Last month, Theresa Cisneros of The Mom Blog asked her readers, Why are people choosing pets over kids? The post in which she asks the question seems to be in response to a survey conducted by human and pet supplement company called Flexcin International, Inc., which found that 54% of respondents admitted that pets were a better fit for their lives than human children would be, with only 46% claiming the opposite. I’m immediately inclined to be skeptical of the survey, until I can see the methods by which it was conducted. If it was polling people with pets, specifically the kind likely to care enough to give their kids supplements, I would think they’d be more likely to get a pet-friendly answer by such people than they would the general public.
But never-mind that, it doesn’t really much matter. What does matter, it the question posed by Cisneros’ post:
Readers, I’d like to hear what you think about this subject.
Tell Me: Have you ever considered (permanently) opting for pets over kids?
False dichotomy. You’ll never get a real answer until you ask the right question. I’m childfree and have one dog, but I did NOT choose pets over kids any more than I choose driving a sports car over being slapped in the face. That is, the two things have little to nothing to do with each other. Sure, I prefer one over the other, but that doesn’t mean that I chose one over the other.
I like dogs. Even if I had kids (which I never want) I’d still have dogs. Many people who do have kids also have pets. It’s not like people can only have one or the other. On the other hand, even if, for some reason, I had decided to never have pets, I still wouldn’t want kids. It’s not like I’m required to have either.
I like pets. They bring me a lot of joy and enrich my life. They’re a lot of work too, if the owner is responsible. If I had kids, it would likely negatively impact my ability to adequately care for my dog, as well as diminish that dog’s quality of life. It would be unfair to my dog to bring children into my family, which, again, I would never want to do anyway.
I don’t much care for children. Pets or no, children would be nothing but an unpleasant burden to me. I shudder to think of how much I would miss out on in life if I ever became a mother. Short visits from the children of my friends is about all that I can tolerate. It’s not that I “can’t handle” parenthood, it’s that it’s totally undesirable to me. There are lots of things that I could handle, if I had to, but would rather just avoid entirely. I can’t imagine wanting to ruin my life (and having kids would ruin my life,) and contribute to the continued destruction of our already overpopulated world, by breeding like some unneutered stray animal (overpopulation is not just a problem for cats and dogs!).
I chose to have something great for me. I chose not to have something horrible for me. But to say that I chose pets over kids is ridiculous
I actually don’t call myself a “pet-parent,” nor do I call my dog my “fur-baby.” I like such terms, but I tend to avoid using them, myself. The only reason for this is because I don’t want to give ammunition to people who would accuse me of doting on my dog only to “make up” for not having children. There’s nothing more irritating than being told that I’m misdirecting my “natural maternal instincts” whenever I take care of my dog properly.
I understand why people do call themselves “pet-parents,” and their animal companions “fur-babies.” It seems cruel, for one thing, to refer to pets as property to be owned. Animals aren’t toys, or decorations, or accessories. They’re thinking, feeling, living beings who we are fully responsible for as caretakers. It is our duty, when we take animals in, to see to their physical and mental wellbeing to the best of our ability. We are to raise our animal companions in stable, loving homes. To do any less is negligent. From the moment you bring an animal home, it is your responsibility for the rest of its life, not just until caring for it becomes inconvenient for you. If you aren’t prepared for that responsibility, get a picture of an animal instead. “Pet-parents” understand this. The specific things one is responsible for may be different, but the level of responsibility between caring for pets and caring for children is the same.
Additionally, the use of the terms “pet-parent” and “fur-baby” relate to the pet’s role within the family. It doesn’t matter if the animal isn’t a human child, the bond between someone responsible enough to take pet care seriously and that pet, is comparable to that between a mother and human child. This is especially pronounced in families without children, which are a growing segment of the population, but is a dynamic that should be present in any home with a pet anyway. My dog is certainly part of my family of three, and we take good care of her and love her dearly. Mothers don’t have the monopoly on love, on bonding, on care-taking, or on family.
In outrage that us mere non-moms would use such terminology, Susan Maushart, has written a piece for Huffington Post attacking the convention.
“Because Pet Parents Are Moms Too!”
I hate to be a bitch about this — but hey, female dogs are people too, right? — but when I read that subject line on an ASPCA email this week, it really gave me hairballs.
This reminds me, I really should subscribe to the ASPCA’s newsletter.
As for dogs being people, some people would argue that they could be considered such. I’m certainly more inclined to consider a dog a person than I am to consider a corporation or a human fetus to be such.
I am a pet owner and I am a mom, and frankly, my dear, the two have about as much in common as a goldfish does to Godzilla. Rub my nose in it if you like, but it’s about time this whole “Pet Mommy” thing got some serious yanking back.
If you’re a responsible caretaker of your pet at all, then the burden that comes with that should be at least comparable to childcare. Dogs have needs beyond kibble and water. They need love and attention. They need socialization. They need positive reinforcement and encouragement. They need to be played with. They need to exercise. They need to have fun and experience new things. They need to be given rules and boundaries. They need to learn and be stimulated mentally. They need to be respected. They need to be rewarded with treats and toys and experiences they’ll enjoy. If you’re taking care of your dog right, you’re doing a lot of work.
For years now, it’s been accepted usage for pet owners — invariably child-free pet owners — to refer to their dogs and cats as their “kids,” and to do so without apparent irony. And an estimated $50 billion a year in pet-related goods and services currently fuels this delusion. Doggie daycare. Pet strollers. Halloween costumes. Veterinary insurance.
She says “invariably,” but non-childfree people often refer to themselves and others as “pet-parents” as well, especially if they work in a field that involves constant interaction with pets. There aren’t that many of us childfree folks, you know.
Animals are expensive, especially when they’re cared for right. I’ve had Molly for less than a year, and I’ve already dropped over a thousand dollars on her in
the form of a plane ticket, a crate, food, toys, a bed, a home pet-dish, a portable pet dish, a harness, a seat-belt, a car tarp, treats, training tools, hygiene products, two leashes, a collar, tags, pet fees at home and when traveling, training classes, a backpack for hiking, and veterinary bills. And every bit of it was absolutely necessary in order to take proper care of her.
