An excellent forum at the Watcher’s Council regarding the decision to let 15 year olds buy Plan B over the counter

As the mother of the Obama government’s Plan B (aka “Morning After Pill”) demographic, I have strong feelings about the move to let 15 year olds just go to the store and buy the stuff.  The Watcher’s Council has a forum up on that subject and, as always, Council members say the most interesting things — and that’s true whether or not I agree with their conclusions.  You can read it all here, but I’m going to reprint my contribution below:

As the parent of minors, I think it’s appalling. The Left will always justify this kind of rule-making or legislation by pointing to those teenage girls who have dreadful home lives, and are at risk of being physically hurt if they confess to a pregnancy. Yes, those are real situations, but I’ve never seen any evidence that they are anything but a small minority. In the real world, parents whose daughters come home pregnant are not going to be happy, and they may yell at their daughter, but they don’t abuse her. They rally around her. In other words, they are family and they are there for her. (In this regard, I think the movie Juno was pretty accurate.)

The facts on the ground mean that the state’s motive in making birth control and abortifacients available to ever younger girls isn’t because it’s trying to protect a small minority of at-risk girls. Rather, it’s trying to break down the family unit. Sex is a great way to force that schism because, next to hunger, sex is the most powerful motivator. By promising children sex, and lots of it — without any messy consequences such as disease or pregnancy — the state ensures that children look to the state as the bountiful provider. The message is a simple one: We’ll make you happy; your parents will make you sad.

Of course, no one is looking at the very real consequences of the state’s handing out sex like an addictive drug. The state pours toxic hormone soups in adolescent bodies; treats those young bodies with powerful antibiotics; alienates young minds and emotions from those who are most likely to love them; and sends the message that human sex, rather than creating powerful, life-long emotional bonds, has no more meaning than (and about as much charm as) bovine, canine, or feline sex. No wonder the girls who graduate from the hook-up culture in college don’t feel liberated but, instead, just feel used and emotionally frozen. They have been used — not just by the men who get the girls, but by an all-powerful state that has as its goal the end of individuals’ control over their own bodies.

Lastly, there’s also something profoundly wrong about a government that, even as it criminalizes adult men and women who have sex with children, does everything it can to encourage children to have sex. I don’t have a good word to describe that. Revolting? Hypocritical? Sleazy? Obscene? Immoral? I think all apply.

Coincidentally, I just opened an email from a friend alerting me to an article that Melanie Phillips, a brilliant British conservative, wrote about the reason that Big Brother has it in for families. Please read it. It’s very important, and provides a counter-narrative to the state’s claim that parents are a child’s natural enemies, rather than their most loving supporters (in most cases).

The Left uses sex to break up American families

I had an interesting conversation with my mother, who may be 90, but is still sharper than most people you’ll meet.  We got to talking about the Gosnell abortion/murder trial, which came as something of a surprise to her.  Despite the fact that she watches the news and reads the newspaper, she hadn’t heard a thing about it.  That wasn’t a surprise to me.

From there, the conversation wandered to the moral merits of abortion.  My Mom came of age in a time and place when abortion was neither approved of nor frowned upon.  It just existed.  In the turmoil after the war, when people were starving in cities decimated by fighting, having a baby seemed like an impossibility — and it could be a death sentence for both mother and child.  Nobody approved of abortion in war-torn streets, but they didn’t stop it either.

For that reason, it’s always been hard for my mother to understand the fervor Americans feel about abortion.  To her, it just . . . is.  (That’s probably the case for a lot of people who aren’t committed to one side or another of the abortion debate, which is why the media couldn’t risk the Gosnell trial coming into the open, in case it swayed indecisive people into the pro-Life column.)

While Mom couldn’t quite get the morality of abortion, I was able to get her to understand that the modern American state uses abortion to separate children from their families.  We’ve talked before here about the fact that, in California, youngsters under 16 or 18 can’t play paintball, get their ears pierced, or get a fake tan without a parents’ permission.  They can, however, get birth control, get abortions, and get treated for sexually transmitted diseases, all without a parents’ knowledge.  Putting aside the invitation to the worst kinds of child sex abuse, what’s happening here is that the state promises children the keys to the kingdom of pleasure.

Food and shelter are necessities.  Good food and good shelter are pleasures.  But sex . . . there’s the ultimate endorphin rush.  Mom and Dad, being mean, spiteful people, won’t let you have it, and they’ll give you Hell if there are consequences because you ignored their strictures.  The state, though, it puts no obstacles in your path.  Indeed, it helps you along with condoms, birth control pills, patches, and morning after pills.  If you get pregnant, you get the Morning After pill or an abortion, and if you get an STD, it gives you antibiotics — all without the knowledge or consent of the people who, in 90% of all cases care about you most in the world.

The Left claims that this legislated immorality is to protect young girls from abusive parents who will leave them homeless or beat them if they come home pregnant.  (Again, let’s ignore the fact that everything the Left does actually encourages the sexual abuse of children.)  Using an argument that focuses on an extreme minority, the Left has put us in a position that sees all girls and boys in America get to have free sex courtesy of the State.  The state has driven a wedge into the family unit, using the most potent endorphin driver available to motivate and reorient young people.

When I put it that way (as opposed to debating abortion’s morality), my mother suddenly sat up very straight, looked me straight in the eye, and said “But that’s socialism!”  I practically jumped up and down applauding that she had realized what was going on. It turned out there was a reason for her insight.

