Photo credit: @julesdwit.
A not-for-profit media organization supported by people like you.
Jessica Valenti, founder of feministing.com and the author of Full Frontal Feminism and Why Have Kids?: A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness, makes the personal political in her exploration of parenthood.
There's a word for breeders who refer to non-breeders as being "selfish." It's called jealousy.
When this world is 4 BILLION over populated, don't you think this decision is obvious?
We need to quit having children for a while and let the world population decrease. On the other hand, some people think WAR is the answer and it's one answer but I chose NOT to have children as a better answer.
The issue that concerns me is that if the smarter people choose not to have children, then what will we have with an over populated, uneducated populace?
the woman who chose not to have children due to world overpopulation and dwindling resources is the very person who should have children. she is smart, a thinker, one who can make valuable contributions to her kids and society. Generally, stupid people have the most kids.
I feel like I am from a lost generation. Women and Men who are too busy being into themselves to get anything useful done anywhere, for families, in congress, for the planet, anywhere.
I'm so glad to see so many others concerned about the population. Who said population of the world is decreasing? 7 billion and growing!
I wasn't going to have children, believed in ZPG, was busy being a single doctor, had 3 abortions but when pregnant again at 40 decided I really wanted this child. The best decision of my life! He is an only child, he is happy about that, and his father and I have not missed any event in his life because we had to do something with a sibling. I hope we have offset at least one multiple-child family. (All my friends have 5 kids!)
I believe that having a child is your own business, your own decision. I don't think it is selfish not to have one but neither is it brave as someone commented earlier. For myself, I had 4 children, worked and did my own housework, with the kid's help and cooperation, and now they are 4 adults I love spending time with, 5 grandchildren more precious than gold, and no regrets for all the work, worry and time invested. Reading and traveling could never compare, in my opinion. Anyway, even with kids, there is always time to read, although I would concede that traveling is not as easy.
I would never ask someone about their plans for children, because it isn't always a choice and frankly, it isn't any of my business.
see clip below
Jgarbuz, religious and uneducated people will continue to breed
We adore our kids and couldn't wait to be parents. Great for us! We have friends who have chosen to be child-free, and are gutsy about telling those who just don't get it that 1) they don't have to get it, 2) it's none of their business, and 3) they should turn that concern onto their own families. My child-free friends are well rested, well traveled, and have good marriages. They love kids, just don't want to raise them, and acknowledge that if that feeling ever changes, there are countless children around the world in need of loving homes. Ironically, they are among the rare group of people who are selfless enough to love beyond their own dna. But what I admire most about them is that they turn another person's ignorant, small-minded intrusion into an opportunity to educate and enlighten.
I don't feel sorry for the person from England who said he doesn't like kids. Not liking them does not mean doing them harm, just not wanting any or to be around any.People used to tell my husband and me that we "should" have kids because we are educated, white people, e.g. in their minds the kinds who should reproduce as opposed to those other people. That's just dumb and racist. Didn't hesitate to tell them so.
I knew in high school that I didn't want to bring kids into this over-populated and war-torn world. (I'm 50 now.) I also knew in high school that there were many children who needed to be adopted. It was then that I decided that I would only adopt children. That is exactly what I did when I was 40--adopted 2 girls from a 3rd world country.
This addresses the concerns about whether more children be brought into this world, should you have a second child later (just adopt 2 together), and regret over which gender child you will have (you get to pick in adoption).
I am tired of hearing about people who spend 10's of thousands of dollars on artificial insemination and cry because they cannot have children. They can and they can help the world at the same time.
this is such a FIRST world conversation.it's not feminism - sounds like she is over analyzing - All you need to say when someone asks you why don't you have children or when you are going to have a child, (etc)"Why do you want to know?? (while smiling very sweetly) - most of the time you won't need to get into the conversation because they don't want to answer. Has worked for me!
good luck everyone - enjoy your kids if you have them!
I'm always skeptical of the acumen of authors who start sentences with the phrase "you know" during interviews.
500 years into the future? What future? How can a childless society think of a "future?"
I'm one of those women who decided not to have biological children because of the environment. I was surprised that no one mentioned adoption as an alternative during the segment. I wrote a Huffpo blog about my choice a year ago, and it got thousands of tweets and comments -- that's how important this issue to so many. I'm so glad that Jessica wrote this book and that WNYC covered it.
Here's the blog post.
These people who think their kids will take care of them when they're old must be dreaming! Their kids will be crushed by student loans and other debts! Where do you think the money will come from to take care of them, or even for the extra room in their apartments or houses? With couples both working full time, who will be the caretaker? Better come up with a better plan for your old age.
This debate "to have a kid or not" has been raging in my head for the past 5 years and now that I'm turning 40 I seems it's now or never. I love children and the prospect of having a family (especially after my father passed away and I suspect I felt a greater need to be thethered to the planet) but am very happily married and love the life style my husband and I have created together over the past 7 years.
Re: pressure & the second child
THE most insensitive comment from someone: "We loved our first child so much we wanted to give him a sibling." #friendfail
hjs11211 -- ha!
