Thoughts on Kate Kaufmann’s Book, “Do You Have Kids? Life When the Answer is No”

by Brandi Lytle
Thoughts on Kate Kaufmann's book, Do You Have Kids? Life When the Answer is No, on Not So Mommy..., a childless blog

When Kate Kaufmann’s publicist contacted me, asking if I’d like an advance reader copy of Do You Have Kids? Life When the Answer is No, I quickly responded, “Yes!”  When the book arrived, however, it sat on my desk for a couple of weeks before I finally cracked it open.  This may sound odd.  You’d think being childless not by choice that I would have sat down to read it immediately, relishing the fact that I could connect with other childless through its pages.  But when it showed up, I was vulnerable.  Honestly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to stir the emotions that I was trying hard to keep at bay…

Once I found my strength again, I started reading Do You Have Kids?  And I had a hard time putting it down!  In fact, I had to limit myself to reading only one chapter a day so that I’d have time to get other work done.

Some Initial Thoughts on Do You Have Kids . . .

Do You Have Kids? gives the perspective of not only childless not by choice women, but also childfree by choice.  This unique combination of various voices, along with the incorporation of statistics, data, and facts, provides an interesting narrative of this complex journey.  Because of this, it is a book not only for those who don’t have kids, but for those who want to better understand what a life without children is really like.

Reading through the Chapters…

As I read, I did shed tears, many due to feelings of empathy and a sense of “I get that” as childless.  Some of my deepest emotions stirred during “Abiding Friendship,” as my grief over losing my best friend hit deep and bubbled over.  Grateful I was tucked comfortably in my favorite reading chair at home, I embraced the emotions as they came.  And many emotions surfaced as I read on…

Different Perspectives…

As I read “Family Matters,” I thoroughly enjoyed its exploration of different types of families.  Excited when I came to a portion that discussed pets, I was eager to see what was said.  Unfortunately, disappointment set in.  Though the interviewee believes pets are family, she made a caveat.  “Not in a weird way, though.  We don’t throw our dogs birthday parties.”  I kept reading, hoping this comment would be balanced by an over-zealous dog mom like myself, assuring those “weird” childless who treat their dogs as fur-babies that, in fact, they aren’t weird at all!  But this was not to be.

Luckily, this didn’t cause me to wobble.  I know who I am.  But someone new to acceptance might find this hard, questioning her Plan B.  This got me to thinking…

Possible Triggers…

Just because something is written by a childless woman, just because it is geared towards those without children, does not mean it will be trigger-free.  For example, at times, I discuss potentially triggering subjects here at Not So Mommy…  The difference, however, is that books (unlike blogs and social media posts) do not contain trigger warnings.

As childless not by choice, however, I think the triggers that show up in “safe” places have the potential to catch us even more off-guard than those in the outside world.  So, half-way through Do You Have Kids?, I’m finding the book quite thought provoking; however, I wonder if it is for those a bit further along on their journey of acceptance…

More Perspectives…

As I continue reading, Kate talks more about the fact that she is a single woman without children.  This adds an even further diverse perspective to this already eclectic conversation.  As I often hear the childless and single comment that their situation is quite different from those who are married, I’m grateful Do You Have Kids? is discussing this under-represented voice.

A Personal Trigger…

Another trigger hit a couple of chapters later…  Cancer.  It’s a personal trigger, having lost my Daddy to colon cancer and my best friend to breast cancer.  Reading about the “link between reproductive cancers and childlessness” caused a deep, dull ache in my heart…  And reading about her friend, Jenny, who had breast cancer…  Well, I’m glad I waited to read this chapter on a day I was feeling stronger.  I probably should have just skipped “Use It or Lose It.”  But I didn’t, because I take my role here at Not So Mommy… seriously.  And I want to give you my complete thoughts on this entire book.  As I kept reading, I learned even more about women’s health.  In the end, I’m grateful I read this chapter in full.

After taking a break…

After taking the weekend off, I came back to Do You Have Kids?  As I read “Spirit Moves,” I was once again challenged to consider childlessness from various perspectives.  This is the first chapter where I neither laughed nor cried.  Strong in my Christianity, I simply read and thought and ended the chapter where I began—as a believer in Jesus Christ.

Discussing the end…

Despite the fact I am certain where I will go when I die, reading “Elder Orphans” was uncomfortable.  My husband and I have begun to discuss our end-of-life care, but I still don’t like to think about growing old…  We casually mentioned it to our nieces, who are still too young to discuss this with in any detail.  Our middle niece, who is very outspoken and opinionated (much like I was at her age), informed us that she would not be moving to South Carolina to care for us.  We would have to come to her.  I hope when the time truly comes, she will fly out to be by my bedside…

As I read “What We Leave Behind,” I was once again challenged to look at things in a different light, to re-evaluate my views…  These pages reminded me that there are many, many ways to leave a legacy.  This chapter also reminded me that I have choices about how I spend my time and to whom I leave my possessions, money, and property.  My husband and I have already talked about the fact that we want our money split six ways—to our fur babies, our exchange daughter, my sister-in-law’s three girls, and my brother’s son.  But perhaps there should be a seventh split to a charity.  Or maybe directions that the kids must donate 10% to a worthy cause.  It’s definitely something to think about…

The Afterword…

The final pages of Do You Have Kids? include the Afterword.  Though some may be tempted to skip this portion, these pages contained some of the most powerful words within this book.  Written to both moms and non-moms, childfree by choice and childless by chance, the Afterword explores the big question, “Do you have kids?”  I’ll let you read it yourself and form your own opinions.  Let me just say, it gave me new techniques to incorporate as I talk about my childless journey…

Some Final Thoughts on Do You Have Kids . . .

