I hate it when people say "having kids is a choice" as an excuse for denying parents things like maternity leave, etc. For several reasons:
1) Having kids is not always a choice. Many people use birth control properly and still get pregnant. People get raped.
2) If you expect someone else to abort a fetus so you don't have to work a little harder, then you are a bad person. I don't care where you lie on the abortion debate, that definitely makes you a bad person.
3) We don't refuse to provide food to destitute children just because their parents made a choice by having them. Forcing a parent to do something that is detrimental to the child just because a choice was made to have them is not ethical.
4) Having kids is as much of a choice as eating. You don't have to eat. You could stop entirely if you wanted. Of course, you'd eventually die. But that's what would happen to the human race if everyone made the "choice" to stop having kids. Anything that is almost solely responsible for preserving the species is not a choice. Some people feel that compulsion more than others, but it's quite powerful, especially in many (not all) women.
There are few things more natural than having sex and procreating. Every species, every race has done it since the beginning of time (unless you're an amoeba). It's an essential component to most romantic relationships. And if you try to use the "sex is a choice" argument, all I think is that you're not getting any at home, sorry.
I should also mention my husband's argument, which is that doctors who say that are a bunch of snobs who think that what we're doing is so important that we're on some higher level of humanity that ought to be exempt from basic human functions like procreation.
"And if you try to use the "sex is a choice" argument, all I think is that you're not getting any at home, sorry."ReplyDelete
This line cracked me up.
Everything is a choice.ReplyDelete
If people really need to tell themselves that, "Having kids is a choice," in order to justify being chronically unhelpful and resentful, then that is just sad.
I agree with you 100%. It all falls down to selfish, resentful people. Those people are so into self that they do not think about their elderly future...these same children they resent are their leaders, doctors, nursing home administrators of tomorrow.ReplyDelete
I don't even know what to say, I wrote a whole long thing out, hit submit and managed to lose my internet connection right beforehand so it was all lost. Sigh. Maybe it's a sign. I'll try to muster a recap.ReplyDelete
Firstly, and perhaps least importantly, having children really is a choice. There are many very effective means of contraception nowadays as well as plenty of less effective ones. If you have a failure on something like Mirena, well that really is bad luck; but, if you have a failure using condoms over many years, that's not really all that surprising. I think it's also important to consider that fact that while you and I (and many others reading this blog) may be physicians, most people are not. While we may not use horribly ineffective means of "contraception," many other people do, and when you have "failures" using these methods, that really was a choice.
Now getting to accommodations, I don't look at children as being much different in this case as anything else. I think maternity/paternity leave is fine and really does not need much justifying. The problem comes in when people want "special" accommodations. If you have a child that is sick and you cannot come in, it really is no different than you being sick and unable to come in. They should be handled the same. If you have to use a vacation day or pay the partner that has to cover for you, then fine. The issue arises if people (for whatever reason) want to work less (yes, at the workplace) and get compensated similarly. If you have a young child and are taking two half-days a month for pediatrician appointments, parent-teacher meets, etc., etc. and someone else is taking 1 half-day a year, then compensation should reflect that. If you use vacation time to cover that, great. If you get paid for one/two less week(s) in the year when profit-sharing is determined at the end, sounds good.
I like to think of myself as a team player and will switch schedules around as able and do what I can assuming others are the same way when I need it, but compromise and accommodation is a two-way street. I really do not see having to miss time, change schedules, etc because of a child as any different than anything else when it comes down to it. Your kid has an emergency and you need a week off and I have to cover instead of taking vacation--shit happens, but now you need to be flexible in covering for me whenever I choose to use that vacation.
The problems arise if you use children as an "excuse" to work a lower amount and want similar compensation/vacation. I'm not sure the best way to word this, but the other problem can arise if you bring your children up as being a more important reason than someone else's (Oh, I had to miss that week because of my kid's ... but you don't have kids, so you can take that vacation whenever you want). It comes down to accommodating people equally regardless of reason.
Hear hear! It 100% IS a choice. Another choice is how you how you handle caring for your kids. It really comes down to human politeness and decency. People without kids need to help out every now and then and people with kids need to get off their 'i'm holier than thou because i procreated' horse and cover for those without kids when they need basic human things - like vacations and breaks and family time and dates... etc.Delete
Fizzy I'm sure you're mad at the holier than thou comment -and not everyone is on a 'i'm holier than thou because i procreated' high horse... but SO many people with kids treat us non-kid people like we have NOTHING going on in our lives either. You can cover that shift for me since you have no family? So it's certainly a 2-way street.
