Showing Up

*For those wondering “where did the new post go?” the problem is that it was supposed to be at Mad Genius Club and earlier and… yeah… I messed up the cueing.  So.  If you want to read THAT go to Mad Genius Club.*

Yesterday before going to bed – always a bad idea reading annoying stuff before bed – I was reading an article by a very young columnist.  I fear I was harsh to him in comments (stop with the “he deserves it” you who know who he is) because he’s young and stupid (the two conditions often go together) and full of the false gravity and despondence that go with it.

The cause of his horrendous, terrible, no good alarm was the machines intended as “sperm extractors” created in China recently.  This made the young – did I mention young? – male columnist despondent about raising a boy in this dreadful world with this dreadful temptation.

I did mention he’s very young, right?  After I made two very mean comments (to be honest I would have done the same to my own kids.  It keeps the vapors of youth under control and gives them a hint older people are laughing at them.  And also that we want them off our lawn.) I started feeling a little sorry for him.

Not because I – and another Baen author, heaven help us – was mean to him, but because he thinks he knows what he’s doing and he’s setting himself up for a world of regrets.  You see, he’s also hesitating on having more kids because of the long war we’re involved in with Islamists and because “the world is such a mess.”

He’s young, but he’s older than my kids.  Because he graduated college three years ago, depending on whether he took grad studies or not, he’s either 25 or 28.  In any case, he’s not in his mid teens.  He’s married, and his wife appears to be about his age.  They’re intending to have kids “in ten or more likely fifteen years.”  (Hits head against the wall.  HARD.)

I feel sorry for him, because though the reason I only have two kids is not THAT even I didn’t realize how stupid that idea was till I hit forty.

For those who don’t know this, I went through six years of infertility before I managed to have one son, then got blessed with another, by surprise, four years later, when I was about to start another round of infertility.  And yeah, raising them has been hard, and yeah, the world they’re going to inherit is a total mess.

But the world has always been a mess.  Raising kids has always been hard.  (Though the fact that we’re competing professional with people who never had them makes it seem worse.)  And the rewards…  Just trust me.  It’s not just the kids themselves, but watching human beings grow, and understanding at last the full scope of human experience.

No, I’m not disparaging those of you who don’t have them.  I understand some of you have very good reasons.  But if you want them and have even the slightest inclination, you’re going to have to trust me: worth every sleepless night, every heart-tightening moment when you are afraid they’ll break their heads, or their hearts or their future.

Well, we didn’t try for the second and were – after four years – going to make a desultory effort when we got a  surprise, for two reasons: a) we thought it was impossible.  b) we were almost rock bottom broke until Robert was about four.  (A job crisis, my having to abandon my translation client list when we moved, health issues and a move across country will do that.)

And then Marshall had childhood asthma and a heart defect (now grown-out-of) and we were moving, and then I got published…  When we stopped to take a breath and realized we were (if only we’d known how briefly!) financially stable, I was well, and the career was running on tracks (if only we knew how briefly!) and, hey, we should start treatment and have a couple more kids.

At thirty nine I got old my chances were close to zero of conceiving again – and carrying to term – and they were in fact right.  We could probably have managed it with in vitro or other truly aggressive techniques, but in case I did not mention it before, our financial stability was short lived.  Not to the point of starving – and not as bad as it’s gotten this past couple of years – but bad enough that disposable income for that type of procedure was close to nil.  We finally gave up a year ago.

There is no point crying over children who never existed, and there is no way of going back and changing it – and that’s why I say if you have the slightest inclination, if you like children, if you want to be a parent: have them now.  Don’t wait for a nebulous future when things will be better.

The world is a mess.  It’s always been a mess.  It might have been an idyllic paradise before the first intra-tribal warfare, when there were only six humans in the world, but I doubt it.  I think they were just getting stomped flat by mammoth and if they’d had a little more command of language would have said “Ah, Oog, who want to bring child into this messed up world?”

I read in Heinlein’s biography that he and his first wife put off having children, because the world was such a mess.  And who could have blamed them with WWII coming on and black and red fascism getting ready to swallow the world.

In fact, if he’d had that child, he’d now be my dad’s age, and would have lived a mostly peaceful, prosperous life.  And yes, that marriage was a mess, but kids have turned out notably well from marriages that are a mess.  But it never happened, and there are no RAH descendants running around.  (Except the ones he raised – we, the children of his mind.  And I’m not disparaging that.)

And of course, you’re not financially stable.  Oh, listen, I don’t think anyone younger than fifty has KNOWN what financially stable is.  We’re lucky.  Dan has been laid off exactly once in his career, which given how tech works, is near miraculous.  (He had to quit twice, the second time because his company had stopped paying him, but he was laid off only once, for structural reasons having nothing to do with him.)  And I’m a writer.  It’s not only always feast and famine, but it’s always feast and famine and no promise of future work at all.  Though like Dan I’ve only been “laid off” (told to walk) once.  However, there are no guarantees.  Not even now with indie and the space opera doing well.  There is nothing but to keep moving and working, and hoping.

But we haven’t starved, and if we had more kids they wouldn’t have starved either.  Yes, mostly we eat made-from-scratch at home and birthday party means a cake and maybe a few friends over, not renting a restaurant and having rides for the kids.  No, we don’t take vacations abroad, save for occasionally visiting my parents and that’s not really vacation or abroad.  No, they don’t get the fancy outfits and the cool brands, and we shop mostly at used clothing stores.  But they don’t go naked, and they’ve never had a winter without a coat.

Waiting till you’re “financially well off” can very well turn into waiting forever, given the mess the economy is in.  And you know what, your grandparents had kids in worse conditions and that’s why you’re here.  (At least our kids never went barefoot, and never had days of “vegetable soup, that’s all there is.”  — we had those days, but we always made sure they had a little meat or eggs or something.)  Turns out kids don’t need fancy clothes, or expensive vacations, or even to see all the shows and have the gaming systems their friends do.  At least our kids seem to be just fine.

But – you’ll say – why have kids when the Earth is overpopulated?  Did you hear that?  That was me rolling my eyes so hard it hurt.

What do you mean by overpopulated?  Why do you say that?  Are you sharing your room with three strangers, or did you only have a rationed handful of food for breakfast?

Most scarcity in the world is not the result of too many people, but of too much government.  The Earth is nowhere near too crowded and Paul Ehrlich isn’t dead but his ideas are and always were.  The man has never made a single accurate prediction in his life.  (And why should he?  No one calls him on the wrong ones.)

The “overpopulated” is the cry of alarmists who want to feel important and of misanthropes for whom another human is one too many.  Or self haters, of course, one mustn’t forget them.

Even if the Earth were overpopulated, look…  We’re a colonizing species.  That’s what we do.  And the universe seems to be full of that dirt stuff we like to walk around on, and it turns out that our solar system is full of water after all… and we’re a clever monkey.  We can take those two and create habitats.

