Prior person perception studies exposednormative expectations about family size such thatvoluntary childfree and single-child women werestigmatized and large-family mothers were glorified. Incontrast, self-reports find no differences in subjectivewell-being among these non-normative and 2 to 3 child,normative women. To explore mostly white,college-educated, employed women's experiences withtheir real-life family size choices, interviews wereconducted with 15 voluntary childfree, 15 one-child, and15 supernormative mothers of 4+ children, and 15normative mothers completed a comparison survey. Quantitative and qualitative analyses revealedpatterns of universal satisfaction, yet stigmatizationacross the three non-normative groups, such as pressurefrom outsiders (including medical professionals) to stay within normative parameters persisted.One-child and supernormative mothers reported thatothers are critical of their child's well-being,intimating selfishness and neglect, respectively. These findings help coalesce the conclusions ofearlier studies.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 30, 2004
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