Doggy-day care is actually a great idea. Dogs have feelings too, and it’s not uncommon for them to experience separation anxiety when left home alone. Their nervousness at this situation may cause them to be more likely to be destructive than they otherwise would be. Dogs get lonely, bored, and scared just like anyone else. And if a care-taker is likely to be away for an extended period, it’s nice to know that the dog will be let out when it needs out, and that it will have adequate food and water. Additionally, dogs are social animals and being around other dogs is great for their enjoyment, and their emotional wellbeing. It’s good to socialize dogs with strange dogs and people. It’s certainly better than leaving them at home alone all day. I don’t use doggie day care myself, as someone is usually home, but I certainly see the appeal.
Pet strollers are another good idea for small breeds. Little dogs still need exercise, but they might tire on a walk long before a human does.
Halloween costumes are just a bit of fun. The author even admits to having her own dog wear one.
Veterinary insurance is a must! Medical care for pets can be expensive. I hate to see animals that could otherwise be saved and restored to good health simply because the care-taker was to cheap to actually follow through on their responsibility to their pet. I’d like to remind the class that animals aren’t toys to be discarded when broken. They’re living beings who you take responsibility for.
What? No college fund?
Actually, I’ve already spent a pretty penny on training courses for my dear Molly. When I get the time and the money, I’ll bring her to more classes still. Eventually, I’d like to have her certified as a therapy dog. It’s not exactly a four-year university, but it’s a considerable amount of training for a dog, and a considerable financial investment for myself.
There’s even an entire new literary genre riding on the back of our boundary confusion: “dogoir” — a heartwarming, first person narrative centering on the relationship dynamics between ordinary pet-owners and their spiritually gifted-and-talented woofspring.
Do you feel your ears perking up? Think about it. When’s the last time you picked up an inspirational book about child-rearing? Never. Because there is no such thing.
Actually, yeah, there is a ton of baby-worshipping, diaper-sniffing, umbilical cord-gazing drivel literature out there. It’s a flat lie to state otherwise. Hell, there are entire blog communities centered not just around the practical aspects of child-rearing, but the qualities of the relationship that are either romanticized or entirely imagined.
Real parents write bestsellers with titles like Go the F**k to Sleep and The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Real parents write survival guides. Field notes. Training manuals. Not freaking fantasy fiction with fur.
Actually, most “real parents” don’t write anything at all except facebook posts about the latest diaper blowout.
It’s become ideologically unsound to say so in public, but you and I both know that pets are stupid. Not just “slow” or “differently intelligent” — just plain stupid. (When we say a poodle is intelligent, we forget that we are speaking in purely relative terms. Compared to a pincushion, sure.) That’s not a moral failing. It’s not something we love them in spite of. It’s something we love them because of.
Pets aren’t stupid. It’s nonsense to say they are. It’s nothing but speciesist snobbery to hold the intelligence of another species to the standard as a human. Suppose I said humans were clumsy and compared them to cats to do so? Suppose I said humans were blind and compared them to hawks? Suppose I said humans were slow and compared them to antelope?
These “kids” of ours eat their own vomit, run straight into oncoming traffic and hump the furniture. Hello? Is that a reflection of their intelligence? Even more to the point, is that a reflection on our “parenting”?
Human children do the same things and worse. Both need to be taught not to. If the author’s pet does the things mentioned, then she has failed in her responsibilities to her dog.
As for dogs, most can be housebroken within weeks of birth if the human cares enough and knows what they’re doing. Cats can be litter-trained at a similarly young age, often with little involvement on the part of any human. Cats can even be taught to use toilets. Human children? You’re lucky if they’ve stopped wetting the bed by age five.
I could be wrong, but it seems to me significant that we cannot crate our children. Nor can we expect them to heel, appreciate table scraps or take well to shock-collaring. At the same time, we do not fight for Angry Birds access with our cats. Our dogs waste little time on social media, and can almost always be counted on to say ‘no’ to drugs. And if they dress provocatively, I think it’s fair to say we only have ourselves to blame.
Actually, human children do get “crated,” if you think about it. They’re called cribs and play-pens. Even older children are often “crated” in their own bedrooms. And if you’re a decent parent, you’d better be able to expect the child to heel.
Shock collars are abuse. They shouldn’t be used on any animal. Shock collars are used on dogs and not on children because of speciesism. It’s as simple and horrible as that.
As for the rest, the author has only demonstrated why pets are better than children.
This Mothers Day, let’s remember that, as much as we adore our animals — and full disclosure: I dressed my pug as a monarch butterfly last Halloween, and it was awesome — they are not our children. To pretend otherwise makes monkeys of all of us.
Until there is a nationally-recognized holiday specifically celebrating pets, I think Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are perfectly acceptable times to celebrate our animal companions. (Share!) Anyone who would call themselves “pet-parents” is completely justified in doing so.
As for myself, apart from occasionally referring to Molly as my “baby,” I don’t pretend that my dog is the same as human child. She’s better, as far as I’m concerned. I much prefer dogs. Why would I pretend that she was something less desirable to me, right?
Kidding aside, no one is affected by using the term “pet-parent,” especially as the prefix “pet” makes the term very clear in meaning and avoids any confusion. So there’s really no sense in getting pissy over it. Calm down, Maushart.
Happy Mother’s Day, pet mamas!
Getting sterilized isn’t easy, especially if you’re young and/or have no children. But it can be done, if you’re persistent. I got my tubal ligation at the age of 22, and with no kids.
- Be sure sterilization is what you want.If you’re anything less than 100% certain, don’t bother. For one thing, if you’re not totally convinced that sterilization is right for you, then you aren’t likely to be successful in convincing anybody else of this. Everything about you from your words to your body language needs to communicate with absolute confidence that you are done birthing kids or never want any at all.Another reason this certainty is important is because you do not want to be in that small (I stress, very small) minority who actually do regret their sterilization. Not only is that bad for you, personally, but your unrepresentative situation will be used against other men and women seeking the same procedure.
- Research your options.There are many sterilization options (for women/for men,) and it’s important to figure out which one will be best for you. It’s important too to know as much as possible about the procedure you choose, both from a medical perspective and from the perspective of the patient. You need to know what to expect, for your own comfort and peace of mind. It’s also helpful to be able to communicate clearly with your doctor, making sure your both speaking the same language, when it comes to your request for a certain procedure, and also to demonstrate to your doctor that you are knowledgeable about the procedure and understand exactly what you’re asking for.Don’t be suckered in by anti-sterilization scare-tactics. There are a number of unhelpful myths about sterilization procedures, and they’re easily debunked by honest and earnest research and understanding of the procedure. Don’t let medical myths perpetuated by the regretful minority dissuade you.
