Forget “Having It All”: How America Messed Up Motherhood–and How to Fix It

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Being a mother in the United States is as hard as it is joyful. High maternal mortality rates, lack of paid leave, costly childcare, and little or no support systems are challenges American expectant and news mothers face. After years of suffering in silence, many books are confronting these challenges, but few are addressing the psychological and cultural underpinnings of why these challenges exist. Amy Westervelt’s Forget Having It All: Why Motherhood in America Sucks and What To Do About It focuses on how the United States history and values have undermined motherhood and what we can change going forward. The premise of Westervelt’s book is that the labor of women, mothers, and the raising of children has never been valued by the American culture or economy. U.S policies, practices, popular culture, and opinions stem from a long, deeply held Victorian belief that women by default are naturally suited to taking care of children and not much else. The first few chapters outline the history of mothers in the U.S.; the second half focuses on modern conundrums and potential solutions.

I appreciate that Westervelt wove her own story throughout the book, which kept it from becoming too dry, and that she always presented possible solutions in each chapter, including ones that aren’t widely suggested such as supporting women having their children younger, universal preschool, and parenting pensions. I also found the chapter on reproductive technologies interesting because that is something I knew little about. Westervelt also moves focus beyond white upper-middle class motherhood throughout the book, which is refreshing and sorely needed.

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Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 320 pages
Publisher Seal Press
Publish Date 2018-11-13
ISBN 9781580057868 Buy this Book
Issue Mar-19
Category Parenting & Families


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