41 Parents Share What Life Is Like With The Children They Didn’t Want
One Reddit user, SniperGlizzy1, started a very candid conversation asking, “What is it like to have children you don’t want?” Although it is clearly a sensitive topic, many readers opened up and were candid in the replies. We’ve gathered some of the most eye-opening stories people have shared down below from parents who did not intend to have kids and from people who grew up knowing they were not wanted. Below, you'll also find an interview from the hosts of The Childfree Girls podcast. Feel free to continue this conversation in the comments, and let us know if you have any personal experiences like these heartbreaking stories.
Then if you’d like to check out another Bored Panda piece featuring parents being honest about what they don’t like about their kids, you can find that article right here.
#1Its like having some guests at your house that never never get around to leave for years, but you must take care of them to avoid getting into trouble and judged by others.
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Not everyone is meant to have kids, and that is totally fine. Despite what countless relatives, friends and strangers will tell you, you will not necessarily change your mind. Not every person starts imagining a future with little ones running around once they get married, turn thirty or see their ex start to raise a family. Having kids is a choice, regardless of what society may tell you.
But there are times where people end up with kids, even when they knew they did not want them. Whether it was a case of failed contraception, a drunken mistake, lack of access to abortion, or a partner not telling the other person that they were pregnant until it was too late, life happens. And once there is a child in the world, the responsibilities never seem to end. The important thing is to put the child first because it is not fair for a guardian to be bitter towards their innocent kid, but unfortunately, as this list goes to show, sometimes parents opt to neglect their children rather than acting selflessly.
#2My mom just forgot we existed and had another baby to keep her happy. I have 10 siblings
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If you are a parent or you dream of becoming one, you might be shocked or horrified by this list. I know plenty of parents who could never imagine a life without their kids, but what they must understand is that not everyone feels that way. Not everyone gets baby fever when they see an infant or wants to hold their friend’s newborn. We don’t all dream about taking our little ones to school every morning and football games on the weekend.
There are plenty of valid reasons for wanting to be childfree, from simply not desiring to have kids to being concerned about the future of our planet and what kind of world their kids would grow up in. I remember a friend who has children once told me, “You don’t have kids because you want them. You have kids because you cannot imagine a life without them.” Not everyone has that mindset, of course, but she makes a great point. Having children can consume your entire life, suck up all of your income and ruin your sleep schedule, at least for the first few years. If you are not prepared to have a piece of your heart living outside of your body, perhaps kids are not for you.
#3You hate them, and you hate yourself for hating them.
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To gain some insight on what it is like to be childfree, we reached out to the women behind The Childfree Girls Podcast. When asked if they think there’s a societal pressure to have kids, they told us, “Absolutely. Look at the US's new abortion laws. Look at how people are being scrutinized or questioned over miscarriages. Real life is turning out to be a little too much like Kristen Tsetsi's post-Roe v Wade novel The Age of the Child, in which grocery store herb/spices and supplements with a chance of affecting a pregnancy are rationed. When people can be forced to carry pregnancies they don't want to carry or that can even kill them, and when - as is happening in the US - people can't get the medication they need because there's a remote risk of those medications being a danger to a pregnancy, yes. There's still too much pressure to have children.”
#4I never wanted to be a mom. No part of me has ever been maternal in any way. I have a kid that I love more than anyone in the world. But I’m ready for her to become a young adult. I enjoy being alone and doing what I want, when I want. She is extremely attached to me and it’s unbearable most of the time. But again, I love her and don’t regret my decision to have her.
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We also asked the ladies what being childree means to them. “Being childfree means the same thing to us that being a parent means to those who truly want to raise children for the rest of their lives. Having a child would be every bit as devastating to us as not being able to have a child would be to someone who'd only ever dreamed of being a parent.”
“As for what went into our choices, they vary from an innate lack of desire to a combination of that and an instinct to avoid inviting hardships onto a new person. We might also (respectfully) argue that it's more interesting to know what goes into someone's choice to have a child, as that choice is the one that completely changes the direction of a life (while creating an entirely new one).”
#5I can only speak on my experience.
I had got pregnant for my neglect in not taking my birth control properly. I did NOT want a child, but I could not bring myself to abort either. Family pressure, I'll just say that.
When she was born, I felt like I had post partum depression (not diagnosed medically). I didn't want to be around her, feed her, change her, be with her. But....I did it anyway. My motherly instincts kicked in and I did all I could to keep her comfy and happy.
There were many times of regret and hopelessness that this little girl had flipped my world upside down and I was very unhappy with the way my life was going because of her.
