Journal article Open Access

Male broodiness: Does the desire for fatherhood affect men?

Robin Hadley

The objective of this study was to assess the level of the desire for parenthood (broodiness) in childless men compared to non-parents and parents. Parenthood brings a high social status. The majority of studies examining reproductive intentions and behaviour have concentrated on women and couples. However, there are very few studies exploring men’s desire for fatherhood. This study is a sequential quantitative-qualitative mixed-methods online survey on the influences, motivations, and reasons for men and women’s desire for parenthood. The quantitative data was analysed using descriptive, univariate and bivariate techniques. Qualitative data were analysed using a latent thematic analysis. Recruitment was by the snowball email method. The sample was formed of 232 respondents with a mean age of 41.37 years (SD = 10.83), a central tendency of female, the majority were White British, degree educated, professional, and heterosexual.  The main finding identified non-parent females and males showed similar levels of desire for parenthood with females scoring slightly higher than males. A higher number of childless men desired parenthood (51.9%) than did not (25.9%).  For non-parents economic and social factors were the main influences on the decision for parenthood. Female and male parents demonstrated an equal desire not to repeat parenthood.  The results from this study did not support the hypothesis (and common belief) that men are not interested or affected by the desire for parenthood. Compared to equivalent women, childless men may experience higher levels of depression and isolation.

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