Non-mom Kate Kaufmann explores what to expect when you’re not expecting


PORTLAND, Oregon – Author Kate Kaufmann shows readers how to create a life outside the mainstream of motherhood in Do You Have Kids? Life When the Answer is No (She Writes Press, April 2, 2019). A savvy and validating guide to what might be in store for growing numbers of childfree and childless adults worldwide, Do You Have Kids? takes on topics from the shifting meaning of family to what we leave behind when we die. Weaving together wisdom from women ages twenty-four to ninety-one with both her own story and a growing body of research, Kate brings to light alternate routes to lives of meaning, connection, and joy.

“This book is a must-read for anyone without kids and for those who care about someone who is not a parent.” –Dr. Amy Blackstone, Professor of Sociology, University of Maine, and author of Childfree by Choice: The Movement Redefining Family and Creating a New Age of Independence

“A wide-ranging look at life for women who never have children… perceptive and informative … Ultimately, this supportive volume serves as a plea to respect the diversity of human experience.” – Kirkus Reviews

Kaufmann’s own fertility struggles led to her interest in what the experience of non-mothers is like. Today as a non-mom, Kaufmann has talked intimately about the topic with hundreds of women and men, and hopes to spark 2 million conversations on the topic through Do You Have Kids?; conversations that can dispel stubborn stereotypes and stigmas about the childfree and childless.

Do You Have Kids? is not a typical guide for finding solace in the midst of infertility or for consciously choosing not to have children. Rather, it serves as a roadmap for what the childless and childfree can expect as they navigate life. Non-moms by choice and by chance can learn from five generations’ advice and personal stories that detail the good, the bad, and the unexpected that comes from leading a fulfilling life without children.

Kate Kaufmann embarked on her life as a non-mom when she abandoned fertility treatments, quit her corporate job, and moved from the suburbs to a rural community to raise sheep. Since 2012, she has talked with hundreds of women ranging in age from twenty-four to ninety-one and advocates for better understanding of the childless/childfree demographic. Kate received an MFA in creative writing in 2016 from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts and has a professional background in corporate staffing, training, and consulting. She’s lived in various urban, suburban, rural, and coastal communities and currently calls Portland, Oregon home. Her writing has appeared most recently in the Washington Post. Visit her at



Do You Have Kids? Life When the Answer is No
Kate Kaufmann | April 2, 2019 | She Writes Press
Paperback | ISBN: 978-1-63152-581-0 | Price: $17.95
Ebook | ISBN: 978-1-63152-582-7 | Price: $9.99







KKaufmannAuthorPhotoABOUT THE AUTHOR: Deb Brandon

DEB BRANDON is a weaver, respected textile artist and enthusiast, and writer. She’s been an active volunteer with Weave a Real Peace (WARP), including serving multiple terms as a board member as well as writing the long-running “Textile Techniques from Around the World” column for the WARP newsletter. Brandon is a popular speaker on textiles and other topics. She’s an avid traveler and has competed nationally and internationally in dragon boating, and she’s been a professor in the Mathematical Sciences Department at Carnegie Mellon University since 1991. Her other books include the memoir “But My Brain Had Other Ideas,” and her essays have appeared in several publications, including HandEye Magazine and Weaving Today.



In an interview, Kate Kaufmann can discuss

  • Why she intends to kickstart 2 million conversations about what it’s like not having kids
  • How she and other women came to not have children—from her own infertility to stories of circumstances and choice—and created their identities within our family-oriented culture.
  • The unexpected differences between non-moms and mothers and commonalities of the childless and childfree
  • Why childless and childfree women should not feel guilty or selfish for not having kids
  • What are the many different reasons that women do not become mothers
  • How friendship and family relationships shift for those who don’t have kids
  • Ways non-moms and dads can respond to the question, “do you have kids?” that will create an authentic exchange instead of an awkward pause
  • Ways those without children can create networks for their elder years and design the legacies they leave behind
  • Why childless women can feel out of place in religious organizations


