I’ll start off by saying that I am one of those people who swoons every time I see a baby. I mean, how can I not? Whenever I look into a baby’s huge, innocent eyes and it flashes a big grin I just feel lost in its cuteness. But Jessica Valenti’s latest book discusses how this sentiment can only take mothers (or prospective mothers) so far. Jessica takes an honest and realistic look at what it’s like to have children in her latest book, Why Have Kids? A New Mom Explores The Truth About Parenting and Happiness. The book debunks common myths surrounding child-rearing. Some of these myths are that having a child will automatically make a woman feel fulfilled and happy, breastfeeding is the best method and that a mother always knows what’s best for her child. She goes on to say that not every woman was inherently born to be a mother. She uses subtle humour to explore these issues in the book and discusses what it’s like for mothers to live up to society’s expectations.
In the latter half of the book, Jessica reveals facts like some women are choosing not to have kids and some don’t even like being mothers. She also explores how the nuclear family type is becoming obsolete. I thought it was interesting that Jessica said according to recent studies, children are not the happiest in the nuclear-family model. So does having children equal happiness? Jessica seems to think the answer is less black and white. For example, she devotes a chapter in the book exploring the issue of whether working moms are happier than stay-at-home moms. I felt she really spoke to a lot of mothers by admitting to these startling new research findings. Although I don’t have kids, I still found myself agreeing with a lot of what she says in the book. The overall feminist theme in the book was loud and clear: Women should have more choices on how to raise children. I liked Jessica’s “cut mothers some slack” message in her book, and that we need to stop punishing mothers and labelling them.
Jessica ends the book by saying that parenting needs to be more of a community involvement (such as the government being more proactive and giving mothers longer maternity leave and child care). Society does need to play more of a role in how kids are raised. The book has an important message, which is that we need to take the pressure off women to be the perfect mothers. There is no “right” how-to- book or manual on how to raise a child. Every child is unique and requires different needs. Jessica does not attempt to discourage women from having children, but she looks at it in a different light. All you potential mothers out there may not be completely sold off on having kids, but this book will certainly make you rethink your choices in life.