I divided the books into three sections: Childfree Book Shelf (non-fiction books written specifically about the childfree movement), Fencesitter Book Shelf (non-ficiton books on parenting to help people decide if parenting is for them), and Additional Books of Interest (novels and books that might not exactly be “childfree” but are childfree enough to be interesting to us). If you see a book you find interesting, click on the name, it will take you to a review of the book farther down on this page. Another site has a list of French-Language books.
Note: I didn’t write the reviews below — I borrowed them from Amazon.com. My notes (if any) on the book are in italics under the review.
Will You Be Mother? by Jane Bartlett
Setting out to dispel the myths that women without children are either infertile or “hard-driven career women,” freelance journalist Bartlett draws on interviews with 50 British women who have chosen, for a variety of reasons, to remain childfree. She uses the women’s own words to describe their reasons for choosing to be different in a world where childbearing is seen as a part of the “normal” lifecycle.
The Baby Boon : How Family-Friendly America Cheats the Childless by Elinor Burkett
Tax credits, childcare benefits, school vouchers, flextime for parents, parental leaves–all have spawned what journalist Elinor Burkett calls a “culture of parental privilege.” The Baby Boon charts the backlash against this movement and asks for a reevaluation of social policy.
The Childless Revolution by Madelyn Cain
Due in part to birth control, later marriages, and the emergence of two-career couples, 42 percent of the American female population is childless, representing the fastest-growing demographic group to emerge in decades. These women are reshaping the definition of womanhood in a fundamental way, yet they are largely misunderstood. Whether childless by choice or by chance, they are alternately pitied and scorned, and are rarely asked directly about their childlessness; like the elephant in the living room, childlessness is a taboo subject.
Childfree and Sterilized: Women’s Decisions and Medical Responses by Annily Campbell
Campbell, a feminist researcher and counselor, examines the relatively new social and medical phenomenon of women in the developed countries of the world choosing to remain childfree and electing for sterilization. She allows 23 voluntarily childfree, sterilized women to tell their stories and to reveal the struggles they faced in being women without children in a society which expects women to be mothers. She employs feminist and sociological perspectives to highlight the fact that voluntarily childfree women are perceived as abnormal and are often the target of negative and critical comment.
Families of Two by Laura Carroll
Families of Two: Interviews with Happily Married Couples Without Children by Choice, takes us into the lives of the growing number of couples who are choosing not to have children, and dispels the myths commonly associated with this choice. Families of Two provides insight for couples who are deciding whether to have children, and to friends and family of couples who have chosen or may choose not to have children. It celebrates the many people who are living lives that do not include parenthood, and the many ways to live happily ever after.
Pride and Joy : The Lives and Passions of Women Without Children by Terri Casey
This is an enlightening collection of first-person interviews with twenty-five women who have decided not to have children. This book shatters the stereotypes that surround voluntarily childless women–that they are self-centered, immature, workaholic, unfeminine, materialistic, child-hating, cold, or neurotic.
Childfree and Loving It! by Nicki Defago
Recording the opinions of childless women from all over the world and letting this growing band answer their detractors, this investigation looks into the world of those who choose not to have children. Interviewees speak freely and honestly about their experiences, providing readers with both the many reasons people choose to live child-free and insight into what seems to them an unhealthy amount of societal pressure to become mothers and fathers. This book also presents interviews with parents who wish they had not had children while offering their reasons for feeling regret. Concluding with a look into the workplace, this title evaluates the fairness of allowing parents shorter days and time off to accommodate children, compared to the working environment of those who have chosen to live without children.
I read this book and LOVED it! I highly recommend it! It’s my favorite childfree book!
I Hate Other People’s Kids by Adrianne Frost
From the dawn of time, other people’s kids have found ways to spoil things for the rest of us. Movie theaters, parks, restaurants — every venue that should be a place of refuge and relaxation has instead become a freewheeling playground complete with shrieks, wails, and ill-timed excretions.
