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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:55 am 
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Fee wrote:
lepelaar wrote:

Yeah and when that leads to people projecting how awful they used to be before they had kids, as if I'm the same way because I don't have kids and if I had kids I'd feel totally different from the way I don't feel in the first place.


Kids seem to be used as a magic cure all for some reason. I do not understand women who are with complete jerks, having a child and then are disappointed when the guy does not change or leave...Seriously?

Also when it comes to low income health care in the CA, to qualify for Medi-cal as a women the first step: being a mother. You cannot get it unless you have children. I think that is really unfair.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:58 am 
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paprikapapaya wrote:
I don't see anyone trying to shut parents out of the conversation, Tofulish. What I am seeing is there being an effort to shut down any discussion that doesn't flatter child-rearing, by saying no one but the rearer has a right to an opinion because it's so deeply personal. It may be personal, but I still don't see why it can't be analyzed.


I agree. I really respect all of the people on here and all of the opinions being put forth, and I do think a lot of what's being discussed is worth discussing, but making it the focal point of this thread feels a bit derail-ey.

Eating meat is a personal choice, but I don't think we'd accept a meat eater coming onto the "vegan pet peeve" thread (where we all acknowledge that meat eating is considered the norm by society and we're considered odd by the majority for not choosing that norm), and then saying it's a personal choice, and thus not open to critical viewpoints.

I don't know if I've worded that well, and I really don't want to antagonize/offend anyone or create drama. But it does feel like the choice to be a mother in this society is generally accepted (even valorized) as opposed to choosing to not have kids, and I feel like if we can't question that status quo on a thread like this, where can we?

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:16 am 
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Quarantined wrote:
smoothie wrote:
I do know that I agree with Erica Jong, though:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... %3Darticle
If I do decide to have a child someday, my parenting would be A LOT different than how most of my friends do it. I respect their way of doing it and I think they are amazing parents, but I don't think it's important to hang out with your child all of the time.


One reason I don't want to have kids is that it seems the pendulum has really shifted to having to supervise and watch your kids every second. I know that it's possible to do things differently but I worry that the pressure from society to hover and watch over your kids is so strong. It makes me sad that kids don't grow up with much freedom anymore, in so many ways.


So true. It makes me sad for kids, because my best memories as a child were ones where I was on my own, exploring, forking up, getting scraped elbows and lying to my parents about how it happened. Maybe parents these days don't want to hear that, but that's what kids do.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:18 am 
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So, J-Dub actually said universal childcare, not universal health care. I think the expectation of parenting becoming a woman's core identity (not saying that is people's individual experience, rather that it's still a social expectation) is what guided my strong feelings about not wanting kids for a long time. Honestly, looking at the support system and lifestyle I have now, I have thought through some ways I could be a good parent without it eating me whole. So I guess where I am right now is I might like to have a child, but it's possible I won't have one anyway, for a variety of reasons.

Also, I think any reason you don't want to have a child is a good reason. (although I don't think the opposite is true, sometimes people have children for reasons I find disturbing or unhealthy.) Even if you say "I don't want to have kids because I am a selfish person," I think that's valid -not negative. It's having the self knowledge to say you enjoy having your time or resources to yourself, and that you can't adequately share them with a kiddo.

But over all, people really should shut up about other people's reproductive choices. (not this discussion, but out in the world, generally. The whole "when are you having a baby" or "eugh, why are you having a baby, it's the worst!" crowds.)


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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:19 am 
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fork. Double post, sorry.


Last edited by Olives on Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:28 am 
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I don't think I want kids, and I have felt that way for quite some time now. I'm wondering if other people in this thread have been in relationships were their partner's don't/didn't feel the same way.

My current boyfriend is someone whom I love very much and honestly I can see myself marrying and spending the rest of my life with. The only issue is, I think he wants a family. We both are still figuring our own lives out. We both are in school (me in grad school and working, and him finishing up his BS which he started later on in life with a couple bumps in the road). We are more focused on getting to a place in our life where we are stable in good careers etc. so there really isn't this rush on tackling this subject.

Has anyone had this happen to them? What is your story?


