American Women Are Having More Kids Than Before – Without Men

“A baby bust. The fertility rate at a record low. Millennials deciding not to have children. There has been a lot of worry about the state of American fertility.

Yet today, 86 percent of women ages 40 to 44 — near the end of their reproductive years — are mothers, up from 80 percent in 2006, reversing decades of declines, according to a new analysis of census data by Pew Research Center on Thursday.”

So begins this piece by Claire Cain Miller, which talks about the changing trends in motherhood in 21st century America. What we observe is that despite fertility rates being down, more women are mothers than in previous decades. This increase is not accounted for by the middle class, but rather by women with the most and least education.

This increase is not accounted for by the middle class, but rather by women with the most and least education.

“While women without college degrees have always been highly likely to have a child, women with college or advanced degrees had been less so, until recent years. Now, 80 percent of women with professional degrees or doctorates have a child by the time they are 44, compared with 65 percent two decades ago… And motherhood among women who have never married has risen across racial and educational groups.”

I’ve written about this before – over 50% of kids born to women 20-30 are out of wedlock.

Due to what social science says about the outcomes for children of single parents, I don’t necessarily think decoupling parenthood from marriage is ideal, however, I do appreciate the agency that my clients – women in their late 30’s and early 40’s – have over their futures. Says the New York Times piece:

“In the mid-1990s, it was almost unheard-of for a never-married woman in her early 40s with a postgraduate degree to have a child, according to the Pew report. Today, 25 percent of women who fit that profile do.” 

As a dating coach for women, I usually encourage a different order of things: date proactively, fall in love, get married, and plan a family with your husband, in whatever way, shape or form that takes. I often have women deciding between hiring me and freezing their eggs. I don’t envy the decision. But, as Lori Gottlieb pointed out in her famous Atlantic article, her dream wasn’t just about having a baby, but rather, about being part of a traditional nuclear family. And when you’re a 44-year-old single working mom of a two-year-old toddler, it’s often hard to find that missing piece.

When you’re a 44-year-old single working mom off a two-year-old toddler, it’s often hard to find that missing piece.

Either way, this post isn’t pro or anti-single-motherhood; I just want to share with you the research that illustrates the latest trends: basically, the most and least educated women are having more kids than they used to – and doing so without men.

Your thoughts, below, are always appreciated.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Chance

    I struggle to see how this is a positive trend as a healthy, strong, masculine influence seems to benefit children of both sexes.  IME, girls who lack this influence and protection are more likely to have unhealthy relationships with the opposite sex (e.g., stronger propensity for validation-seeking behavior with men and more likely to date much older men).  This is anecdotal, of course, but the correlation seems to be fairly strong.  As far as boys are concerned, for all the talk we hear about “toxic” masculinity today, I think the real problem is that boys have too little male influence in their lives, and far too much female influence (at least, in North America).  A lot of these mass shooters seem to be raised by single mothers.

    1. 1.1
      KK

      Chance,

      The most deadly mass shooting to this date in the U.S. was reportedly committed by lone gunman, Stephen Paddock. Was he raised by a single mother? Yes. Is that the only correlation you are willing to make?

      Let’s look at his childhood:

      “Paddock was born in Clinton, Iowa.[10][11] The family lived in Clinton at the time.[12][13] He grew up in Tucson, Arizona, and the Sun Valley neighborhood of Los Angeles, as the eldest of four sons of Benjamin Paddock.[14]Benjamin was a bank robber who was arrested in 1960 when Stephen was seven years old.[15] Benjamin was later convicted and escaped prison in 1969, subsequently appearing on the FBI’s most-wanted list.[16]According to Stephen’s brother, they never really knew their father as he was never with their mother.[6]

      In 1967, Paddock completed his studies at Richard E. Byrd Middle School, then graduated from John H. Francis Polytechnic High Schoolin 1971,[17] and from California State University, Northridge in 1977, with a degree in business administration.[18]”
      Watching this on the news after this incident first took place, psychologists said that he and his father were both sociopaths. More than likely, the brother that was arrested for child pornography is as well.

      In another comment, you stated, “Both contribute to the problem, men more so when they unilaterally decide to disengage and women more so when they choose to raise children on their own or when they attempt to restrict a father’s access”.

      Would having a sociopathic father in the home have helped or made the problems worse? Would it have made a difference at all? There’s evidence that shows personality disorders can be genetic. I don’t know the answer but I don’t believe you do either.

      In this case, as in others, I think there was a serious personality disorder. That isn’t caused by living with only one parent, father OR mother. There seems to be a genetic component in some cases and abuse, neglect in other cases. So the correlation of being a single parent isn’t the contributing factor. When we’re talking about complex issues where someone thinks it’s a good idea to kill people, I think blaming it on single mothers not only simplifies a too complex situation but doesn’t accurately point to what these killers have in common.

      1. 1.1.1
        Chance

        Hi KK – I agree that it’s a complex issue:).  I don’t pretend to know the primary risk factors that predict mass shooters, and I was just pointing out that a disproportionate percentage of them seem to have been raised by single mothers.  I think it’s important to consider, and potentially explore, any correlations to see if there might be a causal relationship.

         

        At any rate, it was a minor speculative point that was part of my broader point that it’s beneficial to have two parents present to raise a child, and that I didn’t believe that the choice to intentionally have and raise a child without a father is something that should be blindly celebrated as empowering without considering the circumstances of each individual woman.

        1. KK

          “I was just pointing out that a disproportionate percentage of them seem to have been raised by single mothers.  I think it’s important to consider, and potentially explore, any correlations to see if there might be a causal relationship.”

          Chance,

          I see. I guess we could also point out that a disproportionate percentage of them are white males. Casual relationship or insignificant?

          As for the rest of your comment, I agree.

        2. Chance

          Hello KK,

           

          “I see. I guess we could also point out that a disproportionate percentage of them are white males. Casual relationship or insignificant?”

           

          Whites don’t make up a disproportionate percentage of mass shooters.  If any SJW tries to tell you otherwise, it’s pretty easy to find the stats out there to show that it’s not the case.  As far as males are concerned, there’s no doubt in my mind that there is a causal relationship between being male and being a mass shooter.  I believe I read somewhere that, if you were to randomly select a male and a female out of the population, there would be about a 60% likelihood that the male would be more violent (not a huge difference).  However, it said that the vast majority of the most violent people are male so it makes sense that almost all mass shooters and serial killers are male.

        3. Shaukat

          Whites don’t make up a disproportionate percentage of mass shooters.  If any SJW tries to tell you otherwise, it’s pretty easy to find the stats out there to show that it’s not the case. Hi Chance,The claim made about the race of most mass shooters would first of all turn on your definition of what constitutes a mass shooting and how far back in history you’re willing to go, but there is substantial evidence to suggest that since the early 1980s at least, white males have in fact committed a disproportionate number of such crimes. Newsweek ran a story reporting this, which I’ve linked below. The claim is also corroborated by Grant Duwe, who authored the study “Mass Murder in the United States: A History.”To be clear, this does not at all imply that whiteness somehow causes mass shootings, since race is a socially constructed category and there is zero scientific evidence to suggest that it can be invoked in a biological fashion to predict behavior (unlike gender/sex). However, there might still be interesting cultural factors at play that are worth investigating, which one should consider, rather than simply dismissing the claim as ‘SJW’ (whatever the hell that means, I’m not a fan of the term). Disclaimer: As I said, this depends on the definition you use, if you’re going to include homicides committed in South Chicago as within this category, then the data I’ve cited is moot. www.newsweek.com/white-men-have-committed-more-mass-shootings-any-other-group-675602?utm_campaign=NewsweekTwitter&utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Social

        4. Chance

          Hi Shaukat,  The link you cited is what is commonly referenced.  Obviously, the “most” is not the same as “disproportionate”.  Since whites have represented roughly 70% of the American population, then 70% of white mass shooters would be considered racially proportionate, but the article shows that it’s less than that.  Technically, the percentage of white mass shooters is disproportionate in that they are underrepresented, but of course, that wasn’t the picture the article was trying to paint.

        5. KK

          Hi Chance,

          My comment was based upon the statistic that white males make up approximately 31% of the U.S. population.

          Either way, my intention was not to claim that white males are somehow inherently bad. It was to make a counter-point against your original comment about single mothers raising mass killers. You cannot, in my opinion, isolate one or two facts like race, gender, or marital status to pigeon hole a group of people as “bad” or “unfit parents”.

          As Gala pointed out, poverty is oftentimes a bigger factor than marital status (or race or gender).

        6. Shaukat

          Hi Chance,Your 70% figure would refer to the entire white  population in the US-men, women and children. However, as you state, mass shooters tend to be men, and usually fall within a specific age-range. Thus, it would be necessary, in my view, to adjust that figure to take into account only the relevant demographics. The number may still not be disproportionate, but my guess is that if you were to code race as a dummy variable and run a regression of mass shootings you would get a statistically significant result. To be clear though, as I stated, this does not mean that race is the relevant factor. In my view, there are likely confounding cultural, political, and socioeconomic factors that could explain the association, but it is worth investigating. 

  2. 2
    Gala

     lot of these mass shooters seem to be raised by single mothers.

    Rolling my eyes. Really? How about presidents of the U.S. raised by single mothers? Or are you only gonna cherry pick the examples that support your biases? Just because a mother is not married doesn’t mean that there are no male role models around. They could be grandfathers, uncles, male coaches, family friends, etc.

    This trend is not at all surprising given what has been going on. Pinning this dynamic entirely on women is unfair. It is nobody’s first choice to have a kid on her own. Sometimes it is due to the lack of male partners willing to step up. Also, just because women in their late 30-ies are having kids out of wedlock, it doesn’t mean they are not partnered up. They may just not be legally married because lets face it legal marriage at that age is a questionable proposition at best

    1. 2.1
      Chance

      “How about presidents of the U.S. raised by single mothers?” Very few, actually 🙂 There’s no doubt that both men and women contribute to the problem, but it’s mostly women who contribute to it when they deliberately choose to raise a child without a father around.  Single mothers have a less-than-stellar track record on the whole.

      1. 2.1.1
        Gala

        the problem with their “track record” is that these mothers were poor, not that they were single, let’s be crystal clear on that. And up until recently there was no way to separate the two but this is changing as affluent women having children on their own enter the scene.

        1. Emily, the original

          Gala,

          Don’t engage. It’s not worth it.

        2. Chance

          Hi Gala,

           

          “the problem with their “track record” is that these mothers were poor, not that they were single, let’s be crystal clear on that.”

           

          The two factors are often related, which is why most single mothers are not affluent in the first place (btw, if most single parents in these situations were single fathers, their track record would be less than stellar, too :)).  In other words, I don’t mean to imply that mothers are worse at parenting than fathers.