Now, I Hate Other People’s Kids delivers a complete handbook for navigating a world filled with tiny terrors — and their parents. It boldly explores how children’s less- endearing traits have disrupted life throughout history (“And they say Jesus loved the little children, all the children of the world, but he never had to dine with one. He chose the lepers”) and classifies important subspecies of tyke, from “Little Monsters” (Dennis the Menace, Bamm-Bamm Rubble) to the “So Good It Hurts” variety (Dakota Fanning, Ricky Schroeder in The Champ). Dotted with illuminating sidebars such as “Parents Think It’s Cute, but It Isn’t” and featuring tips on ingeniously turning the tables without seeming childish yourself, I Hate Other People’s Kids is clever, unforgiving, and sidesplittingly funny.
I have this book and it was okay. I didn’t think it was all that funny but there were some chapters of the book I found interesting.
Reconceiving Women: Separating Motherhood from Female Identity by Mardy S. Ireland
Although surveys suggest that some 40 percent of American women between the ages of 18 and 44 do not have children, most scholarly and popular literature continues to assume that motherhood is the defining role in women’s lives. Here a Berkeley psychologist shares data from her survey of 100 such women, revealing significant differences, depending on whether they are childless by choice, by chance, or because of infertility. Rejecting conventional interpretations, which emphasize the childless woman’s infertility, Ireland offers new, more positive interpretations, drawn from Lacanian and object-relations theory, for all three categories and ends by summoning the legendary first woman Lilith to represent the nonmaternal creative energies that exist in every woman and by which childless women can define themselves and their experience. Recommended for specialized collections.
Why Don’t You Have Kids?: Living a Full Life Without Parenthood by Leslie Lafayette
From the founder of the Childfree Network, a national support group for childless adults, comes this insightful exploration of the pros and cons of parenting and not-parenting, filled with anecdotes, interviews, and statistics. To have or not to have children-it is one of the most important decisions any of us will ever make. The fact that many American households today do not include children has dramatically changed the way we all live.but not necessarily the way we all think. Drawing on the experiences of both parenting and non-parenting adults, she explores this subject from a social, spiritual, and psychological perspective. Defining the term she calls “pronatalism,” Ms. Lafayette shows how people can be pressured into having kids—and even end up having them for the wrong reasons. In Why Don’t You Have Kids? author Leslie Lafayette strips away the many myths surrounding childfree living and discusses what is truly involved in choosing to parent or not to parent. With rare insight and unflinching honesty, she helps you face this crucial turning point so that you can reach your ultimate decision with confidence and joy.
I have read this and it’s very good. I recommend this book.
Women Without Children: The Reasons, the Rewards, the Regrets by Susan Schneider Lang
According to various studies Lang cites, over 15% of women now in their childbearing years will remain childless for various reasons: infertility; belated, unstable, or failed marriages; lack of maternal or paternal interest (50% of 1100 women interviewed in one study considered their husbands “lousy” fathers); financial strain (30% of an annual income can be required to support a child); demanding careers (60% of top female executives are childless but only 10% of the comparable males); demanding stepchildren; or lesbian orientation (only 15-30% of lesbians have children). The disadvantages, Lang says, include occasional “feelings of sadness and loneliness,” “regret” over missing a major life experience, social and parental pressure, and an assortment of health problems. Women with children also have health problems, many associated with obesity, and suffer “pain and disappointment” over children who fail and stress from their “incessant demands,” reduced financial resources, and loss of time–three months a year are spent on child-rearing. The child- free, on the other hand, use their time and money for “nurturing and networking,” traveling, raising pets; they enjoy “an exceptionally intimate relationship” with their mates, and continue their “self-growth.”
Without Child: Challenging the Stigma of Childlessness by Laurie Lisle
Heavily weighted to history, a defense of women who, by choice or by chance, are not mothers. Author Lisle, now in her 50s, chose not to have children–she is, to use one of her favorite terms, a nullipara (the medical term for a woman without a child)–and found the decision subject to attack from within and without. “To this day, women without children . . . share a common stigma,” she quotes one expert as saying, and Lisle goes on to note that such women are often portrayed as “damaged or deviant” or “just not nice enough.” Lisle rallies the nulliparous troops by foraging through history for childless, though not always virgin, role models. Among them are the Hellenic goddesses Artemis and Athena, Queen Elizabeth I, Florence Nightingale, and Louisa May Alcott. Closer to home are what used to be called maiden aunts, energetic examples of “social mothers” who worked in orphanages and poorhouses or served as caretakers (and inspirations) for their nieces and nephews.