Advance Praise for KATE KAUFMANN:

“This book is a treasure that details what real-life childlessness can be like. For childless and childfree women, and those still deciding their reproductive futures, Kaufmann offers the insights you’ve been looking for about the many dimensions of non-motherhood-–loneliness, faith, prying questions from family and friends, and so much more.”–Karen Malone Wright, founder, & The NotMom Summit

“Want to visualize life once you know you’re not having children? Do You Have Kids? Life When the Answer is No offers facts, figures, and research findings, deftly woven in between the copious and delightfully honest interviews that Kaufmann conducted with people who don’t have children.” –Maxine Trump, award-winning director of childfree film To Kid or Not to Kid

“This collection of interviews, personal anecdotes, and recent data demystifies the reasons people choose not to have children and acknowledges those whose childlessness results from tragedy, disappointment, or circumstance. A straightforward exploration of human concerns through a lens not everyone stops to consider and a resource for people seeking community or broadened understanding.” –Nicole Hardy, author of Confessions of a Latter Day Virgin

“I hear voices of my patients, colleagues, and friends in the honest and varied stories that exemplify the full spectrum of “not-moms” in Kate Kaufmann’s new book, Do You Have Kids? Life When the Answer is No. With great advice and validation of all different experiences, Kaufmann offers a destigmatizing resource for childless and childfree women and their families, healthcare personnel, employers, and policy-makers. Women will find solace, resonance, and empowerment in this beautifully written book.”– Marjorie Greenfield MD, Professor and Vice Chair, Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

“Kate Kaufmann’s Do You Have Kids? Life When the Answer is No opened my eyes to what it might be like not to have children. Written with heart and frankness, this book is my compassionate companion as I strive to listen to and learn from childless and childfree friends and family members with openness, curiosity, and care. Its guidance and examples will be especially helpful to anyone wanting to explore sensitive topics and deepen relationships.” –Iris Graville, author of Hiking Naked – A Quaker Woman’s Search for Balance

“Kaufmann’s voice is that of a wise, compassionate mother to generations of non-moms looking for a woman who can relate, through her own lived experience, to the path of a life without children. Her exploration of the non-mom’s journey conveys the inherent threat this demographic poses to our pronatal society, and her examination of its earnings potential, giving potential, and social mobility suggests why many non-moms I see in my practice feel disconnected and invisible.”–Kristen Genzano, MA, LPC, NCC

“There is significant overlap in the experience of the LGBT community, the childless, and the childfree, particularly when it comes to aging. Aligned with SAGE’s mission to foster a greater understanding of aging in all communities, Kate Kaufmann explores topics that are crucial to navigating the challenges and joys of living child free, and highlights both the intrinsic differences and natural bridges that exist between the LGBT older adult community and their childfree heterosexual counterparts.” –Ian Alexander, SAGE Metro Portland/Friendly House

“In Do You Have Kids? Kate Kaufmann turns that dreaded question into a powerful conversation with the reader. Kaufmann mixes her personal story with those of other “Not-Moms.” Together with a wealth of research, these stories serve to unite an often-marginalized community as well as reminding the reader of the vital role these women hold in our society. This should be required reading for those who choose the childfree life, as well as those who need to better understand this choice. In other words, all of us.” — Janet Buttenwieser, author of Guts: a memoir

“I loved this book. Its fresh thinking captures the essence of what it means not to have children, which I believe is more definitive than whether or with whom we partner. Non-parents will find perspectives and wisdom to help guide life choices, including those about sexual and reproductive health. A joy to read.” — Anne J. Udall, PhD, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette

An Interview with Kate Kaufmann

You have a goal to provide fodder for 2 million conversations about what it’s like not having kids. What do you hope these conversations will accomplish, and who do you hope will have them?
During our supposed fertile years, so much emotion swirls around having children or not that the topic often goes underground. Once we find ourselves on a path that doesn’t include having kids, whether by choice or by chance, it can be tough to resurface what’s now considered taboo. Depending on when we were born, one in every five or six adults will never have children, a number that’s sure to grow. Where do we go to learn more about what life is like for the childless and childfree? Our mothers can’t tell us, and resources that describe the full life span are few. I wrote Do You Have Kids? Life When the Answer is No to share true life stories and encourage curious, respectful, and frank conversation about alternate routes to fulfilling lives.

