Monday, December 10, 2012

We Can’t Agree on Kids So We’re Breaking Up

Disagreement over kids or no kids can be a deal-breaker for couples. It doesn’t always have to be sad. So I love the fun and creative way this couple announced their breakup. Their music video is honest, raw, and playful. Kudos to them for having the courage to follow their dreams after five years of partnership!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Essure—Laura Scott Talks to Dr. Carrie Panoff about the Non-surgical Alternative to Tubal Ligation

I was invited by the public relations team representing Essure, a non-surgical, hormone- free permanent birth control procedure, to do a Q&A with Dr. Carrie Panoff, an OB/GYN in Rockland County, New York who has been doing this procedure for four years. Here's a summary our conversation:

Q: What do your patients see as the benefits of this procedure?
A: It's hormone and surgery-free and no recovery time or incision
risk. It's a five or ten minute procedure.

Q: Are any medications offered or recommended for discomfort during or after the procedure?
A: I use Motrin 24 hours before the procedure and Motrin during the procedure.

Q: In your experience has there been any instance where a pregnancy occurred after this procedure?
A: No. Three months after the procedure we perform a test that confirms the blockage.

Q: Which patients are the best candidates for this procedure?
A: Any woman is a candidate.

Q: Do you have any reservations about perform this procedure on a childless woman under the age of 30? If so, how do you handle patients who fall under this category?
A: Patients under 30 years old have a tendency to change their mind so I may give them other options. They have the right to make the decision but I would have to be adequately convinced that have had this decision for a long time and have evaluated all of the options.

Q: Have any of your childless patients changed their mind after having the procedure?
A: No.

To get more information about Essure, visit the FAQ page at Click at the top right-hand side of the page to find doctors who perform this procedure in your area.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Childless by Choice with Kids

More than a few times I have been contacted by someone I had interviewed for the Childless by Choice Project who has emailed to say “Hey, I've just become a stepmom (or foster parent), am I still in the club?”

I always respond with a hearty, “Yes you are!”

I guess because people make the assumption that all of us who choose to remain childless hate kids they are surprised when they find out that some of us happily choose to have children in our lives. We teach, coach, mentor, babysit, foster, or marry someone who has children from a previous marriage, and sometimes we even adopt. These actions do not negate the choice we made to live a life without biological children. Life brings opportunities and some of these opportunities include caring for and loving other people's children.

We can choose to embrace those opportunities as childfree persons or we can choose to say no. It all depends where on where we are on the kid loving/hating spectrum and what we feel we can do, or desire to do, at that moment. Here's an excerpt from an e-mail that I received recently from a couple who, until previously, had only furry four-legged children.
An update on us: we celebrated our 8 year wedding anniversary this year! It’s amazing how 11 years together goes quickly.
I want to also tell you something interesting that happened to us. Although we hadn’t planned to, and still have not, had our own children, my husband’s cousin was not able to care for her children any longer and we decided to take them into our home. I think if we had our own kids, this arrangement would not have been possible and these kids would have ended up in foster care.
My husband and I struggle daily with becoming ready-made parents but we think about the service to society we are contributing by bringing these kids up in a home with strong values, plenty of means, and a home where these kids can see that having kids is a choice. Their mom had them before she was twenty and she struggled (obviously). Feel free to take us off your list since we no longer meet the minimum requirements, lol.
Lisa Steadman, who wrote this article titled Why You Don't Need to Have Kids to 'Have it All' shared a similar experience of fostering her husband's niece. Her choice to remain childless, and her choice to be a temporary foster parent, led her to the realization that “having this child come into my life and my house does not feel like having it all. In fact, I feel like I have less now than I did before.” Less time, less sex, less money, less travel. And although she “gets” that there is value in the special moments with children too, Steadman still felt compelled to write:
Instead of judging each other's choices or condemning another woman who has made different choices as being incapable of having it all, wouldn't we all be better off to broaden our definition of having it all and celebrate what that looks like for each and every woman we know?
To me, this is the new woman's right to choose. And while we may never agree, I would hope we can adopt the new definition of having it all and honor each other's choices for the complex and unique women of the world we are.