           

          I agree with you that it’s certainly possible for a woman to successfully raise healthy and happy children on her own provided that she can afford it and she is conscientious about ensuring that a strong and consistent male role model is present, but I do think it’s hard to pull off.  In the past, I had strongly considered having a child on my own as well.  However, I was concerned about how this child would turn out if he/she didn’t have a strong and consistent feminine influence on his/her life to complement my masculine influence.  Furthermore, even if the child turned out fine, I wondered how would he/she feel when he/she was grown and looked back on his/her childhood.  Would he/she feel like I had deprived him/her of the experience of having a mother all because of my desire to have a child?  Ultimately, I decided against having a child due to these concerns.  This isn’t to pass judgment on you, or to try to make you feel guilty, for your desire to have a child on your own.  It’s just to encourage you to think about the Law of Unintended Consequences, and to mitigate the potential risks as you see fit.

    2. 2.2
      Jeremy

      I have no doubt that women can raise children to become well-adjusted and healthy adults, especially if those women are affluent and have help from extended family.  My problem is with the cognitive dissonance of society’s messaging to men.  A man who donates his sperm for the express purpose of fathering children is exempt from responsibility toward his children…..why, exactly?  I mean, I know why.  It’s because if we obligated sperm donors to support their children there would be no sperm donors, which would interfere with women’s ability to chose to bear children without a father.  And why, exactly, are we championing that right?  What message does that send to men?

       

      A man who unintentionally impregnates a woman is on the hook for child support for life.  A man who intentionally donates sperm has no responsibility toward the children that he intended to father.  Society excoriates men for not being involved enough with their children, but allows women to ignore the fathers of their children and men to ignore their responsibilities toward the children they intended to have.

       

      I am a strong believer in the importance of fatherhood as a societal value.  Not because single parents can’t be good parents, but because there is tremendous value to society as a whole in encouraging fatherhood as a value.  Value to the children, value to the women, and most of all, value to the men.

       

      The title of Evan’s article is “American women are having more children than before -without men” and it isn’t accurate.  These children still have fathers.  The fathers have chosen not to be involved, the mothers have chosen to not have the fathers be involved, and society is apparently ok with that.  That’s a big problem IMHO, and it is likely to be a self-perpetuating cycle.

      1. 2.2.1
        Gala

        And what about the messages that are sent to women? If you’re alone its your fault you are too picky/fat/aggressive/career-oriented/whatever. Married or unhappy? It’s your fault should have picked better, whaaaat you didn’t have a crystal ball? Having a baby on your own? Selfish! Having a baby in your twenties? Irresponsible. Having a baby in your 40-ies? Irresponsible. Having a baby in your 30-ies? Congratulation, you just set your career back 5 years. Etc. IMO men should just STFU when it comes to women’s choices, especially reproductive choices.

        1. Jeremy

          But having a child is not just a woman’s choice, Gala.  Aborting a child is a woman’s choice.  Using birth control is a woman’s choice.  But having a child?  2 people are involved in that.  And while I definitely understand the messaging that women receive and the toxic effects thereof, your comment here is (IMHO) exactly a symptom of the problem.  The notion that having a child is a woman’s reproductive choice, about which men should STFU.

        2. Gala

          But having a child is not just a woman’s choice, Gala.  

          It is, Jeremy. No, two people are not involved in having a child. Two people are involved in conceiving. After that, it is a woman’s choice what to do with it.

        3. Jeremy

          But that isn’t what we’re talking about, Gala.  Sure it’s a woman’s choice whether or not to keep a pregnancy once pregnant.  But the decision of whether or not to create a child?  To have a child?  That is the decision of 2 people, not 1.  And once the decision to keep a pregnancy is made, it is no longer the woman’s decision whether or not the father is the father.  He simply IS.  Whatever she may want. The child will share 50% of its DNA with the father.  That heritage will explain a good portion of the child’s personality.  It is the child’s link to the heritage of its past which will help explain the present and propel him or her to the future.

           

          A father is no more a sperm donor than a woman is a fetus incubator.

      2. 2.2.2
        Chance

        Jeremy, I agree with you.  It isn’t my intent to say that women are incapable of raising children on their own, or that they are any worse or better than men at raising children, or that women are primarily responsible for children who are raised by single mothers.  Both contribute to the problem, men more so when they unilaterally decide to disengage and women more so when they choose to raise children on their own or when they attempt to restrict a father’s access.  What I disagree with – and maybe this is what you’re getting at – is when fathers are often treated as superfluous until it is time to assign blame for society’s ills.  Then, absentee fathers are determined a primary cause of the problem.  What I disagree with is the escalating trend of women being the deciders of whether or not a father is necessary. A child needs a mother and father to varying degrees depending on the child’s circumstances, and that need is independent of the mother’s determination of that need.

        1. Jeremy

          More than the fact that a child needs a father, men need to BE fathers to their children.  For their own sense of value and meaning.  For their ultimate happiness.  That is not to say that all men need to be fathers to be happy – many child-free people are happy – but that if you make the decision to have a child then being a father to that child, hard gruelling work though it is, will result in far greater long-term happiness and purpose in life, and less listlessness in late  middle age.  IMHO.

           

          The fatherless child may ultimately end up happy.  The childless father, less so.

      3. 2.2.3
        Kenley

        @Jeremy

        You have articulated a view I never considered.  I guess society is sending the message, one that I just realized I believe too is that men don’t really want to be fathers.   With the exception of you, Evan, and YAG, most of the other men who contribute here don’t seem to want to have children either.  I am often surprised when people say women prevent men from seeing their children because I my personal experience, it’s been the men who just aren’t interested in their children…my own father included.  Doesn’t the fact that, unlike women, men don’t routinely seek to raise children on their own mean that they don’t want children?  Please note I am not criticizing men for not wanting children.

        1. Jeremy

          I think that is an important question, Kenley, and I’ll give you my own take on it.  I agree that many men don’t have an interest in being fathers.  And many don’t enjoy the work of being fathers when they are doing it.  But having done it in retrospect gives their lives far more meaning, which contributes to their long-term happiness.  In my experience, many men begin to experience existential malaise in their 40s or 50s – begin to question what life is all about and whether there is any point to going on.  Men who have built families experience this less IME.  Their lives have meaning in retrospect, regardless of how much they wanted to be fathers at the time, or how much they enjoyed or sought out the experience.

        2. AndyK

          Kenley:

          I’ve read a few studies that show that men are more often involuntarily childless than women when reaching “middle age”. Here is one of them. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-44667-7_3

          I think there are a variety of reasons why men do not seek to raise children on their own. Here’s a few:

          1. Using surrogate mothers is illegal in a lot of countries as opposed to procuring sperm.

          2. Adopting is a long and expensive process, a large portion of these men are on the lower socioeconomic level.

          3. Society would likely be harsh on the father as mothers are regarded as more important to parenting, especially baby stage.

          4. I’m not sure about other men but while I always wanted children (and had them) I never had the yearning that I understand some (a lot of?) women get. While men can father at a later date, opportunities are likely to dry up.

        3. S.

          @Jeremy

          I agree that many men don’t have an interest in being fathers.  And many don’t enjoy the work of being fathers when they are doing it.  But having done it in retrospect gives their lives far more meaning, which contributes to their long-term happiness.

          How long does it take to have retrospect? That could be years.  And how does the mother and the child feel during those years when the father has no interest or is parenting and clearly doesn’t enjoy it? Much better in my opinion to pick someone who knows his own mind from the beginning and knows that he wants to be an active participant in his child’s upbringing.

          Yes, I agree about the malaise around middle age.  But that’s a situation of their own making. I don’t think a man who has no interest in parenting and doesn’t want to do the work is a good candidate to have a child with.

          If he’s going to make that incredible change and realize what this experience is going to mean, he’d have to realize it pretty quickly to really make a difference in the child’s life.  Kids grow up fast.

          When you choose not to have kids, it’s a choice.  I’m concerned less about the adults and more about the possible children with an ambivalent parent in their lives.

      4. 2.2.4
        GoWiththeFlow

        Jeremy,

        “My problem is with the cognitive dissonance of society’s messaging to men.  A man who donates his sperm for the express purpose of fathering children is exempt from responsibility toward his children…..why, exactly?”

        This reminds me of Evan’s blog post on whether men should be able to legally “divorce” children they don’t want if the mother goes ahead and gives birth despite their objections.  Really I had a hard time wrapping my head around everything in that post and the comments, from the underlying assumptions about how cheap and easy it is for women to obtain abortions, all the way to how a man can have a child out there in the world and just not give a damn or be curious about him or her.

        Specifically there was a male commentor who was divorced with teen kids who’s ex-girlfriend had recently given birth to “a child” (he wouldn’t even write if it was a boy or girl) and he had been legally sued for financial support.  He said that he had wanted to get a vasectomy, as he didn’t want any more children, but had been contemplating donating his sperm.  Um. . . okay???  Am I wrong in wondering if this guy had some deep subconscious seed spreading biological urge happening?

        Back to the big picture.  To me this was an example of men both denying and denigrating their own roles as fathers both to their individual children and to society as a whole.  For instance, how does the commentor I mentioned above explain to his teen kids that they have a half brother or sister out there but Dad isn’t really a Dad to him or her by choice and circumstance?  This doesn’t just affect the father and the kid he “divorces” but his extended family as well.  If one of my sons had a child, my grandchild, out there that they knowingly were cutting out of their life, I would be all kinds of disappointed, unhappy, and angry.

        And now that I’ve opened up that can of worms. . .

        1. Yet Another Guy

          @GWtF

          He said that he had wanted to get a vasectomy, as he didn’t want any more children, but had been contemplating donating his sperm.  Um. . . okay???  Am I wrong in wondering if this guy had some deep subconscious seed spreading biological urge happening?

          I have seen this lame excuse used by many men for not taking the initiative to undergo vasectomy. It is like their manhood is being taken away.  If a guy is done having children, vasectomy is a relatively quick, minimally invasive procedure that is performed in a urologist’s office.  Sure, bags of frozen of peas are going to be man’s best friend for a day or two and he is going to have to give motility samples after the procedure; however, I am glad that I underwent the procedure now that I am back in the dating pool.  I used to be so paranoid about getting a woman pregnant when I was younger that I would often wear two condoms in case one broke. 🙂

  3. 3
    MilkyMay

    I have a brother who dated a woman for about a year who he eventually broke up with because she wasn’t sure about kids and he wanted marriage and kids.  About year later, she gave birth on her on her own with the help of a fertility clinic.  When I learned this, I thought she was pulling some kind of sick spiteful move because she posted dozens of pictures of her pregnancy and the newborn on FB.  However, I think this is more about values and control.  She withheld her true wishes to test his wishes.  She wanted to be a mother but concluded it would be easier without him. Its easier and safer to pay a clinic than please a man day after day. Some women value a father for their children and some don’t.  Conventional wisdom says that a woman wants a man with “resources” (aka money) but a “well off” man is not that appealing to a “well off” woman if she wants to be the sole decider.  I think the “I couldn’t find a decent man” exuse is usually nonsense.  Its very difficult to find and keep a man when don’t value a man.

