On Her Own

Friday, March 07, 2014

Melanie Notkin, founder of Savvy Auntie and the author of Otherhood: Modern Women Finding A New Kind of Happiness (Seal Press, 2014), coins the word "otherhood" to define and offer encouragement to a demographic of single women like herself who are childfree, but not necessarily by choice.


Melanie Notkin

Comments [49]

Garyboy from Timbuktu

"Want the man to plan the date" means "want the man to pay for 100% of the costs, including tax & tip, license & registration." Sorry, ladies, the 1970s are over. You wanted equality, and ya got it. Stop the pity party and man up.

Mar. 10 2014 07:18 AM
Pavel from London

Unlike some of the other commentators, I found the segment interesting and the guest pleasant enough -- though as a thoroughly childfree single older man I'm not her target market :)

However I took a look at the web site and was horrified at the 'Gifts' section which was just a marketplace for the worst sort of merchandising and marketing-driven toys and games, apparently without any curation. For instance in the '8-10' girls' section there was a dreadful "My First Purse" for $12 or so promoting the worst stereotypes: lipstick, pink colours, cellphone, and even a 'Credit Card'. (As an aside, I was astonished at how expensive children's toys and games are these days.)

As for this 'planning the date' issue, I guess I am so out of touch I don't even know why that is such a big deal!

Anyway, good luck to all the women out there who are searching for partners and future fathers. It's easy enough to see that some women have it much harder than men these days when it comes to dating and relationships.

Mar. 09 2014 02:44 PM

I feel there is a big discrepancy in the availability of single women to that of single men. I've tired to many avenues from speed dating, the internet, a paid matching service. From my experience the men I've dated don't wanna settle down because there are so many "good" women out there to date. I've also planned d

Mar. 08 2014 11:27 PM
Ana from Manhattan

Agree that this whole "planning the date" thing is idiotic. I am very happy to be an aunt and not a mom and happily married at that. But I'm childless by choice.

And btw, to all those who suggest adoption: the number of presumptive adoptive parents is much greater than the supply of adoptable children (NOT just infants), even taking both domestic and foreign adoption into consideration. Please don't ever suggest to a childless person that they "just adopt." It ain't easy.

Mar. 07 2014 05:16 PM
Mark from Bronx

So planning the date is really THAT important eh? I gotta "lean" into it more and actually plan the date

Mar. 07 2014 01:08 PM
Taurus from NJ

I understand from several callers that the job market is very dire. The wages are falling dramatically even for high paying jobs and much of those jobs are outsourced. How can we as a nation sustain this situation?

Mar. 07 2014 12:10 PM

We've removed a few comments for violating the WNYC posting policy. Please remember to keep your comments on topic, civil, and refrain from personal attacks.

-BL Producer-

Mar. 07 2014 12:07 PM

Where in most marriage vows is any reference to obligations to the children of the marriage? Seems to be missing everywhere.

Mar. 07 2014 11:53 AM

Tony: I believe it's "Ukraine" sans "The."

Why must every segment cater to your tastes? As a fellow fan of the show, I think they do an excellent job including all kinds of international, domestic, and social topics.

Your hostility towards this story demonstrates why it's necessary.

Mar. 07 2014 11:53 AM

qualifyer: I am already a mom - I became a mom at 28 years old, and again at 30, and I'm very happy to have made that decision.

I want to say that if you really wanted to have children, you WOULD. Being a parent requires putting your own desires on the back burner for awhile, whether they be financial or social. I had absolutely no money when I became a mom, had just put myself through graduate school and had lots of debts, and was working two jobs, one at a spa as a massage therapist, and another at a professional dungeon (Granted my chilren's father made a lot of money) We were engaged briefly and I left the relationship because it wasn't emotionally fulfilling. I MADE HAVING CHILDREN MY PRIORITY... THAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ME AND YOU.

Still, what I'm hearing from this conversation is excuses, because just as you're the person who wants the MAN to plan the date, you're also the person who's looking for destiny to drop things in your lap, and maybe you have trouble forming bonds, or maybe it's your sex appeal. For whatever reason, it's not happening for you... maybe you should try something different. I was engaged three times before I was 30, and there must be a reason for that.

Mar. 07 2014 11:50 AM
Christina from Staten Island

I am in the thirties, have a meaningful job, a ton of cool hobbies and all I ever wanted was to fall in love and have a family. It makes me sad to be in the 40% that fall into otherhood.

Mar. 07 2014 11:47 AM
Maria R. from Hoboken.,NJ

I grew up in a culture where it is a given that you marry and have children. I got married but I do not have children. My husband and I tried but I came to a point where I said to him that I do not want to try anymore. I had a hard time dealing with my mother's nasty comments, sometimes to complete strangers in my presence alluding to the fact that have no children. I finally decided to not be defined by her definition of a woman and to be accepting of the fact that I have no child since it just turned out that way. My life is fulfilling enough without a child of my own. I have a nephew and a god child and that is enough.

