No Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood

no kidding

No Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood by writer/actress/director/producer Henriette Mantel is an engaging collection of essays by her and 36 women writer friends who don’t have children. The honest and forthright stories by baby boomer women…

…take readers through the twists and turns in their lives that landed them with no children, whether they knew they wanted them, didn’t want them, or weren’t sure – and tried to have them anyway.

If you are in the baby boomer generation and have no children, some or many of the essays will likely resonate, and may very well inspire you touch in with yourself about where you are at with having no children right now in your life.

If you are a 20-30 something, you’ll learn from women who are farther down the road and able to look back at their choices about motherhood. Their stories may help you sort through your own parenthood decision.

These women’s stories reflect a truth about how women end up bypassing motherhood – that it’s often not just a straight path to it happening or not. Like so many things that evolve and unfold in life, their stories

show us that often it happens as a result of many different factors, decisions, priorities, and things that happen to us in life.

Keep in mind that it represents a unique slice of the childless/childfree population – Mantel’s childless/childfree friends who went against the motherhood tide.It’s not an overall representation of the baby boomer generation of women with no children, nor is this Mantel’s intent.

The intent that stands out is to relate personal stories, inspire discussion, and impart some pearls of wisdom. And that Mantel and her friends definitely do. Here are just a few of those pearls:

“Socrates said, ‘Know thyself.’ I may not understand a lot of things…but one thing was certain to me—I was not meant to be a mother. It is the greatest thing I never did.” ~Julie Halston

“…I’ve never actually wanted children, but I don’t usually think about what I don’t have, nor do I describe myself by others’ terms.” ~Andrea Carla Michaels

“..To thine own self be true….those words have served me well. Although we may try, we cannot deny who we are. And we are our best when we are self-defined.” Judy Morgan

“…it looks like I am going to be using my life-giving skills elsewhere. I’m a natural teacher, healer, nurturer; and I’m hysterical on stage. I’ll give life, all right. I’ll create culture.” ~Vanda Mikoloski

“Occasionally, some over-extended, stressed-out friend-parent of mine utters, ‘You’re so smart you didn’t have kids.’ And you know something? They’re right. For me, it was smart. Because it’s not just accurate-or interesting-to assume everybody’s life plan looks the same.” ~ Cheryl Bricker

Like the collection of essays in Pride & Joy by Terri Casey, another lovely book of voices from women with no children, the women in No Kidding help us to better understand the choice to have no children, and the women who make it.


  1. Laura

    From Marilyn June/2013: It is so nice to see that childless by choice women have a voice! I am 50 years old and never wanted children. I have never regretted my decison. I have an extremely happy marriage of 26 years and my husband and are having fun and very close to each other. There was never any room for someone else, quite frankly. We do love kids but felt it best to leave the child rearing to someone else. Why do so many people make you feel selfish for this decision. Why do so many make you feel that you will regret it someday when you need someone to take care of you in your old age? Let me address these separately.

    Firstly, not bringing a child into an already overcrowded world is not selfish. Selfish is having many children and all the conspicuous consumption that goes along with it. The most selfish thing a person can do is to have a child for whom they have no means of support. By support I mean financially AND emotionally. The woman who gets pregnant out of wedlock was once looked down on. Now it is celebrated. We are having huge baby showers for unmarried women who have no permanent relationships with the father of the child and have no intention of doing so. That child will come into a one parent home, with half the resources a 2 parent home has. Now, let me talk about daycare. Even married women who have children only to farm them out to institutionalized daycare are selfish. If you have children, raise them. Getting pregnant without having the best possible situation for that child in place once they come into tie world is irresponsible. Giving up a child for adoption in a bad situation is the most selfless thing an unprepared mother to be can do.

    Regretting not having children to take care of you in your old age: How selfish is that? If I had children I would NEVER expect such a sacrifice from them.

    I think there are alot worse things you can be in this society than childless. Do not feel sorry for me, do not think me selfish, do not think me unwise for the future. I am very secure in my decision and would do it again. Cheers to the childless on knowing who you are and not using a child to right the wrongs in your life!

  2. Jan

    This is fabulous Laura! Sharing on Childfree Vegans Facebook group.


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