    Sadly, my brothers ex is struggling with a 100k+/yr job. Her mom, who was going to help, died shortly after she gave birth.  My brother thinks she thought his 45 yo sperm was too old for her 40 yo uterus.

    1. 3.1
      Tarra

      Or maybe she just didn’t think your brother was suitable as a father for her child… I’m not sure that I would be with a man who makes comment on his aging sperm and my uterus to his family either

  4. 4
    MilkyMae

    I have a brother who briefly dated a woman who he eventually broke up with because she wasn’t sure but he wanted marriage and kids.  About year later, she gave birth on her on her own with the help of a fertility clinic.  When I learned this, I thought she was pulling some kind of sick spiteful move because she posted dozens of pictures of her pregnancy and the newborn on FB.  However, I think this is more about values and control.  She withheld her true wishes to test his wishes.  She wanted to be a mother but concluded it would be easier without him. Its easier and safer to pay a clinic than to please a man day after day. Some women value a father for their children and some don’t.  Conventional wisdom says that a woman wants a man with “resources” (aka money) but a “well off” man is not that appealing to a “well off” woman who wants to be the sole decider.  I think the “I couldn’t find a decent man” excuse is rarely the real reason. My brother thinks she thought his 45 yo sperm was too old for her 40 yo uterus.

    Sadly, my brothers ex is struggling even with a 100k+/yr job. She sold her home and moved into an apt.  Also, her mom, who was going to help with childcare, died shortly after she gave birth.

    1. 4.1
      LAScott

      Thats the thing though. Only your brothers former date knows what happened in the relationship and why she chose to go through a clinic when she did. She could of not been sure about marriage and kids with your brother.

  5. 5
    John

    The real question about how this new trend of women having babies without fathers is: How can one person raise a child effectively? How can the male side of the equation be eliminated without thought of the consequences of voluntarily having a child without a father?

    Are most of these women wealthy with extended families? Many single mothers start out with a man in their life. These kids do not have a father from day one. That is going to have some unintended consequences that are going to be bad.

    Didn’t the woman mentioned in the above article, Lori Gottlieb, in her famous book freak out when she realized she had to feed her baby in the middle of the night and get up at 6am to go to work. She had no help and she would be considered upper middle class at least. Having a baby without a father on purpose at any age is going to be a rough start for the kid and the mother.

     

    1. 5.1
      Emily, the original

      John,

      The real question about how this new trend of women having babies without fathers is: How can one person raise a child effectively? How can the male side of the equation be eliminated without thought of the consequences of voluntarily having a child without a father?

      I wonder how wealthy single mothers are viewed by society. Writer/actor Mindy Kaling recently had a baby on her own and has not revealed the identity of the father. She’ll be appearing in a new show, so she’s still busy with work, but, of course, she has money and could pay for help. I’m not sure about extended family. My father, for example, was not a good parent, but my mother’s father was a positive male role model. What if the actual parent does more damage with his presence in the child’s life than grandfathers, uncles, cousins, etc.?

      1. 5.1.1
        John

        Hi Emily,

        Of course there are bad fathers in this world, but most fathers are not terrible.

        So even the presence of a mediocre or average father is better than no father. Your maternal grandfather was their because he was your mother’s father.

        It is so settle what I am trying to convey here.

        You would not have had your grandfather as a “father figure” if you maternal grandmother used sperm from a sperm bank.

        I know it is popular in our society today to say father’s are not important. Fathers are very important and statistics show how important they are.

        Most men I know who are divorced are heavily involved in their kids lives, even though their ex wives try to keep the kids away from them.

        Hell, one of my good friends went to jail for not paying his child support on time. He has to pay it directly to the court and then the court gives it to his ex wife. He was down-sized and couldn’t make the payment, so he spent his weekends in jail. It took him about a week to secure another job, but he still had to spend weekends in jail for about a month until he got caught up on his payments.

        We have eliminated debtors prisons, except for single fathers.

        I am passionate about the subject of fatherhood, because I was raised by a strong father who help shape me into a confident, self-sufficient man. Most of my friends I grew up with who had no father or extremely weak of absent fathers have difficult lives today.

        My father never spoiled me and when I complained how unfair it was that my friends got new cars for their 16th birthdays, he never caved in and gave me what I wanted. He new it would cripple my ambition to be gifted a new car at age 16. I had to buy an old used car with my own money I earned at minimum wage jobs and mowing lawns. I also had to do all the mechanical work myself.

        My dad wasn’t perfect, but he was there. I wish he was alive today so I could thank him again.

         

        1. Emily, the original

          John,

          Of course there are bad fathers in this world, but most fathers are not terrible.

          But mine was. I hate hearing people bitch about their parents much past the age of 25 or 30, and what I have to work through is mine to deal with, but I have spent years trying to undo the damage he did. I would have been better off just knowing my maternal grandfather — a man whose love and support I never questioned.

          Most men I know who are divorced are heavily involved in their kids lives, even though their ex wives try to keep the kids away from them.

          As a general rule, I think it’s a good thing that most men are involved with their children. They should be, and it benefits both the children and the men. Are there some women who try to keep their kids from their fathers? Sure. I don’t think as many as you are implying, but I think it’s abhorrent that women do that. Trust me in that the mother never gets off scott free. Once the child grows up and gets some perspective — realizes the mother kept him from his father and/or poisoned his mind against the father — he deeply resents it and feels completely manipulated.

        2. Jenn

          I agree with John. I’ll add that my own father is almost impossible to live with. He’s grouchy, hot-tempered, routinely speaks in a disrespectful tone to everyone, especially my mom and he inspired fear in my siblings and me as kids, because of the spankings he doled out whenever he got angry with us. That damaged my relationship with him because he wasn’t the kind, gentle dad I could really get close to. But there is love between us and he still had, and continues to have, an important role to play in my life. A kid still needs the missing piece only her biological father can provide even when there’s a good male substitute around. She needs to be able to know both her parents in order to see herself better. There are lots of stories of children who’ve been adopted, for example, who say that after they met their birth parents, they realized how they never truly felt settled in who they were and how they came to be, until they met them. They need to see things like, he has the same mannerisms, or this is who I get my Roman nose from, or he was a super athlete in high school just like me. The bad stuff too – I get my bad temper from my dad, though I’m not nearly as prone to big outbursts. People need to know where they come from on a visceral level. You can’t just take someone else and stick them in a mold that only one person is meant to fill. Emily, your grandfather already had his own place in your life. He wasn’t meant to be your dad. But unfortunately, we don’t get to choose who gives us life. You might be a better person for having known him, even though he was a crappy father, because you know how you DON’T want to be. And maybe it’s influenced your choice of man for the better too – perhaps you’re better able to spot red flag behaviors such as the ones your dad has exhibited, and you’ve been better able to steer clear of those guys before getting in too deep. This is all just an opinion of course. But that’s the way I see it.

    2. 5.2
      Gala

      this new trend of women having babies without fathers is: How can one person raise a child effectively?

      What planet are you guys from? first, there’s nothing “new” about this trend in the grand scheme of things. Throughout history women raised children with minimal involvement of the fathers, who could have been killed in a war or a street fight, succumb to disease or be away working or what not. And, secondly – here we are sending rockets to Mars so clearly as a specie we don’t require late 20-th century western definition of a family to push forward 🙂

      1. 5.2.1
        John

        Gala,

         

        I think you are missing my point. You said women have raised kids without fathers for a long time. The kids whose fathers died in battle had fathers. Their fathers died. These kids we are talking about in this article will NEVER have a father. That is the difference and it is a huge difference.

        1. Gala

          That’s nonsense. Those kids will have a biological father, and will have a decent chunk of background info on him. And it is much better for a child to know that his farther IS out there in the world, rather than to know that his father is dead. You can ask a professional psychologist to confirm that, or read up on the subject. World War II provided plenty of test subjects on this matter a while back.

  6. 6
    Mrs Happy

    I think females bond more strongly than males do, with their offspring, from conception.

    Males seem to be able to exit without the degree of emotional wrenching a woman would feel walking away from the home her children lived in. Men leave relationships during pregnancy, when the kids are babies and toddlers, when the kids are teenagers, to do other things in life, things they want to do more than raise their children. For example, it boggles women’s minds when fathers leave to pursue affairs – mothers really have trouble understanding that a man’s need for attention and sex trumps his care of his children.  I don’t see women leaving in the numbers men do, until the children finish high school, because women tend to prioritise the young childrens’ home life stability, over their own life plans or preferences.

    Even fathers who are present in the home, are present for a fraction of the time each week, that mothers are.  It seems to me, most men like the set up whereby they have a family, but most of the workload around the family and home is done by someone else (usually their female partner).   I mean you don’t see CEOs taking 8 years of paternity leave to escort their little kids to playgroup and swimming lessons then scrub the bathroom tiles and bake the fundraising cupcakes.  Admittedly society has set up many full time jobs as being quite inflexible, so that even if a father does want to spend more time with his young kids, it’s not easy or acceptable to do so.

    Most women do not want to be single parents, and only a minority intentionally choose that path.  Most women want to be in a committed relationship before having children.  But quite frankly, perhaps especially in the some classes of society, there just aren’t the numbers of men around, who want that and can do it.  Some women in lower socio-economic groups almost expect that the male will not stick around.

    The women who do choose single parenthood have to be allowed their choice, if we want to live in a society where free choice on personal decisions is the status quo. I’m sure most of these women travelling down the IVF path as single women have thought extensively about their decision and future, and the choice they are making is the one best for them.  And we live in a society where adult choices, and what an adult wants, trumps children’s choices.  If a father wants to walk away, he is allowed to.  If a woman wants to use IVF, she is allowed to.

    Society currently accepts that one cost of sex outside marriage, is increased illegitimacy rates.  Illegitimacy costs society a lot across many domains.  But I don’t see too many people advocating for a return of sex only within marriage.  A significant percentage of pregnancies are unplanned.

