The lived experiences of older voluntarily childless couples

Date

2011-12

Authors

Nelson, Cindy

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Abstract

This research explored the experiences of voluntary childlessness in couples 50 years of age and older. A qualitative phenomenological perspective guided the research in order to capture the individual meanings of the participants. Life course theory was used to offer a framework for explaining and understanding changing societal conditions and social forces over time. The researcher interviewed 15 voluntarily childless couples (30 individuals) who had been in a committed relationship for a minimum of 20 years and who volunteered to be a part of the study. Semi-structured interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim and analyzed to determine themes. Three themes emerged from the data: (a) Creating a Path to Childlessness; (b) Creating a Full and Satisfying Life Together; and (c) Creating a Different View of Family. Selected participant responses are included to illustrate the identified themes.

The results of this study were compared to existing literature on childlessness and conclusions were drawn. Implications and limitations were discussed, as well as recommendations for future research.

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Keywords

Education, Individual & family studies, Life course theory, Individual meanings, Life courses, Older couples, Voluntarily childless

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