I love my kids but…..
The societal pressure on women to reproduce is high and you have reached the breaking point and asking if having children is the next step but you are not sure whether you will regret motherhood. Before creating a life you should be aware of all the sides that come with it and many publications, social media feeds portray the glamorous side, the positive side of the experience. The decision to have a child is not a light one or done to keep a partner instead should be a choice you willingly make having knowledge of what is involved.
Yes, there is a ‘but’ when it comes to kids that is often buried. By all accounts it does not give Pinterest board energy; Instagram mommy likes and Facebook look at me vibe. No, these valid voices are hidden, afraid of the judgment and shame that would befall them. Motherhood is a blessing, kids are a blessing and it is all rainbows but it isn’t. Not to everyone. This article is not meant to shame anyone but to create awareness on the topic from a side rarely expressed.
Despite hiding in anonymity when sharing their experiences in online forums, I have come to realize there are so many mothers who share this feeling. A Facebook group called I Regret Having Children is a support forum where people share anonymously. The group has 41,098 members with strict rules of engagement despite being public.
On Reddit the sub r/regretfulparents is a safe space for parents to share feelings and get the needed support. Created on Aug 4, 2013 the sub has grown to 25.1k members.
If you are in this situation needing support, somewhere to rant or to get your feelings off your chest you can join those groups. It is an incredible opportunity for your mental health no matter where you are in the world. To be free to open up without cultural restrictions, religious guilt and reproductive shaming is an amazing place.
A study by Konrad Piotrowski revealed that:
- Surveys conducted over the last few years on representative samples in the US and Germany suggests that the percentage of parents who regret having children is approximately 17–8%.
- Americans above the age of 45 who had children were asked how many children they would like to have had if they could do it once again. One of the possible answers was ‘0’, which turned out to be the answer selected by 7% of the surveyed individuals.
- In the Polish population, this frequency may be as much as 13% of parents between emerging and middle adulthood, that is, one in eight parents. On the scale of a country the size of Poland, with a population of approximately 38 million, this can translate into several millions of parents, and on the scale of the European Union (approximately 440 million) or North America (approximately 580 million), into tens of millions more
Another study was done by the Gallup Organization:
- In a similar survey, conducted in 2016 on a representative sample of Germans with children the authors asked the participants to react to the following statement: If I could choose today once again, I would not want to have children. It turned out that 8% of the German parents in the investigation said that they fully agree with this, and another 11% claimed that they rather agree with this.
- What distinguished the group of parents who either fully or somewhat agreed with this statement was a belief that being a parent had limited their ability to develop further personally and professionally, and that they had had to sacrifice too much for their families.
Regretting children doesn’t mean bad mothers
Reasons Why You Could Regret Motherhood
- Loss of identity
This is because you miss your old life. The insipid conversations about travel bags and matching mommy and baby outfits are simply an annoyance. Motherhood limits your intellect and hunt for knowledge as you have to take care of your child. Reading a six hundred page book goes from a week to months and the only books constantly in your view are picture books for bedtime.
You find it hard to meet with childless friends, different schedules and all so you have to make a few mommy friends. With them you don’t get the adult conversation you wanted instead have to deal with irrational conversations such as ‘men being pedophiles with plans to steal all kids’. If you speak up you are shunned or seen as dumb when in reality you just aren’t a shitty person with a working brain.
Your inability to connect with other mothers is because you don’t want to talk about kids but you have to in order to have people to spend time with who aren’t toddlers. Especially if you are a stay at home mother to save cost in childcare as you wait for when the kids have to go to school then rejoin the workforce.
Spending time in this crowd you are influenced and forget you’re raising an independent, unique, adapting and evolving human being. Not a trophy to show off to keep up with the Joneses.
Once grown you are left with the question who am i? Loss of identity is a common thing many mothers face as they create a whole identity around being parents. All your social media is motherhood and the conversations you engage in are the same. You forget how you used to love going to concerts, how you loved your high pressure work environment; basically how to be you not B’s mom.
2. Resources spent
It is a well-known fact that kids are expensive. What your income could handle with extra left for savings is not enough anymore.
The kids need
- Health insurance
- School fees
- Childcare which is expensive but you need because you have to work
This list is the basic needs, the toys and other fun stuff has not been included.
You can never enjoy your earnings like you want to such as going on trips to tropical locations or cuddle and ski in resorts. As a parent you have to budget and squeeze coins especially with a low income. Affording nice clothes and meals is hard enough vacations are out of the question
3. Change in the relationship
Having children changes the dynamic in in your relationship with your partner. The change could be positive where you come together to work through the challenges. It can also be negative where you hardly spend time together until the kids grow up. There are so many people who grow apart once they have children because they forget about each other instead focus all their attention onto the children.
You have to be prudent about vacation days as anything can happen an example is the kids could fall sick resulting in the cancellation of plans. All your time off is saved for such emergencies so you rarely spend a night without your kids. You come home late and exhausted then jump into momager position and handle the mess, tears and homework before you put them to bed. Once done you and your partner collapse into bed for a few hours of sleep and do it all again.
The stresses that come with parenting also throw a wrench at the fractured relationship leaving you both hanging by a thread. You might reach a point of no return where you have hurt each other and disconnected to the point where you cannot heal the relationship.
