Monthly Archives: July 2011

Kids In Restaurants: Should They Stay or Go?

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Should More Restaurants Ban Kids? Chefs Really Want To!

Recently, a small restaurant in Pennsylania said it wouldn’t be serving children under the age of six anymore. The small person policy change has spawned numerous articles and created a general uproar. This particular one caught my attention because it’s written by a self-described nonparent, who estimates that the topic is more important to certain camps of adults than the children who are ultimately denied access to dining:

It’s not that anybody cares about McDain’s or its stuffed flounder ($18.95) or beer-battered chicken ($12.95). It’s that the question of whether small children should be allowed in restaurants cuts through one of the biggest unspoken divides in American life: the one between parents and nonparents.

Well, I guess it isn’t unspoken anymore because the author, Josh Ozersky, went there. Yet another reason I like this article. But it isn’t as black and white as you might think. Parents and nonparents don’t always adopt the viewpoint you would expect, I noted from reading some of the comments below his article. For example, one parent said they view dining out as something special to do without their children.

I am with the commenter that said that those dining in elegant and really expensive restaurants should expect to enjoy an adult night out. This is not too much to ask, and it isn’t like parents don’t have a variety of other restaurants they can go to with their children. And parents can frequent the fancier restaurants, too, just not with their kids in tow.

When opting for a less formal or family-friendly place, you can expect a different dining experience. While kids are allowed, they shouldn’t get a blank check, and bad behavior shouldn’t be tolerated. Children should be held to reasonable standards, and if they aren’t able to behave appropriately in public, they might not be mature enough to eat out yet.

Most of the children I see misbehaving in public appear bored and unhappy. Perhaps, as the author said, it’s more about the parents. They don’t want to forgo dining out, and drag the kids along, whether the children want to be there or not.

Somehow, we have adopted a mindset that children should be allowed everywhere. This wasn’t always the case. When I was a child in the 70s, my parents would frequently hire a babysitter so they could get a much needed break from their responsibilities. And, far from feeling slighted for not being invited, my sisters and I looked forward to staying at home with the fun babysitter.

As we grew up, we started to enjoy going out to dinner with our parents. And they enjoyed having us along because we didn’t embarrass them in public. Our tastes, pun intended, are supposed to change as we get older. And there is also something to be said for having something to look forward to when you grow up.

7 Billion Reasons to Be Childfree: World Population Day

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I read on Twitter that yesterday was World Population Day. Intrigued, I instantly googled the topic, and was disappointed when the search returned very few results. Only a smattering of obscure publications reported that 7 billion people will inhabit the earth by October of this year, but said little else about the day.

In response to World Population Day and the 7 billion marker, the UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, launched their 7 Billion Actions campaign yesterday. Here’s what they had to say about it on their website.

“This year, as the world population is expected to surpass 7 billion, UNFPA and partners are launching a campaign called 7 Billion Actions. It aims to engage people, spur commitment and spark actions related to the opportunities and challenges presented by a world of 7 billion people.

In many ways a world of 7 billion is an achievement: Globally, people are living longer and healthier lives, and couples are choosing to have fewer children. However, because so many couples are in, or will soon be entering, their reproductive years, the world population is projected  to increase for decades to come. Meeting the needs of current and future generations presents daunting challenges.”

While I would agree that our burgeoning numbers represent lots of challenges, it seems a stretch to call severe overpopulation an achievement. Yes, SOME of us are living longer, healthier lives, but 1.2 billion people, according to the UNFPA website, are living in poverty. This is hardly cause for a love fest. Isn’t that what got us here in the first place? By focusing on what feels good, and what we want, instead of what is good for the earth?

An article in the Huffington Post took a grimmer spin on the day:

“Every day another 200,000 people are added to the world’s dinner table, and unless fertility rates drop faster than expected, that trend will continue for some time to come. And many of those additional mouths to feed are being born in countries that are already heavily dependent on external food aid for survival.” Read full article…

Okay, now maybe we are getting warm, and starting to understand why the major news outlets failed to cover World Population Day. It’s basically a day that causes us to think and reflect on the serious consequences of our reproductive choices.