    1. 6.1
      Jeremy

      Hi Mrs Happy.  I  agree that men generally have less desire to have children and to do the nitty-gritty of raising small children than women.  Certainly evolution would explain this – evolution gave men a base desire for sex, and women a base desire for children and nesting.  Evolution never cared whether or not we were happy.  Frankly, it preferred that we not be.  Happy animals have less impetus to evolve.  And yet, in today’s age when we have our base necessities met, happiness is THE issue.  And the problem is that our brains are our worst enemies in this regard because when we ask our brains how to be happy, they respond by telling us what we’ve evolved to desire.  Sugary, fatty, salty foods.  Sex. Status. Opioids.  Women, who were unlucky enough to evolve less muscle mass and more expensive reproductive strategies, were lucky enough to evolve coping mechanisms that increase their happiness.  Bonding with other women and with children.  Tend and befriend stress responses.  A strong natural desire to nurture and connect with others that, when done, increases happiness.  Men, whose natural tendencies advantaged their survival in the past, were unlucky enough to not evolve any adaptive strategies that increase their happiness.

       

      The TL:DR version of what I’m trying to say is that while you are correct that men don’t have the drive toward parenthood that women have, this fact is a tremendous DISADVANTAGE for men.  Because while it is women who are stuck with the drudgery of childcare (and yes, that is a disadvantage), they end up with far happier and more meaningful lives than men who follow their own proclivities and realize in middle age that something important is missing (and, like true dumbasses, they once again listen to their mal-adapted brains and try to solve their malaise with food, drugs, sex, and status).

       

      Society, as it was, was a bulwark to counteract the natural proclivities of men.  Status was afforded to married men, not single ones.  Advantages and respect were conferred to men who took on the responsibilities, thereby motivating men toward their own happiness.  And those men ended up happier in retrospect (as the Harvard study has shown), because society used behavioral economics to motivate them properly.  Today men have no motivation.  The motivation to succeed was to marriageable.  The motivation to be marriageable was to have sex.  But while the sex was the motivation, the family and the success was what would ultimately lead to happiness.  Decouple marriage from sex and you not only lose motivation to marry, you lose motivation to succeed.  You end up with men who can have all the sex they want and never be happy.  Similarly, the goal of fatherhood was sex and respect.  Decouple sex and respect from fatherhood and you have men who feel no motivation to be fathers, in spite of the happiness and meaning that fatherhood provides.  We don’t think far enough ahead.  Women don’t need to think ahead.  Their instincts lead them toward happier lives.

      The solution can’t be to decouple men from the circle of life even farther – to view men as sperm donors plus or minus wallets, and to view reproduction as a solely female choice and pursuit.  All children have 2 parents (plus any adopted parents they may also have), not just one – regardless of how they were conceived.  And while I don’t think that sperm banks should be illegal, I do think that the fathers of children should be responsible toward the children they intend to have – whether biologically or artificially.  And I am aware of the implications of that statement.

      1. 6.1.1
        LAScott

        Today men have no motivation.  The motivation to succeed was to marriageable.  The motivation to be marriageable was to have sex.  But while the sex was the motivation, the family and the success was what would ultimately lead to happiness.  Decouple marriage from sex and you not only lose motivation to marry, you lose motivation to succeed.

        I hear what you are saying in terms of what motivated men to marry. I also think men wanted children to pass thier legacy/wealth/resources onto when they died. In farmland parents had many children to help with the field work, not neccesarily because they wanted all those mouths to feed.  What I wanted to say ,as a woman, is in terms of mens  motivation for marriage family social responsibility being sex, how do you think that attitude showed itself in a marriage? In how men looked at women in general and wives in particular? The quality of the interaction of the wife and children? The thing is that yes men were marrying back then but enough women and children were suffering abuses that they couldnt escape because they were financially dependant….back then.  When feminism rolled in, when the option to go to a sperm bank rolled in, enought women chose those options. When women could divorce they made and make up the majority of spouses wanting to end the marriage. Women are also less likely to re-marry.  Why?  Furthermore the work done to have women embrace themselves as autonomous sexual beings with full sexual agency of her own. Im not judging the motivation. It is what it is. I am just asking some questions. If men are not motivated, then whose job is it to roll up their mental, emotional, and spiritual sleeves to see what needs to be done about mens lack of motivation?

        1. Jeremy

          LAScott, you asked, “If men are not motivated, then whose job is it to roll up their mental, emotional, and spiritual sleeves to see what needs to be done about mens lack of motivation?

           

          Obviously men have a role to play in that.  Yet so do women, and so does society.  Let’s reverse the question and ask another – in bygone times, if women don’t have the strength to defend themselves, whose problem is it to defend them?  The answer of society was that it was men’s problem.  Because leaving women to suffer due to their weakness would not be beneficial for anyone.  The same is true for men’s weakness, which is more relevant today.

           

          Women make up the majority of spouses wanting to end marriage and are less likely to remarry.  And the reason has to do with motivation, same as I wrote above.  For men, motivation to marry was to have sex.  For women it was for children and security.  Decouple children and security from marriage and what is women’s motivation to get/stay married?  Not much.  So the question comes, what kind of society do we want to live in?  One where men and women work together like a Yin and Yang to build the circle of life?  Or one where we treat life as a zero sum game and seek only our evolved desires and short-term goals?

        2. Tom10

          @ Jeremy
          “So the question comes, what kind of society do we want to live in?  One where men and women work together like a Yin and Yang to build the circle of life?  Or one where we treat life as a zero sum game and seek only our evolved desires and short-term goals?”
           
          I think this question has already been answered; the proof, as they say, is in the pudding: on balance most people want option b) to live in a society where each individual seeks only their own desires and short-term goals. If they didn’t we wouldn’t be having this discussion.
           
          All societies have to balance the rights and responsibilities of the individual versus the collective good; on balance, I believe today’s freedoms and attendant unintended consequences far outweigh the previous societal pressures and mechanisms designed to force men to behave in certain ways; even if, ultimately, it’s to their own benefit. Your politics may differ.

        3. LAScott

          @Tom

           

          I think this question has already been answered; the proof, as they say, is in the pudding: on balance most people want option b) to live in a society where each individual seeks only their own desires and short-term goals. If they didn’t we wouldn’t be having this discussion. All societies have to balance the rights and responsibilities of the individual versus the collective good; on balance, I believe today’s freedoms and attendant unintended consequences far outweigh the previous societal pressures and mechanisms designed to force men to behave in certain ways; even if, ultimately, it’s to their own benefit. Your politics may differ.

          I concur.

      2. 6.1.2
        LAScott

        @ Jeremy

        Yet so do women, and so does society.  

        In what ways in particular? Out of curiosity? In 2018 forward?  I would also say that in bygone days the biggest risk to women and children was men. Men are enlisted to protect women from predatory men by in large. There are predatory women but we know its men by in large. lets not forget that men are also enlisted to protect other men in this society too weak and strong men a like.

         

        Decouple children and security from marriage and what is women’s motivation to get/stay married?  Not much. 

        Here is the rub though. That security that women marry for is/was not just financial.  It was emotional mental  physical sexual safety and security of them and their offspring.  And that was put at risk by the men that they married enough of the time hence women seeking other options hence feminism…

        So the question comes, what kind of society do we want to live in?  

        I personally prefer one that gives women choices and options like we have today.  But thats just me. Clearly for women’ the oldschool way was not working for enough women who are still the primary caretakers and children enough of the time hence 2018. Lets not forget that women still have the option to go the traditional family route and that most of these women who are choosing to go for it sans a husband chose to do so because they did not find mr right to marry first… Now when I say that I am not saying some man is automatically to ‘blame’ for that and she has no part in her not having a partner

         

      3. 6.1.3
        Michelle

        I don’t think it’s necessary to try to “force” men to behave more responsibly. If a man wants to have a family he is free to invest his time and resources into having one. And if he doesn’t then it’s no one’s place to tell him that he has to. His happiness is his own responsibility. You seem to be arguing that men are too stupid to know what’s best for them. I mean, do you really want to go there?

        Keep in mind that old school societal pressures were very repressive to women. Women couldn’t pursue their own vocational interests, couldn’t indulge their sexuality, and were restricted to low status in society because status was for men to pursue.

        If women reject these old rules, then it makes sense that we don’t try to force the old rules on men, right? I’ve made peace with possibly never finding a life partner. If I meet a Mr. Right, then that’s great, but if I don’t then oh well IVF is still an option. I don’t have to die childless just because I don’t meet a man that I am emotionally and physically compatible with.

  7. 7
    ljsrmissy

    A few things to consider (some have already been mentioned)

     

    *Class/poverty of the custodial more so than single motherhood in of itself leads to risky outcomes. We dont know if single fathers given thier class would fare much better because women by in large are still are overall the primary caretaker of children rich poor married or single.

    * Women are more than incubators…our bodies take cells and create sophisticated life. And as of today, a human being cannot be created outside of a womans womb. And as women we carry the life and ultimately decide (outside of miscarriages stillborn) whether the life comes into the world or not…deal with it.

    *Just because a man and a woman have sex does not mean that a woman must become pregnant(both men and women can control that), just because a woman becomes pregnant does not mean she must have a baby.

    *Just because the woman is unmarried does not mean there is not an interested in fatherhood male in the picture.

    *Just because a woman is married does not mean there is an interested in fatherhood male in the picture.

    * a woman going to a sperm donor is not the same context as a man that had sex with a woman, did not wear a condom, but complains about not wanting to be a father.

    * Two parent household dont equal well adjusted offspring. I say this because I take into account the two parent households where there was sexual abuse, physical emotional and verbal abuse, toxic, mental illness, plain busy with work, started off excited about the baby but ‘changed’, substance abuse, criminal activity at the hands of the father. How I am singling out the father in this case due to the nature of the above article and the basic assumption that a kid with a mother and a father is better off that a kid with just its mother.

    * Are we going to have faux moral outrage at a woman wanting to be a mother sans a husband when we know that enough men are not interested enough in fatherhood or they are not in a position to be healthy and effective fathers? Isnt manhood struggling in America as a trend? And this is something we dont have to guess at. Look at the kids that are already here.

     

  8. 8
    Cat5

    Gala,

     

    Can you please provide some back-up data for this statement: “What planet are you guys from? first, there’s nothing “new” about this trend in the grand scheme of things. Throughout history women raised children with minimal involvement of the fathers, who could have been killed in a war or a street fight, succumb to disease or be away working or what not.”

    While true for a small segment of the population in the past, I don’t believe it was true for as large of a segment of the population until recently.  I’m not even sure it is true for as big a segment of the population as you are implying – when you take a look at the whole planet versus just the United States.

    Thanks,

    Cat5

    1. 8.1
      Gala

      Sure:

      During the Colonial era, marriages lasted, on average, less than 12 years because of high mortality rates. In Colonial America, death visited earlier and often: In 1700, the average age of death for English men in Virginia was 48. One-third to one-half of all children lost at least one parent before the age of 21; in the South, more than half of children 13 and under had lost at least one parent. As a result, remarriages were frequent in Colonial America — a fact you can discover for yourself using databases of marriage records on Ancestry. 