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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:32 am 
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Ah thanks for that. I can't believe I missed that.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:33 am 
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lepelaar wrote:
paprikapapaya wrote:
I don't see anyone trying to shut parents out of the conversation, Tofulish. What I am seeing is there being an effort to shut down any discussion that doesn't flatter child-rearing, by saying no one but the rearer has a right to an opinion because it's so deeply personal. It may be personal, but I still don't see why it can't be analyzed.


I agree. I really respect all of the people on here and all of the opinions being put forth, and I do think a lot of what's being discussed is worth discussing, but making it the focal point of this thread feels a bit derail-ey.

Eating meat is a personal choice, but I don't think we'd accept a meat eater coming onto the "vegan pet peeve" thread (where we all acknowledge that meat eating is considered the norm by society and we're considered odd by the majority for not choosing that norm), and then saying it's a personal choice, and thus not open to critical viewpoints.

I don't know if I've worded that well, and I really don't want to antagonize/offend anyone or create drama. But it does feel like the choice to be a mother in this society is generally accepted (even valorized) as opposed to choosing to not have kids, and I feel like if we can't question that status quo on a thread like this, where can we?


This, exactly.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:30 pm 
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Tofulish wrote:
j-dub wrote:
And childless women are a hell of a lot more of a challenge to the status quo than women with kids. We can easily dismiss the wage gap as an unfortunate side effect of women's "natural" maternal instinct, rather than an ongoing sexist project. We can dismiss the huge gender disparity in management, government, science, as an unfortunate but expected side effect of women staying home with their kids. And expecting women to want to stay home with their kids prevents us from forcing the issue of universal childcare, which ends up harming the women who can neither afford to stay home nor put their kids in unattainably expensive childcare.


J-dub is wise, but I think its problematic to divide women's issues into childless women versus women with kids. Whether you have kids of not, women deserve the same access to pay, management roles, etc. 85% of women with children work outside the home, and there isn't any reason why they shouldn't be supported whether they have kids or not and whether or not they have a co-parent in the home. Whether you have kids or not, its still an ongoing sexist project.

I was not trying to talk about women's issues as a childless vs mothers battle. I was trying to talk about the ways that society's expectations of women fork us all over, and how cultural expectations are used to explain away sexist policies and decisions.

What we need is appropriate maternal (and parental) leave, affordable childcare, flexible employers, universal healthcare, comprehensive sex ed, and accessible contraception including abortion.

These things would start to even the playing field. But we also need to have these conversations. We need to challenge cultural narratives that assume that womb=baby. We need to challenge the idea that women's bodies are public property and that it is ever appropriate to be asking about the contents or future contents of uteri. And we need to challenge the narrative that children "complete" you and/or are a "natural next step". Children need to be understood as participants in a relationship rather than things that confer status or identity.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:47 pm 
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rhelune wrote:
Ariann wrote:
as we all are, nothing keeps us from killing ourselves if we think our lives not worth living


We need to distinguish between lives worth starting and lives worth continuing. My life was not worth starting, but, at the moment, it's worth continuing. But I do know there will be a moment, in a few decades (if not before), when it won't be worth continuing any more due to age-related problems.

Even those whose lives aren't worth continuing are afraid of painful dying. They are afraid of not succeeding in killing themselves. Dignified dying for foreigners is available in Switzerland, but it's very expensive.


I was responding to the idea that life is mostly suffering. Since many of us have a line in the sand where we say "in the future, when I'm old and decrepit and in pain, it won't be worth continuing my life," if someone describes ALL life, including the life of the young and healthy, as "mostly suffering," (which VeganinBerlin did) it begs the question of why people seem so gung-ho to continue it and seem to make so much effort at enjoying it. People who aren't suicidal but are suffering or are depressed often do experience failure to thrive - I don't think we can chalk up most people's continued effort at existing to simply natural impulse or fear of being unsuccessful in killing themselves (especially since so many, unfortunately, do kill themselves).

Jigglypuff wrote:
This is such a sad and sick way to view the world.


I don't think it's sad to say that we wouldn't care if we didn't exist. Unless you believe your disembodied soul is watching the world and anxious for a way into it (which is a fine thing to believe, I just don't happen to agree), I don't think we have much/any awareness of lives that we didn't get to live.

