Why Have Kids? Book Review

IMG_6680 This book will likely make you angry. It’s meant to. These topics are controversial...a recipe for defensiveness if there ever was one...and might make you feel insulted. - from Why Have Kids?

Working for a publishing company, I get the perks of reading books before they’re released. When this came to my door, I was conflicted. I’ve seen bookshelves devoted to the love of parenthood but I’ve never seen a book like this. Jessica Valenti, is an author and feminist. Feminism and motherhood don’t have reputation of working well together, so I was really interested on what Valenti had to say on the subject.

I should clarify- I’ve never been pregnant, and the closest thing to parenthood was owning a dog. I have nothing to compare this book to. I’ve wanted kids but I know it wasn't enough to merit an opinion. I struggle and fear just like any mother would before she becomes pregnant, adopts or fosters, but I also wanted to explore that motherhood isn’t as cute as I see online. When I’m finally holding my baby and staring into it, my maternal instinct won’t revert to what I read in blogs, see on Instagram, and read on Twitter. I know the Internet isn’t real life, but I also know I won’t get the answers I need through voyeurism. I wanted to research for myself.

This book was a breath of fresh air. It’s uncomfortable, it’s cringeworthy, it makes me angry on the politics of “mommy wars”, and offensive, but at the same time, it lifted some fears I've had about being a mom- the postpartum, the guilt, the anxiety, the styles of parenting, the potty training, the vaccines, to home school or not, etc, all the major topics are discussed. These are all real and Valenti opens the discussion board for them. There is no "right way" of parenting, the only "right way" is what is best for your child. Of course, one book isn’t going to give me all the answers but it did give me some peace of mind. It also helped me ease the idea that it’s okay for a woman to not have kids right away, or at all. I'm glad I read it, even if I didn't agree with everything she discussed.

Despite the controversial title (Valenti writes how a woman questioning having children is almost a societal sin), Valenti doesn’t say don’t have kids. She wants to bring light to the truth of rearing children- the stuff no one talks about or wants to talk about. And just like she writes herself, what could be more important to fight over and fight for?

Why Have Kids? by Jessica Valenti comes out Sept. 4