flickr photo by Benjamin Lehman

Friday, August 3, 2012

“The Planet Doesn't Need Your Babies”

So says Caitlin Moran, a comedian, feminist, and mother of two, in her book How To Be a Woman. Lisa Hymas writing for highlights some of Moran’s funniest entreaties for those who are thinking of having kids.
If you take a moment to consider the state of the world, the thing you notice is that there are plenty of babies being born; the planet really doesn’t need all of us to produce more babies. Particularly First World babies, with their ferocious consumption of oil and forest and water, and endless burping-out of carbon emissions and landfill. First World babies are eating this planet like termites. If we had any real perspective on fertile Western women, we’d be jumping on them in the streets, screaming, “JESUS! CORK UP YOUR NETHERS! IMMUNIZE YOURSELF AGAINST SPERM!” …
Moran presents a compelling cautionary tale in which she describes her scary transformation from do-gooder environmentalist to consumption junkie, a transformation she attributes to becoming a mother.
Before I had my kids I may have mooched about a lot but I was politically informed, signing petitions, and recycling everything down to watch batteries. It was compost heap here, dinner from scratch there, public transport everywhere. … I was smugly, bustingly, low-level good. Six weeks into being poleaxed by a newborn colicky baby, however, and I would have happily shot the world’s last panda in the face if it made the baby cry for 60 seconds less. The cloth diapers … were dumped for disposables; we lived on ready meals. Nothing got recycled … Union dues and widow’s mites were cancelled — we needed the money for the disposables and the ready meals. …
This lady is seriously funny. I can’t wait to buy this book and read her take on modern womanhood. Based on what I've read so far I'm sure she can be trusted to slay a few sacred cows… or pandas.

What sacred cows, or assumptions, around womanhood would you like to slay?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Impact of Kids on IQ

When I do posts like this one, I feel like I am preaching to the Choir. I know through my research for the Childless by Choice Project that some of you are well aware of these costs and that awareness may be one of the reasons why you chose not to have kids. However, this clever graphic from showed me something that even I had not been aware of before, and that is:
The IQ's of parents dropped 12% after having kids.
Okay I get it, high doses of hormones, hours of baby talk and kiddie shows, and attempts to connect with your kid at the level of a three year old can have serious consequences. But I was shocked that is was 12 percent!

What do you think? Are you smarter for not having had kids?
Costly Kids
Created by:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Brave New Label

I recently got an email from Pamela S. who is about to turn 45 years old. Pamela’s an early articulator who knew at the age of eight that she didn’t want children but she has never truly adopted the terms childless by choice or childfree.  Here’s her story:
My decision to remain childless by choice was never really a decision, it’s just who I am. When my mother was alive she loved to tell friends (both mine and hers) about how, at age eight I went around telling people that I’d never get married and I’d never have children. Well, I did get married, for the first time at age forty-four! Still no children though; no regrets, either.
Throughout my teenage years I had to contend with the wedding and baby dreams of most of my friends and peers. At age 20, I was diagnosed with endometriosis, a painful, incurable condition that often robs many would-be-mothers of their fertility. I wasn’t one of those; I never wanted children but I certainly didn’t want endometriosis either. It also did not rob me of my fertility so I had to use birth control, but endometriosis was an excuse, something I could tell people instead of “I just don’t want them.” Over the years, various women have made offhanded comments about how “it’s lucky that you have that condition and not someone who wants children.” Seriously? I thought: How insensitive.
Many people (most of them women) have also theorized that there must have been some fatal flaw in my upbringing that would cause me to not want children because they believe that there must be something wrong with a woman who doesn’t want to be a mother. Well, let’s see…my parents were happily married for over 35 years, until the day my mother died of cancer. I went to a nice private school, have two College degrees and work as an English teacher. I have no criminal record, own my own home, recycle, pay my taxes, and maintain a good credit score.
There is, however, a bittersweet twist here; I was adopted as an infant out of foster care by my parents, who had tried to conceive a child but weren’t able to. My mother, who passionately wanted children, couldn’t have them. I’d never wanted children but had to rely on birth control not to have them. So here I was, a child who didn’t want children, given up for adoption by a birth mother who couldn’t (or wouldn’t) keep me, delivered into the arms of a woman who truly wanted a child. Maybe the universe really does work in mysterious ways.
Ultimately though it does bother me that the term “childless” seems to infer that having (or wanting) children is the normal, default position, while not having (or not wanting) them is somehow defined as “less” than that. I propose that we come up with a new term to define those who have consciously, happily chosen to remain without children. The term “child free” is marginally better, implying a sense of freedom that hey, let’s be honest here; parents just don’t have. Still, I would like to see a new term enter the lexicon; one that accurately describes the desire to remain child free by choice. Despite my multiple English degrees and many headache inducing hours spent trying to come up with a term, I just can’t. Perhaps I too have been unwittingly socialized to believe that children are the “natural” default. Or maybe there just are no words to describe what I feel in a language created by the same world that deems me and others like me “not normal.” I’m open to suggestions…

