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What’s the Deal With Women and Kids? And a Celebration of Dudes.

Posted by on Apr 10, 2012 | 27 Comments

I have quite a few female friends that have kids.  I also have quite a few female friends that do not have kids.  I’m endlessly fascinated by the interactions between these two groups.  For whatever reason, this is a polarizing topic.  My friend Trisha posted a link on Facebook to this blog post:

http://hikinghumanist.com/2012/03/06/my-childfree-rules/ (Julie, in regards to the traffic- you’re welcome) ;-)

The responses to the link were interesting.  And polarizing.  People on both sides of the issue weighed in.  And every comment was posted by females.

As a male, I could care less if someone decides to have kids.  And I don’t care about the rationale they use to justify their decision.  It’s not that I’m an uncaring person… it just has no personal relevance.

Despite my own personal indifference, I still like reading the comments.  I see two behavior patterns.  Both parents and the childless folks do two things:

  1. They lay out their rationale for their decisions, and
  2. They defend their decisions in a way that offends the other group.

The result is a firestorm of thinly-veiled antagonistic insults.  As an outsider, it seems both groups care about this issue FAR more than is necessary.  Here’s my message to each group:

To the outspoken parents: Some people choose not to have kids.  Don’t question their intentions.  Don’t make assumptions about their rationale.  Odds are it’s quite personal.  Don’t try to talk them into having kids by bragging about how special it makes you feel.  And for the love of whatever god or gods you do or do not pray to, don’t complain about how difficult parenting is.  Yes, it’s tough.  You’re not special.  If you need constant affirmation of your sacrifices, you probably have issues that need addressing.  Get professional help.  You don’t need your kidless friends to acknowledge the sacrifices you’re making.  Oh, and don’t pawn your kids off on your kidless friends.  Odds are they don’t like kids despite what they tell you.  Don’t pawn them off on me, either.  I don’t like your kids.  If you do, I’m going to load them up on candy and teach them to curse.  The lesson to learn: Not everyone wants to have kids.  Your comments to the kidless make you sound like you’re trying to justify your own decisions, and make you seem pushy and insensitive.  We don’t think you’re a martyr deserving of our admiration.  We think you’re more like a catty bitch.

To the outspoken kidless folks: Stop bitching about kids and questioning parents’ abilities.  Parents have far less control over their kid’s behavior than most think.  It’s like wrangling cats… you can exert some control some of the time, but the cats are ultimately going to go where the cats want to go.  Some kids are well-behaved.  Some kids aren’t.  Don’t assume parents can control that.  Furthermore, you don’t know that situation.  Maybe that screaming kid is hungry and mom doesn’t have food available.  Maybe the kid is tired.  Perhaps they have a developmental disorder.  Don’t be the bitch that complains loudly.  Furthermore, don’t incessantly tell the world why you choose not to have kids.  It’s even more annoying than the martyr parents that constantly complain how difficult parenting is. Oh, and don’t bitch about all the breaks parents get in our society.  Parents get seated first in a restaurant?  There’s a good chance it’s because the staff is putting them in a back corner away from everyone else.  They’re not being rewarded for having kids.  Everyone is annoyed by other people’s kids… they’re being given a break to get them the Hell out of the restaurant faster.  The lesson to learn: Your rants about why you don’t want kids make it seem like you’re trying to cover up some insecurity.  We don’t think you’re a free-thinker.  We think you’re more like a catty bitch.

Of course, there’s a high probability that both of those messages accomplish noting more than enrage both camps.  Sooo… here’s my solution.

Handle the issue like a dude.

Here are some tips:

