hang your heads yet, Mom: many of his peers have found fault with those findings. (And may I add, again: surprise, surprise.)

Lest you start thinking the childfree life is all fun and games, it’s not. It gets lonely, especially in your 30s and 40s. I can attest to that, although I am not childfree by choice but because I was kind of a late bloomer when it comes to settling down and having kids. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a wife and mother ’til I was in my late 20s. I spent most of that decade in creative pursuits and having both a lot of fun and a lot of decidedly not-fun. I’m sure my conversion, at age 28, to Catholicism from Semi-Pagan Agnostic Pantheist Hotmess-ism was instrumental in my recognition of my own desire for children.

That’s right: before 2006, I was the spiritual equivalent of present-day Amanda Bynes.

In any case, at nearly 34 and no children yet, I can tell you it is lonely. It’s hard to find friends who can hang out, and when they can hang out, it’s usually at their place with their kids. Even if you love kids, maybe especially if you love kids, that can be hard after a while.

But the childfree-by-choice have chosen their fate. They don’t want kids. So it’s hard for me to shed a tear for their loneliness. After all, that annoying idea that children are a blessing is as old as time. It’s biblical, in fact. So, when you deny something that’s pretty natural, you may have to – and I say this with gentleness and love – get an app that blocks your friends’ babies from showing up on your Facebook and replaces them with fast cars or kittens or whatever you like. Because apparently that is a thing. And that thing kind of says it all.

See, some women claim they don’t have a maternal instinct. And maybe some truly don’t. But is that always an inborn characteristic – or lack thereof – or is it a result of living in a culture that is increasingly self-obsessed? This is a selfie society. Young people are being taught to share the highlight reel of their lives via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and kind of marvel at their own brand. In another time, all that oohing and aaahing would be directed at our children, not at ourselves.

Although Sandler’s article is dismissive of branding childfree-by-choice women “selfish,” I think she may be lacking objectivity. Whether it’s bad or wrong or what, it is most definitely selfish. ”It takes all of you, and I don’t know that I want to give it all,” said Leah Clouse of motherhood. Simple as that.

Furthermore, in my experience, there is far more of an anti-religion, anti-family, counter-cultural attitude to many of these women’s choices than TIME feels the need to explore. “Babies scare me more than anything,” says radical fauxminist Margaret Cho, in a delicious display of the pot calling the kettle scary.

“Look in the mirror, lady.” – Babies

I have known many young women who are self-described feminists, radicals, or liberals who delighted in disdaining babies and children and the desire to have them. In fact, in my 20s, I was one of those. Very deep down, I wanted children even back then. But in the circles I ran with, of actors and artists and filmmakers and punk rockers, wanting a baby was a weakness. It was for mainstreamers and sell-outs and church people. If you did have a baby, it was after getting pregnant by accident and considering abortion.

The article does not touch on how many of the couples interviewed use hormonal birth control to maintain their childfree existence, but I’d guess it’s a lot. I’d imagine there have been tubal ligations and vasectomies, too, and to be honest, the thought of human beings sterilizing themselves like animals irks me, and I don’t care if that makes me a lame church person. And of course, many people who insist on remaining childless have “oopsy-daisy” moments that lead to abortion. In other words, they’re not willing to sacrifice their comfort or convenience for a child, but they have no problem sacrificing a child for their comfort and convenience.

Still, if all these people were remaining childfree using a technique such as Natural Family Planning that didn’t end even the teensiest-weensiest human life, I’d probably still be bothered by it. (And, yes, it is okay to feel bothered by something other people do, even while accepting their right to do it.)

I’m all about people finding their own way and choosing their own happiness, but I find it difficult to believe that none of these people are going to wish they’d made a different decision. And that bothers me for them. I read between the lines of Leah Clouse’s interview, I picture her hiding her “baby box” in her closet, and I anticipate pain, regret, and loss. She already describes her feelings as “grief.”

It boils down to this: I’ve met lots of people who regretted not having children, but I have never met a single one who regretted her child.

by Kristen Hatten

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38 responses

24 03 2015
Susan

Leah is happily half way through a planned pregnancy ☺

17 12 2013
Jack

Let me start off by saying: Not everyone is meant to be parents.

Children take a lot of time, money, and patience all of which I do not have enough of. I wouldn’t don’t want to raise kids in poverty and bring people into this world I cannot take care of. The fact that children don’t pick their parents and can’t decide the lives they are born into, I rather not take gamble when I already no I can’t provide for them. I don’t think anyone’s reasons to be childfree are lame.

People in their 30s and 40s wouldn’t get lonely, they have friends, hobbies, vacations, dates, and plenty of other stuff they wouldn’t have the time or money to do if they had children. There are other childfree couples as well and people with children that are able to get a babysitter for their children. Many people like myself have joys that don’t involve children of being a mother.