      Six Unbelievable, But True, Facts About Colonial Life

       

      1. 8.1.1
        LAScott

        @Sandrea

         

        I agree.

      2. 8.1.2
        Yet Another Guy

        @Gala

        We should also not forget that the majority of people who came to America before 1800 did so in bondage due the “headright” system, and it was not the whitewashed, fairy tale version of servitude that we teach children in the United States.  The colonies where Great Britain’s dumping ground for criminals (transportees) and excess poor from the workhouses.  The fact that Australia was founded in 1788 is no coincidence.  Great Britain had to find another place to dump its criminals and surplus poor after the colonies won their independence.

        Life in Colonial America could be treacherous. All one has to do is research the probate court records in the archives of any of the original thirteen colonies to understand that reality. Servants were literally worked to death in order to avoid having to pay “freedom dues.”  Servants were often beaten to death or otherwise unlawfully killed (https://anthropology.si.edu/writteninbone/leavy_neck.html).  A woman who became pregnant during her period of service had her contract extended.  Many women were kept in perpetual bondage by their masters until they could not longer conceive.  The master got slap on the wrist from the church.  The woman remained his slave.  Children were pressed into service until age 21. Girl servants where often used to “season” their master’s sons.

        Contrary to what is taught in American schools, this country was not founded on religious liberty.  It was founded on exploitation.  Racism as we know it was originally a divide-and-conquer scheme that was put into place by the gentry in order to suppress uprisings after Bacon’s Rebellion.  The anti-miscegenation laws and perpetual slavery were also part of that divide-and-conquer scheme.  In effect, rich white people pitted poor white people against poor black people, and that practice continues today with the top 1%.

  9. 9
    abel

    I read this and is true at most and we have to see that today sex is easier to get without any attachment and I hate it because relationships aren’t the same as they use to be.

    1. 9.1
      LAScott

      that today sex is easier to get without any attachment and I hate it because relationships aren’t the same as they use to be.

      My issue issue with this is that women did not tell men to turn sex with women into away that they measure their prowess as men. To turn it into ‘I was able to extract sex from this woman because I am soooo smart and such a man baby’ for their own self aggrandizement. Nobody told men to see women as tools of their own sexual measurement instead of seeing us as sexual proprietors in our own right.

      1. 9.1.1
        LAScott

        And another thing… Why in the hell would women of today want to enter in RELATIONSHIP with one whose motivation for MARRIAGE and relationships is to get access to sex? Im just saying.

        1. LAScott

          Prostitution was always an option.

        2. sandrea

          Probably the same reason married or otherwise unavailable men use online dating to acquire sex instead of just hiring a prostitute.  Most men want a “conquest” of some sort and don’t want to believe their only option is to hire someone.

        3. Emily, the original

          LAScott,

          Why in the hell would women of today want to enter in RELATIONSHIP with one whose motivation for MARRIAGE and relationships is to get access to sex? 

          I think some get tired of having to hunt it down. I even had a young guy who’d been around a bit and had no shortage of options tell me he didn’t like the early part of dating when he didn’t know if he was going to get it. Made no sense to me. I think that’s fun part. Not sure if you’re going to get it; if you do, not sure how it’s going to be done …    🙂

      2. 9.1.2
        LAScott

        @ Emily the Original
         

        Thats a good point I used to read this blog by this man called whatwomenneverhear and he mentions that men marry for access to ‘frequent and convienant sex’ reguarly in his blog posts.

        1. Emily, the original

          LAScott,

          Thats a good point I used to read this blog by this man called whatwomenneverhear and he mentions that men marry for access to ‘frequent and convienant sex’ reguarly in his blog posts.

          “I really like you because you are frequent and convenient.”

          “That makes me feel all warm inside.”                 🙂

        2. Chris

          Any man who gets married thinking it will grant “frequent and convenient sex” is being hopelessly naive.

      3. 9.1.3
        LAScott

        “I really like you because you are frequent and convenient.”
        “That makes me feel all warm inside.”   

        Right lol!

        1. Emily, the original

          LAScott,

          The guy who chooses on the basis of frequent and convenient sex may be the female equivalent of the woman who likes every man who liker her and whose every boyfriend is “the One.” Not a lot of discretion going on there.

  10. 10
    Stacy

    Evan’s forums has the most outstanding commenters. I am enjoying reading to the max. Carry on.

  11. 11
    amydk

    No offense Evan, but if a woman has to choose between freezing her eggs and hiring you….I recommend freezing her eggs 1000%. She may help preserve her fertility and it can take pressure off marrying too quickly to start a family. She can always hire you later but not freeze later.

    1. 11.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Not offended, Amy. I think most women want to find a HUSBAND with whom they can build a family – naturally, through IVF, surrogacy, adoption, etc. Find the husband first and do it as a team instead of expecting that your frozen eggs will make a 40-year-old man want to date you over a 37-year-old (they won’t).

    2. 11.2
      Tarra

      The efficacy of IVF over 40 is actually very poor, unfortunately women have fallen victim advertising  that implies that if a woman just freezes her eggs and has IVF she’s guaranteed to be able to have a child later in life. It’s probably a far better investment to commit to finding a suitable life partner than to take a (emotional and financial) risk on something that’s unlikely to occur.

      1. 11.2.1
        GoWiththeFlow

        Tarra,

        Efficacy is poor for women over 40 using their own eggs for IVF.  Many post 40 women who successfully have children with IVF use donor eggs.  That’s where egg freezing comes in.  It improves their chances of having their own biological children.

        I don’t know why people are making this an either/or thing.  It seems that the operating assumption is that if a woman freezes her eggs, she will only use them to become a single parent.  A woman can both freeze her eggs and be committed to doing everything possible to find a suitable mate.  How many women who freeze their eggs will wind up using them with a husband to have children together?

        For many decades young men who undergo cancer treatment have had their sperm banked for use in the future.  How is egg freezing that much different?

         

        1. Tarra

          Hi Gowiththeflow, I wanted to clarify your post -are you saying that efficacy is only poor if a woman freezes her eggs in her late 30s or early 40s?

          Because that’s not actually the case, again it comes down to predatory advertising. While the chances of a woman falling pregnant, or an embryo being created is still relatively high in say a 40 year old woman who doze her eggs at 34, the chance of a live birth are comparatively low. clinics only have to report pregnancy rates and not live births when citing success giving false comfort to women who believe it a valid back up plan.

          This is more pertinent given the fact that average age of a women freezing her eggs is 38, this means that in a single cycle she will on average have six eggs harvested rather than the ten which is considered ideal and which she’d likely achieve at 30.

          This is doesn’t stop fertility clinics targeting women in the late 30s, not because of a high likelihood of success but because they are more vulnerable to advertising.

          I think this false hope is dangerous, not because it encourages single parenthood but because it risks women’s chance at motherhood.

        2. Karl R

          Tarra and Evan,

          I think you’re misunderstanding what GoWiththeFlow said. She mentioned post 40 women being successful by using donor eggs (which typically come from donors under 30).

          I ran across a study years ago that talked about success rates. The success of IVF was tied to age of the women when the eggs were harvested. If she harvested them in her 20s, they had a very high success rate … even if the pregnancy was much later.

          Most women prefer to use their own eggs, but most women don’t plan their egg donation that early in life. And as Tarra said, there are companies willing to harvest eggs and take money from women who are 38 or so, even if the efficacy is extremely low.

        3. GoWiththeFlow

          Tarra,

          This was my first paragraph:

          “Efficacy is poor for women over 40 using their own eggs for IVF.  Many post 40 women who successfully have children with IVF use donor eggs.  That’s where egg freezing comes in.  It improves their chances of having their own biological children.”

          In the rest of my comment, I asked why egg freezing was being discussed as a black and white either/or discussion.  It’s like the choices are either you search for a husband to have children the old fashioned way with, or you freeze eggs to become a single mother.  A woman can both freeze her eggs and really put effort into finding a husband.

          How you took that and went down the road you did, I don’t know.  All I wanted to convey in the first paragraph is that a woman freezing her eggs gives herself (and maybe her future husband) options to possibly have her own biological children after age 40 that she otherwise wouldn’t have.

          According to the article in the post linked by Evan below:

          “For a woman over 42, there’s only a 3.9 per cent chance that a live birth will result from an IVF cycle using her own, fresh eggs, according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).”

          “At 35, you have 20‑30 per cent chance of your frozen eggs creating a baby in the future, using IVF.”

          So a 42 year old using her own fresh eggs has a 3.9% chance of a LIVE BIRTH from one IVF cycle.  Whereas if she froze her eggs at 35, she has a 20-30% chance of having a baby.  That 20-30% chance sure does beat a 3.9% chance.

          Are a woman’s chances of having her own biological children best if she marries at 27 (the national mean) and starts trying to conceive at age 29?  You bet.  But if a woman finds herself at 35, unmarried and worried about whether she will ever be a mother, I’m glad she has options, like egg freezing and IVF, that previous generations of women did not have.  Heck, her future husband may be grateful that her freezing eggs at 35 allows them, in their early 40s, a 20-30% chance of a successful IVF baby when the alternative is a near zero percent chance of them having a biological child.

          OTOH it seems as if your argument is that since egg freezing and IVF (with or without frozen eggs) isn’t a sure thing that it shouldn’t be an option at all.  And why do you get into conspiracy theory territory by implying fertility doctors and clinics use “misleading” pregnancy vs. live birth statistics and “predatory” advertising to sucker women into signing up?

          Since Evan talks to women all day, many of whom want very badly to get married and have kids, I don’t doubt he hears a lot of wishful thinking as to what a woman’s fertility is as she gets older.  At least a woman who is investigating egg freezing and IVF is somewhat aware of fertility limitations.

          As far as the wishful thinking goes, I’m not sure how to fix that.  In the article the author states how at 41 she went to a gynecologist to talk about fertility and pregnancy planning and got miffed when the doctor told her she was already pushing her chances in a blunt way.  (The writer is still miffed about it.)

          The author gives a lot of pertinent statistics and biological information.  But most of the article is about the lack of fertility knowledge the general public has and the possible causes of it.  It’s interesting to me because she misses the most obvious reason that is evidenced by her own reaction to that doctor she saw at 41:  People just don’t want to hear what they don’t want to hear.

          Ask a group of internists/primary care physicians and they will tell you that obese patients don’t really like hearing that their excess weight will cause them significant health issues.  They put off reality until they’re getting knee replacements and are on diabetes medication.  Same for smokers.  They will tell you their grandfather smoked for 70 years and died of old age in his sleep, meaning they think cancer and emphysema won’t happen to them.  It’s human nature.

