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Beyond Motherhood: Choosing a Life Without Children

af Safer

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391521,230 (3.71)Ingen
After years of profound and often painful soul-searching, psychoanalyst Jeanne Safer made the conscious decision not to have children. She came to terms with a course of action that allowed her to pursue her life in a way that was right for her. Now, in this wise, compassionate, and deeply personal book, she provides expert guidance for every woman who has ever grappled with the issue of motherhood. In beyond motherhood, Safer and women of all ages from all over the country eloquently share their experiences and offer unique insights into what it really feels like to live this still unconventional life. They describe what factors in their histories, personalities, and circumstances shaped their decision; and how they forged their identities as women without being mothers. They talk with remkable candor about their marriages, their thoughts about aging without offspring, their legacies, and the meaning of their lives. Most compelling of all, they demonstrate how their vitality and passion for lifebelie any stereotype of childless women as emotionally barren or incomplete. This inspiring book goes beyond the immediate issue of whether to have a child, and offers the essential key to conscious, creative living for every woman, whether she chooses the path to motherhood or not.… (mere)
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i couldn't get past chapter two. the introduction made me very uncomfortable, but i thought i should stick with it. the author's emphasis on psychoanalysis and, particularly, the idea that women who choose to be childfree (and the fact that she refuses to use that term) do so because of a problematic relationship with their own mothers, is like some sort of intentional naivete. i'm also disturbed by her insistence that either the choice itself or the coming to terms with the choice is a difficult process that requires a woman find a new "outlet" for whatever "creative" energies she would otherwise have put toward motherhood; that she has to find a new way to be "womanly." WTF? of course, the book is entirely heteronormative.

as it was published in 1996, i suppose the plight of the childfree woman was a bit different. but i find it insulting to be told that not only am i suffering a loss by choosing not to have a child, but also that i necessarily must come to terms with this "loss," possibly for the rest of my life. additionally, the way she romanticises the idea of a child - all the beneficent experiences one has by seeing things through a child's eyes; that the bonds of genetics are inherently stronger than the bonds we choose ourselves - belie all her childfree-positive words. she actually waxes lyrically over the sadness she feels at not having children to pass her collection of antiqiue kimonos to. dear god. listed among her "reasons to have a baby" taken from her journal when she was actively angsting over the decision are "a new kind of intimacy," "a sense of connection with life and with other women" and "regaining my own childhood." and people call the childfree selfish.

perhaps women who are, indeed, struggling to decide whether or not they truly desire to be mothers will find this book useful. but as a woman who has long been emphatically and proudly childfree, i found it condescending and patronising.
( )
  lumpish | Apr 25, 2013 |
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After years of profound and often painful soul-searching, psychoanalyst Jeanne Safer made the conscious decision not to have children. She came to terms with a course of action that allowed her to pursue her life in a way that was right for her. Now, in this wise, compassionate, and deeply personal book, she provides expert guidance for every woman who has ever grappled with the issue of motherhood. In beyond motherhood, Safer and women of all ages from all over the country eloquently share their experiences and offer unique insights into what it really feels like to live this still unconventional life. They describe what factors in their histories, personalities, and circumstances shaped their decision; and how they forged their identities as women without being mothers. They talk with remkable candor about their marriages, their thoughts about aging without offspring, their legacies, and the meaning of their lives. Most compelling of all, they demonstrate how their vitality and passion for lifebelie any stereotype of childless women as emotionally barren or incomplete. This inspiring book goes beyond the immediate issue of whether to have a child, and offers the essential key to conscious, creative living for every woman, whether she chooses the path to motherhood or not.

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