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Why Have Kids?: A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness [Kindle Edition]

Jessica Valenti
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A provocative and intimate exploration of modern parenthood by “a gutsy young third wave feminist” – The New York Times

If parenting is making Americans unhappy, if it’s impossible to “have it all,” if people don’t have the economic, social, or political structures needed to support parenting, then why do it? And why are anxious new parents flocking to every Tiger Mother and Bébé-raiser for advice on how to raise kids?

In Why Have Kids?, Valenti explores these controversial questions through on-the-ground reporting, startling new research, and her own unique experiences as a mom. She moves beyond the black and white “mommy wars” over natural parenting, discipline, and work-life balance to explore a more nuanced reality: one filled with ambivalence, joy, guilt, and exhaustion. A must read for parents as well as those considering starting a family, Why Have Kids? is an explosive addition to the conversation about modern parenthood.



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Review

“This timely volume, which should generate much controversy, is a call for much-needed change and may unite a new generation of moms.” –Publishers Weekly

“Timely…[Valenti] states early on that her book is meant to anger people and incite discussions…She wades deeply into the moral and logistical problems facing mothers, with interviews, research and her own anecdotal experiences.” –Kirkus Reviews

“For mothers like Valenti, who felt guilty admitting impatience at the drudgery and boredom that constitutes much of parenting, this book may be a revelation. And a comfort.” – People Magazine

“A brave and bracing critique of our unrealistic parenting ideals.” – Elle

“There’s a lot of really profound, great questions in this book. As a new father myself, they cut pretty deep.”- Chris Hayes, host of Up with Chris Hayes on MSNBC and the author of Twilight of the Elites.

“In a culture that glamorizes motherhood, Jessica Valenti daringly articulates the hard work and the personal decisions that are an essential part of parenting. This book is a must-read for new parents.” –Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, New York Times best-selling author of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

“Jessica Valenti is a breath of fresh air. She offers the kind of raw honesty that can feel like a punch in the gut, but leaves you with the warmth of a deep embrace.” – Ms. Magazine

“Jessica has been hailed as one of the most influential female voices of the last decade, so it’s not surprising that after she had her first child, she had plenty to say about the culture of modern motherhood.” –Meagan Francis, Babble.com

“When it comes to unpacking what it means to be female in America right now, Jessica’s one of the smartest minds out there.” –Jesse Ellison, The Daily Beast

“In Why Have Kids?, feminist author Jessica Valenti poses a question that few people actually wrestle with before taking the plunge into parenthood.” – Lori Leibovich,Huffington Post

One of “20 New Releases Check Out” in The Atlantic’s Fall Books Preview

A “Fall 2012 Must Read” –Huffington Post

“Why Have Kids? should be required reading in sex education classes.” – Kathy Megyeri, USA Today Letter to the Editor

About the Author

Jessica Valenti was called “a gutsy young third wave feminist” by The New York Times. She was included in The Guardian’s Top 100 Inspiring Women list and has appeared on Anderson Cooper, The Colbert Report, The TODAY Show and in The New York Times Magazine. She is a frequent lecturer at universities. She founded feministing.com and has written three books including Full Frontal Feminism.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
By Mr. R. D. Turner TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Why have Kids? addresses an issue that is rarely spoken of. That raising kids is often tiring, repetitive, lonely and without end. In many families the man continues to have a career and the woman's career is relegated to being a job, with a second job at home doing the night shift of looking after home and kids. It questions whether a woman should effectively give up her dreams and happiness and sacrifice all for her children.

The first third of the book lays out these facts clearly and there are many times that I as a father recognised situations and sympathised for my wife's position. This is genuinely 5 star writing and worth buying the book for, especially for any mums who feel overwhelmed and unable to cope!

The second two thirds of the book have no further insights and instead is almost entirely focussed on USA issues. The rights of the state over the woman's body, lack of maternity pay, forced sterilisation of ethinic minorities. Things that are irrelevant to the UK with no such history. Yes, it prompts a warm feeling that the UK has the NHS, maternity, paternity and subsided child care but it is not useful as such.

5 stars for the first third, 2 stars for the rest.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By I. Horswell VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As with a great many things to do with children, there are a great many things that parents only find out once they've joined "the club" (childbirth can be painful, breastfeeding isn't always straightforward, take time out of your career and risk losing it, you don't have all the answers, you can influence but you can't control your children....)

This book is a frank look at parenthood today and the choices we have. There is an expectation that you'll feel happy and complete when you have a baby. The reality can be quite different, particularly if you didn't actively choose to become a parent.

Only a few decades ago, a child was a potential extra pair of hands in the field or family business. They were fed, watered, clothed but largely left to "roam free". Modern middle-class parents feel the need to micromanage their children's lives from choosing the right brand of buggy to researching the right school and providing a taxi service to an array of after school activities. They often feel that they are not doing enough for their brood.

