Inside the new movement of parents who regret having children

  • 02/08/2018
Mum upset with motherhood
For some mums, the regret of having kids is a painful secret which can go on for years. Photo credit: Getty

There's no doubt that motherhood is a tough gig; sporting dried baby sick - or worse - on clothes, and going through screaming school runs. But for some mums, the regret of having kids is not a fleeting, sleep-deprived notion, but instead a painful secret which can go on for years.

A growing movement of parents have admitted they regret having children, with many saying that while they may love their kids, they don't enjoy spending time with them. Others flat-out say they wish their own children had never been born.

On a public Facebook page called 'I Regret Having Children', anonymous posters describe to the other 10,000 members how much they wish they had never had kids.

"Having 2 kids has truly changed everything and it is incredibly hard. I regret having two children every day and wish we stayed with one. I want to tell my wife that I wish she had an abortion," one wrote.

"Sometimes I just want to scream. No, I don't wish 'he'd never been born', I just wish he'd had been someone else's. He's amazing and cute and all of that. But, I hate my life now. Period."

"My kids are five and two and I absolutely hate having them. The thought of having to wake up in the morning makes me want to scream every night. They make me miserable. I wish they didn't exist. I think I still love them but I'm not sure any more. They just annoy me all day."

Facebook pages, Reddit threads and forums make these revelations more common than they were 10 years ago when Corinne Maier, a French psycho-analyst, writer, and mother of two in Brussels, wrote candidly of her own feelings in No Kids: 40 Reasons Not to Have Children. Among her regrets was being forced to adopt the "idiot language" of children and inevitably being disappointed by your offspring.

The book was described by reviewers as "a selfish and cathartic display" and "incredibly distasteful".

Similarly author Ayelet Waldman faced a public backlash in 2005 when she declared in The New York Times that she loved her husband more than her four children. She was even booed by an audience of mothers when appearing on Oprah, Marie Clare reports.

But although these women gained international public furore, Australian psychologist Hanna Beaven told Mama Mia last year that the mentality is increasingly common, often working with mothers "who regret having their children".

"I explain that they are not alone in their experience, there are other mothers that have similar thoughts and feelings," she wrote in an essay for the website.

"I try to provide hope that the work we do together can bring relief, despite the fact they are confronted with the unchanging and overwhelming job of being a mother every day.

"I explore the possible reasons for their loathing of motherhood... The experience of depression and or anxiety before and or while pregnant and or after the birth of their child(ren), unrealistic expectations, isolation and lack of social support, not ever wanting to have children or being uncertain and feeling pressured into have them, or negative changes in the relationship with your adult partner after having children."

Beaven says she first and foremost recommends therapy for these individuals, which "may not make you love being a mother, but it can help bring relief to the situation, and strengthen your love and relationship with your child(ren)."