Saturday, April 29, 2006

Posterity Discrimination: The Haves and the Have Nots.....

I was so excited to get married and start the whole "married life" thing. However, once we moved into our new apartment and starting going to church we realized, to our horror, that we would be attending a married student ward. Don't get me wrong. I am ALL about church, I love it. What i didn't like about the whole married student ward thing was what I think I will call "posterity discrimination."

Our first week at church nearly everyone we met asked us how many children we had. The question wasn't, "Do you have children?", it was how many. When we told them we didn't have any, they either looked shocked or gave us the "oh, you are that kind of Mormon (meaning, the kind that go to hell because they've been married for a week and don't have kids yet). No one really tried to get to know us because we didn't have children. This is wrong. Why do we judge when people decide or don't decide to have kids. Is it really any of our business? This is something that I HATE. Most parents ( new or old) automatically assume that people without children can't possibly understand what it is like to have children. In many respects, I agree. I have not yet experienced childbirth. No, I cannot empathize with you there. But we do have some sense, or even if we don't, some of us would like to try to know if you would only take the time to let us be friends or give us the chance. But apparently we are just TOO different."Posterity Discrimination."

I think the infamous Stake Patriarch discriminates based on posterity. We don't have children, therefore, we should be able to do his paper route. I don't see him asking anyone with kids to do it. ( just a little bitter jab there, sorry.)

Then there is the flip side. The people who don't have children who discriminate against those who do. " Can you belive she had kids at 18? What were they thinking? How on earth are they going to pay for school? etc.." Or, "oh, they have kids, so I'm sure they can't go to the movie with us." I think this side too has a disregard for the other parties' feelings. First, it is just not right to judge when someone starts their family. They receive their own revelation, you don't do it for them. And second, you never know when that family might just want to come hang out.

I recently heard from some friends that you can't take strollers into a local aquarium. How on earth are you supposed to take little kids to an aquarium without a stroller? That's insane. Single people discriminating against people with kids, probably?

Why do we do this to each other? Aside from Mormons, I know of no other group of people that does this to each other. We are all a big family. Can't we all just get along? Is it a part of the "big mormon planet" growth discourse? Or are we all just really prideful and judgemental? I hope not.


At 5/07/2006 11:19:00 AM,

I have to add my own experience here.

During the first year of my marriage, my wife and I decided to attend a "family ward," when the "married student ward" was also available to us (this is all in a BYU neighborhood). In the family ward, we were quickly assigned to the nursery, where we and the only other married couple in the ward without any children babysat the typical 15-20 children of the rest of the ward's 1.5-3 year olds. Don't get me wrong. It has been one of my favorite callings in the LDS church. But, it did bother me that we were excluded from even the opportunity to associate with other people in the ward, and even when we tried to create the opportunity, it was just too hard to connect with couples that had children (this latter problem is not always a problem, but was in our case).

So, after a year we switched to the married student ward, and finally got to know other people over the age of 3. But, I've since noticed another phenomenon: My wife and I just celebrated our third anniversary. When we tell other couples how long we've been married, they are typically shocked to discover that it's been more than a year. As if the assumption is that if we don't have children, then we can't have been married for over 9 months.

Remarkable, in my opinion. But it simply demonstrates that all aspects of parenting are to be decided by the parents themselves, and it's entirely fruitless to impose one's opinions on the subject on another.

Sorry that I don't have any answers to your questions, Cat. Just griping. I only hope that I can avoid the practices that I find reprehensible.

At 5/11/2006 12:52:00 PM,

I know this response is a little late, but I have been a bit busy doing the very thing this article speaks of.

I am so glad you included the paragraph about moms who feel discriminated against for having children "at her age". I am one of those moms who often times feels very looked down upon for having, well now, two children at only 23 years old. Practically unheard of in the non-mormon, sophisticated world!

Before going to law school, we lived in a family ward for four years. For the first three, we didn't have kids. There we met a couple with four kids. At first, I was intimidated, and thought we couldn't hang out because of the obvious differences. Boy was I wrong. They became some of the best friends we have ever had. They were a little older than us, but we had so much in common. It is true that couples with kids can do pretty much everything couples without can. Kids or no kids shouldn't serve as a barrier in a friendship.

I beleive the Lord has a personalized plan for each of us. You're right Cat, it is easy to look at people and think, they really shouldn't be having children, they can't afford it, or their too young. But, things aren't always as they seem.

I have an older sister who is married and doesn't have children. People are constantly asking her if she has kids. Their reply is more often, "Oh, you are so smart! Too many kids are having kids when they just aren't ready." This comment is the worst. Little do they know, she is unable to bear children and has gone through surgery, and many other things to try and fix the problem.

My advice: Keep whatever comments you have about when child-bearing is appropriate, to yourself!

At 5/15/2006 02:03:00 PM,

Thank you both for your comments. I am glad I am not alone in thinking this.

linds--glad to see you on the blog!!

I have to hope that I will be more concientious about what I say about others and when I hear these types of attitudes I hope I will have the guts to say something!!




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