Reluctantly, I confess that it is strictly my own decision and idea to be child-free (since the age of 8). I say reluctantly because my husband expressed his feeling that I would have made a good mother and that we would have had beautiful children together. However, his decision to spend the rest of his current lifetime with me is constant even with my choice to be child-free.Complete Without Kids: An Insider's Guide to Childfree Living by Choice or by Chance by Ellen L. Walker caught my attention because of my interest to seek out books that support a voluntary choice to be child-free. There are more than enough families who have more than four children per household (just in the United States of America alone) to make up for the number of men and women who voluntarily decide to stay child-free. I admit that I’m not sure how my biological mother and adoptive mother would have felt about my firm decision to stay childfree. This is only because both women died within 18 months of each other and before I married my current husband (who I met in 2002 and married in 2004). However, I would like to think that both my biological mother and adoptive mother would have been supportive about my certain decision to stay childfree (if they were still alive today). Additionally, most women that I see who truly enjoy being mothers are depression free, are prosperous enough to afford help in caring for their children and/or have parents around who would immediately drop what they were doing to help look after the children.I am thankful for all of my family members and friends. Additionally, some of the celebrities and people that I admire in real life are parents. However, it is important to me that I collect information on others who bravely share their stories on being childfree.Read more ›
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89 of 91 people found the following review helpful
Superb book with varied perspectives!Aug. 18 2011
Sara A. Strand
- Published on Amazon.com
had my kids in my early 20's and I've been very honest about not knowing what I was doing. Had I known how much work it was really going to be, how emotionally draining it was going to be, how hard it would be on my marriage, and how much of what makes me... well, me would be sucked away I would most definitely thought twice about having kids. That's not to say I don't love my children.
On page 32 I found a line that struck an immediate chord with me: "Dr. Jeffers emphasizes the difference between loving your children and actually enjoying parenting them." and later in that paragraph, "The thing I regret most is that everyone told me how amazingly fulfilling and fun mothering is, without mentioning the negatives, and especially the fact that once you sign on for the job you cannot quit." Those two lines alone sum up my feelings. I love my children dearly but I would by lying if I said that I haven't had many days where I question what the hell I was thinking when I decided I wanted children. The book also raises a really good question about whether discussing being child free by choice is a valid conversation piece to have with young girls in the same breathe as safe sex and/or abstinence. I know with my children I will talk to them openly about these things including how you don't have to have kids. I don't ever want to be that person that pressures my kids for grandchildren because I know first hand how difficult it is to be a parent. Not everybody is cut out for it, yet you don't really hear that in Sex Ed, do you? I know when birth control was discussed it was always, "take it until you're ready to be a parent" but nothing really beyond that.
What's really great about this book is that it doesn't sway your opinion. I didn't walk away from reading this book feeling strongly about either side, I could really relate to both sides. I also felt like the author did a tremendous job talking to real life people from all types of economic standing and backgrounds to really give you a full perspective as to why some people choose to be child free. And those who would like to have kids but can't for a multitude of reasons, there is adequate perspective from them as well.
What I also really valued about this book was the absolute honesty about what parenting does to a marriage. I know most couples think that because they have started their marriage strong that it only helps them with parenting. While that is true, it's good to have a solid marriage before you bring kids to the mix, it fails to recognize what a huge stressor it is to have kids. I will say that every single marital issue Matt and I have ever had was directly related to the stress of parenting. We are no longer the people we were when we got married- not even close. I would venture to say the high divorce rates would be tied, at least in some way, to society's push for people to have children. It was mentioned in this book that childless couples are frowned upon in most circles, not because it's a bad thing but because it's not the norm. The norm is for people to get married, buy a house, have some kids, and live happily ever after yet that rarely happens. Also mentioned in the book was how couples with children find it hard to stay connected and eventually drift apart; therefore it becomes difficult to co-exist once the children are grown. They no longer have the common threads holding them together- those had been long gone. Sure you can go on date nights but people frown on that too, don't they? Most people, usually other parents themselves, will make a person feel guilty for spending time away from their kids. I would venture to say almost all of the time it's because they have feelings of jealousy because that couple can and they can't.
I have struggled with this myself. It took me almost five years to figure out I need alone time. I need time away from my husband and my kids to make myself not cry every single night and to not feel like driving my car off a bridge just to check out. I need that time away to be the quality parent my children deserve and a good wife that my husband needs. But I'll tell you- when I schedule a weekend away, or I sign up for a class, or I go to dinner with a friend I have some people around me that scoff and try to make me feel guilty. And it's too bad because I wish they would support me trying to be a better person for my kids.
