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    Involuntarily childless men and the desire for fatherhood

    Hadley, R ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4254-7648 and Hanley, T (2011) Involuntarily childless men and the desire for fatherhood. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 29 (1). pp. 56-68. ISSN 0264-6838

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    Abstract

    Objective: This study aims to explore the experience of childless men and the desire for fatherhood. Background: There is little research exploring the desire for fatherhood, with most studies concentrating on couples in infertility treatment. Of those, the majority focus on the women's experience, a factor that may reflect the gender stereotype and cultural identification of childlessness to women. Methods: A qualitative approach was adopted. A convenience sample of 10 biologically childless men were recruited through the snowball method and interviewed individually. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and transcripts were then analysed using Grounded Theory. Results: A core category, 'Lifescape's of childless men: enduring anticipation and expectation in an uncharted world', divided into three meta themes: Emotive Forces, Extant Agency, and Life Course. The desire for parenthood appeared to peak in the 30s, gradually reduced, but did not cease. The participants also revealed a sense of 'outsiderness' in familial, social, and work relationships. Conclusion: Involuntarily childless men reported similar experiences to those in, or who have had, infertility treatment. These included a sense of loss, depression, exclusion, isolation, and risk-taking behaviour. Over the life course the men also found ways to adapt and reappraise their beliefs concerning themselves emotionally, psychologically and socially. To help understand this process, gender-role therapy is presented as a possible approach for working with childless men. © 2011 Society for Reproductive and Infant Psychology.

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