A Phenomenological Study on Voluntarily Childless Women

Parlak S., TEKİN I.

STUDIES IN PSYCHOLOGY-PSIKOLOJI CALISMALARI DERGISI, vol.40, no.1, pp.161-186, 2020 (Journal Indexed in ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 40 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.26650/sp2019-0034
  • Page Numbers: pp.161-186


The way in which women decide to have children is affected by many processes, including personal, social, historical, and political. Maternity is seen as an inevitable part of women's happiness and a complement to their femininity. In traditional Turkish family structure, femininity is sanctified through maternity, and the status of women in the family and society is shaped by whether they have children or not. The status of women began to change with urbanization and also by virtue of women's increasing participation in the workforce. The idea began to be expressed that maternity is not necessarily the fate of women, and given that it is a preference, which includes not only satisfaction but also difficulty, childlessness might be preferred. This study aims to examine the voluntary childlessness preferences of women. For this purpose, the study group consisted of four married women, who currently do not have children and who prefer not to have children. The age of the participants varies between 30 and 40 years and they are all voluntary. The study is designed according to descriptive phenomenology design of qualitative research methodology. The data were collected through semi-structured in-depth interviews. In the analysis of the data, Colaizzi's (1978) phenomenological analysis steps were followed. During the interviews, it was seen that participants emphasized the concepts of responsibility and care giving. As a result of the analysis, it appears that the data are combined under the following themes: the meaning of maternity, the meaning of the concept of maternity in social circles, the meaning of not wanting a child, effects of voluntary childlessness, the decision of voluntary childlessness, social reactions to voluntary childlessness, and dilemmas experienced in the face of voluntary childlessness. It was observed that instinctive attitudes about maternity and perceptions on child bearing are still ongoing, that the pressure of being a mother has been preserved in the social environment, and that voluntarily childfree women define childlessness as freedom in many areas of life. With this study we make a contribution to the literature by attending to the voice of voluntarily childless women in the context of a woman's right to decide on her own body.