- Be prepared to stand up for what you want.You should never have to justify your actions, but a doctor will ask anyway. Be ready to give reasons, good ones, for your decision to be sterilized at that time. You should be able to go on and on all day about all the reasons you want to be sterilized, however small and ultimately inconsequential some of those reasons may actually be to you. If it helps, prepare a list.It’s also important to familiarize yourself with popular bingos, and be prepared to counter them. You do this not only to dominate the conversation, but also to demonstrate that you’ve given the matter a lot of though and are completely serious about it.
- Research doctors and hospitals/clinics.
Who even does sterilization procedures? You’ll be wasting your time if the doctor or hospital you go to doesn’t provide sterilization at all, or the particular procedure that you want.It’s also important to check reviews for doctors and hospitals/clinics, just as you would for any other medical care that you seek. You want to know that you’re in the hands of medical professionals that you can trust with your health.
- Know how you’ll be paying for the procedure.Cost varies by type, as well as other factors. How will you afford sterilization? Does your insurance cover it? Does the government? Can a non-profit organization assist you? Can you afford to pay out-of-pocket? If not, you may have to find a way to get insurance that covers the procedure, and/or set up a savings fund. You might even get creative, organizing a fund-raiser or accepting donations from charitable and supportive friends (think of the opposite of a baby-shower.)NOTE: Someone on FaceBook said that this list works well for civilians, but not necessarily military. That’s when I pointed out that I was active duty US Army at the time that I got my tubal. Yes, it’s more difficult for military, but it can be done. And, as it just so happens, TriCare pays for 100% of it.
- If you have one and he/she is supportive, bring your partner to the consultation.It will help you to have support, someone in your corner to lend encouragement and assistance. Additionally, bringing your partner will keep a hesitant doctor from bingos appealing to your partner’s hypothetical intentions (“What if you meet the right man/woman?”) Your doctor may be more convinced if you can demonstrate that you and your partner on the same page, not that you ever need anyone else’s permission to seek whatever medical care you want for yourself. Best off, now there are two people arguing for the procedure, and the doctor is out-numbered.
- Be polite.It’s easy to get angry and defensive if a doctor refuses to cooperate, this refusal often involving unintentional rudeness and condescension as well as sexism and ageism. But yelling at the doctor won’t get you anywhere, except ejected from the building. Be firm, but not hostile. You may still be able to convince this doctor yet. If not, you may be able to at least get a referral to another doctor who might be more helpful.
- Don’t back down.Don’t let a doctor, or anybody else, talk you out of sterilization, or convince you to delay your pursuit until you’ve met some arbitrary requirement like age or marriage or number of children. Don’t let a doctor talk you into other forms of birth control instead (I did take a deal to use an IUD for 6 months before my doctor would agree to give me a tubal, but that was a bargain to get a tubal, not something I accepted instead of a tubal.) You decided on sterilization, and you mean to get one. It’s your body, don’t let anyone tell you want you can and can’t do with it. It’s your mind. Don’t let anyone else make it for you.If your doctor refuses to help, don’t wait for him/her to come around. Find someone else.
- Remember that you’rethe boss.You aren’t seeing doctors to ask permission to be sterilized. You’ve already decided to be sterilized, a decision which is exclusively your own decision to make. You’re simply looking for doctors to hire for the job. With that attitude, no doctor can deny you sterilization, but simply refuse to take the job. It’s the doctor’s loss then. Take your business elsewhere.Keep the trail warm. Every time you’re told “no,” by a doctor, try to at least get a referral. Don’t be discouraged. For every time you’re turned down, you build a history of pursuit. It’s hard for new doctors you see to deny your certainty when they see appointment after appointment with previous doctors in quest for sterilization. Giving up certainly won’t help, as doctors won’t just come to you.
- Whenyou do eventually find the right doctor, celebrate!Revel in your impending infertility and all the benefits it will bring you. And rejoice that all the time and effort you spent on your hunt, all the arguments and aggravation, has finally paid off for you. And don’t let anyone rain on your parade. Don’t rain on it yourself with nervous worry. Everything will be fine.Have a plan for when the day comes. If you’ve researched the procedure, you know how it will affect you. You may miss work for a few days, or you may just have to sit on some ice for a day. Make sure that you’ve made arrangements for a ride home, if you’ll need one, as well as someone to help you out for a day or two, if needed. It might also be a good idea to have easy food and entertainment prepared at home if you need to spend a few low-key days recovering.
Update: Dr. Berger has assured me that he has nothing to do with the spam bots.
I recently checked my blog’s automatic spam filter. It seems a number of not spam comments were falsely flagged as such. They are now up. I apologize for the delay to those comment authors. But as I was checking my spam notices, I discovered something weird. I have a disproportionate amount of spam related to infertility, including IVF and tubal reversals, the latter of which specifically advertising one, Dr. Berger. Yeah, kind of barking up the entirely wrong bush on a childfree blog. What’s weird is a lot of these spam comments are on posts completely unrelated to my tubal ligation, or fertility, or childfreedom, or children. Weird! This was on my Sticky: WARNING! OPINIONS AHEAD! post. It contained no pictures and no mention of children. And yet:
Hi Julie,I found your blog via Wendy’s class. I’ll be in it also.Love your photos. Such an aalodbre little boy you have. You have so much good info on here. I’ll come back frequently to check it all out.-Carol
I’m not currently in any classes and I don’t know any Wendys. I’m no photographer, most of the pics on this site are from my phone or just taken from random sites. I certainly don’t have any children, let alone any boys. Imagi-Gary is not real. I can’t think of who she might be talking about, or what photo. WTF?! It gets weirder. This was on My Childfree Rules Re-Write: About Being Childfree. Anyone who read that would have no doubt about my childfree status, and yet this was posted, apparently to me (and not to anyone else.)
