Meaning-Making Among Intentionally Childless Women

Christine Brooks, California Institute of Integral Studies


This paper is a summary of a qualitative research project that focused upon meaningmaking processes as described by intentionally childless women. A grounded theory exploration, it involved semi-structured interviews with 30 cisgendered women aged 27–61 who chose childlessness early in life. Based on principles inherent to social constructivism and feminist theories, the subjective voices of the participants were analyzed as normative expressions of female identity. The main category that accompanied intentional childlessness was a sense of freedom. In addition, two additional thematic categories focused on ways the women view their contributions to their communities and experience belonging and a sense of meaning in the world. Some negative experiences associated with being intentionally childless were also reported. The majority of the women in this study noted that they feel no regret or have no second thoughts about their decision, while a third of the participants spontaneously noted that they experience their lives as superlative.