No Children, No Guilt by Sylvia D. Lucas
“Oh, don’t worry,” they say when you tell them you don’t want children. “You’ll change your mind.” (Pat on knee.) What does it mean to be sure you dont want children? Arent you supposed to want them? What if the person you’re in love with wants them? And why do you feel so guilty for not wanting them? From the shocking abuse of her childhood doll to the demise of two marriages, Sylvia shares her vibrant humor and offers insight into what it really means to be child-free – without the guilt. All it takes is – Accepting your disinclination toward motherhood – Recognizing you WILL be looked at funny – Understanding that you will, in some ways, be a perpetual child (but whos complaining?) – Being prepared for people to think they know you better than you know yourself – Knowing it could mean losing the person you love – Finding a partner who doesnt want children – and never will (and a little bit more)
The Chosen Lives of Childfree Men by Patricia W. Lunneborg, Marilyn Mei-Ying Chi, Clara C. Park
More and more couples are choosing not to have children. While much attention has been paid to this trend from a woman’s point of view, men are often seen as having a secondary role in this choice, as ready to accept whatever their partners decide. In an age when men are expected to be caregivers as well as breadwinners and encouraged to take on more parental responsibilities, this volume argues that they need to be active participants in this crucial, life-altering decision. Based on in-depth interviews with 30 American and British childless men, this is the first book to explore the motives and consequences of voluntary childlessness from a man’s perspective.
No Kids: 40 Good Reasons Not To Have Children by Corinne Maier
When the original edition of No Kids was published in France in 2007, it was an instant media sensation and bestseller across Europe. Now, for the first time in English, Maier unleashes her no-holds-barred treatise on North America with all the unabridged force of her famously wicked intellect. Drawing on the realms of history, child psychology and politics, she effortlessly skewers the idealized notion of parenthood, and asks everyone to reject the epidemic of “baby-mania.” Are you prepared to give up your late nights out, quiet dinners with friends, spontaneous romantic get-aways, and even the luxury of uninterrupted thought for the “vicious little dwarves” that will treat you like their servant, cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars and end up resenting you? Within these pages lie truths a mother is never supposed to utter and whether you’re a parent or childfree, Maier’s message won’t fail to impress.
I read this and found it somewhat interesting, but it’s obviously about European culture and thus would be appreciated more by a European audience.
Cheerfully Childless: The Humor Book for Those Who Hesitate to Procreate by Ellen Metter, Loretta Gomez
This cartoon-filled humor book brings cheer to those who are leaning against parenthood but don’t get much support from a society that teaches the four R’s: Reading, ‘Riting, ‘Rithmetic, and Reproduction! Serious books on the subject of choosing to be childless abound, but nothing light-hearted — until now. Emotions run high on this topic, and that’s precisely the sort of issue where humor thrives. Erma Bombeck looked at family life, Scott Adams took on work life, and Ellen Metter and illustrator Loretta Gomez tackle the question with a life-altering answer: Is it my fate to procreate?
Unwomanly Conduct: The Challenges of Intentional Childlessness by Carolyn M. Morell
Provocative study of women who chose to be childless based on extensive interviews with women aged between 40 and 78. A significant contribution to debates about choice, the private and the public, gender and diversity.
The Baby Trap: The Controversial Bestseller That Dares to Prove That Parenthood is Dangerous by Ellen Peck
The best book for the childfree woman. A must read for all. It should be a requirement for all teenage girls. Rather than lots of statistics from poorly funded studies, this is a true life example and entertaining look at the reproductive choice.
