Men get a reputation for being baby-averse, but they may be more eager to have kids than you realize. In fact, childless men feel more depressed, sad, angry, and jealous of friends with kids than their female counterparts, according to a new survey conducted by Keele University in the UK.
The surveyors asked 108 childless adults (27 men and 81 women) how they feel about being kid-free. Fewer men than women said they want children (59 percent versus 63 percent). But of the guys who do want kids, half said they felt isolated and 36 percent reported feeling depressed. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not all: 56 percent said they were sad, and the same amount said they were jealous of dads. Fewer women who wanted children reported feeling the same way: 27 percent felt isolated, 27 percent were depressed, 43 percent were sad, and 47 percent felt jealous of others with kids.
Men tend to struggle with expressing emotion and often feel judged when they do, says study author Robin Hadley, a PhD candidate at the Centre for Social Gerontology at Keele University. The result: They may bottle up their feelings about fatherhood, which can make their emotions even more intense, she says.
Granted, this survey was pretty smallÃ¢â‚¬”and conducted in the UK. So we asked MenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Health Facebook followers to weigh in on the topic. The subject clearly touched a nerveÃ¢â‚¬”we got more than 200 responses. The overwhelming majority of men said they are content being childless for now as long as they have kids eventually (i.e., when they find the right woman and/or make enough money). But donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t take our word for itÃ¢â‚¬”hereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what the guys had to say:
Want to gauge your guyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s feelings about fatherhood? He probably wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t tear up at the sight of a stroller, says Joyce Marter, a licensed psychotherapist and CEO of Urban Balance, a Chicago-based counseling practice thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s offered pre-baby counseling since 2004. But if he talks a lot about his male friends with families, wanting to advance his career, or wanting to move into a bigger house, he could be suffering from the no-baby blues, says Marter. These symptoms are common among men who are anxious to have kids, she says.
Of course, you could just ask your guy directly about his paternal urges. Just make sure you do it at the right timeÃ¢â‚¬”and in the right way, says Marter. While the baby question isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t exactly first date material, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s smart to see if your dudeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s parenthood plans are in line with yours before you commit to an exclusive relationship. But to prevent a potential freak out, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t ask him to father the two boys and two girls you see in your future. Instead, just ask, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Do you see yourself having a family down the road?Ã¢â‚¬Â This casual, non-threatening approach will help you assess whether your parenting aspirations are in line with his. And if the response to our Facebook prompt is any indication, you can expect him to be pretty straightforward about his feelings on the topic.
photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock More from WH:
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