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Mothers Are Revealing How They Realized They Regret Having Children And How They're Coping Now, And They're Such Nuanced And Valid Feelings

"I know many, many of my friends with children feel the same."

Note: This post contains mention of depression, abuse, and suicide ideation.  

On the rare occasions that people talk about the not-sunshine-and-rainbows aspects of motherhood, the conversation still predominantly focuses on the objective, technical realities, like the physicality of giving birth or the exhaustion of parenthood. However, as mothers may come to realize, there are many more things at play, including their own mental and physical health, the dynamic of their relationship with their child's other parent, their child's actual quality of life, their own quality and even stage of life, and the day-to-day sacrifices that come with motherhood, from sleep to work.

Of course, a child is a lifelong commitment, so recently, u/Outraged-babie asked, "Mothers who regret having children, what made you realize it? And how are you coping?" In response, many mothers came forward and opened up about their experiences:

1. "I love my 7-year-old daughter. She is the most precious thing in my life. But in recent years, I have started to regret having a child — not because of her, she is the easiest going, sweetest little girl you could ever meet. I regret having children because of what’s going on in the world. I feel a SEVERE feeling of doom and anxiety when I think about her future. She will probably never be able to afford a house and struggle with debt, climate change, scarce resources, and inequality. I am truly terrified, and I feel so guilty. If I was childless today, I would 100% not have any children. In terms of coping, I try and do my bit to make society better for her generation, but I know it won’t be. I try and prepare her and support her by saving as much as I can for her — not much, but it’s all I can afford — to help her in the future."

2. "I really do sometimes enjoy my son, but having him has tied me to an abuser for the next 14.5 years. He still gets to abuse me. I can’t move. I'm in a long-distance relationship, and I want to move in with him — I want to leave my state regardless — but since I have this kid, I can’t. Coping? I’m ignoring the problem and hoping I don’t come to resent my son."


3. "My mental health...all of my coping energy is spent on my kids, so my mental health takes the back burner. I'm in therapy, but I had my kids before I found out that my struggles are ASD/ADHD-related and will be lifelong. I still work every day to try to make life easier, but one of my boys is nonverbal autistic, and one, I'm sure, has ASD on a similar level as me."

"It's harder than I ever pictured motherhood." —u/Sad-Teacher-1170

4. "I’m not a good mother. I care about them, but I don’t know how to raise them. They are raising themselves while I try beside them. Generational trauma, a biological father who is an insane pedophile — I was too young and groomed. I traumatized my kids with my ignorance. I can keep trying to learn, grow, and help them, but the damage is done. I wish I could go back and fix myself so I could help them, but I can't. I will always support them. When they want to yell at me in 10 years for everything and shut me out, I will get it. Because yeah, fuck man...I was too young and didn’t know enough. I chose their sperm contributions badly."

"I’ll keep trying, and I’ve had them in therapy. I’m in therapy, and I’m learning. But, yeah." —u/j32571p7

5. "When my daughter turned 17 and stopped speaking to me, I regretted putting her first her entire life. I think if I was wealthy that she’d pretend to care about me now, but I’m not, so I’m worthless to her. She’s in her early 20s now, and I derailed my entire life for her. Her dad wanted to abort her, and I made her entire life possible. I thought I made it as good as I could, but whatever it was she needed was not something I could give. It isn’t her fault, but her behavior now is. I don’t feel like I even got a chance with her. I cope by thinking about her in the past tense and making peace with her being gone. I have a stepkid and son who still visit and love me, so I guess that’s more than most people get. I value them so much and try to focus on them."

6. "I thought my kids would save my life. You hear those stories where your kids 'give you a reason to love.' I love them wholeheartedly, and they are incredible, but I still wake up every morning wishing I didn’t wake up."

"No amount of therapy or medicine has ever changed my desire to no longer exist." —u/dinahsaur523

7. "I have two kids. Well, now, they're legally adults, but mentally, they are still two years old. They are autistic, developmentally delayed, and have mental disorders to boot. I have gotten zero help from the state, and trying to navigate this world is a nightmare. It doesn't help that the whole world is severely underprepared for an aging population, much less an aging disabled population. I regretted having them the second I found out that they wouldn't be able to care for themselves. I'm so scared for the day that I will have to put them in a home of some sort because the likelihood of being sexually abused goes up seven times. They won't understand why they can't be at home, much less what is happening to them. None of us have any sort of life or friends. It's horrible."