While reporters don’t usually shy away from hard hitting news, this topic gets really personal, and they don’t want to tip the sacred cow of parenthood. You see, when we start talking about decreasing fertility rates, we are challenging everyone to have fewer or no kids. And no one wants to talk about that, or to call parents on the carpet. It IS a personal choice, but it’s one that unfortunately impacts everyone on the planet.

The media champions parents, and Mother’s and Father’s Day gets TONS of news coverage. It doesn’t matter what type of parent you are – if you have reproduced, you are celebrated. On the other hand, scarce attention is paid to responsible citizens of the earth who opt out of parenthood altogether. In fact, they are often ostracized.

This contrast reminds me of the buzz kill that occurs when someone asks a childfree person if they plan to have kids. There is often dead silence or a long and awkward pause. But tell someone you are pregnant, whether you are single, unemployed, or completely wrong for the job, and it’s drinks all around.

Clearly, we need to change the way we think about children if we are ever going to get our population under control. But we can’t do this if people aren’t brave enough to have honest conversation. There aren’t any absolutes, and bringing a new life into the world is not always a good thing. The default has been to have kids, and at any cost. And, there is always a cost, make no mistake.

Skipping parenthood, on the other hand, provides balance and breathing room on the planet. The childfree inadvertently assist in conserving finite resources so that we have enough to share with our many neighbors. But the benefits of nonparenthood are rarely discussed, so we shouldn’t be surprised that most people opt to have children.

My hope is that the news media, with all of its power, will have the courage to start the conversation, and balance the pronatalist rhetoric with the realities of overpopulation. I can think of 7 billion reasons why they should do so. Presenting a more equal view to the masses could impact choices, and help us achieve a more balanced population and experience on the earth.

Horrible Bosses, But No Horrible Kids

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Horrible Bosses – *10 ratedCF rating

My husband and I saw Horrible Bosses yesterday, and it is absolutely hilarious! The comical threesome packs an incredible punchline, and it’s one of the best comedies I have seen in a long time.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the premise, the film is about three middle-aged friends who have, you guessed it, terrible employers. The men commiserate about their jobs, consider their lack of employment options and how much better their lives would be without their burdensome bosses, whose crimes range from sexual harassment to severe verbal abuse. As work conditions escalate, their fantasy of offing their respective supervisors crystallizes into a plan of action.

Initially, they attempt to hire a hit man, and encounter a couple of shady characters, including “Mother Fucker” Jones (Jamie Foxx), an ex-con who is ultimately unable to seal the deal for them. When the hired gun angle fails, the friends become desperate and take matters into their own hands. Their plotting leads them to breaking and entering, cell phone theft, and a bizarre and uproariously funny string of events that spirals out of control. In the end, the chaos has a plan of its own.

Although the movie is very enjoyable in its own right, I liked it even more when I realized that none of the three main characters have children. Only one of the them, Dale Arbus (Charlie Day), is attached with a fiance. Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis), is a single “player,” while the third friend, Nick Hendricks (Jason Bateman), is married to a very intense job that would make romantic involvement almost impossible.

Surprisingly, none of the three middle-aged bosses have children either. In contrast, Dr. Julia Harris, Jennifer Aniston’s character, and Colin Farrell as Bobby Pellit, are wildly single, and have a special affinity for sex and cocaine, respectively. Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey) has a cat but no kids with his unfaithful wife, whose infidelity, we learn, is essential to the plot line.

The more I think about it, I can’t recall one scene in the entire movie that contained children. Which makes sense, because most of the story took place in either a bar, at work, or at night.

So, what is the learning here? Well, this movie proved that it’s possible to pull off a very successful comedy without children or a traditional family. The writer also showed that characters without kids weren’t lacking, but instead believable and fully developed. Finally, the nonparent, employee protagonists were presented as normal and likable, which also speaks well for the childfree community.