Suddnely, she started talking. She soon started walking. She started eating on her own. She started dancing, singing, and playing. She went to kindergarten. She started having a sense of style. She played video games with me. She excelled in school. She understands meme culture without me having to explain it. She's beautiful and smart and I wouldn't change her for the world.
Sure, there are still selfish moments where I would like to escape and be on my own and do my own thing. But more and more, I find myself thinking, "This might be more fun if my kid was with me."
Image credits: Madmadamedrea
Next, we asked if there are any misconceptions about a childfree lifestyle that they would like to dispel. “Oh, yes! And many of those misconceptions will be discussed at this year's annual virtual Childfree Convention over the weekend of July 30/31. The misconceptions go deeper than the surface-level observations like ‘childfree people are selfish’ or ‘childfree people don't want to grow up’ (which we also discuss in recent episodes of Childfree Girls), and that's why convention co-founder and childfree advocate LeNora Faye is so deeply committed to the event and why Childfree Coach Isabel Firecracker, among many others (to include a woman who'd once struggled with infertility), will be panelists.”
“However, to choose the most prevalent one, it's the myth that we're selfish for not having the children others want us to have. What's selfish is to expect others to live as you want them to. Even some childfree people will refer to themselves as 'selfish' for not having children, but they shouldn't. Stabbing yourself in the eye might make someone else happy, but you're not selfish for not doing it.”
#6My girlfriend had a 2 year old when I met her. He’s 5 now.
I didn’t plan to have kids, but I love her. I’m pretty much used to it, I teach him stuff and he’s attached to my hip when he’s here (joint custody with the father) but ideally I’d have preferred to not have a kid around.
I can deal though. He can be a little s**thead sometimes lmao. Also it’s weird disciplining someone else’s kid so I’m just getting there, I can see the betrayal in his eyes, I’m supposed to be like the fun uncle, getting on to him is weird.
Never really said that out loud this is liberating
Image credits: Dewy_Wanna_Go_There
Lastly, the Childfree Girls added, “Thank you for raising and exploring this issue and giving a voice to a demographic that's generally happy to simply live and let live, but that is for some reason increasingly under scrutiny, if not attack. And to those who make the leap to, ‘But what if everyone in the world stops having children!?’, relax. It'll never happen.”
If you’re interested in hearing more of what these ladies have to say, be sure to check out their podcast The Childfree Girls right here.
#7I helped raise my ex's 4 yr old until she was about 6 or 7. I never got used to it. Yes I loved her very much and would do anything for her. I just couldn't deal with the crying and lack of sleep and being disobedient. Everytime I wanted to do something like play a game, go the bathroom or have a conversation with her mom she always butted in. Also she was an only child and always wanted me to play dolls with her or something. I just couldn't handle someone needing my attention like that all the time. Call me selfish. I went from being single for years to being daddy. I just realized I cant do it.
Image credits: Princessleiasperiod
#8Like having a child you want to get rid of? Or having a child when it wasn't planned? My son, was not planned, his mom wanted to trap me, and get that sweet child support. She lied about being on the pill. She cheated on me when pregnant, I left her. I was present for my son's birth in fact I brought him into the world because the OB left the room for an emergency, and wasn't available. He came out alarmingly quick once it all happened. Tried to reconcile, but my ex kept cheating. We split for good before he was one, my son lived with me. We went to court, the court sided with me, but she still hounded me with unfounded complaints whether to children's aid or other bodies, trying to claim my son on taxes etc. So what's it like? Well my life was effectively ruined, I left university, worked sheet metal full time, until an accident, now I practice law, after going back to school. It's extremely tough, and I wonder if my experience is different because I am sole support father, we don't have access to the same resources as single mothers do, and often the resources we can access, is a fight and a half to get them. So, it's hard, it's tough, I wouldn't trade it for the world. Just because my son wasn't planned, and just because I sacrificed an awful lot for him, doesn't change that I love him more than anything in the world, and it doesn't change that I would do it all over again just to have him in my life. He is the kindest sweetest most sincere young man you could ever hope for. So, I don't think matters if you wanted to have children or not, I guess you either love them or you don't.
Image credits: anon
#9I’m speaking from personal experience with my son and I, and this may be a long one.
I never wanted to have kids. It seemed like way to much responsibility for someone like me. I work, I pay bills, I am responsible, but I can only handle so much responsibility. I felt like kids would push me over that line where happiness would disappear, and to be honest, I was right. It did in fact disappear.
My son was born a little over a year ago. He wasn’t planned. My Wife and I welcomed him into our lives with open arms. We loved and cared for him (and still do) and we are trying our best to provide him with a great life. But for me, doing everything I can to provide him with a great life is, in essence, sucking my soul out of me.
