Adventures in Reading

Revisted: Childfree & Loving It by Nicki Defago
June 30, 2008, 12:12 pm
Filed under: book reviews, nonfiction | Tags: , , , ,

Earlier in the year (if not last year) a professor loaned Childfree & Loving It! to me. I was warned that the book was a lot of “fluff” but still an enjoyable read. It sat on my bedside stand for months until I got through The Childless Revolution and The Baby Boon only in an act of frustration to pick up this book thinking: “There has to be something better!” And I was right, there does have to be something better, and if this book is not entirely something better it’s an improvement over these other two.

Before going too much into this book, all of the childfree literature I’ve read has offered alternative interpretations and perspectives. Childfree and Loving It! is no different except it fully embraces a positive look at being childfree (not to mention not treating the environmentally childfree as loons) without negatively portraying parenthood, but still with no fear of criticizing parenthood.

This book offers a lot of representations of the childfree within the pages and goes back and forth from being “fluff” to the occasional grabbing sentence that deserves more thought than some of the entire chapters. For example, one area of interest is how, especially in western cultures, we embrace choice and the disgust and rejection that can (and does) occur when suggestions resulting from social pressures rather than choice. Another area of interest for myself was Defago’s discussion of the effort some childfree people/women feel is necessary to prove that they still like/care for children and can still be caring/compassionate – i.e. we don’t eat babies for breakfast.

This has definitely been my favorite childfree book so far. It lacks some of the academic spin of The Baby Boon and avoids a lot of the mistakes in The Childless Revolution and it’s a solid work that’s easy to read and does a good job exploring the childfree.

Not the first time that I’ve mentioned this but I spent a great deal of time last summer exploring books that discussed my option not to have children. For those not familiar with the term “childfree,” it’s a term identifying people who opt not to have children. It’s a public relations spin on the word “childless” to distinguish between people who want to and cannot have children (at least not at that time of description) and to describe people not wanting children as not lacking.

Last summer, I was grabbing any book I could find on the topic and there was a whole lot of new territory I was exploring and considering such as: if a person neither has children nor cares much for children, what is this person’s role with children in society? As a childfree person, is it ever acceptable to criticize (particularly directly) a parent? (And I remember quite the riveting forum conversation I started after going into a difficult situation at a dog park.)

As someone who grew up babysitting for all of the younger neighborhood children, someone who was a nanny for almost three years, and someone who has at times been identified as maternal, in retrospect I think exploring this information was groundbreaking and necessary for me. However, not all people who identify themselves as childfree are always as respectful of other’s choices as they can be. This overhang of aggression does make any serious discussion regarding childfreedom minute and difficult to participate in (and particularly from a feminist perspective). However, I also found some groups of people to be completely dismissive of the topic and experience as something accepted and in no need of discussion.