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Childfree by Choice

Every woman, it seems, has The Bump.

You see them at the grocery store. You see them at work, at the gym, on the street, maybe even in your own family: it seems like everyone has a Baby Bump except you, and that’s okay. That’s your decision, and in “Childfree by Choice” by Dr. Amy Blackstone, you’ll see how you’re not changing diapers. You’re changing society.

For months now, your parents have been asking when you’ll make them grands, the answer to which is “never” but nobody seems to believe you. They say you’ll change your mind or that it’s “unnatural.”

That, says Dr. Blackstone, is something everyone hears if they’ve come to the same decision. Here, she picks apart the arguments that are generally lobbed at those who’ve chosen to be “childfree.”

First, the distinction: childfree is when someone has opted not to have kids which, as polls show, describes nearly 50% of American women ages 15 to 44. “Childless” is when someone wants children but cannot have them. The latter often comes with regrets; the former rarely does, despite the unsolicited advice.

The childfree endure a lot of scolding, Blackstone says, and it’s largely based in culture and social mythology. Choosing not to have children is common, and pregnancy is not what makes a woman. Maternal behavior is not innate, and mothers and their biological children do not have mystical bonds; in fact, it really does take a village to raise a child in some cultures, and it works.

Indeed, everybody has an opinion about women (and it’s mostly women about whom Blackstone writes) who have opted not to give birth, even as there’s a lot of thought that goes into the decision. Taking a strong stance can mean becoming something of a pariah, not to mention constant explaining that no, you don’t hate kids; no, you’re not “selfish”; and no, it’s none of anybody else’s business…

Rant, affirmation, support, “Childfree by Choice” is all that and a pile of controversy, even as it lays out very valid reasons why it shouldn’t be. Author Dr. Amy Blackstone, childfree herself, methodically shows that choosing not to be a parent is normal and quite common, and the numbers of childfree Americans are growing.

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So who’s the audience for this book, anyhow, then?

Anyone who’s already eschewed reproducing will devour it; it’s a book that’ll make the childfree feel like bobblehead dolls nod-nod-nodding in recognition. It’s calm, and filled with validation and affirmation to counter the guilt-tripping. Statistics and case studies further offer a sense of affinity for like-minded readers but, they aren’t the only ones to benefit from reading this book: Blackstone found in her research that childfree adults are often happy to have kids in their lives.

That’s an important point in this treatise of understanding, both of self and of other viewpoints, and it’s rich in information for non-parents and parents alike. “Childfree by Choice” is for anyone concerned about today’s family life, so bump it to the top of your TBR list.

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