Mar. 07 2014 11:46 AM
Lori Andrews from Westport ct

Why is this conversation so gender specific? The issue is the same for the LGBT community women looking for women men looking for men I find it sad that it's solely heterosexual

Mar. 07 2014 11:44 AM
Tony from Modernity

I am one of Brian Lehrer's biggest fans. With what's going on in Venezuela, The Ukraine, CPAC, and multiple other important stories, it's saddens me to hear this topic being discussed. The rationalizing single middle aged woman at the bar while we wait for our table in a restaurant is bad enough. Please don't bring this drivel to an otherwise brilliant program.

Fire that new producer you just hired from Cosmo. I don't think she's going to work out.

Mar. 07 2014 11:43 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The whole subject makes me nauseous. Name one good reason for a man to get "married" in this day and age? Just one would suffice, unless the woman was rich and sick and ready to die and put you in her irrevocable will.

Mar. 07 2014 11:41 AM
John From Brooklyn from Brooklyn

If this woman says, "live your authentic life" or "less than" one more time I'm turning the radio off.

Mar. 07 2014 11:41 AM
John A

Hardly mentioned yet are: employers that want all of your time, plus, work environments that make everyone compete with each other, males 'against' females included.

Mar. 07 2014 11:41 AM
Saravanan Krishnamoorthy from Manhattan

I am saddened that we are going back to stereotypes. Why must we men fit the role the speaker describes? I can understand that in difficult situations, it is can be easier to go back to stereotypes; however, such a solution may not be right for everyone.

Mar. 07 2014 11:40 AM

RE: DickeyFuller from DC. You make a good point. We could use an army of Savvy Aunties and Uncles.

Mar. 07 2014 11:40 AM
gloria from new york

simply put thank you for having this conversation - refreshing to know there are other women out there who are savvy aunties like me (a mid-30's professional) struggling with the "not sure if i want kids" dilemma!

Mar. 07 2014 11:38 AM

Given the current estimate for the cost of raising a child to 18 (without college expenses) is near $200,000, the annual cost per year is $11-12 thousand. This seems to be a huge obstacle for most women and couples.

Mar. 07 2014 11:37 AM
bernie from bklyn

@Ginzberg- wow!!! that's scary! now i'm going to have horrible nightmares tonight

Mar. 07 2014 11:36 AM
David from upper west side

I agree this is worth focusing on - but in line with brian asking about why male politicians arent focused on when running when they have young chilodren, why are you only focusing on women in their 30s and 40s who do not have kids - as we learn more about men's biological clock, isnt focusing on women for this part of the problems you seek to change? What about men being parents and situational infertility also?

Mar. 07 2014 11:36 AM
Barbara Hoffmann from Millrift

This woman is kind of horrible. We want men to plan dates.... What about adoption? Also I do not believe 40% of women are in this category. To me she seems like poor me. One of the worst segments ever.

Mar. 07 2014 11:36 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

This is all so absurd! So ridiculous. Marriage is murder for men today. Fatherhood is dead. Marriage is a dying relic of a bygone age. Robots and factory babies are coming. Long Live Brave New World!

Mar. 07 2014 11:35 AM
Cathy from Hoboken, NJ

Really, We want men to plan the date? Ridiculous!
And I'm also very tired of the stereoptypical image of the childless woman who satisifes her mothering instincsts as the cool aunt as if we have to have some kind of surrogate child to meet our mothering needs. That's great for some, but I am childless because I married too late ( a circumstance that did not occur because I couldn't meet men who "plan the dates" by the way). I am very happy with my husband and am not pining for a child. I do not feel the need to be any more of a devoted aunt to my nieces and nephews than I would be if I had had my own children.

Mar. 07 2014 11:35 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Andrea, you beat me to it. Seriously, Ms. Notkin, 1 or the other has to plan the date? How about planning it together (unless it's supposed to be a surprise)?

And illfg, that's another thing that doesn't have to be "either/or." Romance doesn't have to die--it can be redefined. Romance doesn't necessarily mean the same thing to everyone.

Mar. 07 2014 11:34 AM
Mary from Fort Greene

I can totally relate to he caller who hasn't had kids for financial reasons.

Mar. 07 2014 11:33 AM
Elsie from Brooklyn

I have to say that I'm sick of middle class people complaining about their fertility problems. There are millions of children without a family in our country. If you really want children, then adopt. This obsession with promulgating one's own genes is narcissistic nonsense.

As for the younger generation, they will not have this problem because, frankly, as the caller in her early 30s showed, they will never have the jobs that will fund kids. So this baby boom that has been happening will soon be declining… a big way.

Mar. 07 2014 11:33 AM
Daisy from Queens, New York

The dating and romance discussion was totally off. The speaker did not address the fact that it is a numbers game, and there simply are many fewer single men out there as compared to single women, or at least that's the case in major metropolitan cities. If there were as many single men, then the likelihood of coming across a "romantic" man would be much higher.

