Wednesday, October 29, 2008

You Like Choice? Then Vote

I am a new citizen of the United States of America. A former green card holder, born in Canada, I will vote in a presidential election for the first time. After 17 years of paying taxes as a Resident Alien, without a vote, it is something I look forward to.

So I am pleased to see that voter registration is up. I was surprised when I first immigrated how low the voter turnout was for presidential elections. Yet, people complained about the current administration. My thought was let your vote do the talking.

So will you be mute, or will you speak, as is your right as a citizen?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Choice has its Limits

Recently I was contacted by a journalist who was writing an article on young childfree males who had a vasectomy in their twenties. He asked me if I knew a male in his twenties who had recently signed up for this procedure. I did not.

I knew from my interviews with childfree couples that it is possible to get a vasectomy in your twenties but it isn’t easy. I had heard stories about twenty-something childless by choice men being turned away by doctors who said, "Come back to me when you’ve had a couple of kids."

Hello!? It’s true. You will likely have to doctor shop to get a vasectomy if you are a young childfree man. The same is true if you are a young childless woman seeking a tubal ligation. Some doctors are reluctant to perform a tubal ligation on a woman under twenty-five years old, even if she does have kids. Woman and men have been asked to undergo a year of counseling, write a letter to the child they will never have, and are generally expected to jump through hoops to convince a doctor they are sincere in their desire to remain childfree.

Why is it so hard?

Because there are assumptions, crusty with age, that are operating here:
1) You may think you don’t want children, but you will change your mind (and sue me).
2) You will divorce and your next spouse will want a baby, and you will acquiesce.
3) You’re immature, and you don’t know your own mind.

If you really, really want to be permanently sterilized in your twenties you must find a way to overcome these objections, or wait until you turn thirty. In the meantime, do what many of my particpants in the childless by choice project have done.
1) Double up on birth control (I know, you are already very careful).
2) Discuss your wishes with your partner (it takes two to be this diligent).
3) Do an extensive discernment process. Do you really want to remain childless? Why? When you’ve answered these questions, write a letter to yourself, and print a copy for the doctor and bring it to the initial consultation.

It takes a a good pitch, and a lot of thought, to make this life-altering decision, but if it is what you really, really want to do, remember you can always adopt, foster, or mentor. A life without kids doesn’t necessarily mean a life without kids. (See the previous post).

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tee It Up

During my work on the Childless by Choice Project, I suspended some of my volunteer work. I didn’t have the time. I still don’t have the time, but I was offerred an opportunity to spend two hours a week with the young golfers at The First Tee, an instructional and character-development program for youth. I jumped on it because I missed working with young people and, frankly, after many hours in front of my computer I needed the fresh air.

A week before my first day at First Tee, I was warned by the director that we had "rambunctious" group, a group of 20 elementary and middle schools boys and one girl. I braced myself. I was used to mentoring teenagers one-on-one so the prospect of one on five younger kids had me worried. How would I cope?

I arrived early. The director asked me "Do you have boys?" "No kids," I responded. It didn’t appear to worry her. I suspect she is childless, or childfree, too.

I turned out to be fine. The kids were great and I enjoyed my time with them. My time is precious; I need to be careful how I spend it these days. However, two hours teaching kids golf and character skills is a good, and happy, use of my time.

How do you use your time in ways that make you happy?