Even though there’s often more social pressure on women to have kids, men may actually feel more depressed and lonely over not having children, according to the results of a small British survey.
The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the British Sociological Association in London Wednesday (April 3) by Robin Hadley, of the United Kingdom’s Keele University, who polled 27 men and 81 women who didn’t have kids.
About the same proportions of men and women said they wanted kids (59 per cent of men and 63 per cent of women). Among that group, half of the men said they experienced isolation because they weren’t parents, while just over a quarter of women said the same.
Compared with women, these men also were more likely to feel jealous of other parents and sad, angry, and depressed over not having kids.
“There is very little research on the desire for fatherhood among men,” Hadley said in a statement. “This challenges the common idea that women are much more likely to want to have children than men, and that they consistently experience a range of negative emotions more deeply than men if they don’t have children.” [History’s 12 Most Doting Dads]
There was one area where women beat the men: guilt. None of the men who wanted kids felt guilty about not having them, compared with 16 per cent of women.
The survey was conducted with an online questionnaire among adults ages 20 to 66, with an average age of 41. Most were white, heterosexual and had full-time jobs.
In another poll of 125 people who were already parents, Hadley found that women who wanted more children had higher levels of anger, depression, guilt, isolation, sadness and yearning than men when they thought about not being able to have more kids.
Whereas the focus of this study was childless adults who wanted kids, it’s important to note that not all people without children are the same. There are those who choose to be childfree and those facing infertility, job demands or financial concerns.
An American study published last year found that women who choose to be childfree felt more pressure to reproduce than other women without children, but they weren’t so distressed about their life without kids. Meanwhile, women who wanted children but did not have them because of fertility or medical issues were the most distressed, according to those results, published in The Journal of Marriage and Family.
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