I’ve mentioned before that my Dad came from a Communist milieu and, while he eventually voted for Reagan, his sister remained a devoted Communist until the day she died.  Although she escaped Nazi Germany and eventually ended up in Palestine (and, after the War of Independence, in Israel), she decided that this young socialist state wasn’t properly committed to true Marxist socialism.  She therefore returned to East Germany, where she lived out the remainder of her life.

She was still living in Israel, though, when my Mom and Dad got married.  One day, when my Communist aunt was present, the subject of children came up.  Mom said that she wanted to wait until she had a nice home of her own and some security before she had children, so that she could have the joy and comfort of really raising her own family.  My aunt was shocked.  “No.  That’s wrong.  The children belong to the State.  You do not have the right to withhold them from the state, which should raise them.”

With this conversation living in her memory, my mother immediately understood the ramifications of a government severing the ties between parents and children.  In some places, such as Mao’s China, it uses coercion.  In America, it uses sex.  No matter the method, the goal is socialist.

Keeping in mind the above, it’s understandable why people who fear socialism (as I do) greeted with howls of outrage the MSNBC contributor who said quite clearly, “All your children are belong to us.”  Melissa Harris-Perry framed it cutely as it takes a village to raise a child, but that soft overlay covers pure, brute-force socialism.  Villages are voluntary communities that share values.  Homes are the ultimate refuge of the individual.  Socialism holds that individuals have no value, except to the extent that they provide bodies to power the socialist state:

The Left — criminalizing childhood

The news is filled with stories lately about the way in which Progressive-managed public schools are behaving insanely when it comes to kids and faux-guns.  My friend Mike McDaniel, whose regular home is Stately McDaniel Manor, has an article up at PJ Media today which combines surreal (yet sadly real) stories about teeny-tiny kids caught in their school’s anti-gun cross hairs.  To the extent the world is going to hell in a hand basket, I can only say that the Progressives are making the trip there a whole lot faster and uglier.

Obama’s Department of Justice says mommies are meaningless

I live in an affluent community.  One of the constants in this neighborhood is that, if a family can afford it, the mom retires to take care of the kids.  This is true even if the mom’s salary was comparable to the dad’s.  Often, this isn’t the mom’s preference; it’s the children’s.  Our neighborhood children adore their Dads, but their mother is the pivotal figure in their lives.  The formerly working mom in an affluent neighborhood really intends to go back to work, but it’s hard.  The children want mom to feed them, they want mom to cuddle them, they want mom to cheer on their after-school sports, and they want mom to make them better when it hurts.  They love their dads, but they want their moms.

I know that there are exceptions to what I just wrote.  I know two dads who have been their children’s primary caregivers while mom worked, and they’ve both raised spectacular kids in a very happy way.  These are successful families no matter how you define what constitutes successful parenting.

Nevertheless, you just can’t get by the mom-thing:  Mom carries the baby, gives birth to the baby, feeds the baby, and parents the baby in a different way than even the most loving dad does.  The fact that women are different from men (Viva la difference!) brings a different quality to their relationship with their children.  The fact that a rich community, one with the luxury of choice, opts for the traditional female parenting model, tells you something about the bond between mother and child.  Although intelligent, loving, willing people can come up with different relationships, Mother Nature hardwired moms to be the nurturers.

That’s what I say.  The Obama administration, in a brief supporting same-sex marriage that it submitted to the United States Supreme Court, says different:

The Justice Department presented its conclusions about parenthood in rebutting an argument made by proponents of Proposition 8 that the traditional two-parent family, led by both a mother and a father, was the ideal place, determined even by nature itself, to raise a child.

The Obama administration argues this is not true. It argues that children need neither a father nor a mother and that having two fathers or two mothers is just as good as having one of each.

“The [California] Voter Guide arguably offered a distinct but related child-rearing justification for Proposition 8: ‘the best situation for a child is to be raised by a married mother and father,’” said the administration’s brief submitted to the court by Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr.

“As an initial matter, no sound basis exists for concluding that same-sex couples who have committed to marriage are anything other than fully capable of responsible parenting and child-rearing,” the Department of Justice told the court. “To the contrary, many leading medical, psychological, and social-welfare organizations have issued policy statements opposing restrictions on gay and lesbian parenting based on their conclusion, supported by numerous scientific studies, that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are as likely to be well adjusted as children raised by heterosexual parents.”

“The weight of the scientific literature strongly supports the view that same-sex parents are just as capable as opposite-sex parents,” says the administration.

To support this argument, one of the documents the administration cites is a “policy statement” by the American Psychological Association. This statement claims that some studies indicate same-sex parents might be “superior” to mother-and-father families, but then concedes there is little actual data on the results of raising children in two-father households.

“Members of gay and lesbian couples with children have been found to divide the work involved in childcare evenly, and to be satisfied with their relationships with their partners,” says this APA policy statement the administration cited to the court. “The results of some studies suggest that lesbian mothers’ and gay fathers’ parenting skills may be superior to those of matched heterosexual parents. There is no scientific basis for concluding that lesbian mothers or gay fathers are unfit parents on the basis of their sexual orientation.”

“Studies of other aspects of personal development (including personality, self-concept, and conduct) similarly reveal few differences between children of lesbian mothers and children of heterosexual parents,” says the APA policy statement. “However, few data regarding these concerns are available for children of gay fathers.”