1) Some people use "kids" as an excuse to get out of things, and expect to be compensated the same, as you suggest. I do suspect that many people would gladly accept somewhat lower pay for more flexibility. That option is rarely offered.Delete
2) On the other side, some people without kids expect that parents will take advantage (even though not all do), and will act bitter and resentful / compensate you less because they *expect* that you will be a flake. This isn't really fair either.
3) Some people get bent out of shape when asked to help in ANY way, and then use the "having kids is a choice" line as a justification for their bitterness. This is perhaps understandable among professions (like residency) where you do not get compensated extra for doing extra work.
"While we may not use horribly ineffective means of "contraception," many other people do, and when you have "failures" using these methods, that really was a choice."Delete
So if you don't look as carefully when you cross the street and get hit by a car, would you say that person has "chosen" to get hit by a car?
Sorta - you are only responsible for your behavior! re: carDelete
I 100% agree with OMDG's statement. I get lower pay to work less hours and more flexibility, which is a choice I made. Not everyone has that option, especially people in residency. Agree with her points 2 and 3 as well. You should hear some residents go off on having to cover for women taking maternity leave.Delete
You could start to argue then that nearly everything is a choice. My uncle is overweight so I guess he chose that heart attack. Maybe he shouldn't get any time off for that. Damn selfish people having all these heart attacks.Delete
I do say sex is a choice. And you are correct, I am not getting any.ReplyDelete
Sorry about that ;)Delete
Don't be. Like I said, it's a choice.Delete
Then... you're probably a woman :)Delete
Fizzy, your comment made me laugh harder than your cartoons! Only americans think sex is mandatory in everyone's life at all times - even 88 yo woman or cancer-striken near death elderly man. In my training I heard ridiculous instructions from GYN attendings directed to 80+ yo women on how they need to get more sex. The humans are so bioligized by this society, and MD's are so sucked into this teenage culture of getting satisfaction from every aspect of your physiology. I have read that in reality sex life is only 1% of what comprises family life. Save your sorry for something else.Delete
I had no idea that in other countries, people commonly go their entire lives until menopause without sex! I just learned something new.Delete
I'm absolutely sick of all these posts about kids and family. It is absolutely your right to post whatever you want on your blog - but maybe you should re-think the title. You've lost a reader.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the heads up!Delete
This reader is right. As a woman with family and MD I have to admit you are too much, pushing your hypothetical rights because of "family". No one has to cover for me or you more than you cover for them. And despite you maitianing you never get favors from colleauges I doubt these posts would be so frequent if you did not abuse the systemt of coverage at work and did not feel somehow resentful about your colleagues/bosses stand. You said you have some in-laws within less than an hour reach, and a husbund. That's way more support system than many of us have. And we make it work. And we do not whine or impose on colleguaes.Delete
So yes, own it. Move on to more interesting topics. You are the writer for God's Sake !
Interesting like the cartoon from today that warranted three comments? Unlike this post, which bored everyone so much that it has almost 50 comments and three times as many hits.Delete
Mixed messages, people.
"I doubt these posts would be so frequent if you did not abuse the system of coverage at work and did not feel somehow resentful about your colleagues/bosses stand"Delete
Not that you have to believe me, but my boss recently moved me to a different part of the hospital, because he said the person who previously worked there was totally unreliable, and he wanted someone there that he could really trust to get everything done. On another occasion, when there was an extremely bad storm coming, he came over to me and ordered me to go home, because he said he knew I'd never leave otherwise, despite not being critical personnel. So my boss clearly disagrees with your theory.
Yes, kids are a choice. Mostly, for the reasons you put forward, Dr. F.ReplyDelete
But, they are a useful choice, a choice that benefits everyone in hte long-term. If there were no kids, there would not be a future. Or a very bleak future, if you want to take it to extremes.
I have finished raising my kids, so I don't take getting kicked in the back while on an airplane well or hearing and seeing the rukus badly-behaved kids can make.
I try to ignore it. If mom or dad seem truly overwhelmed, I try to offer some non-threatinging help (never p/u somebody else's kid w/o permission.)
My own son has Aspergers and more than once I had to leave a cart full of the week's shopping because he had a meltdown. There would be some older lady urging me to whale the tar(and "badness") out of him.
I try not to be that person.
