Not Wanting Kids Is Entirely Normal
These sorts of articles really target literate, thoughtful women. In other words, exactly the women who should  be having more children, provided they are not called to celibate life. And that's sad. Irresponsible parents probably did not sit, prior to going about the dirty work of conception, and draw up arguments and counterarguments, weighing the relative costs and benefits of having children.

In general, I would think the readership of The Atlantic is fairly well-equipped, financially, intellectually, and otherwise, for the duties of motherhood or fatherhood, setting aside the especially Christian considerations.

I also have to question the prudence of the publisher, from a business standpoint. The Atlantic was first published in 1857. I would imagine many readers were introduced to the magazine through their parents, imbibing it, as it were, with their mothers' milk, creating a real intergenerational readership. It is folly to jeopardize one's prospects by diminishing one's future audience.

IMO, parenting has become Hellish, but wasn't designed by God to be that way. We've got a huge number of social and economic things going on that work against the family -- things that weren't happening not that long ago.

1)  The nuclear family as opposed to the extended family: The idea that the woman should be at home alone with kids, all day, with no adults around her, is not how it's supposed to be. The nuclear family is way too insular and claustrophobic, and it allows a mother no assistance whatsoever. If Aunts, Grandmothers, Sisters, etc., were around to help and to provide companionship, the burdens of being a stay-at-home mother would be much less severe.

2) The death of the parish-based, often ethnic, neighborhoods: It used to be that most folks lived either in rural areas or in little ethnic-based neighborhoods, with Catholics living in neighborhoods centered around the parish church. There was a deep sense of community in these Polish or German areas, or these "Little Italys". A woman staying at home to raise her children wasn't alone; she was surrounded by other women doing the same thing, women with whom she could share chores, get a little babysitting so she could have a break, whose kids her kids could play with, etc. And those other women looked out for her kids as much as they'd look out for their own. They'd even take on matters of discipline, and because the women were "on the same page" in terms of a shared vision of the True, Good, and Beautiful (due to their shared religion), it wasn't seen as the neighbor overstepping her bounds. See this book to read about what was done to decimate Catholic neighborhoods:

[Image: slaughterofthecities.JPG]

3) There are too few children around: People are having fewer children, so within families, there's no one for a kid to play with. Parents are becoming kids' entertainment centers, feeling compelled to keep a kid amused, having to play "Barbie" and "Hi-Ho Cherry-O" -- something most adults aren't into for over 5 minutes at a time. And because folks are having fewer kids, not only are there no kids within families to play with, but there are no kids in the neighborhood to play with, thereby exacerbating the problem of adults thinking they have to spend their days playing kiddie games. The world doesn't look like this any longer:

[Image: BruegelTheElderChildrenGames2.jpg]
Bruegel the Elder's "Children's Games"
(click to enlarge)

So not only are parents (women, typically) home alone all day ("alone" meaning "without adult companionship"), they have to play kiddie games and do kiddie stuff all the while.  And if there are kids around, there's once again the problem touched on below, in point 4.

4) The inability of parents to pass down their own culture to their own children: Having children is a lot more emotional work than it needs to be since all of the cultural powers that be fight against what "the average Joe" type is trying to teach his kids. A conservative -- even a neo-con -- Christian parent is battling the forces of the cultural gatekeepers whose power is manifest in public schools, on TV, in movies, in music, even on down to how the local library decides to decorate or what books it chooses to emphasize, what programs it puts on. And because of the pushing of multiculturalism, that average conservative Christian Joe can't even trust his neighbors to be on the same page as him with regard to some very basic things, such as the definition of marriage, or the evil of killing babies in the womb. If the neighbors do have kids for your kids to play with, are those kids watching porn on their bedroom computers? Are they inviting your kid over to play Grand Theft Auto upstairs?

Parents lose the battles to pass down their culture all the time now because of all the above, so one of the very purposes of having children has been taken away, and having kids has been turned into a huge ordeal of never-ending battles.

5) The economy: Speaks for itself. It's bad out there and getting worse. Industry's gone, cheap labor is imported, initiative is squelched by overregulation and taxation, and even going to college has become little more than a license to work at McDonalds while having $40,000 worth of student loan debt hanging over you for the rest of your life. It's all bleak, and takes away from parents any temporal dreams they have for their kids -- that sort of hope being another reason people have kids, and that hope being killed being another reason not to have them (or for hating having them once you do have them).

For a mother to have to work outside of the home and endure the relevant stuff in this list is a pretty cruel situation, if you ask me.