           

        4. Tarra

          Hi again gowiththeflow, I apologise if I offended you, English is not my native language so perhaps my inflection led you to believe I was attacking your post.

          I do stand by my comments though, the misrepresentation of the success rate of egg freezing resulting in a live birth is a large concern in the medical communities of countries with less of a profit based medical model than you experience in the US. IVF is, in many countries, one of the few areas that are entirely run by private enterprise and is also one of the very few (outside of cosmetic and plastics) that can be advertised.

          What we see happen in my country are women being discouraged or turned away from publically funded IVF often at 38 after extensive medical testing shows their likelihood of a birth are low. Some women opt to see a private clinic and invest ten of thousands as well as their bodies and mental health and more times than not still don’t have a child by the end of it.

          The key is in the wording of the article you quoted, yes egg freezing at 35 may ‘create’ a baby for a 40 year old but that glosses over if that pregnancy results in a live birth. The data, and the cold fact is that it usually doesn’t.

          Its not nice to hear but it’s also entirely unethical to lead women into thinking they can trick biology, causing them to become complacent and not only risk missing out on being a mother but to encourage them to spend thousands for the pain of doing so.

        5. GoWiththeFlow

          Tarra,

          I am a physician in the United States.  I work with 3 different Reproductive Endocrinology groups in the fifth largest city in the states, providing sedation for women undergoing egg retrieval and other procedures.  I do not see what you are describing at all.  I have no idea where you are getting your information.

          The fertility doctors I work with give patients up to date information that comes from national medical organizations like The American Congress of Obstetrics & Gynecology, The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, The National Institutes of Health, and The Centers for Disease Control.

          Very few health insurance plans cover advanced reproductive medicine. So around 90% of patients pay completely out of pocket for their care whether they are a 28 year old woman who husband has defective sperm, or a 45 year old woman using donor eggs.  So the dynamic you describe where young women (easier to get pregnant) get their care covered by your national health care system, and older women (harder to get pregnant) have to go to private, self pay clinics isn’t in play here. Reproductive medicine practices get the whole range of patients, and since the cost of an IVF cycle is the same whether the woman is 28 or 45, there is no incentive to “trick” older women into having procedures because the younger ones are going somewhere else.

          If a physician here gives patients misleading information, either about national statistics, regional statistics, or the success of their own program, they can lose both their medical license and have their board certification revoked.  They are also opening themselves up to expensive lawsuits.  There is a huge professional and financial risk for doctors that don’t abide by community and specialty board standards.  Because of this, patients, for any care, sign extensive consent forms that list the risks and benefits and the scientific evidence of cure/success rates.

          So a 42 year old woman is aware, before she starts the hormonal stimulation cycle for egg retrieval and IVF, that her chances of a live birth from that one cycle with her fresh eggs is less that 4%.  Just like a cancer patient is given the survival rate for undergoing a particular course of surgery and chemotherapy as well as potential side effects, complications, and the incidence of that happening, as well as alternate therapies.

          Women are given information on both national statistics and success rates for the individual practices.  You can go onto the ASRM website and view success rates, measured by live births, for 2014, and preliminary information for 2015.  They are in table format and there is no sugar coating that success rates rapidly decrease with age.

          Doctors here do turn down patients if either the patient is a medical risk, or they don’t feel the patient has realistic expectations of what is possible.  I have adopted two children.  Before that, I did talk to one of the physicians and his nurse about reproductive care, whether artificial insemination or IVF.  The nurse said to me, “I really don’t think you are ready to do this.”  She was right, I wasn’t.  There was no rushing me into paying for and starting a course of treatment. They have a waiting room full of patients and didn’t need money from me. Later on I gave that practice and then two other practices, information about adoption processes and resources that they have available to give to their patients who are unable to achieve a pregnancy, or who decide to halt or not do treatment.  Because when some of their patients come out on the wrong side of the statistics, they still care about them and want to support them in their efforts to become parents.

          Finally, our last paragraph I find disturbing:

          “Its not nice to hear but it’s also entirely unethical to lead women into thinking they can trick biology, causing them to become complacent and not only risk missing out on being a mother but to encourage them to spend thousands for the pain of doing so.”

          So a grown woman who is given all of the relative statistics and information on the nature of the procedure is being “tricked” by “unethical” medical personnel.  Silly me, I thought women were fully functioning, autonomous adults who are capable of weighing the pros and the cons and making the best decision for themselves.

          If a 38 year old woman is given the information about what is scientifically known about her chances of having a live birth in her 40s from eggs she has frozen at her current age, why can she not make that decision for herself?  To say she is naive and being duped is patronizing and paternalistic.  We don’t do this crap to adult male patients.

          This past month I did the anesthesia on a man in his late 60s with erectile dysfunction that is not amenable to Viagra, or the several other treatments he has had.  His options were to stop trying, to have a penile implant, or to undergo an experimental procedure, where there is anecdotal evidence that it helps less than half of patients, but has not been studied amongst a large population of men.  He chose the experimental procedure hoping it would work, but knowing it may not.  Should he have not been able to make that choice for himself?  And if he can make that decision for himself why does a woman getting her eggs frozen at 38 bother you so much?

  12. 12
    KK

    There is nothing glamorous about being a single parent. Whether you’re dirt poor or filflthy rich, you will face challenges that just aren’t there in an intact family.

  13. 13
    MilkyMae

    I would like to know what women who are 35 or over and facing this decision are doing. Are they dating more men?  Are they kissing more men?  Are they joining more online dating sites? Are they asking friends and family to help?  Are they making appointments with fertility doctors? Are they hiring therapists or dating coaches?….  This may not be analogous but I know people who have been diagnosed with diabetes or heart disease who were told they had to change their lifestyle.  They had to exercise and loss weight.  The funny thing is that the most people I know who have these health issues were unable to do what it takes.  The exercise and diet changes didn’t happen.  They knew what to do but the couldn’t pull it off.  They weren’t able to exercise more than a month or two.  Some people have plausible excuses but most don’t.  To their credit, they were able to take the prescribed medications but that’s it.  I think women over age 35 who want to be mothers are in the same boat.  They know what do but they can’t pull it off.  Intellectually, the solution is strait forward but emotionally the lifestyle change and effort is too much to handle. The kissing and the compliments don’t happen. Something comes up and connecting with a someone takes a back seat.  Second guessing becomes your default response and you end up falling back on the medical therapy if you have the money.  🙁

    1. 13.1
      Emily, the original

      MilkyMae,

      I think women over age 35 who want to be mothers are in the same boat.  They know what do but they can’t pull it off.  Intellectually, the solution is strait forward but emotionally the lifestyle change and effort is too much to handle. The kissing and the compliments don’t happen. Something comes up and connecting with a someone takes a back seat.  

      I’m not sure what you mean. “Intellectually, the solution is straight forward … ” Is it to compromise on what she wants in a partner? Say yes to the guy who really likes her? I don’t mean any of this sarcastically. What should women do who are in their mid- to late-30s and want kids but no decent prospects for a partner are on the horizon?

      1. 13.1.1
        MilkyMae

        I was asking and commenting on what women who want to be married and/or have children are doing to reach these goals.  Saying yes or compromising is one way to get to your goal.  However, this implies you are in a relationship with a man already.  I think the real hurdle is getting into a relationship. This is where many people go off the rails. They start to think that a relationship is something you find.  A relationship is not fork in the road that you take.  When you meet someone great, the sky doesn’t open up.  I know quite a few people who claim to be looking but problem is that all their doing is looking.  When I talk to friends who are in the market, I like to ask about who they met, how often they date, did you meet your date’s friends?.  The answers I hear are shockingly vague.  They start to talk about the men who writing to them or the the Starbucks date they had last summer or their ex from college. Or they give poor excuses like the “timing was not right” or “he ordered hot sauce and I hate spicy food”.  If want to get into a relationship, you need to get to know someone before anything happens. It’s not that men or women should compromise, it’s that they should make the first critical steps.  Go on dates, socialize with your dates, start kissing…don’t erect hurdles or meet for coffee say “meh, I’m not feeling a connection”.  Women have many more options today but they still need to risk kissing duds if they want a partner.

        The other point I want to make is that when you make IVF pregnancy your backup plan, IVF becomes your main plan.  It’s human nature.  You don’t need to decide anymore.  You don’t need to do anything except wait until IVF becomes your only option.  When deciding between man or a test tube, the test tube always wins.  🙁

      2. 13.1.2
        Chris

        What should women do who are in their mid- to late-30s and want kids but no decent prospects for a partner are on the horizon?

        Well since at that point the clock has nearly run out with no spare time left, she has three options left.

        (1) Embrace childlessness.

        (2) Single motherhood, probably by sperm donation, or

        (3) Quickly find a man willing to father her children and support her (and ideally marry her), but lower her standards to the absolute bare minimum, probably letting go of any expectations she has for chemistry. A great man could still appear, like with Evan’s wife, but the odds are very low.

        Since many women would find the degree of “settling” necessary for (3) unacceptable, I suppose that just leaves the first two options.

  14. 14
    Eugenie

    As I see it, in aggregate, men contribute the risk appetite and aggression to society; women, risk aversion and co-operation. Society needs both. Erasing the masculine and aggressive from politics, workplace, and public sphere – in order to remove tithe bad aspects (violence, recklessness)  – will also make society stagnant and fragile.

    The more men check out of family and child rearing, the more “feminine” society will become – but the hidden costs will be felt.

    Ironically this will make valuable again in a way I don’t think the most die-hard feminists would like…..

  15. 15
    Jeremy

    LAScott, you asked, “Why the hell would women of today want to enter into a RELATIONSHIP with one whose motivation for marriage and relationships is to get access to sex?”  Such an important question.  And I could as easily ask why a man would enter into a marriage with a woman whose goal is to have a child?  Many women have been burned entering relationships with men who only wanted sex.  Many men have been burned entering marriages with women who had kids and lost all interest in their husbands.  Given our base motivations, why bother?  Answer – because relationships and marriages can be beautiful…..but only if we take the time to understand each others’ motivations.  A man might initially seek out a woman because he is sexually attracted to her, but that doesn’t mean that is the only (or even primary) reason he wants to marry her.  A woman might want to marry primarily because she wants children but that doesn’t mean she can’t also love her husband.  It is only when we pursue our base motivations selfishly that relationships become impossible.  It’s only when we assume our partner’s motivations must be the same as ours (or else not matter) that relationships fall apart.  But if we can obtain our base motivations without the effort to get to know each other, why would we bother?  Humans don’t think well about the long-term.

