Sex Roles

, Volume 41, Issue 11–12, pp 901–919 | Cite as

Stigmatization of Non-Normative Family Size Status

  • Karla A. Mueller
  • Janice D. Yoder


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.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karla A. Mueller
  • Janice D. Yoder

There are no affiliations available

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