As time went on, and as it goes on, I become more and more depressed, anxious, and phobic about things in life that I used to seemingly love. I’ve went from this super cheery and outgoing individual to a husk of what I was. But my son doesn’t know how I feel. When he’s in the room, everything is well. It isn’t fair to him that I take out my personal demons on him.
I love him so much I can’t explain it in words. He’s a hilarious little kid, he’s adorable and incredibly smart, but the responsibility of him is tearing me apart. I hope as he grows older and starts to become more independent, I’ll start to feel better, but for now it’s like the weight of the world on me.
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What goes into some people's choice to not have kids is that they can be a massive financial burden. Paying for diapers, clothes, food, backpacks, toys, extracurricular activities, doctors appointments, vacations, and essentially everything else children could ever need can be overwhelming. According to recent data, the average family in the US will spend $272,049 on a child before they turn 18. This does not include higher education, but it does include housing and food, which come out to be the largest expenses. For people who are already struggling to make ends meet, or who have no intentions of saving up any time soon, the idea of having kids can be daunting. Some choose not to jump headfirst into financial stress and opt to avoid kids altogether. If there is a will, there’s a way. But if there is not a strong enough will to have kids and make enough money to provide for them, don’t feel pressured to have them at all.
#10When my daughter was a year and a half old I unexpectedly got pregnant a second time (it was unexpected because I have pretty substantial infertility issues). I was not ready. I was exhausted as s**t from my daughter being a typical toddler and a dog we rescued that needed constant emotional coddling. And hindsight makes it easier to see my depression was wildly out of control but I didn't realize it because my panic attacks were not. I would lay awake at night, in pain, wanting to vomit from heartburn, exhausted because my daughter decided sleeping through the night was no longer a thing and would think "ya know... if I miscarried I'd probably feel relieved" and other things along those lines. And this went on for the whole pregnancy.... right up until 32 weeks when I went into labor... and my son was dead. Gone for at least three days before I went into labor. Despite all the expected mental anguish and trauma, for just *one single moment* when we were driving home with empty arms and an empty car seat, I felt *relieved*. I have yet to forgive myself for that.
Image credits: Maeberry2007
#11My sister got pregnant by a total piece of s**t she knew for 3 months.
Nephew born, he split. Loves her son, but not enough to take care of him. She moved in with my parents and passed all parenting duties to them.
It's obvious she resents him. She screams at him over little things. Everyone is miserable.
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#12I read this Reddit story once that I have never been able to forget. It was a confession I think- can’t remember the subreddit. This woman had a kid she didn’t want, I can’t remember the circumstance of whether if was hers or a dead siblings. Anyway, she talked about how she felt so guilty for not loving him that she worked extra hard to give him a good life- all her money went toward his education and things he wanted. But the part I can’t forget is that she had set an alarm on her phone to go off everyday to remind her to tell him that she loved him, because it didn’t come naturally to tell him that and she was afraid of him not feeling loved.
That story is an amazing reminder that love comes in so many forms and looks different for everyone. She doesn’t love him, but is so worried about his well being that she goes to lengths many, many people with kids would never consider to go to to make him feel wanted and happy. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.
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Despite some parents knowing that they never wanted kids, sometimes they end up with them anyway. Some of these people say that their lives are completely changed after holding their baby in their arms, and they boast that they could never imagine their life going in a different direction. But for others, they might still be having second thoughts even after the child is born. According to a study of 2,500 Polish parents, 13.6% of participants between the ages of 18 and 40 admitted that they regret having kids. The study also found that the group who said they regret having children tended to have poorer physical and mental health than those who did not regret starting a family. Reasons for regretting the choice to have kids varied, from having an identity crisis to feeling burnt out to having financial struggles.
#13My kids are wanted by me, but not by their other parent. It's been over a year since any contact.
I'm watching them grow in a world that isn't made for them in many ways (they both have disabilities) and for their own parent to abandon them is the saddest thing I've ever seen. My older kiddo is autistic which is almost a blessing because older kiddo never had a decent connection with the other parent, and is very black and white with thinking. Younger kiddo doesn't remember the other parent, but isn't autistic (congenital physical disabilities) and I'm sure will ask harder questions than my autistic kiddo has.
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#14I'm not seeing a lot of first hand responses, so I'll jump on the grenade.
I have two sons who (despite loving them very much and wanting the best for them) my life would be much better if I hadn't had them. My whole life growing up I expressed doubts that I wanted kids, because kids freak me out. Everyone always said that it would be different when it's your own kids. I'm sure for some people it is, but for me it's not.
I think I have some kind of phobia of kids. I'm on the autism spectrum (as is my oldest son), and I hate that I helped bring two people into this world that I can't be there for. I wanted to be a good father, and all things considered I'm still not terrible, but I don't enjoy time with my kids the way I should.
