Childfree

Blackstone, Amy. Childfree by Choice: The Movement Redefining Family and Creating a New Age of Independence. Dutton,  2019.

Biological reproduction has long been epitomized as a capstone of adult life. It has been seen as something generally expected in a lifetime unless people were plagued with infertility or rare vocation (clergy). Once pregnancy and childbirth became decoupled from sex, nonparenthood did not mean infertile. It was spliced into involuntary or childfree choice for heterosexual couples. Dr. Blackstone traces the history of non-parent movement and shares academic research to cite reasons for having kids or remaining childfree and outcomes of such a decision in personal fulfillment, meaning, and happiness. While society has epitomized biological reproduction, it has underestimated social reproduction. Childfree people can leave legacies in friends’ children, nieces and nephews, neighborhood children, volunteering, mentoring, and other activist activities and hobbies. Dr. Blackstone also argues that maternal instinct is a myth erroneously ascribed to women whereas the truth is that nurturement (and parenting) is a skill developed and honed by individuals through practice. People can choose to have children and nurture, but it is not a given necessity or inevitability. In addition to lots of information based in academic research and census data, the personal disclosures of Dr. Blackstone and those she interviews will be interesting and useful to couples in learning about the childfree choice if they are ambiguous or solidify their childfree choice if they are already in agreement and share the history of their decision and normalize the decision – i.e., others have made this choice. One important caveat is that this book is not a how-to (for instance, you will find no practical tips on discussing being childfree with family), but it will help couples who have made the decision to go childfree see their path.

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