Why Have Kids?: The Truth About Parenting and Happiness

Why Have Kids?: A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness - Jessica Valenti In the late 1970s, "Dear Abby" conducted a nonscientific poll. She asked parents who read her column to write in answering yes or no to one question: "If you had it to do over again, would you have kids?" An astonishing 70 percent of respondents (and there were thousands) said NO.Author Jessica Valenti, a new mother, decided to look at the myths and harsh realities of parenting. Starting with her own experience having trouble bonding with her critically ill, premature infant (Valenti herself had life-threatening issues during her pregnancy) and then going into the latest research on a number of issues related to parenting, she turns the entire idea of "being a mother is the hardest, most important job in the world" on its head. It seems that most women are not nearly as happy being mommies as they want the rest of the world to believe.The book is divided into two parts: Lies (with chapters like "Children Make You Happy," which demonstrates the inevitable changes, most often not for the better, women experience in their lives after having children) and Truth (with chapters like "Women Should Work," with longitudinal studies that show working moms are happier than stay-at-home moms).Valenti also addresses the dichotomy between how women who choose to be parents are treated vs. those who choose not to become parents. No one ever questions a woman's decision to have a child (although more than half of pregnancies in the US are unplanned), but a woman's decision not to have a child is a matter for frequent comment about how she will change her mind, she's selfish and so on.Valenti cites several other books in her work here, but I'm surprised that she didn't reference "The Baby Boon," which shows all of the additional benefits that working mothers receive compared to their childfree sisters. Nevertheless, it is refreshing to see a book written by