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    Parents Revealed Their Honest Parenting Regrets That More People Should Know, And Even If You Don't Have Kids, It's A Must-Read

    "I hate that I let my mom and sister have more say with my daughter than her biological dad. Now, she’s entitled to the point where it disgusts me, and I don’t like her as a person at all. I'm trying to teach her how to navigate in the real world because she will be an adult some day, but they already have her too far gone. She's 12 years old."

    We recently asked parents of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us their biggest parenting regrets. Here are the eye-opening results:

    1. "I had kids too young. I got married at 22 and got pregnant at 23. My kids are close in age, so I gave birth at 24 and 25. Now at 29, I realized I didn’t have a strong sense of self prior to having kids, and becoming a mother has been a disorienting event for me."

    "Now, I’m on a journey to find myself, and the stakes are so high because I have children who depend on me. In hindsight, I wish I had found myself first and didn’t feel pressured to have kids right away."

    —29, Virginia

    woman holding her baby

    2. "Worrying about breastfeeding. In the UK, it's rammed down your throat, and you're all but shamed for considering anything else. As long as baby is fed and happy, who cares how they are fed? I struggled on and breastfed for 14 months; I was miserable for most of it and unable to leave my child for longer than a few hours. I get there are lots of positives for breastfeeding, but we have to accept there are other reasons someone might not want to."

    "He's happy and well-adjusted, but I do wish I knew then what I know now. I took time for granted."

    —33, Scotland

    closeup of a baby cradled in arms

    3. "My biggest regret was not being an everyday parent to my first two children from my first marriage. I never intended to be a 'part-time' dad. In fact, I LOVE being a dad. When my first wife asked me for a divorce, and eventually, moved the kids about 30 miles away (despite my best efforts to fight it), I became an every-other-weekend dad, which I know took a toll on my children as they were growing up. Now they're adults, and my oldest struggles with mental health and addiction issues that I blame myself and my ex for, and I'm not as close with them as I yearn to be."

    "I am happily remarried and have a six-year-old. While I can't fix the past, I am thrilled to be able to give my youngest son the life I wanted for his siblings and have the parenting experience I always intended for myself."

    —46, California

    dad and kid in the mirror putting on shaving crream

    4. "I should have distanced myself from my own parents as soon as their behavior became unhealthy for my family. When they found out I was pregnant, their behavior became unreasonable. Instead of bonding with my newborn, I spent my postpartum crying and barraged by harassing emails and texts."

    "If I had been able to distance myself earlier, my son would have some family, and I wouldn’t be fully estranged."

    —37, Georgia

    closeup of a woman crying

    5. "Raising my little boy abroad. My husband and I have lived as ex-pats for the entire eight years we’ve been together, but I never imagined raising my children away from my family. When they say it takes a village, you’d better believe it takes that same village to raise children. We want more children, but I honestly don’t think my mental health could handle it."

    "It’s taught me that I’m so much more capable and stronger than I thought I was, but good lord, it would be nice to have a bit of help from time to time."


    crying baby swaddled on dad's chest

    6. "I regret not being more intentional with my kids. You tend to raise your kids as you were raised unless you make a conscious effort to be different. My parents focused on their business and really didn't pay much attention to me or my siblings or be active with us. My husband and I would say 'someday we'll go on this vacation,' but life got in the way, and now, our kids are grown, and we regret all of the missed opportunities."

    "Be active with your kids even if you are exhausted after a long day at work. Go to that park or museum, take that vacation. You only have 18 summer vacations with your kids before they are adults. Your 'someday' plans won't happen without being intentional."

    —55, Colorado

    dad lifting up young daughter on the beach

    7. "I regret getting married for the second time after being a single mom for several years. I thought it was the best thing I could do for my kids to give them a more stable household and show them what 'real' love looks like. Instead, my kids and their stepdad barely get along, and I'm always stuck choosing between my teenage and preteen kids versus my spouse. Instead of real love, I'm seriously considering divorce."

