When I saw this post on Reddit the other day, I almost skimmed right past it. It was titled, “Parents: What are your real thoughts about having kids? Would you still have them, after everything you’ve been through?” But I paused. I knew there would be a lot of “Parenting is so hard, but I wouldn’t trade my kids for anything!” responses, but surely some had regrets. Out of curiosity, I clicked through.
The post was from Reddit user u/olivesucks, who had always planned to have kids with their husband. But now, they’re rethinking that choice: “I know there’s a positive and negative side on everything, but with your mind and experience today: Would you go back in time and ‘cancel’ the having kid(s) part?”
Although there were plenty of the expected “my kid(s) are the best thing that ever happened to me” responses, there were also several who would undo their parenthood if they could. A couple of parents who said they wouldn’t do it again because of how drastically their lives have been taken over, sure, but also one parent, u/Shoonasasi, whose child suffers from mental illness and brain disorders:
Without help, he’s going to either end up in prison or dead, and it’s absolutely heartbreaking to know he’s got no chance unless we win the lottery or sign over our rights and give him up to the government.
If I could go back in time I wouldn’t have had him, if only to save him from the life he’s forced to live now.
And then there was a response, from u/dieomama (and echoed by others), who said they would choose differently today — not because of their experience as parents but because of what we’re leaving for our kids:
Looking at the facts, there is a high probability that the climate crisis will make their lives miserable before they reach 30. I regret not being better informed at the time I had a child. If I had informed myself properly I would have refrained from bringing someone into this world.
I can still hope for the best. The climate models are not 100% accurate, but still, things are not looking good for the future. I’m a scientist by training and the science seems solid.
Whether or not to raise children is such a personal decision, and whether or not there may be cause for regret is personal and situational, too. Contentment or regret can come from the quality of our lives, the quality of our children’s lives or what we imagine the future will hold for them.