Despite traditional knowledge telling women that we’re supposed to feel unaccomplished and incomplete if we do not have children (by choice or by chance), new research is showing that childless men may actually be the ones who are more depressed and angry.
Robin Hadley, of Keele University, polled over 108 people who are not parents, asking them why they were childless and whether or not they wanted to have kids. 59% of men and 63% of men stated their desire to have children. Of those respondents, half the men had “experienced isolation” due to not having children, while only 27% of women felt the same. In fact, a higher percentage of men experienced depression, anger, jealousy and sadness than women with regard to not having kids.
This news may be surprising to some considering how society tends to see childless women as workaholic spinsters who will probably steal your baby if you leave them alone for too long. However, perhaps because of this outlook, only women responded to having experienced guilt due to not having any children (16%); no childless men felt the same.
While nearly all people should be able to make their own choices regarding their parenthood state, it’s important to recognize that women are still being chastised for not having children. We may be able to legally make our decisions just fine (again, most of the time), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t remnants of a time past when women were expected to bear children, raise them and that was about it.
Of course, we still need to offer support to men who are experiencing these emotional difficulties; since they’re typically characterized as “female problems,” many men may feel self-conscious or stressed out about expressing sadness over their childless state. In general, studies like this confirm to us what we already know: men and women are both fully capable of experiencing a wide range of emotions, and that neither are able to be perfectly captured by stereotypes regarding gender.