Author Topic: Regretting parenthood  (Read 1699 times)

Michael Reilly

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Regretting parenthood
« on: March 10, 2018, 12:09:20 PM »
I'm not sure if anyone is interested in this topic, but I found this article highly interesting and very brave: this is an issue that dare not be spoken (in my experience, at least). It would be the rare homo sapien who did not have the urge to procreate, but having children in our culture (Western culture in particular, American culture for me specifically) is very, very challenging. Give a read, new friends.

Link to article


Edit: Tank, sorted link.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2018, 02:07:14 PM by Tank »

Ecurb Noselrub

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Re: Regretting parenthood
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2018, 01:54:58 PM »
My advice is to skip kids and go straight to grandkids.

Tank

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Re: Regretting parenthood
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2018, 02:18:05 PM »
I'm not sure if anyone is interested in this topic, but I found this article highly interesting and very brave: this is an issue that dare not be spoken (in my experience, at least). It would be the rare homo sapien who did not have the urge to procreate, but having children in our culture (Western culture in particular, American culture for me specifically) is very, very challenging. Give a read, new friends.

Link to article


Edit: Tank, sorted link.
Don't worry natural selection weeds out the genes those men and women who choose not to have kids. Those that do have kids are the future of humanity, whatever that may be.
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Re: Regretting parenthood
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2018, 11:00:55 PM »
National Geographic magazine, February issue, has a relevant article about children.  It is the story about 9th grade kids in a school in Tame' Colombia.  They range in age from 13 to 16.  They have a serious program that they call Bebe?, Piensalo bien. which loosely translates to; Baby? Think it over.

Latin American countries have a disproportionate number of teen pregnancies.  These kids, with their parents consent, undergo a 30 hour course that includes sex education, contraceptive use, and discussions of gender prototypes, domestic violence, and family budgeting. Part of the course requires the student to spend 48 hours with "Estiven".  Estiven is a robotic baby that has to be fed every two hours or so, it cries, he needs his diapers changed and must be given loving attention or otherwise he cries.  The kids with the robot, which looks every bit like a baby, do not get much sleep, they must use what little money they have to buy formula and diapers................... If they neglect the care that should be given, Estiven will shut down and the kid will fail the course.  The course is extended to both boys and girls. That education is working.  One of the pictures accompanying the article, shows three thirteen year olds correctly applying a condom to a plastic penis.  One of the three is a pretty little girl who seems unembarassed about the process.

I have heard of other, US based, programs, aimed I think unfairly, only at girls.  They have to wear a heavy bulge strapped around their bellies such that they look and feel pregnant.  The girl must keep that thing strapped to her for a six week time interval. She must live with it while sleeping, while in the shower, at the dinner table, the movie theater, and everywhere else.  Just like a real pregnancy.  The device has sensors that reveals whether it has been removed at any time, just like ankle bracelets for parolees. That gets the message across no doubt.

The brilliance of either of these programs is often, even usually, prohibited by parents who are more influenced by religious beliefs about propriety, than by affective teaching methods. 





Anne D.

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Re: Regretting parenthood
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2018, 02:36:14 AM »
My husband and I deliberately chose not to have kids. I feel reasonably happy in life and don't regret our decision. My closest friends chose to have kids. Theirs are currently very young, and at the moment, my friends are pretty stressed and stretched thin. But hey, they have beautiful children that won't be needy creatures forever. At the moment the kids can be demons or little heartbreakers. I so enjoy interacting with them as an auntie. Who knows which of us, me or my friends, will be happier long term. I suspect my friends will have a richer life experience for having been parents, but I still have no regrets about choosing to be child free. Parenthood wasn't right for me or my spouse.
And nope, no point here. Just rambling. :)

Dragonia

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Re: Regretting parenthood
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2018, 03:21:11 PM »
Yes, this is a major taboo subject. I wonder if it's so taboo because of the harm and hurt that could result if the kids find out that their parents regret having had them. (Although that's dumb, thinking about the million other ways people screw their kids up)
Also, it's hard to admit that you are wishing away something that you really do deeply love, it just screws your life up.
I can honestly say that I haven't regretted my kids once, ever. Even when I wanted to strangle them.
But if I ever were to have a friend confide to me that they did regret their own kids, I would understand far better as a mom, than I would have before I had kids. Because, even though it's totally cliché, it's also totally true that having kids can be super hard, and they do change your life , at least for a few years, minimum.

This was why my husband and I didn't want kids for the first 10 years we were together. I was pretty adamant. I loved my freedom, my fun, my friends, my money. If I had gotten pregnant before I was ready, I may have regretted it too.