What we can’t do is create more humans where there are none – or not if we don’t have them when the time is right for them.

So… have one.  Have two.  Have three.  Be DARING, have four.

Just like the only true expression of fandom is to buy the books, the true expression of hope in the future is to have children.

The future belongs to those who show up.  Yes, maybe your kid will be a mass murderer (well, it’s something that must be contemplated – I mean, cats are safe because they don’t have opposable thumbs) but overall the chances are lower of that than that he’ll be the guy who invents FTL travel, or the woman who finally figures out the rejuv treatments that will allow you another forty years to make up for the time you spent raising them.

Have a kid.  Have it now.  The offer comes with an expiration date and no it won’t wait till you’re just in the perfect place.

And in the long run it won’t matter.  Your kid, brought up without a pony and all, might be the one who creates robot-ponies.  And then he or she will grow up and have another kid – and that means the future for our kind will go on and that hope of a better future will remain alive.

That’s the only kind of happy ending our kind is ever granted.  And it is enough.

151 thoughts on “Showing Up

  1. ” They’re intending to have kids ‘in ten or more likely fifteen years.’ ”

    Uh-huh. I’m guessing he agreed to hypothetical children, and she agreed to real ones. Two years, tops, before she tells him “Now”. What’s that old saying? You may drive nature out with a pitchfork (or miserable fretting about the state of the world), but it will nip back in.

    1. It is entirely possible that instead of her telling him “Now.” That her birth control will simply fail.

      Yes I’m cynical, why do you ask?

      1. I have noticed articles discussing the incidence of women who use pins to prick their lovers’ condoms. I have NO Effing Idea how common such behaviour is, but note it is apparently widespread.

        1. Hopefully before the condoms are donned?

          I recalling reading somewhere that an NBA star said to always remember to take your condoms with you, because some golddiggers would try to impregnate themselves with the the sperm left in them, if you left them behind.

          1. I wonder what they use to carry the things home? I see an entrepreneurial opportunity here!!! Given the affection for Bling amongst the players I expect they’d be happy to have jewel encrusted (hmmm, probably need a better term there) containers. There may be a profitable secondary market for fans, selling containers branded with the teams’ colours and logos.

    2. Worrying how often that happens, isn’t it?

      When my dear and I got married, the agreement was this: if he wanted to avoid kids, it was all on him. I’d track my cycle, use charts, etc to give him an informed option– but no hormone sledgehammers to my system; if he didn’t want to “risk” children, it was entirely his option. (Especially not after my mom got breast cancer.) Of course, I wouldn’t have been marrying him if he wasn’t the sort who would be willing to take that. And he wouldn’t have asked if I was the sort to manipulate. (She says delicately.)

      We’ve now got two born children. ^.^

            1. I long ago learned it was the most prudent course to say nothing, ask nothing, ignore any and all hints re: pregnancy. I don’t care if delivery seems (call an ambulance) imminent, ask no question, express no suspicion, go full Sergeant Schultz until specifically informed.

              Policy ain’t worth a dang if you don’t adhere to it.

          1. Congrats, I’ll skip the crocheting though, you probably wouldn’t want the results of my crocheting anyways 😉

            1. As one of those folks who manages to make melted-hour-glass shaped washclothes with a crochet loom, I know what you mean…. Been practicing since I was 12, only thing I’ve ever managed was a rather nice scarf. (do it long ways, and uneven ends are totally hidden in the fringe.)

              1. My grandma taught me to crochet when I was 5 or 6, and I could make a heckuva nice single chain, but my attention span must have ran out before I figured out how to do anything more.

  2. And don’t forget, the alternative is being overrun by the barbarians who breed without worrying how awful the world is.

        1. Or,

          “Our Country won’t go on forever, if we stay soft as we are now. There won’t
          be any AMERICA because some foreign soldiery will invade us and take our
          women and breed a hardier race!”
          -Lt. Gen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, USMC

          Personally I prefer the first Chesty Puller quote I posted (there are several versions of that quote, and it is attributed to both Chesty Puller and Gen. O.P. Smith)

  3. So is going to bed a bad idea? Or only reading before going to bed? 😉

    True, if everyone waited for the perfect time to have kids, no one would ever be born.

  4. The world isn’t so messed up as to preclude children, but I’m surprised you didn’t talk about the argument to the marginal utility of being born. (If you don’t believe in an afterlife, an argument can be made that it’s negative.) If you ever want to know why they call it the “dismal science,” (It’s neither but never mind that) try reading two economists having THAT argument.

      1. You can still make the argument, depending on what kind of afterlife/lives you believe in, but absent such belief, it’s much easier to make in most cases. (If you’re James Morrow, for instance, and you believe that everybody goes to Hell, it’s trivial to show that it’s overwhelmingly negative.)

        1. One idea seems to be that life is something like school, and if you want to advance you need to spend some time incarnated (I think that usually goes with reincarnation beliefs). And maybe you can, at least to some extent, choose your parents. I think the recent reincarnation story about a kid whose parents claim he remembered dying as a WWII fighter pilot said something like that too – that he had also described seeing them during their honeymoon or something, and that him being born to them was a mutual decision.

          Okay, I admit that I probably choose to believe these things based mostly on how comfortable I find the idea, and whether believing something can help me stay functional – same way I don’t read depressing stuff during winter, or I believe that killing yourself probably would not get you out of the situation but might instead make things worse and you’ll do better, in the long run, if you just try to deal with it and wait for your natural demise date. These are what I use to deal with depression, both the seasonal and the other version. But I rather hope that is the way things are. Would make sense. Besides, then how you use your time here is your responsibility, but even if you don’t reach your goals this time you have the chance of repeating the class, and maybe you’ll do better on the next round.

          But if so then it really would suck if your ideal parents refuse to have kids. 🙂 (Even if ‘ideal’ in this case may not mean all flowers and sunshine, but might instead be something like ‘your challenge this time’)

  5. Had three. One is still in college, the other two are on their own with promising careers.

    The most surprising discovery I have made about having children is that you do not really appreciate having them until you are in your fifties or even your sixties – by which time it is too late to go back and have them. Seriously.

    My unmarried brother-in-law used to twit my wife and I about tying ourselves down with children. Then, when his mother was in her final illness and depending upon her children to look out for her interests (yes, my father-in-law was still alive then, but he was busy looking after her) that his attitude towards children changed. He suddenly realized he had no children to be looking after *his* interests when he was his mother’s age.

    Don’t get me wrong. My kids were a lot of fun when they were growing up –as much fun as work (and there was always a lot of that). But now that they are on their own we have become friends and allies. They help me with my career and I help them with theirs. It is like having three new brothers that are 25-30 years younger.

    And one might just help develop ftl communications (he is an antenna engineer), another is going to help solve our energy problems (a pipeline engineer) and the third (studying mechanical engineering) wants to develop a ftl dirve. Cool beans.