With most women doing on average 18 hours more housework than their partners, can they still hold down a fulfilling full time career or does something have to give? Why is it the mums who usually sacrifice themselves (their bodies, their time, their careers and any sense of self)? We have as much to give in the workplace as men but if we step off the career ladder to stay at home and raise a family, we risk finding ourselves at the bottom again doing menial unfulfilling tasks.

The author writes about American employment law so a few of the employment discussions are not applicable here in the UK. She had a rocky start to parenthood with a premature baby. The book can feel overly negative at times - bear in mind that she is telling you the facts but the book doesn't balance them with the love/cuddles and positive side of being a parent (yes, there are lots!).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking and up to date 7 Sept. 2013
By Mr. T. Ralph VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book is a thought-provoking and philosophical discussion of parenting, and the pressure so often placed on women to have children. It's divided into sections on what Valenti sees as "lies" commonly circulated about being a mother, such as breast-feeding and children making you happy, and her "truths", like smart women not having kids and the death of the nuclear family.

Valenti puts a lot of information in front of us in the course of 166 pages. She brings together academic research with real people's experience and news stories. She does not aim to solve the world's problems, just discuss them and apply them.

I think the book would be most of use to women who are under pressure from their families to produce offspring when they are not ready or willing. Not that someone should have to defend their choice, but the topic of children seems to be a place where the rest of the world tries to stick its oar in and having concrete and sensible reasons may help someone in that situation. [An example of the latter is one of Valenti's anecdotes where a woman bottle-feeding her baby in a café is approached by a complete stranger saying "you know, breast really is best".]

It should be noted for our UK readers that the book is quite US-centred (or should that be centered?) and the stories and case studies are all from west of the Atlantic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing perspective 9 Nov. 2012
By Alison TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Why Have Kids" is a refreshingly honest look at our obsession with bearing children and the prominence of family. The author is American and the context is very clearly an American cultural context. Despite the differences between the USA and UK, there is still plenty of similarity between our countries and their attitudes to children.

The author is a mother and yet gives a surprisingly honest and balanced view of child bearing and child raising. She is particularly honest about the ridiculous expectations we put upon parents, mothers in particular. If only all adults (parents and the childfree) could read this book, I think we could all benefit from a more realistic attitude to the impact of having children and being a family (in all its modern guises).

The book is arranged into two main sections: "Lies" and "Truth". The Lies section includes chapters covering "Children make you happy", "Women are the natural parent", "Breast is Best", "Children need their parents", "The hardest job in the world" and "Mother knows best". The Truth section includes chapters covering "Giving up parenthood", "Bad mothers go to jail", "Smart women don't have kids", "Death of the nuclear family", "Women should work" and "Why have kids".

An essential read for modern and realistic parents.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Obviously an excellent source of advice on parenting
She bathes in male tears (google it).

She has a son.

Obviously an excellent source of advice on parenting...
Published 6 months ago by Chelseapoet
4.0 out of 5 stars An engaging read
Even though this book was written by an American and naturally reflects US culture society, I like this book. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Ms. C. R. Stillman-lowe
4.0 out of 5 stars Kids and all that
Okay I'm a single fella who never gives a thought about kids. I went to this book because it is so un-me. I do that sometimes. Read more
Published 15 months ago by W. Rodick
2.0 out of 5 stars Useless unless you are American
Dont get me wrong, this book has some useful info, in the 1st 20 pages or so.

The rest of it is entirely based on being a parent in america. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Beanie Luck
4.0 out of 5 stars fresh parenting...
Gutsy, real and compelling stuff here.

This is a fresh parenting voice if not altogether applicable content for us European parents. Read more
Published 16 months ago by J. DOUGLAS
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing read; recommended for all!
I ordered this book because the title poses an important question that is often overlooked by society: Why have kids? Read more
Published 17 months ago by girl
5.0 out of 5 stars Why have Kids?
This isn’t my usual type of book but after seeing on one of the Kindle Daily Deals, I brought it. The title alone was enough to grip me as like most people in the twenties I seem... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Sophie
3.0 out of 5 stars Well balanced
With books like these, I assume their always negative and with one view point but this was light hearted, well balance view and straight talking. Definately recommended
Published 18 months ago by LOUISA BLACK
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my kind of book
This for me was a hard book to read. Full of controversial questions that I'm not sure we're ever answered. Read more
Published 19 months ago by G. Cook
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, Easy to Read Informative book
I love Jessica Valenti's work, and this book is no exception. It's a great book on bringing up children/not bringing up children, and it's stories and statistics are easy to follow... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Mr Adam J Leishman
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