6) Marriage has become unstable: No-fault divorce has made people feel less secure in marriage, with men being the big losers in this system. Men can be kicked out of their families at a woman's whim, but he still is mandated to give to her all the benefits of marriage while getting none of the perqs. The opposite is true for the female. See  People who don't feel secure are unhappy and anxious. Throw children into the mix, and the anxiety worsens.

7) The death of religion:  It used to be in the West that people saw a greater purpose in having kids:  they were procreating souls for Heaven. Having kids touched on eternity! Now, mankind is seen as glorified gobs of monkey meat, randomly assembled, purposeless, populating a random blue marble floating around in some random part of space. I doubt that most people think about it all consciously, but that underlying, pre-conscious attitude undoubtedly has an effect.

And the thing is, even those who don't think that way, even those who are religious, have to do all the fighting described in point 4. They're all alone in the war, fighting battle after battle, with no one to fight with and to help them keep their courage up. For the stay-at-home mother who's been alone all day, when the husband gets home, she wants to talk, to be heard, to communicate and socialize -- but the husband, having been socializing and communicating all day, just wants to chill in front of the TV and eat something and NOT talk. They both make sense. They both have reasonable needs and desires. But it doesn't make for happiness.

8) Busybodies abound:  No matter what a mother does, she loses. She's either a helicopter parent, or she's neglectful. Things our mothers -- at least my mother -- allowed us kids to do would be grounds to call Child Protective Services now. Kids can't play outside, can't ride bikes, can't walk to the bus by themselves, can't do a damned thing without some busybody sticking her (typically female) nose into it. You can't discipline your kids with a smack on the ass without fear of being brought up on child abuse charges. There's a sense out there in Parent-Land that the government is always just there, hovering, ready to pounce if you do what someone who happens to see you deems "a bad thing." Teachers and doctors need to be kept at arm's length. All it takes is one phone call from some liberal to have your kids ripped away from you and your life turned into a living Hell of social workers and Courts and Judges and forced doses of Ritalin.

9. Lack of respect for homemaking or for women: People who've never been alone with kids all day simply have no freakin' clue how hard it is, how emotionally exhausting it is, especially. And if a woman has the personality type and energy and time to go "all out" and do homemaking "Martha Stewart style," you're also talking about a lot of skill and hard work and talent that's involved. But too many people have too little respect for what's involved in making a really great home, cooking, and raising children.

You have that on the one hand, and on the other, you have some people who sentimentalize motherhood and ignore the very real problems involved (e.g, the stuff in this list). There are some people in the world who are not only great with kids, but who LOVE hanging out with them all the time, and that's great and good. But it's a gift, a personality style, and one that's not typical for most adults. Most adults don't want to play Barbie and don't enjoy playing Barbie, and that, also, is great and good. But the women who fall on the "not into playing Barbie" side of things are made to feel like bad people for it when the problem is that they shouldn't be in the position of having to feel that, at 35 years old, they should enjoy playing 5-year old kiddie games in the first place. The high-IQ type women who are "born academics,"  natural book-lovers, people who need intellectual stimulation and/or a creative outlet are the kind of women most people want to pro-create. But they are also exactly the same type of woman who'd be bored to tears and possibly literally driven mad having none of the intellectual stimulation and creative outlets she needs in order to use her gifts and be fulfilled as a human being.

I think that last bit is what I'm getting at:  On the one hand, you've got people who have no idea how incredibly emotionally difficult it is to raise kids, and how much time and effort goes into making a home, and on the other, you have people who have no respect at all for women's needs, who think that women are being "selfish" for even having needs, for being intellectual or having a creative drive, etc. The idea of a woman wanting to be "fulfilled" intellectually or creatively is seen as "selfish" (no one would say the same thing about a father's need for intellectual or creative fulfillment, of course). Motherhood without all of the problems listed above could allow for a woman having the time to write a novel or teach a class or take a class or what have you. But as things are now, with the problems in this list being real, motherhood doesn't allow for much of that. And it's a very serious problem, not a sign of "selfishness" or that a woman is wanting as a mother or as a woman.

To sum up:  "They" have made parenting a pretty unpleasant thing to experience generally speaking. It's not inherent in parenting. At least a lot of it isn't. Parenting will always involve a lot of sacrifice and time. But it shouldn't have to involve all of the above, and I don't think people who are fed up with everything I've listed and who want nothing to do with it are being selfish necessarily.

That's a pretty good post, Vox. Please elaborate on point 9; who do you think sees women as selfish for "having needs"?
Vox, I so agree with you. Especially points 1, 2 & 3 - I am living it right now! We are literally the only family at home during the day in my immediate neighbourhood, with the exception of a lady nearby that runs a daycare out of her home. Especially with homeschooling, I find it's often lonely.