    1. The key phrase there is “now that they are on their own” — meaning they are grown up and independent entities. Too many kids don’t do that these days, and they are an awful mess. [Delete long-winded rant about government fostered dependency crippling kids so that they never do grow up.]

      1. Forget government-spawned dependency. The big bruhaha in my household right now is over my 8-year-old’s allowance. We were raised on allowances (but weren’t taught to save, necessarily) and were expected to do certain chores to get it. My wife wasn’t raised on allowances, wasn’t taught to save, and had a nanny. Dirt poor, but they had a nanny. My wonderful betrothed is giving me a lot of push-back about my assigning work to the 8-year-old and I’m pushing right back saying she’s perfectly capable if challenged to do it.

        I’m trying to build on the ideas in The First National Bank Of Dad, most of which I had on my own one recent long drive and was a bit pissed that someone had already written a book about it…even a very similar title.

        1. I know this sounds insane, but I was responsible for cleaning half the house from eight on (dusting, vacuuming, mopping, and one bathroom clean) from eight years of age on. I think at that age I often required my mom to clean after me, but still… It didn’t kill me.

        2. I don’t think we got a formal “allowance” until we were in high school, and then our parents sat us kids down and explained the categories they’d had added up to reach the allowance total : so much estimated for cost of gas, cost of entertainment, etc. You didn’t *have* to stick to those estimates, but if you went over and ran out of money, well, you were out of money until next month. When we were little, there was white-board in the hallway with chores marked on it, and if you did x chore, you got paid y cash. It seemed to work pretty well.

          1. STRONG BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Cheaper By The Dozen.

            Marvelous depiction of American in the early 20th Century, this memoir by two of the dozen Gilbreth children is a quick and charming read. Do not see the movie based on the book, and especially DO NOT SEE the remake of that movie. Steve Martin is a brilliant and wonderful artist, but he should NEVER be permitted to remake ANY movie, EVER.

            To explain why this book warrants your attention would give far too much away. Just DO IT. I will personally buy for anyone who regrets reading this book on my recommendation a replacement book of their choice for up to 25% above your cost, shipped from Amazon*.

            *Offer available limited time only, replacement books must be requested by 12/31/2012, midnight EST. Value of replacement book is based upon current Amazon price for paperback of $6.98 and does not include shipping (if you don’t have Amazon Prime it ain’t my bloody fault. Request for replacement book must be submitted by responding to this comment.

            1. Ooooh, yes. Such a good book. The Steve Martin remake was utterly stupid. I suppose it would have been fine if it’d just been a comedy about a large family, but it had nothing in common with Cheaper by the Dozen except for the title. There’s a second one too, but I can’t remember what its called.

              1. Belles On Their Toes. Also made into a movie. Actually, both original movies are fine, with Myrna Loy turning in top of her career performances as Momma. But I couldn’t accept Clifton Webb as Poppa, and few films can adequately encapsulate a novel-length work.

                1. I would recommend reading both books, but read Cheaper by the Dozen first. (because they are written in chronological order)

                  Can’t comment on the films, because I haven’t seen any of them.

                  1. Another movie with a similar cant was “Hers, Mine, and Ours”, with Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball. MUCH better done than “Cheaper by the Dozen” (the movie — I haven’t read the book.).

                    1. At about the same time as the Fonda/Ball flick was With Six You Get Egg Roll, starring Doris Day and Brian Keith (featuring George Carlin, among others.) Both movies were more or less contemporary Brady Bunch combined families movies. The original Cheaper By The Dozen was set circa 1920 (plus or minus a few years) and starred Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy as Frank and Ann Gilbreth, two of the pioneers in industrial science who gave us the therblig “one of the manual, visual, or mental elements into which an industrial manual operation may be analyzed in time and motion study.” [ http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/therblig ]

                      Webb is delightful but miscast, the role a clear effort to capitalize on his successful Mr. Belvedere persona. The book is the memoir of two of the couple’s twelve children, depicting their parent’s work (Frank Gilbreth painted the periodic table in the bathroom to better utilize time otherwise idle) as pioneers in industrial efficiency studies using techniques pioneered in the family home, and their experience adapting to WWI America and the changes in American society that followed.

          2. We didn’t get an allowance, plus we worked in the family business and all moneys went into the family. I worked for a restaurant for six months when I was sixteen and the money never went into my pocket. The first time I had my own money was when I started a job when I was 18 and then most of the money went into the family kitty until I had a talk with my dad. Then the rule changed and I got to keep my money. I was trying to save money to go to school or at least leave home.

            None of my siblings got an allowance either. Two of my brothers would get money for caring for animals when farmers in the area went on vacation until the parents found out. Then they took more than half of the money. I think my brother was really good at lying about how much money he made.

            I was cleaning at six years old btw and tending kids at the same time. My mother had some really bad pregnancies– I am the oldest …

            By the time my two youngest brothers came around, they worked about the time they were sixteen and got to keep their money. When one of my brothers left home at fourteen, I think it shocked them and changed their parenting. I was in the Navy by that time.

            1. I never had an allowance, and did have chores (sort of a work for your room and board idea). But any money I earned was mine, when I was younger my parents may have told me, “you shouldn’t waste your money on that.” But unless it was something I was forbidden to have, I could spend my money how I wanted, although they did give recommendations. IMHO one of the problems with children these days is they lack responsibility, chores give them responsibilities.

              1. I agree with chores and responsible children… I don’t agree with children’s money is family money. But parent’s money is not children’s money either. (if you get my drift). We would get a certain amount of clothes for birthdays and Christmas. Anything else we had to ask for–

                I am not necessarily for allowances either. Allowances seemed to start about the time I was a child (I guess a thing that boomers gave their kids). I didn’t see the kids getting responsible for getting money w/o earning it.

                1. The child’s money is very much their money. Here’s what we’re currently hashing out.

                  1) The First McGlasson Bank (hopefully followed with branches as our kids have kids, echoing down through the ages)

                  2) They may deposit any money they want, which they will get a receipt for. A handwritten deposit slip with amount, date, and mine or my wife’s signature. Why? Who knows what a fertile young mind will do with that.

                  3) On the last weekday of the month, simple interest gives them 20% on their savings. This was discussed at length. It’s got to be an amount that will make a difference, especially when the amounts are so small. Later, as they reach babysitting, caddying, part-time age, that rate will drop.

                  4) On the last day of each month, I’ll print out a current statement.

                  5) I’m also going to offer a three month and six month COD, with 25% and 30% returns respectively, but the money will be inaccessible during that period.

                  The percentages are being debated between our committee of two, but this is what we’ve currently got with an intention to go “live” 10/1/12.

                  I offered $5 a week and the 8-year-old immediately fired back with $7 (she’s heard her old man dickering with vendors), so we’ll probably end up with $6 a week for an agreed up on list of daily/weekly chores “and other duties as determined by management”.

