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Why Have Kids?: A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness | [Jessica Valenti]

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

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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 10 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-listen for parents as well as those considering starting a family, Why Have Kids? is an explosive addition to the conversation about modern parenthood.

©2012 Jessica Valenti (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

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  •  
    Nadine Woodbridge, VA, United States 11-09-13
    Nadine Woodbridge, VA, United States 11-09-13 Member Since 2013

    Long commutes make for great listening time!

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    "Useful for Parents, Parents-To-Be, & Non-Parents"
    What did you love best about Why Have Kids??

    As a woman who will one day have kids, I'm very appreciative of this book. I truly enjoy my job and spent years trying to find something substantial that I'd actually want to get an education in. So, I'd hate to think that I have to put my doctorate aside because my future toddler is having a hard time with potty training.

    Undoubtedly, my future child will mean the world to me simply because they will be my child, but I now feel and will feel great joy from the career I also have dedicated myself to. Though it's an entirely different types of joy, there's no reason why we can't experience both.


    Did Emily Beresford do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    The narrator did just fine, but she sounded more like she was giving a lecture, and I couldn't help but think that there were parts where Ms. Valenti was attempting to sound sarcastic or even playful which didn't translate with Ms. Beresford's more straightforward tone. Even still, her performance was pleasant and relaxing for a long commute home.


    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    2ManyBks 05-04-14
    2ManyBks 05-04-14 Member Since 2013
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    "More Accurate Title "Wished I Didn't Have Kids""
    Would you try another book from Jessica Valenti and/or Emily Beresford?

    Emily Beresford, yes. Jessica Valenti, possibly. Ms. Beresford did a great job expressing the passionate tone that Ms. Valenti keeps throughout the book. Even though I think Ms. Valenti is a very talented and intelligent author, I tended to disagree with a majority of her points about the role of a mother. I would imagine that any other book would have the same political party drive, in which I would appreciate her well supported points, but disagree in the end.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Mostly annoyance. I felt like she was proposing mothers are entitled to a life away from her children, after they have them. She seemed to complain a lot, generalizing all men as worthless and irresponsible, and exhausting the point that raising children doesn't always lead to happiness.


    Any additional comments?

    With all the negative comments listed above, I must say that a book like this is good to read once in a while. To listen to someone you don't agree with - and might I add, one who has done their homework - can only be beneficial, but you must be able to withstand the complaining.
    I'd imagine most men would NOT enjoy reading this book and most women with hopes of a beautiful motherhood will only find their experience tarnished. I believe this book will make certain mothers hesitate to enjoy and second guess the truly good times of motherhood. Perhaps it may help mothers that are struggling to fight their urge of believing their child will make them happy all the time, but anyone who has sat in a plane with a crying kid next to them realizes children aren't angels...or a multitude of examples that kid's can drive you crazy...even as a bystander.
    I think the average mother is more keen on the expectations of motherhood than the author gives them credit.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maria Bergen, Norway 01-21-14
    Maria Bergen, Norway 01-21-14
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    "Not interesting for listeners outside USA"

    I thought this audiobook would be about becoming a parent in general, but it mainly dealt with the societal challenges US parents face. I live in a country where society provides such benefits as one year paid parental leave (divided between the two parents) and state run quality day care, to mention but a few. Thus, the main arguments of the book are mainly irrelevant to me, except as a way to highlight the differences between USA and Northern Europe.

    I also found it irritating how many times the author tries to explain or apologize for her lack of immediate enthusiasm after her daughter was born. There is a somewhat jarring clash between her statement that parents should be less hard on themselves and her own obvious guilt.

    I didn't bother to listen all the way through, so the topics of the book might have become more universal as the book progresses. I didn't want to waste time figuring out if this was the case, however.

    8 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Lakewood Ranch, FL, United States 02-01-13
    Paul Lakewood Ranch, FL, United States 02-01-13
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    "This book convinced me to get a vasectomy ASAP"
    What made the experience of listening to Why Have Kids? the most enjoyable?

    I had been thinking about getting a vasectomy, but put it off because I wasn't dating. I recently began dating a 42 year old woman I really like but in order for us to continue seeing other, I must let her know whether I share her dream of being a parent to biological child(ren). This book confirmed my concerns that I will be less happy as a parent.


    What about Emily Beresford’s performance did you like?

    I like that she occasionally used profanity because I could relate to the author's frustrations.


    6 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert CHINO HILLS, CA, United States 02-20-14
    Robert CHINO HILLS, CA, United States 02-20-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Terrible!"
    What was most disappointing about Jessica Valenti’s story?

    she claims she is not judgmental, and moms need to let up on one another, yet its one of the most judgmental books towards parenting I have read.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steph United States 01-27-14
    Steph United States 01-27-14 Member Since 2012
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    "A well researched book for parents and non parents"

    The title of this book could lead one to believe that the author was implying having children is a bad thing, but that is not the aim of the book or the author. Jessica Valenti, a new mom and writer, looks at the societal views of why we have kids, what society says a parent should look like, the rights and roles of parents and non parents. It is a captivating book. I am a reader who tends to not stray from fiction frequently but this book was on the list that should be better known and I decided to give it a try. As a result, my opinion is I wholeheartedly agree.

    Jessica Valenti states at the beginning of her book that her research and the ideas brought up in the book are controversial and she expects people to have strong reactions to it. She in fact believes they should, not so that they have to agree with her, but that they think about the material and form their own opinions. This sat well with me. Parenting, to have kids, to not have kids, to be a stay at home parent, to be a working parent, how to financially support a child, US business leave policies, and government contraception law all are stratifying choices that can elicit defensive stances. This book breaks down why there is so much defensiveness for any decision and how raising children in todays culture has changed so much. We no longer have children as a labor source for the farm, and we don't view them as mini adults as we once did. Children now are seen as a source of love and completion of self for parents. The book discusses this search for fulfillment, but also how once we view parenting as a job instead of a relationship it is then seen as something that we either pass or fail at. I have only mentioned a few topics discussed.

    What I enjoyed so much about this book is that is was well researched and did not include a lot of conjecture. She does relate some of her own stories and personal accounts but I did not find it to be agenda driven except for maybe pushing parents/moms to not be so judgmental of one another. For a topic I thought I had a decent handle on she challenged some of my beliefs and the reasons behind why I thought the way I did.

    Emily Beresford narrated it well. At no time did I find myself irritated with her voice, she did not overdramatize the material, and she kept me engaged to the point I was finding excuses to do activities I could continue listening to the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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