Showing posts with label Family Planning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Family Planning. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Piece of Advice #76: Don't have some other guy's baby and try to pass it off as your significant other's

*Note to my niece: I hope and trust that this piece of advice is not for you.

Most of the pieces of advice I have written have been pretty common sense.  It seems surreal that I even have to write the above one out, but let's peruse the recent high-profile case of director Andrew Douglas suing his ex for deliberately duping him about the paternity of her daughter and extracting hundreds of thousands of pounds in child support from him and not being at all contrite when this was exposed:
‘Of course I didn’t lie. I obviously didn’t think that he wasn’t her father,’ she said. ‘If he wants to be her father, he should provide for her. Isn’t that what’s fair?’
Dear greedy, duplicitous skank Ameena Meer: it would be fair if you told him up front that he was not the father and he chose to parent anyway.  However, given that you at least suspected he wasn't and, despite not being in a relationship with him, pressured him to marry you so as not to shame your Muslim parents, and, after you divorced him, you  blithely took your child out of the country he was living in, I'd say nothing about this was "fair."
fair adj. fair·er, fair·est : marked by impartiality and honesty, free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism
On display next: the major motion picture, Mamma Mia, whose plot revolves around a young woman's search for her father, one of three possible men her mother slept with in short succession some twenty odd years ago.  She wants him to walk her down the aisle.  Ignoring for a moment the fact that a father's main purpose in life is not to serve as a prop for the perfect wedding, there's the fact that this play/movie was written, acted, watched and enjoyed without any apparent outcry about the irresponsibility of a woman deliberately denying her daughter even the information about who her father was, let alone respecting and actively trying to involve him in her life.
From the Wikipedia synopsis: The issue of Sophie's parentage is left unsettled, as none of them have any idea whether they are actually her father. Everyone involved agrees that it does not matter which one of them her biological parent is, as Sophie loves all three and they are all happy to be "one-third of a father" and a part of her life at last.
Read the above paragraph again.   Everyone involved agrees that it does not matter which one of them her biological parent is.  That's right, the message of this thing is dads don't matter.  Kids can be successfully raised without them, and they themselves are happy to be considered interchangeable.  Too bad none of that is true.  I do find it interesting that the same people who ascribe to the above beliefs would be horrified if adoptive parents simply did not tell their children they were adopted.  It's strange how biology is of critical importance to a child's sense of self only when it does not inconvenience that child's biological and custodial mother.

Finally, let's take a peek at the views of Melanie McDonagh, a writer for The Spectator.  Recently she opined in "Who's the daddy?":
Now, a cotton-wool swab with a bit of saliva, plus a small fee, less than £200, can settle the matter. At a stroke, the one thing that women had going for them has been taken away, the one respect in which they had the last laugh over their husbands and lovers. DNA tests are an anti-feminist appliance of science, a change in the balance of power between the sexes that we’ve hardly come to terms with. And that holds true even though many women have the economic potential to provide for their children themselves.

The subject has resurfaced lately, courtesy of a story in the Daily Mail, about a married television presenter who for years had been paying for the support of a child conceived, as he thought, as a result of his relationship with a writer. It seems that after meeting the child for the first time, he asked for a DNA test; it duly turned out that he was not, after all, the father. Poor child...

Many men have, of course, ended up raising children who were not genetically their own, but really, does it matter? You can feel quite as much tenderness for a child you mistakenly think to be yours as for one who is...

A.C. Grayling, the philosopher, has written with feeling on this question this week, in an article for the Evening Standard. Noting that 4 per cent of men are, all unknowing, raising children who are not genetically theirs, according to a report in the Journal of Epidemiology and Human Health, he ponders the impact a DNA paternity test can have: ‘The result can be shattering, leading to divorce, marital violence, mental health difficulties for all parties including the children.’ Well, yes. Scientific certainty has produced clarity all right, and relieved any number of men of their moral obligations, but at God knows what cost in misery, recrimination and guilt.