                  1. In the afore-mentioned Cheaper by The Dozen the Gilbreth kids were invited to submit bids for performing household jobs such as painting a fence, lowest qualified bidder winning the contract.

        3. We established a principle with allowance of 1/4 to savings, 1/4 to charity, 1/2 for you, which worked pretty well. Increased a dollar a year until it reached $20, and eventually eliminated because, dagnabbit, you’re old enough to get a frickin’ yob.

          I wish we had possessed the foresight to require passing a weekly room inspection before payment, but there you go, right? If I had known then what I know now I would have known then.

          1. Foster Cline and Jim Fey wrote “Parenting with Love and Logic”. I’ve read about half of it, and they talk extensively about allowances. They both contend it’s NOT in the child’s best interest to get an allowance just for “showing up” (Grin).

            I never got a fixed allowance. According to the amount of work I did, I should have gotten about $80/week! With Mom being a nurse and working odd shifts, and Dad working for the railroad on the midnight shift (shift differential was enough to make it worth the interrupted sleep schedule), I took care of my younger brother from the time he started school until I left home. I also did the laundry, swept and mopped, did most of the dishes, fixed at least half the meals, plus milked cows, fed chickens, pigs, and rabbits, and worked on the garden from mid-March through about October. I don’t feel cheated, and I learned a lot.

  6. We planned to have two kids, and then wait and see if we could handle more. Then, surprise, we got an economy size pregnancy (two for the price of one). Wouldn’t trade it for anything, and the kids play well together.

  7. My darling dearest became pregnant with our eldest the one and only time we had sex before we married. She became pregnant with the second the first time we had sex when we stopped using precautions.

    I was 21, my wife was 23. I was about to enter my student teaching semester.

    Those of you who know me, know how my kids turned out. I won’t brag here, but it would be bragging. and yet, I recall wondering if we were doing our children a dis-service bringing them into this world. Fortunately, the little girl’s eyes on my face stopped THAt nonsense fast enough.

  8. I made the comment over at Althouse’s blog once that you’re not a complete person, and couldn’t hope to be, unless you’ve raised children. I still honestly feel that way, but the push back I received in response to that comment from the DINKS and such was vicious. How dare I challenge their choices by claiming they are less than a full person?

    Someone made a very good point in my defense and I wish I had thought of it. “People that have children were once without and can comment on both situations. People who have never had kids have no idea what they are talking about.”

    1. Some lacks of experience can be ignored, but the lacks that exist from NOT having children cannot even be MEASURED. When YOU are uniquely responsible for that tiny little bundle in the crib, you learn in a hurry what the term “adult” really means. It also gives you a very significant reason to be concerned about the future, and “skin in the game” of making it better. You want your children to have a better life than you’ve enjoyed, and they can’t do that unless everything gets better as time goes by. That’s why I HATE the person currently residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — he wants to INSTITUTIONALLY GUARANTEE your children DON’T have a life better than you. In fact, he wants to make sure their future is worse. No one with a child should EVER think of giving this man a chance to continue to make things worse. (Apologies for the politics, but it HAS to be said.)

      1. I completely agree with you except for this.

        When YOU are uniquely responsible for that tiny little bundle in the crib, you learn in a hurry what the term “adult” really means.

        You should learn, but there are far, far too many that don’t and it’s usually because they were never meant to be responsible for themselves first. This is what comes from being raised in an entitlement household. As long as concepts like “personal responsibility” are being held up as coded racism, we’re going to be tilting at windmills.

          1. Oh I know. I was tested at the DRP (Department of Registered Parents) and thus allowed to have kids.

            Posted Wednesday, September 26th, 2016 from my GE telescreen.

                1. Besides, they have been entertaining that particular idea for a very very long time already. They’ve just never been able to sell it to the public. Where do you think the idea for High School sex-ed came from? Or that “carry around a 5-lb bag of sugar for a week” nonsense?

                    1. They have actually come up with dolls to replace the sugar now, that cry randomly, and do not necessarily stop when you feed them. It gives at least a little sense of what responsibility for a child is like to some kids who have never had any, and may make some think twice about being careful about having one before you’re ready. (Not sure anyone is ever really ready, but having one when you can’t even be responsible for yourself is a bad idea.

      2. Yes, it really IS completely different. No one is dependent on you like an infant, and you REALLY feel you need to do your best for that creature — plus, unlike cats and dogs, you know he/she can grow up to be the best of humanity or its worst. And you have to TRY — try really HARD. It makes you grow up like nobody’s business. I’ll say it right now: I doubt I’d be published at all if I didn’t have kids. I’d be puttering around aimlessly, wanting to be an a’tist. But I had to do my best for the boys. I HAD to.
        As for politics — a lot of us are very angry and it pours out. I have to stay off comment blogs, because I’m starting to get downright mean, if you know what I mean. Don’t make an habit of it.

        1. My very flawed theory is that infants are in excruciating pain (all those cells splitting and splitting and splitting) from the moment of birth until around two months.

          Seriously…how would know if that’s true or not?

            1. I’m 73% through Cloud Atlas and Mitchell hit me with one that will stick forever.

              I’ve always had a problem with writers doing awful things to kids…simply because it’s completely unnecessary. I’m not talking about Cinderella-awful. I’m talking Stephen King 3rd-person omniscient telling of a 4-year-old flu survivor in The Stand wondering around town after everyone dies, eating where he could, crying a lot, mostly numb, then falling down a well, breaking a leg and dying miserable and alone. He spent way, way too long on a part which had ZERO to do with the greater story and now I’ll never get it out of my mind.

              Mitchell had a protagonists only child born (in a far future where they have “freakbirths” more regularly) with no mouth or nose and it dies right after birth. He only spends two or three sentences on it, but it’s extremely chilling and one of the pieces of fiction I’ve read in a long time that’s illicited a verbal response from me.

              While I’m not a fan of the content mentioned above, the wannabe writer is extremely curious about getting such a response from a reader…WITHOUT savaging a child.

              1. I refuse to read authors that abuse children just to make an emotional impact. If you can’t write well enough to connect with a reader without it, you don’t need my money.

                It’s cheap, and if it were a male-on-female rape scene, there’d be protests. There are cases where an author can hurt kids, but it should be at least as red hot a subject as rape– and the folks who dwell in loving detail on either one twinge my “psycho” meter.

                1. Back when I still watched television, this was part of why I stopped watching the CSI franchises. They discovered they could get great shock value out of making a child the victim or in one sickening case I remember, the perpetrator.

      1. Well, of course kids can be rotten. But so can adults be rotten. A parent has a lot better chance to help his kid change for the better than a random stranger has with another adult.

        As Shakespeare said, “The world must be peopled!”