"We just stay home every day, each of us absorbed on the internet until we pass out, and the next day starts again. If I could go back in time I would've never had kids." —u/culps001

8. "I’m a mother to a 9-year-old boy, and I have regretted having him since he was just weeks old. I really hoped that I would grow out of this as he got older, but I haven’t. I’ve just found new things to dread or worry about as a parent. The best way I deal with it is by going to coffee with a friend or two a couple of times a week and spending a day or two at home alone while he’s at school."


9. "I love my daughter so much, but I'm not a good mother. I have so many of my own problems — fibromyalgia, C-PTSD, can barely work, have no degree and certainly no real career — and she has so many of her own — ADHD, oppositional defiance disorder, and probably autism, too. Raising her is so very difficult. I'm at my wit's end just trying to do baseline stuff — like work, clean the house, and cook — and then add on all of our appointments and the fact that just talking to her can be an ordeal, never mind parenting her. I have no idea how I can raise her to be a functioning adult or survive raising her. My depression and anxiety have gotten severe again, so much so that my suicidal ideation is back."

10. "I have a preschooler. Things I don’t like: I can’t go anywhere alone. I can’t have quiet time to myself unless they’re sleeping. I'm always being touched. I'm always being asked to do things that they can’t do on their own. I have to do daily care tasks for them like bathing and making meals. I always worried they’re going to do something bad when I’m not looking and get hurt. I'm not able to move because I don’t have family or friends to help (I only have their dad and his family). I regret having a kid, and I realized it once I became single and had to do these things on my own. I couldn’t leave them with their dad anymore. I’m just waiting it out and hoping it gets better once they’re able to be home alone for a couple of hours."

"Things I do like: Their laughs. Cuddles at bedtime. Experiencing their imagination. Sharing funny things together. Hearing about their day. Hugs. Teaching them how to be a good person. Imagining how they’ll be as they get older." —u/Longjumping-Ask-2122

11. "Honestly, I'm not a good mother. I'm not as abusive as my own, but I still didn't have the tools and knowledge needed to be a good parent. I was 16, and though I tried, I simply fell very short and became an alcoholic. My kids have dealt with a lot from me over the past three to four years, so I'm just trying to give them their space and live their lives, while I continue to struggle with mine. I love them, and they are incredible human beings, but if I'd been older, maybe I'd have done better. I can't remove the trauma I've inflicted on them, but hopefully, I can stop making it. My girls have all made it to 'adulthood' without becoming pregnant, and I'm morbidly proud of that: First-generation, non-teen moms."

"I fear so much them having their own (I have all cisgender daughters, as far as I know). Will I also be a disappointment as a grandmother? Will they let me in my grandchildren's lives? Do I want to be? Is it even wise for them to have children? Wait, do they think that, too, so they won't? Will there even be a future for them?

I miss them on holidays, and I've been drinking. But that's the truth, I regret so much but not their existence." —u/throwglu

12. "What made me regret it? Finding out that everything our society tells women about pregnancy, childbirth, and the challenges of raising kids is either an outright lie or totally glossed over so as not to discourage women from having children. I was shocked to find out how many people were also knowingly complicit: Doctors, nurses, older women around me, religious people, and men. 'Sh, don't tell them, they might change their mind.' Every step of the way has been/is difficult or had/has some heavy challenge associated with it. There are no full disclosures to potential parents, even though those same parents' experience and ability to adapt and cope will directly affect their child. When I reached out to others for advice, the typical response was, 'Welcome to my world.' What?! Really? You say you love me but didn't actually warn me how much damage my body and life would take?"

"'Oh, that's normal.' Really? I've never seen that discussed honestly and in-depth in any documentary, informational video, or women's magazine. At most, there is one tiny story, surrounded by lots of messages about how great it will be. This pisses me off to no end.