Kids are a choice.ReplyDelete
But that doesn't mean that parents should or should not get special treatment. It does mean that a smart employer should have flexibility for *everyone*. I've worked places where there is flexibility built in so that if you need to work from home because your child is ill, take the dog to the vet, care for your mother, or help a friend in need, all are given equal weight. Here's your flexibility, do with it as you need.
It also doesn't mean that kids are some special excuse for not being a parent. "You don't know anything, you don't have kids" is a pile of crap, and my friends who do have kids understand that. It doesn't take having your own kids to know that, except in special circumstances, children in public should be held to basic behaviors and rules, and if they cannot do so, they should be removed from public. When you choose to have children, you are choosing to spend the time and effort to actually raise them, instead of letting them run wild like packs of animals.
And yes, having sex is a choice. I've known people who don't own cars because they don't want the costs and responsibility of what might happen if they cause an accident. I don't own a house because I don't want to deal with the responsibilities and costs of the upkeep. If you don't want to risk having children, wait until after menopause and buy a goddamned vibrator!
But if everyone is given flexibility but they only are allowed to take it when they need it then it will be disproportionately taken by people with kids. Because how often do people need to take a pet to the doctor vs a small child?Delete
I disagree with anonymous above. If someone has a health issue, they will likely take much more time off than someone with healthy kids. If someone has an aging parent, or heck, even a dying pet, they will need more time off.Delete
The person at my work right now that needs the most time off and doesn't show up the most has a health problem. Granted, it's not his fault, but he is definitely out more than any of the people with kids.
And if you're given time but don't take it, then that's your issue. Selling/buying a house, numerous minor health things, a car accident, etc. can all make it so you need a bit more flexibility for a time vs. others in your group. Those that don't need as much for these things often have a spouse/family with more flexible schedules that can help out.
Actually, most of the political elements who favor "having kids as a choice" are also opposed to providing for destitute children (at least for the ones who *have* parents that don't beat them and sometimes even the ones that don't), based on the logic that the parents chose to have children therefore the parents should be providing for them and society shouldn't be helping.ReplyDelete
At least they're internally consistent?
Hmm. The current Republican platform is against abortion AND wants to cut social programs to help poor children. So... not consistent at all.Delete
The Catholic church is more consistent.
Please, people, whether it is covering a colleague who needs to care for a sick child, or having to deal with the annoyance of a child in public, let's show a little compassion! We parents are not intentionally trying to inconvenience you. We are usually doing the best we can in a difficult situation.ReplyDelete
Let's also not forget that there is a biologically-induced imperative to a certain span of years to bear a child, which falls at the same time as residency (give or take a few years). It's not as if women can put off pregnancy until retirement, like you might that month-long trip to Belize or Fiji.
Once the children come, the disturbances to a work schedule caused by children simply defy planning. There is always that call from school or day care saying that you have to come get them NOW. When the pediatrician tells you that they have chicken pox or something else that causes a week-long visible rash, you learn that while they may no longer be contagious, the school/day care won't let them back until it is entirely gone. Which, by the way, you still have to pay for, regardless of whether the child is actually in attendance. Then you start the process of cobbling together spouse, babysitters, grandparents ... and then you start considering ex-lovers and strangers off the street ... to cover so you can go to work. (You also have to find the money to pay them!)
It is my experience that (1) it is people in medicine, rather than business, who get most upset by this circumstance, probably because the work of a doctor or nurse cannot just be tabled until her return; and (2) these people are irrationally more upset if your absence is caused by your children's needs than if, for example, you just learned that you won a cruise to Bermuda that leaves on Saturday. Why? Because having a child was your choice; therefore, you should have somehow planned for each and every contigency. But, winning a cruise to Bermuda - why, that's a once-in-a-lifetime event!
Oh, and to the person who is bored by this thread, remember, Fizzy's life is not all medicine. Goodbye, have a good trip, and I hope you are sitting next to a toddler for your entire flight.