Also in this book it talked about how friendships change when you have a childless friend and the rest are mommies. I have a couple of friends who don't have kids or who choose to not have kids and I feel bad. I can't always do what they want because... I have kids. I sometimes feel like they have a hard time connecting with me because we don't have a lot in common? My days are full with crying, chores, and kid related things and that makes it difficult to relate sometimes. I can only imagine how hard it would be to be child less and have all of your friends have children.
So all in all- the book was fascinating. I really enjoyed reading it and for me, I felt better about how I was feeling as a parent. Society frowns upon those of us who are not loving parenthood and all that comes with it and it's too bad. Just because I don't love to sit and play Barbies doesn't make me a bad mom. It just means I was ill-prepared for what I would really be signing up for. I always tell people I know that are having babies or thinking about it to really look at the reasons they want to have a kid. Is it because you want to be loved? Because that's just a temporary fix. I know I wanted kids because it was just what you did when you got married. I never questioned not having kids, I just knew I would because it's just what you do. Sounds a bit archaic when I think about it but how many young women think that right now?
I highly recommend this read for anyone. It really opened my eyes to a lot of different child free living assumptions that I hadn't considered before, several that I haven't mentioned. This is a superb book, very well researched and well written.
56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
Understanding more about what it means to be child-freeFeb. 10 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Women obviously have many choices in today's world that weren't readily accepted roles for our mothers. Though I am a mother, somewhat late at age 42, giving birth to my only child, I have many good women friends who choose not have kids and live a full rich life. I could've easily been one of them and honestly, though I wouldn't trade being a mother, I do envy women without children at times for the freedom they have. Motherhood is clearly not the right choice for all women, but society puts a definite social pressure on all women to become mothers. Even certain moms I know are guilty of looking down their noses at women who choose not to have children. Dr. Walker does a wonderful job of presenting the tough decision process of whether or not to have children from a biological, historical, and societal perspective--and methods to cope with the pressure to have children from media, family, and friends in a healthy way. I am giving this book to a few of my female friends in their forties who feel conflicted about their choice not to have a child. With Walker's book, they can more easily see why they can be proud of what they are choosing.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
A balanced perspective about a complex issueApril 5 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
I have have been searching for the perspective presented by Dr. Walker in Complete Without Kids for years. I was so relieved to find descriptions others struggling with the same ambivalence about having a child who were also stuck in the terrible morass of potential regret about choosing to forego having a child. This book is a lifeline. After reading it I felt as if I'd seen the sun for the first time after a long period of gray skies...so much so that I sent Dr. Walker the following email:
"I just finished reading your book and feel compelled to write to you. I cannot thank you enough. I am a 39 year old woman who has been struggling for years to find narratives which mirror the complexities of my own experience about being childfree. I have felt immobilized by my ambivalence about having children. While reading your book I felt as if I could breathe for the first time in months. I very much appreciate your balanced perspective.
You say on page 51, "It's not unusual to have ambivalence around such huge decisions in life and to even have regrets from time to time about the choices we have made--the problem is when we become stuck in the 'what ifs' rather than embracing reality and looking for the positives in our individual circumstances."
As I write this, I feel wonderfully un-stuck."
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
It's all about CHOICE!!!!April 6 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
This was a wonderful book. I read it in one day. As a 29 year old female, I have often struggled with talking about the fact that I want to live my life Childfree. My peers often judge me for this choice, and I'm forever hearing the phase... "oh, you'll change your mind" Why do I have to? Why is it absolutely nescessary for me to have children? I love kids... I think that they are wonderful. But just not for me. It may seem selfish and self centered... but who cares? It's my CHOICE!!!! I think that I would regret having missed oppurtunies that being childfree has given me more then the act of being a mother. There are plenty of other ways that I can be a mother and nurture that don't involve the life long commitment of being a parent.
Thank you so much for this book. It came right at a time when I really need to see and think about my decision and re-affirm that this is the path that I want to choose.
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Great insight into childfree livingJan. 13 2011
The Local Cook
- Published on Amazon.com
This book takes a balanced approach at helping people consider childfree living, whether by choice or chance or happenstance. As someone who is sort of all three, I really appreciated the psychological detail in which the information was presented, yet the kindness that was throughout. I felt like I was at a very enjoyable therapy session.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book; all opinions are my own.