  9. Another little phrase that’s gotten me through some tough parenting patches: “Children do not bring you happiness, they bring you joy.” Those two things aren’t the same at all. Happiness is wholly internal. Joy is shared. It’s a Gift.

  10. They’re intending to have kids ‘in ten or more likely fifteen years.’

    Now, my grandfather was 63 when his last child was born (his wife was 43), but by then he had several other children to help take care of the new one. Especially after she died a week later.

  11. My hubby already had two daughters plus I raised my brothers (etc, etc.) So I have not felt the need for children even to take care of my interests. Because I have 8 brothers and sisters and most of them except 2 were able to have children, we have a lot of DNA out there.

    I would tell the young man that if he wants to have children (or his wife) he needs to do it early because 1) fertility and viability of the mother’s eggs and 2) energy concerns. I know that some 60 plus aged people are raising children, which I find a great thing. My hubby was raised by a couple in their 60s. They died before he made 12. Even in that situation a child can survive.

    I did have a few regrets but it lasted 5 minutes. 😉 Funny thing is I still wish I could have a dog kennel or a cattery. My interests (besides writing) has been in that direction. I would adopt animals that need help.

    1. energy is why we finally more or less gave up on actively trying to have/adopt. I mean if we got a baby left at the door or if someone we knew said “if you don’t adopt I’m aborting” we’d take the child and love it, but we’re not going to go seeking. My career. Dan’s career. Dan’s writing. The possible move. you only have so much “fuel” and it runs out.

      1. Illness runs the fuel out fast too. I worry about my Down Syndrome sister. She lives with the parents. Two of my brothers have promised to care for her if the parents can’t. We keep an eye on her and make sure that the parents don’t forget that she needs stuff to make her life good.

        The parents would let the grandchildren play and break her toys. I had to scold my mother so that she would see what she was doing to my baby sister. Yea– I am a mother to my mother… kind of dysfunctional.

    2. Oh, Good Lord, YES. I would kill, literally, to have the energy I had even fifteen years ago. Timmy gets shortchanged a bit because neither I nor Jean have the energy we had with even our youngest other child. She was 19 when Timmy was born. I was 59, and Jean was 63. He had his second birthday the day before he came to our house permanently. There’s a reason the Good Lord gave us children early, when we still had the energy level to keep up with them! Delaying is NOT a good idea.

      Thunderstorm in the local area. I may leave, whether I want to or not… 8^)

  12. Single, no kids (I’m part of ten year generation with an extremely high number of unmarried women) and I am keenly aware of what I’ve missed out on. (I’ve told myself I need to find a nice divorced/widowed guy with grandchildren or the possibility of some in the future; it won’t be quite the same but it’s the best I can do now.)

    Yeah, I’d probably have slammed the young punk, too. I think kali has it – the “oh, the world is so messed up” is an excuse (as you say, the world is always messed up, and it’s a whole lot less messed up now than in decades past), and the truth is more, “I don’t want the responsibility and I don’t want to be a mature adult.” (My father comments on the number of young people out there who are determined never to be mistaken for a responsible adult.)

    (Families move away from their extended families so much now, and the kids lose contact with their grandparents, with the elderly, what kind of perspective is lost from that?)

  13. Hi, Sarah:

    Yes, the world is in a heck of a mess, and yes, it is always in a heck of a mess, and it probably will always be in that very same state. But (there is always a ‘but’), it is equally true that without good, decent human beings around to fix things that go wrong on their own patch of this sad and troubled world when they can, life will quickly become that much harder. In all truth, just about the finest thing a man and woman can do for the generations yet to come is to raise good and decent men and women to replace themselves.

    We here in America are coming close to losing our birthright because we are not even breeding sufficient numbers to replace ourselves. Children are seen as a burden on their parents rather than a blessing (and an obligation). We are committing cultural suicide since only a relative few of us are having one child per couple, never mind 2 children per couple.

    If we fail to replace ourselves, how can we pass on to future generations our culture, our beliefs and our dreams for that better world we yearn for?

  14. I’m in kind of a weird place on this. We have one child, who is moderately to severely autistic depending on your parameters. (She’s pretty atypical.) When we learned that she was disabled, we discussed having another child, and decided not to in that 1) our daughter was going to need a lot of attention which would have shortchanged another, and 2) it didn’t feel right to have another child which would have, of necessity, been viewed as the person who would have to look after our daughter when we were gone.

    Now of course there is no one to look after her when we are gone, but creating another person who would bear such an obligation which they did not ask for just seemed wrong. I’m vastly oversimplifying, of course. I can make arguments either way. But at the end of the day, that’s how I see it. It’s not like having a kid to donate bone marrow or anything, but still. Given my general view on the marginal utility of being born in the first place (it’s low) it just tipped the scale the other way.

    1. You have one of those complex situations I don’t presume to judge. I THINK I’d have known what to do in it, but like single people telling me how to raise my boys, I don’t KNOW and I wouldn’t presume.

      1. I have no doubt you’d have known what to do. Whether what you knew was in fact the best thing to do, none can say. Any more than I can say what I knew what to do was the best thing to do.

        “No one is ever told what would have happened.”

  15. By the way, the whole premise of John Ringo’s There Will Be Dragons series is a war started by a person who believes that the human race is going to die out because the birthrate is below replacement level in the futuristic utopia which the book starts out in.

    As is pointed out in the book this is a self-correcting problem, but if everybody was logical, it would be pretty hard to have dramatic conflict. And the person who starts the war is, both demonstrably and by Voice of God, an idiot, so it doesn’t bother me.

  16. After my wife, the greatest blessings in my life by far are the children. Right now they are 17, 14, 11… and 2. We were planning on four, but the pregnancies and C-sections were harder and harder to bounce back from. We…uh…returned to the original plan after lengthy deliberation.

    It is oh so sweet to hold a two year old again and read him ‘Go Dog Go,’ ‘Good Night Moon,’ ‘the Little Engine that Could.’ Also, we are very tired.

    I definitely have a strain in my thinking that agrees with Mr. Blackburn about the Barbarians outbreeding the civilized. Have more babies to teach to be civilized! I could, of course, be wrong, but I believe the world is and will be a better place with my children in it.

    Two random thoughts. First I think my mom was somewhat influenced by the overpopulation/Erlich/ZPG people back in the day (I was born in ’68). I have one brother and I am personally offended that this may have cost me one or more extra siblings, not to mention nephews and nieces. Ideas have consequences. Second, RAH had a pretty strong overpopulation message in many of his books that, as I recall, took me a little while to intellectually shake. Tunnel in the Sky (millions being forced through transit gates from overpopulated countries), Farmer in the Sky (steadily reducing food rations on Earth, war inevitable/should I return to overpopulated Earth for school), and Starship Troopers (all war is a result of population pressure) come to mind. Eventually I came to see that simply as over pessimistic compared to RAH’s comments about how where mass and power is available, man can manipulate it.