It's true that it is ridiculous how many unexpected situations come up with kids. I never would have believed it pre-kids.Delete
I agree with you. It's a sad consequence that the availability of abortions means some people will expect or maybe even pressure women into having them. Where is the choice there?ReplyDelete
Also, looking at the procreation factor from an evolutionary perspective. The uneducated tend to have a larger number of offspring than educated women. If educated women are pushed through the lack of resources to have few if any children, than the future generations will have a significantly larger portion from the uneducated backgrounds, effectively dumbing down our future. For the good of the future, we should be encouraging educated individuals to have more children, not less. Do we really want Honey Boo Boo as our doctor or president?ReplyDelete
If all educated people stopped having kids, we'd probably have a pretty bad generation or two before the system reformed itself.Delete
This is the basis for the strange future world in the movie Idiocracy :)Delete
C'mon, Fizzy ! We already have had a few bad generations. America is not producing enough educated professionals. Hundred's of thousands of immigrants arrive each year and fill the need.Delete
Whoever you are, I'm guessing you are not from America, considering this is your second comment bashing Americans on a single post.Delete
Similarly, agreeing with Fizzy, you can't be American because"hundred's"Delete
Hmmmm, interesting! I like this weekly whine.ReplyDelete
In regards to sex being a choice, I agree, as someone in a committed relationship, you aren't going to be together for long without sex--it's a basic expectation that we tend to have ingrained in us. However, you have to consider that entering into any sort of relationship where sex is involved in the first place, be it anything along the spectrum from FWB to married for life, IS a choice we make. Biological yearnings factor into our decision, yes, but as humans, I believe that we have a conscious brain and can use it. If we know, consciously, that the time isn't right in our lives to risk the possibility of pregnancy, we can make the right decisions to not put ourselves at that risk, namely not having sex. As one commenter above said, vibrators are your friend! There are other means of expressing your urges than jumping into bed (I've always found funny how we tell teenagers this, but we are often unwilling to apply it to our own lives...) Relationships aren't strictly necessary for one to continue on living--unlike food or water, you're not going to expire without one. Therefore, they are a choice. And sex is a choice. And children are a choice, following the logic.
The whole "the world will end if everyone stops having sex/the educated people stop having sex/etc." argument...I guess one could say that we're doing a lot of things, as humans, that have the potential to eventually drive our species into extinction, like decimating our climate and natural resources. I'd actually argue that the current population levels of the world cannot be supported by the current resources for any extended length of time, so you could turn your argument on its head and say that if we continue on breeding like we are, everyone will suffer. It may be "natural" to mate and produce offspring, but as humans, we are doing a lot of "unnatural" things that are messing with the balance of life and death, like utilizing modern medicine to prevent death and extend life. So the whole "it's natural!!" argument doesn't quite apply to our current situation either.
But we're not talking about avoiding relationships for a year or so to prevent pregnancy. Having a child at ANY point in your life is going to affect your career. So to be safe, you would have to avoid romantic relationships until menopause.Delete
If you heard about a 50 year old woman who had never been in a romantic relationship and never had sex, would you think, "Here is a smart woman who made great choices for the sake of her career!" Or would you think this person has deep psychological problems? I've actually had a few patients like that, and they all very clearly fell into the latter category. Either they suffered an early abuse or were developmentally delayed.
It used to be that women were told that they indeed DID have to avoid romantic relationships of any kind if they wanted to have a career, because to have a career and a family was irresponsible and just not done.Delete
Thank goodness most of us in the US no longer subscribe to such retrograde beliefs. The idea that a woman must choose between romantic love and personal fulfillment outside the home via a career is repellant to me.
Actually, most in the United States DO still subscribe to these beliefs, even if, as a woman, they don't tell you to your face. The discrimination is there, almost always. The U.S. may be much better than some of the other, more sexist cultures out there, but I promise you, your young daughter will probably never see true equality in that regard. Unfortunately, I think we are still a couple of generations away from that.Delete
^^Please note that nowhere in my post did I say that putting off romantic relationships until menopause is the "right" choice for a woman with a career. I was simply dispelling the argument that we as humans have no choice in whether or not to have babies, which is what you based your original post on. The reality is that it is.Delete
Here's how I look at it on a practical level: I understand that people are going to make choices that are at certain moments, incompatible, such having children while being committed to a career. I, as a childless person, also occasionally make choices that are sometimes incompatible, like a spur-of-the-moment trip to help a close friend move cross-country during the weekend I'm supposed to work, or wanting to be with my ailing grandmother for a day or two during the holidays when I'm supposed to work, or asking for a particular evening off each week in order to attend a night class. Those certainly are choices too, and they aren't any less important to me and my life than the choices the people around me made to bear children while balancing a career are to theirs.
So, I tend to cut the people with kids some slack when little Billy gets a sore throat and has to go to the doctor (or whatever), even going as far as to offer to pick up a holiday or evening here and there for a coworker with kids who's up against a wall with child care. I'm not heartless; I understand that stuff happens. In return, my expectation is that the parents are not exempt from pinch-hitting for me once in a blue moon. It's give-and-take. If a parent acts totally entitled to any time off they wish and is unwilling to ever reciprocate when I step in for them, that's when I begin to get annoyed. I now decline to cover for those people when asked.
