Reflections on having children in the future—interviews with highly educated women and men without children
Background. There is a trend to delay birth of the first child until the age at which female reproductive capacity has started to decrease. The aim of the present study was to explore how highly educated women and men reflected on future parenthood.
Methods. Twenty-two women and 18 men, who had started their professional career, were subjected to individual qualitative semi-structured interviews with qualitative content analysis guiding the analysis.
Results. All informants, except for three women, planned to have children when some important prerequisites were fulfilled. Women and men reflected in much the same way, and prerequisites for parenthood were being of reasonable age and having a partner in the same phase of life. A reasonable age was considered in relation to reproductive capacity, and both women and men expressed awareness of the natural decline in fertility at higher ages. Good living conditions with stable finances were also important. Parenthood was perceived as a challenge and a sacrifice but also as enriching life. Reasons for having children included being part of the future and settling down to build their own family. Many concluded that there would never be a perfect time for having children.
Conclusion. Highly educated women and men reflect on various factors when considering family planning. Being of reasonable age and having good living conditions, in particular a sound personal economy, were important. Given their goals, it is not surprising that many postpone parenthood until ages when female reproductive capacity is decreased.
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