The Obama administration further argues that because California law already permits domestic partnerships in which same-sex couples are allowed all the “incidents” of marriage–including the right to adopt children and be foster parents–that Proposition 8 only denies same-sex couples the use of the word “marriage” and does not change the status of child-rearing in the state.

“Moreover, as the court of appeals determined, ‘Proposition 8 had absolutely no effect on the ability of same-sex couples to become parents or the manner in which children are raised in California,’” says the administration. “As explained, California law, both before and after Proposition 8, grants registered domestic partners the same parental rights and benefits accorded to married couples. And Proposition 8 does not alter California’s adoption, fostering, or presumed-parentage laws, which ‘continue to apply equally to same-sex couples.’

“In light of California’s conferral of full rights of parenting and child-rearing on same-sex couples, Proposition 8’s denial to same-sex couples of the right to marry bears no cognizable relation, let alone a substantial one, to any interest in responsible procreation and child-rearing (however defined),” says the administration. “Indeed, because a substantial number of California children are raised in households headed by same-sex couples.”

Children can absolutely survive without mothers.  In the pre-modern era, the risks of childbirth saw enormous numbers of children orphaned.  Children are resilient.  They’ll survive a parents’ death; they’ll survive both parents’ deaths; they’ll survive good foster homes and bad; and they’ll survive in a two-father family, a two-mother family, or a non-traditional family where dad stays home.  But to pretend that a stable two-parent home with a loving mother providing a feminine role model and a loving father providing a masculine role model is unnecessary and passe is something that could only happen in a post-post-deconstructionist world, one in which a boy can announce that he is a girl and, voila!, that makes it so.

We 21st century first worlders have an enormous arrogance, one that sees us thinking that we can successfully ignore our biology and human nature as a whole.  Just a few examples show how wrong that hubris is.  We think that we control the entire earth’s atmosphere, rather than just have the ability to pollute or keep clean our immediate internment; we think that we can control disease, only to see our antibiotics become ineffective, with viruses such as AIDS sneaking past our “civilized” defenses, and traditional scourges such as TB coming back in new and ever more virulent form; we think that we have reached an apex of civility that overrides the cruel animal in us, only to witness unspeakable atrocities in every corner of the world, in every decade of every century; and we think that we can use our superior abilities, not just to constrain biology, but to ignore it entirely.

Please understand that I do not intend to say here that non-traditional households cannot succeed and that they are unable to create a loving, nurturing environment for children.  I’m just saying that, if history has taught us anything, it’s that it’s utterly foolish to pretend that Mother Nature doesn’t usually get the last word — making it quite wrong and dangerously foolish to create public policy based upon the pretense that Nature doesn’t exist.

Parents are good for children, and children are good for parents (especially selfish parents)

Having babies used to be biologically inevitable.  If you were a woman who had sex, the possibility of pregnancy increased automatically with every act of sexual intercourse.  People have always had birth control (withdrawal, the rhythm method, vinegar-soaked sponges, primitive condoms, etc.) but their success rate was random and limited.

Then came modern birth control — pills, diaphragms, IUDs, quality condoms, etc. — and, for responsible women, sex stopped leading to pregnancy unless they wanted it to happen.

The societal assumption when birth control use surged in America was that women who used birth control would invariably have children.  They’d simply do so on their own time-table, rather than on Nature’s.  Some women waited too long (or just had problems with conception), but science had an answer there too, with increasingly successful fertility treatments, implants, and even complex surrogacies, using a combination of egg, sperm, and womb.

What no one predicted was that, given the choice, women simply wouldn’t want to have children.  This isn’t just because they’re Malthusian environmentalists who are afraid that children will destroy the world.  It’s because they don’t see children as part of their happy (and sometimes selfish) life plan:

For many individual women considering their own lives and careers, children have become a choice, rather than an inevitable milestone—and one that comes with more costs than benefits.

“I don’t know if that’s selfish,” says Jordan, the daughter of an Ecuadoran and an Ohioan who grew up in the South Bronx, explaining her reasons for a decision increasingly common among women across the developed world, where more than half of the world’s population is now reproducing at below the replacement rate. “I feel like my life is not stable enough, and I don’t think I necessarily want it to be … Kids, they change your entire life. That’s the name of the game. And that’s not something I’m interested in doing.”

I totally get that.  As I hit my 30s, I was living the lush life:  good job, good income, nice apartment, quality boyfriend and, when the long work hours were over, a lot of “me” time.  I had no biological clock ticking away.  I didn’t want children.  In general, I’m not that fond of them.  Yet here I am today, completely defined by my status as “Mom.”  What the heck happened?

What happened was that my boyfriend (now husband) wanted children and I wanted him.  The other thing that happened was that I took a long, considering look at all of the older childless couples I knew, who voluntarily stayed childless, and I didn’t like what I saw.  Without exception, these people were more affluent than their peers, they were well-traveled, well-dined, and well-groomed.  They were also rigid, humorless, thin-skinned, and unable to deal with even the most minor crises.  I realized that it’s not just that (g00d) parents are good for children, it’s that children are good for parents.

I hated the baby and toddler years, and they definitely accelerated my aging (chronic sleep deprivation did not agree with me).  I also hated the schlepping, the endless frustration of dealing with toddlers, and the chaos in my once-quiet house.  I don’t like irrational creatures and there is no creature more irrational (from an adult perspective) than a toddler.  Toddlers, of course, function in a completely rational world, defined by their immediate desires, limited understanding, and somewhat magical thinking.