Mar. 07 2014 11:33 AM
Mara from Manhattan

When I was in the latter part of what were my fertile years, I was stupid enough to fall hard for and spend way too long with a younger, less experienced guy from another culture who proclaimed his love but said he was afraid of his parents reaction to commit to anything more serious than living together. Rather than picking up sticks and leaving him, I waited around for him to make a move - which he did: he left. By the time I had recovered from the break-up (it took several years), the only way I might have had my own kids would have involved a lot of money on fertility treatments. There's no way I would have kids on my own, I would want to be married, so unless I meet and marry someone who already has kids and I form a relationship with them, I am childless. I don't think that's an awful way to be, but I do worry about when I'm very old, as I have no siblings, no other family at all. The big lesson I learned is not to dither for too long, waiting for the other person to make a move.

Mar. 07 2014 11:32 AM
Rosie NYC from NYC

OMG!! Between this and the Motherlode blog series in the NY Times about infertility, I am having a very hard time sympathizing with this group of women. "Child-less" doesn't make you "any less" of a person, just like car-less, if you do no have a car or shirt-less, if you do not have a shirt. All it means it that you do not have a child. Sadly, Mother Nature doesn't have to accommodate your plans, you have to accommodate Mother Nature's plans. Reality is that bearing children is something you have to do by a certain age if you want children. Yes, it might not match your timeline for career or for the right guy or for keeping you shape longer or your education but that is life! Either make time or deal with the consequences of your choices. Nature and biology do not wait so you can have it all.

Mar. 07 2014 11:31 AM
Andrea from NYC

Oh. Barf. Are you kidding me? Women are too aggressive in PLANNING A DATE? I can't even comment on that...what I will comment on is: life tosses many things our way that we are not in much control of. I'd love to be 2 or 3 inches taller, but nope, not gonna happen. I'd love I'd love to not have the couple of acne scars that I find unsightly, but nope, not gonna happen. For heaven's sake, does your guest truly not have anything else to do with her time than mourn this? I have a number of friends without children, none of them need to buy a book to figure out how to "move beyond" it. This is such an elitist, nearly grotesque discussion that I am astonished it's not an April Fools joke segment.

Mar. 07 2014 11:31 AM
BornBlue from NJ

What's driving me crazy is her characterization of what women and men want from dating--back to gross generalizations I thought we'd buried. Sure, be a girly girl, but on what is she basing the idea that most men don't want "overbearing" women etc? And what in the hell does "overbearing" mean? Seems to me what dating needs is less behavioral prescriptions and more authenticity and vulnerability--from BOTH partners.

Mar. 07 2014 11:30 AM
Xtina from evillage

this generation is so self absorbed it's sickening. Notice when the talk about having a child, it's all about them and never about the child

Mar. 07 2014 11:30 AM

the history of romantic love is one filled with inequality.

Mar. 07 2014 11:29 AM
Ginzberg from Pittsburgh

This says a lot

Mar. 07 2014 11:29 AM
Andrea from Philadelphia

"We want men to plan the date." Gag me! This gender stereotyping is creepy. Fine if that's what YOU want but please quit the generalizing. What about discussing what you want to do or taking turns making plans?

Mar. 07 2014 11:28 AM
oscar from ny

Yeah..I wouldn't worry.. Don't wanna burst christians but the lord of the universe or god hates it when they associate him with kids or sons or whatever ..he's like jesus is not my son neither is anyone..I don't need it or need don't feel bad

Mar. 07 2014 11:28 AM

sounds to me like women, this woman especially, wants to eat her cake and have it too. sorry but once women became equal, all the "stuff" men did back in the day is gone. thats the price to pay for equality. you can book the date now. dont cry about it, because many women fought for this right.

Mar. 07 2014 11:27 AM
Paula from Brooklyn

What are the guest's thoughts on single mothers by choice?
Women today have other options than just finding
A husband to become mothers.

Mar. 07 2014 11:24 AM
John A

America has been rich enough to allow for (more expensive) single person families. Such things do not last forever, they're wasteful.

Mar. 07 2014 11:24 AM
Art525 from Park Slpe

Wow what shtick. So she comes up with what pass for clever terms. Savvy auntie? Momopia? Oh please. All marketing and not good.

Mar. 07 2014 11:24 AM
bernie from bklyn

you haven't had kids yet or you hve chosen not to....but the bigger question for this segment is- who cares?
if i were on a date w/ this woman, i'd run away as fast as i could!

Mar. 07 2014 11:23 AM

LOL, the backslap of feminism has finally hit. Women want it all.

Mar. 07 2014 11:23 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Is it harder when the woman is an only child and the only source of grandchildren for her parents?

Mar. 07 2014 11:22 AM
Steve French from Sunnyvale

Not useful, but, sounds like somebody has a real passion.

Mar. 07 2014 11:21 AM
DickeyFuller from DC

With the world's problems -- horrible now and absolutely certain to get worse -- it is wise to NOT bring a child into this world.

You will die and leave your babies behind in what will surely be a living hell. You are doing the right thing. Take care of the kids who are already here because they need help.

Mar. 07 2014 11:21 AM

Lots of adoption opportunities out there...

Mar. 07 2014 11:19 AM

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