Friday, April 2, 2021

"Do You Have Kids?" by Kate Kaufmann

Kate Kaufmann has been a warm and wise presence at the seasonal virtual gatherings of childless elderwomen that Jody Day has been organizing recently (as well as a speaker at the recent Childless Collective Summit), and I decided it was about time I got around to pulling her book from my gargantuan TBR pile and getting it read! 

"Do You Have Kids?  Life When the Answer is No" is a thoughtful examination of what it's like to live a life without children -- the actual lived experiences of childless and childfree women. Kaufmann shares her own story and interviewed hundreds of other childless women, representing a broad range of ages, backgrounds and reasons why they did not become mothers.  She also provides an impressive amount of research and statistics on various aspects of childless living. 

Despite the growing numbers of childless women around the world, "There are no common blueprints for how we structure our lives, where we live, who we befriend," Kaufmann observes, early in the book. "Without child-rearing responsibilities, we lack well-defined paths and readily apparent role models. Without responsibility for young lives or a genetic trajectory into future generations, our lifetimes have genetic finish lines. Our limb on the family tree does not branch or bear fruit. So we fashion and form our lives differently than mothers do." 

Kaufmann and her interview subjects discuss what led them to a life without children, their career paths and working lives, how they engage with other people's children, how they build and maintain friendships with mothers and other non-mothers, how they define family and their relationships with their families of origin, non-traditional living arrangements (including co-housing), the particular health concerns facing women without children, issues of religion and spirituality, aging, end of life and estate planning, philanthropy and legacy, and some great tips for how to talk with others about non-mom life.

This would be a great book to hand to anyone new to (or contemplating) a life without children, and also to parents who want (or need!) to understand us better. 

A solid 4 stars on Goodreads. 

This was Book #17 read to date in 2021 (and Book #1 finished in April), bringing me to 47% of my 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 36 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 8 books ahead of schedule. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2021 tagged as "2021 books." 


  1. I confess I haven't read Kate's book yet either. So thanks for the review. It has made me curious. I'll have to move it up my list. (Though I haven't read anything other than articles for the last two weeks!)

  2. This sounds like a great perspective...I haven't read it yet either. Adding it to the list!