It got easier as the kids grew up, and now I’m in a really great position where I’m optimizing the benefits that come with being a parent.  I enjoy my teenagers, a great deal.  They’re intelligent, loving, funny people and, while I like it when I’ve got my house it myself, I certainly don’t dislike it when they’re around.  I like their friends too, and am very happy to have (no kidding) the most popular house in the neighborhood.  My son, bless his heart, told me that all his friends like to be here because I’m the easiest-to-get-along-with parent they know.  I’m not a pushover — it’s just that, as with politics, I’m laissez faire.  I have a few fixed rules but otherwise, if the kids are not hurting themselves, each other, my dog, or my house, I leave them alone.

Meanwhile, they keep me young.  I hope I’m not mutton dressed as lamb, but I know the games, music, movies, language, clothing (which I don’t copy), and the general culture of youth.  I am not calcified and I am not rigid.  I don’t get hysterical if there’s no blood or vomit involved in whatever crisis arises — and I don’t even get hysterical about blood or vomit.  I just move a bit more quickly to cope with it.

My point is that the selfish person should want to have children.  I believe that my children benefit from my selfishness, which leads me to a benign neglect that keeps them from trying to grow under the shadow and endless wind of a helicopter parent, and I get to stay young, agreeable and adaptable.  It’s a good deal for me, even though the upfront costs (two miserable pregnancies followed by years without sleep, rest, or privacy) were high.

Education for the brainwashed generation

I know I’m just grumpy, but this promotional mailing from Ithaca College rubbed me the wrong way:

Ithaca flier

Ready to write environmental wrongs.  Ithaca College will turn your academic passions into unforgettable experiences — and make you ready for the adventure of your life.

I know that the first sentence is meant to be a clever pun, but it’s not.  At first glance, I thought it was a typo or blatant grammatical error.  On second reading, I thought Ithaca was promising to teach students how to plan to create environmental wrongs.  On third reading, I realized that Ithaca is offering to teach students how to “list” environmental wrongs, although I suspect there’ll be a fair dollop of creative writing (i.e., anthropogenic climate change) thrown in.

The whole thing — with the smug girl and the promise that documenting, or making up, environmental wrong is the “adventure of your life” — made me queasy.

Am I overreacting?  I probably am.  But as Kurt Schlichter said about Lena Dunham’s and HBO’s vile, nihilistic show Girls, we need to know what’s out there, because it is out there, and it’s aimed at our children.

“It’s for the animals” — Leftist indoctrination of children

Conservatives often talk about the fact that Progressives use children as a wedge issue for everything.  Changes in immigration law?  It’s to protect those poor children whose parents illegally dragged them across the border.  Changes in health care law?  It’s so that children, right up until the childlike age of 26, can get full health care, regardless of their parents’ economic or lifestyle decisions.  Gun control?  It’s for the children, never mind that statistics indicate that children die in greater numbers when gun control increases even as cultural brakes decline.

Barack Obama surrounds self with children for gun control

Barack Obama, of course, took the “it’s for the children” approach to public policy to sickening new heights when he surrounded himself by a gaggle of youthful darlings to herald his stale and ineffectual “gun control” orders.  He then followed this unsavory photo op with heart-rending videos of children pleading for an end to guns in America.  Yes, children are our future, and yes, we want to leave them a viable world when we pass on, but Drudge was right when he noted that only demagogues surround themselves with children to justify increased tyranny.

I’ve established (to my satisfaction, at least), that Progressives misuse children in order to co-opt their parents.  But how do Progressives co-opt the children?  Easy:  “It’s for the animals.”

In the old days, animal stories and movies used to be about a kid’s relationship with his animal, whether the animal was a yearling, a yellow dog, or a black horse.  The child learned and grew because of his responsibilities for the animals and, often, because of the hard, human choices he had to make regarding the animals.  Animals weren’t better than humans, but they existed artistically to help children learn about love, responsibility, and tough decisions.

Baby Seal

Starting with the baby seal campaign in the 1970s, though, the Left realized that it can bring kids on board by making them feel that ordinary human activity is devastating for animals.  The starting point, and it really wasn’t a bad one, was to focus on the animals that were being driven, quite unnecessarily, to extinction, such as the baby seals beaten for fashion fur, the dolphins killed by careless tuna fishing methodologies, or the various African and Asian animals being minced and powdered for aphrodisiacs (and no, I do not want to hear that there’s nothing frivolous about the man who needs an aphrodisiac).  There really wasn’t a credible reason for these animals to be subject to mass slaughter.

Polar Bear with Cubs

Lately, though, the Left has been using animal education with children, not because the animals are a target of foolish, wasteful behavior, but because their deaths are a byproduct of necessary human behaviors that the Left hates.  Thus, we saw the whole spectacle of polar bears who were supposedly being driven to extinction because Mommy drives a minivan, or spotted owls being driven from their habitat because nasty humans insist on living in houses.  It’s one thing to heed the Biblical injunction that we are stewards of the earth, something with which I heartily agree.  It’s another thing altogether to teach children that, if at all possible, we should vanish from the earth entirely.  (Something that’s looking surprisingly likely, given world-wide demographic trends.)