  • Dealing with annoying kids: If you encounter annoying kids, do one of three things.  Either leave the situation, choose to ignore the kids, or learn to mess with kids.  A well-timed scary face does wonders to keep kids away.
  • Dealing with annoying parents: Annoying parents are even easier to deal with.  Play on parents’ protectiveness.  I suggest either doing something ridiculously dangerous like waving around a knife or act creepy.  It’s far more effective than loudly complaining to others or silently stewing about your bad luck.
  • Dealing with annoying people that are clearly annoyed by your kids: Scare them away by using this time-tested method.  Determine their “personal space” bubble… usually about three feet in any direction.  Violate that bubble by standing a little bit closer.  Call your kids over and tell them you’re going to play the “act like a chicken” game.  The winner gets a piece of candy.
  • If the topic of having kids or not having kids ever comes up in conversation: Change the subject to sex.  For example, if someone says “I decided to have kids because it would make my life meaningful, unlike those without kids that don’t experience the magical muffins wrapped in rainbows I experience each and every moment!” you can respond with “Yeah, so what position did you use to conceive?  I bet you’re into doggy-style.  Am I right?”  If someone says “I don’t want kids because I am independent and want to put my career first and those snotty-nosed kids would ruin my muffins-wrapped-in-rainbows lifestyle!” you can respond with “Yeah, so I bet you have lots of time to get freaky… I bet you’re into doggy-style.  Am I right?”  Learn how to end conversations.

Furthermore, here are some things you should never say:

If you are without child:

  • When a parent talks about how stressful parenting is, don’t compare it to the stress of your job or owning a pet.  Most parents frame this by complaining about the logistics of parenting, like changing diapers, not sleeping, or dealing with temper tantrums.  What they’re really talking about is the deep-seated fear all parents experience- your parenting decisions are fucking up your kid.  THAT is what parents mean when they say parenting is stressful.  No matter what you do, there’s nothing that can compare to that stress.  Instead, just nod and revel in the fact that you don’t have to worry about that stress.
  • If a kid is being bratty or throwing a tantrum, don’t question the parents’ parenting ability.  You may think you know the answers and may be convinced you’d magically be able to control the kid.  That’s what most kidless people think.  And you’re flat out wrong.  Refer to the above example of wrangling cats.

If you have children:

  • When a kidless person tells you they do not want kids, don’t play investigator and try to figure out what’s wrong with them.  They made a decision.  That decision doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with them.  In many cases, it’s a very private issue.  If they open up to you, it’s not an invitation to convince them otherwise.
  • Don’t assume people without kids will change their mind if they spend time around your kids.  Nobody thinks your kids are as cute or smart as you do.  In fact, there’s a good probability this will only affirm their decision not to have kids.
  • Don’t gush about how great parenting is or how much it has enriched your life.  If it has, great!  Tell your significant other.  Or your dog.  Don’t annoy your kidless friends.  There’s more to life than being a parent.  If you don’t understand that, get a hobby.  We have too many helicopter parents out there.

Guys often get a bad rap for not having empathy.  Quite frankly, that annoys me.  Dudes NEVER have issues with this topic.  Why?  We understand each other and don’t feel the need to boost our self-esteem or justify our decisions by cutting down our fellow bros.  Sometimes that Y chromosome comes in handy.  I have male friends that have kids.  I have male friends that do not have kids.  At no point do I ever feel the need to engage either group in a conversation about their decisions.  No male ever feels a need to discuss this.  We inherently understand the pros and cons, respect our bros’ decisions, and spend our time and energy doing something productive like being awesome.

For those that follow my advice, you’re welcome;-)

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27 Comments

  1. Kathryn Mattson
    April 22, 2012

    Love this post! Very refreshing to hear someone just state how it is (period!).

  2. Chris
    April 12, 2012

    Most males would be happy enough without children. More time for acting the maggot. Like everything in this world when your woman wants a kid, shes getting a kid.

  3. Matt Lee
    April 11, 2012

    Duuuude, this post is spot on dude.

    Since I am married with a child, I do wonder how couples come to the decision not to have kids, but I would not bring that up on my own.

    Oh, and my wife does not like other people’s kids, just sayin’

  4. Larry S.
    April 11, 2012

    Couldn’t agree more with you Jason. Dude on! I have always thought that kids that don’t throw tantrums and such are going to end up being boring, easily led adults.

    Love your site and the unfiltered opinion.

  5. Alex
    April 11, 2012

    I’d also add the factor that some people want to have kids badly, but are unable.

    In which case both of the above-mentioned militant groups are equally insufferable.

  6. ramzev
    April 11, 2012

    I guess I’m not mainstream. I have kids and when people say they DO want kids I’m curious why they want kids. I mean I love my kids; they’re cute and cuddly, and they give you a reason to watch Phineas and Ferb, but they’re always there, you can’t just walk away for a few minutes.
    Doggie style is great till you have a 2 year old standing in the doorway wondering why you’re pushing mommy’s head into the wall…

  7. Vincent
    April 11, 2012

    Lesson I learned: Jason and his wife are into doggystyle, am I right?

  8. NotsoDoomed(Dave)
    April 11, 2012

    Hm. I did not even know this was an issue until this. I can’t think of a reason to care if other people want to have kids. I do notice people tend to drift apart based on their friends having or not having kids… so I guess it is cool to have some friends with kids so I can drink beer with my buddies at the birthday party… that’s all I got on caring. Why would I want someone to have kids who does not want them?

    Oh, but as far as being annoyed… I sat with some people with kids recently at a restaraunt – actually a shack. A bbq shaq… some people made the choice to sit next to our table with 5 toddlers instead of anywhere else in the huge bbq shack… then gave dirty looks. I thought it was pretty funny. I would say if you can throw peanuts on the floor, you generally can’t complain…

  9. Brian G
    April 11, 2012

    Sorry, Jason, but you dropped the ball on this one.

    You say to handle the issue like a dude, but for some crazy reason your advice involves talking.

    Don’t bring up the topic of sex in a discussion; just look away totally uninterested — or just stare at her breasts the entire time she’s talking.

    (I think I’m gonna get flamed for this one since someone, somewhere will not find this at all funny.)

    • Jason
      April 11, 2012

      *like*

  10. klanger
    April 11, 2012

    Oh, those are my first posts here (long time reader)… forgoten to say ‘Hello’ to Barefoot Running Uni. professor & to the group of his students :-)

    • Jason
      April 11, 2012

      Hello, Klanger!

  11. klanger
    April 11, 2012

    Awesome!

  12. Bare Lee
    April 11, 2012

    Well put! We’re just vehicles for mindless replication of DNA. We shouldn’t take reproduction too seriously.

  13. Richard
    April 11, 2012

    I didn’t read the other post and probably won’t.

    Your post, Jason, is pure genius. Thank you, you’ve made my day.

    • Jason
      April 11, 2012

      Thanks Richard! :-)

  14. McKay
    April 10, 2012

    Man, she’s out there. I was about to comment on it before I read this post, and instead linked to it. You said it best, Jason. I personally think she sounded more bratty than any of the kids she ranted about.

    • Bare Lee
      April 11, 2012

      Where’s the ‘like’ button?

    • Jason
      April 11, 2012

      McKay- that’s the feeling I got, too.

  15. Lisa
    April 10, 2012

    UGH! This is a great post. I have had this conversation way too many times. Anytime I meet someone new and they learn I have been married for 7 years and still haven’t had a child they want to know why. When I give my short reasoning (which is I’ve worked with a lot of kids and really don’t like them that much and like my life the way it is) I’m always told, “oh, you’ll change your mind.” Next time this conversation starts I will bring up sex. That is great advice.

    • Jason
      April 11, 2012

      Lisa, in my experience, people say a lot of stupid shit without considering the impact.
      BTW- I love your “I’ve worked with a lot of kids and really don’t like them that much” comment. :-)

    • Malva
      April 11, 2012

      I can’t believe the stuff people say. I’d never dream of asking how come a married couple is *still* childless. It has the potential of being soooo insensitive. What if they’ve been trying for years?

      Lisa, I’m glad it’s by choice!

  16. Tess
    April 10, 2012

    Who are these people that are having these conversations anyway? Maybe I am secretly a guy. I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation with someone about their decision to have or not have kids. I don’t usually talk about my child with friends unless they happen to know him and ask about him. I was surprised by how vehement Julie’s post was. She must have been talking to some pretty annoying parents.

    • Jason
      April 11, 2012

      Agreed. If people bring it up, I like talking about the rationale to have or not have kids. But I’m also sensitive to not making stupid, judgmental statements after hearing their story. I find most people that share unsolicited opinions are just trying to rationalize their own decisions anyway. I would suspect Julie’s post was motivated by a conversation of that type.

  17. Trish Reeves
    April 10, 2012

    And I’m not sure Brad would really appreciate you calling him a woman. :p

    • Jason
      April 11, 2012

      Brad just wanted to do his part to stir the pot. :-)

  18. Trish Reeves
    April 10, 2012

    I was going to write a post like this in my blog. I guess now I don’t have to.