    1. Heinlein and to be honest all the writers in his time, bought into the overpopulation. See, they mistook event for trend. Looking at the baby boom, it was hard not to. But it turns out over a certain level of affluence, people would rather achieve than breed. Or maybe it’s just socialism. Socialism seems to depress population. The more central control you have, the less kids. (Yes, I know the statistics. Most of them life. Centrally controlled, remember?) Call it voting with your womb.

  17. There’s a place for people who can’t/won’t have children — they can help fix the problems caused by people who have children and shouldn’t. My sister volunteers as a guardian ad litem for the court system, which means she is the advocate for the child in situations where parental rights may be revoked. There aren’t enough volunteers to go around, so she gets the very worst cases. She can’t tell me much but it’s enough to cause nightmares.

    And for those who still think everyone should have kids, try and remember that some people would like to but are either physically unable, or for whatever reason can’t find a suitable partner. Implying selfishness or other moral weakness is lemon juice on a paper cut of the soul.

    1. I wasn’t implying that… as you probably know. For the longest time we thought we wouldn’t have any, and I remember coming home from a grocery trip where EVERYONE was pregnant (You think I’m exaggerating. Every female shopper and cashier was pregnant, I swear) and breaking down and crying.
      What I meant is that if you’re planning to have them, the “reasons” to delay aren’t very good or very strong.
      Also, on the people who SHOULDN’T have them — they usually do and the thing to remember is that we ALL have people like that in our ancestry. Help where you can and remember DNA isn’t really destiny. (Though of course it influences it.)

    2. A good point. When writing articles about how everyone should have kids, it’s important to keep in mind the many couples who wish they could, but can’t. For example, the friends-of-friends that I just learned about who discovered, when their first baby was born, that both of them carry a recessive gene that’s lethal when expressed, and that their daughter had inherited both recessives. She lived nine months after birth, which is longer than most people with that syndrome make it. They decided never to have any more biological kids, since there was a 75% chance of other kids either dying or being carriers, and only a 25% chance of them being lethal-mutation-free. Since this only happened a few months ago, the wounds are still too fresh for them to make any decisions, but my friend who told me their story believed that the couple would indeed consider adoption.

      But the people who don’t have such good reasons for not having kids, but are just concerned about how it would change their lifestyle — they’re the ones who need the essential selfishness of their choice pointed out to them. Not the ones who say “We can’t afford to have kids, we’re barely feeding ourselves as it is and we’d probably crash our finances entirely if we had a baby” — they have a good reason. But the people who just don’t want the “hassle” of changing diapers, etc. — they need that verbal slap upside the head.

      1. Adoption – don’t get me started … Adoption in the US is getting to be incredibly hard. When my brother and his wife were having a hard time getting pregnant, they started the process of adoption. Year after year, they tried to get a baby or a child. Finally they asked to adopt a pre-teen or early teen. NOPE…

        They finally have a child this year. And this brother was a bank president, etc., etc. It is why so many people are going outside the States to third world countries to adopt.

        1. Adoption in the US is ALMOST impossible. Meanwhile kids are returned to horrible situations. And we couldn’t AFFORD third world. Otherwise we’d have a couple more kids.

            1. Even those are getting ridiculous. PetFinder wants to have someone examine your house just to adopt a dog.

              1. Yes. Also, we have to spay and neuter because we have a “pet overpopulation” and every dog should be “wanted.” Sorry, that’s eliminationist rhetoric. You’re never going to be at a point someone doesn’t change circumstances and not be able to keep a dog or cat and/or people WANT the animal… to abuse. The only way to eliminate the unwanted pet problem is to eliminate pets. It makes me soooooooooooooo mad. We’re re-feralizing cats, as the only ones reproducing are the ones who don’t like people, and we seem to be importing animals from abroad, in places like CA. And no, I’m not joking. Now, the situation I grew up with, where you drowned unwanted kittens was painful and less than ideal but the “you shouldn’t ever, ever, ever let an animal breed” camp is ALSO out of hand. (And yes, my cats are neutered because they’re indoor-only. We live in a city. They can’t roam.)

                1. The feral cats are great for taking care of the mice overpopulation except people around here think feral cats are bad. UGH. We have a lady in our complex who puts collars on the feral cats and feed them every once in awhile (she is from Germany). The landlady asked her to claim the cats because people in the complex didn’t realize how useful feral cats are… they let their children run up to the cats and get scratched. UGH

                  So we have feral cats who are legally domesticated cats.

                  1. When the cats eat mice, that’s fine. Problem is, they also are pretty devastating to the local bird population, along with lizards and frogs and other critters who eat insects.

                    1. And so are hawks, owls, and magpies on the local bird population. We don’t have frogs, but we have snakes instead (a few lizards and lots of spiders). So there are balances and in everything. Plus owls and coyotes will go for feral cats.

                    2. Unless there’s a serious local cat overpopulation problem, this is a self-correcting issue, as those are relatively fast-replacement types of critters. Well, lizards and frogs, anyway, and birds will learn to avoid the cats somewhat.

                    3. If you’ve got a cat that only kills for food, that’s fine. But cats were bred to kill, that was their job, to clear the barn of mice, and a lot of them don’t stop with what they need to eat (though a friend tells me the worst killers are pet cats let outdoors, killing not for food, but from boredom).

                    4. yep. This is why my cats wear bells. However the Not-My-Cat is evil and tears off his collar, so … no squirrel is safe. He doesn’t even kill them. He just takes half of their tail, lengthwise. But Greebo aka teh fuzzy buzzy (fuzzy buzzsaw) is a law onto himself and what are you gonna do. He was neutered as part of a community thing — which is a pity in a way since he’s a lovely cat. OTOH a generation of Greebos could kill all the foxes and deer in the neighborhood. (Only half joking. He does run off red foxes.)

                    5. A cat’s instinct is to play with its food. A cat needs to be taught to kill (which is part of the training the mother gives the kitten.) It doesn’t matter the size of the cat– mother teaches the kittens how to kill even the big cats. Not all cat’s are killers (they have potential to be killers) even though they need to eat meat to survive. Folks who try to feed cats vegetables are just being cruel.

                      What we think is cruel is actually play. Play in the animal world is how they learn to feed and shelter themselves. Sometimes female cats will raise kittens together (only if they are related or from the same litter). And they will teach each others kittens… they have been known to nurse other kittens in a family situation if it is needed.

                      Plus if a cat who knows how to hunt brings you a mice or bird or other live critter, then they are trying to teach you how to kill. They think you are helpless and need training. If they bring you a dead critter, it is because they think that you are helpless and can’t learn how to hunt. 😉

                      I have been around cats for most of my life both feral and domestic. Cats are extremely interesting predators imho.