The reality of life is that anything that living creatures do on this earth affects other living creatures.  This is true for plants (kudzu, for example), animals (the balance of wolves and deer in Yellowstone, for example), and humans.  Because humans have the greatest geographic range and the most inventive minds, we have more scope to affect our surroundings than do plants or animals.  Moreover, even when we seem to be changing for the better, we still manage to mess with nature.  When we had horses and carriages, the world was awash in filthy, germ-carrying urine and feces.  When we got cars, the urine and feces vanished from cities and towns, but we got dirtier air.  When we eat meat, we use resources to feed the animals, the animals produce waste, and we have to kill the animals to take advantage of their protein.  That all sounds yucky, right?  Except it turns out that when we seek protein alternatives (and even Progressives won’t deny that we need protein), we starve indigenous people who are dependent on these alternatives, rather than eating them just because it makes them feel very politically correct.  In the same vein, our decision to use corn for fuel, because it’s “cleaner” than fossil fuels, led to starvation and revolution in the Middle East.

Humans, like any animals, have to fight for resources — we fight with each other, and we fight with animals.  Because we’re human, we have the gifts of a greater, more flexible intellect and of a moral compass, so we are obligated to mitigate the negative effects our actions have on others.  Mitigating those effects, however, is not the same as vanishing altogether — which is pretty much what the Leftists are suggesting to our children is the best solution of them all.

I’m a horrible child! I ruined your life! — Turning the abortion debate into the punchline to a silly joke

One of my favorite silly jokes goes as follows:

A man runs into a friend.  “Oh, my God!” he says.  “I just made the most terrible Freudian slip.”

His friend asks “What did you do?”

The man answers, “Well, I was having lunch with my mother.  I meant to saying ‘Mom, please pass the peas,” but what I actually said was ‘You horrible woman!  You’ve ruined my life!'”

I don’t know why I find this joke so funny — beyond the obvious point that what the man said was not a Freudian slip — but I just do.  It makes me laugh every time.

As is always the case, though, Progressives manage to go one better than any joke, but they invariably ruin the punch line.  The latest example comes from Britian’s Guardian, a reliably Left wing publication.  The article is entitled — no kidding — “I wish my mother had aborted me.”  The author, Lynn Beisner, assures us that she’s not one of those sad-sacks who has a miserable life and, therefore, wishes she’d never been born.  Instead, she explains, she wrote the article as a counter to those ridiculous emotional pro-Life stories that revolve around a woman who contemplated abortion, decide not to do it, and raised a child very grateful to be alive.  How disgustingly bathetic, Beisner says:

What makes these stories so infuriating to me is that they are emotional blackmail. As readers or listeners, we are almost forced by these anti-choice versions of A Wonderful Life to say, “Oh, I am so glad you were born.” And then by extension, we are soon forced into saying, “Yes, of course, every blastula of cells should be allowed to develop into a human being.”

Beisner is going to counter this horrible narrative — by pitching an emotional story about how her birth stunted, not her own, but her mother’s life:

An abortion would have absolutely been better for my mother. An abortion would have made it more likely that she would finish high school and get a college education. At college in the late 1960s, it seems likely she would have found feminism or psychology or something that would have helped her overcome her childhood trauma and pick better partners. She would have been better prepared when she had children. If nothing else, getting an abortion would have saved her from plunging into poverty. She likely would have stayed in the same socioeconomic strata as her parents and grandparents who were professors. I wish she had aborted me because I love her and want what is best for her.

Or, to use fewer words:  “I’m a horrible child!  I ruined your life.”

What Beisner doesn’t realize is that she’s not breaking new ground here.  She’s treading the old, hard-packed pro-abortion ground, only in a way that’s more silly than usual.  Because the pro-abortion crowd has always and only focused on the woman (“It’s a woman’s choice”), the issue always has been that the woman gets to ask herself “Will this baby ruin my life?” and then to abort if her answer is “Yes, probably.”

Well, I’ve got news for Beisner.  Babies always ruin a woman’s life.  That is, they ruin the life she knew before babies came along.  Goodbye, lithesome figure!  Goodbye, sleeping through the night!  Goodbye, privacy!  Goodbye, eating a meal without interruptions!  Goodbye, ready money!  Goodbye, dancing all night (at least, without bouncing a crying baby in your arms)!  Goodbye, spontaneity!  It’s all over.  Everything that made for your youthful existence is gone.

What Beisner misses, though, is the “Whenever God closes a door, he opens a window” aspect of having children.  For every goodbye, there’s a hello  Hello, bidding farewell to your immature self and saying welcome to the you that is a fully realized adult!  Hello, to a little one entwining himself or herself around your neck and saying ‘Mommy, I wuv you so much’ — and meaning it!  Hello, to having an incredibly rich social life, one that doesn’t revolve around the drunken hook-up scene, but one that involves other parents who are so glad to welcome you into the Parent Club!  Hello, feeling connected to your country, because it’s not just yours anymore, it’s also your children’s and your grandchildren’s.

Some people are going to be horribly damaged by their inability to turn their backs upon giddy youth in favor of responsible maturity.  But for every one of those people, there’s going to be someone grateful for the love, stability, and meaning that parenthood brings.