Congratulations on your beautiful bludne of joy and the relief of problems from your tubal ligation. I too have have so many problems of the same nature since my TL 13 yrs ago. I received my TR surgery on my birthday 4/28/2009 and turned 41. I did it due to having the same problems and to also be able to conceive again if possible. I am kind of skeptical due to my age, but I am very healthy otherwise. My husband was concerned due to my problems and is hoping I will be better than before. He is more excited now than he was before my TR surgery to be able to conceive. He is so anxious he can’t hardly wait for me to heal to try and conceive. We both have children from a previous marriage but none together. We believe it will be wonderful to have a child together and raise it together. Thank you for your encouragement.Annmarie M.Tennessee -Gina
My only “bundle of joy” would be my adorable dog, Molly. And I have had NO problems with my tubal ligation as “post tubal ligation syndrome” is likely not even real. I’m sure as hell not encouraging anyone to pollute this already horrendously overpopulated world with more children, especially when they already have some, and especially when their advanced age is likely to result in children with health problems, because such actions are selfish and stupid. On the note of not giving a crap about any Infertile-Myrtle’s non-problems of infertility, I got these two nonsense spam messages. Both of these were on Sterilized On World Population Day, which, as you might guess, was about how I finally triumphed in obtaining permanent sterilization, and just happened to do so on a day that serves to remind us of our growing overpopulation crisis.
I am so glad to see this post. I’m 45 yrs old and had my tubes tied (cauterized) 11 yrs ago after my third child was born. Same as Penni, the fertility cilnic I went to would not perform the reversal because of my age. IVF is apparently my only solution. I’ve gone through all the hormone test (FSH, sonohystogram, etc.) and I was told that there’s follicles we can work with.I have finally decided to go ahead with my original plan to have my tubes reversed. My current partner doesn’t have any children while I had 3 with my first marriage. I would really love to have another child and I hope that someday, I can have another one. I am planning my reversal for September of this year. -Austin
Weirdly, this comment was in response to Beth, who wrote:
Just wanted to say a very sincere thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences pre- and post-TL; honestly, several of your posts have been the most helpful things I’ve read so far. I’ve got a TL scheduled in a couple of days, and was doing a bunch of web surfing to try to make sure I have a thorough understanding of what it will be like and what (if anything) I need to worry about for afterward. I found it refreshing to read something that’s not borderline hysterical. -Beth
Yeah, I don’t think Beth and Austin are on the same page here. Here’s another comment on the same post, evidently posted to me.
What an inspiration to read your story. I will be 46 in Sept. Had my fsh tsteed and it came back 2.9! Thats when I really beleived maybe my eggs werent to old yet -like all the other websites statistics and Dr. tell us they are at our age! Like many of you I already have 4 wonderful boys 26-11 yrs old and my fiance has none. I am torn between invtro and TR. I also want to experience getting pregnant the natural way not through invitro. Thanks for posting your story of encouragement for all of us. Many blessings and prayers to all!! -Auth
Not only is this, again, a story bout a happily childfree person joyfully obtaining a tubal ligation, and doing so on World Population Day, but his is also the blog of a borderline anti-natalist and outspoken atheist. Ok, now I start getting ads for Dr. Berger tubal reversal. Oddly, they don’t even seem to be on the post where I dismiss “post tubal ligation syndrome,” as little more than a medical myth, according to current medical research. This was on Sterilized On World Population Day.
I just finished the first and prlobaby last IVF treatment that resulted in 45 shots over 10 days, surgical retrieval of eggs, only 2 fair to poor embryos that were transplanted, and a negative pregnancy test. I was told because of my age 45 that IVF was my only true hope of having another baby (I have 3 children already and my husband has 1 from a prior marriage). My husband is 12 years younger than me and we both want children together. After getting a phone call today from my doctor on the heels of the bad news, she doesn’t think I should try again because of my age. While devastated at this news, I am taking heart and hope from the testimonies on this page that all will be well for us. We will get pregnant the old fashioned way after a little help from Dr. Berger and his team. It certainly should be a heck of a lot more fun than what I just went through. -Miranda
IVF, it’s selfish, stupid, narcissistic, wasteful, and disgusting. I hope it fails every time. Stop breeding more people into this overpopulated world and adopt if you really must have kids. And stop wasting medical resources so your narcissistic asses can have your genetic replicants. This was posted to me on the post, Kids and Soldiers, which is about soldiers in my company, including myself, volunteering to help out in child-related activities. The comment below has nothing at all to do with the content of the post.
I just want to thank Dr. Berger and staff for helping my couisn Pamela and her husband to having a baby. She tried for the longest time after she had the surgery to have a baby and had 2 miscarrages(sp) and then she got pregnant with Baby Jesus (aka Porky as we call him) he is the sweetest lil baby. Pamela and Jesus are the loving parents of this beautiful baby boy. I speak for the whole family when i say THANK YOU for helping them get pregnant and having this miracle baby. We are greatful for what you done for this family. To all the women that want to have babies beileve in Dr. Berger and his staff at Chapel Hill Tubal Reversal Center they will help you in anyway possible to make a miracle come true for you!!THANK YOU GUY!!!! -Sachin
This next one was posted on A Kid Visited My Home. Nothing Broke. I’m Not Surprised, which is a diary post, which is mostly about how I actually don’t hate kids, and how the stupid advice given in various child-proofing articles is completely unnecessary when parents actually parent. So, again, the comment has nothing to do with the post.
Dr. Berger, I am a 28 years old woman hoping for anohter chance to have anohter baby. I have two boys and they are 14 and 11 years old. I had my tubes tied when my youngest was 5 years old Now I am with someone that doesn’t have any kids he loves my kids and is very good to them, but I would like for us to have our own .he is a good guy and at the beginning I was afraid to tell him about my tubes tied, but god helped me and I told him ..he was sad but then we found your website and we are very excited about meeting you and hoping you could help us !!!
I am not Dr. Berger. If it were up to me, none of these idiots would get reversals. If they can’t be bothered to think through decisions like permanent sterilization, then they aren’t responsible enough to be trusted with children anyway. Think through your actions, bitches! Worst of all, these thoughtless idiots make obtaining sterilization harder to obtain for people who actually are responsible enough to think their actions through very carefully. So thanks a fucking lot, assholes. As for infertility, get the fuck over it. It is not a tragedy, or anything anyone “suffers” from. No one needs children, especially not in an overpopulated world. If infertility is someone’s biggest complaint, I’d like to congratulate them on having no real problems in life. If you really want kids, adopt.
Remember waaay back when I wrote a post about how people who are just desperate to be offended will go out of their way to find things to be offended about, no matter how far they have to stretch the truth of what has actually been said? Of course you do. That was written quite some time ago in a train-of thought sort of way, covering a few related topics. But for the most part the conclusion is, “haters gonna hate.” Now hold that thought.