I am selfish (to an extent) and not ashamed of it. I want to have my own business. I want to travel, see the world, go out when I want with my fiance without worry about if I can find a babysitter or if I can afford the vacation because someone needs shoes or has to go to college. I like that it will just be me and my fiance. I don’t have to worry about stress, extra mouths to feed, change in sex or sleep patterns, lack of time and energy, lack of freedom, change in lifestyle, and all the other stuff that happens when people decide. to become parents. Many people have enjoyed they decision and don’t regret.

For some people they do have a problem sacrificing their comfort for a child, that’s why they chose not to have one.

No on is going to admit they regret their children, people would label them bad parents. I know the US society is very pro-family so I don’t think most people live in a culture that brings about a non-maternal instinct. I think it is just like a personality trait. People are a certain way from birth and that how they just are.

Every time I go somewhere a see a out of control child running around the store, or screaming and having a tantrum a parent can’t get under control it pretty much reaffirms that I’ve made the right decisions.

1 09 2013
Teresa

Thank you Angel Cookie Davis.

23 08 2013
Angel Cookie Davis

Yes! Every lady loves a gentleman! For those who have had a man to force himself on her….the gentleness of God is like no other! He takes His time. He wipes tears. Eases fears. He heals not viciously hurt….it goes on and on. Amen!

23 08 2013
Angel Cookie Davis

I had to first become open to receive. God is a gentleman, so, He won’t force Himself on you. Then, I had to keep being open and learn to trust in His ability and guidance and not my own. I had to understand there would be points where I wouldn’t get it right the first time, but held fast to the FACT that God would and will perfect those things that concerned me. Learning is just that learning, I think sometimes we want to get it perfect the first time the lessons are taught. That’s not always the case. Besides, how is an effective testimony built if one does everything perfectly the first time. I wouldn’t be able to help another mother if I hadn’t had to fall and trip and fail. Realizing that your test and lessons are bigger than you also changes how you view and go through change.

23 08 2013
Editor

Wow! learnt something new,” God is a gentle lover, who wont force himself on you.” Wow. That make me tear up Angel Cookie Davis Wow

23 08 2013
Editor

Somewhere in scripture: Which of you will give your child a snake if he asks for a fish, if you who are evil know how to give good things to your children, how much more your heavenly Father .” God is Goodness. How do more people learn to trust God like you do Angel Cookie Davis? Your response to God’s inspiration is admirable, Lots of people cant trust in God’s goodness, its hard, how do you?

23 08 2013
Quiana Joseph- Hamilton

Well, well, well!

23 08 2013
Editor

I have read somewhere, that the rewards of the saints sweeter than honey is the good words spoken of them when they are not there. Is this true?

23 08 2013
Angel Cookie Davis

I decided I wanted to be a better mother, better woman, just better. I knew I could be a better mom, but just didn’t want to. I wanted to live life the way I wanted and do what I wanted and I, I, I…My boys didn’t deserve not to be nurtured. I was selfish when it came to my relationship with my kiddos. At the end of the day though Chinwuba Iyizoba, I was because I didn’t love myself, didn’t really believe God loved me, and so I couldn’t possibly begin to understand how to love these little souls that had been put into my care. I had to also realize that they belonged to God way before they were mine.

23 08 2013
Editor

Yes, that I tell you Angel Cookie Davis astonishing. Some say that God creates children and entrust them to parents to keep, feed and return back to Him. Some other writers say that God governs the world through intermediate causes, he loves each soul, but wants his love expressed through the love of the Parent. Thus a child is born into a family and the parents love best transmit the incredible love God has for this child

23 08 2013
Angel Cookie Davis

Lol, I hug, kiss, play, and tell my boys I love them all the time now! Before that was not happening! Lol! They have always loved their mama, but it took me a minute to reciprocate. I no longer want a “return to sender” label to send them back. Lol. I’m laughing but I was a mess!

23 08 2013
Angel Cookie Davis

My journey concerning motherhood was truly one of God love. He had to show me how to love them how He loves. He dealt with me about how to love them the way the needed, how to extend grace to them, how to be affectionate and tender. I felt like I had done my duty in making sure they had food, clothing and a roof. Therein was the problem, DUTY! I viewed them as a burden, therefore, I did my minimum duty to provide cuz after all they didn’t choose to be born. God had to show me that He doesn’t love out of DUTY, he loves out of just pure love. It’s who He is. I had to open myself up to the love of God in order to begin to express that same love towards my children. Quiana Joseph- Hamilton is my BFF she saw the ratchetness that was me. If we allow God to be the potter He can really transform pitiful lumps of clay into a work of art.

23 08 2013
Editor

I understand Angel Cookie Davis , one day you just decided to be a good Mom to your kids or was it gradual or perhaps some small voice of conscience whispering, reminding you of how your parents treated you nice and now you have to do the same for your kids. Yes Duty without Love is hash, when a husband does his duty to his wife, she is pretty hurt and upset unless he Loves tenderly. Love

23 08 2013
Angel Cookie Davis

Let me say this from personal experience, I have children and did not always feel for them the way I do now. I had no maternal instinct. I was basically done at food, clothing, shelter. I would hear other mom’s talk about how joyous they felt or how they wouldn’t go back to life without children, couldn’t imagine it! I was like, “errrr I don’t feel any of that.” Selfish ppl have children all the time. My boys are really good kids, and not spawns of Satan, but i wanted a return to sender label, just cause I was selfish and considered myself the not mother type. Some parents stop at what they consider the basic needs forgetting that children need to feel connected. They need to hug and kiss and be played with….I wasn’t down with all that. Anyway, long story short.God had to take me and make a real mother out of me.

