To be on MN even though I don't have children?

(110 Posts)
IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 08:32:34

I know this argument has been done to death, but still on so many threads I see people being questioned as to why they're here if they don't have DCs and aren't/can't ttc.

I'm not a regular by any means but I ended up here after a Google search threw up one of the funniest threads I've ever read (Medieval Mumsnet - I'm a historian and it tickled me). I signed up because it's such a busy forum full of highly intelligent women around my age and I've since seen some of the best relationship advice and arguments for feminism I've ever read.

And as most people are parents it's not like I'm trying to infiltrate an exclusive club. I'll probably have kids one day but even if I don't, I will still be surrounded by them because they are a huge part of human life!

But if anyone has any genuine objections as to why it's wrong/odd for non parents to be here, I am interested and open to them.

jumpingjackhash Wed 09-Jan-13 13:57:59

Sometimes I even see the odd post which makes me happy I don't have DC! grin

<joking, kind of>

RedToothbrush Wed 09-Jan-13 14:00:13

Erm, just a thought as childless idiot who knows nothing,

But surely you are only experienced in parenting YOUR OWN children. And you are never experienced in parenting someone else's.

Whilst you have a certain level of experience, it doesn't mean those skills are ever directly transferable no matter what the situation.

Advice is only ever based on your own experiences, and they can still be limited to a certain extent even if you have children...

Goldenbear Wed 09-Jan-13 14:20:00

Yes but other parents (not all of course) are able to relate to problems and joys that are unique to being a parent- for example the mixed bundle of emotions you feel when they first start school, potty training coupled with the demands of a baby sibling and sleep deprivation. The feelings of guilt, guilt about having DC2, taking attention from DC1, returning to work or not etc. These experiences, quandaries coupled with the 'love' side of it make it a common understanding amongst parents about a relationship that you are developing with your child. That is not in textbooks as it is unique to your child but there is the common ground as a parent that I mentioned above.

RedToothbrush Wed 09-Jan-13 14:25:03

Relate. Only relate. Its totally different to be experienced with a skill, in the same way as you would be if you had two car drivers for example.

And perhaps sometimes there is something to be said for taking the emotion out of it, when expressing an opinion over a lot of things.

To say that an opinion only has value because it contains 'love' or 'emotion' is wrong. Especially when humans are so loaded with complicated baggage too.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Wed 09-Jan-13 14:29:43

Added to this whole very complicated mix is the hurt caused inadvertently by threads like this to the many women on here who are desperate to become mothers but can't be.

AmberSocks Wed 09-Jan-13 14:33:42

i did wonder why someone would come on mumsnet if they dont have kids,but not in ahorrible way,its just that pre kids i would never of been drawn to anything that wasaimed at parents.

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 14:35:46

Goldenbear but to be fair, none of those things you describe in your post are exactly news to me. They are not mystical things that only parents can understand and empathise with. Childless/free people have imaginations and parents and siblings and friends with children...we understand love and family relationships.

KellyElly Wed 09-Jan-13 14:39:21

Advice is only ever based on your own experiences, and they can still be limited to a certain extent even if you have children... Of course but if there was say a thread about babies that don't sleep and how knackered the parent is if you have a child and have experienced that yourself (which every parent has - no newborn sleeps through the night) you can empathise and offer advice from the point of view of someone who has been in that situation, as opposed to a person without children who would sympathise. Most children go through the 'naughty toddler' stage and very few parents escape this, so again you know what it's like to be in the middle of the supermarket with a child screaming the place down because you've said they can't have a toy etc. When it comes to something more general like discipline then it's about individual parenting style obviously.

jumpingjackhash Wed 09-Jan-13 14:45:28

Added to this whole very complicated mix is the hurt caused inadvertently by threads like this to the many women on here who are desperate to become mothers but can't be.

