Note: Do not read the post or watch the video below if it’s going to make you foam at the mouth and complain about how much you hate these shows. If you hate them, you are free click away from this page now.
Have I mentioned my husband’s penchant for judge shows? Let’s not even speak of some of his other television addictions – I’d be mortified to say. Then again, I’m the only person under 73 who watches PBS (a lot), so there is no accounting for my taste, either. Anyway, one day last week I happened to be in the room while my better half was watching Divorce Court. I was doing my best to tune it out when I heard Judge Lynn Toler say:
Quit having children with people you’re not married to!
And I yelled at the television screen, “Better yet, don’t start!“
That was the day I became a fan of Divorce Court and Judge Toler. I have some relatives I would like to sic her on! Both mine and my husband’s families are rapidly degenerating with every generation. You know how families used to be upwardly mobile? Not either of ours. Our families are both snuggly settled into handbaskets taking nosedives straight to hell and there isn’t much we can do about it other than pop some popcorn and settle in to watch.
I happened to be lounging around one day last week, procrastinating on a deadline, when someone on twitter announced that an obnoxious woman on Divorce Court was saying “there is no such thing as not wanting kids.” This sounded interesting to me, and luckily, Divorce Court airs in a later time slot in my area, so I grabbed my remote and set the episode to record. (I’m a quick draw with the remote.) I was dying to see what Judge Lynn Toler had to say about THAT, and I was greatly rewarded.
Here’s the highlights of the episode from last week. If you don’t have the stomach to watch it, that’s okay, I’m going to transcribe most of the episode for you anyway.
So! Recap of this show: The woman escaped from the North Pole where she’s normally busily making toys this time of year (I guess) and wants this guy to help her pass on her elfin-eared genes. He’s been up front all along that he’s childfree, but she’s “changed her mind” (or rather, she stayed with him for several years hoping HE would change HIS mind) and now is a baby-rabid ticking time bomb. Thus, he rightfully doesn’t feel he can trust her any longer.
Here is a brief transcript highlighting the more interesting parts of the case:
Elfin-Eared Leah: I’ve been with this man for five years. I’m ready to move forward and create a union in our relationship and have a child. I was young when we met, we didn’t want children then, but I’m almost thirty, my clock is ticking, and I’m ready to have a child. That request for me has caused a major ripple in our relationship.
Childfree Chris: She changed her mind, your honor.
Elfin-Eared Leah: For example, I caught him counting my birth control pills! He thinks I’m trying to trick him into having a child.
Childfree Chris: You pulled the goalie!
Elfin-Eared Leah: Oh shut up!
Judge Lynn Toler: She pulled a what?
Childfree Chris: She stopped taking the birth control pills!
Elfin-Eared Leah: I did not!
Judge Lynn Toler: Gotcha. I never heard that before but I like it. Ms. Harshaw, did you know he never wanted to have children?
Elfin-Eared Leah: At the time, yes, but… five years is a long time and things change!
Judge Lynn Toler: Mr. Taylor, tell me what is your take on this situation.
Childfree Chris: Your honor, she knew when we first got together that I didn’t care to have children. Not everybody on this planet has to breed! She was cool with that, but now she’s changing her story to the point where yea, I’m counting her pills.
Elfin-Eared Leah: He thinks I’m trying to trick him with the condoms, too. That’s crazy!
Is it? Doesn’t sound too crazy to me. More importantly, the type of person who would be planning to sabotage birth control would be the very kind of person who would insist suspecting them of doing it is “crazy.” You know, because they ARE crazy.
It comes out that Childfree Chris is 39, and Elfin-Eared Leah is 24. (Which she thinks is almost thirty. Counting is not her forte.)
Childfree Chris: I love kids and they love me, but I also love it when they go home at the end of the day. I travel a lot for work as well, so…
Judge Lynn Toler: So fatherhood is not for you.
Childfree Chris: Exactly.
Judge Lynn Toler: Which is a legitimate point of view, don’t you think?
Elfin-Eared Leah: (whiney) But you should see him, though, with his friends’ kids! He would be an amazing father! If I didn’t think that I would not be pushing this issue, trust me!
Which highlights the Childfree Catch-22. If we try to be nice to kids and play with them, people insist we’ll make such great parents and nag us incessantly to have kids of our own. On the other hand, if we don’t want to be around kids, then we are horrible people and they’ll start telling everyone that we’re “evil child haters” and a danger to society. We just can’t avoid harassment no matter what we do!
The next segment of the show wasn’t about childfreedom, but highlighted how ridiculous and immature this woman is. Elfin-Eared Leah whined that Childfree Chris was too neat and did all the housework. You know, because she seems to think that’s a character flaw. Does she have any idea how many women would LOVE to have a neat and tidy husband? Clearly she does not.
Additionally, we find out that Elfin-Eared Leah she wants to spend money all the time, wants the finer things in life, wants to look good and flirt with other men. Um, then why the hell does she want kids? Aren’t all those things the EXACT OPPOSITE of having kids? Get a clue!
Judge Lynn Toler: Ms. Harshaw, I gotta tell you. You are like fingernails on a chalkboard.
Elfin-Eared Leah: *sulks*
Oh, good. For a moment there I was afraid I was the only one thinking that.
Judge Lynn Toler: I wish more people would have the wisdom and the common sense to know that they’re not a person that needs to have children.
**Audience claps, Elfin-Eared Leah continues to sulk**
Judge Lynn Toler: I have people who come in here who are not ready, who don’t want ‘em, have never thought about them, and are not good parent material procreating.
Oh, I’m sorry. I guess she has already met my relatives. Good. Saves me the trouble of arranging the introductions.