     

    The point of my comments above was not to rail against feminism or to revoke any gains that women have made, but rather to give some perspective in a world where women’s perspective is often the only one considered in relationships.  Keep it in mind when you read comments on this blog where women describe what they are looking for as “the father of my future children.”  Or comment about how their marriages changed after their kids were born.  We so often hear about the misbehaviour of men, but not of women.  Men might have a base motivation of sex, but are happier if they acquiesce to the prerogatives of their wives.  In the same way, women’s base motivation might be toward children, but their relationships would be better if they understood their husbands.  Most don’t.  Most don’t care to.  Because they believe that if their husbands were mature, they’d want what the women do.

    1. 15.1
      LAScott

      And I could as easily ask why a man would enter into a marriage with a woman whose goal is to have a child?  

      Here is the thing, women primarily marry for love, lifelong, commitment, and companionship not children.

      8 facts about love and marriage in America

       

      Many women have been burned entering relationships with men who only wanted sex.  Many men have been burned entering marriages with women who had kids and lost all interest in their husbands. 

      Thats anpther

    2. 15.2
      LAScott

      And I could as easily ask why a man would enter into a marriage with a woman whose goal is to have a child?  

      Here is the thing, women primarily marry for love, lifelong, commitment, and companionship not children.

      8 facts about love and marriage in America

       

      Many women have been burned entering relationships with men who only wanted sex.  Many men have been burned entering marriages with women who had kids and lost all interest in their husbands. 

      Thats another thing, to me that is a false equivalency and vague. 1. Because having children is not a womans main motivation to marry statistically and 2. The nature of carrying and having a child changes a women hormonally mentally and of course physically. There is going to be some type of change in the relationship dynamic because of the sheer fact there is now a whole entire human being that is 100 percent dependant in the equation. And there is still only 24 hours in a day. And women are still the primary caretakers of children on top of having to get up and go to work like her husband has to get up and go to work. Obviously we dont have statistics to compare on how many women feel abandoned after their husbands have children because men dont give birth and they are still not the primary caretakers of children overall.

      http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/En/ResourceCentres/PregnancyBabies/NewbornBabies/AdjustingtoYourNewbornBaby/Pages/Relationship-Stress-After-Having-a-Baby.aspx

      The point of my comments above was not to rail against feminism or to revoke any gains that women have made, but rather to give some perspective in a world where women’s perspective is often the only one considered in relationships.

      This relatively new feminine considerate perscriptive is in RESPONSE to the long standing male dominant perscriptive before it. It only made sense as women are traditionally keepers of the relationships (intimate and non intimate) the family and the home.

       

      I wont respond to the bulk of your response as its presumes a core marriage motivation for women that I dont agree with and that is statistically inaccurate.

      1. 15.2.1
        Jeremy

        LAScott, it is important to understand that any study that asks people for the reasons for their behavior is inherently flawed, because most people lack the introspection to understand their own reasons for anything.

         

        Look at your article, for example, that states that “love” is the primary reason for marriage.  Nonsense.  And I say that knowing full well that it will raise the ire of many here, who believe that love should be the main reason for marriage.  Love is a great reason to enter into a relationship.  But love is a terrible reason to lock down a relationship with legal penalties for its dissolution, irrespective of love’s continued presence or absence.  The reason people marry, as opposed to continuing an informal long-term relationship, is not because of love, it’s because they want to lock something down.  Otherwise their behavior is totally irrational.  We want to marry the person we love, but the reason we want to marry has nothing to do with love and everything to do with what we want and what we fear.  So what do we want, and what do we fear, that marriage gives or protects us against?

         

        In my experience most people, men and women, don’t parse out their reasons for wanting to marry – and when asked, they make shit up.  So better to look at what marriage actually does – it provides financial security to the lower-income partner.  It provides financial security to children and to the caretaking parent.  It provides a strong dis-incentive for the higher-income spouse to leave the marriage, and compensation if he does.  It provides social sanctioning for the relationship, and status to the partners and the children.  It absolutely does not provide love, lifelong commitment, or companionship above and beyond what a long-term non-marital relationship would.  So people who state that those are the reasons they are marrying are making shit up, or are totally irrational.

         

        Rather than asking people to think of reasons why they marry, it is better to look at how people act.  I’ve seen uncounted numbers of women in my social circle meet men, get all excited about their “soul-mate” and then totally change once the kids were born.  The kids were their goal.  Not to say they didn’t have other goals, but rather that the kids were primary.  And once the kids have been obtained and security obtained, their reasons for remaining in their marriages and prioritizing their husbands evaporated.  In such a case, what MUST the motivation have been, regardless of what they thought it was, or should be?

        1. LAScott

          LAScott, it is important to understand that any study that asks people for the reasons for their behavior is inherently flawed, because most people lack the introspection to understand their own reasons for anything.

          Jeremy lol….  So do you think you have a better idea about womens main motivation to marry than the countless women who inform these studies themselves? Are you listening to yourself? Let me just say this… There are studies upon studies that echo the same sentiment. Who do you think is more credible, your opinion on what mainly motivates women to marry as a man or countless women lending their OWN VOICES about what motivates THEM to marry primarily as it relates to what are the primary motivations for women to marry? Even if these women who lended their own take, straight from the horses mouth, are not the most aware, do you think that you have better idea?

          The rest of your response Im not going to respond to because we differ in opinion as it related to the amount of credibility of a personal opinion backed up by reseach/studies vs just a  personal opinion. I use statistics because We are talking about womens primary motivations in GENERAL…and the best way to guage that is to ask a bunch of who?……WOMEN. Not just one

          I wouldnt be fool enought to sit up and go back and forth with you, a whole entire man, about what are mens primary motivations to marry without no proof (outside ‘well, I think’).  And what would be the best proof thus far?… The documented scholarly opinions of many men when we are talking men in general.

        2. Mrs Happy

          Dear Jeremy @ 15.2.1,

          I don’t know that marriage is currently consciously considered in such economic terms outside the US and Canada.  Historically marriage was about survival, power, inheritance.  Now marriage is about forging a future together. Many – most – countries do not have the alimony laws northern America does.  Until recent times, and even now in some nations, it was or is the male who keeps the children upon divorce.

          If the most committed, common set-up in your society is marriage, then that becomes the set-up most people aim for, by default, without thinking too much about why.

          Regarding women’s prioritisation of children over their male partner: the women did not necessarily have a higher motivation to have children, than love their partner.  What happened was, feelings changed.  New relationships began.  Primary maternal preoccupation kicked in after each birth.  The women got married 10 years ago because they wanted to. Now they are enslaved by their children because evolution programs them to be.   It’s not a motivation.  It’s more primal.

        3. Emily, the original

          Mrs. Happy, 

          What happened was, feelings changed.  New relationships began.  

          I was watching a movie this weekend which was about a young engaged couple. She was the more extroverted of the two and clearly drawn to his more serious personality. But she was also the caretaker. He seemed somewhat emotionally tormented, and she referred to herself as “Momma.” What happens, 10 years into the marriage, if she gets tired of that role and wants him to be more self-sufficient? You know .. feelings change, people change.

        4. Jeremy

          I’m not suggesting that it’s about the economics, Mrs Happy.  I don’t think most women marry for the legal financial benefits.  Rather, they are in love and want to lock down the love with a commitment.  Whether that commitment from the man is financial (ie. he has to pay if he leaves) or societal (ie. society discourages divorce) or religious, her reason to marry isn’t the love she feels, it’s the desire to secure it.  Especially if she wants kids, since no woman wants to be abandoned with kids.   We love the one we marry, but love isn’t the reason WHY we marry.  To say otherwise is to make a heuristic substitution – to answer a difficult question (whose answer might reveal something about ourselves that we don’t want to admit) with an easy one (whose answer says something about us that we want to believe).  No one wants to admit that the main reason they marry is for security in a society that values independence.  They tend to get shamed, much like the conversation above shaming men for wanting a secure sexual partner.

           

          Regarding children….I agree that most women who marry are consciously unaware of the effect that having kids will have on the calculus of their priorities.  Your description of predictable changes in priorities is very familiar to me – I’ve written quite a lot about it on this blog.  But let me ask you this – and I value your opinion because you have a very logical take on things:  You’ve written about your adventurous past – travelling, climbing mountains, studying abroad, making money, etc.  If you didn’t have a biological clock – if you had no desire at all for children – would you still have gotten married?  Do you think that most women would still have married when and whom they did if they didn’t want kids and/or security?

        5. Gala

          Do you think that most women would still have married when and whom they did if they didn’t want kids and/or security?

          I know this wasn’t for me but i can relate. Having children and a partner to help raise thm is THE ONLY motivation to get together with someone for me. I don’t care about security since I am pretty secure on my own, so I have no intent of even marrying legally. But having a live-in baby daddy is the only motivation to be in a marriage-like relationship with an adult male. Everything else is secondary and “you don’t buy the whole pig for a little sausage”. If the guy’s only motivation to get into such relationship is reliable sex – that’s ok with me. That means that he’s easy to please and low maintenance, which is a good thing

        6. Jeremy

          Thanks for responding, Gala, though I know you’re slightly more outspoken on this issue than many others.  But one thing I really need to clarify – based on your comment and many of those above – Men’s motivation to marry isn’t reliable, steady sex.  Men don’t marry some random woman who promises them all the sex they want.  Men have a pie-chart of reasons to marry, and we are very particular of whom we choose to marry, same as women.  My point is that sex is the biological factor that leads men to seek out women, and that reliable, steady sex is a much larger portion of our pie chart than it generally is for women.  The desire for children is the biological factor that leads women to seek out men, and the desire for children and caring for them occupies much more of women’s pie chart than it does men’s, in general.  Those different widths of pie slices are what lead to so much misunderstanding between the sexes.  But the substance, qualitatively, of our pie charts are not all that different.

        7. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

           If you didn’t have a biological clock – if you had no desire at all for children – would you still have gotten married?  Do you think that most women would still have married when and whom they did if they didn’t want kids and/or security?

          Men want security, too. Many want a home and a family and to know they have it “locked down,” and both sexes have to weigh the love they feel for someone with that person’s willingness to commit and how well they think a partnership will work over time.

          And it’s not always women who compromise on that.

          http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2104921/A-men-admit-marry-woman-NOT-love-with.html

        8. Jeremy

          Emily, “Men want security, too. Many want a home and a family and to know they have it “locked down.” Did I say otherwise?  I wrote that qualitatively, our pie charts are similar.  It’s the quantitative part that gives the problem.  “It’s not always women who compromise on that.”  Never claimed that it was.  But what we compromise on tends to differ systematically, based on what we want.  You mentioned that you never wanted children.  Do you think this affected your ability/desire to compromise?

