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The experience of "What-iffing" in deciding if, and when, to have children Munson, Suzanne Elizabeth

Abstract

In this phenomenological study the experience of "what-iffing" when making the decisions of if, and when, to have a child, was explored for six women. In-depth interviews were conducted in an initial attempt to answer the question: What is the experience of "what-iffing" as experienced by women when faced with making the decisions of if, and when, to have children? Six common themes emerged from the data analysis: 1)A Sense of Biological Pressure, 2) A Sense of a Lack of Readiness, 3) A Fear of Making the Wrong Decision, 4) "What-iffing" as a Reflection of an Inability to Make a Decision, 5) The Pervasive Nature of "What-iffing" Behaviour, and 6) A Sense of "What-iffing" as Being both Adaptive and Maladaptive. The results suggest that "what-iffing" behaviour may be a synthetic construct in that it appears to reflect regret; worry; self-doubt; and intolerance of uncertainty. "What-iffing" behaviour also appears to add to the research supporting the non-linear nature of decision-making, particularly as it relates to making parenthood decisions. The findings and limitations of this study have several implications for counselling practice and future research.

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