Our generation sets a good deal of store by certain knowledge. And DNA tests have obvious advantages when it comes to identifying less happy elements of our heredity: congenital disease, for instance. But in making paternity conditional on a test rather than the say-so of the mother, it has removed from women a powerful instrument of choice. I’m not sure that many people are much happier for it.
 Dear Melanie: clearly you hate men and think they should have no say in life's most basic urge, reproducing one's self.  But just so you know, cuckolding was never a female right or privilege.  It was always wrong, always fraud, always cruel, always selfish.  A man has a right to know if a child is his.  A child has a right to know if a father is his.  A woman has no right to interfere there for her own convenience.  Women have all the other reproductive rights: birth control, abortion, single motherhood, abandonment on a firehouse's steps.  Isn't that enough?

Here's a tip for women who don't want the messy humiliation of determining paternity after the fact: sleep with just one man at a time.  I know that's hard, but, you know, it works pretty well.  The average woman's cycle is only 28 days long, so every four weeks or so you've got a built-in pass for more promiscuous wild oat sowing, but take it one guy at a time, 'kay?  If you fool a man into thinking your child is his and it comes out down the line that that child isn't, the resulting mess and emotional trauma is all your fault.  Yes, it's a lot better for children to have fathers, so pick one good man, reproduce with him, stay faithful to him, and work at keeping that relationship healthy.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Piece of Advice #50: Realize that your reproductive "rights" utterly trample men's reproductive rights

Read the above sentence again.  And again.  And again.

I have one child, a son.  Whether he has children will be entirely dependent on some woman someday deciding to allow him to reproduce.  He can't do it on his own, and she is entirely free to dispose of any in utero grandchildren of mine without consulting him, me or my husband, her own family, or anyone else up until the minute it gasps for breath outside the womb.  Even though this hypothetical child is half his genetically, and even if it is viable outside of the womb, and even if he wanted that child and was willing to raise it alone, eschewing any support, monetary or otherwise, she could destroy it and and tell him with a smile and these horrible women would shout with glee about what a triumph her choice would be for womankind.

Amanda Marcotte has made up some faux sympathy cards for men who are upset that their partners chose abortion.  Now Amanda is on an average day a wretched piece of smug, condescending, bitter and angry agitprop that respirates, but this particular bit of hers made me physically ill.  Here's the deal, pro-deathers, some men actually want to have children and anticipate experiencing that aspect of life with women who are not assassin droids.

Here are some tender words of feminity from our friends at Pandagon:
If a man tried to pull that crap with me, I’d tell him that if he cares about the embryo so much then he should get to work on inventing a way to transfer the pregnancy into his own body.  Oh, you don’t really want this thing to leech off your body for several months?  Well, I don’t either.
Has anybody read some of the “testimonials” on the FFF site? Yikes.
A bunch of whinging and crying about how a woman’s abortion has ruined their lives.
A sadder bunch of selfish douchwads I’ve never had the misfortune to come across - if they exist at all.
Perhaps there should be a whole line of cards:
“I’m sorry she made you use a condom”
“I share your pain in finding out about her diaphragm”
“You’d be a dad if it weren’t for that IUD. I feel your agony.” 
And a flower of sympathy at Feministing:
But there is no legitimacy to him feeling like that. This isnt a miscarriage its an abortion. Trying to 'meet him halfway' will result in loss of rights of women. You dont legitimaze unhealthy entitlement. Just like you dont make a card for a guy that says 'sorry she chose to have a kid rather than abort.' Trying to claim that men are harmed by these personal reproductive decisions women make IS having it dominated by anti-choice ideology.
I swear, abortion rhetoric is sounding more computer generated by the day.   Except for the typos.

Now, I'm outing myself here as anti-abortion which is probably not such a huge surprise, but as a pragmatist and a realist, I have come to believe that abortion is here to stay.  The cat's out of the bag, there's no shoving it back in.  What I would like to address is the idea that in a relationship the woman decides anything regarding procreation and has the greater vote.  If you are married, these have to be mutual decisions.  (If you are unmarried, don't sign up for single motherhood.  Just don't.)  And his opinion matters.  He may be able to view the situation from a different standpoint, perhaps even more objectively given the lack of new hormones rushing through this bloodstream.  Yes, parenting is a sacrifice, and for the first bit the mother pulls the lion's share.  She carries the baby, she nurses the baby, she hauls the baby around.  Her body isn't her own for a good long time.  But it's not as though fathers are unaffected.  Fathers also raise and support.  Fathers have to assist their wives and live through the upside-down postpartum craziness.  Fathers very frequently pay for the better part of the family's expenses.  We have to respect that.

