Has the internet influenced parenting

Pros and cons of parenting - what influences men and women wanting children

Unlike women, men are less likely to have a first child. Also, the desire for offspring usually only becomes relevant in the course of a specific partnership. The partnership must be perceived by the men as stable, only then do they begin to deal with the issue of parenting. The age of the partner also plays a role in this question. In women, the desire to have children occurs more often regardless of the relationship status, the age of the partner is also rather irrelevant.

The two Heidelberg sociologists Eckhard and Klein were able to determine further differences between women and men in terms of education, employment status and income. While higher education has a beneficial effect on men’s desire to have children, it slows down the desire for children in women. Formal education leads to delays for both genders, but has no effect on the desire to have children per se.

The level of income has a positive influence on men and their partners when it comes to starting and expanding a family. The situation is different, however, when women earn more themselves. The number of indecisive women and those who do not want a child increases with the level of income. A similar picture emerges for the employment status. While unemployment is a reason for men not to want children, unemployed women even want to have children.

German studies have repeatedly shown that the propensity to have birth is lower among those with no religious affiliation than among the Catholic or Protestant population. But there are also differences between denominations: Catholic women and men have a higher propensity to give birth than Protestants. This is related to the differently conveyed family orientation, the authors suspect.

The assumption that marriage and starting a family as well as the desire to have children are closely linked in Germany can be confirmed by the study: “With increasing age, childless men and women intentionally concentrate in non-marital relationships, while fathers and mothers concentrate in marriages ”.

Meaning and joy through children

The creation of meaning by children is an important motivation for parenthood. Over 80% of the childless respondents, primarily women, see children as fulfilling in life. The joy of children and the feeling of being needed are also increasingly cited by women as important reasons for motivation. Instrumental motivations for having children, such as the safety benefits and the stabilization of the partnership between the parents, are perceived less strongly. Around 40% of respondents agree that children are good to have someone to help out in old age and in emergencies. About 60% cited the bond between couples as a motive for parenthood, with slightly more men agreeing here.

Children cost money and time

Possible obstacles to parenthood are perceived very differently, state the two authors Eckhard and Klein in their analysis. Occupational restrictions are primarily expected at the birth of the first child: 90% of childless women and mothers as well as 65% of childless men and between 45 and 50% of fathers share this fear. Over half of men and women agree on the financial burden of starting a family. More than 70% of those surveyed expect psychological and emotional problems for their parents. If such stress is expected to be high, women and men are comparatively less likely to have a first child.

When expanding a family, psychological and emotional burdens are only relevant if they are expected by men. Another obstacle for men to have more children is the impending loss of free time, especially if their own couple relationship is perceived as unstable. Problems with children in public are rare, and then primarily feared by childless men, lower educational groups and the elderly without children. Occupational and, for women, leisure-related restrictions are of no significance for expanding the family.

In order to be able to realize the desire to have children more easily, the authors suggest in their conclusions to grant more state support payments in the phase of family formation. The expansion of childcare places is recommended, as is an increased range of advice for potential parents, especially with regard to fears of psychological and emotional stress.


  • Jan Eckhard, Thomas Klein: Men, desire for children and generative behavior. An evaluation of the family survey on gender differences in motivation for parenthood. VS publishing house for social sciences. Wiesbaden 2006. ISBN-10 3-531-15096-0

Further contributions by the author can be found here in our family handbook


and 20/06 of October 2006, pp. 1-2
Reprinted with permission


Christina Luef
Austrian Institute for Family Research (ÖIF)
Communication & Information Department
Grillparzerstr. 7/9
A-1010 Vienna

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Created on November 30th, 2006, last changed on January 25th, 2010