Judge Lynn Toler: Both of you have to be 100% on that page or you can’t turn it. That’s just the way it is. Children are a commitment, an obligation and a job. You don’t have children to prove you love somebody. You have children because you are ready to sacrifice and I mean sacrifice. Your time, your money, your sanity; you gotta be ready to lose it all for those people. And he’s saying he’s not willing to do that, and THANK YOU for not bringing children into the world that you are not ready to do that for!
You know, when a lot of parents say, “Well, It’s a GOOOOOOOD thing you’re not having kids because you’d make a shitty parent!!!” and when they say it, it’s clearly a put-down and an attempt to shame us into proving them wrong. When a parent says that to you, I can pretty much guarantee that they are EXACTLY the kind of person who shouldn’t have children. These are people assholes who themselves only had kids to prove something to someone! We can all agree that is absolutely, 100% the motherfuckingist wrong reason to ever have children.
However, when Judge Lynn Toler said this, it didn’t feel like a put-down. It sounded more like an admonishment of all the shit parents out there that you and I complain about every day. Who but a family court judge would know exactly how bad for society crappy parents can be?
She wasn’t saying she knows we’ll be shitty parents. She’s saying that if we’re not completely on board with having them, then we’ll never be the best parents we can be, and that right there is reason enough not to have them. Even more than that, she’s saying we’re a hell of a lot better people for taking the time to THINK about the decision and make the right one for us than just ignorantly and irresponsibly having kids simply to keep up with our peers and be part of the “in crowd.” .
WHEN will people stop and figure out that having children is a RESPONSIBILITY not just a freakin’ game you play because all your friends are? No, having kids doesn’t make you COOL or HIP and it damn well doesn’t make you mature and grown up. If you weren’t mature and grown-up to begin with, you’re going to have a hell of a time learning those lessons once you have kids. All too many parents today are childish, selfish and immature because parenthood does NOT teach those lessons; you kinda have to figure them out on your own. All too often, however, parenting STUNTS people’s personal growth because they are too tired, too obsessed with poop, or too busy shuttling kids from one activity to another to achieve any real personal growth. Sad but true.
- Comment by James — September 26, 2011 at 12:22 amHer weedwhacker bangs took my attention away from her ears…
- Comment by Donna — September 26, 2011 at 2:13 amMaybe the participants on that show were actors but I guy I worked with back in 2002 and his (soon-to-be ex) wife went on Divorce Court. He was a creepy loser and wanted an open marriage. It was a true story.Sort of OT but I also served in the Navy with a guy who ended up on Cops because he tried to solicit an undercover cop for prostitution in San Diego. It was hilarious!
- Comment by Donna — September 26, 2011 at 2:16 amI also applaud the judge for putting out the childfree message. That’s just the type of show being watched by a lot of people who need to hear the message and aren’t.
- Comment by Rob — September 26, 2011 at 9:59 amwith all of the baby obsession that women show, i just want to say that your blog is a breath of fresh air. thank you for pointing out the obvious.
- Comment by Niki — September 27, 2011 at 8:39 amI’ve been spending the last hour or so looking through articles on this site, your words are like fresh air to me! I’m in my early 20′s, been with my husband for 5 years (we just got married last month). I always wanted to get married young, but who said kids were a necessity?At this point, both my husband and I are leaning towards never having children, which absolutely frightens some of our friends and family. Perhaps we will change our minds one day, who knows? However, we have went over that if we NEVER became pregnant, that would be perfectly fine!
I was reading some of your articles regarding women who lose friends once they have babies, and that’s what I’m going through now. My best friend, who has always wanted children early, just had her child a day after my own wedding! Before going on my honeymoon, I stopped by the hospital to say hi and drop off gifts. They wouldn’t even let me hold the child! Then they (her mother and grandmother) had the audacity to ask me when “I” was going to have children. Ha! Out of sheer spite, I said “never”. That shut them up quickly.
Of course, my attempts to call and accommodate my newly parented friend are useless. Phone calls are completed overruled by the baby, and she cannot talk. She doesn’t bother to text me anymore. And I even have to call and make “appointments” to visit. Gag. I work 40 hours a week, she doesn’t work anymore, and is a full-time mom. Yet I’m expected to constantly sacrifice?
I’m sorry for the rant, I just finally feel like I’ve found a place that understands everything I’m thinking, but aren’t free to say!
- Comment by Marilyn — October 4, 2011 at 10:21 amI have always completely agreed with the preference to remain childfree, for numerous reasons. I’m too old to have kids now, but I never had the urge for motherhood. I’m happily straight and married. What really bothers me is the continual putting down of the other people in our lives who find value and reward in choosing otherwise. Why does every opinion blog have to include such venom for the other side? Why are there sides at all? Don’t we all know at least a few good parents who know how to raise good kids who become productive citizens? We were all kids once. Do kids deserve to be shunned? Live and let live. If something doesn’t suit you then avoid it. That goes for sexual preference, parenthood choice, right down to the type of car you drive or to tatto or not.
- Comment by Phoena — October 4, 2011 at 8:18 pmMarilyn, Did you even READ the post?! I was praisingLynn Toler (a parent) for having a cool attitude about childfree life. No where was I calling Lynn Toler a breeder bitch who clearly was a shitty parent. If you’re going to complain about how ZOMG ALL YOU EVIL CHILDFREE DO IS BITCH ABOUT ANYONE WHO HAS KIDS at least READ first to make sure that’s what is being said!Moreover, why don’t you take your own advice that “if something doesn’t suit you, avoid it?” If you’re going to throw a tantrum over me praising Lynn Toler, you CAN avoid reading it.
P.S. If you’re dying to read about good parents, go read ANY parenting blog on the internet, there are millions of them. Every parent-blogger is convinced they are the Best Parent Ever, so you can have your fill!