“Child-rearing values — sacrifice, stability, dependability, maturity — seem stale and musty by comparison.”Amanda remarked:
Whitehead is concern trolling people right to the divorce court.
I don't know if Whitehead is really of the opinion that there is a kids vs sex life trade off. Many commenters had practical experience that this is not so. I do think I see what is so irksome about Whitehead's opinion though:
If one recognizes that they are not going to be comfortable giving up a sizable chunk of their time, their money and that mental and physical personal energy that goes into an enjoyable social life [intimate or public], even if we just call that "spoiled and selfish", then they are better off not having children. Such children, had they come along, would have sensed the neglect and brought forward that subtle and deep sense of low value as a person to another generation. If such a child occasionally reaches the cusp of awareness that that feeling of worthlessness was not innate but imposed, they must decide where to battle a foe that has long left the field. To cease cycling such drama into this world, it is vastly more important for a person to know what will make them happy than it is for them to conform to any convention of happiness.
The idea that you should always be happy is a bigger myth and more dangerous than the myth that "a baby will bring us together". Following either is a slow motion train wreck. Pursuit of happiness is a right, we allege, but the state of happiness itself is an illusion oh so popular for two minutes out of every fifteen on television. There is, however, a difference between the myth of "entitlement to happiness" as antagonist to the myth of "have babeez, be happy" and the compromise struck when one [or more often, a couple] is realistic about how children will impact them and still take the plunge knowing some things from the Before Kids life will have to go. I counted at least a half dozen comments from parents who knew these waters and reported satisfaction with that upstream swim to the spawning grounds. It is one of the most common reckonings in the world. Its just a shame some people make it badly. But as Paul Simon sings, "the information is unavailable to the mortal man" [the mortal man should ask a mortal woman! Then maybe this part of the survey would not surprise you:
The survey noted that 37 percent of U.S. births in 2005 were to unmarried women, up from 5 percent in 1960, and found that nearly half of all adults in their 30s and 40s had lived with a partner outside of marriage.]
The word "sacrifice" does properly belong in this calculation. In fact all of them: "sacrifice, stability, dependability, maturity" are exactly what I would call for as terms of a procreation contract. And, hoping not to put words in other's mouths, I think those commenters exemplify being conscious of those values as you work at having kids AND a reasonably fun marriage. Where Whitehead gets it wrong is that she is judging all the country through this survey. She denigrates those who know the sacrifice is not for them as if they were evil shirkers of a universal obligation. Quit judging people, Whitehead! Those values are not "musty" they are just not necessary unless you do choose to have kids nor are they for everyone. I wonder if a social critic like Whitehead could imagine how much less burdened and conflict riddled this world would be if the people for whom children were an option were free and informed enough to recognize it would be a mistake in some cases and go on their well adjusted childless way. That would be a greater "maturity" than the one Ms Whitehead judges to be lacking.
It looks like America is not waiting for Ms Whitehead to figure this one out.