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Rutgers came out with a paper called Life Without Children. It's about how fewer married couples have children. It talks about how society has changed, how the perception of parenthood has changed in our culture, and how more old people are having sex.

Besides feeling vindicated, I found some things in the paper to be quite interesting.

Increasingly, Americans see the years spent in active child rearing as a grueling experience, imposing financial burdens, onerous responsibilities, emotional stress, and strains on marital happiness.
Troublingly, too, married couples now see children as an obstacle to their marital happiness. According to one recent review of over 90 studies of marital satisfaction, married parents report lower quality relationships than married couples without children. Psychological problems are also plaguing parents. A study of 13,000 U.S. adults finds that parents are more likely to be depressed than nonparents. In his study of parenthood, historian Peter Stearns makes an even broader claim: the defining characteristic of contemporary American parenthood, he writes, is anxiety.

I feel this is all totally right. Kids are stressful and hard work. The possibility for cuteness doesn't really outweigh all of that, imo. Plus, they often look like worms or shrunken old people for the first couple of months right after they're born. Even after the first couple of months when they stop being shrivelled, they might still not be cute. Some kids, just like some people, are destined to be fugly. I think most people are shallow enough to care.

Also, considering my personality, there's just no way i couldn't be disappointed in my child. I have been told by one or two people that i have a somewhat exacting nature. No sense in raising a kid with some sort of neurosis. That would just be mean.

What's more, contemporary motherhood now threatens contemporary marriage. Most Americans today don't marry in order to have children. They marry in order to have an enduring relationship of love, friendship and emotional intimacy. Achieving this new marital ideal takes high levels of time, attention and vigilance. Like new babies, contemporary marriages have to be nurtured and coddled in order to thrive. The problem is that once a real baby comes along, the time, the effort and energy that goes into nurturing the relationship goes into nurturing the infant. As a result, marriages can become less happy and satisfying during the child-rearing years.

It was all working perfectly fine when people didn't expect to be happy in their marriage. Young people today are spoiled by their romantic ideals. They need to grow up and be more realistic. Marriage is supposed to be miserable. That's why you have kids. So you don't have time to dwell on how miserable you are. And when the kids move out, you're supposed to drop dead.

Until very recently, the adult life course was thought to consist of two stages: parenthood and old age. Parenthood dominated the larger share of one's adult life. Old age occupied the lesser share. The years surrounding these two stages were transitional. Life before children was a brief time between the end of formal schooling and the beginning of marriage and family life. Likewise, life after children marked the end of productive adulthood and the beginning of a descent into enfeebled old age.

Today's older generation is not complying. They aren't getting enfeebled and dead fast enough. They're actually having lives. And sex.

"The years of life after children are not only more numerous. They are also healthier. It's no longer the case that the emptying of the nest is followed soon after by the arrival of the rocking chair, much less the hearse. After the children leave home, many adults will have decades of vitality before they begin to experience debilitating health problems."

"Sex is now part of the fun and freedom of the early adult years before children. Similarly, sex has become part of the pleasures of life after children. Many of today's parents are entering the empty nest years with subscriptions to Match.com, prescriptions for Viagra and hopes for hot new romances."

Jazmine's response to that last bit was predictably "Ew."

Finally, high levels of educational attainment contribute to childlessness. Women who hold four-year college degrees are more likely to be childless than women with lower levels of educational attainment.

Apparently, the Mormons in Utah were right all along. Women should be kept ignorant so that they'll spend their time churning out babies like god intended, dammit! This whole education thing is messing things up.

You know, my parents might kick themselves if they knew about that last bit. To think, all that pushing for me to do well in school has contributed to their current lack of grandparent status. Hmm.

I thought about printing this paper out and handing out copies to my relatives, but fnord12 said, "They don't care, they want babies! Your happiness has nothing to do with it". He's almost right. They do want babies. But they do care about my happiness. It's just that they're convinced that it's tied inexorably to babies. Mostly, so there'll be someone to take care of your enfeebled, old self.

Also, i hear that another benefit of having kids is you can ask them to record things off the cable for you. Very convincing argument. My mom almost had me with that one. So close.

By min | January 19, 2007, 12:01 PM | My stupid life


Let me say that neither you nor Rod should be having children, and especially not with each other. But, you said the article mentions that the more educated the woman, the less likely they are to have children. I don't think it would be unreasonable to presume that this means mostly unintelligent people are breeding. (I know, college education doesn't always mean higher intelligence, but it's not a huge leap either to say that the more educated are, generally, more intelligent). So that means dumb mouth-breathers are the one's breeding creating, if intelligence is genetic, hell, even if it's just environmental, more dumb mouth-breathers. That's all well and good (I suppose), but these idiots will have a direct effect on your life. Highly educated, intelligent women need to breed simply to produce more highly educated, intelligent people to defeat these idiots.

But, not you guys though. You guys stay strong.

And I wouldn't say that you're vindicated. I'd say that you weren't unusual for your choice (unless, that is how you're vindicated). Vindicated seems to imply that your choice was empirically the right one whereas the sections you quote give no value judgement whatsoever that I can see.

But, it does prove, once again, that you're just doing what you do because everyone else is doing it.

mouth-breathers? are they too stupid to breathe through their noses?

"I don't think it would be unreasonable to presume that this means mostly unintelligent people are breeding. (I know, college education doesn't always mean higher intelligence, but it's not a huge leap either to say that the more educated are, generally, more intelligent). So that means dumb mouth-breathers are the one's breeding creating, if intelligence is genetic, hell, even if it's just environmental, more dumb mouth-breathers."

I think that's what Mike Judge's movie Idiocracy is about. Too bad it was only released in like 5 theaters!

Screw Mike Judge. I had the idea first for my science fiction story. But then I came to graduate school.

Like an idiot. I should have some kids.

a story like this...




Also? I bet he wrote it last year and changed the date on his to make it look like he had the idea before me. By a few years.

you probably created that wikipedia entry yourself, just to embarrass robin.


You also assume that this battle can be won by outnumbering the inept by having the smarties breed smart children. But if you do that, all you get is a bunch of genius level kids working in McDonlads. On the other hand, not having children substantially increases the amount of capitol that you can spend on other things. Things like marketing and political campaigns to influence the less informed.

Or... you could just buy a bunch of nice shiny new things for yourselves. There's no need to save for your future generations, so live it up. Yay! We're doomed!

you know what happens when you get a bunch of super geniuses? their heads become huge. they have to ride around on specially-designed, floating chairs. and all they're interested in is conquering the world. that and bickering about who's got the bigger intellect.

Isn't that a plot from the original Star Trek? I could swear it was an episode about 3 talking brains. But then again, there are probably a bunch of Star Trek episodes like that.