When I was asked to review a book on being childless called Complete Without Children by Ellen L. Walker Ph.D, I took the book for a number of reasons.
I have to admit I was intrigued by the book after reading news stories that there are more households that have a pet than have a child in the house. That’s right, 39% of households in America have a pet dog while 33.5% of households have a child under the age of 18.
I am willing to bet most of those households have dogs but that is beyond the point. Apparently fewer of us are having children or waiting longer to do it. Which means we have fewer children.
Some of my friends saw me reading this book and wondered why I was reading such a thing. After all, I have four kids. It was a bit too late to have a childless life if I so wanted.
For me the book was more of a glimspe into the life I might have had if I had not changed my mind about wanting a family. I could have travelled more, figured out my life ambitions more, devoted more energy to a career. When I was young I stated I did not want children because I was a selfish being and kids require a certain selflessness. You have to understand that your wants and needs do not always matter.
In this book Dr. Walker looks at women who were childless by choice, by happenstance or by circumstances beyond their control. I felt sorry for the women who could not have children and grieved the loss. But for the women who did not have children and choose not to have children, I felt complete agreement.
One woman had to raise her younger siblings while their mother worked to support the family. Another never wanted children and ended a relationship with a man who did want a family. The author was involved with men who already had children or did not want to start a family. By the time she got around to thinking about children it was too late for her. Besides that, she enjoyed having freetime to work on projects. Another woman worked as a freelance graphic designer and liked having a quiet house so she could work all day and all night if need be.
What made this reading assignment enjoyable is that the book is written in a conversational manner. I began to know people and enjoyed reading how they came to their lifestyle decisions.
When my husband saw the book I was reading, he snorted. Then he made a comment that not having a family is un-natural. We are meant to have families, we humans are made to have families and by golly, everyone who is capable of having children should have children.
Really, I answered. Because I would rather have parents who want kids in this world. How many kids have we seen on our street and in our community where parents are parents not by choice. And the majority of those parents are angry, resentful parents who pass on those feeling to their kids, making for angry resentful kids. Yep, that’s what I want in the world. Kids raised by angry, resentful parents.
I would rather have children raised by parents who want them, by parents who give a shit about their kids. Quite frankly, it is brave of these women to stand up and say “I do not have a maternal bone in my body.” Nor I do not think they should be ridiculed or put down for that. Knowing what you do not want is just as important as knowing what you do want.
However, you and I know people will shake their heads and cluck their tongues at women whose life does not have a child tugging at their shirt tails. God forbid a woman should walk a different path than one of motherhood, still. I thought feminism was getting us beyond this point. We are used to women working, women being able to own their own homes and have their own credit card.
That childless woman a real threat to society. Yep, I am buying into that line thinking. Just as soon as I buy into the idea that the Moon Missions really happened in the desert.
Now if you are interested in reading the book, I am giving away my copy. Add a comment making the request and I will pick someone at random.
In the meantime, let me know what you think about women who choose not to have children. Unnatural or a good decision – tell me.