                    6. Also – the reason cats need to eat meat is because of the size of their intestines… they can’t actually digest plant material. They do chew on grass so they can vomit hairballs and other noxious items. Except for catnip… ACH–you got me started.

                    7. Cats do need a small amount of vegetable intake for their nutrition needs, but not much. Dogs need considerably more.

                    8. My parents once had a cat whose collar they belled because he was putting a huge dent in the local bird population. Even with the bell, he still managed to kill a bird or two (and deposit them on my parents’ doorstep). Now THAT cat was a hunter.

                    9. DT — Dejah Toris, princess of Barsoom — the little girl we lost a couple of years ago was like that. We eventually made her indoor-only because even belled she brought down HUGE birds and dragged them to the porch for us.

                    10. Laurie — We have two cats. They hunt. Most of what they catch are grasshoppers, a few mice, and occasionally a small bird. They stay in at night because raccoons, bobcats, coyotes, and foxes range freely throughout this town of 250,000+. Nature requires a balance. Every time we make it harder for nature to establish that balance (and there are a lot of stupid ordinances on the books IN ALL CITIES to do just that), nature reminds us she’s in charge. I’d much rather have feral cats eating mice and birds than another outbreak of bubonic plague. If you think that’s just a medieval disease, the young lady down in Pueblo, 40 miles south of us, would be glad to debate the subject with you.

                    11. Yes cats kill songbirds, lizards, frogs, squirrels and what not. So do Owls, Hawks and other raptors. (they also kill cats, so it kind of evens out) Once upon a time there was a bounty on raptors, now the pendulum has swung the other direction and they are totally protected. You know it balances out either way, we haven’t had many songbirds go extinct do to an overabundance of raptors, nor did we have to many overpopulation problems when there was a bounty on them (of course we had more feral cats then to help keep the population down). Personally I like the cats around my house, what I call barn cats, even though I don’t have a barn. They are half feral, keep the mice and vole population under control, and I’m not sure that they really help the grasshopper population, but they certianly eat plenty of them. I feed them, but they are somewhat wild, as in won’t let you get within more than 8-10 feet of them. I also have to keep the coyote population in check around the house, or I lose to many cats. As is, between the food I put out for them and controlling the coyote population, I keep a steady population of cats (I have five long-haired fuzzy kittens living in my woodpile right now). Those that do to much wandering tend to become coyote lunch, so they aren’t doing a lot of damage to the wildlife populations away from my place. Nature may be cruel, but she is a great problem solver. (just remember that humans are part of nature also)

                  2. Wayne – I have to disagree because cats are carnivores and root vegetables (garlic, onion, etc) are extremely toxic for them. If you do feed them vegetables you have to be very careful what you give them. Better to just feed them meat.

            2. Actually the laws are there, but they’re being interpreted by people who believe in Jean Jacques Rosseau bizarre ideas that sharing blood with a kid makes you a better parent to the kid… Except when they want to take kids away from people who are doing something double-plus-ungood, as RES has posted several times. The problem isn’t the laws, it’s the bureaucrats and the cant they learn in school.

              1. Here here. How fast would the adoption logjam and foster-care backlogs clear if someone stood up and said, “No, you do not have to belong to the same ethnicity/shade/continent of distant ancestry as a needy child. If you want one, and can support one, and will love them, then please pick one, or two, or more, on your way out. Sign here and G-d bless you.”

              2. Is the problem really that they learn cant? Or is it that they cant learn?

                Well, SOMEone had to say it… 😀

              3. I wasn’t aware that Rousseau made that claim–but if so, I can’t imagine anyone less credible to make it, this side of Andrea Yates.

            3. We’ve adopted two children, and have permanent custody of a third. This is unusual because we adopted one of our children while I was on active duty (judges frown on not having you around to check up on, and the military is notorious about moving people around), and Timmy came to us when I was 61 and Jean was 65. If anyone wants to adopt, let me know. I know some inside tricks that, if you’re willing to follow them and can meet all the ‘normal’ qualifications, can all but guarantee you’ll get a chance to adopt. Let me reinforce that — you’ll get a CHANCE to adopt. No guarantees, but your chances will go up 200-300%.

              Remember, too, that Human Services is a bureaucracy. The first goal of any bureaucracy is to continue and grow, especially financially. The more kids they have in “care”, the larger their budget. It’s actually against their best interests to agree to an adoption, and THEIR best interest overrides that of the child, the parent(s), or anyone else 100% of the time.

              1. Okay, if I ever get a bestseller and things are SLIGHTLY more financially stable (there’s a difference between waiting to be rich and wanting to know I can feed and clothe kid) AND I can hire some help so it won’t stop the writing, we just might knock at your door…

              2. Mike, accept my admiration. My ex and I once went several steps down the road to adoption, but I was the one to get cold feet. I already felt like a lousy mother to my two biological children, but as I got to know the child and studied his background, I became convinced he had attachment disorder, and it would require a saint to deal with him. I’m no saint. I’m also a big gorram coward.

                You and your wife are obviously not.

                1. It seems like nothing but baby pictures here at work today. Dozens of little blanket-wrapped, protoplasmic hopes for the future. They look like burritos, the lot of them.

                  and all I can think about is that little boy I didn’t adopt, and wonder what happened to him. It’s surprisingly painful to think about.

                  1. I’m so sorry. Hugs. However for the record, I went against that feeling of “oh, this is not right” once in the matter of an exchange student. Turns out the feeling was right and I should have said “no.” So…

                2. Kali – experience helps! We were trained specifically to deal with attachment disorder when we worked for Evergreen, up near Denver, in the 1970’s. It doesn’t take a “special person”, but it DOES take some special training. Our son Joe had both attachment disorder and “failure to thrive” syndrome. Within six months, thanks to our training, we had overcome 90% of that problem. One of the things the professionals don’t like to admit is that attachment disorder is for life, and you have to constantly work on it. The ways you work on it are different the older the child gets, but if you do good work at first, it’s not as difficult as things go along. One of my biggest regrets in life is not adopting a second child we worked with that had attachment disorder. We could only adopt one at the time (financial problems), and chose the one most vulnerable.

                  Here are two “rules” that help people adopt:
                  1) Go private. There are dozens, if not hundreds of private agencies that have children that can be adopted. Catholic Services is one such agency. We worked for Evergreen Consultants as therapeutic foster parents, taking care of children with significant emotional problems. The training, plus the support you’re more likely to get from a private agency, is essential when dealing with such children. At the same time, working for Evergreen gave us the chance to meet such people as Dr. Foster Cline, who writes the “Love and Logic” series of books, and conducts the seminars. We’re still friends of Foster and his wife, and I email him a couple of times a year. A lot of services are associated with a particular religion, but not all of them. Evergreen is a good example. At the time, most of the therapy they prescribed, and trained us on, was experimental, and much of it’s been discredited.
                  2) Get involved on the inside. Volunteer to work with the agency, at least a few hours a week. Become foster-parents. Become respite parents for kids, so the parents can pull themselves back together after traumatic experiences. If you impress the people on the inside, it’s much harder for the people on the outside to say “no” (At the same time, if you DON’T impress the people on the inside, give it up as a lost cause. It will be.). You’re always going to run into one or two people that will take a disliking to you, but if the majority like you, you’re in!