Do you also remember waaayback when I wrote a rant about two insane articles about childproofing for the childless, one of which being insulting and the other being a thinly-veiled advertisement for expensive and unnecessary child-related products for people who don’t even have kids? Well, someone, Andy Semler, found offense with it. Apparently, not going crazy about childproofing my perfectly safe home, not punishing my well-behaved dog just because I’m having visitors over, and not spending $200+ dollars on baby things to keep in my home when I DON’T EVEN HAVE KIDS makes me and anti-child, anti-feminist, ablest, classist bigot. Oh, and I’m probably a racist too, apparently.
I swear, I don’t even know how to respond to shit like this. Andy’s post is fail from start to finish. How can I even begin to argue against complete, hysterical nonsense? I suppose it wouldn’t matter as any response, if read, would only be met with yet more nonsense from someone determined to be offended and unconcerned about petty things like reason or truth. I suppose I probably shouldn’t answer at all, as that only gives attention to an individual who is clearly out for just that. This blog in particular is no stranger to such people, as any long-time readers will recall.
Oh, well. Here we go anyway, if only for the lulz. As Andy frequently quotes me, and I will be quoting Andy, things might get confusing. To make things easier, quotes of me will be in blue, and Andy’s quotes will be red.
And with that sensationalist bit of dishonesty, this pile is not off to a great start in the integrity department. It is neither “forgetting that children are people,” nor is it discriminatory to not go to absurd lengths to child-proof my home, especially as I don’t have any children. The troll, when addressing my original post about childproofing for the childless, quotes me in parts, and in intentionally misleading ways – but we’ll get to that later. The interesting thing is that in the post, Andy links to another, mostly unrelated post of mine, which actually hilariously proves Andy wrong on a number of accusations.)
And important thing to keep in mind: As stated earlier, the post Andy was attacking was about countering notions that a childfree person’s home is some kind of pigsty and that childfree people should shell out hundreds of dollars on kid junk just because someone with a baby might drop by some day. Oh, yeah, I must be the wicked witch of the west.
If you’re like me, you always see red flags whenever someone says things like “I don’t hate blacks, I just hate loud angry blacks” or “I like women, just not the crazy ones” or “some of my best friends are gay, but I don’t think gays should act all effeminate”. Yeah, kinda gross.
Fist off, Andy goes ahead and makes up an excuse for me (how thoughtful!,) and one that I’ve never actually offered. This is called a straw-man fallacy. The author is desperate to frame me as some kind of bigot who argues that I’m not a bigot based on my relationship to members of X group, in this case, children. I guess, being childree, I HAVE to be anti-child, otherwise the Andy’s might have to reconsider some of Andy’s pre-conceived notions about what a childfree person is and aught to be. Basically, Andy is making shit up. And I’ve seen this kind of behavior before. It seems that Andy needs drama, needs to feel like a martyr and crusader, so I have to be the big-bad-wolf, despite my actual words and behavior. Aren’t there enough real problems in the world that people shouldn’t have to make up new ones?
Note: This really doesn’t have anything to do with anything, but by now, readers will have noticed that I’m trying to avoid gender pronouns. Andy identifies as genderqueer, and while that’s nice and all, it doesn’t exactly lend itself well to the English language we’re all taught. Andy writes that pronoun preferences are Ze/hir, but I’m not sure how to use those or which, if not both, would apply. I’ve been attacked before for trying to use the wrong pronouns while trying to speak of a transgendered person in a gender-neutral way, and that wasn’t much fun. So I’m just avoiding the whole thing.
But if it’s kids, then magically we can judge away without reprisal, amirite! And since kids, depending on their development level, often need caretakers with them at all times, the judgement extends to those caretakers too.
I’m accused of being ageist, and yet Andy even acknowledges that kids are different at different developmental levels. Simply put, a child is not the same as an adult and it’s silly and counter-productive to pretend otherwise. How is it ageist to acknowledge this fact? Would you let four-year-olds drive? Let 8-year-olds vote? Put 10-year-olds to work in factories? Leave 2-year-olds alone at home?Yeah, unlike blacks and whites, one comparison the insane author makes, kids and adults actually ARE different from adults in more ways than the superficial. And it’s not ageist to acknowledged this fact. It’s damned irresponsible not to.
Incidentally, if children and adults really should be treated exactly the same, and we could realistically expect the same behavior, why would anyone ever want to childproof at all?
As for judgement, I judge everybody based on their words and behavior, regardless of age. Despite Andy’s title and opening premise, I’ve never said anything along the lines of “I like children, but-” In fact, I refuse to preface my statements in any such apologetic way.
14. I will not write the disclaimer, “I love children, but..” before expressing an opinion that sits in contrast to the natalism-worshipping sentiments people are used to encountering.
As it is, I don’t hate children, nor do I love them, in general. (I neither love nor hate adults in general.) Regardless, such a thing would likely be irrelevant to whatever statement follows anyway. Honestly, if someone is set on painting me as a childfree, child-hater, then it won’t matter much what I actually say or write anyway. That’s their problem, not mine. I really don’t give a fuck.
In fact, the closest thing I say to Andy’s premise is in a blog post about having a lovely child over, who DIDN’T get eaten by my home, DIDN’T break anything, and was taught by his parents how to behave and those parents could actually be bothered to ensure that he did behave. That is to say, that tangentially-related post that Andy links to and is utterly refuted by.
“Contrary to popular belief, I don’t actually hate kids. I just don’t like non-parenting parents and the bratty behavior that results.”
No, seriously, what kind of idiot does someone have to be to think that is an ageist remark? Someone who is completely inept as a parent, I suppose, who can’t be bothered to actually raise their kids right and doesn’t appreciate being called out on it. Oh, did I strike a nerve?
Again, Andy needs an enemy. So if I directly contradict a stereotype, Andy is quick to push me right back into that neat little box. Some people are more comfortable believing that childfree people are just nasty, rather than re-evaluating their own prejudices.
[Huge trigger warning for ageism for the rest of this post].
OK, never-mind that there was actually no ageism on my part, but that is not how one uses a trigger warning. Andy is just trying to be dramatic.
The author starts out by saying that she shouldn’t have to reconfigure her home to make it accessible to young children. True. If she’s not ever going to invite anyone over, she shouldn’t have to. Also there is a cost element to these things. My house cannot be accessed except by going up steps in the front, and even coming in from the back isn’t a smooth ride. I cannot afford to fix that, though I could put a plank over the back door to create a makeshift ramp if necessary for a person in a wheelchair. I see that as a regretable reality and I apologize to anyone who is discriminated against as a result.
