"Since You Asked ..."

Readers respond to Cary Tennis' advice to "Gored"

By Salon Staff
Published July 26, 2002 7:12PM (EDT)

[Read the letter.]

About the guy that does not want to have children while his wife tries to "Oops!" him -- Cary's advice sucked harder than Monica Lewinsky on her best day.

Gored's wife was willing to deceive him in order to get pregnant -- that's the bald truth about her not mentioning upfront that she had gone off the pill. But Cary ignores the wife's deceit and manipulativeness, as well as Gored's honest, blunt feelings. Gored does not want kids -- his letter is emphatic about that. And how does Cary react? By patting him on the head and offering a smug, patronizing, "Oh, you'll change your mind."

Is Cary willing to guarantee that Gored will change his mind? And back it up by agreeing to pay for the impending marriage counseling, divorce lawyers, and the child's future therapy sessions when it realizes its birth was the worst thing to ever happen to its father?

If not, then Cary should have advised Gored to abstain from all physical intimacy with his wife until he is absolutely certain she has been taking her birth control pills properly for a few months. And if Gored is dumb enough to trust his baby rabies-infected wife, he also may want to use backup condoms that she hasn't poked with a pin.

If it's so peachy keen that Gored's wife can go off birth control without telling him, Cary should also give the OK to Gored for getting a vasectomy without telling the wife.

Gored needs to reclaim his gonads and tell his wife, "I do not want to have kids. Ever. If you can't live with that, we have to divorce now." She deserves the chance to have children with a man who truly wants them. Gored deserves to have a wife he can trust.

Having kids is a huge choice. Both parents should be absolutely sure they want to have kids. If not, then they shouldn't. Not wanting to have children is a perfectly legitimate choice, one that does not need to be justified. And the choice -- as well as the feelings behind it -- should not be treated dismissively by "friends" or clueless advice columnists.

-- Melissa Hebert

Cary Tennis' response to the man who doesn't want kids was pretty lame. One quote from the original writer stuck out for me. "My wife says that she can happily live a childless life, that she loves me and our life together more than she needs a child." Personally, that's all I need to know.

Cary commented that it's "only human" to try to "oops" your partner into an unwanted pregnancy (and yes, it was an attempt at an oops -- birth control does not stay in your system for any amount of time). It is downright wrong for anyone to use such evil and deceptive means to create an innocent life, one who has no control over the fact that Mommy is slightly insane and Daddy didn't want any part of being a daddy. It is one of the most manipulative, disgraceful things I can think of to do to the person whom you promised to love, honor and cherish until death.

The writer does not need counseling. It is perfectly fine to not want children; an increasing number of people are coming out and proclaiming their freedom from the herd mentality by not having children. It is not in any way an affront to families with children; it is an expression of personal preference and does no harm to anyone. My husband and I are a family; we need no human exhibits of "proof of our love." We have no silly desire to "see what a child of ours would look like." We don't care if our "family name lives on" or not (something tells me it will -- it's common enough). We wish to devote all of our love to the other, and there's not a thing wrong with that.

Contrary to popular belief (even by the writer himself), not all women want kids. Men who don't want kids should find women who don't want kids, and marry them.

As for the writer ... At the very least, such a fundamental difference in opinion should have been discussed at length before filing a marriage certificate.

At Christmastime, take your wife to a toy store on a Saturday afternoon, lunch at Chuck E. Cheese, followed by a trip to Wal-Mart. She'll get over the urge pretty fast.

-- Andrea Ray

Almost wish I hadn't seen the train wreck of Cary's advice to "Gored." So children won't upset his life? It's OK for his wife to be a deceitful, lying bitch? People who don't want children must have had an unhappy childhood?

Exactly what was Cary smoking the day he wrote that response? Here's a few thoughts for him to choke on:

1. Anyone who tries to trap their partner into parenthood is not mature enough to be trusted with a child.

2. Anyone who has put some thought into the issue of parenthood, and has determined their own mind (for or against) deserves respect, not snide comments. By claiming the only reason "Gored" wouldn't want kids is because his childhood must have been unhappy is condescending, to say the least!

3. Anyone who enters into fatherhood with the concept of "paring it down" to an acceptable level of commitment isn't mature enough to be trusted with a child.

4. "Gored" should immediately get a vasectomy. That should solve his dilemma. If his wife can't deal with that, after 10 years of knowing "Gored" didn't want children, then she's an idiot. No sympathy here.

-- Martha Kneib

If the subject of Cary's column, the man who doesn't want children, is serious, he must stick to his guns.

He's right: Each child should be loved and wanted by both parents. His marriage will immediately implode upon the birth of the child.

All the good things about his marriage will die immediately and he'll be caught in the proverbial "household fog," so aptly described in the old Who song "A Legal Matter."

My advice is that he stop having sex with this woman, immediately, for several reasons. He can explain that he's serious about not wanting children, that he loves his wife, but that this is not an issue on which there is any compromise. Unlike the rest of our decisions in life, this is black and white. You have children or not.

She no longer loves him. She's willing to sacrifice him for someone she doesn't even know. Given his position regarding children, she's sacrificing any future happiness she might have with him. She now sees him as a sperm donor and a wallet, nothing more.

Is that the act of a loving partner?

I left my first marriage because of a "change of heart." I knew no marriage could withstand the kind of upheaval a child that is half-unwanted would create. So I said "Good luck," and it was over.

I hope this fellow has the courage of his convictions and either convinces his wife that having a baby would be the disaster he describes or, failing that, grieves the loss of his partner and moves on.

-- Jack Ridley

Salon Staff

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