My wife and I separated when our boys were still young due to other issues in our relationship, she has since remarried to a great guy who is wonderful with our boys. She moved about 5 hours away but I still visit them on big holidays and their birthdays. I pay my child support without fuss. I'm happy knowing my boys are happy, but it's a weight taken off my shoulders that I'm not having to care for them, because I just can't.
If there was a moral to this story I would say that if you think you might not be able to handle kids it's perfectly okay to not have them. But make sure that's known early in the relationship. Don't expect your partner to change because they'll be expecting you to change as well, and one if not both of you will end up unhappy. The bonus moral is never trust someone who wants to use the rhythm method of birth control.
#15I can tell you what its like being the unwanted child. I went to the dentist once in my first 17 years. I had broken my nose twice and I just had to walk it off. I never saw a doctor. I would get yelled at if my shoes wore out too quick and they were Payless $19.99 shoes. As soon as was able to drive the dinner table was only set for two instead of three because I could get my own food now. My lunch was a Bologna white bread sandwich and an apple for 10 years straight. Fast forward I moved in with my grandma, she said she would help out with college if I helped out around the house. First few months she got me in the dentist fixed all my teeth and I got some braces on. Second I was a mouth breather so I went to a plastic surgeon fixed my deviated septum right up. She also co signed on a car loan so I could get around. She embraced every friend that came to the house while growing my up friends hid from my dad because he was so mean. My grandma noticed that I would get home and run to my room and one day she told me I don't have to hide in there I can hang out wherever I want. Thats the difference between being a burden and being wanted.
Image credits: lookssharp
While it can be assumed that most parents do not regret their decision to have kids, bringing up the fact that some do is a valuable conversation worth having. It is so important for young people to understand what they are getting themselves into before they decide to have kids, from the physical aspect for women to the financial and social aspects to the variables that are out of a parent’s control like the possibility of having twins or a child with mental or physical disabilities. One mother candidly opened up about her experience to Maclean’s, explaining that she never wanted kids but was pressured to have them for her husband. After the couple eventually separated due to the strains of parenthood, the mother says that their life is not easy. “Our child has two homes and I’m still doing 90 per cent of it on my own.”
#16Awful. I had my son at 18. I wish I’d never had him. He’s all grown up now, but resents me for not giving him the childhood he wanted. I couldn’t afford the childhood he wanted- I was working over 80 hours a week to keep food on the table.
I was convinced to have and raise my son by my family and ex-husband. There are days when I break down thinking of the life I should have had. I was supposed to go to college. I was supposed to move out of my hometown, to carve out a place for myself in the world.
Instead, I became a mom.
And I still hate it.
Image credits: anon
#17It sucks. I had a kid as a teenager. I was in an abusive relationship and he wanted me to give the baby for adoption, and wouldn't "allow" me to have an abortion. My parents put big pressure on me to keep the baby. After birth, I was flooded with emotion and took the pressure to keep the baby. After a few days, I felt I'd made the wrong decision, but it was too late. It continues to feel too late for months until I said "this is my life now." That's not a great feeling.
He went through a phase where he looked just like his father, which was awful. The father was not involved except to stalk me. He paid no child support.
I got used to my role as a parent by the time he was in school and it was "fine" but I wasn't thrilled with my life. Then, in middle school, he went bad like milk. He was acting out in all the ways. By then, I was partnered. We tried literally everything to modify his behavior for the positive.
I still don't want him. He's grown now and just not a good person.
#18I was a nanny for a lady who really didn't want children but needed up having 5 because she loved her husband. Each of her pregnancies her medical condition go worse, with her youngest she had to be in the hospital for two months because she had so many kidney stones. Part of her condition is she produces kidney stones at a crazy rate, and they are rare stones that have a hook on them. Her kidneys are also more like a sponge looking organ than kidney, that aren't functioning over 25%. She would give her life for those kids even though she never wanted them. S**tty part, when the youngest was 2, her health was declining alot. And her husband, left her for a chick he just met because, and I quote "I'm sick of you being sick". I miss those kids so much and I miss her. She got full custody and has even better insurance now that her ex left her. And he pays huge in child support and alimony every month.
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What many mothers who regret having children want people to understand is that they are not neglectful or abusive parents, they just wish that they did not always need to put their children first. Lola Augustine Brown writes in Today’s Parent, “I am not a monster. In fact, I think I’m a kick-ass mom. But what I’m struggling with is that it feels like their amazing life comes at the expense of my own.” She explains that mothers must have a safe place or community to express these feelings, because the societal expectation is that having children is the pinnacle of any woman’s life.