I actually never said anywhere that my home couldn’t be accessible to children. In fact, it must be as I just had a child visit me not that long ago, and he didn’t seem to have any trouble getting in. Not only that, but my home never once tried to eat him. Yes, amazingly, he managed to survive my home, despite me not spending hundreds of dollars on child-related merchandise. And I know Andy must be aware of that because Andy links to the very post where I talk about it.
Amazing, right? Not really. Apart from not having child-proof locks on every door and window (and why would I?) I don’t think that my home is any less child-proof than the home this particular child came from. Come to think of it, the home I grew up in didn’t have tons of expensive child-proof crap, and yet three children managed to survive it just fine.
What I’m not doing is making my home into one giant, spill-proof padded room. My home is NOT dangerous, as this tykes survival proves. And with minimal effort from his folks, he behaved wonderfully. Amazing what actual parenting can accomplish! This is what actual parenting looks like people. I know this must seem fantastic, given how few people these days actually deserve the title of parent, rather than simply “person with kids,” or “breeder” as some of my childfree peers would say.
Honestly, if I couldn’t trust a kid to behave in my home, and the parents to ensure that the kid actually did behave, I wouldn’t bother inviting the kid at all. The only child-proofing that my home, and indeed most homes ever need is simply attentive and involved parents.
But then she goes off on this ableist ageist tangent for pretty much the rest of her post:
My home is not dangerous. If things like the contents of my cupboards, the things on my shelves, or my electrical outlets are any threat at all to a child (or vice versa) that means that the parent has failed, not me.
I’m not going to argue that a noncaretaker is obligated to become a caretaker as a general rule, though I do question the humanist values of someone who is okay with allowing a person under their roof to come to harm. But to say flat-out “my home is not dangerous”, that is flaunting her privilege straight-out. Her home is not dangerous to her. To someone with different abilities, it can be a difference of life and death. Check your damn privilege, or don’t accept anyone into your home. That simple.
To claim that it’s ablest or privileged to say that my home is not dangerous is beyond absurd. My home isn’t dangerous to me or to children in general, so long as those children are appropriately supervised by their parents. Consider that I live in a townhome surrounded by identical units, many of which contain children. None of them have been eaten. Consider also that if my home was dangerous, my landlord would have to fix it. Indeed, these units have to pass inspections before they can be deemed suitable for habitation. So if you want to argue that my home is, indeed, dangerous, perhaps you’d like to have a discussion with the inspectors about building codes?
So now I’m going to challenge Andy. Andy, despite never seeing my home and having no idea about how it’s constructed, you seem certain that my home is dangerous, even going to the extreme of engaging in “life and death” hyperbole. Either tell me now exactly how my home is dangerous, and in ways that could kill someone, based on what you already know (nothing) or retract your statement that I am privileged for saying that my home is not dangerous. Good fucking luck.
Yeah, anyway. If a child manages to get hurt in my home, consider that the person who was supposed to be watching the kid is responsible for that. I expect parents that I have over to know their kids well enough to be able to form reasonable expectations of their child’s behavior and to know what level of supervision is necessary. Again, my home is not dangerous. I don’t keep broken glass embedded in my carpets, nor do I have an alligator pit surrounding my yard, or sippy cups filled with poison, or heroine needles in my couch cushions. My home is NOT dangerous. Not to me. Not to children. And that was exactly the point that I was making in my post, especially the first portion of my childproofing post that was addressing a rather insulting article that basically insinuated that people without children are total slobs, not to mention drug addicts and sexually indiscreet.
And I am talking about children here, not people with physical disabilities like being confined to wheelchairs. Yeah, those aren’t even close to the same thing and it’s beyond shameful that Andy even can even try to make such a comparison and expect to be taken seriously. I suppose that if I did know anyone confined to a wheelchair, if they came to my home, for whatever reason, they’d have to sick to my ground floor, or just not come over. I’m not about to renovate my home to make all of my halls wider or install ramps and machines to help people with stairs. It’s expensive, for one thing, plus there’s no need for that as it’s MY home and no one in a wheelchair lives here. As my home is a private residence, rather than public property or a business, it is not at all discriminatory to leave it as it is – I’m the one who lives here, no one else has any need or intrinsic right to be here.
But physical ability is not the same as voluntary behavior, which is the problem with inviting children who are either not taught by their parents how to behave, or have weak parents who won’t enforce appropriate behavior. Being a kid, especially a poorly-behaved one, or else one who just doesn’t know better, is NOT a disability. It’s ridiculous to pretend that it is. Take that from a veteran who happens to have an actual disability.
Oh, and as for the advice about locking my animal in another room, FUCK OFF! My dog lives here. This is her home. The kid’s the guest. If anything, I’d be more inclined to shut the kid down in a separated room.
I’m going to skip over the part where this woman is inviting a child into her home to be treated as lesser than even a dog. There are genuine reasons why dogs need to be kept away from certain people, and kids are people (yeah, I guess I gotta keep reminding her of this). Some people have severe physical reactions to certain animals. Some people have debilitating phobias or PTSD regarding certain animals. Those things require accommodation, and if you can’t accommodate, let people know before inviting them into your home, rather than flaunting your ableist privileges.
So, apparently guests are more important than those who actually live at a residence. Consider, why would I invite someone over who, for whatever reason, couldn’t be comfortable around dogs? Why would the parents of such a child bring them to the residence of someone who has a dog (can people really not turn down invitations if they foresee there being an issue?) It’s not like the fact that I have a dog is a secret to anyone who I know well enough to have over.
My dog happens to be very well behaved. In fact, I’d like to train her to be a therapy dog some day. So any problem between my dog and a child would likely be due to the child handling my dog improperly (and I do expect parents to either teach their kids how to treat animals with respect, or else keep said kids away from said animals.) There is never any excuse for animal cruelty, regardless of age. So if there was ever any problem between my dog and a child, I’d put the child away somewhere, not my dog. My dog lives here. What, you’re not speciesist, are you, Andy?
