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Why Have Kids?: A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness

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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Product Description


“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,

“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

Product 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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 396 KB
  • Print Length: 205 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0547892616
  • Publisher: Amazon Publishing (4 Sep 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008L4KT6W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #86,443 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
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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9 of 9 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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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Turning the Tables 8 Sep 2012
By Ms. Felicia Davis-burden VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I want to hug Jessica Valenti for writing an honest, important book. It may be small, but Valenti's book expresses many hard facts about parenthood. Reading it, I have felt many powerfull pangs of recognition at situations, attitudes, conventions and prejudices all described so articulately.

As a childless/child-free woman, I have been asked why I haven't had kids. Why shouldn't I ask a woman with children why she had them? It is not seen as socially acceptable to interrogate a mother, but considered perfectly fair game to hold a verbal cattle-prod to a lone woman about her lack of issue. Indeed, if you are a woman without children, you are believed to have 'issues'. You are labelled a freak. This wonderful book lays bare the inequalities of social and personal attitudes towards those (targeting mainly women) without kids. Various American states have laws protecting the unborn child, while putting the mother-to-be in danger, even in jail. If you are a woman, whether keen to breed or not, you are automatically priced up as 'Pre-pregnant': You are expected to protect your womb because it might/should play host to a growing fetus, even if you repeatedly say that you have already decided against motherhood or you are infertile.

Here's an example of my own experience of societal/religious expectations expressed at family functions, usually at funerals. A distant relative - a complete stranger, as far as I'm concerned - has asked me, out of nowhere, how my children are. None of my personal history has ever been relayed to them or, if it has, nothing has registered. The expectation for a youngish Jewish woman to automatically breed like bejaysus is so deeply ingrained.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing read; recommended for all! 5 Oct 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I ordered this book because the title poses an important question that is often overlooked by society: Why have kids? Having kids is the default option for most people in life and I wonder how many people actually ask themselves whether they really want to be parents or not. The alternative isn't really presented as an option. Usually these kinds of books are written by childfree individuals, so it was interesting to read something on the subject written by a parent. I found the book engrossing; thankfully it's a quick read, so it didn't monopolise too much of my life! But while it's not overly long, Valenti does go into the depth and breadth of the subject matter, and particular focus is given to mothers and the societal expectations heaped upon them. Valenti is American, so the book has a clear slant towards American society, but much also applies here in the UK, and it's an interesting read nonetheless. An honest look at the subject, and a reminder that parenting isn't all sparkles and sunshine.
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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 4 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 12 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 12 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 13 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 14 months ago by J. DOUGLAS
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 15 months ago by Sophie
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking and up to date
This book is a thought-provoking and philosophical discussion of parenting, and the pressure so often placed on women to have children. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Mr. T. Ralph
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 15 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 16 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 20 months ago by Mr Adam J Leishman
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