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Parents Explain What They Regret About Having Kids

Ifunanya's passion for writing and fascination for language has forever guided her path in life.


Children bring so much joy and fulfillment to some people. But I wanted to hear from parents whose experiences have been quite the opposite. I asked a parents online"Do you regret having kids, and if so, why?" and her response was :

"Please don't use my name. I just regret everything.
I got married at 18 to a 20 year old who manipulated me. I met him through my friend... who he was dating at the time. They broke up, and she was angry at me for jumping straight on him at the first opportunity. No point in lying, that's exactly what I did. I was a teenager. She tried to warn me, this girl, after she had calmed down. Told me he was a disgusting sexist, verbally abusive, constantly criticising her every move, constantly accusing her of cheating when it was he who cheated... how was I to know everything she told me was absolutely right? And worse.

He obviously called her a liar, made her the bad guy. Convinced me we needed to hurt her for this. Me as a naive 18 year old girl believed him. He was my first boyfriend. In revenge for her daring to warn me about him, I spread so many vicious rumours about her, I lied about her sleeping with old men for money, having several STDs, I said she slept with her own cousins, you name it, I spread the rumours about her...and he actively encouraged and rewarded me for it. I think that was the main reason she moved half way across the city. Away from him, and me. He still continued to spread rumours, bitch and bad-mouth her even though she was long gone. Even though we literally drove her out of town, he brought her up every single day, ranting, hating and raging about her... I now know that was a huge sign that he wasn't over her. Love and hate are two sides of the same coin. I know that now.

He always called her a disgusting, mentally ill freak for not wanting children, that she wasn't a real woman, that there was something wrong with her. I was so in love with him, I wanted to show him I could be better than her. I always wanted a big wedding, the one I'd been dreaming of since I was little. That was our unspoken deal: give me a big and beautiful wedding, and I will give you the beautiful children you always wanted.

Oh, I had the white wedding alright... but he ruined it. He treated our wedding like he was at a college party. He got drunk, then started grinding on other women. But the worst? During our first dance as a married couple, his best friend thought it would be just hilarious to cut in, and start mimicking gay sex with him on the dance floor. In front of everyone, of course my man-child of an ex thought this was hilarious. I had to stand there gritting my teeth, fake laughing at those two idiots pretending to hump each other on the dance floor, in front of my whole family, with everyone filming. Because the only way I could have been any more humiliated would have been to burst into tears like I wanted to.

I soon got pregnant, and our first son was born. I loved him, but I soon began to feel tired and dirty. And unattractive. Three months after giving birth, my ex snarkily asked me when I was planning on getting my looks "back to normal" which meant I had put on weight, and neglected to do my hair. While hardly doing any of the work himself for our newborn son, he always accused of me of using the baby as an excuse to not make myself presentable. While never helping me. Apparently that was my job.

Like an idiot, I thought ANOTHER BABY might fix him. Maybe it would be different if he had a daughter? I had another boy. Then my girl, years later, as a desperate attempt to fix our marriage. Of course, he did the bare minimum. Every time I broke down about it, he accused me of being a weak and neglectful mother. After all the criticism (years and years worth of criticism) I slowly woke up and realised that I'd given up my youth and my dreams to raise the children of a lazy, verbally abusive waste of air who wasn't even grateful. I cheated with a guy I met in the pub. My husband cheated on me loads of times, I just knew but I could never prove it... but because I wasn't as practiced at cheating as HE WAS, I got caught in practically ten minutes. He dragged my reputation through the mud. I was now apparently the town bike. He did exactly the same to me as he did to that girl. Rumours flew about me. I was a social pariah.

I'm not even 30 years old, and I'm divorced with three kids. I have ruined my life, and so has my ex husband. I think he cheated on me with his current wife (we divorced three years ago, he got married last year) and OF COURSE their wedding had to be bigger, whiter and more expensive than mine. His new wife doesn't have children. I'm not sure if they will have any, but my ex doesn't want more. He "got enough" out of me and I feel like a used up broodmare. They have the kids every other weekend, in their perfect, beautiful house, which my children just LOVE TELLING ME is sooooo much tidier, bigger and nicer than mine. Her family comes from money and mine don't. Every time my sons come back from his, they get more and more like him, and it worries and disgusts me. Some one has to be feeding them information. Why are my sons now constantly accusing me of not having a nice house cause I'm "too lazy"?? I wonder who is feeding them that information!

To add to my bitterness and regret, I tracked down his ex, the girl who tried to warn me about him. The girl I should have listened to in the first place. I was going to apologise... but to my shame, and I hate to admit this, the more I scrolled through her Facebook page, the more I hated her more than ever. Trips to Cambodia. A gorgeous man. Cute dogs. She hasn't aged a day. I'm ashamed of how resentful I am - she hasn't actually done anything wrong to me. But I can't help hating her for having a life that could have been mine, if only I had listened to her as a teenager. She had no way of knowing I was snooping on her Facebook, but it felt like she was mocking me for the decisions I've made, compared to hers. I hate her even more. I can't help it.

I regret everything. I bitterly wish I could go back in time and undo it all. Not a day goes by where I don't hate my life. I will never get my youth back and I will never stop hating him for that. I just hope I don't start hating my children because I don't. But I hate how much my sons are becoming like him. I just want a time machine. All I want is my old life back and i will probably never stop wanting that until I'm dead.”