    —36, Indiana

    couple sitting on opposite ends of a couch in distress

    8. "Having my son circumcised. I was a fairly young mom (21) and felt pressured into having it done. I'm now very much pro-body autonomy, and both my kids (my son is 14 and my daughter is seven) are 100% in control of the non-medical decisions regarding their bodies. I would never consider a cosmetic procedure without their consent."

    "My daughter didn't get her ears pierced until she was six and old enough to ask for them herself. I wish I had waited before making a permanent change to my child's body."

    —35, New Hampshire

    closeup of mom kissing her sleeping baby

    9. "My son is autistic. I listened to the ‘experts’ at his school, and I deeply regret it now. It caused trauma when they held him in the ‘quiet’ room, and when they wouldn’t accommodate his needs. I got better at advocating for him, but I still hate that he was so hurt those years in school. I feel like I let him down so badly."

    "Parents can and should advocate for their kids in schools. An IEP, individual education plan, is a legal document that schools must follow. You can advocate and get accommodations for your child to make school a success and not traumatic."


    dad helping son with homework at the table

    10. "I hate that I let my mom and sister have more say with my daughter than her biological dad. Now, she’s entitled to the point where it disgusts me. She expects to be waited on and doesn’t feel like she has to work for anything. I don’t like her as a person at all. I'm trying to teach her how to navigate in the real world because she will be an adult someday, but they already have her too far gone. She's 12 years old."

    —31, Texas

    angry daughter with mom in the background

    11. "I wish I had paused and enjoyed the little moments more. I was too preoccupied with trying to make everything perfect, or planning everything to the exact detail, to take a step back and just take in the moment. I wish I had said 'yes' more and scolded less. I wish I hadn't yelled so much. My son is a teenager now, and I would give anything to go back and revisit when he was a baby, a toddler, and a little boy."

    "He's happy and well-adjusted, but I do wish I knew then what I know now. I took time for granted."

    —35, Massachusetts

    mom helping daughter with homework

    12. "Discipline and manners will save you years of going back and forth with your kids. It's hard, I know, especially when coming from an abusive childhood. You'll want to coddle them, baby them, and give them everything you never had, but in the end, that'll make for a spoiled mini-me who makes you question whether hiding in the restroom for over an hour to cry out of frustration is considered abandonment. My #1 advice is to definitely communicate and take a break when taking care of your minis starts to feel like a boulder slowly crushing you."

    "Let them know, 'Hey, there's too much going on right now, and I need a break.' They'll totally understand, and yeah, they'll ask why, but it's a good way to teach them to express their feelings in a healthy way (not yelling or lashing out) — and that it's definitely OK to feel overwhelmed and step away from what's causing you to feel that way."

    —29, Washington

    mom feeding her baby

    13. "First, the regret: spending more time at work and hobbies than with my kids. The big parenting lesson is: it only takes 45 minutes a week of one-on-one quality time for each child to improve your family's lives. More is better. I read that playing with a dog for 10 minutes a day will keep them from getting depressed. Kids aren't dogs, but they need that play/quality time, too. If your kids are older than the ones who like to play, do something useful with them, like baking, or repairing your home, a car, or one of their possessions. Be interested in what they are interested in. Teenagers pretend to want us around less, but that's not accurate. They want us when they want us, and we should, kinda, be on call."

    "Remember: listening is an act of love. So, if they don't want to play or work with you on a project, then just be there for them when they need you. Watch them doing something they like, even if it's boring. If you are bored, keep that to yourself. When your kids are nearing adulthood, withhold judgment and offer feedback as an option. If they don't want it, let it slide. Don't be the bad parents you might have had, but be the parents you wish you had. You won't get a parade or a medal for being a present parent, but you will inspire your children to be the best versions of themselves. So, let's spend time with our kids! You won't get that time back."

