The Joys and Challenges of Life without Children
by Lisette Schuitemaker
Pub Date 19 Feb 2019
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• Investigates the life choices people make around having children and alternate ways of finding purpose in life
• Based on a global survey and more than 50 in-depth interviews with childless and childfree women and men aged 19 to 91 from different cultures and walks of life
• Enables readers to place their own circumstances in a larger context as they gain insight in the worldwide trend of people who lead a self-fulfilling, childless life
Not having children is on the rise in many countries across the globe. August 1st has been named International Childfree Day, with a Childfree Woman and Man of the Year Award. Yet being childless is a subject not much talked about--the focus tends to be on having families and raising children, in rural, town, or city life. Let’s talk about not having children, about what people like us do with our time, about how we spend our money, and--most of all--how we find purpose and fulfilment in our lives.
Never attracted to family life herself, Lisette Schuitemaker began openly discussing why people didn’t have children and how that was for them, resulting in intimate conversations with childless women and men and surprising insights. Inspired to delve further, she interviewed non-parenting people aged 19 to 91 across the globe. She found that no story was like the other and that many had been waiting to be listened to with sensitivity. She heard stories across the spectrum, from exhilarating to painful, from people still on the fence to the childfree who have always known starting a family was not for them. Complementing her interview findings with a worldwide survey and recent research, the author paints a rich picture of the individual lives of childless and childfree women and men.
This book is for everyone who has not gone the way of parenthood, who has close family or friends who lead self-directed lives without offspring, and for all those who are still contemplating this essential life choice. The stories in this book also testify that not having children of your own in no way means the joys (and trials) of children pass you by altogether. This book shows that it is ok to celebrate not only the parenting way of life and the children who come to those who love them, but also those who are brave enough to follow the lesser known path of non-parenting.
"In Childless Living, Lisette Schuitemaker creatively takes readers through the seasons of the lives of those who have no children by choice or circumstance, and offers worthy insights for fulfilling life journeys that don’t include parenthood. It will inspire rumination and reflection, no matter what season of life you’re in!" —Laura Carroll, author of Families of Two & The Baby Matrix, expert and leading voice on the childfree choice
“So many girls and young women are still growing up in a culture of assumed motherhood. This important book draws a line under that presumption. It helps us take an important step towards an egalitarian world where we are free to decide not only what’s best for ourselves, but also what’s best for the planet - and each other.” —Tanith Carey, parenting journalist and author of The Friendship Maze, What is my child thinking? and Girls, Uninterrupted
“Thank you, Lisette Schuitemaker, for the fascinating research on Childless Living that provides social and cultural context for decisions I made in my 20’s not to have children. It’s like reading the story no one has ever asked me to tell about my childless self – through the four seasons of my life. I am so reassured by the final metaphor of ending life as Open Space. It delights and inspires me for being true to the choices I have made.” —Marilyn Hamilton PhD, CPA(ret), founder Integral City Meshworks, author of the Integral City Book series: Evolutionary Intelligences; Inquiry Action & Impact; Re-Framing Complex Challenges for Gaia’s Human Hives
“A colorful, comprehensive and nuanced treatment of a complex subject, this book brings a new depth and perspective and helps to liberate childless living from outdated social stereotypes.” —John Clausen, president of the Hygeia Foundation and ‘a member of the club!’