Age plays an important role when having kid. If you have kids when young you don’t have the opportunity to grow up. Your growth occurs side by side with children which is not what you want. You cannot interact with your friends because you hardly remember the last time you picked up an adult book instead having picture books as your daily reading quota. They talk about work and trips they took when you cannot remember the last time you used the bathroom uninterrupted. A relaxing hour long bath is a luxury beyond your wildest dreams.
In most cases having a kid in your early to mid-twenties is overwhelming. At that age you are not secure financially as you just finished college and are stepping into the work force. Your work options are limited; you cannot work long shifts because you have a child at home who needs you. It makes it difficult to increase your earning potential and you are skipped when it comes to promotions.
As a young parent missed out on a lot that you saw others do and have to spectate on social media. The gap wedged between you and those your age living differently grows wider as you keep dreaming with the words what if.
5. Lack of interest
Societal expectations of motherhood overwhelm many as it involves putting your child as the center of your life. The difference is you aren’t interested in them the way other people expect you to. The child is not the center of your world or main focus; never has been since infancy. To you they are simply a kid that is yours. Your regret comes in having a human being tying you down.
You aren’t free to move around to wherever you want without considering the kid. Things like school districts with the best education, baby proofing the house to prevent injury and transportation if you can’t drive them.
You could also not be the lovey dovey type of person which goes into how you raise your child. You are not a cuddler so you have to go out of your comfort zone to make them feel comfortable and loved as kid understand the physical forms or of affection such as hugs and kisses.
6. Break ups are harder
You and your partner have a rough patch and decide to separate. Instead of the clean break you would have, you are tied to your ex for years. The period before the end was already tumultuous with worrying over losing your kids and child support payments. Then comes the acting out and mental health repercussions that your child goes through as your divorce impacts them, changing their home environment.
You have to find them a therapist so they can get help. They are young so they don’t understand adult relationship dynamics and you cannot simply besmirch your partners name to their face when they keep asking what is wrong.
‘Jake your dad decided to do the naked tango with his secretary and seven other women,’ is not something you can say to the kid.
The divorce process is more harrowing with thousands in legal fees just to secure a safe home and recover from the relationship failing. You cannot simply say I never want to see you again because your wayward ex has parental rights. So you are stuck duking it out until the kid is eighteen.
Even if the divorce is amicable; a case of falling out of love with each other, you can never get the clean break you want.
7. Your dreams are on the back burner
A lack of parental responsibility gives you a chance to dream and achieve as soon as possible. Being a parent especially a single parent, all needs are dependent on you as well as their dreams. Your child wants to be a doctor, you have to work really hard to build that college fund and give them the opportunity to achieve their dreams.
If you wanted to be a journalist who travels the world it’s hard to do with a baby even with a support system. You will have to delay that dream longer and longer until it’s impossible because you are sixty years old and want to finally relax because the kids moved out. Without family and friends support you end up dropping out of college to work and provide for yourself and the kid.
8. You don’t like the people they have become
It’s not only the little children who bring regrets to many but adults to. Having dedicated your life to a human being for decades to ensure they have the best only for them to be horrible people is heart breaking. Seeing your child stand trial for murder, sexual assault or robbery after all your sacrifices feels like a punch in the gut.
A betrayal you cannot recover from or forget because their actions are used as a character reflection on you as a parent and person. In the end you lose your good reputation, source of income, home and are left with pitying looks.
The regret could also come from your child abusing drugs and rendering themselves unemployable. Perhaps you have to lock away your valuables in a safety deposit box so they aren’t stolen to be pawn for drug money. The threat to your own safety and happiness can fuel your regrets.
9. The choice in partner
There are times where the regret is not in motherhood but the other half of genetic material that contributed to the creation of life. When you choose a partner and they end up wreaking havoc upon your life the last thing you want is to have a child in the middle. Your choice in partners heavily impacts your child’s development.
A bad choice in partner who leaves you to handle all the child care while hanging out with friends can lead you to regret. The stress and frustrations on top of the emotional baggage of dealing with an unreliable partner can overwhelm you. Only times they hold the baby it’s for fun time, parental praise and Facebook likes, the parenting is left to you.
A bad partner will also negatively influence the child. If your partner has a sailor’s mouth the child will syphon all the words and use them when communicating. You then have the extra work of educating the child and molding them into a good person to combat the negative traits the other parent tries to impart on them.
There is also the mental health issues the other parent places on them. It could be abandonment issues due to their unreliability and constant vanishing act. The other parent is constantly failing to choose the child, instead choosing drugs and traveling around chasing new love interests. This leaves the child feeling unworthy and devalued which can leave you regretting putting them in that position.
10. The world
As a mother all you want is the best for your child. Your wants however aren’t lined up with the world as you would wish. Resources are drained and the amount of people in existence is overwhelming the planet. Your decision to have children today may mean suffering for them in ten years or thirty. You can try to shield them but you cannot protect them forever and the world might turn against them in the worst way. Anything from murder to suicide due to the actions of people who see your child as not being ‘good enough’ is fair game out there.
“If I would have known how much fear I would have surrounding my kids, I don’t believe I would have had children. Racism alone would have made me think twice. As a Black mother, I fear for my children every single day. The reality that I can’t protect them forever is terrifying.” An anonymous mother shared on buzzfeed.
“As humans continue to ruin the Earth, I fear for [my adult children] as conditions get much worse. They know I hope they don’t have babies because I don’t want my own children to have to worry about their children when it comes to an unlivable planet. If I knew what the Earth would be like today 29 years ago, I would have never started a family.” Another woman stated in the same buzzfeed interview.