But I do think that a person who admits their regret is very brave and brutally honest, and I would probably really respect their thoughts.
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Re: Regretting parenthood
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2018, 03:28:47 AM »
Struggled with my feelings on this. My experience is similar to Dragonia's, we were together 11 years,  married 9 before having our kid. I was always more prepared for parenthood  than my wife, admittedly, but I absolutely get why people choose not to have kids and would never presume to tell anyone who says that that they'll change their mind. It's a very personal decision and parenthood is  tough, and you lose a lot of freedom and money in the deal. I personally find it worth it, but we also waited until we were ready and got to live our lives. I probably would understand these feelings more had we not waited.
My wife also admitted one day that she sometimes second-guessed our decision to do so because of the lost freedom. I admit I was a bit put off by it because we had talked so much before going ahead, and now it sounded like she thought otherwise.  But I get it. It's just tough to think logically and rationally about a comment like that when you're talking about a little living person who's so reliant on you. And she really is a fantastic mom, so it doesn't affect her love for our kid. There are just some days where you wish you could have a vacation from parenthood, for just a little bit.
That being said, it's well worth it.
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Re: Regretting parenthood
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2018, 10:22:56 AM »
The statement in the article that regretful parents were often more conscientious than they would have been resonated with me because that’s how I was on the days when I was bored out of my brain with the same stories, the same games, the ties to regular mealtimes, the nappy changes, inability to make an uninterrupted phone call, being unable to binge-read a book etc etc ...

The teenage years as their personalities emerged were so much more enjoyable, and we had a lot  to talk about because I went to uni when they were 14 and 17. Our son married and it was such a pleasure seeing him and his wife together. Then, just as life was so settled and happy and I felt we were reaping the rewards of parenthood, they buggered off to Oz and I can’t deny that inside I feel cheated. Being with the grandchildren but being able to give them back at the end of the day is one of life’s greatest pleasures. You have all the good times without the tediousness but we have to do a 20,000 mile round trip to do it. Our daughter, who has never settled with anyone permanently, (met two Mr Nearly-Rights) is the light of my life. I think she doesn’t want children enough to give up her hard-working but exciting life in London and life is so entertaining when we are with her. But only the other day she said she is enquiring about a six-month sabbatical or job-swap in Oz so that she can hang out with her nieces while they are still young. Outwardly I was enthusiastic and of course we would encourage her to have he life she wants, but my heart sank like a stone. Catastrophising everything as usual, I’m thinking, “suppose she meets someone and decides to stay”?

So do I regret becoming a parent? On balance, no,  because I can’t imagine life without them and as someone said in the article, “I’d cut off my leg for them if necessary” but life inside my head would be calmer now and I could enjoy myself without worrying what sort of state we are leaving this planet in both physically and politically for them all.
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Re: Regretting parenthood
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2018, 10:45:12 AM »
Well, I had two kids with my first wife and then none with my second although I know that she would have like to have had kids, by the time we met it was too late for that, not least because I had already had an operation.  (LOL)  I never regretted having the kids, although I did regret marrying their mother - a double edged sword, but life is complicated, no?  Now I have my first grandchild, a soon to be two year old bright bundle of energy.  I cannot tell you how much pleasure it gives me watching her grow up.  I have more than a few regrets in my life, but in the end I am the product of my experience and I would not go back and change anything, except perhaps I should have saved more money whe I was younger...  ;)
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Michael Reilly

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Re: Regretting parenthood
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2018, 05:06:47 PM »
I have two children, and I love them dearly. Being a bit on the older side as a dad, I can see that the time they are going to be home with us is really quite short compared to the many years I had without them before they were born (36) and the years they'll be gone once they are older (say when I'm 60 or so, roughly). So it's like 10 years of intensive parenting when they were babies and little kids, then much less hands-off (but still stressful!) parenting when they are teens and young adults. So if I live to be 90 (likely, given my genetics), I'd have had kids in my home for (again, roughly) 18% of my life.

That's not much.

I have felt the bite of boredom, financial stress, and loss of freedom as a parent. The worrying really wears me down. But with all of that said, I am glad that I have children, and would do it again knowing what I know now. I think it was one of the Popes who said, "with children, the days are long but the years are fast" or something. That's been my experience.

I work with quite a few young women who don't seem to be in any rush to have children. They gush over dogs, and puppies, which is odd. 

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Re: Regretting parenthood
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2018, 03:17:29 PM »
Hmm... I find the notion intriguing.

I think that broadly speaking, I would not regret having children unless I failed them in some major way, at which point it would be on me, and not on them. But then, I'm not the kind of person to rush into parenthood (As my utter childlessness at an age where some of my peers' kids are in their early to mid teenage years) nor am I the kind of person who regrets things which can not be changed.

Generally, I don't think I would enjoy the first decade or so of parenthood. I just find small children relentlessly... Boring. Still, I find it difficult to envision scenarios in which my children would not be the by far most important things in my life, so... That might provide a counterbalance for the tediousness, but then again, it might not.

On one hand, I see stuff like teaching your kid to ride a bicycle, read, play chess, be a confident Internet user... Perhaps becoming a decent person and/or fulfilling some more of what I percieve to be generic parent's dreams, on the other... Sex, drugs, rock and roll... Calls from the police in the middle of the night to pick up the brad from lockup, potential learning difficulties, questionable social and political affiliations... That's a lot of aggravation for someone who values his quiet. Overall worth it? Perhaps so. If not, it's probably down to my opening statement, and there the circular thinking begins.

