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 child rearing, 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.
Would-be parents must navigate the decision to have children amidst a daunting combination of cultural expectations and hard facts. And new parents find themselves struggling to reconcile their elation with the often exhausting, confusing, and expensive business of child care. When researchers for a 2010 Pew study asked parents why they decided to have their first child, nearly 90 percent answered, for “the joy of having children.” Yet nearly every study in the last ten years shows a marked decline in the life satisfaction of those with kids. Valenti explores this disconnect between parents’ hopes and the day-to-day reality of raising children—revealing all the ways mothers and fathers are quietly struggling. 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.
About the Author:
Jessica Valenti is the author of three previous books, including The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women. She is also the founder of Feministing.com, which the Columbia Journalism Review called “head and shoulders above almost any writing on women’s issues in mainstream media.” Jessica—called one of the top 100 inspiring women in the world by the Guardian—speaks at universities and organizations in the U.S. and abroad about feminism, activism, and media. She’s been selected as a 2012–2013 fellow by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, where she’ll research and develop a plan for a national think tank grounded in digital feminism and its communities. She lives with her family in Boston, but remains a New Yorker at heart.