The only thing that Beisner gets right (although she fails to live up to her own standards) is that emotional pitches are meaningless, because different people have different emotional responses.  What she When emotions are meaningless, the only thing that matters is principle:  Do you believe that (a) life begins at conception and (b) that this life is immediately entitled to full respect?  If yes, you must be pro-Life; if not, well, then pro-abortion is a reasonable position for you.  But don’t try dressing it up with sob stories about living children or unhappy mothers.

Being honest with children, without abandoning your right as a parent to pass judgment

So much of parenting is about communication.  Because children listen with their hearts as well as their minds, that communication had better be honest.  If it’s not, your child will instantly know you for either a fool or a liar.

Being honest, though, is not the same as being judgmental.  There is a time and a place for both.  Most parents have discovered that, occasionally, passing judgment on someone or something simply encourages a child to push back, thereby turning into a fight something that ought to be a deep and principled discussion.

A good example of the way to be both honest and effectively judgmental (meaning getting your child to acknowledge your principles without pushing back) is the drug talk.  Most parents of high schoolers have made the sad discovery that a certain percentage of their child’s peers are doing drugs.  When you, the parent, hear such stories, you can be simultaneously honest and judgmental by stating your principled position about drug use.  Mine is that drug use is very dangerous for children and teenagers.  Even ostensibly mild drugs such as marijuana have a damaging effect on a young person’s intellectual and emotional development.  (You can imagine the rest of the factual lecture here, because I’m sure you’ve given it yourself.)

What the wise parent avoids, though, is leveling an attack, not against the drugs, but against the drug user.  As sure as the sun rises, if you attack an individual, your child will spring to that individual’s defense:

Mom:  Boy, is that a stupid girl to be smoking pot at her age.

Child:  She is not stupid.  She gets really good grades.

That’s the moment the parent has lost control of the conversation. It’s now going to wend its way through various pointless rhetorical pathways, with the parent trying to prove that a teenager she’s never actually met is an idiot, while the child vigorously asserts that the teen is a paragon of virtue, but for the drug use.

The better way to keep the conversation going is to offer an honest opinion about your emotional response to that errant teen, or your sense of that same teen’s emotional status:

Mom:  That’s so sad.  In her Facebook picture, she looks like such a lovely girl, but drug use, especially when you start so wrong, is damaging at so many levels.  She must be deeply unhappy or insecure to throw herself away with drug use.

Child:  How can she be insecure?  She’s always bossing people around.

Mom:  People who have a genuine, bone-deep confidence, don’t feel the need to throw their weight around, or medicate their insecurities with illegal drugs.  [And so on and so on.]

A parent who is honestly sympathetic to a child’s plight can be judgmental without forcing her child into a defensive posture. Using this technique, you can have conversations with your kids about hard topics – drugs, sex, social challenges – that are deep and without embarrassment, because the kids know that the parent will honestly talk facts, but avoid labels that trigger a self-defense, or peer-defense, mechanism.

Honesty also has the virtue of cutting straight through the euphemisms all people — and especially teenagers — use to hide the fact that a certain behavior is morally wrong or simply degrading. My favorite example of this is the talk I had with some girls I was driving to a high school dance.  They were chatting excitedly about whether or not they would be asked to dance (yes, even in this modern day and age, the boys still ask the girls), and whether they should let a guy freak dance with them.

I couldn’t resist chiming in.  “You know what freak dancing is, don’t you? Freak dancing is when a strange guy masturbates against your bottom.”

From the back of the car came a chorus of disgusted squeals.  “Oh, my God!  That’s so gross.  I’m never going to freak dance.”

(Since they were in the back, they didn’t see my fist pump.)

I doubt I could have gotten such a dramatic, heartfelt response if I’d allowed the girls to think of freak dancing as “just a dance” or tried delicately to address the matter as “a sort of dance where the guy rubs himself against you.”  Also, by going straight to the heart of the matter, without waffling, I also signaled to the girls that the type of dancing they were contemplating is something that they can talk about with me openly, without the need for embarrassment.

I am consistently honest with my children, and I’ve never regretted that decision.  Even when my children catch me being dishonest (for better or worse, I’m a big believer in social lies that enable others to save face when it comes to issues that do not involve core ethics or morality), I explain what my thinking is and why I’m doing what I’m doing.  I’m the magician who shows every aspect of his tricks.  And yet somehow, the magic is still there, because my children have absorbed my morality and values, and apply them to their daily lives.

Is a familial genetic legacy the right reason not to have a baby? No! *UPDATED*

PJ Media has had two interesting posts about whether familial genetic legacies are the right reason not to have a baby.  David Swindle passes on an article about the fact that well-known “comedienne” Sarah Silverman (I use the scare quotes because I don’t think she’s funny) announced recently that she will not have children because she and her family have a history of depression.  Silverman can’t bear the thought that any children she has might suffer the same fate.  Conservative blogger Kathy Shaidle also thinks that her family’s genetic possibilities — in her case, shortness — makes having babies a bad deal for the babies.  (Shaidle offers up a number of other reasons why she wouldn’t have a baby, all of which make it clear that she’s thought the subject through carefully and really isn’t the maternal type.)

Neither woman is concerned about a life-threatening genetic problem, the kind that mandates that the child will suffer terribly and die young.  Both are concerned, though, about traits that have affected the quality of their otherwise successful lives.  Within this framework, Silverman and Shaidle are both wrong.  There are many reasons not to have children, but their genetic concerns aren’t the right reasons.

