by Brandye D. Nobiling
In 50 Things to Know About Being Childfree by Choice: A Guide for Understanding and Acceptance, author Kelly Hawkins gives readers the CliffsNotes on understanding the choice to be childfree. In her follow up book to 50 Things to Know about Being a High School English Teacher, Hawkins continues her “50 Things” brand by diving deeper into her personal life as she divulges the 50 reasons she has chosen to be childfree with the goal of helping her readers gain an appreciation for how she and many others who have chosen not to procreate identify. Hawkins uses her own perspectives to form the foundation of the material and adds supporting anecdotes from several childfree volunteers who provide their own insights.
Hawkins delivers a big message in a small package. She organizes the 50 things into 11 themes in a no-nonsense way which makes for a quick yet worthwhile read. Although a short book, the author presents a comprehensive array of reasons why she and others have made the decision to not produce offspring.
Hawkins also uses an appropriate amount of non-satirical humor to make her points and to keep readers engaged. From section titles like “No Dolls for Me!” to her quick-witted observations, “I also feel like I need a Doctorate degree to navigate the complex world of children’s clothing sizes,” I found myself continuously chuckling and nodding my head in agreement. The author educates her audience with a sensitive and non-insulting tone throughout the book, and there is something for everyone who reads it.
For the Childfree
As a childfree woman, I found this book a cathartic read. I appreciate how Hawkins underscores how childfree individuals can feel excluded and alone. I can say that although my childfree life does not feel like a lonely one, childfree people can often feel alone when interacting with parents or just with society as a whole. Like many other authors on the subject, Hawkins effectively deduces the many similarities that exist among childfree individuals. While reading the book, in several instances I wrote in the margins, “This is me!” And I immediately felt connected to a community of like-minded people. My fellow childfree readers will feel the same.
For Those with Children
Parents may ask themselves, “Why do I need to know anything about being childfree? After all, I’m busy rearing my children.” To these individuals I pose this question: What if one or more of your children choose a childfree life? Reading this book will allow these parents to learn how to support and appreciate their childfree child(ren), as well as comprehend what to avoid. Those who have children will not feel judged or attacked. Hawkins even prefaces the text by saying “…I do respect women that have chosen to become moms…It must be a tremendously difficult job and it’s an extremely important one…”
While not a scientific study, Hawkins provides a fairly balanced discussion of various perspectives on being childfree. She gives us a timely piece about individuals who choose to go against the traditional role of parenthood in a larger society in the midst of learning the importance of being more educated about each other. The more we learn about those who are different than us will help humanity become more sympathetic, understanding, and respectful. While, as the author states, “the feeling of not being accepted as a childfree woman [does not equate] to the many other much more blatant and painful kinds of prejudice…we could all benefit from more love, acceptance, support, and kindness, no matter what our differences are.”
Thank you, Brandye!
Brandye D. Nobiling, PhD, CHES, CSE is Associate Professor and Chair of Public Health at Salisbury University in Salisbury, Maryland. Dr. Nobiling has over 15 years teaching at the post-secondary level, and currently teaches courses such as Chronic and Communicable Disease and Human Sexuality Education. She has presented and published nationally and internationally on reproductive health and historical foundations of health education, and is a Certified Sexuality Educator (CSE) through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT). In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two pugs, Sunny and Honey.