Time magazine’s cover (Aug. 12, 2013) stops us in our tracks:
THE CHILDFREE LIFE…
When having it all means not having children…
For couples still talking, this cover story is worth a read and a good discussion.
(also, for wanna-be grandparents)
For MORE use the DOOR…
(Our series on philosophy/science/religion is still ongoing. Your key to those posts: a three-word post title with a ” * “.)
This post is an observation, some reported facts with minimal comment, that by no means is a full review of this provocative Time cover story. As in the past, we occasionally interrupt regular scheduled posts to mention a newsworthy happening, and this is one.
Here are some facts from the article by Lauren Sandler, titled (inside), “None Is Enough,” that opens with “The American birthrate is at a record low. What happens when having it all means not having children?” [Coloring and type modification below is ours]:
Some Data Included:
• 33% of Americans believe having children increases social standing.
• 49% of (Americans, I believe) childless women ages 40 – 44 are voluntarily childless.
• American women who are expecting to remain childless:
With High income With Middle Income With Low Income
1 in 8 1 in 14 1 in 20
• Prominent Women Cited with Their Comments: Gloria Steinem, Margaret Cho (writer), Oprah Winfrey, Dolly Parton, Katharine Hepburn, Condoleezza Rice, Janet Jackson. Their brief–selected–statements are interesting.
As typical with Time, the essay is replete with many personal accounts of those who’ve deliberately taken the childless route and are happy about it, with hardly a word about those who have done so and had regrets. (That’s, of course, not where Time‘s–brief–article is going.)
Here are some of our general observations of and about the article. We encourage you to read and react to this important issue that few discuss.
(1) First, while both “sides” are addressed, the focus is upon supporting the decision of “committed couples,” especially married couples, not to have children.
(2) The article almost totally ignores the “case for,” or positive reasons for, having children. (Not as obvious, perhaps, as some think.)
(3) We at adozenseconds believe that there are some very good reasons for some couples not to have children.
(4) However, we feel that for many, having and raising children is one of the most positive, exciting, adventurous, and fulfilling experiences a couple can have*.
(5) Further, we feel that the media and popular entertainment, in general, significantly underreport, ignore, and misrepresent what we’ve said in #4. Not all families act basically like fools as portrayed in much TV or movie comedy. At least not most of the time.
In conclusion, dare we suggest that this article has something of an ageist tone? What do those in their 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s who have voluntarily made this choice think? There’s not a word here from that corner. But we recognize that for Time to make it in the dying paper magazine world that the society and culture sections of their new format must appeal to the actual young and the wannabes just ahead of them (I refuse to say “young at heart”).
The old of our society (so “they” tell me) have a high stake in the long range consequences of “voluntary childlessness,” and I’m not just talking about passing along heritage and assets. There are, or can be, connections across the generations that are rich with meaning.
I’ll never forget the day my father lay dying in a hospital bed and I stood there with a son on either side of me. There were just the four of us. My dad requested that I read the Bible to him. So I began loudly and clear. Then in the middle of the passage, my voice suddenly stopped. I pushed but no more words would come out. But then tears were forming, I could no longer see the page and the book became heavy. The older of the two (whose behavior in first grade I had to monitor for a short time), then a young man, gently lifted the Bible out of my hands and continued reading where I left off, hardly missing a beat.
And he read so clearly and so well. I think my father smiled, but I’m probably reading that into this because I wasn’t seeing too clearly…
There’s pain, weariness, and agony that come along with choosing to have children. But I contend that for many, if not most, saying no to the chance of having and raising children has its own set of risks and sorrows.
* Such has been the experience, so far, of my wife and my encounters with our 4 children. Watch the editorial “we” degenerate here to “I.”