On the issue of being critical: there's a difference between pointing at a meat-eater and saying "they're so selfish, how can they eat that way, they're responsible for so much murder, blah blah blah" (none of which is terribly helpful, even in a venting way - we were mostly all meat eaters once and being judged is not what tends to turn people) and saying about the institution of animal exploitation as a whole that it is murderous and destructive and that we want to do as much as possible to help people get out of taking part in it. And that's something we actually all agree (here) should stop.

We don't all agree that procreation is a bad thing (and most non-procreators don't think procreation is a bad thing in general, just for them), we all exist because other people procreated and most of us wish to continue existing, and we all live in a world where it is shitty to just be a breeder-hater because most people will breed and they're our friends, neighbors, relatives, coworkers, etc. So I think it's legitimate to be critical of the institution of breeding, but that's a totally different thing than calling individual procreators selfish, environment-destroying, etc.

As a breeder myself, though, I haven't found anything on this thread in any way offensive. I also (obviously) think it's legitimate for breeders to critique the institution of breeding and I don't think there's any reason somebody should feel like they can't be in this thread because they had children, unless they're trying to convince other people that they should have children, which nobody has even come close to doing (so seriously, what's the problem?).


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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:00 pm 
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j-dub wrote:
These things would start to even the playing field. But we also need to have these conversations. We need to challenge cultural narratives that assume that womb=baby. We need to challenge the idea that women's bodies are public property and that it is ever appropriate to be asking about the contents or future contents of uteri. And we need to challenge the narrative that children "complete" you and/or are a "natural next step". Children need to be understood as participants in a relationship rather than things that confer status or identity.

And it can be hard to establish an identity if society is far behind what women are personally choosing at this point. I think that's why these conversations come up, because women (and maybe some men too) want to talk about making a different choice. As long as motherhood is still held up as the ideal it is awfully hard to get away from that label even when you choose to not participate.
As long as women have to throw down 14 caveats about 'of course changing my mind might happen' and listen to people try to tell them that 'one day you might change your mind', we still have a way to go.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:05 pm 
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I haven't decided yet.

I'm 26, so I have a little time to think about it, but not a ton (that is if I want to get pregnant and give birth).

It feels like the reasons both for and against are all mostly selfish and shallow and centered mostly on myself, so I know I'm not ready to make a decision right now. I don't want kids because I like my lifestyle. I like being able to out to dinner or drinks without notice and to keep a sort of clean, quiet place to live. On the other hand, I do want to have kids because I think they're imaginative, I like being around them, and I want to see a little person that I made grow up and be there with me when I'm old.

I do know that I only want to have children if I really want them, and if I'm raising them with someone I want that person to really want them too. So, I guess I might never decide it's the right time until it's too late to have my own. I'm okay with that. The last thing I would want is to have a child because I think I "have to" or because of my "biological clock."


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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:12 pm 
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Panda writes: "As long as motherhood is still held up as the ideal it is awfully hard to get away from that label even when you choose to not participate. As long as women have to throw down 14 caveats about 'of course changing my mind might happen' and listen to people try to tell them that 'one day you might change your mind', we still have a way to go."

This is so true and well-said. Motherhood is still considered across the board to be the norm, whether we think that is true and valid or not. Single, childless women are seen as a threat, as J-Dub mentions, or objects of pity, scorn, and/or revulsion. This is unfortunately the reality. As people with wombs age, the pressure gets worse, as does the position of being somehow deviant by choosing not to procreate.

For me, I want to hear about other experiences from all people. At the same time, when people who have had children tell me about the great transformation they experienced having kids--which I do not at all doubt--it always feels like the subtext (and, further, often this is flat out said) is that I too am missing out, and would be better off having that transformation too. It can come off--even when not intended as such--as condescending, even when meant with compassion.

By making choices, we are all missing out on something. We all make choices. It's all personal. My friends with children are missing out on certain things. I am missing out on others. There is no value judgement there, except from society.

I think that ideally conversations like this are very very important, as there are few safe spaces to talk about the joys, anxieties, and other aspects of choosing not to have children--a choice which bucks the mainstream. It is as important as having safe spaces (like the Playground) to talk about parenthood.

