Written with the polemical courage of Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal and the accessibility of Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing, this book wrestles the subject of starting a family away from conservatives and those who oppose a woman’s right to choose, and argues that choosing to have a family means choosing to believe in a future and to invest in it.
WHAT ARE CHILDREN FOR?
by Anastasia Berg & Rachel Wiseman
St. Martin’s Press, June 2022 (voir catalogue)
Across the country and around the world, young people in staggering numbers are choosing to delay starting families or forgo it altogether. Pointing to climate catastrophe, political unrest, and rising barriers to economic well-being, people wonder if this is a world that they want to bring children into. But is that the real reason for the seeming widespread ambivalence about starting a family? Or is there something else going on? In WHAT ARE CHILDREN FOR? two emerging cultural critics explore this phenomenon and show how we might overcome it. Drawing on literary and cultural history, philosophy and personal narrative, WHAT ARE CHILDREN FOR? offers both a decisive diagnosis of the growing contemporary reluctance towards having children, as well as an argument as to why having children and starting families—whether biological or otherwise—should be once again embraced as an integral part of a life well-lived.
Frequent collaborators and close friends, Anastasia Berg and Rachel Wiseman first explored these questions in an essay for The Point on choosing to have children, the rare work of philosophical inquiry to have gone viral; Berg recently discussed her own decision to pursue having a family in the context of the novel coronavirus in a widely read op-ed in the New York Times.
Anastasia Berg graduated with a B.A. from Harvard University and a PhD from the University of Chicago. She completed a Junior Research Fellowship at Cambridge University and her writing has appeared in publications including The New York Times, Times Literary Supplement, the Chronicle of Higher Education, The Point, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and is expecting her first child.
Rachel Wiseman, a graduate of the University of Chicago, is the managing editor of The Point, an award-winning nonfiction literary magazine. She has written for The New Republic and The Chronicle of Higher Education, and her essay in The Point, « Switching Off, » received a Pushcart honorable mention in 2019. She lives in Chicago.