For many people, their children bring them so much joy and fulfillment. But I wanted to hear from parents whose experiences have been quite the opposite.
I asked parents in the BuzzFeed community, "Do you regret having kids, and if so, why?" and their responses are very important:
1. "I graduated college, decided to have kids shortly after. Figured I could start my career afterward. I instead am a SAHM to three kids, one who has a disability..."
2. "I often regret having him because we are poor, in massive crippling debt, and living with an inconsiderate family member because can't afford to move. I have crippling anxiety, panic attacks, and depression, and my son has witnessed at a young age his mother's frequent episodes..."
"Lately he is mean and tells me he hates me when I tell him no. I'm scared for him to go back to school because I fear he will be a bully. He hasn't played or interacted with other kids his age in person for almost two years now because of the pandemic. We have frequent shouting matches where I simply break down and dissociate. I regret having him more than I'm grateful for him."
3. "I had my kids at 22 and 24, and while I don't regret them, if I could go back in time and make a different choice I would. I don't think I had finished growing up, and it's so much harder to handle the stress and responsibility of being a parent when you don't know who you are yet..."
4. "I grew up in an abusive household and have experienced significant trauma. I struggle with mental health issues and so does my ex..."
5. "I essentially raised my younger sister, and that was a nightmare. She relied on me for everything — from cooking meals, to helping with homework, to bedtime routines. I had no time for myself to focus on my own education or interests. I made the decision at a young age to never have children..."
"I tried for several years to be a mom and do what was expected of me, but I was absolutely miserable. I hated the expectations, the constant neediness, all the responsibilities. I felt like a shell of myself. I did seek treatment, but I never felt relief until I allowed her father to be her main caregiver. Afterward, I felt like a huge weight was lifted. I pursued my education, established my career, did things that made me happy. I’m still in her life. I call regularly, see her often, and support her. But I am a much better parent when I am hands-off."
6. "I had them with the wrong person. Men get a biological clock, too, and when I was pushing 30, my junk said, 'That'll do,' and I landed with someone I had zero common interests with and two children..."
7. "I’m infertile, and we adopted and she was very wanted, but when she was 3, my mental health [got worse], and it’s been a five-year journey of multiple things being diagnosed, hospitalizations (all self-admit), and a lot of work on my end..."
"I have so much guilt for not being the mother she deserved. I’m stable now and doing well, but I still have rough days. If I had known, I don’t know if I would have pursued adoption."
8. "I didn't see it at the time, but I was young and consumed by my depression. I didn't think I was ready to have a kid, but talking with my husband and my mom about it made me feel like I didn't want a kid because I didn't trust God enough..."
9. "I was always ambivalent about having kids, but my husband really wanted to. I decided we could just try...literally two weeks later I was pregnant. Having a child changed my life completely..."
"Having a toddler has tested my patience like nothing else, and I struggle with my anger. I feel like having a child was the worst decision I ever made. I had a truly fulfilling life before, traveling the world and working in a job I loved that tested me intellectually every day. I secretly wonder if the people who claim their children made their lives better really had that great of a life to begin with. I think I knew that I didn’t have the personal aspects that would make a great mother, but I went along with someone else’s choice. And now we’re all paying the price."
10. "I was Mormon and was taught that literally my purpose as a woman is to have as many children as possible, as soon as possible. I love my kids to death, but I was not ready to be a mom at 20. I wish I had finished college first, because going to school with young kids is very difficult."
11. "Seems the previous generation could afford kids. But it’s humiliating that I can’t provide even though I’m working much harder. We’re sinking."
12. "I do not regret my daughter, but I definitely have moments when I regret bringing a child into this world. This is for two reasons..."
13. "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."
14. "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."
15. And finally, "Love my kids but don’t like them as people. I made them but can’t wait for them to leave. So messed up."
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.