Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dear Mandy...

Hi Mandy,

I just found your blog Childfreedom and your Top 100 list not to have kids and I agree with your points. My husband and I decided not to have kids for many of those same reasons. And most of the time, we are happy and have no regrets of our decision...I'm 35 and he is 42.

Our only concern is the dreaded old age. Who'll help us when we need help? We have a few nieces and nephews who are at least a few hours away by car. Do you have any insights on that topic? Or can you write about that topic? We know having someone to take care of us when we get older is not a good enough reason to have kids...and there's no guarantee that they will.

Thanks for your blog!



Hi Angie,

Thanks for writing.

The "who will take care of you in old age?" question comes up a lot and as you said, although it is an understandable concern, it is really not a compelling reason to have children.

If you've ever visited a nursing home, you have probably seen that most people in nursing homes have children, and many of said children do not visit their parents. In fact, some of the saddest people in nursing homes are the people with kids, because many of them have been dumped there by their kids and left to rot. What could be more hurtful and disappointing than that?

But let's imagine for a moment that you have wonderful children who are willing to take care of you in old age. Do you really want to saddle your children - who have their own families, jobs and responsibilities - with that burden? Isn't that a very selfish thing to do? I can't imagine wanting to dump that kind of burden on someone I love.

Who will take care of the childfree when they get old? I have a few ideas.

1. Our friends (since we've hopefully developed and sustained many more deep, lasting friendships because our lives have not been consumed with childrearing).

2. Ourselves (since we've hopefully taken a good chunk of the money we have saved by not having kids, estimated to be at least $250,000 per child - and saved it for retirement and quality long-term care).

3. Other childfree folks (imagine a "Golden Girls" scenario where a group of elderly friends live together, share a home and look out for each other. Is that type of scenario so far-fetched?)

A little creative thinking on issues like this can really go a long way!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday

Heads up to my readers:

If you are doing any online shopping today on "Cyber Monday" be sure you are registered with Ebates. They are offering double cash back at 500 stores today, so you can really get some good deals!

Here's the link.

If you don't know what Ebates is, please read my previous post

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why I Don't Live and Let Live

I know many of my readers will find this hard to believe, but there are some people who think I am doing a grave disservice (to humanity, perhaps?) by vocalizing critical judgements about parenthood. 

The kind of comment I sometimes get (usually from parents, but occasionally from childfree folks as well) is along these lines:

You shouldn't be so judgemental of parents.  You want people to respect the childfree lifestyle, yet you do not offer the same respect to parents.  Live and let live.   Some people are happy having kids.  Others are happy being childfree.  Some people regret having kids, while others regret not having them.  Why can't we all get along?

So being that I get this comment from time to time, I thought it would be good to address it.

On the surface, much of this comment is valid.  The live and let live, or to each his own philosophy is right in line with my own belief system.  And I certainly would love it if the childfree lifestyle was respected and accepted like the parental lifestyle is.

But (sigh) then we have reality.

In reality, the idea of live and let live is - at least for now - a fairytale when it comes to the choice not to have children.  Sure, there are some childed folks who support our decision and do not pass negative judgements on us - and we are grateful for those folks - but as of right now, the majority of childed people (which also happens to be the majority of the adult population) does not accept the childfree lifestyle choice as one that is desirable, admirable, viable or in any way positive.  To the contrary, most adults view - and often deride - us as selfish, cold, immature, deviant, deficient, confused, pitiable souls who need to be enlightened by those who actually know what's important in life.

So starting out, we childfree folks are not getting a whole lot of warm and fuzzy live and let live vibes from most of the people we encounter in our baby-crazed, family-friendly society.  This can put us on the defensive.

Then, we have the factor that parenthood is idealized, glorified and promoted to the point of absurdity in our culture, while the harsh and often soul-crushing reality of parenthood is kept hush-hush and swept under the rug so the fairytale can continue undisturbed in perpetuity.  This leads many unsuspecting and unquestioning people to buy into the myth that parenthood is mostly bliss with a tiny bit of aggravation thrown it to keep it interesting, when in reality the reverse is usually true.  The result of this cultural brainwashing is that many people who are not remotely close to being parent material, have no business having children, or simply would be much happier living a life sans kids, pop them out mindlessly because "it's just what you do" and because they believe all the messages about parenthood being the most essential and joyful role in life.  Then they regret it.  Big time. On the contrary, one would be hard-pressed to find a childfree-by-choice person who regrets not having kids.  Go ahead and search.  We just aren't out there. Despite this, rarely is a person who is embarking on parenthood warned that they may regret their decision, while the childfree - a group that rarely if ever regrets their choice - are constantly chided for our decision and told we will regret it later. 

