On the topic of having kids, let's respect each other and our differences

On the topic of having kids, let's respect each other and our differences

Blog PhotoI'm diving into a topic that's close to my heart, knowing it's a sensitive one and relying just on my opinions. I'm not speaking for anyone else and I'm not trying to offend anyone. But. This needs to be said, so here goes.

As a young married woman, I'll be totally honest – I resent the idea that I need to have kids to make my life, or purpose on earth, or family, complete.

Rob and I have made the conscious decision not to have kids right now because the time just isn't right. We both work all kinds of crazy hours and live in a tiny house. We're still saving money for our future, and honestly, just aren't ready. And at age 26, I feel like we have tons of time.

I happen to know a few other young couples who don't plan on having kids, not ever. I'm totally OK with that – how could that be anything but the right decision for those two people?

I don't disrespect anyone who decides to have kids; I'm asking the same respect to be returned to me for the decisions I've made with my husband. I think one of the most hurtful, obtuse things anyone has every said to me is, “It must be easier for you to cover school board meetings because you don't have a family.”

Last time I checked, my spouse counts as family. And for me, so do my dog and cat. So does the sister I talk to on a daily basis and my parents who support my every decision and have never pressured me to have kids. I've always known that my self-worth doesn't hinge on being a mother, and I appreciate my parents' attitude for helping me get there.

I've heard your life changes in innumerable ways when you have kids, and I believe it. But I don't for one instant believe I'm less of a person because I've not been there. That's just not fair.

And while we're on the topic, let me remind you – even if you know a young, married woman who may or may not be thinking about having kids, please never ask if she's expecting.

As a someone who has what women's magazines call an “apple shape” (I happen to take after my dad, as I inherited what he calls his “big, fine body.”), this question hurts. If someone hasn't told you, never ask. Never. It's incredibly rude. And if you're the person who asks me, I'll likely tell you so.

We live in a society that, for the most part, emphasizes and celebrates diversity. We all should remember that when it comes to kids, we make the decisions that are best for us. I won't criticize yours, so please don't criticize mine.

Photo is one of my favorites from our snowy wedding day and is by Robert K. O'Daniell.

 

 

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couponladyonline wrote on June 21, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Can I please just say "amen". I have no idea why people think something as personal as if/when to have children is their business. And yes, your husband and your pets *are* your family! You need not have children to be a family. Don't get me started on people asking if I'm pregnant. I've taken to answering: "Nope, just fat." That usually puts an end to it.

Meg Dickinson wrote on June 21, 2012 at 6:06 pm
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I think I am finally brave enough to say, "Oh, my, what a rude thing to ask," in my sweetest possible voice.

Fromthearea wrote on June 22, 2012 at 8:06 am

Yes.  Let's respect each other.  The woman making the comment about you having more time to go to board meetings may have done so absentmindedly to make convesation.  Along with other women asking if you were expecting.  It's a pretty common thing for women to ask, especially if you were recently married; if they're older women and they genuinely like you it's not quite an ettiquette thing but almost.  Don't always assume other women are purposely trying to be rude to you by wanting to carry on a conversation.  Maybe she has no idea it's hurtful to you until she reads it either online or in the paper. 

Meg Dickinson wrote on June 22, 2012 at 1:06 pm
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Sure, that may be true. I just take issue with the fact that many people assume you have to have kids to have a family.

And even if it is a common question among women, I don't think I'll ever not take offense. It's an inexcusable question. My strategy from here on out, though, is to tell that person how hurt I was by the comment.

vnconn wrote on June 22, 2012 at 10:06 am

Meg, I could not agree with you more. I am married and my husband and I have chosen not to have children for many very personal reasons, which we chose not to share with others simply because it's nobody's business. I have to add to what you said and say that it personally irritates me when people with children assume that because we don't have any that we hate kids. It just isn't true and it is very rude and hurtful to make that assumption about someone. The decision not to have children is a difficult one, and not all family members are supportive about it but I am grateful for the ones who are and the others can just mind their own business because it isn't their choice.