Point #4 is in part why we homeschool.
(12-10-2014, 03:35 PM)Dirigible Wrote: That's a pretty good post, Vox. Please elaborate on point 9; who do you think sees women as selfish for "having needs"?

Thanks, Dirigible. As to your question:  I've seen this most in religious circles. It's not women "having needs," per se, it's women (mothers) not being happy at not being able to fulfill their needs, their talking about their problems. I've seen a lot of unhappy mothers called "selfish" for being unhappy about having to live with the problems I talked about. Those problems shouldn't exist. They don't have to exist, anyway. And it's sad that they do; it makes raising kids much more of a sacrifice than it should be or needs to be. My wish is for a restoration of the extended family and parish-based neighborhoods, and a fixing of the rest of the stuff I talked about, so that mothers can stay home and raise their kids without having to give up the entirety of their existence and taking care of basic needs, like a social life, in order to be mothers.

I don't think it's a coincidence that the rise of feminism in the U.S. came about after the collapse of the extended family and parish-based neighborhoods. People laugh at the idea of the women living in the suburbs having been miserable, but many were -- and for understandable reasons, if you ask me. But those problems they had were sort of mocked (and look what happened as a result). The Stones "Mother's Little Helper" shows the type of mockery I'm talking about (and I love the Stones!):

What a drag it is getting old
"Kids are different today,"
I hear ev'ry mother say
Mother needs something today to calm her down
And though she's not really ill
There's a little yellow pill
She goes running for the shelter of a mother's little helper
And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day

"Things are different today,"
I hear ev'ry mother say
Cooking fresh food for a husband's just a drag
So she buys an instant cake and she burns her frozen steak
And goes running for the shelter of a mother's little helper
And two help her on her way, get her through her busy day

Doctor please, some more of these
Outside the door, she took four more
What a drag it is getting old

"Men just aren't the same today"
I hear ev'ry mother say
They just don't appreciate that you get tired
They're so hard to satisfy, You can tranquilize your mind
So go running for the shelter of a mother's little helper
And four help you through the night, help to minimize your plight

Doctor please, some more of these
Outside the door, she took four more
What a drag it is getting old

"Life's just much too hard today,"
I hear ev'ry mother say
The pusuit of happiness just seems a bore
And if you take more of those, you will get an overdose
No more running for the shelter of a mother's little helper
They just helped you on your way, through your busy dying day

I think things are much worse now (I think it's obvious), and that what those women should've been fighting for was fixing the things on that list rather than for the Hell we've got now. But no grown woman should be expected to have no social life, no communication with adults (all day every day), no time for any intellectual or artistic pursuits  -- or even time for a shower (read Jubilate's post). That's not how God designed things. That's why He gave us family and the community provided by religion.

(12-10-2014, 11:53 PM)PrairieMom Wrote: Vox, I so agree with you. Especially points 1, 2 & 3 - I am living it right now! We are literally the only family at home during the day in my immediate neighbourhood, with the exception of a lady nearby that runs a daycare out of her home. Especially with homeschooling, I find it's often lonely.

Point #4 is in part why we homeschool.

You're a heroine. So is Jubilate. So are most stay-at-home mothers (the ones who take their jobs seriously and at least try to do it well, to teach and bring their kids to God). It just kills me to think of what mothers have to endure now, the loneliness of it being, in my imagination, the worst of the worst. Reading Jubilate's post -- whew. More than sad, it makes me angry that things are the way they are now.
Have the women in this thread any advice for a man as to how to treat his future wife, so that she is better able to deal with being a mother?
(12-12-2014, 12:08 AM)Dirigible Wrote: Have the women in this thread any advice for a man as to how to treat his future wife, so that she is better able to deal with being a mother?

Wow... See? Men are just awesome. As I've said before, I think men are much more concerned about their wives' happiness than women are about their husbands' (generally speaking! as always! There are tons of exceptions!) In fact, I'd say that men in general tend to take that too far and personalize their wives' feelings, often getting angry at them if they're sad. Men often feel responsible if their wives aren't happy, and they feel helpless about it, which makes them mad. Doesn't help!

Anyway, my two cents:  If she's close to her family, if she's the type of woman for whom her sisters are her besties, and she visits her parents often, etc., try like crazy to not move away so she's separated from them and won't have their help and friendship as she's raising kids. Same goes for the case of a woman having a really close friend, or a group of friends. Most folks want companionship, but women, generally, need it very deeply. If she's a stay-at-home Mom, her having, for ex., a sister who can often come by during the day and just hang out and talk, or help out, can be the difference between madness and sanity.

