Book Review: The Female Assumption

The Female Assumption: A Mother’s Story: Freeing Women from the View that Motherhood is a Mandate by Melanie Holmes. CreateSpace, 2014.

I started out feeling that everyone who reads the Childless by Marriage blog must read this book. It’s loaded with information we all need to know while deciding whether or not to have children. Now I’m not so sure. Despite the fact that Holmes has three children, it leans heavily toward the childfree viewpoint and doesn’t much address situations where women who want children are unable to have them. Still, there’s a lot to gain from reading this book. I’ll let you decide.

The Female Assumption includes:

  • Convincing testimony that motherhood is hard. Holmes writes about the lack of personal time and space, the financial cost, and the opportunities lost while providing full-time care. Even though she tries to reassure her own children that she’s very glad to have them, I’d be wondering about that if I were them.
  • Clear information on birth control, including the various methods and myths about how they work. She also goes into abortion and “morning after” options.
  • A list of questions women should ask themselves before considering motherhood. If nothing else, read this section and think about how you would answer these questions, things like: why do you want to be a mother, how much are your feelings about this being influenced by other people, and how would you manage childcare and career if you did have a baby?
  • A discussion of how even in the 21st century, women still do most of the childcare and housekeeping. Until partnerships can become equal, women will still bear more of the burdens of motherhood.
  • “Dirty Little Secrets,” things mothers don’t admit out loud for fear their peers will hate them and their children will feel unwanted. Two examples: “Mothers yearn for time alone,” and “Your ‘stuff’ will never be your own again.”
  • How women are held to a different standard than men. Who questions the validity of male leaders or achievers who don’t have children, yet it happens with women all the time. Holmes suggests women are given an impossible choice: give up everything else to be mothers or live alone, childless, with work as sole consolation.
  • How the American workplace is behind the times, offering lower wages for women and failing to offer paid family leave.
  • The often-negative effects of parenthood on marriages.
  • Examples of successful women who never had children.

As I said, Holmes does not spend much time on infertility or women whose partners are unable or unwilling to have children. She seems to be encouraging readers to remain happily childfree. However, this book does contain a lot of useful information. Holmes really did her research. Read it and use what you need. Skim the rest.

As always, I cherish your comments. Go back and read some of the comments from last week’s post, “Are You Delaying Parenthood Until Conditions are Perfect?” We got some great ones. You can still join the discussion.


Are We More Youthful Without Children?

I feel younger than my age. I believe that not having somebody identifying you as the old person, as the parent or grandparent, means you don’t feel as old. You have not moved up the generations so that now you’re the elder. You’re still you. I really think there’s something to that, something even to be grateful for. I took one of those bogus tests online recently. It guessed I was in my 30s. I’m double that, enjoying my senior discounts, but I don’t feel that way. Most of my friends are a little older than I am. To them, I’m a kid.

So many famous authors, artists, musicians and others who have achieved great things never had children. Not having to take 20 years out to raise children gave them time to follow their dreams, and they seem to go on and on. I know most of you want to have children. I would trade it all to hold my own babies in my arms and watch them grow, to teach them and love them forever. It would be hard to focus on work while doing that. But since that’s not going to happen, so let’s look at the bright side. When you don’t have kids, you can still BE the kid.

I know people my own age who are so much older than I am. The non-parents I see are often more energetic, more playful, and more open to new experiences. Maybe they would have been that way anyway, but I wonder if parenting would have aged them. I think about my grandparents at my age. They were OLD.

Here are a few things to read about this:

From the Telegraph: “Does Having Children Make You Old?”

From Kristen Houghton at the Huffington Post: “Why (Most) Successful Women are Childless”

My own 2013 post “Does Being Childless Mean We Never Grow Up?” offers another way of looking at this question.

What do you think about this? Could never having children keep you younger? Please comment.



Last week I wrote that I was going to the hospital for a scary procedure. Well, it’s over, and I am not dying or damaged by my day in surgery. No tumors, no ulcers, no infections. The doctor did take some polyps to biopsy, but he didn’t think they were anything to worry about. Best of all, he says I can eat anything I want. Whoohoo!

One of my essays is included in a new book titled Biting the Bullet: Essays on the Courage of Women, published last month by Chatter House Press. You might want to check it out.

Another benefit of childlessness: More time to read!

Finally, there’s a pretty heated discussion happening in the comments for a previous post, “Childless Readers Help Each Other.” Me, I’m going to try to stay neutral, but this guy named Tony has really pissed some people off.

Have a great day!