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Last edited by molasses jane on Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:19 pm 
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@Ariann

1. Dying is suffering, too, for the person dying and also for those who care about them.
2. Most people experience optimistic bias and think they're better off than they actually are. I don't want to refer to Benatar too much, but if you're interested, check out the book I linked to.
3. Even if only 1% of all people consider their lives not worth starting, it's too large of a risk to gamble with another person's life.

Perhaps you don't consider individual "breeders" (I guess you use this word for every biological parent, childfree people use it only for bad parents) environment-destroying, but it's cumulative action of all "breeders". Each snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty. Not reproducing is one single act that lowers CO2 footprint the most: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ar ... 8008001003


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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:27 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:38 pm 
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Ariann wrote:
Jigglypuff wrote:
This is such a sad and sick way to view the world.


I don't think it's sad to say that we wouldn't care if we didn't exist. Unless you believe your disembodied soul is watching the world and anxious for a way into it (which is a fine thing to believe, I just don't happen to agree), I don't think we have much/any awareness of lives that we didn't get to live.

Of course not. I don't believe that at all. I just think it's fatalistic and kind of dumb to say that life is suffering punctuated by temporary relief. That might be true for some people in horrible circumstances, but I doubt it's like that for the majority of PPKers since we have food, water, shelter, etc. I would say that my own life is a mixture of happiness or being just-okay with temporary states of hunger, thirst, etc.

The anti-natalist view that nobody should give birth because to live is to suffer is just as extreme and bizarre to me as Catholics who think that everyone should have ALL THE BABIES because tons of souls need to come into existence and suffering is good. These beliefs don't reflect the reality of most people's lives.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:49 pm 
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molasses jane wrote:

By making choices, we are all missing out on something. We all make choices. It's all personal. My friends with children are missing out on certain things. I am missing out on others. There is no value judgement there, except from society.



man that was so well said.
especially the last part.


people should NOT have children just because "you're supposed to"
people should have kids because they WANT to and people who dont want to have kids shouldnt be pushed into it.

the idea that a woman who doesnt procreate is like basically defective is just so forked up.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:53 pm 
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pearTree wrote:
I'm wondering if other people in this thread have been in relationships were their partner's don't/didn't feel the same way.


I am in one. I am the one who wants children in my relationship (very very much so, and I want them last year). I absolutely cannot imagine a fulfilling, fully lived life for myself without parenthood being a part of it, and I know that if my partner doesn't change his mind I will have to leave him. He knows that, we talk about it regularly. At the same time, I am not able to simultaneously want to marry the guy and have a family with him and grow old together, and be ready to leave him.

I have no advice.


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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 2:17 pm 
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aelle wrote:
pearTree wrote:
I'm wondering if other people in this thread have been in relationships were their partner's don't/didn't feel the same way.


I am in one. I am the one who wants children in my relationship (very very much so, and I want them last year). I absolutely cannot imagine a fulfilling, fully lived life for myself without parenthood being a part of it, and I know that if my partner doesn't change his mind I will have to leave him. He knows that, we talk about it regularly. At the same time, I am not able to simultaneously want to marry the guy and have a family with him and grow old together, and be ready to leave him.

I have no advice.


I can't imagine how hard that must be. I'd describe both my husband and myself are 'on the fencers', meaning if 1 of us was gung ho, we'd do it. I'd need some stipulations, like moving closer to my family. Being on the fence though, our default is no children. It doesn't make sense for us to have children 'just to see what it'd be like'. It is a life long commitment and if neither of us want to make it, no sense in doing it.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 2:56 pm 
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I think it's really, really telling that in a thread where the OP is specifically asking women without children for opinions, a high percentage of the people responding have children, and in some cases, are almost arguing with the OP. I feel like if that many childless women chimed in in a thread where a mother specifically asked other mothers for opinions, it would likely be considered disrespectful.

That is not to say that the mothers in this thread aren't entitled to their opinions, or that they don't have good, useful, thoughtful, wise things to say (they do, and I <3 them). It's just interesting that everyone apparently feels so comfortable commenting on this topic, even when the conversation was started by someone seeking the opinions of a specific class of peers.

