Men and delayed parenthood: a qualitative study of men’s views regarding the ‘right time’ to have children
The age at which people are becoming parenting has increased over recent decades. The average age of first-time mothers has risen from 27.3 in 2006 to 28.8 years in 2016; and while corresponding data on the average age of first-time fathers does not exist, the average age of men at the birth of any children (first and subsequent) has risen from 31.1 in 1993 to 33.3 years in 2016 (ONS 2014, 2017). However, in both lay and media discourse, as well as academic research and commentary, the majority of attention paid to ‘delayed childbearing’ has focused on women. This overemphasises female responsibility and implicates women’s behaviours in ‘problems’ of delayed childbearing, leaving men’s positions and behaviours neglected (Lloyd, 1996, in Greene and Biddlecom, 2000, Jamieson et al., 2010). This paper presents findings from a doctoral, qualitative, sociological study of men and reproductive timings in which 25 in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with men who do not have children but want or expect to have them in the future. Men’s views about the right time and circumstances for becoming a father, and relatedly the barriers to doing so, are discussed in order to allow for a consideration of how and why men may be contributing to ‘delayed parenthood’. The paper explores men’s perceptions of age related fertility decline and of changing trends in when people become parents, and considers how their accounts may offer insights into wider social changes in the timing of parenthood. Finally, it considers the data in relation to the notion of men acting as a ‘drag’ on the processes of partnership formation and family building (Jamieson et al., 2010).
Citation : Law, C. (2018) Men and delayed parenthood: a qualitative study of men’s views regarding the ‘right time’ to have children’. Paper presented (invited talk) to the ESRC Centre for Population Change seminar series, University of Southampton, UK, March 2018.
Research Group : Centre for Reproduction Research
Research Institute : Centre for Reproduction Research (CRR)