There remain strong social pressures and attitudes in the United States about feminine identity, especially the expectation of conforming to the role of mother. Ideal femininity and being a mother are often intrinsically linked. Childfree women, those women who choose not to become mothers, face limited understanding, appreciation or acceptance to remain in a non-parenting role and are often presumed as less feminine or caring. This qualitative exploratory study of 10 childfree midlife women in a predominantly rural area of a Midwest state examines how reactions and attitudes of others affected self-esteem and feminine identity through a retrospective lens. Primary themes identified: Motherhood, as underscored by social and societal expectations and stigma; Personal Choice; and Feminine Self-Esteem are addressed. The influence of rural settings is also considered in the discussion. Recommendations for practice with older childfree women are provided.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2021 Taylor & Francis.
- Midlife women
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article