So, if I could go back, I would not do it. And this is coming from a mom of a wonderful child, a child whom I have warned: 'Having a child might ruin your life. Don't do it!'" —u/AkuLives

13. "As much as I don’t like admitting this, I regret having my second child. She’s currently 9 months old, and I love her little face. She can be the cutest, but I was free. My oldest is a 15-year-old, independent teen, so I got to the point where I didn’t have to do much. We were slowly transitioning to a more friend-like relationship. Now, I’m starting back at the beginning, and I’m all alone again because my partner works so much. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t say, 'I hate my life,' at least once. The really sucky part is that I’m about to go back to work. On top of being the primary caregiver and homemaker, I’m going to work 40 hours a week. I’m also 42, so I’ll be in my 50s before this one is truly independent. I’m trapped, and there’s nothing I can do but grin, bear it, and hope I don't have a nervous breakdown."

14. "I am struggling with constant anxiety and stress from work spilling over into my few hours at home and making us all miserable. My boys are at the age where they are ruining EVERYTHING in the house I rent. It’s going to cost me thousands to repair it before we move. We don’t struggle for money, but only because I work constantly. I put way too much responsibility on my oldest daughter despite having a full-time nanny. I feel like I’m losing control of everything, and a deep depression is setting in."

"I'm constantly fighting thoughts of just giving up." —u/WayToWavyRider

15. "I love my son. He's four next month. I love him so very much, but I regret having him because I am not going to be the mother he deserves, ever. I'm on anti-depressants, but no amount of therapy can actually help me. I feel lost. I like to sleep too much, and days where he wakes up at 4 a.m. and doesn't sleep again until 8 p.m., days when all he does is scream and cry at me...He gets his impatience from me, his anger from me, his sensitivity from me, and his attitude from me. He's a perfect reflection of myself, and I HATE it. I had a confusing childhood, and it mentally scarred me so badly that the only way I 'remember' my childhood is from my mom telling me her memories of it."

"Of course, he makes me laugh, too! Children are the funniest people on the planet. He gives nice cuddles, he's sweet when he's not screaming, he's kind, he shares well, he kisses me on the cheek, comforts me when I'm sad..." —u/TeganNotSoVegan

16. "I regret being part of generational trauma, where the hurts and hang-ups of one generation damage the next. I was damaged by my parents. I wasn't able to talk it out with them, feel forgiveness, and move on. My hurts, hang-ups, and habits subsequently caused me to pick a troubled husband with infertility issues. We had children after many trials and expenses and then divorced when they were of age. One grown child has several mental health issues, does not work, and is hard to talk to. I love that child deeply. The other grown child has detached from me and the other family members. I love that child so much. As a divorced woman, I realize my regrets on holidays especially. My ex and I worked so hard and sacrificed so much so the kids could have love, braces, education, activities, health care, trips, and all of it, but now I spend holidays alone. The kids don't seem happy. They don't want to get together with me."

"No one says, 'I love you,' to me. No hugs or feelings like it was all worth it." —u/SmoothieForlife

17. "I just had my first child, and I got pregnant because I didn't take my birth control right. I could’ve gotten an abortion pill, but I decided not to. I couldn’t do it, and now I feel so bad for my son — for bringing him into this world knowing I can’t even afford him a good doctor or his own room. On top of that, I had my son with someone that I don’t even think wants to be with me. My boyfriend has been supportive and done his part, but I feel like he is just with me because we have a baby, not because he loves me. I honestly just regret having my son because of my bad decisions."

18. "I regret having my son more than I don’t. I love him. I want to not regret having him. However, I have anxiety, depression, and ADHD. I cannot multitask, don’t deal well with loud noises or lots of different noises at once, always struggle with less than eight hours of sleep, and constantly second guess my decisions as a parent. I’m an exclusively single mother, so there's no backup or second parent. I’m exhausted most days. How I cope: I’m in therapy weekly. I try to raise my son to be independent (instead of always reliant on me). I tell my son when I need quiet time, and I try to take it maybe an hour a day on weekends. I have a babysitter come once a week so I have time for myself. My therapist works with me on finding little moments that are positive and celebrating those instead of focusing on the overarching, big, negative things."

"I also try not to worry about the future (mine, my son's, how he will do in life, etc.) because focusing on this isn’t helpful. It isn’t perfect, and every day is still hard, but I think I’m moving towards a happier place." —u/DogDrJones

Did this change or inform your perspective on motherhood or parenting? Alternatively, do you relate to these stories? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at The Trevor Project, which provides help and suicide-prevention resources for LGBTQ youth, is 1-866-488-7386.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, you can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and find more resources here.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger as a result of domestic violence, call 911. For anonymous, confidential help, you can call the 24/7 National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or chat with an advocate via the website.