The Parenthood Dilemma: Decisions in our age of uncertainty


Gina Rushton
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SKU: 978-1911648536 Category:

7 September 2023
ISBN 978-1911648536
Front cover photo © Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin
Cover design © Rodrigo Corral and Luke Bird
Author photo © Sly Morikawa
Demy format paperback with flaps
272 pages

Should we become parents?

This question forces us to reckon with what we love and fear most in ourselves, in our relationships, and in the world.

When Gina Rushton considered this decision, the choice was less straightforward than she had assumed. Her search for an answer only uncovered more complexity. How do race, gender and class affect our experiences of pregnancy, birth, and parenthood? How do we address the paradox of creating new life on a planet facing catastrophic climate change? How do we navigate uncompromising workplace cultures and the pitfalls of excessive emotional labour? How does our own childhood impact how we choose to parent, if we do so at all?

Drawing on a depth of knowledge gained through her extraordinary work as an award-winning journalist, as well as her personal experiences, Rushton wrote the book she and others needed to transform the discourse around the parenthood dilemma.


‘Gina Rushton brings her forensic journalistic eye to the question of whether we choose to be a mother or not. This is an honest, compelling, well-researched book that makes a valuable contribution to the contemporary discussion about reproductive choices and rights in a nuanced and thoughtful way.’
Dr Pragya Agarwal, author of (M)otherhood and Hysterical

‘Gina Rushton rips back the sentimental gauze of motherhood to confront a question as urgent as it is unmentionable: Should I – should anyone – bring a child into a world on fire? For parents and non-parents alike, this book is a call to arms to build a fairer, freer, more sustainable, and more truly feminist future.’
— Joanna Scutts, author of Hotbed: Bohemian Greenwich Village and the Secret Club that Sparked Modern Feminism

‘As a woman who struggled with whether or not to have a child, I appreciated Gina Rushton’s The Parenthood Dilemma immensely. I loved the beautifully written introspection and the meticulous reporting around considerations like climate change, fertility, genes, and reproductive rights — even as Rushton comes to understand that ‘no one is going to write the ending for me.’ I hate the term ‘must-read,’ but damn it, everyone considering having kids in this chaotic era should read this book.’
— Amber Sparks, author of And I Do Not Forgive You

‘Gina Rushton reports unflinchingly from the disjunction between received wisdoms about motherhood and received realities that continue to constrict the choices of women of her generation. A significant and vital book; a must-read.’
— Sarah Krasnostein, author of The Believer

‘Gina Rushton searingly describes the complex internal conflict so many young women feel: do I want kids? And what becomes of me if I do, or don’t? I’ve not read a book that so perfectly captures how I feel as a woman in her late twenties.’
— Zara McDonald, host of Shameless podcast and bestselling author of The Space Between

‘Grounded in Rushton’s years of frontline reporting on reproductive access, this book reflects on both the politics and philosophies underpinning parenthood. It challenged some of my deeply ingrained presumptions about the career-family binary, and Rushton is unafraid to sit with ambivalence. Contraception, legacy, loss, climate change… it’s all here. I am so glad this book exists and I am glad I read it.’
— Bri Lee, author of Eggshell Skull

‘I can’t remember the last book that made me think so much – about all sorts of things I didn’t expect. Gina Rushton is what every writer should be – both wise and curious – and when I had finished her fascinating book I saw the world in new ways.’
— Sean Kelly

The Most Important Job in the World keenly captures the rollercoaster of anxiety and hope that embodies living at this moment in history. Gina Rushton has written a book that is globally impactful and deeply personal at once, further solidifying her status as one of this country’s most exciting writers. This is a generation-defining text that everyone (not only those considering parenthood) must read immediately.’
— Gen Fricker

‘Gina Rushton interrogates the most personal, political and primal anxieties of our generation, and delivers a clarity so sharp, it borders on pain. But the pain is transformative when shared and given shape, and I read The Parenthood Dilemma feeling nothing short of seen, consoled and grateful.’
— Benjamin Law

‘A mesmerising investigation into the beauty and trauma of motherhood.’
— Samantha Maiden

About the author

Gina Rushton is an editor, reporter and author living and working on Gadigal land.

She is currently news editor of independent news and analysis website Crikey. She has worked as a journalist for a decade holding reporting or editing roles at Nine, Australian Associated Press, AAP FactCheck, The Australian and BuzzFeed News.

She has also been published in the Guardian, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, The Monthly, The West Australian, Business Insider Australia, O&G Magazine and The Saturday Paper.

Coming soon…

The most anticipated books of 2022 (Sydney Morning Herald)

As a science journalist I’m reconsidering having kids. I’m not the only one (The Guardian)

The best Australian books out in April (The Guardian)

Show Your Working: Gina Rushton (Kill Your Darlings)

What comes after guilt when family planning in a climate crisis? Anger. (Sydney Morning Herald)

The Millennial Anxiety Of Having Kids In A Climate Crisis (Elle)

Extract: Why Would Anyone Want To Have Kids When It Feels Like The World Is Ending? (Junkee)

Why the question ‘do you want kids’ tears women open like nothing else (Body + Soul)

Ten Terrifying Questions (Booktopia)

In The Gloss with Phoebe Burgess (Vogue)

Recommendation: Shameless podcast (Shameless media)

“How do I know if I ACTUALLY want kids?” (Keep it Cleaner podcast with Steph Claire Smith and Laura Henshaw)

Panel on The Drum with Ellen Fanning (ABC)

How do you decide you’re ready for motherhood? (Feed Play Love)

The question around having children: a nine month long study! (RNZ)

The case for not having kids: Why women are putting the conversation on ice (Stuff NZ)

The Maternal Question (The Wheeler Centre)

Interview: Gina Rushton on writing The Most Important Job in the World (She Defined)

Why It’s Harder Than Ever to Choose to Have Kids with Cameron Daddo and Ali Daddo (Separate Bathrooms podcast)

When is the right time to freeze your eggs? (Harper’s Bazaar Australia – syndicated to Harper’s Bazaar Arabia)

ANZ edition

US edition


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