What is it about?
There is little research exploring the desire for fatherhood. In this study I interviewed 10 men about their wish to become a father. The men had 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.
Photo by Liv Bruce on Unsplash
Why is it important?
There is very little work on men's experience of not becoming a father yet there are more childless men than childless women. Not achieving the desired and/or expected parenthood status may lead to economic, emotional, psychological, physical and social issues.
Read the Original
This page is a summary of: Involuntarily childless men and the desire for fatherhood, Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, February 2011, Taylor & Francis,
You can read the full text:
Fisher, J., & Hammarberg, K. (2017). Psychological Aspects of Infertility Among Men. In M. Simoni & I. Huhtaniemi (Eds.), Endocrinology of the Testis and Male Reproduction (pp. 1287-1317). Cham: Springer International
Fisher, J., & Hammarberg, K. (2017). Psychological Aspects of Infertility Among Men. In M. Simoni & I. Huhtaniemi (Eds.), Endocrinology of the Testis and Male Reproduction (pp. 1287-1317). Cham: Springer Internation
Ageing Issues Blog: The Reflective Call of Carers Ageing without Children and/or Family: ‘Who will be there for me when I need it?
Blog by setting out the importance of needing more data about people ageing without children & their needs.
Pre-publication draft available via the Manchester Metropolitan University Research Repository
A pre-publication draft of ' Involuntarily childless men and the desire for fatherhood.' May be slightly different from the published piece. How to cite: Robin Hadley & Terry Hanley, (2011). Involuntarily childless men and the desire for fatherhood, Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 29:1, 56-68, DOI: 10.1080/02646838.2010.544294
Book, '"How is a man supposed to be a man"? Male childlessness - a Life Course Disrupted.'
REVIEWS “I think this is an excellent piece of scholarship that covers an often unspoken topic in a sensitive, novel and comprehensive way. In this sense, it contributes important new knowledge to an area by considering it from a different viewpoint – most notably moving beyond a simple biomedical view or an experiential view of younger men and infertility.” • Steve Robertson, University of Sheffield “a ground-breaking book shining the light on men and their experiences, how men may feel when they don’t end up having children for one reason or another e.g. not meeting the right person, infertility.” • Guild of Health Writers “This book provides gerontologists with much needed insights into the lived experiences of male childlessness from a life course perspective embedded in critical theoretical approaches on normative life course expectations, ageing and gender, as well as family and social relations… Robin Hadley’s work is both critical and reflexive. He locates his theoretical work within feminist scholarship and acknowledges his position within the field of research by examining his own biography and social position and what that means when conducting interviews with men who describe themselves as involuntarily childless…The methods chapter can be added to reading lists for postgraduate students and the pen portraits of each of the interviewees are a rare and valuable source for learning about qualitative research and reflexivity.” • Aging and Society “The book has some features that make it interesting to readers from both a professional and a wider audience. First, it is very well referenced and equipped with details related to methodology of the study… It is well written, often in a personalised language, with accounts of the author’s experiences related both to the process of data collection and analysis and to the dissemination of results. The Epilogue particularly warrants attention, as it brings reflections not only on myths around men and masculinities, but also on childlessness in later life and COVID-19 –reflections that additionally illustrate the effects of not becoming a father.” • Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology “A highly personal book yet also an academic one with all the critical rigour that entails and makes this a compelling book. It’s a must read for illuminating men’s experiences of involuntary childlessness for one reason or another…This is a rich thought provoking emotional yet highly academic book – and with its clear structure and excellent index a huge resource to be drawn on.” • Medical Journalists Association “This is an important piece of work that addresses areas of masculinity, sexuality, life and an exploration of lived lives through research that have previously been underrepresented in the academic and public press.” • Josephine Tetley, Manchester Metropolitan University DESCRIPTION The global trend of declining fertility rates and an increasingly ageing population has serious implications for individuals and institutions alike. Childless men are mostly excluded from ageing, social science and reproduction scholarship and almost completely absent from most national statistics. This unique book examines the lived experiences of a hidden and disenfranchised population: men who wanted to be fathers. It explores the complex intersections that influence childlessness over the life course. How to cite: Hadley, R. A. (2021). How is a man supposed to be a man? Male childlessness - a Life Course Disrupted. New York: Berghahn Books.
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