A very valid comment - although as someone in that position I find parts of MN very supportive. I wouldn't have been able to get through fertility treatments and subsequent mcs without the perspective, reassurance and 'sanity-giving-properties' of large swathes of MN.

However one of my favourite features of the site is the 'hide thread' option!

KellyElly Wed 09-Jan-13 14:51:57

They are not mystical things that only parents can understand and empathise with. Childless/free people have imaginations and parents and siblings and friends with children but parents don't have to imagine these things Goldenbear is talking about or see them through friends and relations. They have experienced directly the emotion of the first day your child goes to school, the first time they walk etc. It's not a put down of people without children. I had ideas, theories, ways I was going to bring of my child, what sort of parent I'd be prior to DD (and I was a KS1 teacher so had an understanding of children), then she came along and all that went out of the window. I found a lot of comfort and guidance from talking to other parents in RL about how they sleep trained, potty trained etc as well as reading the practical theory and then made my own choices from that.

Goldenbear Wed 09-Jan-13 14:52:18

I'm not saying it is only of value if it contains emotion but I do think it is human nature to value an opinion or advice that is based upon experience. With parenting that experience may be limited to your own children but people who aren't parents don't have any parenting experience. For example, a lot of the parents think it is a positive thing that my DS's class teachers are parents aswell. It's not to say that the teachers who aren't parents aren't excellent but there is definitely a general feeling of reassurance, why is that? It's like when they get ex drug users to lecture secondary school children on the perils of taking drugs. Why do they do that? They do it because people value opinions that come from experience.

I think you're right in pointing out that emotions can be prohibitive in decision making but they have a place when you're talking about a relationship between a parent and a child. Being a parent is not just a set of skills to be learnt and applied to your child.

RedToothbrush Wed 09-Jan-13 14:56:22

Amber, MN ranks pretty high on google.

Its quite easy to search something and get a link to a thread on the forum. And then click on it and get drawn in that way.

Equally I think I first clicked on MN after seeing an article in a newspaper which made reference to the 'power of MN' and being curious about the political power it now actually has - which naturally has a lot of implications for any woman regardless of how many children she may or may not have.

Many issues, can affect women in different ways, even if they don't have children. Even parenting type issues as there are still certain expectations placed on you as a woman in society.

And personally for me, as someone in my thirties I find it increasingly difficult to make friends and relate to people a similar age. Previously my internet socialising revolved around music and games (and as part of that often flirting or trying to 'find someone'), but as much as it pains me to admit it, I simply don't fit into those social circles in the same way as I used to. You HAVE to broaden your horizons and look to places beyond where you'd perhaps naturally always have seen yourself before.

The Mumsnet forums like other people have pointed out, is unique in the fact its not the preserve of men (so safer from people trying to constantly hit on you) and it tends to be a slightly higher level of maturity either because its users are in their thirties or older or have the responsibility of children. And it has such a broad base or people and interests.

It means you can have a mature and intelligent discussion, that few other places provide. I think the best way to describe the forums (not site) would be that they for 'Growed Ups' (sic - cos lets face it, theres some awesome deliberate and non-deliberate immaturity that goes on).

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Wed 09-Jan-13 14:56:26

And also added to this is the widely acknowledged fact the some parents, though not perhaps MNers admittedly, don't have the remotest clue on how to parent. Not even the slightest idea.

Goldenbear Wed 09-Jan-13 14:59:30

iwantAPetFox, you can't really imagine the complete exhaustion of sleep deprivation as a result of a very small child wanting to suck you all night. You maybe have insomnia for instance but it is kind of like that with a demanding, little irrational person thrown in to boot! Equally, you cannot ignore the situation without wandering about the long term damage you're doing. It is not to be imagined unless you have been tortured with sleep deprivation which I doubt very much with most on the UK!

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 15:07:38

Goldenbear you don't know what I can imagine. I don't think much literature would get written if people were incapable of imagining what it's like to be in someone else's shoes.