Earlier, I questioned if this book was better suited for those further along on their journey…  After reading the entire book, here’s my perspective…

The childfree by choice perspective, as well as full acceptance of being childless, is strong throughout Do You Have Kids?  Depending on where you are on your journey, I believe this could be felt as empowering or triggering.  For me, personally, I found Do You Have Kids? quite empowering, with many “me too” moments.  Though I connected more with some chapters than others, over-all, I found strength as I read Kate Kaufmann’s book–crying, laughing, nodding, pondering…

Thus, so long as you read Do You Have Kids? with the understanding that it sheds light on many different facets of life without kids (some of which are possible triggers for the CNBC), I think you will find it powerful, too.  Just remember, it’s okay to put it down if something triggers you or even to skip portions that you believe will be too painful to read.  You can always go back to them when you are feeling stronger.

Ultimately, I think every woman—whether she has kids or not—should read Do You Have Kids?  The information this book provides has the potential to positively change the way we communicate with ourselves and with one another.

For More Information…

In an effort to be authentic in my voice, I avoided reading blogs and listening to podcasts about the book.  I didn’t even browse through the informational materials that Kate Kaufmann’s publicist sent me about Do You Have Kids?  After reading the entire book and writing this blog with my thoughts, however, I immediately listened to Civilla Morgan’s interview with Kate Kaufmann.  I thoroughly enjoyed this podcast (Episode 109 at Childless Not By Choice).  If you’d like to give it a listen, just click here.

Do You Have Kids? Life When the Answer is No is now available for purchase.  For more information, visit Kate Kaufmann’s website by clicking here.

This is NOT a sponsored post.

Though I did receive a free Advance Reader Copy of Do You Have Kids?, this is not a sponsored post.  I was not paid to write a review, and the link I provided to Kate’s website is not an affiliate link.  Because I believe Do You Have Kids? has the potential to make a positive impact, I chose to share information about this book with you.

 

If anything I wrote resonates with you, please tell us about it in the comments.

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Featured Photo:  Created on Canva

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6 comments

Kate Kaufmann July 1, 2019 - 5:59 pm

Now it’s my turn to tear up with thanks for such a close, balanced read of Do You Have Kids? Life When the Answer is No. You have done readers a great service with your reflections and thoughtfulness throughout.

I wrote this book because I bumped along on my own for years after stopping unsuccessful fertility treatments. I knew I needed to introduce more wisdom into my system, and oh my did I find it! The more women (and now men, too) I speak with, the more I understand how varied, yet common, are our experiences of living life without having kids. My hope is that women (men too) will find the book a helpful resource throughout their lives, seeking wisdom as it pertains to current experiences.

Throughout its long road to publication, I’ve personally gained so much by rereading these stories, and I’ve followed lots of advice shared by the women I’ve met. I agree that it’s perfectly appropriate to skip potentially triggering topics, knowing they’ll still be available later on. You chose well in highlighting Civilla Morgan’s podcast; she’s a wise and perceptive reader and interviewer. I loved my time with her very much..

Thank you again, Brandi, for the really important work you’re doing and for introducing my book to your readers.

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Brandi Lytle July 2, 2019 - 1:51 pm

Thank you so much for reading my thoughts about your incredible book, Kate! And thank you for writing such a lovely comment. I truly appreciate the support and encouragement that our amazing childless tribe offers! We are a pretty incredible group! (And I agree 100% about Civilla…)

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Anne Brock June 6, 2019 - 10:39 am

I’ve been interested in reading this book. Thanks for your review – helps to summarize and intrigues me even more. I look forward to reading it.

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Brandi Lytle June 6, 2019 - 1:16 pm

I’m humbled that my review “intrigue[d] [you] even more.” I hope you enjoy the book and look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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Civilla Morgan May 29, 2019 - 12:23 pm

Hi Brandi, it was a delight to read your blog post on Kate Kaufmann’s ‘Do you have kids? Life when the answer is no’. I found myself recalling the points in the book that you discuss in your blog to recall how I felt about those points. I agree the book covered many of the facets of the childless not by choice demographic. And being a single childless woman as you mentioned, can be quite different than a married childless woman, yet somewhat the same. I also liked your thoughts on how your final wishes should be handled. In my will certain people are named, but I also have a certain percentage of whatever I have at death going to my
favorite charity. Thank you for writing this well thought out blog. And thank you for mentioning my interview with Ms. Kaufmann. Wishing you continued success on your platform, Not So Mommy.

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Brandi Lytle May 30, 2019 - 9:01 am

Thank you for reading my blog, Civilla! I appreciate your kind words! I am so grateful that we have connected and that I found your podcast, Childless Not By Choice. I really enjoyed your interview with Kate Kaufmann and wish you continued success, as well!

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