Flickr photo by Bashed

Thursday, May 31, 2012

How the Childless and Childfree are Transforming Neighborhoods

I was recently interviewed by Marilyn Lewis, a reporter for MSN, who wanted to know what the childless and childfree wanted in terms of neighborhoods. The resulting article titled Grownupville: Neighborhoods for the New Childless Majority takes a fascinating look at how the childless and childfree are transforming neighborhoods, some formerly blighted, into meccas for no-kid households.

Having lived in or visited three of the top 10 communities profiled, I have to agree that the new majority, the childless household, is having a significant influence on the way we think about building a community. The childfree typically look for neighborhoods that are vibrant, stimulating, with easy access to restaurants, entertainment, workplaces, and services designed to support active and healthy lifestyles. They are not looking for the best school district, playgrounds (unless it's an off-leash dog park), or access to other families. In fact the opposite is quite true, as I was quoted saying here:
The impulse to form communities of childless people may seem inexplicable to outsiders, but it makes perfect sense to Scott. People who want to reproduce and cannot often find life among families lonely and painful, she says. Also, childless people can feel left behind when old friends focus on their young families. "They're so busy with their kids and they've got a new bunch of friends they've found through their children."
For nonparents, the key to a rich life is in building a tribe, a family of affinity, Scott tells clients. "That's hard to do when you're living in a suburb surrounded by families and kids."
My experience of living in South Tampa, first in the Harbour Island neighborhood and more recently in Ballast Point, is exactly what I had hoped for: ethnic and racial diversity, easy access to restaurants and entertainment, good city energy but still peaceful, a mix of families, retired folks, and childfree neighbors, and an urban lifestyle that invites me to leave my car in the garage and walk or bike to my destination.

What has your experience been in the neighborhood in which you live? Would you nominate your neighborhood as the best place to live for current your lifestyle?

Photo credit: Richmond Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Do Our Favorite Toys Suggest an Inclination Towards Voluntary Childlessness?

When I was doing my interviews for the Childless by Choice Project, I came across more than a few women who said they knew they were different at an early age because unlike their little girlfriends they were not pushing little prams or strollers around and playing mother.

This quote, from an article that appeared in titled Maternal Instincts: An Honest Look Why Some of Us Don't Want to be Mothers—and Why That's Okay, serves as a typical example of what I heard during these interviews:

As a child, I didn’t want to have much to do with dolls. The only baby I chose to play with was a Cabbage Patch Kid named Jack Cornelius. Back then, my mother endured the lines and the mad rush to procure dolls for my sister and me, only to see me put Jack through the ringer once I brought him home. I rarely changed his diaper or rocked him to sleep. Instead, I would grip one of his soft arms with my teeth while climbing trees in the yard. Once Jack and I went on such excursions, one of two things would happen: I would send him diving headfirst to the grass below so I could reach a higher branch, or — as was more often the case — forget him up there altogether. He spent many a lonely night in those mesquite trees. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him; it’s just that he didn’t hold my interest for long.
I don't recall coming across any studies that showed that the choice of certain toys might suggest an inclination towards remaining childless, but I began to suspect that might be the case. I recall being much more enamored with my Gumby and Pokey bendable toys that any doll that was put in front of me. I absolutely adored my stuffed animals but I when I was given a doll as a Christmas gift I was severely disappointed, wondering what do I do with this thing?

