Feature Book By Kate Kaufmann

Do You Have Kids? Life When the Answer is No

 Do You Have KidsA savvy and validating guide to what might be in store for growing numbers of childfree and childless adults worldwide, Do You Have Kids? Life When the Answer is No takes on topics from the shifting meaning of family to what we leave behind when we die. Weaving together wisdom from women ages twenty-four to ninety-one with both her own story and a growing body of research, Kate brings to light alternate routes to lives of meaning, connection, and joy. 


Today about one in five American women will never have children, whether by choice or by destiny. Yet few women talk much about what not having kids means to their lives and identities. Not that they donít want to; there just arenít obvious catalysts for such open conversations. In fact, social taboos preclude exploration of the topicóand since our family-centric culture doesnít know quite what to do with non-parents, thereís potential for childless and childfree women to be sidelined, ignored, or drowned out. Yet thereís widespread, pent-up demand for understanding and validating this perfectly normal way of being. In this straight-shooting, exhaustively researched book, women without kids talk candidly about the ways in which their lives differ from societal norms and expectationsóthe good, the bad, and the unexpected.

About the Author Kate Kaufmann

Ronald BalsonKate Kaufmann embarked on her life as a non-mom when she abandoned fertility treatments, quit her corporate job, and moved from the suburbs to a rural community to raise sheep. Since 2012, she has talked with hundreds of women ranging in age from twenty-four to ninety-one and advocates for better understanding of the childless/childfree demographic. Kate received an MFA in creative writing in 2016 from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts and has a professional background in corporate staffing, training, and consulting. She's lived in various urban, suburban, rural, and coastal communities and currently calls Portland, Oregon home. Her writing has appeared most recently in the Washington Post. Visit her at www.katekaufmann.com.

 

 

 

An Interview with Kate Kaufmann

Q: You have a goal to provide fodder for 2 million conversations about what itís like not having kids. What do you hope these conversations will accomplish, and who do you hope will have them?

A: During our supposed fertile years, so much emotion swirls around having children or not that the topic often goes underground. Once we find ourselves on a path that doesnít include having kids, whether by choice or by chance, it can be tough to resurface whatís now considered taboo. Depending on when we were born, one in every five or six adults will never have children, a number thatís sure to grow. Where do we go to learn more about what life is like for the childless and childfree? Our mothers canít tell us, and resources that describe the full life span are few. I wrote Do You Have Kids? Life When the Answer is No to share true life stories and encourage curious, respectful, and frank conversation about alternate routes to fulfilling lives.

Q: Why should mothers, grandmothers, and men read Do You Have Kids?

A: Our culture touts family first, yet itís projected that increasing numbers of young adults will not have children. By reading about key research findings and other womenís experiences, mothers, dads, and grandparents can better understand how life might unfold for their loved ones. Men who arenít dads have readily opened up about what not having kids has meant to them and appreciate having the womenís perspective as a leaping off point for conversation. On a more personal note, each of my three sisters has two children, and this book has opened doors to talk about topics weíve never before discussed. 

Q: What are some of the big differences between non-moms and mothers?

A: We donít (usually) bear costs of raising children and can more easily take lower-paying, more satisfying jobs and/or spread our earnings beyond our immediate families Because we donít have kids immersed in schools, activities, and friendship circles, we have more flexibility with our housing and living arrangements Non-moms are at 2-3 times greater risk of breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer than are mothers Since mainstream religions typically celebrate childbearing, finding inclusive spiritual communities can be challenging We know our kids wonít oversee our aging or hold our hands when we die, so we need to make alternate arrangements.

Q: What do you hope readers take away from Do You Have Kids? Is there a call to action?

A: I hope non-parent readers discover interesting options for planning their futures and practical ideas and resources for addressing lifeís challenges and opportunities. Parents who care about those without children might better understand the nuances of non-parenthood, appreciate and grow closer because of our differences, and find new commonalities. As I finished the book, I realized readers would want to talk but might worry about how to approach what can be a sensitive or charged topic. So I added tips for both parents and non-parents to address those awkward and inevitable conversational glitches. Like any important topic, we may feel awkward at first, and weíll surely make mistakes, but the payoff for better understanding each other is huge.

Q: What made you decide to write this book, and how did the writing process affect you personally?

A: Not long after we stopped trying to have kids my former husband and I moved to a rural community, where it seemed most everyone had children. I searched for other non-moms to talk to, looking f or those special connections of shared life experiences--like mothers often find with each other. Slowly I met women and men willing to talk. As common themes emerged, I started more formal, in-depth interviewing, began writing, and my book project took form. Researching and writing this book has shaped and given profound meaning to my life, and I am indebted to all those who entrusted me with their stories.