Having kids can be one of the most life-changing and fulfilling experiences a person can have.
But it can also be a really, really tough responsibility that doesn't pan out in the ways you hope, and involves a lot of isolation and questioning of your life choices.
In the time of the internet, where there are (relatively) safe places to share life regrets anonymously, more regretful parents are opening up about why they wish they'd gone down another path in life.
I wasn't ready to stop being selfish. I'm only two years in so it's still the intense stage, but parenting so far has just been relentlessly exhausting.
I feel like having a kid closed off a lot of possibilities for me, definitely killed any semblance of spontaneity in my life.
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 Facebook with.
I will never have free time with my husband because no one wants to watch an autistic low functioning 20-year-old. Hell, there's not even 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. 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. 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 every day with autism.
For her, not me.
Destroyed marriage via:
Forget passionate love making (it becomes a chore) when kids start walking.
The things you did together, you can no longer do, together, or very rarely.
The things you enjoyed individually, can not be replicated either.
Forget unwind time, personal space, etc..
Over years people change, and nothing accelerates change like having another depend being (or three).
That's for the marriage bit.
Then there's work/life balance which goes out the f**king door. The stress at work, and the increasing stress of job market, you do not have the luxury of coming come to dissipate.
What happens is that you come home after a nasty, stressful day, and the stress is COMPOUNDED with home/kids problems. Have that for years.
I love my kids, I'd STILL have them, but there are sacrifices people are not prepared for. I've seen marriages destroyed, homes destroyed, I've seen mental breakdowns, drug usage, etc.
My daughter was born mentally disabled. I always tell myself it could be worse, that there are kids who just shake back and forth in wheelchairs.
The thing is she is happy now but has no concept of death and I can only imagine what it will be like when her mother and I are gone. She will be institutionalized and abused probably.
My kids are the worst thing that ever happened to me. And the best. I have three kids, 8, 16, and 18.
The #3, at 2, got a blood disorder and we spent many months in Children's Hospital. Were it not for the ACA kicking in for kids a year early, we'd have gone bankrupt. Child #2, at 12, became depressed and suicidal.
Prior to that, she'd be been the 'easy' kid who had tons of friends, was smart, talented, and easygoing. We've spent 4 years in family-based therapy and in and out of mental health hospitals.
Child #1 was different from the day he was born. No one believed me because I was a new mom and didn't know anything. Trust me. He was different.
After NUMEROUS rounds of therapy--including one where the therapist said I secretly hated my son because I secretly hated my father--I discovered he had Aspergers.
Elementary school and middle school were Hell with various phone calls to and from the school. In high school things got slightly better and began 'growing into himself.'
He also started getting REALLLLLY thirsty and REALLLY hungry. And congrats, you have Type 1 diabetes! In all of this, my husband got laid off during the Recession, right when the baby got sick. Hasn't worked since, so I'm the sole breadwinner.
Needless to say, this isn't what I imagined being a parent would be like. But as I said earlier, they are also the best thing that ever happened to me. I can see now, that without them, I would be a very different person.
Probably a lonely, unloved person. My kids have made me a much better person. I'm very introverted and I doubt that I'd have come out of my shell. Believe it or not, I doubt my husband and I would still be married if we didn't have kids.
I just think we would have gotten very wrapped up in our careers and likely drifted apart. I've become more empathetic to others' misfortunes. I know that good parents are flawed people who do their best that they can every single day.
I know that I'm ultimately raising good kids who will hopefully look back on all of this and realize that they are better people for their struggles.
My 8 yo wants to be a nurse because she remembers the nurses who helped her when she was in the hospital-- and because of seeing her brother deal with diabetes.
My 16 yo is studying to be a vet tech and is awesome with animals. She's very sensitive and I could see her doing something with animal therapy. My 18 yo is studying to be a welder and is super creative-- writing, drawing, inventing.
It's a tough answer because what I regret is what we've had to go thru. But yet, going thru all of that has made us, ultimately, better people.
I got two kids...both teenagers now. The eldest has anxiety and depression. Sometimes I wonder how my wife and I have managed to stay married through it all. We love both our kids, 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 hell-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.
My life turned into a living hell when my oldest son was a teenager. He started using drugs at 14, he was arrested for breaking into cars at around the same age. Things continued to escalate and we had no control of him, we tried everything.