And making conversation or not, people should NEVER ask if a woman is pregnant, EVER. Someone did that to me at a job, and proceeded to spread rumors about me (I was not married at the time) I went to my supervisor and complained. It was harassment plain and simple.


 

Meg Dickinson wrote on June 22, 2012 at 1:06 pm
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Man, I never imagined the hating-kids perception, but it makes sense. Thanks for sharing!

localreader wrote on June 22, 2012 at 11:06 am

I do understand your frustration.  My husband and I heard the same thing for a long time. 

You could try a joke that could catch people off guard and make them stop.  I sometimes make a joke out of my issue of being significantly taller than most people.  I'm 6'2" tall and everyone asks me if I play basketball.  The question is getting very old.  When they ask if I play basketball, I tell them "No.  Do you play miniature golf?"  Your response could be, "No.  Are you pregnant?".  Quick and easy, and maybe they'll be just as annoyed as you.

Meg Dickinson wrote on June 22, 2012 at 1:06 pm
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Ha, that's a good one.

illini_trucker wrote on June 22, 2012 at 4:06 pm

I'm not sure I understand what's wrong with a simple question. What has society and civilization brought us to?? A few hundred years ago, I bet no one really cared if you were a 330 lb bowling ball. At the very least, depends on the context/situation, if it makes u feel THAT uncomfortable, say YES I am!! And then take it as a huge hint that 1)not only are you insecure about yourself, 2)other people notice your obesity enough to ask you, and 3) since your so insecure in the first place, turn those guilty feelings inside that (I'm sure youve had for years) and be productive about it....

As for kids.... We are all entitled to our own opinions and here's mine. There are several factors. Some people JUST DON'T WANT KIDS!! And that's respectable!! But I have seen it so many times, chicks waiting til they're "34 and comfortable" and guess what??? Now they have underlying health issues that they didn't have have when they were 22. And then there's more and more gay peeps. And te continual flow of natural manmade anti-reproductive toxins. And then the fact that the law wants you to wait until he/she is 18... But by that time, Ive seen soo many chicks having 2-4 babies by the time they're "legal."

Either way, that window of opportunity is a LOT smaller than you might think. But I guess if you wanna dump tens of thousands to IVF docs or adoption agencies..  You never know; you only live one life (actually I consider myself medium-buddhism but that's my choice). 

I may not be the richest dad in the world. I took my son to Disney once. That may be all I can afford. But there are SO MANY other awesome times that we've had. But anyways, to each their own....

increvable wrote on June 23, 2012 at 9:06 am

You may want to reread some of the Buddha's teachings.

algon wrote on June 23, 2012 at 9:06 am

Thank for the best response possible to that individual. 

Meg Dickinson wrote on June 23, 2012 at 9:06 am
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Yes, to each, his or her own - that's what I was getting at. Thanks for commenting.

Mark Taylor wrote on June 23, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Preach it, brother man. You must be the Buddha himself, with all your compassion and wisdom. And thanks for sharing your views about that dang law that makes you wait till a chick is over the hill before you can impregnate her. Dang society.

Disgruntled_Illini wrote on June 23, 2012 at 2:06 pm

 

Congratulations: your post ranks among the most gauche and disjointed I have yet read on this site.  I'll refrain from an all-out onslaught, because you managed to temper your diatribe by concluding, "to each their own".  But a few points must be interjected here.  

First, I'm not sure why you described Ms. Dickinson as obese and insecure.  In a piece like this, an author's credibility is derived solely from sharing a comprehensive report of an honest introspection.  It’s quite easy to pounce once someone has laid it all on the line, as Ms. Dickinson did here.  Quite honestly, your sociopathic rant suggests you may have some issues of your own.  

Second, you would lose your bet that "300 years ago no one would care if you were a 300 lb bowling ball".  Indeed, women were ostracized for a multitude of perceived offenses in those times.  Discrimination in all forms was ubiquitous.  If you were black, it was fair game to enslave you.  Refer to your middle school American history textbook if you have forgotten the religious strife that characterized European-American history on this continent.  Personally, I would argue that society has come a very long way.