“I was literally there when the seed of Childless Living was germinated and witnessed the tingle of its upsurge of intention and creativity begin to flow. This is what this wonder-full book, I feel, is about. To show us what whether or not we give biological birth to children, if we live our lives with purpose we give birth in many other ways; to creative ventures and in a wide range of roles including as carers, custodians, nurturers, encouragers, inspirers, role models and even soul models.” —Dr Jude Currivan, cosmologist, futurist and author of The Cosmic Hologram
“Artfully and compassionately, Lisette Schuitemaker explores all the questions typically associated with the childfree experience over a life span, including finding a like-minded partner and end of life considerations. Sharing her own story and insights from women and men without children she surveyed and interviewed from around the world, Lisette shows us how this life path is being navigated and appreciated, reminding us that beyond our choices childless living is a state of being, and a celebration of who we are.” —Laura Scott, author of Two is Enough: A Couple’s Guide to Living Childless by Choice and director of The Childless by Choice Project
“Whether as aunts and uncles leading a ‘childfull’ life with nieces and nephews, or by living a fulfilling life despite how we imagined it, Lisette Schuitemaker’s Childless Living is an ode to discovering and celebrating the joy of life no matter the choices, circumstances and challenges we face, when our desire for parenthood is in question – and questioned by others.” —Melanie Notkin, bestselling author of Savvy Auntie: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers and All Women Who Love Kids and Otherhood: Modern Women Finding a New Kind of Happiness
“This book provides new insights into the choices and circumstances of the ‘childless’ and ‘childfree’ as we navigate through the seasons of life. More importantly, it paves the way for much-needed conversations on how we are challenging and negotiating a straightjacketed normative world, just by being ourselves. As a single woman, viewing my own life choices and experiences in the larger frame of ‘childless living’, this book gives me greater confidence, courage and conviction in my own life journey... knowing that there is a larger solidarity despite our seemingly solitary journeys.” —Nirupama Sarathy, development sector professional working with young people
“Lisette Schuitemaker has a fine honed sense for uncovering what it is that makes us deeply human. Here she is with yet another book that takes us on a learning journey about ourselves and the choices many of us make – consciously or not – that reveals valuable new insights about how we shape and are shaped by society. It is always a gift to be touched by Lisette’s work and I have no doubt that a reader of any age will walk away with questions worth asking!” —Tatiana Glad, social entrepreneur / CEO
“As most of her work, this latest offering of Lisette Schuitemaker is an affront to conventional thinking. She offers a radical reformulation of what is described, in many cultures, as ‘a curse’, as ‘lacking’ or ‘a barren-ness’. She challenges definitions of women as guarantors of reproductivity and as responsible for the continuation of the tribe at the expense of choice. Instead, courageously, she hugely expands our understanding of generativity as a choice-ful and joy-ful embracing of what circumstance or biology seemingly impose upon all women. Highly recommended.” Bernd Leygraf, consultant psychotherapist, founder & director of Naos-Institute
"Highlighting childless living through the seasons of our lives, Lisette Schuitemaker shows how we can remain present and aware of grace as it flows through the particular human being that we turn out to be. Awareness of the many facets of life without children, as I have chosen it, too, may move others to a greater understanding and empathy toward us as a growing demographic of conscious human beings who celebrate life as it unfolds.” —Miranda Macpherson, spiritual teacher and author of The Way of Grace, founder of OneSpirit Interfaith Foundation in London, and the Living Grace sangha in California
“This unique ‘seasonal’ approach to living a childless life reveals insight into aspects of choice-making entwined with life conditions accompanied by a spectrum of personal and societal implications often uncomfortable to voice and examine publicly. Personally, I was reaffirmed knowing that I was not as much of ‘a renegade’ as I had been thinking. Generally, Lisette Schuitemaker opens a portal for a societal inquiry: How are ‘childless’ lives enriched through diverse expressions of pro-creativity and how might those unique individual chosen expressions be comparably enriching to societal and human potentials?” —Michael Keller, designer for transformative learning and human becoming
“Lisette Schuitemaker's best book yet, Childless Living brings sunshine and fresh air to this often dank and stifled topic. With flowing vibrancy, her light touch, and thorough enquiry, the author brings new possibility to the tender path of living childless. Read it and be nourished, be inspired and experience that life is richer than you thought. Thank you for this precious gift, for Childless Women and Men and All of Us.” —Adele Napier, consultant, educator, soul counsellor and childless
“Childless Living is a beautifully crafted and wisely written book addressing an ever-growing section of our society, which has traditionally been looked down upon as lacking. As the real-life examples based on rigorous research by the author show, life is not less for not having had children. I wish this book had been around when I was needing some clear guidance that I was not weird for feeling ambivalent about having children. I would have saved me many hours of therapy!” —Jane Duncan Rogers, founder of www.Beforeigosolutions.com and author of Before I Go: The Essential Guide to Creating A Good End of Life Plan