Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Women's Experiences of Being without Children
by Deller, Ingrid G., Psy.D., William James College, 2017, 147; 10270570
Abstract (Summary)

For many, bearing children is not a choice, it is considered the norm, a rite of passage. Despite this view, in the past two decades, there has been a substantial increase in the number of families without children, and the number of women who do not have children has doubled. While women who have chosen to be without children have increasingly gained acceptance in society, they continue to experience varying degrees of stigma. This research project reviewed the literature on the topic of women without children, and investigated the subjective experience of ten women who have decided to not have children. This study explored the decision process, particularly, how the participants arrived at the decision to not have children as well as the impact their choice had on their sense of self. The method used was a semi-structured interview, and data from these interviews was analyzed to identify themes that emerged from the participants’ narratives. The findings of this study revealed that the choice to forego motherhood is complex and that several factors can impact one’s decision, including others’ opinions. Some of these factors included their background and experience of being a child as well as their role within their family. The participants made reference to the way their mothers identified with being a ‘mom’ and not wanting to identify as such. They expressed doubts about their ability to manage parenting and bringing a child into a dangerous world. Also of concern was the idea of meeting the demands of parenting, including the expense of raising children. Lastly, the participants identified health reasons as a factor, as well as the physical demands of pregnancy and childbirth.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Weiner, Elana, Burda, Terrie
Commitee: Siroty, Susan
School: William James College
Department: Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-B 79/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, Psychology, Clinical psychology, Individual & family studies
Keywords: Childfree, Childfree women, Childfreedom, Childlessness
Publication Number: 10270570
ISBN: 978-0-355-54889-1
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