Regretting Motherhood: A Study

Orna Donath. North Atlantic, $15.95 ISBN 978-1-62317-137-7
Israeli sociologist and anthropologist Donath (Making a Choice: Being Childfree in Israel) breaks open what she describes as an “unspoken taboo,” bringing the notion that women regret becoming mothers into the public discourse with her latest research. Working from interviews with 23 Israeli-Jewish mothers ranging in age from 26 to 73 and from a variety of socioeconomic, educational, and professional backgrounds, Donath draws no broad, quantitative conclusions about how many mothers experience regret or why, but rather presents a number of subjective voices reflecting on their own experiences. The most valuable elements of the book are the different perspectives provided by the interviews, which reflect a striking amount of self-awareness (and, often, suffering) from women who have otherwise largely kept silent. Also significant are the author’s findings that regret may be influenced by external factors—whether a mother has a supportive spouse or abandoned a career to raise children, for example—but it also cuts across these lines, heralding something more intrinsic to the mothers she sampled. Her work is perhaps too academic and narrow in scope for a general readership, but Donath successfully opens the topic for further exploration. (July)
Reviewed on: 04/10/2017
Release date: 07/11/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
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