Background to the study
Parenthood is central to a meaningful and fulfilling life in a family, and a live of childless people is emptier, less rewarding, and, in old age, lonelier, than the lives of parents (Baumeister, 1991; Blake, 1979). More specifically, people tend to believe that parenthood entails substantial social (companionship, intimacy, support), developmental (maturity and growth), and existential (expansion of self and opportunities to love, be loved, and feel useful and needed) advantages (Hoffman & Manis, 1979; Hoffman, 1987; Rubinstein, 1987). The assumed benefits of children thus are closely linked with core psychological needs for connectedness, engaging activity, meaning, security and control (e.g.,reliable support in old age), and experiencing a positive self-fulfilment of which appears to be major correlates of subjective well-being of parenthood (Angner, 2005; Baumeister & Leary, 1995; Myers, 1999; Ryan & Deci, 2001; Veenhoven, 1975).
Because parenthood has a multifaceted impact (structural, social, financial, existential, etc.) on people’s lives, and because the influence can be both positive and negative, the effects of parental status on psychological well-being could vary substantially depending on the well-being aspect under scrutiny and the individual’s. Parents with children in the home may for example experience emotional distress but nevertheless believe that their lives meet their aspirations and are highly meaningful (Veenhoven, 2001).
Parental age and Childlessness represents a disruption of the expected and projected life course for the bulk of childless persons in midlife and old age (e.g., Hagestad & Call, 2007). Not having had children may thus lead to a sense of loss or failure and may affect family instability, which may in turn depress positive self-evaluations particularly by comparing oneself to the majority who are parents or even grandparents, by perceiving oneself as not meeting social expectations or by feeling that one is not doing the right thing.
In addition to the benefits from the mere presence of children, the parenthood experience itself may boost self-esteem and make parents feel like better persons. Parenthood provides opportunities for belonging, contributing, and receiving favourable feedback, and opportunities for helping and taking care of others. The psychological benefits of caregiving have been found to be particularly pronounced among women (Marks., 2004). It is on this note that this study will examine age and childlessness as predictors of family stability.
Statement of the Problem
The expectation that parenthood has psychological benefits is also implicit in emotional effects of unattained and blocked life goals, in particular goals that are highly valued both personally and culturally (Diener ., 1995; Lucas., 2004). Indeed, parenthood stands out as a central life goal, with virtually everyone in current and previous cohorts of young adults planning to have children (Thornton & Young-DeMarco, 2001; Toulemon, 1996). Parenthood is also culturally salient, as evidenced by the strong social expectations towards parenthood in western societies (McQuillan,2007).
Although the social stigma of one’s age and childlessness has always being a problem in the stability of family life (Connidis, 2001;Park, 2002), and attitudes towards non-normative life paths leads one to predict that one’s age and their childless in a family leads to less social support and fewer rewards in a family cycle and in the society. Childlessness clearly is one of the major problem which can easily predict family stability. Health problems and other factors related directly to age might reduce a woman’s ability to bear children. Childlessness also represents a blocked life goal to most people who are now at midlife and especially to those in old age. In short, not having children may decrease social recognition, and involuntary childlessness may lead to a sense of failure and disappointment, which in turn, lower people’s sense of well-being. All this is a major problem in a family life which could affect the stability of a family. Because of these problems, this study will examine age and childlessness as predictors of family stability.
Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to examine age and childlessness as predictors of family stability. Specifically the study tries to examine:
- The relationship between age and childlessness as key factor in family stability.
- The effect of age and childlessness on family stability.
- Various ways of managing family childlessness in order to ensure stability in the family.
- The reasons why age and childlessness in a family affect family stability.
The following research questions posed will guide the conduct of this study as follows:-
- What is the relationship between age and childlessness on the stability of a family?
- To what extent does age and childlessness affect family stability?
- What are the various ways of managing family childlessness in order to ensure family stability?
- Why does age and childlessness in a family affect family stability?
Significance of the Study
The study will be of benefit to already married couples, those who intend going into the marriage, those who are already in a relationship to the society at large, marriage counsellors, future researchers etc. The study will be of benefit to couple who are ready married to see ways of strengthen the marital stability knowing that a stable family contribute to the growth of the society and at the same time enable them to have a substantial idea on how to manage issues of family childlessness in the family. To those who intend going into the marriage, the study will be of benefit to them in enabling them to see how age and childlessness which might be considered a key hindrance in family stability can effectively be managed. For those who are already in a relationship, the study will be of benefit to them in helping them see the need of investigating into the background, health information and important information’s relating to marriage about their spouse. The study will also enable them to know why some issues which might be viewed as something minor can be a factor which may ruin their family happiness in their marital union. To the society at large, the study will be of benefit by helping them have the fore glimpse why parents without children should not be over looked or viewed as un- important people in the society. The study will also serve of source of research material for fellow researchers.
Scope of the study
The study will examine the effect of age and childlessness as a predictor of family stability. It will focus on married couples and adult who are intending to get married and in a relationship (courtship). It will also examine other variables such as spouse state of health and age as a factor for family stability.
The following hypothesis is designed to test the responses of the respondents.
H01: Age and childlessness in a family cycle does not significantly have any significant effect on family stability.
H02: Age and childlessness in a family cannot be significantly managed in a family in order to ensure family stability.
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