Book Corner: “Why Have Kids?”

Title: Why Have Kids?: A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness
Author(s): Jessica Valenti
Pages: 246
Year: 2012
Apple iBooks Link


I reviewed another Jessica Valenti book awhile back, and I am currently reading her memoir. She was one of the first feminist authors I came across, and I think she does a wonderful job of presenting complex ideas in an easy-to-understand but convincing manner. In Why Have Kids?, Valenti takes on one of the most pervasive cultural norms in modern society: the compulsion that many feel to have children. The book ends up being an astute, well-researched piece that stands against what manner consider to be “tradition.”

I want to start by saying the obvious: Valenti is not against having children, but rather she believes two things: (1) it should be a choice and (2) people should not be force-fed a sugarcoated view of parenthood. As a feminist, she is particularly tuned in to how these social factors negatively affect women.

My only real fault with the book is that it does not answer the question in its title: why should people have kids? The book is not a one-sided screed against parenthood (Valenti herself is a mother), but it would have been nice for her to cover the other side of the coin. I get that the book was meant to challenge the expectation of parenthood, but perhaps the title suggests that there will be a discussion that never actually takes place.

However, I don’t want this to dissuade anyone from checking it out. It’s an incredibly thought-provoking read that perhaps should give aspiring parents a necessary bit of pause.