Child-Free Versus Childless?

Before you throw tomatoes at me for launching such a hot-button conversation, I want to let you know that it really comes from a place of curiosity and understanding and not animosity towards people without kids.

Oftentimes when I write about people who do not have children, I refer to them as “childless.” I do this not because I think they are lacking something in their lives but because I do not want to marginalize children. People are “free” of pests or cancer, for example, and I think it is mean-spirited to refer to children this way. But, I admit, that I find the term “childless” — like “maiden” name — antiquated and I try to write around it.

The Orlando Sentinel’s “Moms At Work” blog ran a piece in the summer by one Kim Hays, which clearly touched a nerve as it was recently regurgitated by an Open Salon writer.

In “Child-free movement: You say ‘child-free,’ I say ‘childless,’” Hays listed all the things she had that her “childless” counterparts did not, like “tiny little kisses on your nose when you’re napping” and “giggles and more giggles.” I hate throwing fellow moms under the bus, but I thought this piece was condescending and trite. I was offended by the Open Salon writer who seemed to paint all “mommy bloggers” in this light.

But this whole conversation did make me re-consider whether I should continue to call people who do not have children — either by choice or circumstances — “childless.” What do you think? Do you have other suggested terms?

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When Your Mentally Disturbed Child is Reprimanded in Public

I felt for all parties involved in this incident covered by an Open Salon writer. Basically, a childless woman confronted the mother of an emotionally-disturbed 12-year-old at a block party. I thought the whole thing was painful to read:

“Are you a parent?”

“Does it matter?” (Oh here we go: the holier than thou “You don’t understand because you don’t have a kid” speech.)

“If you did, you’d understand that he’s an emotionally disturbed child.”

“Well, I’m curious why you allow an emotionally disturbed child handle hundreds of dollars at an adult event.”

“Do you want to do it? Feel free! Next year, you’re the designated money collector. Happy? Are you happy you made a troubled child cry his eyes out?”

No, I wasn’t happy at all. And I knew there wouldn’t be a next year. Not here at least.

As I remain in this middle class suburban purgatory, I’m continually reminded of how little I belong and how my mere presence bothers people.

Who is this single female not saddled down in an unhappy marriage with unruly kids to fill an ever-aching void? Why does she hang out with men half her age? And why does she look so damn hot? (I added the last rhetorical question for my own ego’s sake today. Sue me.) This “burn the witch” attitude would remain, no matter what I did, no matter who I did or  didn’t fuck.

You have got to read the entire rant as some of it is pretty funny. But it also raised an issue I never considered: Most of us would agree that babies in certain places like the movie theater is inappropriate. But what about an older child who is emotionally disturbed? Is it reasonable to expect the parents of special needs children to never go out to — a block party? Or a movie? What do you think? I am especially curious to hear from moms with children that have ADHD or similar disorders.

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Late-Night Liberty: End of Summer Reading List

A writer over at Open Salon gave a list of books President Obama took with him on vacation last week and added her own suggestions.

Out of all the books mentioned, I read only two: John Adams by David McCullough and the The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I highly recommend both of them!

What is on my night table besides a pile of magazines that won’t all get read? I just started A supposedly fun thing i’ll never do again by David Foster Wallace, who I learned tragically committed suicide a year ago. I have never read anything by him and was intrigued to learn he was an inspiration to writers like Jonathan Franzen (The Corrections). For a book club I just joined, I plan to read Twilight by Stephenie Meyer and Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. Please no giving away the plot or endings!

What is on your night table right now?

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Friday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Need extra motivation to quit smoking? This writer at Open Salon estimated that she saved $1642.50 this year alone after kicking the habit.

The Los Angeles Times ran an editorial on why people insured through Medicare should support healthcare reform.

The Washington Post had a “trend” story on how applications to liberal arts colleges are down due to the recession.

In case you missed it, our “happy clam” mentioned that Sigg metal water bottles contained the synthetic, estrogenic chemical bisphenol A (BPA). Katy Farber over at Non-Toxic Kids wrote about it as well.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

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Midday Coffee Break

What’s up?

Anti-gay marriage advocates in Maine collected enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot. Pro-gay marriage advocates just ran their first commercial in the state, which this writer at Open Salon linked to.

Salon’s Tracy Clark-Flory started up a funny conversation on adultery. A woman in Afghanistan left a note in the ballot box asking President Hamid Karzai to stop men from being unfaithful to their wives. “I want to ask you, Mr. President, to notice how much adultery there is among men,” the woman wrote. “I don’t know the right language to tell you, I’m asking you to please get rid of this, for all the hatred and damage it brings upon families.” Like Clark-Flory said, talk about a single-issue voter!

MSN ran a fun list of ways to live to 100.

Everywhere I turn, Nadya “Octomom” Suleman’s reality show debut was trashed by critics. Check out what the Los Angeles Times had to say about it. Did you watch it? What did you think?

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

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Friday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Attention San Mateo County, California, moms: Congresswoman Jackie Speier is holding a series of events, including a townhall meeting on healthcare.

A 14-year-old girl wrote a funny column about “teen trends we could really live without” in Open Salon.