        9. Nissa

          If you didn’t have a biological clock – if you had no desire at all for children – would you still have gotten married?I never particularly wanted children, although I assumed that baby fever would eventually hit based on biology. Nope. The older I got, the more incentive I had to put it off. I married and divorced without having kids. I would marry again in a heartbeat, if the man in question was sure he never wanted kids (preferably a man who has had a vasectomy). The women I have known who really wanted kids, often settled for a man for whom they had little to no arousal and fooled themselves into thinking they loved him so that they didn’t think badly of themselves for using the guy in question as a child care helper instead of a man with whom they wanted to share their life.

        10. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,  

          Do you think this affected your ability/desire to compromise?

          I was never looking for security, either. Security, home, children. None of that was on my radar screen. I was only looking for one thing, which I can not name because Tom10 and I are in a challenge, but nothing I was looking for had anything to do with a long-term partnership. But I still believe that what one looks for long-term is quite different and much more complicated. What I was looking for is hard to find because it’s extremely rare, but what a person needs for long-term in terms of compatibility, shared goals, emotional connection, genuine enjoyment of each other as people, etc., is also hard to find. Is it any wonder that when someone does find it, that, yes, they may love the other party, but maybe they’re compromising a bit in that this isn’t their dream man or their dream woman (whatever that means)? It’s a tall order.

        11. Jeremy

          There’s nothing wrong with a little compromise IMHO.  As long as we’re not required to compromise on something we consider essential.  My problem was not with compromise, but with failure to understand that our partner’s pie chart is not the same as our own.  My problem is with failure to empathize and with failure to acknowledge the systematic nature of those differences.  It is not a bad thing that child-rearing occupies a larger piece of my wife’s pie than mine, nor is it a problem that sex occupies a larger part of mine, as long as child rearing and sex are present on both of our pies, and as long as we both understand how important each is to the other without shaming them for it.  The problem comes when we believe that if our partner was mature, they would prioritize the same way we would.  And for all the many problems that affect men more than women, this one generally does the reverse IME.

           

          This discussion has gone far afield of my original point, which was that if having children is many women’s base motivation to marry (which I still believe it is), then the easier it is for women to have children without marriage, the less motivation women will have to marry.  Which will be bad news for women and kids, but worse news for men.

        12. Mrs Happy

          If you didn’t have a biological clock – if you had no desire at all for children – would you still have gotten married?

          I don’t know.  I might have married once or twice but not stayed married I suspect.  By my early 30’s I realised that most people marry, and suddenly felt a drive to marry someone, so during my 30’s I set about doing that, twice, with some trial and error. I’d studiously avoided marriage until then; a lot of my relationships had ended because he proposed and my answer was no.

          I think if I’d lived in a society where it was really common to stay single, and my country and culture was set up to cater to singles as the usual household and (more importantly) social unit, there would’ve been more chance I would have stayed single.  I enjoy my own company more than anyone else’s.  I loved living alone.  Society bears pressure to couple in multiple unspoken ways.

          It’s not marriage that stops me white water rafting throughout British Columbia or working for a while in the UK, it’s the kids, and my desire for them to have stable early years in one place.  Marriage isn’t the shackle.

          I’m bored often by the families – the women – I’m socially surrounded by now.  This year I’ve decided to pull back a little from pursuing connections with them, because after a few years living in my current area of wealthy Sydney, I realise these aren’t actually my type of women.  Some haven’t done much personally, though they have fully supported their successful husbands, and their focus is narrowed to just the domestic front.  Others are professional and so busy they aren’t the ones with much time to socialise.  I miss my old single crowd, jumping on a plane to Italy when I wanted an art fix, cycling through Ireland.  I miss my old intelligent colleagues at my old, pre-baby, more interesting job with such long hours I wouldn’t see my kids if I still worked there.  Those feel like my people, but it’s kids, not marriage, that sees those connections replaced for more conservative ones.

          Marriage is okay but there seem to be long periods of humdrum as part of the package.

        13. Jeremy

          Thanks for your reply, Mrs. Happy.  Helen Fisher believes that Explorer-type personalities have the hardest time with marriage.  Your comment could have been taken directly from her description of why – and she’d know, as she describes herself in ways similar to you.  It’s funny, I’d like to one day see Italy, but I have no desire at all to hop on a plane last minute.  I enjoy intelligent conversation, but can find the intelligence in all the people with whom I converse – and actually have surprised myself at the folksy wisdom of some whom I might have laughed at in my younger years.  I’ve learned so much in the most surprising of places – of people who talk about the weather and what their kids will have for snack.  I guess my point is that marriage (and children) require less sacrifice from some versus others, and so are easier for those people.

        14. Mrs Happy

          Dear Jeremy,

          I’m not an explorer personality type.  I have a sense of adventure at times, but this doesn’t suffice to define my personality.  I appreciate the security and closeness afforded me within a happy marriage and loving family, more than I value being able to climb Everest – thus my current choices.

          I agree there is wisdom to be found in unlikely places, but to be surrounded by women who talk for hours about their oven and washing machine brands and kitchen renovations – seriously I defy even you to find the cognitive stimulation in that after about 60 seconds.  Interesting conversation is a rarity and not commonplace.  You are smart – I know you get bored.  You work full time as a busy specialist physician I suspect (though I haven’t pegged your specialty yet) and that minimises the monotony of your life somewhat.

        15. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          My point is that sex is the biological factor that leads men to seek out women, and that reliable, steady sex is a much larger portion of our pie chart than it generally is for women.  The desire for children is the biological factor that leads women to seek out men, and the desire for children and caring for them occupies much more of women’s pie chart than it does men’s, in general.  

          But isn’t this just life? Men and women are very different. Mother Nature gets us together to procreate, but if it wasn’t for that, would we really have all that much in common? I don’t mean that sarcastically, but you bring up this topic up a lot, and the only way for a man to find a partner whose pie chart widths are similar to his is to marry another man or, at the very least, a woman who doesn’t want children because she may be more sexual/partner-driven.

        16. Jeremy

          @Mrs Happy,

           

          Ha ha, I’ll admit I’m having fun trying to peg your profession (and personality) too.  I know I write about these personality stereotypes, but don’t think I believe that they suffice to define any of us, even the simplest personality (which you are not).  They are heuristics to help me think about motivations.  Motivations are what fascinate me.  Because regardless of the fact that you are no longer white water rafting and mountain climbing, the fact remains that you had the motivation to do these things, whereas I did not.  Why IS that?  That’s the kind of thing I like to think about when my life gets boring and I find myself surrounded by Guardian-type personalities in the midst of their noun-vomiting.  Not what they are talking about, but why.

  16. 16
    Mrs Happy

    Happiness is such a nebulous concept.  It can be defined as a transient emotional state, or a state of being, or living a good life, or an activity, and used to be seen in more of a moral and ethical way, a virtue, than we currently understand it to be. We in modern times have often reduce it to just a feeling.

    Research suggests happiness is related to a number of things, including strong relationships and social ties, perceived prosperity, health, faith, success, etc.  But there are forceful genetic and temperamental components to happiness.  Some people can suffer blow after blow and still be relatively content, and others are chronically unhappy from childhood.  And individuals differ – some people need lots of social ties, through to Emily-the-Original’s father who was described lately as just needing one wife to fully complete his social ties needs.

     

    Marriage, or a strong romantic primary relationship, is a factor leading towards happiness, but I wonder whether that is cause and effect, or chance?  A happier person is more likely to pair up, than a sad person – people flock to the happy, and low mood states are contagious in social circles (as is divorce, and being overweight); and people instinctively avoid the sad/depressed.

    I think that while marriage is beneficial for some people, seeing marriage alone as being the ideal state, is too narrow a world view.  There are many people who do not suit marriage.  As I’ve mentioned before, lots of people are crappy spouses, and so all their partners are probably not too content within their marriages.

    Also, marriage seems to suit people for such a short time.  I’m happily married now in my 40’s, but would have chafed at the bonds of marriage during my teens and twenties, and there are plenty of examples on Evan’s blogs comments sections, detailing that once people hit their 50’s, 60’s and beyond, they do not want to remarry.

    Gala mentioned above for how short a time people used to be married. The survivors must have re-partnered again and again, out of economic and practical necessity.  Now we don’t need to do that, and there is a continual statistical increase in single person households in prosperous countries.

     

    Jeremy wrote about experiencing and remembering selves a few months ago, and gave an example of his tailor grandfather sewing away in his little room, loving his own company, hating family outings, but decades later remembering the family outings as the happy times.  That’s partly the lens of rose coloured glasses, forgetting the negatives and exaggerating the positives.  I bet lots of people who aren’t married, e.g. the single men hooking up with different women, are really enjoying their life, and are having much more joy on a nightly basis than the father rocking his screaming baby twins to sleep yet again on his 200th consecutive night without much sleep.  The single guy having fun is happier, no question about it, by our current emotional definition of happiness.  Maybe when he hits his mid 40’s or 50’s he will regret some choices, but he has lived a life of more ease and pleasure.

     

    Women of a certain age range have a strong, sometimes almost primal drive to reproduce.  Most living things on this planet are essentially geared towards reproduction.  So these women going for IVF, or single motherhood by choice or circumstance – they are folllowing biology. They are searching for their happiness.

    1. 16.1
      Jeremy

      I very much enjoyed this comment, Mrs Happy.  Any comment that makes me turn off the computer for a few minutes and think makes my day.  And lots of those seem to come from you 🙂

       

      Your comment reminds me of the disagreement between 2 great researchers on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert and Daniel Kahneman.  Gilbert believes that happiness is defined by what we report in the moment, not by what we remember later.  He specifically mentions child rearing in this context – how people have children believing it will make them happy, yet objectively their reported happiness decreases substantially until the kids are old enough to leave the nest (except for a few brief, salient moments of happiness – the child saying her first word, Mama, after a night of sleeplessness).  Kahneman, however, believes that the experiencing self and remembering self are two distinct things, and that the remembering self sets the tone of our baseline.  Who is right?  They both are, I think.  Which is why happiness is so nebulous, as you say.

       

      The women choosing IVF are definitely seeking their own happiness….they are following their genetic script to reproduce, in the same way as I follow my script to reach for the pie on the shelf or lust after the woman in the tight yoga pants at the gym.  Such a woman will experience a drop in her experiencing happiness that will last for decades, and an increase in her remembering happiness that will last for decades more, assuming she lives so long.  My tailor grandfather was never happy, though.  Not sewing in his basement, not remembering his life afterward.  Because even when we seek experiencing happiness, the positive affect is often as fleeting and brief as it is in child rearing, but forgotten much sooner IME.

  17. 17
    Lynx

    It is so, so, so hard to raise children solo, I believe any woman considering becoming a mother should develop a strong support network… even if the father is in the picture. Many of us did conceive children within a marriage, but the father was so non-participative we might as well have been alone. I would suggest that a single mom with solid family/friends can be better off than a married mom whose partner is effectively absent. 

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