I'm the original anon you replied to, by the way.
OMDG did you realize that US is a little behind some countires in this paradigm? At last by decades? Developed and underdeveloped european countries have promoted female careers by making firm maternity and child care leave policies. In my country of origin (undeveloped by your standards) women were (at the time of my university years) 100% employed and 90% of doctors were women! And no one in their sane mind would talk "women/mother rights" because all of those needs were taken care of. Locums were hired instantly when woman went omn maternity. If someone was caring for a sick child the covering person was paid double. Hold on on thanking god yetDelete
I think some (most?) of my impatience with these sorts of discussions comes from two issues:ReplyDelete
1) Most of the mothers aren't single mothers, but somehow never seem to expect their partners to parent equally, or semi-equally. Instead, they expect their co-workers to do more or other family members to help.
2) Most of the mothers who expect their co-workers to do more (or worse, who expect family members to provide free childcare, etc.) haven't done or don't do more for co-workers and haven't contributed free help to family or community members.
Please note: I said "most," not "all." I'm lucky enough to have a couple of colleagues who don't fit the "most" part at all; but I have others who fit right there.
I agree w #2 above... it is my pet peeve to see nice old grandma who has "finished" raising her kids provide free babysitting 5d a week to ungrateful daughter (usually). One woman I know watches up to 5 kids at a time! Grandmas always insert that "they're so precious, I really love them" and I KNOW they do, however when you're with them 40 hrs a week that's really more of a job/parenting role than a super-kind, spoiling, extra special grandma sort of role.Delete
It's nice if grandma can step in where needed, it's just irritating if it's actually expected.
I suppose that's grandma's choice too though!!
Most? I think the majority of mothers do NOT behave that way. But when a woman isn't behaving selfishly and inappropriately, you aren't aware of it. It's the squeaky wheel that gets your attention. I mean, think about it: almost all nurses are women, most of whom have kids. Do we think of nurses as being particularly unreliable? I sure don't.Delete
I also only know a handful of people whose grandparents look after their kids with any regularity.
There are many inconsiderate, unreliable people out there. These people don't STOP being inconsiderate when they have kids.
Actually, I counted my colleagues with kids, and yes, the majority fit one (or both) of those behaviors (with #1 being a bigger group, which probably says something about demographics at my workplace).ReplyDelete
Maybe the people to blame for this is not the moms who feel pressured to shoulder the entire burden of childcare, but all the dads out there who make their spouses feel like they're not allowed to ask for help, and refer to watching their kids as "babysitting." You should feel sorry for those moms who feel like they can't count on any help from their spouses.Delete
Wow! When you give someone a semi-anonymous soap-box, all sorts of surprising things come out (especially if they're an otherwise intelligent, well-educated person).ReplyDelete
For the vast majority of women of childbearing age, it takes LITTLE TO NO EFFORT to get pregnant. It takes real dedication, responsibility and commitment to birth control to prevent a pregnancy. Yes, having kids or not IS a choice - and so is condescension. I'm glad you're not my doctor.
This one puzzled me: "We don't refuse to provide food to destitute children just because their parents made a choice by having them. Forcing a parent to do something that is detrimental to the child just because a choice was made to have them is not ethical."ReplyDelete
When, and where, in America at least, has a child been denied food? As far as I can tell, at least in the US, if you don't work and have one kid after another, you'll get things like welfare and food stamps and medicaid thrown at you. In the meantime, when I was working part time ( tried very hard to find full time work and could not) in my early 20's and tried to get medicaid, I was told I couldn't get it because I wasn't pregnant! Never mind that I was intelligent enough to keep my legs closed and not get pregnant. This was my choice, yes, it was my choice NOT to have sex. I guess that's "un-natural" in you eyes, though. "Romance" and "sex" are 2 different things, and you don't need one to have the other.
Mother Teresa never procreated. I guess her helping thousands of poor people and that little Nobel Prize thingy is just not as important as procreating.
Also, the human race isn't in any danger of dying out soon. Ever hear of "overpopulation?"
In your eagerness to reply to me, you didn't even read the sentence that you quoted. I said we *don't* refuse to provide food to destitute children. It's like I wrote the Earth is round, and you said, "What are you talking about?? The Earth is round!"Delete
Can I ask how you arrived at this post? It's quite old and then suddenly two comments in one day.