    —64, Oregon

    young dad taking selfie with the whole family at a park

    14. "Not taking my mental health seriously. I had severe depression during my pregnancy, and my OB started me on meds and connected me to an amazing therapist. My daughter was born in March 2020, right when lockdowns started. We were completely isolated. That amazing therapist took another job. I was heartbroken and didn't try to find a new therapist. Big mistake. My symptoms got worse, peripartum turned to postpartum, my medications were no longer effective, and new medications were limited by breastfeeding (another choice I was adamant about at the time). I self-medicated with alcohol, which spiraled out of control for six months."

    "My husband felt helpless and didn't know where to turn. I finally took myself to the ER after writing a suicide note to my husband and nearly intentionally crashing my car (with our daughter in it). After three weeks in psych, missing my daughter's first Christmas, and months of outpatient therapy, I began to get the help I desperately needed. We switched to formula so I could put ME and my mental health first. There is no shame in putting your mental health first and using the formula that works for your child. Depression stole my daughter's first months from me, and I let it but not getting the help I needed. Three years, an amazing therapist, diagnoses, medication, therapy, and quitting drinking later, I'm slowly coming back online. It was a terrible struggle for a long time. My husband had my therapist's number when things got rough, and I refused to do anything.

    My recommendation for anyone about to have a child: GET A THERAPIST. Give your partner their contact for when they need help supporting you. Don't be afraid to tell your therapist what you're thinking and feeling, no matter how scary. It takes a lot to get involuntarily committed. The hospital is for people to get better; you wouldn't delay going to the ER for a broken bone, your mental health is the same way."

    —39, Connecticut

    closeup of a woman lying down with her arm over her head

    15. "Comparing my son’s milestones like crawling and walking to other babies I knew. Kids are all different, and there is a range of what is 'healthy.' Also, trying to let him 'cry it out' when he wasn’t able to fall asleep on his own. Never again."


    baby crawling on the beach

    16. "I regret not having kids earlier, in part because of all of the advice and listicles that I encountered. Frequently, all I heard was that 'your life will be bad because you had a kid! You will lose independence! People regret being parents!' Yet, parenthood has really clicked for me. And I don't miss a lot of the childfree things that I no longer do."

    "Would I like to go to the movies every once in a while? Sure. But did I really go all that often before kids? No, not really. And now I am with a hilarious and fun little dude every day."


    family playing in the house

    17. "I wish I would have been smarter when choosing my daughter's father. I know a lot of people say that, but now, because of that choice, I have been raising my daughter as a single mom with no support since she was seven months old. I'm an only child, and all of my family lives states away. It's hard but she's worth it. I regret that she'll most likely never get to know who her biological father is as he will likely be behind bars well into her adulthood."

    "Ladies, when a man shows you who he is when you start dating them, LISTEN. They aren't going to change."

    —43, Illinois

    closeup of a belly with a stethoscope

    18. "I regret making my kids the center of my life because it left me with no life of my own once they grew up. I did manage to create a social life for myself, but I now realize it was really an unnecessary and unappreciated sacrifice."

    —46, USA

    closeup of a woman lost in thought

    19. "I regret stressing over everything when my oldest was little. I’m a picky eater, and I was so worried they weren’t eating enough; I let it consume me and was constantly stressed at meal times, especially when it came to vegetables. I didn’t realize the stress and insistence could actually create food aversions/issues until my pediatrician assured me that little ones won’t starve themselves and to relax and let them eat until they wanted to be done. Once I switched it up, there were literally no major issues at all."

    "I also stressed over potty training, but alas, once I relaxed and let them lead the way when they were ready, everything worked out, and no one is still in diapers. My experience with raising my second child was easier than my first because I was less wound up and actually able to enjoy the milestones as they came without stress or worry. With my first, I was mostly focused on survival."


    closeup of kid slurping from a bowl

    20. "My kids were born at a time when my husband and I were on shaky ground to begin with (in our relationship and financially), and I suffered from pretty severe postpartum depression with both of my boys. As a result, their infancy and toddlerhood were pretty dark times for me."