If you haven't watched the movie "Idiocracy" I recommend it. It takes your point 500 years into the future.
I made the conscious decision not to have kids when I was in my mid-20ies. Two abortions because of birth control failures, so I didn't want to deal with that hassle again. I got my tubes tied when I was 25. I was an educated professional with good health insurance. Have never regretted it because I've had more time and money for myself, for the men in my life, for travel, reading, taking courses outside my field of study, never having to change a nappy. And now I'm in my early 60ies and no one can call me a grandmother.
Families is an obsolete concept. Marriage should be banned. The state and corporations should produce worker/consumers, and not leave this to whims of feminists and liberals.
"Over-population" has been a so-called problem since the days of Smith and Ricardo - technology and science has kept the negatives at bay, so far.
The caller has other issues that she is masking with her excuse not to have kids.
@ Allison from Brooklyn
Please don't forget about the possibility of adoption. People will tell you how wonderful you are for adopting the child(ren), but they really have the situation backwards - the rewards you will receive are beyond measure.
Ugh, how annoying that a man can 'decide' late in life. My friend was trying to find a boyfriend on a match website, and she's 50. The guy she was matched w who was 55 said, sorry, but i still may want to have kids and rejected her.
While I seriously considered not having children for political reasons, I ultimately decided that I want to raise the kind of people I want in the world. I think that it is perfectly acceptable to choose not to have children, but I also think that raising children to be the next generation of activists is also valuable.
(i don't have any kids yet)
I'm really happy to hear someone has written a book about this! As a person who decided not to have children, I did a lot of heavy duty thinking as to what my motivation was to have children, if I myself would actually enjoy it, whether or not my husband and I could afford it, and what we would have to give up in order to have a family.
I realized that 90% of the time, I always pined to do more quiet, adult activities in my down time, and to travel more, and have more leisure time for myself, not less. I rarely pictured myself as the Mom at the playground or kids' sports events, and I felt wary of having to hustle my kids to school before heading to work for a 9 hour day, then hustling home and cooking dinner, doing chores, and getting up and doing it all over again every day.
I really enjoy my life exactly the way it is, and don't feel deprived; I am always stumped as to why most people don't actually think about what the reality is of having, raising, and financing children, and if their personalities and lifestyles are really suited to parenthood. It's a huge time, money, and emotional commitment, and people don't consider that strongly enough.
How very sad. Here's a couple that love one another, that would make good parents and give fine children to the society, and can afford to have children. But they don't have children. Sad.
It's a perfectly valid, and indeed, sometimes courageous decision not to have kids, but please, don't blame overpopulation-which is a myth. Birth rates across the world are decreasing, in some cases to problematic effect.
I also decided NOT to have children due to overpopulation and the terrible state of the planet. However, my step-kids are having their own children, so at 51 years old, I am a very happy 'young' grandma to these little guys. While I don't regret not having my own kids, I do see the joy in spending times with kids--but they go home afterwards!!
I'm 32, going on 33. Married 1 year. If my husband and I decide to not have kids--which is a very real possibility--who will take care of us when we're old? Seriously. Isn't having kids very practical in that sense?
How about the fact that political speeches these days seem to put all the issues in terms of "American *families*"? People who don't have children are ignored to the point where it almost sounds as if we're not really Americans. We don't need to have children to be concerned w/these issues.
We decided not to have kids. I was unable to get pregnant and I was unwilling to go through the procedures I would have needed in order to get pregnant. It is amazing how rude people are when I say I have no kids. It's none of their business why.
American's are funny people; they expect to achieve all of their goals without experiencing pain. There doesn't seem to be the same stoic acknowledgement that tribulation and difficulties are a part of existence. As a result (and maybe a boon to society) the most selfish people (here defined as the inability to endure pain for someone else or a greater good) are now breeding themselves out of existence. I am the mother of two and I fully anticipated that motherhood would be difficult. Since I had realistic expectations, I found that the joys of motherhood and affection from my children proved to be that much sweeter.
I never particularly wanted to have kids, but I didn't eliminate the possibility altogether. I used to think I'd have a kid if I met the right man, because I didn't envision myself as a single mother. I also realized that my parents hadn't given me the best example, and felt that I'd have been a very poor parent. Then, as the years went by and I got wiser, and friends began breeding, they began accusing me of being selfish for not having kids (of course, they never called me selfish for not having an acceptable boyfriend). I began to rethink all the commonplace motivations for childbearing. In the end, I simply decided that I was not a good candidate for motherhood because of my lifestyle, personal needs, and other aspirations. I never looked back, even when my boyfriend (who already had a couple of kids) offered, on my 41st birthday, to get me pregnant. I thought that was sweet of him, and I think he was relieved that I didn't take him up on the offer, sincere as it was. I'm still open to the idea of adopting someday, but mostly on an emergency basis (like if a single mother or fatherI knew was dying or unable to parent, or if I ran into a kid who I bonded with, and who needed a parent). But I'm not actively interested in having kids. My life is perfect as it is, and other people are doing quite well populating the earth, I figure. Better them than me!
