As a parent, I’ve had moments in which I regretted having kids. I’ve wondered how my life would have unfolded without my son and daughter. But I’ve never had sustained periods, month after month, in which I wish they had never been born.
It makes me sad that some parents do regret having kids. Perhaps they couldn’t foresee the trials of parenthood. Perhaps their son or daughter had severe physical or behavioral problems. I get having moments of frustration and introspection, but I can’t understand resenting your children — blaming them for the inconveniences they’ve caused.
The Washington Post recently wrote about an academic study that found many parents’ happiness dropped — instead of increased — after having a child.
“The effect was especially strong in mothers and fathers who are older than 30 and with higher education,” the newspaper said. “The consequence of the negative experiences was that many of the parents stopped having children after their first.”
The study followed more than 2,000 German parents for at least two years after the birth of their first child. Parents commented on the “continuous and intense nature of childrearing.”
Yes. Been there.
Parents also talked about sleep deprivation, depression and conflicts with their partner.
Yes. Been there.
It’s amazing anyone wants to be a parent when you look at the facts. Kids cost so much in so many quantifiable ways. But they can give you so much in return — in ways that are hard to measure.
How do you measure the joy of hearing a baby’s first words or seeing her first steps? Throughout a child’s life, countless milestones occur that provide immense joy to parent and child. Birthday parties. Family vacations. Christmas. Graduation.
Happy moments, of course, are offset by sometimes bitter conflicts and vexing communication problems. But raising a child adds depth and texture to your life. As a parent, you change and grow with each year of your child’s development.
Still … parenting isn’t for everyone. Nor should it be. I respect couples who decide that parenting — with all its disruptions — isn’t for them. I have a problem with couples who wanted kids and then resent them. I suspect more people than we think fall into the latter group.
There’s even a Facebook page for people who regret having kids.
“This page is here to let all the mothers and fathers know that regretting having a child(ren) is normal and shouldn’t be taboo,” it says. “We are here for you.”
Someone posted an online greeting card, intended to be humorous I suppose, that says, “Dogs are furry children that will never ask for money, a car or a phone. And they are always glad to see you.”
A mom complains
A mother wrote this anonymous comment on the Facebook page:
I am a 27-year-old woman who regrets having kids … I now have an almost 2-year-old who is still waking up several times at night, is very needy in general, and I hate it. I’m an only child and an introvert, and I NEED my alone time, which I never get. My husband works crazy long hours and I have no other help. It’s very stressful … But the worst part in all this is, I’m pregnant again!
Sadness. That’s all I have. Advice for this overwhelmed mom? I have none. Judgment of her? I have none.
I wish everyone who had children loved them dearly and could say, without hesitation, that the good outweighs the bad. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
If you’re considering being a parent, count the cost. If you’re already a parent, try to dwell on the positives more than the negatives.