I LOVE this book! It’s from the early 1970s and now out of print, but if you can find a copy of it, snatch it up! Ellen Peck is childfree herself and outlines all the ways society and our peers try to pressure us into having children and highlights the downsides of parenthood (especially motherhood). Some of the information is a bit dated (the whole chapter on birth control and abortion, for instance) but it was an easy, interesting and enjoyable read. I highly recommend it.
Beyond Motherhood: Choosing a Life Without Children by Jeanne Safer
This book is about making a conscious decision not to have a baby — how to do it, how it feels, what it means, and the impact it has on your life.
Two Is Enough: A Couple’s Guide to Living Childless by Choice by Laura S. Scott
In Two Is Enough, Laura S. Scott examines the most compelling motives to remain childfree and the decisionmaking process, exploring the growing trend of childlessness through her own story and those of others who have made this choice.
Baby Not on Board: A Celebration of Life Without Kids by Jennifer L. Shawne
For anyone who’s wondered, “Why have kids when I could have fun instead?” here’s a warm and hilarious welcome to the wonderful world of unparenting! The childfree life is growing in popularity, and finally here is a book that celebrates the wisdom and wonder of that choice. For those who cherish their white shag carpet and glass coffee table, this highly interactive bookwith quizzes, sidebars, and handy checklistsoffers a range of helpful, unparenting information including ways to throw oneself an unbaby shower and strategies for coping with dreaded OPCs (other people’s children). Baby Not on Board reminds us all that having a baby is great, but NOT having a baby is really, really great.
I’ve read this and found it to be amusing, but it’s not to be taken too seriously. You might enjoy it!
The Case Against Having Children by Anna and Arnold Silverman
There is nothing spiritual, biological, or genetically inherited about the desire to be a mother. For many women, this book sets out to show, motherhood is a substitute, a second choice for the things they wanted to do but weren’t able to. For others, it is a way to gain social acceptance and approval, keep their husbands, prove their femininity. And fathers, too, may exploit their children as a way of proving their manhood or their wives’ faithfulness. This book explodes the myth of the maternal instinct, disproves the idea that marriages with children are happier, explains why large families can limit the personal freedom of all Americans, and show that children from small families are brighter, more creative, and better adjusted. Most important, The Case Against Having Children shows women that motherhood isn’t their only option.
This book was published in the 1970s, so some of the information is dated, but otherwise it’s a very good book!
I Don’t Have Kids. The Guide to Great Childfree Living. by Ellen L. Walker
Written by a psychologist who is herself childfree, I Don’t Have Kids. The Guide to Great Childfree Living, was written for adults without children and also for those considering becoming parents. This book features the personal stories of childfree adults, exploring the psychological processes influencing individual decisions. It provides an inside perspective about what life without children can be like. You will gain useful, unbiased information on how to deal with the problems and opportunities that come with not having kids. I Don’t Have Kids will empower you to embrace your own situation and find ways to have the richest, most fulfilling life possible. Ellen L. Walker, Ph.D. 2010
Complete Without Kids: An Insider’s Guide to Childfree Living by Choice or by Chance by Ellen L. Walker
A comprehensive resource on the rewards and challenges of childree living from a unique, unbiased perspective. Childfree singles and couples often wrestle with being a minority in a child-oriented world. Whether childless by choice or circumstance, not being a parent can create challenges not always recognized in a family-focused society. Women feel the pressure of a real or imaginary biological clock ticking. Careers, biology, couples priorities and timing influence the end result, and not everyone is destined for parenthood, though there is a subtle assumption that everyone should be. In Complete Without Kids, licensed clinical psychologist, Ellen L. Walker, examines the often-ignored question of what it means to be childfree and offers ways to cope with the pressure, find a balance in your life and enjoy the financial, health and personal benefits associated with childfree living.
The Parenthood Decision by Beverly Engel
In The Parenthood Decision: Discovering Whether You Are Ready and Willing to Become a Parent, Beverly Engel, a licensed marriage, family, and child counselor and bestselling author, takes a look at all the issues potential parents face, posits important questions, and leads readers who are struggling with a variety of dilemmas through compassionate and thoughtful decision-making exercises.
