What is it about?
This paper explores the impact of not becoming a father. 14 men aged between 49 and 82 were interviewed. There were many influences on why the men did not become a father and of high importance was their relationships. The men said they often felt like outsiders and were anxious about being seen as a threat.
Photo by Dvir Adler on Unsplash
Why is it important?
My findings show that not becoming a father has consequences across a persons life. This work is important because there is little work on how men are affected by not achieving fatherhood - something that is seen as natural and easy. The majority of care for older people is given by their adult children. If you are older and do not have adult children who is going to help you with the small and large things when you need them?
Read the Original
This page is a summary of: “I’m missing out and I think I have something to give”: experiences of older involuntarily childless men, Working with Older People, June 2018, Emerald,
You can read the full text:
Involuntarily childless men and the desire for fatherhood
Academic paper on the involuntary childless men's experience of their desire for fatherhood. There is very little work on men's experience of not becoing a father yet there are more childless men than women. Not achieving parenthood is unexpected and can lead to physical and mental health issues
Pre-publication draft available via the Manchester Metropolitan University Research Repository
A pre-publication draft of '“I’m missing out and I think I have something to give”: experiences of older involuntarily childless men" .' May be slightly different from the published piece. How to cite: Hadley, R.A. (2018), "“I’m missing out and I think I have something to give”: experiences of older involuntarily childless men", Working with Older People, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 83-92. https://doi.org/10.1108/WWOP-09-2017-0025
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 setting out the importance of needing more data about people ageing without children & their needs.
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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