I know someone who immigrated from England who doesn't want children because he hates kids. He freely says it.I feel sorry for him.
Imagine paid parental leave, universal health care, 6 week vacations, affordable good child care, affordable housing..
Now ask that question again.
I was extremely ambivalent about having kids. But I decided that I only live once and I didn't want to miss this fundamental aspect of the human (and animal) experience. I'm glad I did. It was like hitting the refresh button on my own life.
THANK YOU! Your guest is wonderful. My husband and I decided for various reasons not to have kids. Partially my health (I'm on antidepressants and I had scoliosis surgery as a teen, which left me with two metal rods in my back), partially because my husband was a bit afraid he'd get angry with kids too quickly (his parents were that way with him). But mostly, we didn't want kids because we didn't want kids. We enjoy our life without them. And neither of us ever felt an overwhelming want or need to have them. In both my and his opinion, kids should be wanted greatly; parents should not be ambivalent about the idea. And if we ever want a dose of a kid, we have friends who have kids. And we can give those kids back when we're tired of them! :-)
I am so tired of the assumption that having children or not having children is always a CHOICE. Not everyone has that choice. I always thought I would have kids, but I didn't meet my spouse until I was 40. So then everyone asks - why not adopt? Unfortunately while we were very open to that idea (I have adopted nieces that I love more than life), our bank account wasn't. I spent most of the last 4 years unemployed or underemployed and we wouldn't have qualified based on finances. Now I am just too damn old and too tired to raise kids. But it was never a choice, it was circumstance.
Jessica makes a great point that the label of "motherhood" is a highly valued one for women - but valued by whom, exactly? I'm pushing 40 and have no desire for children - and I feel like a three-headed monster in some company. There's a certain cliqueyness around having kids - and if you don't, you never get to join the club. But to paraphrase Groucho Marx, I wouldn't want to be a member...
Thanks for a great show, and great guest.
My mother wasn't very happy being a mom. It caused me a lot of pain to have a mother who resented me and my brothers. It made motherhood seem very scary.
I am 40 now and I finally feel like I can have a child without resenting them. I have thought about it so much. So we're trying. If I'm too old and it doesn't work I feel that I will be just fine. I love my life and am happy no matter what...which oddly is what makes me feel that kids would be OK now.
i have asked that question myself. I have two wonderful girls. you might have kids because everyone has kids after they get married it is expected socially.But later on as kids grow up and move out you will find that kids make you understand the meaning of love and the meaning of giving without expectation. and love and compassion is the ultimate learning in life. no other relationship can teach you love the way your kid can.
Wow, does this woman have a skewed view of parenthood.
Please, if your thoughts coincide with this point of view, don't have children.
I find my children a source of joy, not that they never frustrate me, but I never regret adopting our 2 beautiful children.
What if the 'overpopulation problem' is an error in judgement, and there is no problem?
So let me see- Jessica is saying that parenting is a "political issue," not really a "personal issue"? Huh?
I don't have children, and while I have never second-guessed that decision, there are a tremendous number of people willing to second guess that on my behalf. The only acceptable reason, it seems, is an inability to have children, not a decision that this would not be the best thing for me, for a variety of reasons. People kept telling me, "just wait, you'll change your mind" -- and then became annoyed when that didn't happen. My sister-in-law's parents have become so obnoxious with constant commenting on my childless status that I no longer spend Christmas at my brother's home. But the reality was that my biological clock simply never started ticking.
My 103 year old great great aunt, who lives very far from any family member, asks us quite honestly on our very periodic visits, "why didn't I have kids?"
I have several wonderful children and my only wish is to have more of them.
On the other hand, I have lots of friends in their 30s and 40s who decided not to have kids and admit envying the perks of non-parenthood.
My 4-year old asked me this exact question recently. She said "Why we have pets? To love? And why we have babies? To make more people?" I told her yes, but we also have babies to love. My husband and I had our child late, and gave it much thought before doing so. We decided to have a child because we knew we'd love our child, and we had love to give.
Never understood why it was attractive for a woman to proclaim that they hated kids. I have generally been repulsed when this happens.
Hooray! I always had so much pressure from my parents and sister to breed. I have reached the age when they have stopped bugging me, and I am free! Happy liberated me!
While u intellectuals debate whether or not to have kids, all the simple uneducated types are breading like rabbits
Children should be made in test tubes and raised by corporations. You can't trust babies to these mothers!
Why didn't she abort her kid? What a hypocrite!
Men and women better start deciding to have more children because we're quickly becoming an aging society.
Email addresses are required but never displayed.
Brian Lehrer leads the conversation about what matters most now in local and national politics, our own communities and our lives.
Subscribe on iTunes
BL Weekend: Learning To Drive; Gentrifying Thrift; Senator Gillibrand
WNYC 93.9 FM and AM 820 are New York's flagship public radio
stations, broadcasting the finest programs from NPR and PRI, as well as a wide range of award-winning local
programming. WNYC is a division of
New York Public Radio.