It’s often true that entertainment imitates reality. And if a movie and all of its main characters can survive, even thrive, without children, we seem to be implying the same can be true in real life. If kids aren’t essential to a good story, are they essential to a good life?

They say there is truth in comedy, and my hope is that while people are laughing, they will pick up on some of these subtle implications.

*rating pertains to the article’s ability to speak to the childfree communit

Don’t Stroll Me Over

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Stroller etiquette: A summertime guide

Stroller etiquette – what a concept! And perhaps even an oxymoron. So glad someone took the time to explore this topic. Written in response to a “face off” between those armed with and without strollers at a county fair, the article explores both sides of the story, the size of the modern stroller, and basic manners.

But let’s face it, there really aren’t two sides. Strolling is like smoking. Those traveling sans stroller aren’t hurting or inconveniencing anyone any more than nonsmokers are. We are just being polite so we won’t offend the mommy population. Meanwhile, they are literally running us over at the grocery store, mall, and outdoor events.

I bet we all have a stroller story. I have one, or two if you count the time I was almost practically mowed down by a double stroller.

It was like a scene out of a movie. I was going in, and all three of them (Mom, and two stroller-strapped cuties) were coming out of the same door. I was outnumbered, but I was also outdone by the Mom’s ego. You see, it never occurred to her that I might not move out of the way. She suffered from motherly entitlement. And I think she was also feeling empowered by the sheer size of her stroller. It was the double across variety – the kind that can block even a large door.

But you know what? I didn’t back down. Cue the Tom Petty music. I let them step aside. And I could tell from the mother’s expression that she was very surprised.

Now, this is after years of being courteous and letting the stroller go first. We are conditioned to do this without question. But why? Not everyone wielding a stroller is worthy of this courtesy.

And the double strollers, they are too much. Why should everyone have to trip over you and your extensive brood? The article concurs that not all strollers are created alike:

Part of the problem is the size of many strollers these days. Most — even the double or triple-seat models for multiple kids — are built to fit through an average doorway. But some are massive, equipped with removable car seats, travel bags, cup holders (for parent) and built-in toys (for baby)…

“The BOB brand jogging-style strollers are very popular right now,” said Belis Etem, owner of Los Gatos Baby and Kids Boutique. “They come in singles and doubles, and really are designed to allow moms to get out and do some of her regular activities with a 2-year-old and a newborn, where in the old days, you couldn’t do that.

“Some strollers are indeed large,” Etem said. “I’m so used to them, I just think of them as strollers, but some do take up half the sidewalk. But there’s a protocol. People generally know how to handle it.”

Basic manners and considerations, the article continues, should always be in order. Parents with strollers should consider whether their destination is “family friendly,” while those without, the article explains, should expect to see lots of strollers and kids in certain places, such as amusement parks.

Napping – A CF Advantage

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It’s Saturday, and I’ve spent most of the day in my pajamas. I had a really tough week, and took a leisurely nap in the afternoon.

Naps and sleeping in are an integral part of my weekend regimen, and I’m well aware that I wouldn’t enjoy this luxury as often if my husband and I had kids.

Upon waking, I remembered that a wonderful author named Sark emphasized this very point in her book, Change Your Life Without Getting Out of Bed. “One of the reasons I didn’t become a parent,” she writes, “was because of the lack of sleep.”

But it isn’t just parents that are functioning on less sleep, she explains in the book. Life before lightbulbs, was very different, she writes, with people sleeping on average three hours more every night.

While nap needs may be up, siestas, just like deciding to remain childfree, can sometimes be accompanied by a sense of guilt that you “should” be doing something else. “I’m amazed by how many people don’t nap because of guilt,” Sark writes, “or secretly nap because of guilt.”