A study of 322 rural patients in New Hampshire and Vermont suggests that “end-of-life” counseling Republicans have called “death panels” actually improved the mood of terminally ill patients and even helped them live a little longer, according to the Associated Press. Unfortunately, a provision to provide such a service will probably be dropped in the Democratic proposal for healthcare reform due to misinformation and public hysteria.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

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Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Sorry for the paltry post. It has been hot in New Hampshire and I have been taking the kids out to cool off. I will post pics later today. But here is an item that caught my eye:

A mom at Open Salon wrote about the things her adult children find annoying about her. Do your children get annoyed with you? What are their pet peeves about you?

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

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Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Remember the sad case of Megan Meier, a 13-year-old girl who committed suicide after a neighbor’s mother cruelly posed as a love interest on MySpace? Well, the mother, Lori Drew, was convicted a year ago of illegally accessing a computer to harass Meier. A judge recently modified her bail to allow her to take work that involved a computer and the Internet, according to the Associated Press. What do you think of the judge’s ruling, MotherTalkers?

A mom at Open Salon, whose 2-year-old was diagnosed with a deadly heart ailment, is reaching out.

In case you missed it, AP ran a list of winners from the 11th annual Teen Choice Awards.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

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Do You Suffer from Attention Deficit News Disorder?

Even though I am a trained journalist, Walter Cronkite’s death came and went like a dozen other obituaries in the paper every day. To be honest, I was more stunned by Tim Russert’s death not only because he was so young (58) but I actually watched him.

I am only 32, born long after the height of the careers of prominent newscasters like Cronkite and Edward Murrow. Unfortunately, I cannot relate to the many nostalgic tributes written on Cronkite’s behalf recently. Take for instance this writer at Open Salon. She — Beth Ingalls — reminisced Cronkite’s coverage of Neil Armstong’s landing on the moon. She remembered how her family gathered around their black and white television to listen to only Cronkite’s words and said no American household could do the same today. They would be too distracted by the simultaneous news casts on the flat-screen, high-definition television, the tweets on their laptops and texts on their cell phones. She showed screen shots of the progression of television throughout the years, which was disturbing in terms of how “cluttered” news has become.

If an event of such enormous magnitude in the history of human civilization took place today, the scenario would be completely different.

We’d be on techno overload. The flat panel display with high def would be on in the living room and we might even all be there together as a family, but that wouldn’t be enough. Our laptops would also be humming away and we’d be updating our facebooks, and tweeting and making cell phone calls and uploading photos and videos. We’d be documenting our own experience of the event while any one of a handful of generic broadcasters droned away in the background. Even the news reporters themselves might be tweeting and checking incoming email while the cameras roll! And that would be perfectly acceptable!

It’s no wonder 1 in 20 children in the Unites States are being diagnosed with ADHD.

I think ADHD is caused by ADND – Attention Deficit News Disorder.

Over the past forty years, news coverage has evolved (or devolved) depending on one’s perspective, to the point of unrecognizability from the stark days of Conkrite. We demand more stimulation, but assimilate  far less information. We are overly accustomed to swooshing flashes of color and multiple split screens with spinning inserts. Neverending, yet repetitive, news tickers crawl across both the top and bottom of the TV. Station identifiers, accompanied by zooming images and sounds, splash around like miniature explosions. Digital clocks updated from every time zone, every second, remind us unfailingly just how late we are. Ads about upcoming shows featuring miniature holograms of stars interacting with each other play on the bottom right hand corner of the screen, startling us out of our complacency. Full size drag and drop displays are manipulated by the anchors as they walk around the set at random times during the show. With 24/7 news we get it all day and night, but are we even paying attention?

What do you think? I do find that at a certain point in the day — most likely evenings — I do have to tune out the news to read a book or watch something that does not require any thought like a reality show. Staying engaged in an intense news event is tiring.

But I disagree with Ingalls that Americans today are less informed or less engaged than previous generations. I find the opposite is true thanks to the progression of media. Now concerned citizens can sign online petitions, donate money to various causes and even coordinate in-person meetings to make change — not just watch as passive viewers.

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Friday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

I was excited to learn through the Huffington Post that President Obama is considering a Latina, Sonia Sotomayor, for the Supreme Court. Of course, there are folks already raining on the parade, including this guy at Open Salon who bemoaned a decision she made against a high school student who was punished for free speech off campus. It is an arcane case, nonetheless I thought he raised a good point: Should students be punished for things they say or write off school property? What do you think?

Also in Salon: Cary Tennis eloquently responded to a 22-year-old woman who desperately wants a baby but knows she does not have the time or resources to have one. Here is one last story in Salon: Thank you to Lynn Harris for calling out 20/20′s John Stossel and his fluff piece on how the Pregnancy Discrimination Act actually hurts women. Whatever.

Hooray, New Hampshire! The state legislature there is considering passing three family-friendly bills that would give workers from companies with 50 or more employees paid medical leave, including for pregnancy and adoption. Another bill would provide 5 sick days for full-time and part-time employees in companies with 10 or more employees. The last bill would allow workers in companies with 15 or more employees to request flexible work schedules. You can read all about the legislation in the Work and Family Blog.

It’s official. President Obama will seek to extend the D.C. school voucher program until all 1,716 participants have graduated from high school, according to the Washington Post. But no new students will be accepted, the Post reported.

Katy Farber over at Non-Toxic Kids wrote about Ricki Lake’s new book, Your Best Birth: Know all Your Options, Discover the Natural Choices and Take Back the Birth Experience .

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

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