It's funny but if someone would hand me an infant right now I probably would think the same thing.

So is it true? Do our preferences for toys as children determine our preferences as adults?

Flickr Photo by ZRecs

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Why are We Still Fighting over Birth Control?

Recent outrages and political skirmishes over birth control access in the USA have opened up a dialogue about why we are still fighting over the right to have access to effective birth control 50 years after the birth control pill was made available to women in the US.

The recent dialogue focuses on the fact that the people who are making moves to limit access to conception are men. Why is that? And where are the women? In her article published in AlterNet titled Why Patriarchal Men are Utterly Petrified of Birth Control and Why We’ll Still be Fighting about it 100 Years from Now, Social Futurist Sara Robinson offers her unique perspective on why men remain in the forefront of the push to limit access to birth control:

Until the condom, the diaphragm, the Pill, the IUD, and all the subsequent variants of hormonal fertility control came along, anatomy really was destiny — and all of the world’s societies were organized around that central fact. Women were born to bear children; they had no other life options. With a few rebellious or well-born exceptions (and a few outlier cultures that somehow found their way to a more equal footing), the vast majority of women who’ve ever lived on this planet were tied to home, dependent on men, and subject to all kinds of religious and cultural restrictions designed to guarantee that they bore the right kids to the right man at the right time — even if that meant effectively jailing them at home.
Our biology reduced us to a kind of chattel, subject to strictures that owed more to property law than the more rights-based laws that applied to men. Becoming literate or mastering a trade or participating in public life wasn’t unheard-of; but unlike the men, the world’s women have always had to fit those extras in around their primary duty to their children and husband — and have usually paid a very stiff price if it was thought that those duties were being neglected.
Robinson makes the point that a woman's ability to control her fertility challenges historically entrenched patriarchal systems. For women this is seen as a positive development but for some men… not so much.

Flickr photo by WeNews

Friday, February 10, 2012

I Don’t Want Children. Am I a Freak?

This great blog post from Gala has been making the rounds on the Two Is Enough and Childless by Choice Project facebook pages and has been so well received that I felt compelled to share it with you, my dear blog readers, as I am certain there is something here that you can totally identify with!

Pour yourself a cup of tea, a cola, or a glass of wine and be prepared for some adult spit up as you laugh out loud.

Flickr photo by Dr Case

Sunday, January 15, 2012

“Unnatural and Undervalued”: Childless in Australia

The title of this recently published article out of Australia pretty well sums up the findings around the stigma and perception of childlessness: ‘Unnatural’, ‘Unwomanly’, ‘Uncreditable’ and ‘Undervalued’: The Significance of Being a Childless Woman in Australian Society. And while I agree with their findings, I was disappointed to read that the co-authors Stephanie Rich, Ann Taket, Melissa Graham and Julia Shelley based their observations on interviews with only five childless Australian women (please, it’s a large country, surely there’s a few more women out there to interview!).

Small sample aside, I was interested that they did note one important curiosity—that childlessness for women is considered normal at young adulthood but “abnormal’ for women in their late thirties or early forties. So true! So why does childlessness move from being perceived as normal to abnormal over the passage of say ten or fifteen years?

Is the assumption of the “maternal instinct” so prevalent that we are all expected to be a mother or in baby lust by a certain age, and those that are not are then seen as “abnormal”?

Or, is it that while some folks can understand why a woman or man would wish to postpone parenthood, there is very little sympathy or understanding for those who indefinitely delay parenthood, or very publically opt out altogether?

I suspect is may be a bit of both, as is noted in the abstract for this article: “While childlessness is increasingly acknowledged, it is still not completely understood.”

Where is the “understanding gap” in your experience?

Flickr photo by Amandabhslater