I’m Okay, You’re a Brat!: Setting the Priorities Straight and Freeing You From the Guilt and Mad Myths of Parenthood by Susan Jeffers
Whether you are already a parent or just suspect you will be one someday, I’m Okay, You’re a Brat is sure to change your perceptions about the responsibility. With individual chapters devoted to topics such as full-time parenting, breastfeeding, custody in case of divorce, and remaining childfree, the realism presented will shatter any remaining illusions you may be harboring. Determined to explode the myth of continually joyous parenting, author Susan Jeffers replaces it with a more realistic view of the life changes and emotional difficulties associated with such a long term and essentially thankless task. Jeffers accomplishes this by emphasizing the difference between loving your children and actually enjoying parenting them, a difference that is rarely examined in this age of guilty, overworked parents.
Mask of Motherhood: How Becoming a Mother Changes Everything and Why We Pretend It Doesn’t by Susan Maushart
Everything changes when a woman becomes a mother, but society–particularly women themselves–often colludes to deny this simple truism. In The Mask of Motherhood, author Susan Maushart (a nationally syndicated columnist in Australia and the mother of three children) explores the effect childbearing has upon women. In the process, she removes the veils of serenity and satisfaction to reveal what she holds to be the truth: the early years of motherhood are physically difficult and can be emotionally devastating.
What to Expect Before You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff
More and more couples are planning for conception, not only for financial and lifestyle reasons, but in response to recent recommendations from the medical community. In the same fresh, contemporary voice that has made the 4th edition of What to Expect When You’re Expecting so successful, Heidi Murkoff explains the whys and wherefores of getting your body ready for pregnancy, including pregnancy prep for both moms and dads to be. Before You’re Expecting is filled with information on exercise, diet, pinpointing ovulation, lifestyle, workplace, and insurance changes you’ll want to consider, and how to keep your relationship strong when you’re focused on baby making all the time. There are tips for older couples; when to look for help from a fertility specialist–including the latest on fertility drugs and procedures–plus a complete fertility planner.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff
Now comes the Fourth Edition, a new book for a new generation of expectant moms–featuring a new look, a fresh perspective, and a friendlier-than-ever voice. It’s filled with the most up-to-date information reflecting not only what’s new in pregnancy, but what’s relevant to pregnant women. Heidi Murkoff has rewritten every section of the book, answering dozens of new questions and including loads of new asked-for material, such as a detailed week-by-week fetal development section in each of the monthly chapters, an expanded chapter on pre-conception, and a brand new one on carrying multiples. More comprehensive, reassuring, and empathetic than ever, the Fourth Edition incorporates the most recent developments in obstetrics and addresses the most current lifestyle trends (from tattooing and belly piercing to Botox and aromatherapy). There’s more than ever on pregnancy matters practical (including an expanded section on workplace concerns), physical (with more symptoms, more solutions), emotional (more advice on riding the mood roller coaster), nutritional (from low-carb to vegan, from junk fooddependent to caffeine-addicted), and sexual (what’s hot and what’s not in pregnant lovemaking), as well as much more support for that very important partner in parenting, the dad-to-be.
What to Expect the First Year by Heidi Murkoff
Parents-to-be are likely to find themselves quickly immersed in this highly authoritative manual by the collaborators of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Nearly 700 pages of snappily written, friendly advice, constructed in the form of chatty answers to hypothetical questions, are arranged on a month-by-month basis. For each of 12 months, there are a guide to the progress the baby may be expected to be making at this stage, a list of potential health or other problems and paragraphs on the myriad questions all new parents ask–on subjects as various as in-home care, birthmarks, circumcision and breath-holding. Other sections cover what to buy for a new-born, first aid, recipes, adoption and even how to enjoy the first year, in terms of the parents’ own activities, such as social life and sex. An extensive index leads the reader to information that wouldn’t normally be accessed using the month-to-month arrangement–and also serves as an indication of the book’s all-inclusiveness.
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