We seem to be reaching a point in society where - unlike back in the early 1960's when the pill was first introduced and advocated for use in serious situations only - if a pregnancy interferes with, say, the nail appointment you've got schedule in 3 weeks, delete it.  The above women would say that because a woman has to carry a pregnancy, hers is the only voice.  Her body, her choice.  I say that if that is your attitude, get your tubes tied because the Number 1 principle of parenting is sacrifice, and if you can't even compromise in hypothetical negotiations about reproduction, well...

My advice to the man whose girlfriend (which seems to be the situation hypothesized here) chooses to abort without telling him or against his strong protestations: get out of that relationship and start looking for someone with stronger maternal streak.  And my very real condolences to you on your loss.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Piece of Advice #49: Get some experience with children

When I was a teenager I spent hundreds of hours taking care of other people's kids.  I volunteered at church in the nursery and babysat practically every weekend (at $1.25/hr, can you believe it?).  The summer I was sixteen I worked full time as a babysitter, whiling away the long summer hours entertaining an eight year old.  By the time I was twenty, I was seriously down with kids - babies, toddlers, elementary school kids, tweens - I'd logged the time and I was reasonably adept at caretaking, entertaining, diverting, and maintaining order.  If you'd sat me down at a table with a shy or sulky three year old, I'd have picked a spoon and asked her to tell me if her reflection was right side up or upside down and then flipped it and asked again.  Flip, flip. Concave, convex.  Magic.

Because I had this experience when I went to work as an English teacher in Russia, I did not panic when they gave me a schedule full of different age children: 1st grade, 3rd grade, 6th grade, 9th grade, 11th grade.  It was a challenge coming up with suitable lesson plans for all those different ages, but I wasn't totally unfamiliar with what was developmentally appropriate or what worked with what age.  Later I found a job as a children's librarian and had no problem switching gears from preschool to teen interaction at a moment's notice.

Now, not everyone wants to work with kids, and that's fine.  But this background meant that when I finally became a mother, it wasn't nearly so overwhelming as it is for many new mothers.  Sure, I consulted reference books about developmental milestones, and I called my mom if my son got a strange rash or ran a high fever, but I had no problem becoming comfortable with my kid because I was comfortable in general with kids.  I knew how to play tickle and peek-a-boo and I had a whole repertoire of silly songs including some I made up myself.

It seems strange to me that we as a society are proud of producing women who don't know how to change diapers or talk to babies or distract a toddler from the tantrum he's about to throw.  Or, even worse, producing women who don't want to have children at all.  I don't think it's odd for women not to relish the idea of diapers or midnight feedings, but what kind of self-loathers do we have to be as a culture to be programming our daughters to believe that motherhood is drudgery or "detrimental."  Motherhood is the de facto state of women and has been for thousands of years.  It's why we're here: to produce and raise the next generation successfully so that they can produce and raise the next generation successfully.  Sure, it's hard work and can be relentless and thankless, but what job isn't?  And I've never had a cheetos fight, made up dragon stories, or exchanged PB&J smeared kisses with any of my other bosses or coworkers.

Getting that experience may be more challenging for you than it was for me.  I realize that girls do not babysit now the way they babysat when I was a teen, and families are smaller than ever, so you probably won't get it at home.  But volunteering is still an option, as is babysitting for friends.  Not all kids are pleasant to be around, but if you spend enough time with children, you may find that your perspective on the world changes.  It's harder to be a brutal cynic when you're with someone who finds blowing bubbles rapturous and fart jokes endlessly funny.  You may even start to want some of your own.  My advice is to start earlier rather than later on that.  Don't feel like you are wasting all your opportunities if you decide to be a mother early.  Motherhood is an opportunity and a learning experience, and there will still be time for outside aspirations when your kids get to be a little older.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Piece of Advice #14: Realize the clock is already ticking on your fertility

The prevailing wisdom on how much time women have before their fertility begins to seriously decline is changing; it's been scaled back significantly.  For decades now girls have been taught that the right timeline for personal development goes something like: college, work, play the dating market, work overseas or go to grad school, get a serious toehold on your career, start looking for Mr. Right, find him, have a couple of kids.  It was thought that 35 was the end date you had to be wary of.  So - plenty of time, right?  Apparently not.