- Anonymous

Some replies:

I am sorry you fell into the baby trap. They paint it up so pretty and so nice... and all the alluring, simping platitudes 'You'll wuuuuuv it when it's here'. 'It's different when it's your own.' They are all lies. Outrageous crab in the bucket lies. Misery loves company and there is nothing so horrible as a mother who fell for this baloney and observes another girl wavering and thinking about having a child. And those well worn sayings and falsehoods emerge.

'Just wait til you have kids of your own!!' How many times have we heard this, how many worn out mothers have resorted to this... At last, the truth emerges. It is stark, glaringly obvious. However, it has been said so often it is dismissed into the realm of worn out threats. But then, there it is. A mother is wishing evil on her own child because of the mistake she made years ago... ... But the child did not ask to be brought into this.

I was fortunate that I had observed it all for a long time. I have been childfree since I was 14. Driving a school bus for a while cemented this. I observe the hell parents go through..and for what? Some parents do enjoy their children and some are ambivalent. If they could go back in time they would have gone down the road less traveled by...

But, to quote the x files, the truth is out there. Most girls and women just choose to ignore it and think they'll be different. Think they'll do better. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. There is far too much expectation of following this 'lifescript' that has been worn into the muck from millions of previous pilgrims down this path. Thankfully, many of us are starting to realize there are many other paths leading away from this rut. Far prettier, more appealing, and more rewarding.

Not only that, if a CF is of a mind, they can help a child in desperate need. Not necessarily adopt, but can serve in capacities that their own gonad donors failed at. Many times because these people listened to the afore mentioned broken record mantras.

I find it interesting that those of us who do not want children are seen as such a threat by childed people. In a world that seems to condemn discrimination and hate speech against groups, the CF have a target on their back, it is socially acceptable to wish them dead, miserable... where if it was directed elsewhere would be regarded as a hate crime.

I am 69, I never wanted children, never had any and glad of it. Best of luck to those who regretfully ignored the information that was out there plain as day. You join the 71% of Ann Landers survey, countless studies, that parenting is not the rosy little picnic it is portrayed. Keep in mind that the media lies about the realities of childbearing. The powers that be and the industires out there only make money and thrive if people worship their gonads. They don't care the quality of that childs life. All that matters is if you have a child. It is their bread and butter. From the capitalists to the government programs that are supposed to help people but instead are a system that is designed to keep people, mostly women, in their 'cattle breeding pens'. This sounds horrible but that is what they primarily are.

Don't add to this. Think before you breed. There is a whole world out there that is cut off once you choose to go down the childed route.

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I get it. I don't have any children. But I have always thought that my parents would have had a better marriage and would have learned to understand each other much better If I was not born the next year after their wedding. I know that my mom at 21 was not ready to be a mom, she was still maturing, my dad was in college and had to drop out, they had to devote themselves to make sure I did not die instead of enjoying the life together they longed for.
It is nice to read honest adults who can acknowledge serious stuff like this.
I hope you find peace in this matter.

Vi :
The saddest thing is that OP thinks she will be hated just for speaking her mind about having children. What the hell has society turned to make women feel this way? It’s been thousands years, but the way people think about having kids and motherhood doesn’t change at all, it's really annoying me.

Kaisa :
Absolutely no hatred from here! I feel super privileged because I was not raised into that pro-life mentality. Your feelings are super valid, and I wish things work out for you ❤️

Keita :
Big hug. Sometime we didn’t realise until it happened. Keep going hun xx

We have changed what it means to be human, and as a result children no longer add value to our lives - for many, they take value away. Of course, it is therefore natural to dream about a childless reality, and grieve for your alternative lifestyle - the one you could have had. There is no shame in that, and any hatred that comes your way because of how you feel deserves no attention at all...people who say otherwise are living in the past. In a time where dreams and aspirations were conspired to be male privileges alone.

• •

No hatred here. There was a constant, insidious pressure for me to procreate my whole life, including to when I became too old to physically have children. For women especially, because we women are here to have babies of course. We need to stop the pronatalism narrative. A woman should only have a baby if she herself really wants one.

• •

Hedda :
In complete honesty, my parents should not have had me. They already had 2 kids & were not really able handle that already. It's not like I can regret being born, it was not my choice, but I think they would have had better chances of raising their kids well with 2 instead of 3. I also think I would have had a happier childhood if my soul had come into the child of parents who were in a better position to handle an extra kid, and it's not as if my adult self would know the difference. People need to look at the care, dedication & quality of life they can give a kid before they have another, not just keep spitting kids out because you already have some & what difference will 1 more do. Growing up with my parents, & how they suffered thru parenthood, had made me not want kids, because I was modeled that it's horrible to have kids. No joy, no fun, no reprieve, no end in sight. Please everyone, don't do that to your kids, think ahead a little.

My take: Regret is common to all humans. So it's no surprise that some parents regret having children: it shouldn't be a taboo topic.

Some small steps could be taken to address the shame of parental regret. First, we need to allow room in society for people to say no to parenthood in the first place, especially for women. Doing so would allow the dominant stance of pronatalism to be questioned, and would help reduce the stigma around being voluntarily childfree. But we also need to normalise parental regret as a common and understandable reaction to a significant life event, which would allow people to feel less alone. Of course, if regret becomes so extreme that a child is no longer safe, it becomes a child protection matter. But for parents who continue to parent well in spite of their sense of regret, the guilt and shame surrounding this feeling will only silence them and make matters worse. To improve circumstances for both parents and children, society needs to openly discuss parental regret – and not just with the protection of online anonymity

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© 2022 Ifunanya Emochuo

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