Why Have Kids? A New Mom Explores the Truth about Parenting and Happiness.

Jessica Valenti, Author
Jessica Valenti. Amazon/New Harvest, $25 (208p) ISBN 978-0-54789-261-0
Reviewed on: 08/20/2012
Release date: 09/04/2012
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When her daughter was born at 28 weeks, leaving mother and child dangerously ill, Valenti felt enormous disappointment and a sense of failure. Not only had she missed a "good birth" resulting in a full-term healthy baby and happy family, her expectations surrounding the experience, the elation and bonding she had been societally conditioned to encounter, were unfulfilled. In this, her fourth book—a politicized, anti-What to Expect When You're Expecting—the high-profile, third-wave feminist takes an intense and scathing look at charged contemporary parenting issues, moving beyond "mommy wars" and breast-is-best militants to show just how much the current American ideal of parenting fails to match reality. With post-partum panic past, and her child thriving, Valenti probes accepted practices and questions the pervasive philosophy of modern mothering, with its many fallacies and assumptions including: alarming pre-conception and pregnancy advisories; whether women are naturally better parents; and if mothering is the hardest job in the world. Valenti pointedly reveals how trading a career for staying at home with the kids, the myth of the "perfect mother," and the death of the nuclear family damaged more women than society will acknowledge. Occasionally, a reader may be unsure whether Valenti is airing her own grievances or those of mommy-bloggers and the media; but that aside, this timely volume, which should generate much controversy, is a call for much-needed change and may unite a new generation of moms. (Sept.)
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