Book Review: Complete Without Kids
An Insider’s Guide to Childfree Living By Choice or By Chance
Ellen L. Walker, PH.D., has written a comprehensive book on the many aspects of living childfree in a world where parenthood is the default setting. Dr. Walker’s focus in the book, Complete Without Kids, is part self journey and part a blue print to navigate others through the decision making process. The book is filled with personal stories and comments from others who have made the CF decision.
Dr. Walker is a clinical psychologist and is also childfree. It is interesting to read a book about the childfree decision from the perspective of a practicing psychologist. The book could definitely be used for self therapy as she has some guided questions at the end of each section for the reader to reflect on should that be an inclination. The questions are well designed to provide a springboard for self-reflection or to encourage an active discussion point for couples, and others who seek to dig a little deeper into issues that lay beneath the surface of so many unchallenged cultural myths surrounding the childfree.
The book has seven sections including: The path to childfree; childfree decision making: a behind the scenes look; childfree personalities; childfree days; love and friendship; health, finances, and future planning; and Future Directions. Each section has many points to consider and the issues highlighted in the book should be very familiar to members of TCFL who are active in the forums. The book is probably one of the most inclusive that I have read on this topic. The experiences of gay, straight, single and married and unmarried couples are included.
I appreciated that Dr. Walker included the particular difficulties that single childfree individuals have when it comes to dating. That is a topic often discussed here at TCFL and it is nice to see this issue voiced in the book. Most of all, the book by numerous examples, interviews, and well researched trends, goes another step to debunk so many of the fears that are repeated so often and used to make the childfree choice appear pathological. Not only does she make observations but she illustrates through stories and examples from life how other CF individuals cope within a society that is so child centric. She talks about holidays and the triggers that tend to isolate and alienate those without children. She talks about Mother’s Day and the other holidays and identifies many of the issues that go along with family gatherings, insensitive commercials and the challenges that the CF have on these “special days.”
The many voices represented in this book from all walks of life further demonstrate that those making the childfree decision are no less fulfilled by their choices. Dr. Walker sees both parents and the childfree in her practice. In this clinical setting she has observed that parents deal with problems, divorce and work life balance just as those without children do. To say that the childfree live unfulfilled or incomplete lives just does not hold up to scrutiny.
The concluding chapter of the book titled Future Directions is a much needed statement both to the childfree and to society as a whole. It is about decisions, choices, self determination, and dignity.
“Life is all about choices and taking control over the things we can. Childfree adults deserve to live the richest life possible without being critiqued, and it’s likely that the option to be childfree will become more embraced by society as more childfree adults speak out about their lives without kids. No one can predict the future, but there are numerous reasons to predict that not having kids will continue to be a growing trend.” (141)
Complete Without Kids is current and relevant. I would especially recommend this book for those on the fence, for those who have recently come off the fence, or for those who need encouragement that they are not alone in their choice. The book is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle editions.