23 08 2013
Editor

Your journey in life must be rich and full of something to learn, Angel Cookie Davis, how did God make a real mother out of you??

23 08 2013
Ula Saltibus

Its gives me personal satisfaction to know that the kids come in and they can’t read, write or spell but when they leave they can do all of the above. Also I can act as an advocate for them because I know them well enough to spot when something is not well with them. They are so trusting they believe what you tell them and you are their hero. I get to teach Christian ed, so that’s a bonus. In term’s of happiness they make me smile, sometimes they get me cross, they do sweet things like bringing me flowers. They miss me when I’m gone. It’s great being a Kindergarten teacher but also very challenging.

23 08 2013
Editor

Thank you Ula Saltibus I have learnt a lot from you. Bravo

23 08 2013
Ula Saltibus

Its his love. God is compassionate. If you feel no compassion for your brother who is hungry it may be because you are no child of his.

23 08 2013
Editor

I fear I might sound impertinent, pls pardon Ula Saltibus but if you may, how has your work with children made you happier?

23 08 2013
Ula Saltibus

I think yes we all should not live for ourselves but find a way to help the less fortunate in any way we feel called.

23 08 2013
Editor

Yes, off course, Ula Saltibus, it’s easier said than done. One needs a big heart and one made of gold to live a selfless life, serving the less fortunate. Some will ask, ‘What for? ‘ and see no reason why they must exert themselves so that a child in rags will have some meat. Some say it is only God’s love that can make people think like that.

23 08 2013
Ula Saltibus

I work with children, so I know them better than most and have raised my siblings too. The call to adopt children is good and wonderful but very expensive. I think that before people have their own to gratify themselves they should look into giving a child a home.

23 08 2013
Editor

Lend me your ears then if I congratulate you for working with and educating the future. Your is an enviable task, molding the hearts and mind of man and women who might be president! Wow. Yes, more people need to leave their comfort zone more often and explore the world of charity. Yes, that extra- pound you real kid is putting, or that Iphone 4 ready for the dustbin just because a new model is out could feed another kid whose parent can’t. Yes you are right Ula Saltibus

23 08 2013
Ula Saltibus

Chinewuba all this is good and wonderful but the cultural discrimination against women who are childfree or childless by circumstance is annoying. If women don’t have children by a certain age married or single they have to be constantly fighting off rude, nosy personal enquiries. Mothers are not the only ones who can find ” an outlet for “self giving” in children.”

23 08 2013
Editor

Yes, you are right Ula Saltibus, such unjust things are often said about women who dont have children and to think that the problem is often the man’s makes it ruder still. Yes, both parent find an outlet for their love in their children of course your right. As some say, children are gifts, not rights. Those who have not must be respected. They should know however that perhaps they are a called to a higher vocation, that of adopting other children or charity work, working with so many orphaned or motherless children. What your view on this?

23 08 2013
Editor

Ula Saltibus, many spiritual writers say that children are the crown of every marriage, children bring commitment and love into home, the man and woman become irrevocably united in the souls of their children. Studies also show that when there are children both parents are happier and are more committed to make the marriage work for the sake of The children. Mother find an outlet for the self giving in the children. Africans say that a man’s name is never lost if he has children. It is a selfish and hedonistic lifestyle that see children as obstacle to self indulgence.

23 08 2013
Ula Saltibus

I know many who tell me they regret having kids. One of my students dad told me he was tricked that why he had his son. Neither childfree nor parenthood guarantees happiness

22 08 2013
Adaobi Chineze Azubuike

sorry 4 ur loss. With all the troooublesss of child birth and care, I will never subscribe to a child free life. Don’t !

22 08 2013
Editor

I agree with you Adaobi, you are very wise

22 08 2013
Angel Cookie Davis

Interesting!

22 08 2013
Angel Cookie Davis

Interesting

22 08 2013
Uniontera Ja.

Thanks for your answer. I am the Uniontera Ja

22 08 2013
Editor

Nice to meet you Uniontera

22 08 2013
Uniontera Ja.

You are the time. I think so. I am the Uniontera Ja.

22 08 2013
Editor

+Uniontera Ja I assure you that I am not making it up, this was on time magazine recently .

22 08 2013
Chris Forbes-Nicotera

As I read this my amazing life partner is in our bed reading a book with our two amazing boys before she heads to work while our third (boy or girl) grows exponentially within her womb. I can tell you there is no grief of our child free days except when we try to sleep in a few minutes more than them:) to each their own:)
about a minute ago via mobile

22 08 2013
Editor

Yes, Chris Forbes-Nicotera, those sad faminist and masochist in the Time dont know the 1000 joys that comes from Fatherhood and Motherhood. Sad, sad

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