Being a parent isn't easy on anyone, but these parents, for their own, particular reasons, definitely don't look fondly on reproducing. Breaking the silent taboo around how great being a parent is, these people open up about why they regret having kids. All posts have been edited for clarity.
They Gained A Child But Lost A Companion
“I feel like having kids has destroyed my marriage. Both of us have changed since our child was born and I’m afraid the people we’ve become are not as compatible as the people we used to be. We never talk to each other, we never do anything together, and the very, very infrequent intimacy is basically her attempt to maintain her ability to claim she makes an effort in our relationship. Any communication that happens between us is about logistics regarding our child. I understand there is a brief period after birth where everyone needs to adjust but it has been over four years now.
I love my child more than anyone else on Earth, save for my wife. But I miss having a companion. If I had known it would be like this, I don’t think I would have made the same decisions.”
The Pain And The Guilt Are Constant
“I was a mother of three. The things that are often mentioned about lack of sleep, autonomy, money are all valid. And they last much, much longer than you expect and they can drive you to near suicide at times. Especially when the second comes along and you’re still not getting nearly enough sleep, but now you have two on completely different schedules. But the difficult times do end, eventually.
But, and this is a big but, my biggest regret is my youngest because she died at age 6. She had a brain tumor which made her blind and adversely affected her behavior and she consumed my time and energy completely. Her loss nearly destroyed our family. I would not know the pain that I still feel if she had not been born, and I would not experience the guilt of feeling that things, on a practical level anyway, are now easier without her.”
“The Maternal Instinct Is Not Universal”
“I didn’t realize that a maternal instinct is not universal. You know how you see parents in the delivery room and they are crying tears of joy? I felt nothing. Honestly, I could have left them at the hospital and it wouldn’t have bothered me. I usually have no desire to spend time with them at all. I love them and have a strong sense of duty, I just don’t enjoy them or want to do any of the things they do. However, I spent their whole lives going out of my way to care for them in every way a good mother should.
My boys are well cared for and I am always here for them, but it feels very unnatural and unenjoyable. It is a bit like a retail job you don’t like where you put on a fake persona and slog through it the best you can. I don’t get to leave this job, though.
The worst is how I’m demonized for it. I’ve done everything I can for them for 16 years including all the extracurriculars (kids baseball is agonizing to fake enjoy I swear) and it has never been easy. Shouldn’t I get more credit than those moms who love nothing more than spending time with their kids? That doesn’t sound hard to me. Nope…I fail because I want my own life.”
“I Might Have Unknowingly Given Something I’d Never Wish On Anyone To The One I Love Most”
“I regret having my son because of my mental illness. Not only does it make parenting a hundred times harder, I have this overwhelming feeling of guilt that my kid may inherit it. It’s something I would never wish upon anyone, yet I unknowingly did it to the person I love most in the world (I wasn’t diagnosed until he was 3).
There are days where I can hardly take care of myself, and sometimes I’m resentful that I have to take care of him first. Thankfully, I’ve been on meds/in therapy for a few years now and those days don’t happen often, but it was so much harder when he was younger and needed me more.
I love him more than words can express and he’s my favorite person in the world. As backwards as it seems, that’s exactly why I regret it sometimes.”
“I Just Don’t Love Him”
“I don’t care about my son.
I got my then girlfriend pregnant by accident, and her being her Christian self, she didn’t want to abort it. Our relationship was always off the wall, she always had plans for our ‘future.’ I didn’t even want to marry her, but I never told her.
Boom comes baby. I loved him to death since I first laid eyes on him. I bought him everything I could, everything was for him. My girlfriend has postpartum depression and tells me she doesn’t love me anymore, I tell her it’s the depression talking, so we try to mend it. A year later she cheats on me, leaves me, moves to a different state, and takes the baby. I try to track her down, but in the end, it was futile. I was heartbroken from her, and especially my son.
7 years later, she comes back to live in my hometown and says she wants me to see my son (in the end it was only because she wanted child support). I had already moved on, made my career in engineering, got married, and we have a beautiful baby girl on the way. She brings my son and we finally meet, it was really awkward and I didn’t know what to say. He spends every other week with me, but it’s like having a stranger in the house. It’s been 2 years of this and I don’t feel any connection to him. He’s a good kid, doesn’t pull any tantrums, is respectful, loves his sister, but I just don’t love him. It makes me feel guilty. I don’t really regret him, per se, but to me, he just feels like an outsider from a life I tried to move on from.”