In her book, Sark attempts to take the shame out of napping, and even offers a permission slip to “live long and nappy.” In a section titled Guilt-Free Nap Exercises, she offers advice for “napping without (or less) guilt”:

  • Realize that you now have permission to lie down and nap – for no reason
  • Encourage others to nap, and form nap-support friendships
  • Refuse to accept any judgements about napping from yourself or others
  • Speaking openly and often about the pleasures and benefits of napping
  • Be seen by and with other nappers. You can appoint a nap angel in your own life

Once all excuses and hesitations have been jettisoned, the book provides recommendations for the ultimate nap, listing cozy sleepwear options, siesta locations, and equipment such as eye and neck pillows to cushion, pun intended, the experience. Leaving us with nothing left to do but embrace the nap within us.

So, get your sleep on! And when you awake, check out Sark’s nap book.

Jesus Was A Nonparent

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For all of the smack the Catholic Church talks about procreation and traditional values, the emphasis it places on not wasting seed and its violent stance against birth control, it seems to be forgetting a very important fact – Jesus was a nonparent!

He might be the father of the church, but this son of God, as far as we know, did NOT have children. It’s true that some have postulated, as Dan Brown did in The Da Vinci Code, that Jesus may have fathered a child. But no one wants to talk about that, because he wasn’t married. At least, that’s what they tell us in the bible, and God knows so many people like to take it literally. So let’s take it on faith, if you will, that Jesus was a single nonparent.

Like him or not, as a spiritual leader, Jesus is practically unprecedented. His message has travelled the world, spawned countless denominations, and has attracted millions of believers and followers.

Which is amazing, because we know that his own personal travels were limited by the time in which he lived. But what would his life had been like if he had had children, and would his voice and mission been hampered by them?

Granted, the men didn’t do much of the childrearing back then. But would Jesus have had time to think, pray and philosophize if he was tending to his biological flock? Probably not.

To follow suit and tradition, the current leaders of the Catholic Church are also unmarried, unchilded, and take vows of celibacy. They profess to dedicate their lives to, and be married to their life’s work – the church. Maybe we can learn something from their approach to leadership.

Strangely, it sounds like the childfree men and women that have exciting and rewarding careers that they don’t want to sacrifice or put on hold so they can jumpstart the next generation. There is something to be said for tending to the here and now. Jesus himself said so.

Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most celebrated Italian Renaissance artists, and one of the greatest painters of all time, also failed to marry or have children. Are his numerous artistic contributions to the church and world any less meaningful because he failed to produce offspring?

God forbid, literally, he would have chosen family over an unadulterated life well lived.

Second Shift? Another Reason to Stay Childfree

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ForbesWomen And The Bump.Com Survey Results – *8.5 ratedCF rating

As a night person, I don’t always feel lucky when I wake up to go to work. I slug through the morning on a few cups of coffee, and frequently fantasize about a career that would accomodate my nocturnal leanings.

What I can’t imagine is working another shift after I had already put in a full day of work. And yet, this is something that women do every day. It’s called the second shift, and it impacts women with children. They come home every night and make and serve dinner, help with homework, and otherwise keep the house afloat because… well, they are mothers.

A recent survey, conducted by ForbesWoman and, stated that “92% of working moms say they are overwhelmed with workplace, home and parenting responsibilities.” Completed by 1,259 mothers, the study included married and unmarried parents living in the same household, with the bulk of the all female participants between the ages of 25 and 40. According to the results, the men in their lives are not matching their level of participation in the home.

“Eighty percent of the respondents work outside the home full time, and roughly 44% bring in the majority (more than 50%) of the annual household income. Yet in all cases, working and SAHMs alike, the mothers reported that they are responsible for the majority of all “at-home” work: housework (laundry, shopping, cooking, cleaning), childcare work (bathing, feeding, dressing) and even childcare “play.””

Not surprisingly, 63% of the working mothers surveyed say they “sometimes…feel like a married single mom.” Honestly, if it weren’t for the companionship and income, they might as well go it alone.

My evenings, in contrast, consist of a nice quiet dinner with my husband followed by some television or internet browsing. I can’t imagine not having down time or suffering through homework after working and commuting during the day. The first shift is plenty of work for me.

It is often said that having it all means doing it all, and this study captures that concept eloquently.

*rated for its ability to speak to and validate the childfree choice