The traditional belief is that childless women feel the absence of parenthood more acutely than childless men do. A new study in Britain implies that we may be assuming too much, even though the study was done on 81 women and just 27 men. Statistics are tricky things, indeed.
About the same proportions of men and women said they wanted kids (59 percent of men and 63 percent of women). Among that group, half of the men said they experienced “isolation” because they weren’t dads, while just over a quarter of women said the same about lack of Mom-hood. All that prattle about feminine hormones? Out the window. If you want to be a parent and you’re not one, it can hurt. Gender doesn’t matter.
Men were more likely than the women participating in the study to feel jealous of other parents and sad, depressed, and even angry, over not being fathers themselves. Just as I was beginning to think that perhaps this was because women are quicker to realize they don’t control every danged component of life (that testosterone thing), I found this update: The one area of the study where women beat men was that none of the men who wanted children felt guilty about not having them, compared with 16 percent of women.
Ah yes. Guilt. We ladies are PROS at that.
As studies of adults without children continue, it will be critical to note who’s answering the questions: adults who are childfree (by choice) or childless (by chance).
The study’s researcher, Robin Hadley, concluded in a statement:
“There is very little research on the desire for fatherhood among men. 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.”
Perhaps the truth of it is that as usual, women are – and always have been – more vocal than men about their feelings, about a wish for parenthood, and everything else. I have no problem believing that some men are quite distressed about their NotDad status; it’s just that no one ever asked them a direct question about it before, and if they did, the NotDads never told the truth.