“I Never Thought I Would Hate Life This Much”
“I regret it because I’m miserable. Absolutely miserable. I feel like I got pressured into it by my wife. She wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Well we got unlucky on the first pregnancy and had twins. We had only been married a year at that point, and after that, my marriage went way beyond the crapper and just got worse. After awhile, it got better and then she wanted another kid. I still didn’t want the first two, but I gave in. Now we have three. I’m even more miserable and I feel stuck and can’t please anyone.
I work a ton so my wife has them most of the time. Whenever I discipline them, she screams at me because I’m not doing it her way. I’m constantly belittled by her and always told I’m doing something wrong. I actually hate my life. I’ve contemplated offing myself a few times but would feel bad for doing that to my kids. NOT my wife, my kids. I wake up every day hating myself, my life, and every freaking choice I’ve ever made. If I could go back in time, I would beat myself with a crowbar for even contemplating getting married. Literally would do anything to start over and be single forever.
I’m only 25, but I never would have thought I would hate life this much when I was 18.”
It’s Not Having The Kids That She Regrets…
“I don’t regret having my kids so much as keeping them. I feel badly that I’m their mother and my husband is their father, because we’ve made some serious mistakes and they have had to deal with that. I was 17 when I had my oldest two (twins) and I genuinely did not understand how much my brain was still changing and how unprepared I was and how unprepared I would remain. The first few years, I felt like I really did pretty well — not even ‘pretty well for a teen mom,’ I thought I was a pretty excellent mom overall. As I’ve gotten older and more self-aware, that has changed.
This isn’t a constant crushing feeling or anything, just something that hurts from time to time and I try and deal. And again, I don’t regret having them; I understand that I’m biased, but I truly believe that all four of them are wonderful people and the world is a much better place with them in it. But I regret not handing them over to someone who would’ve done a better job.”
Parenthood Last Far Longer Than You’d Think
“I will start by saying I never wanted kids. I was married at 20, had my first kid by 21, second kid by 22.
First kid is out on his own and let me tell you his 18th birthday couldn’t come fast enough so he could move out.
Second kid is moderately to severely affected by autism. She will never hold a job or live on her own. I never got to enjoy my 20s or 30s. I never will be able to take the amazing vacations that my friends all plaster all over Facebook. I will never have free time with my husband because no one wants to watch an autistic, low functioning 20-year-old. There’s not even any leaving her at home alone for a few hours to go shopping or watch a movie or anything.
My husband had to quit his job to become a stay-at-home dad for her because there are no decent services for adults with autism. We had to move away from friends and family just to find a decent school for her. Kids take so much time and money and energy, and having a disabled one is even more physically and mentally draining. I love my children. More than I can ever express. They never asked to be brought into this world. I have an obligation to care for my daughter because no one else will. There will never be an end for us as far as ‘raising’ our kid, then having her leave home so we can live our lives. I do become sad about missing out on things. Adventures and trips and vacations. But we modify our plans to include her.
My son feels obligated to step up and take care of her when I am no longer able to. I told him that it is a huge responsibility and I would never ask him to do something so life changing when he has his own life to live. We will discuss it as we get older. My daughter constantly pushes boundaries and if we gave into her all the time she would be unbearable to live with
We are lucky because our daughter is sweet and a lovely girl. I can’t even imagine how hard life is for her. I at least am able to make my own choices, have friends, and work and love. These things are probably not going to be available to her. So I guess I don’t really regret having kids, I regret having a child who has to live everyday with autism. For her, not me.”
He Warned Her That He Never Wanted That Life
“Having a child ended my marriage. I never wanted kids, ever, and was very clear about this with my (now ex) wife from the day we met. We initially met each other on a dating site, on which it even said on my profile ‘doesn’t want kids.’ She noticed this and brought it up early in dating, and I confirmed exactly my opinion. We talked about it many times from dating, through engagement, and when we were married. It was always non-negotiable with me.
