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Ready: Why Women Are Embracing the New Later Motherhood
     

Ready: Why Women Are Embracing the New Later Motherhood

by Elizabeth Gregory
 

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Over the past three decades, skyrocketing numbers of women have chosen to start their families in their late thirties and early forties. In 2005, ten times as many women had their first child between the ages of 35 and 39 as in 1975, and thirteen times as many had their first between 40 and 44. Women now have the option to define for themselves when

Overview


Over the past three decades, skyrocketing numbers of women have chosen to start their families in their late thirties and early forties. In 2005, ten times as many women had their first child between the ages of 35 and 39 as in 1975, and thirteen times as many had their first between 40 and 44. Women now have the option to define for themselves when they’re ready for family, rather than sticking to a schedule set by social convention. As a society, however, we have yet to come to terms with the phenomenon of later motherhood, and women who decide it makes sense for them to delay pregnancy often find themselves confronted with alarmist warnings about the dangers of waiting too long.In Ready, Elizabeth Gregory tracks the burgeoning trend of new later motherhood and demonstrates that for many women today, waiting for family works best. She provides compelling evidence of the benefits of having children later--by birth or by adoption. Gregory reveals that large numbers of women succeed in having children between 35 and 44 by the usual means (one in seven kids born today has a mom in that age range), and that many of those who don’t succeed nonetheless find alternate routes to happy families via egg donation or adoption. And they’re glad they waited. Without ignoring the complexities that older women may face in their quest to have children, Gregory reveals the many advantages of waiting: Stronger family focus: Having achieved many of their personal and career goals, new later moms feel ready to focus on family rather than trying to juggle priorities More financial power: New later moms have established careers and make higher salaries Greater self-confidence: New later moms have more career experience, and their management skills translate directly into managing a household and advocating for their children More stable single-parenting: New later moms who are single have more resources High marriage rate: On average, 85 percent of new later moms are married, lending stability to the family structure Longer lives: Evidence indicates that new later moms actually live longer than moms who start their families earlier Based on in-depth interviews with more than 100 new later moms and extensive collateral research, Ready shatters the myths surrounding later motherhood. Drawing on both the statistical evidence and the voices of the new later mothers themselves, Gregory delivers surprising and welcome news that will revolutionize the way we think about motherhood.
 

The 2012 paperback adds a new Preface bringing the data and analysis up to the moment: encompassing discussion of the recessionary birth rate drop among younger women and its longterm effect on the later motherhood trend, the intersections between the War on Women's Reproductive Choice and the US's family-unfriendly policies with the trend to delaying kids, the dynamics of fertility scaremongering, and the competing pro-natalist and anti-natalist pressures on American women today.  The Preface also introduces new data from a range of researchers on the positive effects of delay on women's wages, long-term happiness, and political clout.  This book examines the full range of pressures shaping women's fertility decisions today, and begins from the assumption that women's choices make sense, for them and for their families.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Ann Crittenden, author of The Price of Motherhood and If You've Raised Kids, You Can Manage Anything
“Elizabeth Gregory has discovered the real truth behind all the false alarms over delayed motherhood: that older mothers tend to be very happy with their decision to have children later in life. A positive, optimistic message for women: you can wait until you are ready to be a good parent.”

Steven Mintz, author of Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood
“With clarity, compassion, and common sense, Elizabeth Gregory takes us on a captivating tour of the changing landscape of 21st-century motherhood. She offers a forceful and compelling challenge to those who view contemporary motherhood in ferociously negative terms, as an unholy blend of smother love, over-parenting, and unremitting anxiety and guilt. An insightful and extraordinarily informative look at how today's highly accomplished women balance the conflicting demands of prolonged professional training, high-pressure careers, and the yearning to raise children.”

Mommytrackd.com
“A book that focuses on the positive effects of women's decisions about their working and family lives deserves a rousing welcome... lively, accessible and lucid.”

Washington Post Book World
“Gregory ... has a serious point, and she marshals both anecdotal and statistical evidence to make it. Today's 40-year-old first-time mother not only has plenty of company; she also possesses confidence, professional experience and occupational clout that translate into either leverage on the job market or a happier time out of it, whichever choice that mother makes.”