Why should mothers, grandmothers, and men read Do You Have Kids?
Our culture touts family first, yet it’s projected that increasing numbers of young adults will not have children. By reading about key research findings and other women’s experiences, mothers, dads, and grandparents can better understand how life might unfold for their loved ones. Men who aren’t dads have readily opened up about what not having kids has meant to them and appreciate having the women’s perspective as a leaping off point for conversation. On a more personal note, each of my three sisters has two children, and this book has opened doors to talk about topics we’ve never before discussed.

What are some of the big differences between non-moms and mothers?

  • We don’t (usually) bear costs of raising children and can more easily take lower-paying, more satisfying jobs and/or spread our earnings beyond our immediate families
  • Because we don’t have kids immersed in schools, activities, and friendship circles, we have more flexibility with our housing and living arrangements
  • Non-moms are at 2-3 times greater risk of breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer than are mothers
  • Since mainstream religions typically celebrate childbearing, finding inclusive spiritual communities can be challenging
  • We know our kids won’t oversee our aging or hold our hands when we die, so we need to make alternate arrangements

What do you hope readers take away from Do You Have Kids? Is there a call to action?
I hope non-parent readers discover interesting options for planning their futures and practical ideas and resources for addressing life’s challenges and opportunities. Parents who care about those without children might better understand the nuances of non-parenthood, appreciate and grow closer because of our differences, and find new commonalities. As I finished the book, I realized readers would want to talk but might worry about how to approach what can be a sensitive or charged topic. So I added tips for both parents and non-parents to address those awkward and inevitable conversational glitches. Like any important topic, we may feel awkward at first, and we’ll surely make mistakes, but the payoff for better understanding each other is huge.

What made you decide to write this book, and how did the writing process affect you personally?
Not long after we stopped trying to have kids my former husband and I moved to a rural community, where it seemed most everyone had children. I searched for other non-moms to talk to, looking for those special connections of shared life experiences–like mothers often find with each other. Slowly I met women and men willing to talk. As common themes emerged, I started more formal, in-depth interviewing, began writing, and my book project took form. Researching and writing this book has shaped and given profound meaning to my life, and I am indebted to all those who entrusted me with their stories.

How is the book inclusive for all women without children, either by choice or by chance?
Tell us about “childfree” versus “childless.”
I depict a broad swath of life experiences from interviewing a balance of women who consciously chose not to have kids (the “childfree”) and women who wanted them but found circumstances precluded parenthood (the “childless”). Studies have found that the “childless” are often viewed by others with pity, the “childfree” with scorn. I leave it to readers to come to their own conclusions about those profiled in Do You Have Kids? In the course of interviewing women for the book, though, I discovered that the line between the “childfree” and “childless” blurs over the life course, and we grow to have much more in common than we have differences. Take for example these non-moms:

  • A childfree married couple in their forties who traveled through Europe, Africa, and SE Asia for two years, all the while working remotely.
  • A never-married nanny who always wanted children; 48 hours after a trip to the Emergency Room she underwent a complete hysterectomy and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
  • A widow in her late sixties who now lives in a 17 foot travel trailer as a self-described nomad, crisscrossing the United States.
  • A woman orphaned at age 14, divorced after a 20-year marriage, and ordained as an Episcopal priest shortly before she turned 60.
  • A woman in her fifties who settled the complex estates of three childless relatives who died within 7 months of each other—her sister (a stepmother), her uncle, and her aunt.