A few years into the marriage she caught the baby bug from somewhere and started badgering me about it almost constantly, trying to change my mind. ‘It’ll be different when it’s ours,’ ‘You don’t like other kids but you would love your own,’ ‘You’ll change your mind when you see it,’ the usual clichéd words. At some point, she mentioned the issue to my parents as well, and desperate for a grandchild, they started putting the pressure on me too.
At this point my wife and I had a very serious conversation, in which I made it clear that I wanted nothing more than for her to be happy, and if she needed to have a child, the only option was for us to end our marriage so she could find someone else who could give her what I couldn’t. I didn’t want this to be an ultimatum or a threat or anything like that, I just knew in my heart that I didn’t want a child, couldn’t love a child and didn’t want the change in lifestyle a child would bring to our marriage. She said that us being together was more important than anything else and I thought that was the end of it.
Some time later, my wife unexpectedly fell pregnant. She’s always said it was a surprise, and that it was the one in a million chance of our birth control failing. I’m not convinced, but I’ve never been able to prove anything. She told me the fact it happened was sheer fate and showed that it was meant to be even though I ‘thought’ I never wanted it. This was her justification for not having an abortion. Our relationship, particularly trust, was basically already dead from this point onwards. She gave the same reasoning as always, I’d love it when I saw it, etc. but I didn’t. Not on day 1, not after year 1, year 2, year 3…
I tried to stick at it for just under 4 years, but it was awful. I felt nothing for the child, it was like an object to me. A very inconvenient, demanding object that meant my wife and I never did anything together anymore. No dates, no holidays, no trips, no adventures, no romance. We barely spoke and when we did it always seemed to be child-related. In the end, I couldn’t take it anymore and filed for divorce. I happily granted full custody to my wife and moved away to seek employment elsewhere. That was 6 years ago and I haven’t seen her or the child since. I think my parents still visit, but after what happened I don’t really talk to them anymore either. I’ve never met another woman with the spark and chemistry I had with my wife in the child-free years of our relationship, and the few women I’ve dated disappear quickly when they find out I’m not going to give them a baby. I’m not sure where I go from here.”
“It Gets Hard To Maintain Hope” When Your Kid Has Mental Health Issues
“I’ve got two kids, both teenagers now. The eldest has anxiety and depression and sometimes I wonder how my wife and I have managed to stay married through it all. We love both our kids more than anything, but having one with mental health issues is just exhausting. You start to anticipate the crazy as you’re driving home from work. Almost nothing gets her out of her moods, and it weighs heavy on all the relationships in the household. She does therapy and meds, and they help some, but it’s like she’s just bent on seeing the worst possible view of everything. So then you imagine the life that this person you love is likely to lead, given this tendency, and it’s just depressing. It gets hard to maintain hope.
‘Regret’ is a strong word, but if we could go back to when she was little and happy, and just stay there, it would be a lot better.”
Nothing Could Have Prepared Them
“It’s not that I regret having her, but if I could wrap her in cotton wool and bubble wrap, put her in a cupboard for ten years with the guarantee that I’ll get the same child back, I without a doubt would.
Parenthood is just not what I expected it to be. I mean, people told me that you have to make sacrifices when you become a parent, but because I had never really made any sacrifices before having her, I had no idea what that might entail or feel like. I also thought I wouldn’t mind missing out on all the partying and holidays because I would have the ultimate gift, a child, but I have found that also to be untrue. I do mind missing out on the partying and holidays, and therefore I try to cram as much as that in as I can still, which makes my quality time with my child few and far between. Yes I have her five nights a week, I feed her, bathe her, teach her, discipline her, put her to bed, but I mean proper quality time. I feel she misses out on stuff because sometimes I have no desire to do anything, as I’d rather be elsewhere.
I feel constantly guilty because I’m not putting my all in to be the best mommy I could be, how I imagined myself to be and I feel she is missing out. Before I had her, I always wanted three children, now one is enough for me, I don’t want any more.
I take her out and do play dates with a couple of my friends and their kids, I do that mostly every week. I take her to soft play once every couple of weeks. I take her to the park and to visit family every week and once in a blue moon I’ll do arts and crafts with her. I do play hide and seek with her when she asks but apart from that I don’t really interact in child’s play with her, I find playing doctors or kitchen mentally exhausting. I don’t mind kicking a ball with her or taking her these places but I do it because of guilt for her and while I am physically there, I am most of the time mentally checked out.