Here’s a real-world example. I had a child over recently who got along with my dog famously. However, he was briefly seperated from my dog by one of his own folks, because he threw my dog’s Frisbee down a basement fire escape in an attempt to trap my dog. My dog wasn’t brought inside for the child’s behavior, the child was. By his own care-giver! And without even a word or look from me. Truth be told, I didn’t even notice that anything had happened until the child had been sent in, and one of the care-givers had already retrieved the Frisbee. This is what responsible parenting looks like, people!
Later, the child was again separated from my dog, but this time it wasn’t due to anyone’s behavior. When it was time for the boy to go to bed, I shut the door of the room where he was staying so that my dog could not get in and disturb him while he was sleeping. I shut the child (as well as my other guests,) in the guest room. This was an act of courtesy. What I did not do, however, was shut my dog into any room. She still had free reign of her own home, minus that one room. She still needed to have access to her food, water, and bed, after all, which aren’t all in the same room.
Andy quotes me again, but only in part.
The article, when making these demands, explains that most women don’t have the luxury of a nanny and lacking these things at your home, these poor mothers would have to scurry back to their own homes to tend to the baby. Um, I’m pretty sure a babysitter would cost a lot less than $200!
Oh look at that, classism too! If you don’t have money, you gotta stay trapped in your house or among your own caste other parents. Couldn’t be that a certain humanist would be happy to make the world a better place for everyone to coexist. Nope!
What, am I classist for being able to do basic math and figure that the average babysitter would probably charge less than $200 for whatever length of time would be appropriate for a visit? And even if the cost of the times was less than a babysitter (and it certainly isn’t) how is any of this my responsibility and not the parent’s? Or am I classist for not spending my own money on a whole bunch of expensive baby crap that is completely useless to me, because hypothetical visitors are just that entitled to my money if they happen to have kids? No, really, the logic of how not spending hundreds of dollars for a crib, high chair, and other baby-junk for a home that usually contains no babies is somehow classist is never explained, especially since, if these items are so important, a parent could buy them themselves and, as they’re portable, simply bring them over.
Oh, and I guess now is a good time to mention how much I just love how the author doesn’t bother to provide context for the quotes. See, where she quotes me above, she doesn’t even include any mention of just what demands I was talking about: a childproofing tips for the childless article, basically being a transparent attempt to market expensive baby products to people who don’t have kids. In this case, the list of demands totaled over $200 in price. Um, that’s quite an omission.
An honest writer would have included the following quote from that post for context, but I’m not dealing with an honest writer here, am I?
While the first article was all about childproofing on short notice, the second one is about childproofing way in advance, just in case. And by “childproofing,” it means buying tons of expensive kindercrap, despite the fact that I have no kids, only some of which actually has anything to do with childproofing at all. The following is the list of demands:
- The North State Superyard XT Portable Playard – $49.50, or Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard -$91.54
- Chicco Caddy’s Hook On High Chair – $37.99, or Fisher-Price Space Saver High Chair- $59.99
- Safety First Infant-to-Toddler Tub – $11.99
- Just Kidz Yellow Duckie -$6.40 (a child-proofing must? Really?)
- ProGrade Dual Action Outlet Protector – $3.99
- KidCo Auto Close Center Gateway – $84.95
- Corner cushions – $10.49
(And by the way, how did generations of children before us ever survive without all of this?)
And this isn’t even the only place in the article where the author deliberately leaves out important information relevant to the portion of my writing that she quotes and argues against. What we have here is a complete failure of integrity that could well make Fox News blush.
Another aspect which I wish I could had the time to dig into is the anti-feminism of being anti-child. Suffice it for now to say that in a society where women are disproportionately expected to bear the majority of the labor costs involved in caring for children, it is anti-woman to be anti-child, and any accommodations not given to children are also denied women.
So now I’m anti-feminist because I’m supposedly anti-child. Well, false premise, false conclusion. For one thing, I’m not, as a matter of fact, anti-child. The author made that up for drama. Or is it anti-child to expect parents to actually parent (verb) their children?
Secondly, I don’t think that even being anti-child is anti-feminist anyway, unless one would like to infantilize women. Yeah, women and children are not the same thing. Curiously Andy’s rationale for the link is pretty sexist. Um, yeah, it’s pretty anti-feminist to expect child-care to be primarily the responsibility of the mother.
Andy quotes me again:
If the kid is young enough that that it’s a real danger to my home or vice versa, it’s staying in it’s carrier or the parent’s lap for the visit, or will be otherwise secured. It will not be granted free access to roam my house, and certainly won’t be left unattended by the parent for a minute.
So a kid must be restrained at all times but a dog can roam free. Um, how are you calling yourself a humanist again? I’m not saying that anyone who isn’t a caretaker must assume the responsibilities of a caretaker. But if you’re inviting someone into your home and expecting them to spend their entire time without dropping their guard even for a second, don’t invite them into your home. That simple. A parent would rather hear the honest “my home would be a horrible place for your kid” than the “oh sure, come over” with all this hidden baggage attached.
Of course my dog can roam free in her own home. She lives here. She is not a danger to my home and my home is not a danger to her. As it is, my home isn’t dangerous for kids either. If, say, a child is so young as to not be trusted around stairs, then it’s the parent’s responsibility to keep that kid away from the steps. It’s not that hard! This isn’t ”hidden baggage,” this is just expecting a parent to be responsible. This isn’t any different from a parent’s responsibilities with their kids anywhere else in the world. Parent mode does not get switched off just because they’re inside my doors. (I would hope that the same would be true within that parent’s own home as well.) My home is not a day-care. If keeping kids safe and out of trouble, in my perfectly safe home, means being constantly “on guard” then that parent must be doing something seriously wrong somewhere or just shouldn’t bother to visit at all.
Why does this generation of parents, seemingly more than any generation before, have so much more trouble with the concept that it’s the parent’s own responsibility to control their kids and raise their kids properly? When did it become completely unreasonable to expect parents to actually act like parents?
I’ll ignore that they assume that children are even welcome in the home at all (some people don’t allow kids in general, kids under a certain age, or specific kids for various reasons,) as that’s the scenario being addressed. I’ll even ignore that it expects the host to care about childproofing at all. What these articles fail to do is address the responsibilities of the parents. All of this childproofing is completely unnecessary if the parent guest just acts like a responsible parent. If I went to the home of a non-dog-owner, I wouldn’t expect the place to be dog-proofed, stock dogfood and dishes, and I sure as hell wouldn’t expect the host to allow me to just let my dog wander free in their house without me still taking responsibility for watching it. No. Fucking. Way.