Third, yep, in the First World we’re entitled to our own opinions.  But not our own facts.  Female fertility declines with age, but by no means does it fall off a cliff as you presuppose.

  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1670055/pdf/bmj00129-0019.pdf

Fourth, there exists a disappointingly strong correlation between the socioeconomic status of children and that of their parents.  Given this, perhaps it’s in your children’s best interest to wait until you have the means to offer them a chance at success.  

I apologize to the author for you, sir.

Disgruntled_Illini wrote on June 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Oh yeah, and regarding your thoughts on statutory rape laws and "gay peeps", I believe a Billy Madison quote offers the most appropriate response.

"At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought.  Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.  I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

rsp wrote on June 22, 2012 at 7:06 pm

I've read this several times today and to be honest I had trouble pinpointing what it was that was bothering me about it. And I think part of it is that it seems to have been written in anger. If so, who are you angry at? We've read about your family, marriage, home, friends, job, Rob, sister, pets, etc. So when you meet people they feel like they know you. 

“It must be easier for you to cover school board meetings because you don't have a family.”

Every day i care for my autistic grandson so his parents can work. He will be four next week. He won't eat for other people and he has speech delays. Loud noises scare him. How would you compare caring for him to caring for a dog or a cat? Or talking to your sister on the phone? Does that perhaps put it into perspective what people mean when they say that? They aren't discounting anybody, it comes from the phrase "being in the family way". 

Meg Dickinson wrote on June 23, 2012 at 9:06 am
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All good points - there is some anger, mostly in that it sometimes feels like society expects us to have kids, just because we're married. Everyone's different, and obviously, not having kids is the right choice for us right now.

I bet your care for your grandson means the world to him and his parents. I would never compare that to taking care of my dog or cat, or spending time with my sister. I wholeheartedly respect the fact that kids take an incredible amount of work and effort.

I do, though, think that some people (not you, and not everyone) are dismissive of a family without kids, and I just don't think that's fair.

rsp wrote on June 24, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Edited for clarification since it really didn't read correctly to what I was thinking.:

To the kid yes, the parents, not even a Mother's Day Card. We are all tired. I think in a few years you will look back and realise what happened and see it differently. First you got married. Then you started, don't laugh, chasing kids all over at schools. And all those school board meetings. Of course  some people think you must be thinking about it. Some people are dismissive of everything you could ever think of.  When people ask about kids tell a story about what one of the pets did by name that was really funny and laugh. When they try to tell you what they meant just say "I know what you meant" with a smile and walk away.  Why carry the stress?

gftst wrote on June 23, 2012 at 1:06 am

One thing people dont think about when they ask or make comments about why someone does not have children or when are you ever going to start a family is maybe they have fertility issues and are having problems getting pregnant. That is a very emotional issue for people and to make an insensitive comment (even an unknowning one) can only add to that pain if that happens to be the circumstance. The comments people make regarding pregnancy or lack their of just amaze me sometimes. Just mind your own business and keep your mouth shut.

Meg Dickinson wrote on June 23, 2012 at 9:06 am
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That's a really good point - thanks!

mspontiac wrote on June 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm

We don't have kids, and will never have them. I am now 42, and from the time I was very young, I have stated that I did not want to have them. Through the years, people would tell me, "Oh, you'll change your mind" but I haven't. When people so rudely ask why I don't have kids, I tell them the simple truth...I don't care for kids and I don't want any. How they think that their opinion about my reproductive status is beyond me, but too many people think that it's OK for them to project their personal choices on my life. Just because they want kids doesn't mean that I should. We have plenty of people on this Earth, and I certainly don't feel the need to add to the population to complete myself. People say that makes me selfish, which is one of the most ignorant things I have ever heard. I simply know that bringing kids into the world when I don't want them would be a poor choice.