                  (Sorry about hijacking the thread, Sarah… 8^(. )

  18. “For those who don’t know this, I went through six years of infertility before I managed to have one son, then got blessed with another, by surprise, four years later”

    My folks had a quite similar experience, except instead of having 1 surprise child when they’d just about given up, they had surprise quadruplets. The way the story goes, one of their early doctors made some noise about, ah, “reducing” the pregnancy and was very promptly dropped. We’re all quite happy with the way things turned out, messed up world or not 🙂

    1. When we confirmed my first pregnancy via ultrasound at 10 weeks, we had ten embryos. They told us we’d have AT LEAST triplets and couldn’t understand why we were cheering. (Turns out I think because of the pre-eclampsia, we only had one survive, and let me tell you three would have about killed us financially at that time, but oh, I wish…)

      1. “Turns out I think because of the pre-eclampsia, we only had one survive”

        oof. that’s rough. I know with us they were worried about not all of us making it just due to plain old lack of space in the womb for four kids. They wound up doing a C-Section when we were still some weeks premature because I’d gotten squeezed back into a corner and stopped growing.

        1. This was early enough, we think they just got reabsorbed. They told us at the time we’d probably have “at least triplets” but ten would never survive. We were hoping for four. 🙂 I’m a big ox, I probably could have taken it.
          We wanted eleven children. Robert says he’s our first ten so we do have eleven.
          Honestly, if we had to do it all over again, we’d have kept on it between births — I mean the infertility. Taken your minds off the gutter. — and then right after Marsh was born. I understand you have better chances the year after a birth…

  19. *sigh*

    One of the innumerable things I’ve missed out on, and I’m afraid it’s too late now. I have never met any woman who would entertain the idea of having children with me (or marrying me). To make matters worse, I’m adopted: which means that I have actually never had the experience of knowing someone who was related to me by blood, either as an ancestor or as a descendant.

    In case you’re wondering what that feels like, I’ll tell you: it is utterly, desolately lonely. It feels as if I am the only member of a species that only came into being by mistake, and the universe is determined not to repeat the error.

      1. Lucky him. I’m going on 46 and I’ve never met mine. Or the foster mother who looked after me till I was six months old. After that I was on my third official mother. I have gone through my entire life expecting people to abandon me, and it never fails to surprise me when sometimes they don’t.

        1. Tom – so does he. His mother left him in a hospital. His second mother gave him to her mother because he was a premie and was sick all the time. His third mother finished raising him until she died when he was 12 so was almost 80. Then he was being fought over because of the money he would bring in one of the foster homes. He ended up in another foster home and stayed with them until he joined the Army. He knew that he would have to have plans as an adult … so yes, you might say he was lucky… I say he did the best he could with the hand he was dealt… so yes, he has abandonment issues.

    1. I have heard the same thing from children who were adopted friends friends who were adopted children (yes, my brain does this periodically. My publisher calls it “your sentence is glopped”) — particularly women who had infertility problems.

  20. Great post, Sarah. I agree with you 100%. As the parents of five, Becky and I take the approach that we are raising adults, not children. And yes, the world is in bad shape, but we are raising them to be part of the solution, not the problem. So far our adult children are doing well along those lines, and the ones at home are learning the skills they will need to survive when they leave home.

  21. While I agree that you shouldn’t put off having kids, there are–seriously–some of us who don’t have that option due to involuntary celibacy. It is a real condition, regardless of what anyone claims.*

    *OK, technically I could see a prostitute. I still wouldn’t have kids. As far as I’m concerned, saying I’m not incel just because of the availability of “professionals” is like saying that a man who can’t find employment has made a choice to be unemployed, because he refuses to work as a bank robber.

      1. It depends on the method they use to rob banks. Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner, Chriss Dodd, Barney Frank and the management of Freddie Krue … (sorry) Mac and Fannie Mae demonstrate the politically acceptable method of bank robbery, as did Angelo Mozilo as well as Herbert and Marion Sandler, the couple who gutted Golden West Financial by loading up on sub-prime mortgages before foisting the shell on Wachovia, causing that bank’s collapse.

          1. In my defense, Mike, the list of such bank robbers is so extensive it is almost impossible to list them all — and that’s just the ones who are promising to protect us from the bankers!

            “I weep for you,” the Walrus said:
            “I deeply sympathize.”
            With sobs and tears he sorted out
            Those of the largest size,
            Holding his pocket-handkerchief
            Before his streaming eyes.

  22. Between my own, and The SO’s, Gandalf’s-spellbook of genetic problems, we having children is not only a Bad Idea, but probably also a physical impossibility.

    Between my own, and The SO’s, Jed-Clampett-movin’-to-Beverly-Hills smelly-ass truckloads of emotional problems, adopting is also Not A Good Idea. (She likes to tell people she was “born to be the Eccentric Aunt”; meanwhile, I’m “that one uncle no one likes to talk about at family gatherings”. >:) )

    Those of you who have kids: Tell them “We hope you enjoy the future” — and when you do, try to not include the barely-concealed snark in your voice that I have in mine when I say that.

    1. Yes — and I have friends in the same circumstances. But as for your comment about the future — bah. Prospects have looked (much) worse before. There is a degree of self-importance in believing the future is now f*cked beyond repair when it wasn’t say… after the fall of the Roman Empire, or at the beginning of the twentieth century…. or right after the Great Death. Or…
      BAH. Lack of historical perspective and terminal self importance. My kids would sneer back “Oh, we will.”

    2. There are people who shouldn’t reproduce, because of genetic problems, such people, if they want kids should adopt, of course with the current adoption rules they probably wouldn’t be acceptable.

      There is a reason eugenics has always had a following, think of how many kids, on average, all the couples you know have. Now think of the dumbest, most annoyingly stupid couple you know, how many kids do they have? Chances are the answer is higher than the average, and if you just thought, “People that stupid shouldn’t be allowed to breed,” now you know how insidious the idea of eugenics as a good thing can be.

  23. My brother-in-law refers to some children as “Poster Children for Vasectomies.” Not mine, and in fact he’s an excellent uncle, all five of his nephews (no girls in the family this generation) and IMO would have been a good father, but he and his wife chose not to have any.

    1. Well I spoke too hastily. People without kids — I have several childless friends that do — CAN care deeply about the future. BUT it’s not the same thing as having hostages in the future. Sorry, guys, it’s not. The knot of panic in my stomach over all the war-seeds the SCOAMF is sewing while thinking he’s making peace is that I have two potential draftees.

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