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In a recent interview, feminist author Jessica Valenti discussed her new book titled “Why Have Kids?: A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness.” It’s a book she donned as the “anti-parenting” book. Valenti, 33, is a wife and mother of a two-year-old daughter. Valenti’s book reveals the difference between the expectations and the reality of parenting. Valenti believes people have been misinformed about parenting and it causes them to be unhappy. “It’s that this lie that they’re being told by society that parenting is one thing — and when parenting is something completely different — that’s what makes them unhappy,” she said.
She further explained the deception of joy that society often depicts about parenting: “When you ask most American parents why they want to have kids, it’s to bring more joy into their lives. So, when you don’t feel that all-encompassing joy, it must be that something is wrong with you. I think it’s dissatisfaction that the expectation was different than the reality.”
When asked if she felt that society often reveres parenting as a default choice as opposed to a deliberate choice she said, “From policy to culture, the assumption is that everyone — women in particular — will become parents. Parenting is still being considered the default rather than a proactive decision.” Valenti advocates communal parenting, which is very much aligned with the popular African Proverb “it takes a village to raise a child;” however, she believes society has gotten away from that because one parent — specifically mothers– is expected to stay home and raise the child fulltime. She believes this belief is harmful for the parents and the child, as she feels daycare is a place for children to exchange knowledge.
Valenti discourages mothers from dominating parental roles: “Women are brought up to believe you are going to be the better parent and you know what’s best. I don’t think that’s necessarily true. As much as we have to ask men to step it up, we have to take a look at ourselves and be willing to give up some of that parental power.” Concluding the interview, Valenti explained her primary goal for writing the book: “My hope is that it will open up a conversation and ask questions about this framework of idealistic parenting that has been set before us that I think is pretty damaging and unrealistic.” Her book can be purchased at major retail stores online.