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.
By the way, I know I’m an asshole for making fun of Leah’s ears, but the way they poked out of her hair was so funny!! I just can’t muster the maturity to resist mocking them. Besides, is that really
an insult? A lot of guys go for that kind of thing, so maybe I’m just helping her to get a new man, one who not only wants children, but wants elfin-eared
That all said, I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but before some of you really get upset about this, please know that these people are actors
. Seriously, they are. It was still an amusing episode but it was make-believe. Yet we all know of situations just like this and it was good to see it played out on TV. Childfree Chris did not come across as an asshole and no one in the studio audience booed him. It was a pro-childfree episode! YAY. I applaud Judge Toler for putting out a positive message about childfreedom and one about parental responsibility.