If she's a stay-at-home Mom without the above, she will likely want need that sort of companionship from you -- when you get home from work and when talking is the last thing you want. And she may well be be pissy and sad because she's been alone all day. With kids. You get the drift. Whatever you do, don't personalize her feelings and get angry at her for that. What she's feeling makes perfect sense, as much as your coming home from a long day's work and not wanting to talk makes sense. In any case, when you do have the energy, talk to her and emotionally "validate" her. Listen to her. Touch her.

Just be cool. Pick up your stuff around the house. If you dirty a dish, wash it as you go. Don't make her job any harder than it has to be. She doesn't go to your office, throw your files around, leave empty beer bottles on your desk and socks on the floor, so don't do it to her LOL

Know that just as you've been working all day, so has she. Don't treat her work as something that never ends (or, God forbid, as something that doesn't exist LOL). After 5pm or whenever you get home, and on the weekends, the house and the work required around it are shared, the kids belong to both of you. (by "the house and the work," I mean the little maintenancy stuff, not the regular tasks like laundry, vacuuming, dusting, cooking dinner, etc. IOW, don't treat her like a maid).

Encourage her in any intellectual or artistic pursuits, if she has any. Time is typically the biggest problem (along with loneliness). Read Jubilate's post in this thread, man. She's not kidding around at ALL. She's not exaggerating. And I am talking as someone who is so NOT a radical feminist type (in fact, I'm pretty danged opposite, with most of my friends being male, and not really relating to most women) and thinks that women in general are prone to drama. What Jubilate wrote really is what life is like for mothers of young ones. (This is why having family, friends, some sort of companionship and help is soooooo important!) I babysit my grandson, and I adore the little guy, but just that is enough to wear me out after a few hours. It's not an exaggeration to write about things like not even being able to run to the bathroom to pee if the baby's awake.

Arrange finances so that, if possible, she has money of "her own." In my personal opinion, if a woman stays home to be a homemaker, then the husband's paycheck should be split after expenses are paid and any savings are dealt with so that both husband and wife have some discretionary money of their own. I know that today's economy probably makes this moot for most people, but that's the ideal in my opinion.

There's no way to say this one without just coming out and saying it:  Be a great lover. Sex her up. Keep things hot. Seen as the be-all-end-all of life itself in the secular world, sex is underrated, at least when it comes to talking about it, in Catholic circles (though Catholics have the best sex lives of anyone in the US). But that's "Catholic circles," and I have to tell you that I'm worried about trads given some of the things I've heard over the years of running this website. Seriously, I've heard truly misogynist stuff when it comes to female sexuality. For ex., I've heard that female orgasms aren't important because they're not necessary for procreation (seriously! That was actually said on this very forum! And agreed with by at least one other poster!) I've seen a lot of strangeness when it comes to various sexual things that makes me worry that some of my fellow trads are scrupulous and neurotic when it comes to sex. I'm betting that a lot of people reading this right now are thinking, "Oh, my gosh! She's talking about s-e-x? On a Catholic forum!? Tacky! And not very lady-like! What would Mary think of this!?" But Our Lady is no shrinking violet; she is tough,  strong, brilliant, and Middle Eastern, not a Victorian WASP. And the PUA types know what the deal is when it comes to this topic. Contrary to the Victorian nonsense, women are extremely sexual (the medievals knew this and even considered women to be the of the lusty sex). In this regard, because I don't want to be too explicit, I'll just say that I encourage men to 1) know, um, the mechanics, and 2) check out some PUA sites -- using discretion to weed out the ugly attitudes toward extramarital sex, and some outright nasty attitudes toward women, and focus on what they say about male-female dynamics, psychologically speaking, and women's need to feel masculine strength, etc.  I will just say that when a woman is in love -- the "in love" phenomenon being sexually charged -- she will willingly submit to a man and be very happy doing it. Keep her emotionally in thrall.

(12-12-2014, 12:08 AM)Dirigible Wrote: Have the women in this thread any advice for a man as to how to treat his future wife, so that she is better able to deal with being a mother?

What Vox says.

My only regret about being at SAHM is that we moved at the beginning of our marriage away from our hometown, so we have no family support. I have 2 SIL from my brothers, and my husband has 4 sisters. It would be such a blessing to be able to spend more time with them instead of hours away. But I don't blame my husband, because it was my idea that he apply for the job he has right now anyway!
Cheers, ladies. Way to go!

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