#19Ex girlfriend baby trapped me. She stopped taking her birth control and didn't tell me. Then cheated on me while pregnant. (She was, and still is a s**tty person) At that point I wanted nothing to do with her and was not prepared to be a father. I was young and dumb and still learning who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. She gave me the option to walk away and never see the kid again. I thought about it but couldn't bring myself to, knowing my kid was out there was going to weigh heavily on my conscience.
It was difficult at times. While my friends were studying, partying, travelling I was working and learning to be a father. I didn't want this kid but here I was and I was going to make the best of the situation.
My daughter is 13 now and I have full custody. Her mother is a piece of s**t and my daughter is old enough to know the difference. She's with me now and I couldn't be happier. My daughter is a driving force in my life. I need to be responsible, I need to be accountable, I need to be financially successful. It keeps me going forward and has really made the man I am today. Having a kid when you're barely 20 has ways of making or breaking someone. My daughter was the child I didn't want but ended up being what I needed.
Image credits: phantaxtic
#20I was conceived to replace a baby boy that died. My mom was so disappointed I was a girl, she forgot my name for a while, and now I have 2 middle names. I had a brother growing up who was favored by both my parents, but he really was amazing. He was my favorite too. He died 5 years ago in a motorcycle wreck, and I’m the least favorite (my mom admitted this freely), also I am the last remaining child. *** Also, I don’t care that my parents are disappointed that I was the one that survived. I’ve made myself who I want to be. I only talk to my dad occasionally, and my mom became an alcoholic, because 2 of her kids died. I don’t talk to her. Shrug. My life is separated from theirs, and I encourage other people to cut off the cancerous people, even if it’s your parents. It’s liberating.
Image credits: Coloradorawks
#21I have kids and I wanted them. But, I was an unwanted kid. My mom and non-bio dad married when I was young. He raised me, but I never felt love from him at all. He married her to get her out of a bad situation. I thought he didn’t want kids, but when I was about 5/6, my sister was born. He wanted kids. He just didn’t want me. I saw how different he was with her, and his other kids they had later. Those who have kids that you don’t want—they’re aware on some level.
Image credits: madeofstarlight
A friend of Lola’s notes that she sometimes feels jealous of her childfree friends who can take spontaneous vacations or head off to a painting retreat whenever they like. “It’s not regret. It is something deeper, like a realization that there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to care for them and myself, without some things falling off the to-do list—and that, all too often, the thing that falls off the list is me.” The funny thing is that people often assume that mothers are neglecting their children if they regret having them, but what seems to be more likely is that the mothers neglect caring for themselves. Even if they don't feel particularly maternal, most mothers find a way to pour everything they have into their kids.
#22It set the tone for the rest of my life, one of those hindsight is 20/20 things. I honestly believe if I'd never had a kid, particularly as young and alone as I was in a very socially backwards area, I'd have made a lot more of myself. I know that could be taken as self-rationalization for lack of trying and failures. But I also know how I felt, how I have never bonded with my kid, and how both our lives could have been a lot better had I either waited to have her, or let another couple adopt her like I wanted but was forced out of the choice.
Image credits: anon
#23I think this is what happened with my dad. Luckily "fake it til you make it" seems to work well enough. Now that I'm an independent adult, he has expressed that "of course you're my kid, but honestly I just enjoy hanging out with you". I can respect that even if he didn't feel ~love~ he helped me grow and supports me. And if a friendship-level of respect is all he can muster, I know that's not my fault. I think your friend and his kid will probably be ok.
#24This is a story of a very close friend of mine, on a bit different note, but I guess it could fit, in some light. He was abused as a kid (violence and mentally, by both parents), and was scared of ever even getting close to kids, in a fear he would hurt them in some way. He is generally a really meek, but caring person, like a total opposite of what he got at home - this was his just coping mechanism, as kids literally clung to him. Then he met a loving woman and they married. She slowly warmed him up to being around younglings (it helped she works in preschool/daycare), and finally they (both) decided it's okay to go.
Two attempts (sadly) and little over year later he was holding small baby in his arms - his eyes, his hair, her face, her smile.
He told me, during the pregnancy he was super happy, and did everything he could for his wife and future junior. He started loving it truly, and when he felt it kicking, he was internally overflowed with happiness, that a small human was growing there, and he, or she will have dreams, laughs and hurdles. Yet, standing there, he felt nothing. Like no spark, no love, no happiness, no resentment, no joy, nothing. He was holding small, hot, moving piece of meat *which* he had absolutely no attachment to. It crushed him. Talk with wife crushed him even more. He did everything he could to care for her in hope he will grow to love... but it never came. As soon as time allowed, he went into therapy, and after three years heard that sometimes... this just happens.