Meg Dickinson wrote on June 23, 2012 at 5:06 pm
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Thanks for your perspective. I know a lot of people in a similar situation, and who've had similar experiences.

sameeker wrote on June 23, 2012 at 5:06 pm

It is perfectly acceptible to decide not to have children. While children can be a satisfying part of life, they are also very expensive to raise. Add to the the fact that future prospects for children are troubling at best. In 1992, I exercised my right to choose and decided to have a vasectomy. The state of Illinois required me to have my wife sign an authorization for the proceedure. Even though the marriage was on shakey ground, she treated me like I was being selfish by choosing not to have any more children. Whenever the subject comes up in a conversation, there is always some lady who insists that I chose the proceedure so that I can simply sow my wild oats without consequence. The simple fact is that I did not want to have any more children since my wife was pregnent at the time, and I already had a child from a former marriage. I still feel that I made the responsible choice, and others should respect your choice. Considering how many children wind up becoming a burden to the taxpayers, more people should think over their choices.

amandachambana wrote on June 24, 2012 at 2:06 pm

That lady who assumed that you has a vasectomy just because you wanted to have sex without consequences should be ashamed! That is the same attitude that our society is (re) visitng about birth control.

People, just because other choose to protect themselves from getting pregnant to from getting others pregnant does not mean that they are sexual deviants who look from the next romp all day. They are protecting themselves and everyone should have that opportunity equally.

Joe American wrote on June 26, 2012 at 4:06 pm

That's funny.  I've had a vasectomy for over ten years and not once has anyone ever even jokingly hinted that it was because I wanted to "sow my wild oats".  That says a lot about character.

I assume these were people who knew you well.

woopitydo wrote on June 24, 2012 at 7:06 am

There really is no comparision between raising a child and owning pets but the decision to have a child was that of the parents. I really dont see how taking care of your grandchild has anything to do with the desire to not have children and raise pets instead. It is in ones own mind what they find to be important to themselves.


 


As for Illini Trucker- this is the same guy who in one article complained about not being able to get welfare because of the hours at the facility and that he cant save $25 to take his kid camping then in another article complained about the cigarette tax and how he was going to drive all the way to Indiana to buy from now on. Not alot of common sense, and probably not someone who should be giving advise or opinions on life matters.


 


Society is forever evolving, the thought of a woman  not being complete unless she is married with children is barbaric. I encounter the same responses when asked why I am not married. I'm not married because I have a nice house and car and no desire to loose half or share it! Marriage is just something I have never wanted, nor do I ever want to have another child. My response to those people is to mind their own business and when they are in charge of paying my bills or buying my necessities then they can have an opinion on MY life.


 


 


 


 

rsp wrote on June 24, 2012 at 10:06 pm

“It must be easier for you to cover school board meetings because you don't have a family.”

My comment had to do with this. I am pretty sure the individual wasn't trying to discount Rob or her sister or how she feels about her pets but about the fact that she doesn't have to make childcare arrangements every time she needs to go on a story. 

prairiegourmet wrote on June 25, 2012 at 10:06 am

Wow, Meg. That post really touched some nerves.  You know my girls are slightly older than you and children are not in the near future for them either.  People ask me all the time when I'm going to be a grandmother and I just tell them I too young. ;)

In regard to body shape, years ago I received a phone call from an acquaintance who suggested that I might be interested in some weight loss supplements that she sold since she'd noticed I had been gaining some weight. I told her no thank you because in about 3 months the weight would miraculously be gone anyway.  I was six months pregnant.

Meg Dickinson wrote on June 25, 2012 at 10:06 am
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Oh, my. I guess it goes both ways then - that's something I didn't consider.

killerut wrote on June 25, 2012 at 12:06 pm

If you're offended by a question like that, then you are in for a VERY rough life.

killerut wrote on June 25, 2012 at 12:06 pm

If you're offended by a question like that, then you are in for a VERY rough life.

mankind wrote on June 25, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Meg, I have no problem with anything you contend here other than the fact that you think nobody but the woman in question should ever broach the subject. For some people, questions about pregnancy and plans for children can be quite exciting to answer. People are curious about the people around them. I think ultimately that's a good thing even if it means you are put on the spot now and then. And it's better than feeling invisible.  