For this one I'll be your cautionary tale.  I followed the script with a few substitutions because my family background is conservative.  I went to college, graduated with honors, went to work overseas, returned, worked a little while then went to grad school, met my husband, married and then started trying to have a family. My husband entered my life when I was 25, almost 26, and I married him when I was 27.  We are Catholic so we didn't use birth control, but I monitored my fertility for a little under a year because he had some student loans and other debt that I wanted to discharge, and it took that long to accomplish it with both of us working.  But by the time I was 28 I was trying to have a baby.  By 30 I was undergoing infertility treatments and by 32 I'd given up - I'd gone as far with it as my religious beliefs allowed and was burning out hard on the process.  I'd had surgery, I'd taken drugs, I'd given myself numerous injections.  I'd had biweekly blood tests and ultrasounds.  All in vain.  At nearly 34 I adopted my son. (My beautiful, bright, funny, active, 100% all boy son.)

So according to what I'd been told, I started trying well before I should have had to worry.  But that's not the way it worked out.  Endometriosis got there first.

And here's another thing to consider.  Casual sex can really mess with your fertility too.  Some STD's can make you infertile.  Some can create dangers in delivering a baby.  Pro-choice activists shout from the treetops how safe abortions are, but having one (or more) can damage your future reproductive capacity too.

This was not an issue for me.  I was a virgin when I married.  No STD's, no abortions.  Still infertile, though, when it counted.

What feminism doesn't want to talk about is the dirty little secret that most women want to have babies.  They might also want fast-track careers and romance with sexy, powerful guys and Manolo Blahniks cluttering up their closets, and they may not think too hard about the babies for a good long time, but at some point biology wins out and most of them will want the babies too.

Do you know how hard it is to want a baby and not be able to make your body produce one?  I'll tell you - it's hard.  It's brutal.  It rips your heart out.  It'll make you rage.  You will not be able to walk down the street without noticing how many babies and toddlers and little children are running about.  You will read news reports about abusive, neglectful parents with a new wrathful eye.  You will go to baby showers for your fertile friends and then come home and look at that full aspirin bottle.  You will hold it in your hand and then you will slowly put it back on the shelf and flip through your calendar to locate your next fertile period.

People will tell you, "If you can't have a baby, just adopt."

These people will not know what they are talking about.  Because adopting is just as hard a process as infertility treatments and no guarantee of getting a baby.  Those pro-women feminists who told you the great news about abortion?  They neglect to mention that all those abortions eliminate all the babies that would otherwise be available for adoption.  The rest go home to single mothers, many of whom will not be able to handle motherhood well or at all.  Every white, healthy baby has about 20 would-be adoptive couples competing to be its parents.  And the mother, the pregnant girl who chooses who will have a child and who won't, is someone you might not trust to water your plants for you while you are gone on vacation.  Your social worker will put your entire life under the microscope, will mandate sessions with a counselor to determine whether you are appropriate parent material, will take a check for a seriously large amount of money, and will then call you and say something like, "Uh, I have a birthmother here.  She's a lesbian, but she had a one-nighter with her gay friend and is now considering adoption.  She drank pretty heavily early in her pregnancy, but isn't drinking much now, just smoking marijuana now and then.  Oh, and she's bipolar.  What do you think?"

And it is crazy - CRAZY - but you will listen to that and you will still want that baby so bad, you'll nod and smile and say, "When can we meet her?"  Or if you're like me, maybe you won't.  But then you won't have a baby.

The point of all this is: your fertility is important.  It is so important.  Do not discount this.  Make using it as much a priority as establishing a career or traveling abroad or buying a beautiful house.  Make it more of a priority.  Plan ahead and save yourself a great deal of heartache and soul searching.  Trust me on this.  I've been there.