His daughter is now 6, is healthy and happy, as far as I can tell, but I heard my share of his pain. He feels inferior as a human, for deceiving his daughter, and he powers trough it by sheer willpower and effort. 'If I can't love her, at least I will still try to give her something I couldn't have - caring home'. He told me exactly once, that he really, really regrets agreeing to have a kid, but I could feel his shame.
His wife is wonderful person enough to accept him, like this. She told us (my fiance is more of her support than I am), she wanted more kids, but she is really afraid to put more on him. Raising one will be enough of a challenge for them, that's for sure. I know he will keep all his promises and words, but it already takes a toll on him.
Image credits: Trudar
Lola writes that it is important for parents to find a way to cope with their conflicted feelings about parenting. You cannot resent your children or take it out on them, but as many parents note, it does get easier as they get older. The more self-sufficient kids become, the more their parents can take care of themselves too. Another friend of Lola’s says, “Now that they are all at school, I’m coming out of it, but it has been 10 years of me putting everyone’s needs first. Now it’s my turn, and it feels good.” She explained that she finally has time to dedicate to her art, which is a much needed escape and healthy outlet.
#25I love my son more than anything else in the world.
But he wasn’t my idea.
My (now ex-)wife was dealing with mental health issues I still don’t understand. It was one of the causes of intense stress in our relationship. Eventually she “decided” the “solution” was to have a child right away.
I told her we weren’t ready, emotionally or financially, but I loved her so much (and still do) that I gave in. After all, I did want to be a father someday, so if starting a little too early could help bring us closer together, it would be worth it, right?
Now we have split custody, I’m at the lowest point in my life so far, our toddler son is struggling with the new reality of his broken family, and she’s “doing great.” At least that’s what she says when she says anything to me at all.
I love him so much, he’s the best kid in the whole world. He’s the only good thing in my life. But I wonder every single day what life would be like if we had never had him.
And if I had never met her.
Whoever said “‘Tis better to have loved and lost…” never met my lovely wife.
#26So, I married a man with two kids and we have a daughter together. Totally thought I had it in me to be a stepmom. To make it worse, one kid was a baby when we got together and so I am more bonded to him and the other one drives me nuts. I have thought about getting divorced multiple times over it but when it’s me, my husband, and our daughter it is so nice. I dread when they come and can’t wait until they leave. I try to treat them well because it’s definitely not their fault. I wouldn’t have done if I would have known how ill-equipped I would be. I am just so annoyed all the time. I know I sound like the typical evil stepmom and I wish I didn’t. There’s just no affection, especially for the oldest. Thanks for letting me vent this here because I feel like nobody understands.
#27Love isn’t a light switch that you suddenly feel. Love is a process. It takes time and work. He’s doing that work.
Media and hype around kids is built up to stupid levels and leaves many parents with feelings of inadequacy. Lots of parents (especially Dads) struggle with this. Pregnant mothers have a bit more time to come to terms with the fact they have a child, and hormones to back it up. It often doesn’t feel “real” for dads many parents until months or sometimes even a couple years after their kid is born.
Sometimes you just need to get out of your head and stop worrying about what you’re “supposed” to feel. Take care of your child. Make them feel loved. That’s all that you need to do.
Whether or not you decide to have children, remember to be empathetic to every situation. People who don't have kids may have desperately wanted them but were unable to for various reasons, while those who have them might be jealous of their childfree friends. This list opens up a sensitive conversation, as parents have shared extremely vulnerable stories, but it is an eye-opening reminder that you never know what anyone else is going through. Let us know in the comments if these stories brought up any personal stories for you; we would love to hear what influenced your decision whether or not you wanted to have kids, or how you are leaning if you're still undecided.
#28Being a single mum with a kid stuck with me, it just feels like an obligation to me. I do love my kid for sure. But I don't really feel the "bond" or the wishy washy mum-son relationship/connection that the other parents describe. Sometimes I envy those parents. Maybe because the pregnancy was unplanned, or maybe because at how terrible it was coming home to an empty apartment with all of his things done then suddenly I have to take care of this little man with his face on it.
I do try my best to provide everything for him, getting a better job, buy all the things he needs and wants. But yeah, an obligation, a responsibility.
#29It's hard. I never wanted kids. I have two. I love them more than anything and do everything I can to make sure they're safe and happy.
My wife was a stay at home mom. I raided my retirement account to keep up with bills. I sold $60k of stock 2 years ago that's worth almost $200k now. It was a sacrifice to make sure that my kids would have a parent at home. There were times that, if I could have gone back in time and not have kids, I would have. I think, as I'm writing this, it's the first time I wouldn't go back, if I had the chance.
Things are better now. Although I'll hit retirement age when my younger child graduates college. My wife is working and made almost as much as I did, and about twice what she ever made in the past. Tax payer funded college would sure help out now.