This relentless pro-parenthood propaganda (a.k.a pronatalism) needs to be counterbalanced by a more reasoned and critical view of parenthood because there simply isn't enough balance in the way parenthood is presented in our culture and that's where web sites like this come in.  I am here to provide a little balance, to illuminate the other side of parenthood (i.e. the dark side that is swept under the rug), and to counteract all the sugar-coating that is force-fed to people (especially women) so that people can make reasoned and well-informed decisions about what type of lifestyle will best suit them - decisions they will not regret later.  As evidenced by the growing hordes of mothers posting lamentful cries on the internet, many women are hopping mad.  They are angry about the lies they have been fed.  They are fuming about how they have been duped into the notion that motherhood is a woman's required path to personal fulfillment.  Most importantly, they are resentful about how the dark side of motherhood was kept hidden from them. Many of them cry, "I wish somebody told me what it's really like." Well, here I am.

Then we have the third factor which must be stated plainly.  The audience for this blog is the childfree and those contemplating the childfree lifestyle.  I realize that some parents read this blog, and I welcome them here if they find what I write interesting.  But parents, while you are welcome here, please realize that I don't write for you.  There is a plethora of web sites, blogs and discussion boards that cater to parents and that support and validate the parenthood lifestyle.  This site is not intended to be one of them.

Finally, while I work hard to counterbalance our culture's overglorification of parenthood by shining a spotlight on the well-kept secrets about the less-desirable aspects of that lifestyle, I do ultimately believe the notion of "to each his own".  We all want to live the life that brings the most happiness and fulfillment to us during our short journey through life and if that involves having children, so be it.  But for many of us, the path to happiness and fulfillment does not involve childbearing, childrearing and all the related drudgery that goes along with it.  I am here to provide much-needed validation and support for our choice and make sure that the people who are on the fence about which path to take are doing so with the complete picture of what the life of parent is, instead of the rosy, incomplete, deceiptful "puppies and rainbows" portrayal that we are banged over the head with from the time we even realize what gender we are.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dear Mandy...

Dear Mandy,

There is going to be a baptizing of a little boy in my boyfriend's side of the family and I do not wish to go! There are kids everywhere and if you finally find a good behaving child to play with, one or two from the family jumps out from the nearest corner and says: "When are you going to have one? "

And the biggest part of the family knows that I'm not really that into kids, but every time I try to play or in another way interact with a kid, they go insane and thinks that now I have change my mind about things.

It is sooo frustrating and I don't think I can go through with the party because I most likely will end up tripping waiters and old ladies in order to get to the nearest room with a lock.

Sigh, the event is taking place in about twenty days, should I fake an illness or do you have some advice to me, so I can survive that day?

I know fake an illness isn't the most mature thing to do but I'm in a freaking corner and they are many against one.


Dear A.S.

I think we all have been in this situation.  The thing to keep in mind is that you are not OBLIGATED to answer their prying questions. One thing I have learned is that when someone asks a question that is none of their business, the best way to reply is by turning it around on them. So when they press you with "When are you going to have a child?", instead of feeling obligated to give an answer, reply with: "Why would you like to know?" or "Why are you concerned?"  Turn the tables and put THEM on the hot seat. "Is there a reason this is a concern to you?" When they stammer their reply with whatever statement they come up with, you can say, "Thank you for sharing your insights" and leave it at that. In other words, don't feel compelled to answer them. It truly IS none of their business and by turning the tables on them in a polite way, you will subtely convey that message.

In the bigger picture, the remedy to overcoming these feelings of defensiveness is to look at your childfreedom in a different light - where you are empowered by your decision and wear your childfreedom with pride. Think of it as the world's best-kept secret and think of yourself as one of the rare people who has discovered the secret. In other words, instead of thinking of your childfreedom as a negative choice that puts you on the defense, think of it as a positive choice that you are thrilled about and allow that energy to shine through in your dealings with people.  When they try to make you feel badly for your choice, smile at them like the bird who ate the canary and let them wonder.


Friday, November 4, 2011