To begin with, there’s no guarantee that a child will inherit whatever genetic problem exists in the family.  Keep in mind that babies aren’t clones.  They are, instead, the end result of thousands of years of genetic mix-ups.  My great-grandmother had fraternal twin girls.  One was six feet tall, the other five feet tall.  They represented the two genetic extremes in just one family line.  I’m five feet tall.  My (male) cousins on the maternal side hover around 6’7″.  They married short women; I married a tall man.  All of our children are clocking in at average.  Nature does what nature does.  We can make some educated Mendelian guesses about the probable outcome when a couple have a baby, but those are just that — guesses.

Things get scary when we take those guesses out of the hypothetical realm (“I’ll never get pregnant because of this-or-that possibility”) and into the realm of making affirmative decisions about those little fetuses (“I’m pregnant and I know what’s wrong.”).  On the Today Show, Nancy Snyderman, the science correspondent, waxed enthusiastic about plucking “defective” babies out of the womb:

SNYDERMAN: Well, you might learn that a child has a severe genetic problem. It gives parents a chance to decide whether they’re going to continue that pregnancy or not. This is the science of today. It is running fast into the future. And I think the future will be such that you’ll find out that your child may have a genetic hit. You can fix that genetic problem, and improve your chance, a child’s chance of having a healthier –

STAR JONES: When will you know about this?

SNYDERMAN: Well, it’s out there now but it’s too expensive.

DONNY DEUTSCH: But obviously there’s another flip side guys, there’s another flip — Look, I’m a pro-choice guy, but at the end of the day what’s stopping people, “Oh, my son is going to be blond, I want — ” You’ve got to do it for the reasons you’re talking about, but –

SNYDERMAN: I get the genetic-engineering issue. But the reality is we’ve already jumped out of that with amniocentesis.

JONES: Correct.

SNYDERMAN: So, the science is there. The problem is that science goes faster than we have these societal questions. And that’s exactly why we should have these societal questions now.

Donny Deutsch may be a liberal, but he honed in like a laser-guided missile with his question which, rephrased, is “who’s to decide what constitutes a defect sufficient to justify terminating a nascent life?”  Snyderman pretty much brushed him off.  Her answer, rephrased, was “with knowledge comes power.”

Snyderman is obviously an acolyte of the Peter Singer school of ethics/eugenics.  Peter Singer holds an endowed chair at Princeton, which means that he daily gets the opportunity to sell his views to the best and the brightest, young people who move on from Princeton to positions of power and responsibility.  This matters, because his academic output includes such books as Should the Baby Live?: The Problem of Handicapped Infants (Studies in Bioethics), Animal Liberation and In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave.  The title of that first-listed book — Should the Baby Live? — pretty much sums up the man’s philosophy:  he advocates euthanizing handicapped infants.  He is, of course, reviled by the handicapped community (and rightly so).

The moral abyss Singer creates with his euthanasia musings is highlighted by the fact that his animal liberation writings make him a founding father of the animal rights movement — a movement that’s come to full flower in PETA insanity (which analogizes the death of chickens to the death of Jews in Hitler’s gas chambers). Singer explicitly believes that a healthy animal has greater rights than a sick person.  If you need a further insight into Singer’s warped world — and let me remind you that this warped world gives him tremendous status in academia, not to mention worldwide accolades — Singer has no moral problem with bestiality, provided that the animal consents, an attitude that places him at odds with the same animal rights movement he was so instrumental in creating.

I recognize that there’s a difference between refraining from pregnancy because you, the potential parent, are concerned about a hypothetical birth defect, and aborting a baby that is actually proven to have that defect.  The problem is defining “defect,” which leads me to the second reason Silverman and Shaidle are wrong in deciding not to have babies because of family genetic histories.

The fact is that one person’s “defect” is another person’s opportunity.  For example, the Time article to which PJ Media links makes clear that there’s a connection between depression and creativity:

But what the commenters didn’t mention is that the same genes that can cause depression may also encourage the sensitivity and sensibility that gives Silverman her creative talent. Indeed, some research suggests that the same exact genetics that might lead to depression can also lead to mental superhealth, depending on whether a person endured high stress in early childhood or had a calmer, more nurturing environment.

I can actually speak to that point.  Some of you may have noticed that my blogging has dropped off in the past six weeks.  I don’t believe that the timing is random.  Six weeks ago, I started taking tricyclics to deal with chronic, aggressive, and debilitating migraines.  I’m happy to report that the medicine has worked.  My migraines haven’t dropped to zero, but having two mild headaches in six weeks is an extraordinary reprieve from the pain and sickness that was dogging me.

That’s the up side.  The down side is that I’m having a much harder time writing.  The sizzling connections that use to race across my brain and come pouring out onto my keyboard are gone.  I sense them, but I can’t grasp them.  You see, tricyclics are antidepressants.  Although I’m taking a fraction of the clinical dose for depression (about 0.1 of the clinical dose), the medicine is still working on those parts of the brain that would have produced depression and that apparently do produce creativity.  I’m flattened out.  Not completely, but significantly.

I’m currently making the choice to lose some of my creativity in favor of freedom from pain and sickness.  But it’s my choice.  I’m a sentient being and I can make these decisions.  I’m neither a “never was” that never even got conceived or, worse, an “almost was” that got aborted.  In a year or so, I’ll try going off the medicine and see whether my brain has stopped being hysterical, so that I can be both pain free or creative.  Again, it will be my choice.  I live in hope.

