April 24, 2006

Book Review: The Childless Revolution; What it Means to be Childless Today

At first I was put off when I read the Author’s Note at the front of the book. What surprised me was that Madelyn Cain is a mother. The little voice in my head was saying, “Why would I want a mother telling me how it is to be childfree? That’s the book I am writing!” I thought she had no right. Perhaps this is reason Madelyn Cain felt it necessary to add this additional author’s note, to set the stage for the reader.

Ms. Cain approaches the book as one looking over the fence at a path not taken, admitting that her late start at a family almost precluded her from having one – at least they way she envisioned it. She wrote the book “The Childless Revolution” because she wondered what life would have been like as a non-parent, who she would be. She also recounts how she was witness to the criticism and unkindness that her childfree friends were treated to when someone discovered their intentionally childless status. So, her cause is noble.

Most impressive about her book is the scholarly approach. It is well documented and I will probably read many of the books that she has cited (a few we have already visited here on this blog). She opened my eyes to the trend we, the childfree, represent. She cites an article in the magazine American Demographic, December 1993:

There will be a 44% increase in the number of childless couples by the year 2010.

So, the cat’s been out of the bag for a while – but it’s news to me. As the author points out, you just don’t get this kind of news in the women’s magazines.

Ms. Cain is a good storyteller. Though scholarly, her writing is succinct and not without passion. I enjoyed her retelling of a story about a mom who, upon learning her co-worker was childfree said “she was only complete when she became a mother.” The co-worker wished she’d thought of a better come back like, “Oh Honey, I feel like a woman every time I have an orgasm!”

I particularly appreciated her treatment on the assumption that women will regret their decision not to have children. She believes that the reality of facing loniness in old age applies to us all, regarless of family status and offers the results of this study (“Old Age: Are the Childless More Vulnerable?” Jounals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences (Vol. 53B, No. 6, November 1998) to prove it:

[There is] no significant differences in loneliness and depression between parents and childless adults.

She asks us to spread the good word to our childfree friends.

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1 comment:

twiga92 said...

I read this book not too long ago and enjoyed it. I too was a bit put off that the author is a mother, but I think she did a good job.