Mariette Ulrich

Childless by choice - a decision you may live to regret

Mariette Ulrich
By Mariette Ulrich
Image

October 1, 2012 (Mercatornet.com) - When it comes to major life decisions, who in his right mind wouldn’t choose what sounded like more fun and less work? This, according to one observer, is the rationale behind a new trend in Canada: childlessness. Says Joe O’Connor in a recent National Post op-ed:

Imagine a scenario where, on a Friday night, after running around like a beheaded chicken at work all week you get home, smooch the person you love, grab a glass of wine and enjoy the silence, the blissful quietude of being a committed and adoring couple — without kids.

Indeed. No great effort of imagination is required, and, while not agreeing with his overall these-folks-are-just-plain-selfish tone, I do think Mr O’Connor has put his finger on a real problem. Between the pressures of work and the possibilities for self-indulgence today’s couples could very easily decide that there is no room in their lives for children.

It’s not exactly news that western nations are in demographic freefall, but the statistics are never pleasant to contemplate. Canada’s latest batch of 2011 census numbers shows that nearly half of Canadian couples (44.5 percent) are “without children”.

Of course the stats are skewed somewhat by the inclusion of Boomer empty-nesters: people who have children that are not living in their household. And we know that smaller families are a long-term trend. However, University of Calgary sociologist Kevin McQuillan confirms that there is a new element, “a turning away by couples from having children, period.”

Maybe more like an exclamation mark: the in-your-face “childless by choice” meme has been around for decades, though I was sheltered from it in my home town, where five kids was considered a small family. I recall being surprised and disconcerted by society’s anti-child mentality as a university student and then a naïve young mum in the 1980s; now, not so much. I just like to sit back and savour the irony.

O’Connor cites one childless woman who told the Post: “The benefits of not having children are in the driveway, in our closet and stamped on our passports. Kids are expensive.”

And spending lavishly on yourself isn’t? They don’t teach logic in school anymore, do they? And they don’t need to teach “me first’ or “the path of least resistance”, since it is simply imbibed from the environment these days. Do it if it feels good; do it if it’s convenient; avoid suffering at all costs.

It was not always thus. As O’Connor says, “Having children used to be the point of being a pair. It was the great aspiration — along with finding love everlasting — a biological impulse to go forth and multiply and, later, once your babies reached a certain age, to cajole them about the merits and benefits of doing their bit to join the ranks of parenthood while giving Mom and Dad some grandkids.”

CLICK ‘LIKE’ IF YOU ARE PRO-LIFE!

His inclusion of biology scores a point for natural law: since human reproduction is natural, it is therefore natural to desire children. Yet clearly, some couples do not. What has occurred to thwart this desire? O’Connor’s curious choice of the biblical phrase “go forth and multiply” hints at the (not insignificant) spiritual motive that inspired earlier generations. Linked with this was a sense of a larger duty to society, which he evokes with his “doing their bit” remark.

It would be unwise to argue that all people have a duty to reproduce; in the past, society depended on some people remaining single to care for the elderly and orphans and to dedicate themselves completely to service professions and the arts. Furthermore, parenthood is a vocation that goes with marriage, and not all people who feel called, so to speak, are successful in finding a mate. Others seem eminently unsuited to raising children.

Today, many young people are infected with the mentality of doomsayers, environmental or otherwise, who argue the polar opposite of the reproductive imperative: that humans have an obligation to become extinct in order to save Mother Earth—for what, we’re not sure. These people might argue that it’s possible to have a child for quite selfish reasons.

Still, as O’Connor suggests, we have a society that provides many temptations to self indulgence and few incentives for the sacrifices demanded by raising children: “Gone are diaper changes and ballet classes, replaced by hot yoga and shopping trips to New York City.”

In other words, life without kids is a never-ending joyride. Now we enter the realm of myth, which is also where I would place the contention that life with children is overwhelmingly stressful, exhausting, expensive and heartbreaking. Or that (horror of horrors) having babies makes you old, frumpy and fat.

In fact, time makes you old, gluttony makes you fat, and apathy and neglect make you frumpy. I can only speak for moms, but lots of us have moved beyond Ma Kettle; maybe it’s time popular culture kept pace. Skating with your six kids at the local rink is not only every bit as physically invigorating as hot yoga, it’s also better for the economy.

But even if the childless ones don’t mind economic meltdown (and with it the social safety-net state), perhaps they might be invited to reconsider their opinions out of sheer self-interest. O’Connor concludes with a memento mori: “[W]hat will become of those … folks when decrepitude inevitably creeps in; when they age, as we all inevitably do, and the children they chose not to have aren’t around to look after them?”

He might have added the following, but since he didn’t, I will. Imagine a scenario where, on a Sunday afternoon, you sit idly for interminable hours slumped in your wheelchair in the tiny and stifling nursing home bedroom, which, due to overcrowding, you share with a cantankerous roommate. (Thank heaven she’s in the lounge for her weekly visit with her family!)

You think wistfully of your husband, now long departed. You begin to cry and your nose starts to run. You’d like a tissue, but you are tired and haven’t the strength to wheel yourself to the bedside table. Your diaper is wet, but you know the aide won’t be around for another 45 minutes. You know it is pointless to call for help; the home is chronically understaffed (you’re not sure why).

Enjoy the silence, the blissful quietude as you remember being part of a committed and adoring couple — without kids.

Mariette Ulrich writes from western Canada. She blogs on Family Edge. This article reprinted under a Creative Commons License.

FREE pro-life and pro-family news.

Stay up-to-date on the issues you care about the most. Subscribe today. 

Select Your Edition:


Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

Advertisement
Featured Image
Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com
Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

, , ,

Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

Advertisement
Featured Image
Shutterstock.com
Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

Advertisement

Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook