WOMEN WITHOUT CHILDREN by Susan S. Lang

WOMEN WITHOUT CHILDREN

The Reasons, the Rewards, the Regrets

KIRKUS REVIEW

 After interviewing 63 white, educated, middle-class women between the ages of 36 and 100, Lang (author of a YA book, Extremist Groups in America, 1990) concludes that the compensations for being childless (she prefers ``child-free'') exceed the losses, that women without children lead rich (literally saving $125,000 for a ``no-frills'' child, $600,000 for the luxury model) and fulfilling lives. According to various studies Lang cites, over 15% of women now in their childbearing years will remain childless for various reasons: infertility; belated, unstable, or failed marriages; lack of maternal or paternal interest (50% of 1100 women interviewed in one study considered their husbands ``lousy'' fathers); financial strain (30% of an annual income can be required to support a child); demanding careers (60% of top female executives are childless but only 10% of the comparable males); demanding stepchildren; or lesbian orientation (only 15-30% of lesbians have children). The disadvantages, Lang says, include occasional ``feelings of sadness and loneliness,'' ``regret'' over missing a major life experience, social and parental pressure, and an assortment of health problems. Women with children also have health problems, many associated with obesity, and suffer ``pain and disappointment'' over children who fail and stress from their ``incessant demands,'' reduced financial resources, and loss of time--three months a year are spent on child-rearing. The child- free, on the other hand, use their time and money for ``nurturing and networking,'' traveling, raising pets; they enjoy ``an exceptionally intimate relationship'' with their mates, and continue their ``self-growth.'' The group Lang studies is selective, her statistics questionable (she reports that the American father spends an ``average'' of 38 seconds a day with his infant child), and her observations often self-evident: ``Reproduction, of course, is vital for the survival of the species.'' Still, her crisp journalistic style and extensive quoting from introspective and articulate women make this a slick read--and a chilling revelation of how women without children view the world of motherhood.

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 1991
ISBN: 0-88687-532-3
Page count: 288pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1991