Oh, and that bit about hope — it’s the third reason that Silverman and Shaidle are wrong to make genetics a reason not to have children.  Medical advances mean that the same problem that debilitated grandma, and inconvenienced mom, may be nothing to the child.  Having a baby is always a gamble.  We gamble that we’ll stay healthy, that they’ll stay healthy, and that the world will stay healthy.  We gamble that, when we read a horrible headline about a school bus accident, that this type of accident will never happen to our family.  There are no certainties in life.  Just as there’s no way of knowing whether a pregnancy will result in a child with a genetic problem, there’s also no way of knowing whether, in that child’s life, there won’t be a solution.

Anyway, some things don’t need a solution.  I’m only an inch taller than Shaidle, but I’ve found it a problem only when buying a car.  I’ve ended up buying Japanese cars, not only because I like their suspension and reliability, but also because they’re the only cars that have seats that raise up enough that I don’t need to sit on a pillow.  If there weren’t Japanese cars, then I guess I’d sit on a pillow.  Other than that, and the occasional frustration when a tall person sits in front of me at a show, I’ve never felt handicapped by being short.  Heck, I’ve never even felt short.  I have a large personality, which more than compensates for any height deficiencies.  Indeed, it’s so large that most people are quite surprised to learn that I’m “only” 5 feet tall.

Even if medical advances can’t help (or pillows aren’t available), what exists within a person may well be the determining factor in that person’s success.  My uncle was a genius with four fully operating limbs — and he was a complete failure in life, poisoned by a combination of Communism and his own character flaws.  At the other extreme is the amazing, inspirational Nick Vujicic, who was born with only a single little flipper.  Nick does more with that flipper, and with his incandescent personality, than most whole-bodied people can ever hope to do.  We wouldn’t have missed him if he’d been aborted.  That is, no one would have gone around saying, “Gosh, it’s a shame that Nick Vujicic was never born.”  However, his birth, and the message of hope that he shares, is something valuable and, knowing him and what he does, we can definitely say that the world would have been less light-filled without him.

If you don’t want to have babies, don’t have them.  On the down side, they’re hard work, messy, frustrating, and expensive.  (The up side, which all parents know, is for another post.)  Just don’t use your genetic weaknesses as the justification for your decision.

UPDATE:  A true update, regarding an event I attended the same evening I wrote this post.

Mitt the Bully; Obama the Bully; Every kid the bully

Let’s put aside the laughable fact that the MSM has had to go back to 1965, when Romney was a teenager, to find something bad about him (or, more specifically, something bad about him and a putatively gay person).  This ridiculous attack has naturally generated attacks against Obama and Biden, both of whom, either in memoirs or biographies, turn out to have been bullies when they were children.  Not chronic bullies, but they were mean to other children.

This is insanely stupid, and can reflect badly only on the MSM and the general Democrat establishment.  As Rhymes With Right says:

I work with kids every day.

At some point, virtually every single one of them will engage in some activity that can be defined as bullying.

That may be because of immaturity, peer pressure, or simply thoughtlessness.

Some continue their bullying behavior into adulthood, and some particularly warped individuals — like anti-bullying activist Dan Savage — even manage to find a way to justify their bullying as morally virtuous.

I distinctly (and with a great deal of discomfort) remember being a bully when I was in school.  It probably stands out in my mind because I was most often a victim.  Being a skinny, little, glasses-wearing bookworm was not a recipe for social success.  When someone came along who was an even bigger target than I was, I gleefully joined in with my former tormenters.  I honestly don’t know what I was thinking.  Was it just a child’s natural instinct to pick on those weaker?  Was I hoping to ingratiate myself with the power structure?  The answer is lost in the heavy mists of time.

What I do know is the Greg nailed it:  “At some point, virtually every single one of them [kids] will engage in some activity that can be defined as bullying.  That may be because of immaturity, peer pressure, or simply thoughtlessness.”

Watching the Dems implode is proving to be more fun than I expected.  I only hope ordinary voters figure out what’s going on, and throw the bums out.

Remind me why I wanted to be a grown-up?

I’m surrounded by young people who, as is the nature of young people, are in a hurry to grow up.  They see being “grown up” as this Paradise where no one bosses you around, where you get to have as much candy as you can buy, where there’s no homework, and where you get all the fun, without the responsibility.  I remember viewing “grown ups” that way.  I’m having the kind of week, though, where I keep asking myself “Now, why did I want to be a grown up?”

The key word for being a grown-up — and one that seems to have eluded the OWSers — is responsibility.  When you’re a young adult, you’re responsible for yourself.  As you age, and have children and aging parents, you suddenly start becoming responsible for everyone.  As a card-carrying selfish person, this high level of responsibility goes against the grain.  But still, I do it, because it’s part of being a grown-up.

Kids nowadays have these tremendously attenuated adolescences because they don’t have responsibility.  They might be responsible for homework or sports participation, but that’s pretty much it.  The safety net is always there and they never have a feeling that, “but for me, things might fall apart.” It seems nice, but I’m not sure it’s a good thing for the way the human mind needs to develop.

And on that note, I’ll leave you to contemplate this post at Hot Air, about one young woman’s vision of what it means to be a grown-up — and that way in which Leftist society is outraged that she dare to think so.

Since I’ll be gone for several hours being a responsible grown-up, please consider this an Open Thread.