He continued to use drugs, he sold drugs. The state of Florida has a law that the parents are responsible for the minor until the age of 18.
He couldn't be emancipated because he wasn't financially independent and we couldn't afford to support him outside our home. We were forced to keep him in our home.
It was 4 years of living hell, I had 2 breakdowns and our marriage was torn apart. He was a good kid until age 14, smart in school, and neither my husband nor I used drugs. There's no guarantee how your kid will turn out.
I just wasn't ready. I was only 20 when she was born. I was in the middle of uni and I just wasn't ready to be responsible for something so important. I wanted to go travelling before starting my career but that won't happen.
I'm just about to finish my masters degree and I'm going to have to go straight into a high-stress job to be able to have some form of financial stability to provide for her and be able to move into a decent area so she can go to a decent school.
I'm on placement atm, I leave at 6am and get back at 7pm. If my gf hasn't managed to get her to sleep before I get back, she won't sleep till 10pm cos she f**ks about for me and refuses to sleep.
Once I've got her to sleep, I then have to attempt to do some of my dissertation and apply for jobs. I just want one day where I can stay in bed and chill like I used to. I don't hate being a parent, I just wish I could've waited like 10 years.
And forget about ever getting sex. My gf decided co-sleeping was a good idea so I've not had any form of intimate contact for like 6 months now. And before it stopped completely, it happened extremely rarely.
I've gone from having sex like 4 times a week to 0 times in 6 months.
Late to the party but hey ho. I was a mother of three. The things that are often mentioned about lack of sleep, autonomy, money etc. 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, and this is a big but, my biggest regret is my youngest, because she died at age 6.
She had a brain tumour which made her blind and adversely affected her behaviour 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.
I come from a broken up family and never wanted that for my kids. I wanted a full family with no stepparents or split visitation. I'm now a single father of two who have different moms. I really wanted things to work but they just never did.
My one kid has a mom who went three weeks without seeing him because she has refused to do an 8-hour drug class I paid for. My other son's mom is great and we do 50/50 outside of court so that's nice, but I still wish things weren't this way.
My regret isn't exactly having kids, it's having them with people I mistakingly thought were who I would be with the rest of my life.
I feel like I had my son with my ex partner under false pretenses so to speak and now that we're not together I sometimes feel like life would just be easier if we hadn't had a child together.
Back story: I found out when my son was only a few months old that his father had been cheating on me basically our entire relationship, lying, manipulating, and basically being a horrible human being and we split.
We didn't have the most amicable break-up and had to sort out court agreements, visitation etc. He now basically nit-picks everything and anything he can and makes life difficult.
I wouldn't take back my son for the world but sometimes I just feel like this isn't exactly what I signed up for and if I'd known about everything before I became pregnant things would be so much different.
Naturally, I'm not the biggest fan of my father's son (due to the cheating etc) so having to be in constant contact and being tied together like this for life isn't much fun.
I love my children more than anything else in this world. Words can not describe the type of love I feel for them. But at the same time, I do regret having them. I regret being the person that I have become as a parent.
I was always carefree and spur of the moment...now I'm careful and if plans aren't set in stone, they likely won't happen. I always said I would never have children.
I hate kids...I do. I am just not that type of nurturing person. I was always very careful to make sure protection was in use (condoms, birth control) but I am that .1% and apparently very fertile.
I do not have that natural motherly instinct that all women seem to have, you know...that one that kicks in the moment they know they're pregnant. I have to work really hard at it and it's exhausting.
I miss my solitude and being able to 'check out' of reality from time to time. With all that being said, there is not a thing I wouldn't do for my children. They will always be my babies. They are amazing little creatures.
My boys play travel baseball and I wouldn't trade long nights at the ball fields for anything. Watching them play is one of the greatest joys in my life. Still, I often find myself wondering what life would be like without them.
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 fake 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 extra-curriculars (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 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.
Because kids aren't the life completer we believe they are. Actually, they take away from your quality of life daily. My kids are 13 and 11 and they STILL mess up my daily life.
Worst of all is I love them so much I couldn't do without them even though they disturb my peace all the time. I do not recommend having children. Maybe one but not necessary. We perpetuate the species needlessly.