Meg Dickinson wrote on June 26, 2012 at 9:06 am
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That's a good point. I just resent the fact that people take for granted that I will be interested in the topic just because I'm female, 26 and married.

elAnnoy wrote on June 26, 2012 at 2:06 pm

When people would ask me if we were having children, I'd lean in towards them a little bit, smile and reply:

Oh I've had children.
[Wait a beat for that perfect comedic timing]
Tastes like chicken.

Okay, so now I have kids and absolutely cannot tell that joke anymore, but I always loved to see the looks I'd get.

 

Meg Dickinson wrote on June 26, 2012 at 4:06 pm
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Hah. This one made me smile.

ronaldo wrote on June 26, 2012 at 3:06 pm

This article made me happy for two reasons.  First, it reduces the number of unwanted children brought into the world.  And secondly, majority of the people that I know who want to stay childless forever have life ideologies that I'm elated will not be passed to future generations.

Meg Dickinson wrote on June 26, 2012 at 4:06 pm
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I agree with you on the first point. On the second, I haven't shared that experience.

sahuoy wrote on June 27, 2012 at 6:06 am

While pleased with the newly evolved freedoms found for women is a great positive the negative is all the drama it brings, sifting, sorting, priortizing, filtering, etc. I've always taken what people say as a positive, even when its an obvious jab or insult. Comments just don't really register because they just don't matter. I act on what I believe and see it through to its future or end. Comments do matter when the person making them is an obstacle in my path which then causes me to become political which means I'll probably wind up putting on my best act and polish to achieve my goal because those persons I've confronted can't be won over without accounting for what they believe is important which most often I find just isn't in the general realm and function of life but they need the entertainment and acknowledgment. Feeling insulted if someone asked if I were pregnant or should have time to serve on the school board... are both complements possibly suggested as insults but I take them as positives. If they thought you might be pregnant, they must see that unique glow any pregnant woman sprinkles like flowers every day and if they thought I've time for school boarding they must see your potential, intelligence and wisdom for serving the better good. Even if I'm being foolish to take an insult as a complement my actions seek the best outcome for everyone even if that persons comments were directly or indirectly intended. Don't waste your time with this negative drama. I'm a guy, am in touch with my feminine side for sake of this comment to your article and also happy to skip on with the facts, just the facts mam. I do hope in spite of all you give to make your news better than paper sales that you maybe not give so much that you forsake giving to yourself. Yes, this article needed to be published for those needing to vent, acknowledge or voice for others to grow, mature, heal. I wish you well in your endeavors.

sahuoy wrote on June 27, 2012 at 6:06 am

While pleased with the newly evolved freedoms found for women is a great positive the negative is all the drama it brings, sifting, sorting, priortizing, filtering, etc. I've always taken what people say as a positive, even when its an obvious jab or insult. Comments just don't really register because they just don't matter. I act on what I believe and see it through to its future or end. Comments do matter when the person making them is an obstacle in my path which then causes me to become political which means I'll probably wind up putting on my best act and polish to achieve my goal because those persons I've confronted can't be won over without accounting for what they believe is important which most often I find just isn't in the general realm and function of life but they need the entertainment and acknowledgment. Feeling insulted if someone asked if I were pregnant or should have time to serve on the school board... are both complements possibly suggested as insults but I take them as positives. If they thought you might be pregnant, they must see that unique glow any pregnant woman sprinkles like flowers every day and if they thought I've time for school boarding they must see your potential, intelligence and wisdom for serving the better good. Even if I'm being foolish to take an insult as a complement my actions seek the best outcome for everyone even if that persons comments were directly or indirectly intended. Don't waste your time with this negative drama. I'm a guy, am in touch with my feminine side for sake of this comment to your article and also happy to skip on with the facts, just the facts mam. I do hope in spite of all you give to make your news better than paper sales that you maybe not give so much that you forsake giving to yourself. Yes, this article needed to be published for those needing to vent, acknowledge or voice for others to grow, mature, heal. I wish you well in your endeavors.