Even if you want kids, raising them is about the hardest thing you'll ever do. Therapy helped me and my wife. And we also did some couples therapy.
#30My mother point blank told us she didn’t want children and my father had begged and begged her for me. Then my younger sister was an accident. It’s always been an awkward, very strained and very tainted relationship. For a long time I held a ton of resentment and disgust for her. It’s made me into what I consider to be a pretty great parent though- I wanted children and even knowing I’d be giving up sleep and freedoms I knew I wanted them to KNOW they were wanted, planned for, adored.
My dad remarried and adopted two children of his second wife’s then they had one together, making us a family of 5. Now I get so much in way of a rich childhood for my children with all their cousins and aunt and uncles to love them. It’s not always completely life ruining I suppose but it did have a profound affect on how the first half of my life went for sure, how I felt about myself
#31I am an unwanted child. My parents had addiction problems to both drugs and alcohol. My mother abandoned me and my dad when I was two years old to be with her new lover. My father was in the midst of a crippling pain killer addiction. My grandparents ended up raising me and they did their absolute best, but all of their love was never able to fix the deep seated abandonment issues I was left with. Now I am 26, married and have two children. I never wanted to have children but because of my past and wanting love more than anything, I let my now husband get me pregnant at 19 with our first, and then our son was a surprise 4 years later. I struggle with motherhood in ways that I can not articulate, but even so, I love my kids dearly. Sometimes though, I find myself wishing they would grow up and get out. I struggle with chronic mental and physical health issues I am just now starting to get treatment for, so those things don’t help. I tolerate motherhood a lot of the time, and I feel insanely guilty for never really loving actually *being* a mother. It is okay though, only sometimes I actually show my discontent with motherhood, so I am getting better.
#32My husband and I have been raising my niece for 3.5 years. We also had my teenage nephew for a year before we had her, but growing up with my sister as a mom had done more damage to him than we could handle. My niece is almost 16 now. I'm 29 and I feel like I gave up my fun and careless years to raise my sister's kids. I've always dreamed of having my own children and now that I'm struggling to conceive I can't help but feel resentful that I'm raising one of my junkie sister's 6 healthy children.
Overall my niece is a good kid. I love her and I want her to do well in life, but she doesn't feel like she's our kid and she doesn't think of us when she thinks about who her parents are. She experienced a lot of trauma while living with my sister and it's a lot to handle. She was cutting for awhile and recently admitted to bulimia and has had suicidal thoughts. Her counselor keeps advising us to do more stuff with her and spend more time with her to pull her out of her dark moods. I feel like my mental energy is already 90% devoted to her and the thought of giving up even more of the 10% reserved for me and my husband is incredibly daunting.
It doesn't help that I grew up in a fairly dysfunctional household and my niece is one of my biggest triggers that brings those issues back up for me. I was just starting therapy to work on my past traumas when my niece started having a bunch of issues so all of my sessions became about managing her issues instead of dealing with my own. All I wanted when I was her age was somebody to save me from the dysfunction I was growing up in. I feel like I'm giving her exactly what I wanted as a teen but it's not enough for her and she doesn't appreciate it.
I've also witnessed all of my siblings and my nephew go totally off the rails and into addiction and bad life choices at 15/16 years old, so my niece developing a bunch of issues at this age triggered the hell out of me and made me feel like I was fighting against her inevitable downfall. Add that in with my complicated relationship with my sister and the resentment I feel towards her for placing this burden on me, the family I have to maintain contact with so that I'm not keeping my niece from them, and the fact that I'm not my niece's legal guardian so every medical thing is a huge hassle and it's all just too much.
I feel trapped and like I'm sacrificing my own future children on the slim chance that my niece might overcome my family's generational dysfunction.
#33I think my mom regrets having me. We have a weird relationship. She doesn't like me as a person and wasn't engaged with me as a child, but she did all the stuff she should do, and beyond. She just doesn't like me as a person. She's ok with my older brothers.
It's made me very convinced that if you don't want children, you shouldn't have them. It also makes me uneasy when parents judge other parents for not wanting their kids. There's not a good solution, but as an adult, I wish she had just raised me and not tried to fake liking me as a person through my 20s.
#34I've honestly thought about this question before. My son (14months M) was planned, and he is incredible, absolutely a light in our lives. On the other hand, I was super ill the entire pregnancy, depressed and struggling up until a few months ago. Now, this was made worse by two moves (military), and covid of course, but I never ever want to do this again. Not quite the same, but similar.
We get so much pressure on "the next kid" from friends and family, and EVERYONE assumes you'll have more. I absolutely am one and done, at least biologically. I did not enjoy the baby days, and now that he's a toddler, he's amazing. I know two would just be above my capacity, and I would regret having another.
