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Dissertation

Understanding the experiences of Latinas choosing not to have children: A qualitative study

26 July 2002

Abstract

This is a qualitative study that explores the experiences of Latin as choosing not to have children. Research supports that women choosing not to have children experience cultural expectations and negative social feedback regarding their decision. Given the research findings regarding the experiences of women in the general population who choose not to have children, the researcher was curious about the culture-specific themes that might be identified that are relevant to the experience of being a female choosing not to have children in the Latino culture. A qualitative, phenomenological approach was selected and 10 Latina participants from Central America were interviewed about their experiences with choosing not to have children. Four broad themes were identified: participants' perspectives regarding their decision process to not have children, factors influencing their decision, social interactions experienced regarding their decision, and their sense of identity as women and Latinas choosing not to have children. The findings suggest that interpersonal approaches toward understanding gender do not take into account complex gender identities that include non-traditional traits and behaviors, such as choosing not to have children. The results also suggest that the Latina's decision process in choosing not to have children is a multidimensional process involving cultural, interpersonal, and intrapersonal factors that may occur concurrently and vary with time and situation. In addition, the findings suggest that despite cultural expectations, negative social interactions, and complex intrapersonal process, Latinas choosing not to have children are able to continue with their decision through the help of social support and perseverance. It is not clear that there are culture-specific themes describing the Latina's experience with choosing not to have children. It is suggested that these findings have implications for all women choosing non-traditional lifestyles, such as choosing not to have children. Further research implications, limitations, and suggestions for future research were discussed.


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