If I could have taken a glimpse into what parenthood really, really is like before I fell pregnant, I would have been a lot more careful. People can tell you but nothing can really prepare you for what it is really like. It is, 24/7, hands down the toughest most exhausting job ever.”
Parenting Is Hard On Step-Parents Too
“Step-dad here. Came into my kid’s life when she was 9 months old. She’s 6 now. I hate being responsible for the training of a future adult. I hate so much about parenting. I’m very fond of the kiddo, but it makes me unhappy. I had to change my life and my career goals. Before entering into this relationship, I was intending to work as a private security contractor once I left the army. Because it’s a high risk job, I’ve had to adjust my sights and now I’m an accountant. I’m a very violent person at heart and I know my life’s calling.
I’ve had to sacrifice my life goals to be a steady parent, it’s hard to look at this kid and blame them, she didn’t ask me to change my life, but I saw that I was needed in the child’s life and I can’t disregard that need. It freaking sucks and it’s not worth it, but this is the decision I made. No more late nights out drinking, no more sleeping during the day, no more just taking off for a few days, everything I do I have to think of the kiddo’s welfare.”
They’d Be Lying If They Said Otherwise
“I love my baby, I do.
But I’d be lying if I said I have never thought about how much easier it would be without her.
My career is worse off. My pay and hours are reduced.
My relationship with my partner has changed. We don’t have as much together time.
And my own interests and time to just be me is almost non existent.
My life is a rotation of working, cleaning, sleeping and child care.
And then there is my baby herself. Very willful, smart and stubborn.
And sometimes she just cries for no reason. Or gets hyper clingy to the point I have to hold her while I’m on the toilet.
She hurts me a lot too (pulls hair, scratches, bites, pushes on me or kicks me away) and it is hard not to get mad at her because then I’m a bad parent.”
It’s Not The Child She Regrets
“I have a daughter who’s 6, it’s not that I regret it because of her or that I do t love her. I regret it because I don’t know her, I have harm OCD (not cool), but I didn’t know that’s what it was until pretty recently. I was so scared that I was going to hurt her that I disappeared and never came back. You know, I honestly can’t think of anything that hurts more than that. I have friends who don’t care if they see their kids or not.
I want to see mine but I’m literally terrified it would harm her, she doesn’t know that though. She probably thinks I don’t care about her at all. I can’t even say this out loud without crying it hurts so bad.
I wish I could go back and not have her because I don’t want her to have to grow up without a dad, I know her mom has boyfriends and stuff but that’s not the same.
The only reason I don’t kill myself is because I still have a shred of hope that someday I’ll be better and be able to tell her the truth. This OCD is so bad I’m on disability for it, either way she is going to know me as a crazy person. It hurts..”
Sometimes It’s More Than Just The Parents
“One disclaimer, my parents have never outright told me that they regretted having children, but I know. I’m 26 now and y’know, I just know.
It wasn’t all bad, it’s not like I was abused or anything, it was a lot of me living with a mom who didn’t pay a lot of attention and not living with a dad who did the dad thing for maybe a full three months a year. He did always send money though, but that might have been court ordered.
My parents are very different in their regret here, but my mom used to oscillate between being vicious towards my sister and I, and otherwise not being involved in our lives. I am currently NC with her, which is just as well for me, I’ve never really felt the emotional and moral benefit of knowing her, so I lose nothing by not knowing her (since money isn’t a factor anymore).
My dad is slightly more complicated. He outright told me once that he had purposefully gotten my mother pregnant because their engagement was on the verge of collapse, and he really did want to make a life with her, and he did want to have me. Of course, THAT didn’t work out the way he hoped at all. And I’m sure that part time involvement he had in parenting was meaningful to him, and that he does ‘keep me in his prayers’ so to speak, the fact is that he made a decision more regretful than he is willing to admit to me.
I should probably take it easier on my mother, she didn’t have the same ‘freedom to get los’ (she might say) as my dad, but too much has happened. Even though there’s been laughter and good times, truth is, I’ve just seen her regret with life, up close, a bit too much, and I know there’s not much positivity still waiting for me there.”