    "My kids are older now. and things are much better all around, but I wish like hell that I was in a better mental state when they were babies. I wish I was more present in those days."


    mom and dad looking at their baby

    21. "With my first child, I was relatively young and naive. I took whatever my pediatrician said as gospel. When my baby vomited all day long every day and wasn’t growing, I was told ‘all babies spit up.’ When he started showing dangerous behavior around the age of three, I was told he was acting out in jealousy over my current pregnancy. I eventually left that pediatrician after being told the office was ‘first and foremost, a business in the interest of making money.’ I found another pediatrician who let me trust my gut and also trusted my gut. I could take my kids and say, ‘There’s just something off,’ and she’d do a full checkup until she figured out an ear infection or strep throat. My oldest son is in college now. It wasn’t until middle school that we found out he had autism. Mainly social cues, sensory issues, etc. We could have started working to help him when he was three years old if the original pediatrician had listened."

    "He’s in college now, flourishing, but called me from the ER to say he was vomiting blood and in severe pain. Turns out, he has one of the most severe cases of GERD the doctors have seen. He has hernias and ulcers at the age of 19. Looking back at his infancy, it wasn’t just ‘spit up,’ he had acid reflex. He’s been suffering since birth. They wanted to do emergency surgery, but because of his autism, he told them no because he was too busy with finals and marching band. This poor kid can’t even swallow food without chasing it down with water. He coughs and chokes in his sleep — all things that I could have prevented or helped if I had trusted myself and not the doctor who I trusted to as a highly sought after and recommended practitioner to have my child’s best interest at heart. Just because a pediatrician has a cult following does not mean they are the best. Don’t always listen to others, meet with multiple doctors, and choose one who makes you feel safe and comfortable — someone who trusts you and not just the other way around."


    toddler getting a check up at the doctor's

    22. "Not just chilling out a bit more. I definitely have forced myself to learn how to not be a helicopter parent, and I'm still learning. When you have your first kid, you realize how scary the world is and you just want to keep them safe. You have to find the right balance between keeping them safe and not sheltering them."

    "There's just too many times looking back that I wished I would have just chilled out a bit."


    kids on the playground

    23. "I wish I had gotten help for my depression (not postnatal depression, major depressive disorder) way, WAY sooner. And then, I wish I had gotten better help. Because of my depression and the need to use all available energy to get through work, by the time I got home and cooked dinner, I was so done. And I was a single mom with a kid who has ADHD and who hated school but needed attention, and I either yelled — a lot — or I tuned out. There is so much about his life that I wished I had done better."

    —52, New Jersey

    mom eating with son on her lap

    24. "I regret staying with my ex-husband as long as I did. My oldest witnessed way more toxic behavior than I ever should have allowed. and I'll regret it forever. He and I are MUCH better divorced and co-parenting than we ever were married, and now, I'm proud to model what a healthy relationship should look like for my kids."


    closeup of a baby in someone's arms

    25. "I wish I hadn't strived for perfectionism so much. I used to get stressed out when things weren't clean and/or tidy. My kids are adults now, and when they talk about the best parts of their childhood, they talk about the books we loved reading together or time spent playing or visiting places. They've never once mentioned how clean or tidy the house was."

    "Time spent with your kids is priceless; they'll never be the age they are again, and you'll never get that time back. Make the most of it now."


    sponge cleaning up a coffee spill

    And finally...

    26. "Wishing for things to be over with to get to the next stage! Like, 'I wish he would be able to walk so I wouldn't have to carry him around all day!' 'I wish he would talk so I could know what he was saying.' 'I wish he could entertain himself for a bit so I could have a breather!' Now, I miss his little crawls and his cute baby babbles! I feel I didn't appreciate the little moments because I wanted to get to the next part."


    mom sandwiched between her two kids giving her kisses on her cheeks

    Parents, what are some other parenting regrets you have? Feel free to share in the comments below, or if you prefer to remain anonymous, you can share your story using this Google form. Your response could be featured in a BuzzFeed Community post.