Nobody must allow people into their homes, and not everyone can accommodate every need. But if you’re having people over (again, children are people), you need to understand that people will be in your home. I don’t have dogs over. There’d have to be an extenuating circumstance for why I would. The reason? I have no clue how to accommodate for dogs, and I’m sure I wouldn’t do it right, so I simply am honest and don’t have them over. Even the most responsible dog owner can’t perfectly control a unique and independent organism, and it’s 10-fold with parents and children.
Actually, I can control my dog, being a responsible person and all. And I have brought my dog to visit the homes of people who do not also have dogs (I was actually on my way somewhere else and just stopped for a short visit to drop off some gifts which were, yes, for a child,) and everything went quite well. In fact, we were invited back over, dog and all.
See, the thing is, responsible dog-owners and parents alike actually DO have the ability to control their respective tag-alongs. It just takes a little thing I like to call “competency,” which seems to be something that many people in this generation lack.
Don’t bring your kid unless you know that they’re welcome. If you have to, arrange for a sitter. If you’re not willing to cut the umbilical chord for a few hours, politely decline the invitation. Consider having the meeting at your own home.
It’s “cord”, not “chord”, though an umbilical chord would probably sound really interesting!
Oh, she got me. I used the wrong homophone. Well, I can’t argue against this new evidence. Clearly, my type error proves that I must surely be the most despicable kind of villain, and I probably eat babies in stews.
Incidentally, I wonder how the Andy’s article would fare under the red pen treatment.
And I agree that people who visit other people should make them aware of who all is visiting and it helps to announce any particular special needs. But people who are having guests should also ask if there are any special needs as well, as a matter of common courtesy. You know, giving a fuck.
Being a child is not a special need. Parents can, and if they’re good parents, will, teach kids to behave, and watch those kids to make sure that they do. That’s the parent’s responsibility. The only “special need” children in general can be said to have is the need for their parents to be responsible. The only children with special needs are actual special needs children. No excuses.
The next few bits are some highly condescending ”omg, did you know that you have a kid and your kid has needs?” bullshit, so I’ll skip past them as well.
I really can’t contain my amusement that the author references “… a few bits [that] are highly condescending…” then proceeds to put in quotes a remark I never actually made, as if I said it in my original post. Integrity fail!
I might know what the author is trying to say, but simply couldn’t write it in a way that made sense. Simply, Andy is dismissing what I wrote as stating the obvious – that parents should watch their own kids. It’s amazing that Andy can here dismiss this as obvious, but in the rest of the post, declares me a bigot for just such a statement. Andy, is parenting the parent’s responsibility or not?
But for this next paragraph. It’s astoundingly bigoted. How can I tell it’s bigoted? Because if you replace “child” with any other human demographic that is not in that human’s ability to control, you’d be disgusted as well. For example: Manners will be expected. Do try to keep your black under control and quiet, or, if you can’t, consider taking them home.
How do you know someone is bigoted? If you can replace a word in a statement they made with another word and still make a grammatically-correct sentence that actually is bigoted, that’s how! I wonder how this line of logic fares I practice.
- Registered sex offenders shouldn’t be allowed to live close to schools and playgrounds.
- Jews shouldn’t be allowed to live close to schools and playgrounds.
See? Using Andy’s own “logic,” I’ve just proven that, unless Andy is OK with having pedophiles and rapists living close to schools and playgrounds, then Andy must be a bigot. Right, Andy?
Yeah, no. Just because one statement is bigoted does NOT mean that the other is. No rational adult considers these linguistic acrobatics to be a valid form of argument. But it seems that not everybody actually is a rational adult – Ahem!
It is nonsense to pretend that expecting a parent to mind their child’s behavior is like instructing someone to mind their black (as if black people were legally the responsibility of, presumably, white people by virtue of being black, or black people, like children, cannot realistically be expected to behave properly.) If you can manage to be offended by being expected to actually ACT LIKE A PARENT TO YOUR CHILDREN, then you have absolutely no business having children as you clearly aren’t fit for that responsibility.
Of course, if I notice a member of my group I’ve brought with me is starting to cause problems, I would take them home. And if someone in my house was acting like a douchebag, I’d call it a night and ask everyone to leave. But that’s just the thing: this works for all ages and all people, but it’s only with children that we somehow have the delusion that they can and should be controlled like puppets.
Well, considering that my original post was about a couple of absolutely absurd child-proofing articles, yeah, this IS about the behavior of children. I have yet to see any articles that demand that I must 20-year-old proof my house. Do you know why? Because adults and children are not the same! The expected behavior of them is not the same! But that doesn’t mean my rules aren’t the same.
I would certainly not expect a 20-year-old visitor to mark with crayon all over my walls, or swallow random small objects around my home, nor would I tolerate such behavior (I certainly don’t see articles demanding that I must spend hundreds of dollars on things that I don’t need just in case a 20-year-old visits.) Likewise, such behavior is not allowed by my younger guests, and I expect parents to teach their kids how to behave, especially in the homes of others, and also ensure that their children actually do conduct themselves appropriately. That’s not too much to ask. That’s simply the parent’s basic responsibility to their kids and to the world as a parent. Yes, children do need to be controlled, and anyone who is an actual parent, rather than simply someone who managed to breed, knows this as a fact.
But no, no, we shouldn’t burden children with things like rules or boundaries! No! Let them run feral! Anarchy!
Nor have I ever seen a babyproofing article that went like this:
1. Lock your doors.
2. Use birth control.
Funny, that’s how I can keep people with disabilities out of my home as well, but you’d be horrified by me making a joke about it, and rightly so. Turns out, people who have different needs are still people, even those people who need someone else to care for them. And caretakers are people too. It’s time we start treating them with some basic human dignity.
Birth control keeps disabled people away. Who knew? Seriously, this troll has problems.
The only different need that children have in my home is the need for their parents to treat the word “parent” as a verb and actually parent their children. Period.
tl;dr: If you can’t check your privilege and contain your bigotry, don’t let anyone into your home, because you really shouldn’t have people around you.
Andy, get help. You clearly need it.
You know what’s “privilege?” Thinking that parents and children are superior beings to be worshiped by all sections of society, to think that I should spend hundreds of dollars buying expensive kindercrap rather than commit the unforgivable sin of expecting parents to take basic irresponsibility for the needs of their own children.