Sunday, November 29, 2015


This documentary film presented an interesting topic: why more women are rejecting the idea of becoming mothers.  Terra Renton took on this as a personal quest to do with her own life.  At age 32 she had put off the choice and now was wondering if she really wanted to stick to her resolution.  She had been involved with a tv show "Mantracker" and has some expertise and resources to really delve into it.

Before too long the choice boils down to the pros and cons.  The cons seem pretty frightful.  Your life is taken over.  Spouses and close friends tend to be neglected.  Careers are curtailed.  Lifestyles are altered.  On the other side is some parental and society pressure and buried in there are that you live for someone outside your self which is supposed to be fulfilling.

Along the way we uncover some trends.  I have observed and participated to some extent in these trends.  Fathers are now getting more involved in parenting, but are still dealing with their masculinity being questioned.  Previously fathers had been expected to be the bread winners and kept separate from raising children, except perhaps for discipline.

For myself I had accepted some of my father's habits and when my daughter was born, I didn't change diapers except in an emergency.  I did very little housework.  I did work long hours for a number of years in circulation departments of morning newspapers.  I developed habits of getting up early, around 5 or even earlier and often had to work late.  Later in life I ended up being a traveling salesman often leaving early and returning late and sometimes going away for a week at a time.

In the meantime I had a son born and things had started to change.  It had been pointed out to me that my brother-in-law, ten years younger and now my boss changed diapers and I found myself doing that a lot more.  I also did a little more housework.   I found myself not only getting involved with my children's extra curricular activities (dance, swimming, soccer, water polo), but also got involved in reading bedtime stories and even taught both of them to read.  Read about my volunteering  Here read about my proudest achievement teaching my kids to read.

In the film young women are portrayed as wanting to avoid all the encumbrances of child rearing.  It seems that consumerism impacted their choices.  Having a child would interfere with lots of things--vacations, entertainment and material goods.  All that is true.  Everything has a cost.  I didn't really think of parenthood before marriage and even in the early days after marriage it wasn't something I looked forward to.  But now I feel life was very selfish before and now is more meaningful and fulfilling.

My parents married young and I had been told they tried to have a baby right away, but I made them wait over a year.  Then they relaxed and my sister was born only a year and a half later.  Altogether they had six children with my youngest sister born 18 years apart from me.  I was told she was not an accident.  Still I had no wish to duplicate my parents feat.

There are a number of different angles  One point is that the role of men is changing and needs to be supported.  The United States is the only industrial nation not to have paid parental leave and thus conscious decisions are more difficult.  Parents have become over protective

One interesting example was given by Lenore Skenzy who was a reporter with a nine year old son who felt over protected.  He wanted to take a subway in New York to his home in Queens by himself.  Lenore and her husband were a little fearful, but finally they decided to give him the opportunity.  As she realized fear is overblown--violence is actually down unless you watch too much tv.  I remember being  a little fearful that my son (probably about nine) was sometimes the last one out of the house for a family trip and resented that we didn't trust him to lock the door.  Eventually I found that my son was worthy of trust.

It is universal that birth rates are declining.  At least two factors are important.  One is urbanization and the other (pointed out in the film) is secularization.  Fundamentalists whether Christian, Jewish or Muslim tend to have more children.  For us secularists it is frightening to think the world will be taken over by fundamentalists.  Consumerism is another foe for increasing the birth rate.

The family itself is losing its strength.  Many of us grew up with brothers and sisters and even more likely with cousins and aunts and uncles all of whom influenced us.  Without the one child China policy more of our Western cultures are producing fewer brothers and sisters and therefore fewer cousins and aunt and uncles.

The goal of everyone is to find the right balance.  Now that women have a choice it is not hard to understand why many prefer not to have the burden of motherhood, especially at a young age.  Society to survive has to have replacements, but unwanted babies end up causing problems.  For the individual they need to really think about this most important decision.  How this is accomplished should be a much higher priority

Terra is extraordinarily honest.  Conscious of the ticking clock she decided to examine the issue from all sides.  She talked to a wide variety of experts from Canada, the United States, Europe and Australia.  Music was provided by Dorothea Tachler

There is a Facebook page you can keep up to date with:

No comments:

Post a Comment