Why Have Kids?

A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness
Narrated by: Emily Beresford
Length: 5 hrs and 16 mins
3.8 out of 5 stars (145 ratings)

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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 listeners say about Why Have Kids?

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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.

7 people found this helpful

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An Important Book

This is an important read for anyone -- male or female (but especially female) -- considering having children. Valenti doesn't necessarily try to talk people out of having kids, but she presents some statistics that differ greatly from the widespread societal myth that parenthood completes us. She also presents some real solutions for different approaches to parenthood than the current norm that could result in greater happiness and fulfillment for everyone involved.

1 person found this helpful

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Best book on parenthood I've read

Intelligent and surprisingly funny, Valenti clearly articulates many of the "something's not right here" gut feelings I've had when reading other books on parenting. Highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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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.

1 person found this helpful

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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.

9 people found this helpful

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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.

9 people found this helpful

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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.

3 people found this helpful

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It is a good start

It covers very important points on the difficulties of becoming a mother, very eye opening, a good start for anyone looking into the motherhood journey or the childfree life. Even though the information is relevant in my case I was expecting for the author to clearly answered the question it titles. Why to have kids? I don't think she did.

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  • RM
  • 05-26-19

One-sided

Although I do think she makes tons of valid points about the difficulties with having children, she completely skips the benefits and joys. As a mother of three with a wonderful career and marriage, I do think having my children is one of the best choices I’ve ever made and would make again. Most of her complaints are super cirmcumstantial and transient (ex: sleepless nights...only when they are babies!). I enjoyed listening to the issues she brought up and agree that children present challenges, but when I look at my husband and three children, I couldn’t be prouder of how much we have all accomplished as a team- the sacrifice, the love, the acceptance of each other and knowing that in this world we will always have each other. Those things are priceless.

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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.

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  • Katrina Velasco
  • 02-13-20

An honest view of what it means to have kids

It's very US-centered although it could be applied to how motherhood is seen in many developed countries. Books like this are necessary for people to make an informed decision when it comes to having kids. It's definitely reinforced my decision to not have them!

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  • A
  • 12-18-17

It could be a good book, had it a different title

'The truth' that this book explores is the ways in which society and celebrities made being a mother more difficult for the writer, and claims that then to be a societal issue rather than a particular one. It does not, in any way, explore the reasons for choosing whether to have children or not.

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  • li
  • 08-31-16

At last!

Finally found a book that makes me feel sane for questioning if I want kids

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  • Laure
  • 04-06-18

Not what you think it is about

I'll start with saying that although the book is very informative, it is not about what you think. The book could also be called: "What it is like raising kids in the USA in the 21th century". it covers pressures from preconceived ideas, the laws, law cases, media influences, working moms and dads vs. stay at home moms and dads.... It does not directly answer the question but paints an overall very negative and depressing picture about having kids. This is how I felt most of the book. It is only towards the end that you realise that, now you have all this info, you can make your decision. Again, worth reading to get information but dont expect an answer. This really is about painting a picture of the harsh reality. This is not about raising kids but about looking after your own sanity first! This book will definitely help you be aware of who you really want to be and have as a parent.