Also, in before people point out that childless people do comment on mothers' issues all the time. I know, but that's not what's happening in this thread.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:10 pm 
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At Planned Parenthood once the doctor said "well, how about if your partner wants kids one day"...I was kinda pissed at that and said "well, as hard as it would be to let him go I would have to"...because, ya know us women have kids to keep men around...Funk that!

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:15 pm 
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Ariann wrote:
We don't all agree that procreation is a bad thing (and most non-procreators don't think procreation is a bad thing in general, just for them), we all exist because other people procreated and most of us wish to continue existing, and we all live in a world where it is shitty to just be a breeder-hater because most people will breed and they're our friends, neighbors, relatives, coworkers, etc. So I think it's legitimate to be critical of the institution of breeding, but that's a totally different thing than calling individual procreators selfish, environment-destroying, etc.


But I don't think anyone here has called individual procreators selfish, environment-destroying, whatever. I don't think anyone here has expressed a hate for anyone who has/wants children. But it is possible to look at the act of procreating as part of the larger whole - the institution of breeding as you called it - and come to the conclusion that it's a selfish act. Not everyone thinks this, obviously, but some do and it's valid for them to be able to voice this. Especially in a thread like this.

Ariann wrote:
As a breeder myself, though, I haven't found anything on this thread in any way offensive. I also (obviously) think it's legitimate for breeders to critique the institution of breeding and I don't think there's any reason somebody should feel like they can't be in this thread because they had children, unless they're trying to convince other people that they should have children, which nobody has even come close to doing (so seriously, what's the problem?).


I think the issue is that this thread was started as a place for people who don't want children to discuss the way they feel about that, not a place to have to defend those feelings/opinions from parents who take offense at the idea that having children isn't a completely selfless act.

For the record, I freely admit that I was selfish when I was eating meat and dairy, especially when I continued to do it after I knew the truth about the animal agriculture industry. I knew it even then, but I wasn't prepared to stop at that point. I have plenty of people in my life, including the love of my life, who eat meat and dairy, and I don't think they're bad people, but I still think the act is selfish. Just like I know that owning an ipad (which I don't really need) is selfish, and living on my own in a two story house is selfish (in terms of resources). These are choices I make, well aware that, taken cumulatively with other people making the same choices, they may have negative consequences for the planet. I try to compensate for it in other ways, just as I know that a lot of the parents on here do a lot of wonderful things for people, animals, and the planet. But I don't think that procreation on an institutional level or an individual level should be completely exempt from examination.

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Last edited by lepelaar on Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:17 pm 
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jordanpattern wrote:
I think it's really, really telling that in a thread where the OP is specifically asking women without children for opinions, a high percentage of the people responding have children, and in some cases, are almost arguing with the OP. I feel like if that many childless women chimed in in a thread where a mother specifically asked other mothers for opinions, it would likely be considered disrespectful.


Yeah... I actually hesitated about even putting in my personal, largely superficial comment because I thought somehow that as a woman who is working on this decision I didn't have a "right" to respond. But look, I did anyway. Hm.


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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:17 pm 
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linanil wrote:
I'd describe both my husband and myself are 'on the fencers', meaning if 1 of us was gung ho, we'd do it. I'd need some stipulations, like moving closer to my family. Being on the fence though, our default is no children. It doesn't make sense for us to have children 'just to see what it'd be like'. It is a life long commitment and if neither of us want to make it, no sense in doing it.


This is Brian and I as well. Currently, we don't have kids simply because there hasn't been a good time. I didn't want to be alone with a baby while he was deployed, and since he's been out of the army we've been living with my father-in-law which is the last place I would want a baby running around. Things are gonna change soon, but will we have kids? I don't forking know. I could probably live without human offspring for the rest of my life just fine, but the idea of having kids doesn't make me recoil in terror either.

On the other hand, multiple people have told me not to have kids or assume we aren't ever having them just because, so I really want to pop out one spite baby. Or maybe I could just borrow a newborn and tell everyone that's why I got fat.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:22 pm 
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This is my favorite thing ever.

mrsbadmouth wrote:
On the other hand, multiple people have told me not to have kids or assume we aren't ever having them just because, so I really want to pop out one spite baby. Or maybe I could just borrow a newborn and tell everyone that's why I got fat.

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