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Title: A phenomenological exploration into the lived experience of childfree women aged 45-55
Author: Davies, Josephine
ISNI:       0000 0004 5370 0107
Awarding Body: Middlesex University
Current Institution: Middlesex University
Date of Award: 2015
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One fifth of women in Britain reach the age of 45 without having children, yet psychological and developmental theories often begin with the assumption that all women become mothers. The aim of this study is to explore how the decade between 45 and 55 is experienced by women who have chosen non-motherhood. Ten voluntarily childfree women participated in semi-structured interviews, and the data produced were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Results indicate that the childfree choice is influenced by a gravitation towards meaningful areas of life other than motherhood, as well as a rejection of its perceived drawbacks. For these participants the decision to be childfree is mainly felt to be finalized within the 30s such that the biological end of fertility is not experienced as an ending of choice. The present decade is one of gladness about being childfree and appreciation of the freedom it affords, though there is some curiosity and wistfulness regarding what has not been chosen. For the majority of the participants the childfree choice is accepted by others, but there were also some experiences of stigma. Management of this is primarily through the creation of diverse social circles in which childfreedom is more the ‘norm’. Friendships are also viewed as important sources of support for a childfree future, which is itself perceived with some anxiety regarding old-age care. Recommendations are made for the professions of psychotherapy and counselling which include the ability to openly explore oscillating desires and ambivalence without believing in a ‘right’ choice, normalizing childfreedom, and helping clients to navigate the social world and plan ahead. It is suggested that further research into this topic and into the male experience of being childfree is needed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available