In any case, I thought I would provide some childless loner perspective, so... Here it is.
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philosoraptor

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Re: Regretting parenthood
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2018, 02:31:39 AM »
I have been adamantly childfree for years, for a variety of reasons (lack of financial security, history of mental illness, partner with a family and personal history of addiction, small children are fucking exhausting). I had two other friends who *were* adamant about not having kids, up until the point where both of them had kids. Shocker, both of them have told me that I made the right choice, that while they love their children they hate being mothers, and if they had the choice to do it over they never would've had kids.

I wish it were socially acceptable to express this attitude, but parents (especially mothers) who express regret over their choice to have children are often looked at like they're morally bankrupt baby killers. Similarly, it seems like whenever you tell someone you don't have or want kids, they feel like they have to tell you why you're wrong, selfish, how you'll change your mind, how you'll never know real love, how it's the most rewarding job ever. But these are also the same people who have kids and do nothing but bitch about how tired, broke, and stressed they are. And if you are the parent who's willing to say that no, it is not in fact all sunshine and rainbows and unconditional love, you get shit for it. I feel like there are quite a few people who procreate not because of their own desires, but because of societal pressure to fit in by settling down. These are the people who end up shitty, resentful parents who raise shitty, resentful kids, thus perpetuating a vicious cycle.

My husband is almost 32 years old. He has persistent substance abuse problems, unaddressed mental and physical health problems, no driver's license, no health insurance, and has difficulty holding down jobs because he's constantly late (due to the fact that he doesn't drive and has no sense of time management). His older sister, in reference to me and our relationship, told him that, "It's a sin you don't have kids, you belong with someone who wants them. You could do better." I guess her only criteria for "better" is a woman who wants kids, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find a woman who's a good candidate for motherhood who would also be willing to overlook all the glaring flaws my husband has that would indicate he's probably not great father material. I don't doubt that he would love our kid if we have one, but I do doubt if he'd be willing to put down the bong long enough to change the babies diaper if it were inconvenient. Which makes me believe that his sister is either a.) completely oblivious or in denial as to what kind of person her brother is b.) a miserable and selfish person who wants her brother to have kids at any cost not because parenthood has brought her joy, but because misery loves company. For the record, there hasn't yet been a time where I've watched my friends and family with kids and ever felt regretful that I had none of my own. If anything, I'm very secure in the knowledge that I made the right choice for myself, and that if anything, having kids would be the selfish option because I'm not and probably never will be in the position to emotionally or financially give a kid everything it needs and deserves.

Parenting is a difficult, important job, but it's not for everyone. I wish we could drop this narrative that pushes the idea that people are incomplete or worthless if they don't have kids.
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Re: Regretting parenthood
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2018, 11:36:22 AM »
Similarly, it seems like whenever you tell someone you don't have or want kids, they feel like they have to tell you why you're wrong, selfish, how you'll change your mind, how you'll never know real love, how it's the most rewarding job ever.

Selfish: "Concerned chiefly or only with yourself and your advantage to the exclusion of others."

I have a problem with this "selfish" slur.
I think it's OK to be a bit selfish, not "to the exclusion of others," not totally,
but I think it's natural for me to prioritise my interests.
It's not as if I'm building up points to get me into heaven or something.

Similarly, it seems like whenever you tell someone you don't have or want kids, they feel like they have to tell you why you're wrong, selfish, how you'll change your mind, how you'll never know real love, how it's the most rewarding job ever.

a miserable and selfish person who wants her brother to have kids at any cost not because parenthood has brought her joy, but because misery loves company.

I like my kids, they're likeable, mostly but I've seen lots of them that aren't.
It's a risky business, you could end with one of those horrors, like you see at the supermarket.
I think your reluctance is understandable, and we're killing the earth anyway and bringing a kid into it is selfish.
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Dragonia

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Re: Regretting parenthood
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2018, 01:00:25 PM »
...
Parenting is a difficult, important job, but it's not for everyone. I wish we could drop this narrative that pushes the idea that people are incomplete or worthless if they don't have kids.

You're so totally right about this. 

I used to work in a mailroom in Germany, where 6 of us would talk every morning, for about an hour, while we sorted the mail. We talked about everything, getting philosophical, being sarcastic, solving the world's problems. It was usually good conversation, until one day we talked about kids and the fact that I never wanted any. I got jumped on so fast be 2 people, before they even knew my thought process. I was called selfish and self-centered.
So, me being young, and unsure of myself, I wondered for the next year if I really was selfish for not wanting kids.
Now I would just tell them to go fuck themselves, but back then I was a different person.
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. ~ Plato (?)

Asmodean

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Re: Regretting parenthood
« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2018, 01:44:47 PM »
Now I would just tell them to go fuck themselves, but back then I was a different person.
This, I very much recognise myself in, though it may well be that I've just shriveled up and grown bitter over the course of the last decade.

I think that's a healthy enough attitude though, even if it does look a bit... Rasin-ish.
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