Men Ageing Without Family – Isolated and Alienated?
Me(n) and the MAWFIA
The implications of the global trend of declining fertility rates and an increasingly ageing population have been extensively reported. Childless men are, compared to women, missing from gerontological, psychological, reproduction, and sociological research. These fields have mainly focussed on family formation and practices with the fertility intentions, history, and experience of older men being overlooked. Over the past 15 years research literature on both involuntary childlessness and ageing has highlighted the paucity of material on men’s experience. Infertility research has shown that failure to fulfil the status of parenthood may lead to a complex form of bereavement and is a significant challenge to mental and physical health and identity. In the past three decades there has been an escalation in the research and general literature surrounding fathers, fathering, and fatherhood. Recent research into contemporary grandparenting has highlighted the intricacy and importance of intergenerational relationships to grandfathers. Drawing on my auto/biographical PhD study, this piece examines how 14 self-defined involuntarily childless men managed non-fatherhood. Biographical, feminist, gerontological, and life course approaches framed the study. The findings demonstrated the complex intersections between the men’s attitude to fatherhood, non-fatherhood, and childlessness over the life course. This study countered the stereotype that fatherhood is not important to men and challenges research that reports that men are not affected by the social, economic, emotional, health and well-being, and relational aspects of involuntary childlessness.
Dr. Robin Hadley
Dr. Robin Hadley's Biography
I am a founder member of the campaign group Ageing-Without-Children. Recently I lead and funded, a research project that found anxious attachment in childhood predicted childlessness in later-life. My counselling and own experience of childlessness led me to self-fund my MA and MSc (University of Manchester, 2008; 2009) on Men’s desire for fatherhood and the levels of desire for parenthood in childless people. My auto/biographical PhD (Keele 2015) examined the impact of involuntarily childlessness on the lives of older men. Previous careers include counsellor, technical deputy manager and photographer in a University materials science department, bar tender, and kitchen assistant. I am a working class man born in Manchester (UK), 7th youngest of 8 children.