Anyway, I didn't start the thread to ask 'Do you think non-parents should give advice on threads about parenting', I asked whether they should come on here at all. Personally, if I was a parent asking for advice I would consider all the advice offered on its own merits, regardless of the background of the advice giver. And I would value the advice of an expert in a child-related field above that of a parent who doesn't seem very open-minded or intelligent, regardless of their parenting experience.

RedToothbrush Wed 09-Jan-13 15:24:12

Actually I think there are some childless people who might be able to relate if they were carers to other people in their family - perhaps elderly people, perhaps if they had to care for younger siblings in a difficult home situation.

The point is, nothing is that black and white as you are trying to make out.

I have children and quite often I come on here not to talk about them wink

There are are lots of issues that overlap too e.g. do all women suffer in the workplace because there is an assumption that they will take time off to have children.

You don't need children to have an opinion on many topics covered on this site.

For the new name I suggest SwearyNet

Latonia Wed 09-Jan-13 15:39:32

I was never able to have children and way too old now.

I mostly lurk but do occasionally post and only once did someone query why I was on this board as I am childless. The subject of the thread was pertinent to my experiences so I posted. Smile and ignore I believe is the usual advice.

PretzelTime Wed 09-Jan-13 15:52:06

As long as you are a serious adult (grin) and by serious I mean not here to troll, invade or similar, then there is no problem right?
MN is pretty awesome. There is a lack of OK spaces online for women to discuss thigs so I can def understand that it draws in people.

Crinkle77 Wed 09-Jan-13 16:19:50

I am one of those childless mumsnet fans. I am on here as I find the threads really interesting and they are not just about children. AIBU/relationships/employment are just a few of the ones I enjoy and concern a wide range of topics.

Goldenbear Wed 09-Jan-13 16:21:39

Redtoothbrush, caring for the elderly is very different to a young child of your own IMO. Caring for a sibling who is very young enough to wake up frequently of course offers similarities. I agree nothing is black and white I was just offering an opinion as to why some parents on SOME topics would value the opinion of a parent more than someone who isn't a parent.

iwantAPetFox, well fictional views on a subject are just that aren't they, so they loose some validity on that basis alone?

Of course a professional opinion can be a lot more useful on some topics but I would say you're bound to say that as you haven't suggested that you have an understanding of the 'relationship' that has to be developed between a parent and child. If a parent isn't very intelligent I would similarly show preference for the opinion of someone working with children but this is often not the case on Mumsnet.

Goldenbear Wed 09-Jan-13 16:55:31

Sorry should be 'lose' not 'loose'.

LadyBeagleEyes Wed 09-Jan-13 17:01:03

I don't agree Goldenbear, bringing up a child is not rocket science, and everybody does it differently.
So issues that are important to you may mean nothing to another parent.
My ds is 17 now, and I will listen to advice from his teachers, they've got a damn sight more experience than I do.
As did to my HV who was lovely and understanding.

Goldenbear Wed 09-Jan-13 18:00:52

I didn't say it was 'Rocket Science' in fact I'm saying the opposite- being a parent is not a science it is a relationship between a mother or father and their child and is a very seperate thing to training in a profession that is concerned with children or getting a Job that involves working with children or even the relationship that exists between an Aunt and her DN for example. So of course your son's teacher has more of a clue about that part of his Education but does he have more of a clue about the relationship you have developed with your son?

Equally, I think it is lax to be blasé about being a parent. You're hugely influential in your child's level of intelligence, their future prospects, health, wealth, happiness. Dismissing the role as 'not Rocket Science' is dangerously arrogant IMO.

crashdoll Wed 09-Jan-13 18:10:46

I'm not saying it is only of value if it contains emotion but I do think it is human nature to value an opinion or advice that is based upon experience.

I find this a strange opinion. I don't care if my doctor hasn't experienced the same health problem as long as he is a good doctor & I don't care in my therapist has never had MH problems as long as she is a good therapist.

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