Adam Pertman, author of Adoption Nation
“Elizabeth Gregory sheds light on an aspect of the contemporary family experience that has not been examined in great detail until now: the new later motherhood phenomenon. Many of the families Elizabeth Gregory examines are formed the old-fashioned way, but a growing number are the result of adoption and reproductive technologies. Finally, we have a wonderful book that provides us with a thoughtful and thorough examination of motherhood and family life in the 21st century.”

Sarah Blaffer Hrdy
In this beautifully written and well researched book, Elizabeth Gregory explores contemporary transformations in what it means to be a mother, chronicling the exponential growth in the number of women over 35 seeking to conceive or adopt children. Without ignoring the risks, Gregory reviews the advantages to mothers of living on their own terms and the benefits to children of being reared by more experienced, settled and committed individuals, as well as the various options open to women who postpone child-rearing. (Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, author of Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species)
The Washington Post Book World
...Gregory has a serious point to make, and she marshals both anecdotal and statistical evidence to make it.
Kate Tuttle
…Gregory, head of women's studies at the University of Houston, has a serious point, and she marshals both anecdotal and statistical evidence to make it. Today's 40-year-old first-time mother not only has plenty of company; she also possesses confidence, professional experience and occupational clout that translate into either leverage on the job market or a happier time out of it, whichever choice that mother makes.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

In this upbeat, sometimes self-congratulatory book, University of Houston professor Gregory looks at the benefits of waiting until later in life to have children. Recent front-page studies citing a rise in infertility have instilled a sense of emergency in women who put off having children until they have established careers and chosen the right father-or perhaps eschewed the need for one. Gregory's palliative, informative study of 113 mothers between the ages of 35 and 56 (she doesn't share where they live, one failing of this work) reveals the rational motivations on the part of these mostly well-educated, professional women for waiting, as well as their varying success in getting pregnant. Married moms, single moms, gay moms, moms who had a baby by nature or with the help of technology or adoption-Gregory shares her happy discovery that most of these "new later moms" felt positive about their choices. Some of the reasons they cite in interviews include bringing more financial power and education to the nest, creating a strong family focus and the likelihood of a stable, "peer" marriage, enjoying a longer life expectancy and a general sense of self-confidence younger mothers may lack. Helpfully, Gregory debunks a lot of the hysterical statistics surrounding infertility and dispenses the wealth of pregnancy and adoption offerings with equanimity and good cheer. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465031580
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
08/07/2012
Edition description:
First Trade Paper Edition
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
13 - 18 Years

Related Subjects

What People are Saying About This

Ann Crittenden
Elizabeth Gregory has discovered the real truth behind all the false alarms over delayed motherhood: that older mothers tend to be very happy with their decision to have children later in life. A positive, optimistic message for women: you can wait until you are ready to be a good parent. (Ann Crittenden, author of The Price of Motherhood and If You've Raised Kids, You Can Manage Anything)
Steven Mintz
With clarity, compassion, and common sense, Elizabeth Gregory takes us on a captivating tour of the changing landscape of 21st-century motherhood. She offers a forceful and compelling challenge to those who view contemporary motherhood in ferociously negative terms, as an unholy blend of smother love, over-parenting, and unremitting anxiety and guilt. An insightful and extraordinarily informative look at how today's highly accomplished women balance the conflicting demands of prolonged professional training, high-pressure careers, and the yearning to raise children. (Steven Mintz, author of Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood)
Adam Pertman
Elizabeth Gregory sheds light on an aspect of the contemporary family experience that has not been examined in great detail until now: the new later motherhood phenomenon. Many of the families Elizabeth Gregory examines are formed the old-fashioned way, but a growing number are the result of adoption and reproductive technologies. Finally, we have a wonderful book that provides us with a thoughtful and thorough examination of motherhood and family life in the 21st century. (Adam Pertman, author of Adoption Nation)

Meet the Author


Elizabeth Gregory earned her Ph.D. from Yale University, and is Director of the Women's Studies Program and Professor of English at the University of Houston.

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