The decision to have children is often described as one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. However, it is not uncommon for some parents to experience regret after having children. Whether it is due to unanticipated challenges or simply feeling overwhelmed, regret is a complex emotion that can leave parents feeling guilty and alone. So what can you do if you regret having children?
First thing first, remember that you are not alone. Most people experience regret in one way or another, which doesn’t make them bad parents. It is important to remember that there are things you can do to cope with these feelings.
Here are tips how to deal with feelings of regret and avoid feeling guilty about it.
Why do Parents Regret Having Children?
Parenting is a very rewarding but also the most challenging experience. All the pressure and even the myths that make motherhood miserable can make us overwhelmed and scared before we even have kids. So it’s no wonder that many people regret having kids at times.
Here are the most common reasons why parents sometimes feel this way:
- Some people regret the timing and wish they had their kids earlier or later.
- Others wish they had fewer or more children.
- It’s not uncommon for parents to regret giving up their old lifestyle, educational or work opportunities, or similar.
- Some people even have second thoughts about who they chose as a co-parent for their child(ren).
- Lastly, there are a lot of people who feel regret for bringing kids into a world filled with adverse and scary circumstances.
Given that having kids is a significant change, many people end up feeling upset about the impact of having children on their personal life, body, marriage, and other relationships.
If you feel this way, know that you are not alone and that these feelings are entirely natural. What’s important is that there are ways to cope with them, which we’ll discuss further in this article.
What Should You Do if You Regret Having Children?
For many parents, having children can be one of the most important choices they’ll ever make. However, while some parents may never question this decision, others may struggle with feelings of regret that can be difficult to shake. Also, some parents might experience only fleeting moments of regret, while for others, these feelings can persist and impact their day-to-day life. In the worst case, they can even lead to anxiety and depression.
Unfortunately, most people are ashamed to talk about it, even with their closest people, due to social pressures and expectations. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that thoughts of regret are a natural part of the human experience. It’s not uncommon for parents to sometimes wonder how things might have been different if they had never had kids. Even more important is that there are ways to cope with these feelings and successfully overcome there.
#1 Understand Your Feelings
If you’re struggling with regret over having children, it’s essential to take the time to explore the root causes of your emotions. For some parents, guilt can stem from feeling overwhelmed by the daily responsibilities of parenting. Others may struggle with mental health issues like anxiety or depression, making it difficult to cope with the stresses of parenthood. Finally, for some, regret may be tied to a feeling of unpreparedness for the challenges of raising a child.
Whatever the cause of your regret, it’s important to validate your feelings and permit yourself to process them without judgment or shame. Remember, there is no shame in experiencing feelings of regret about having kids. The important thing is to acknowledge your emotions, seek out support, and take the time to process your feelings healthily.
#2 Share Your Feeling With Someone You Trust
Once you acknowledge your feelings, you must share them with someone you can trust. Whether it’s a trusted friend, family member, or therapist, connecting with others who understand what you’re going through can help you feel less alone and more supported.
Turning to a trusted friend or family member can be an excellent first step, but seeking support from a therapist can also be extremely helpful. A therapist can offer an objective perspective, help you develop coping mechanisms, and provide a safe space to explore your feelings in depth.
You can even consider joining a support group for parents. These groups can be found both online and in-person and are led by either mental health professionals or peers who have experience with parenting struggles. Support groups offer a safe and non-judgmental environment to discuss your feelings, gain insight from others, and learn new coping skills.
Remember, it’s essential to find a support system that works for you and that you feel comfortable with. Whether it’s a therapist, friend, or support group, there is no shame in seeking help when you need it. Coping with regret over having children can be difficult, but with the proper support, it’s possible to work through your emotions and find peace with your decisions.
#3 Remember Why You Became a Parent in The First Place
As a parent, it can be easy to get lost in the daily grind of taking care of your children and managing all the responsibilities that come with it. However, it is essential to take a step back and remember why you decided to become a parent in the first place. Think about the joy and love that your child has brought into your life and the experiences and memories you have shared.
To help you stay connected to these positive aspects, create a list of the benefits and rewards of having children. This list can serve as a reminder of the good times and can be something that you refer to on days when you feel overwhelmed or down. It can include everything from first steps to family vacations to everyday moments of love and connection. By focusing on these positive aspects of parenting, you can rekindle your sense of purpose and remember why you chose this path in the first place.
Another good idea is to go on a trip together and spend quality alone time with your kids. Sometimes, that’s all you need because it can be challenging to focus on them with everything else in your life. So taking a vacation from work, getting away from the house, and just spending time connecting together with your family makes a significant impact. There are plenty of places to take your kids and have amazing family time. From researching fun places for young children in your local area to spending an afternoon having a picnic in a local park, there are plenty of ways to remind yourself of the joys of being a parent.
#4 Learn How to Relax and Destress
Lastly, remember that it’s crucial to take time for yourself physically and emotionally to avoid burnout. Small daily breaks for walking or stretching can help alleviate stress.
Additionally, self-care is a critical component of destressing as a parent. Physical self-care involves attending to your basic needs, such as eating well, exercising, getting enough rest, and practicing good hygiene. Emotional self-care means engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation, such as reading, writing, or pursuing a hobby. This is especially important if you find that you are losing yourself in motherhood. Remember that you can only be a good parent to your kids if you take care of yourself first.
The Bottom Line
When you regret having children, you experience a challenging and complex emotion, but it is essential to remember that you are not alone. By understanding the root cause of your feelings, exploring your options, communicating with your partner, and finding a supportive community, it is possible to find a path forward.
Also, remember that seeking out help and resources is a sign of strength and resilience and that it is always time to make changes that prioritize your well-being and the well-being of your family.
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Jeanne Takenaka says
Julie, you bring up some great steps to help when there are regrets about having children. I liked that you reminded us to look at the benefits that have come with the addition of children in our lives. And I appreciate the importance you place on self-care and community. The mothering journey is long and hard (my youngest is 18), and we need a safe community and permission to take care of ourselves. Good rest is also so important to help us maintain a healthy perspective in the middle of it all.
I’m coming to you from Inspire Me Monday. 🙂