That being said, my husband and I are both really drawn to fostering, and will likely do so when we are at our final posting location and our kid is a bit older.
#35I don’t know if I fall into that category, but sometimes I feel like I do. I love my kids, and I’m told I’m a pretty good dad, and sometimes I enjoy it... but most of the time it’s just draining. I explain it as being like an introvert at a party full of strangers — it’s not that caring for kids is painful or whatnot, just like talking to strangers isn’t painful. It’s just draining. It sucks the energy out of you, whether you’re good at it or not. At a party, my goal is that the people I talk with feel heard and cared about and have fun, and that no one knows I’m secretly watching the clock waiting to leave — and with kids my goal is that they’re happy and engaged and feel loved and wanted and cared for, and don’t think I’m counting the seconds to bedtime. But accomplishing that drains me. I understand that there are people out there who enjoy spending time with kids, just like there are people who enjoy talking to strangers — and suffice it to say I’m just not one of them.
So I guess I want my kids, but what I really want is for my kids to magically be old enough that they’re no longer draining, and for me to get my life back a little. I mean, I love them and I want them to be happy and if anyone ever tried to take them from me I would go to hell and back to prevent it. But when was the last time I took a bike ride? When was the last time I looked forward to the weekend rather than seeing it as an exhausting slog? When was the last time I went into Monday a little rested, rather than just beaten down and exhausted? And, as importantly, when’s the next time I’ll get to do so? Five years from now? Ten? Will I be young enough to even enjoy it?
So, I don’t know if I’m in this category — probably not. But I definitely do feel that way a lot more than I’d like.
#36I think this is a conversation that more women (especially), should have. You are close to being burnt at the stake if you confess that actually if you could turn back the clock, you wouldn't have children. I feel that these conversations may stop perpetuating this idea that 1)if you're a woman you will automatically adore your children 2) you have more options than just having children.
Women do also go through things such at PND, and maybe others talking about it won't make them feel so guilty and alienated.
#37I am really not proud to share this, but I went through a period of bad drug addiction resulting from mental illness and an abusive relationship (with the dad) so I actually had a period of time where I didn't want my children. Not as in I didn't want them to exist, I do and always have loved them, but I didn't want them WITH me basically because I knew that I was incapable of taking care of any of us so I was constantly overwhelmed, exhausted, and just wanted everything to stop. It was the worst and most heartbreaking period of my life because they deserved so much better and I knew it but I couldn't give that to them and every time they showed me any kind of affection I just wanted to break down because I didn't feel like I deserved it and didn't really know how to react.
I'm happy to say that I am now getting my s**t together and we have a good relationship (I'm extremely grateful that they're still young and have no memories of the Bad Times.) At any rate, the problem was with me, not them, and I have no respect for any parent who sees it otherwise.
EDIT: Thanks so much to everyone who replied (and gave awards! Wow!) I really wasn't sure what kind of reaction this was going to get but everyone has been really sweet and supportive so I just wanted to let y'all know I appreciate it. :)
#38I girl I worked with had a five year plan. Get a designer man, have a massive wedding, travel to fancy hotels and have a baby. She managed it all except the baby.
Two years of IVF later and still no baby.
After a long adoption process they get a 6 month old. Three months later they give him back and divorce.
She realised that she had only wanted a baby because that what people did and that meant she was successful! She had never thought about what having a baby meant and what it would do to her ‘perfect’ life.
The husband couldn’t live with what she had decided so left. At least the baby went to a couple who did want him eventually, instead of staying with her.
#39My ex husband was emotionally abusive and, if I’m being completely honest with myself, forced me into getting pregnant 3 months after going into labor and losing our daughter at 20 weeks.
I wasn’t ready and I hadn’t really had a chance to grieve - he quit his job 3 days into my required maternity leave, so I had to go back to work as soon as physically possible.
Our son was 13 weeks early, spent two months in the nicu and cost over a million dollars in his first year. Thank goodness for good insurance! Now my son is almost 7, his “father” hasn’t been in the picture for years, and until recently, I was doing it all on my own.
My son showed incredible strength to grow big enough to breath on his own and come home, so I’ve made it my mission to give him a great life and make sure he never knows that I didn’t want to be a parent after my daughter died.
#40A very close friend has two children (6 and 2 1/2), but really because her husband wanted kids and she knew he'd leave her if she stood her ground on not wanting kids.
She loves her kids with all her heart, but misses the life she could've had without them. Aside from work (just started her residency) all she does is being a mom, she has little to no time for her own hobbies anymore, and misses that a lot.
I can't say if the kids notice that, at their age, but I worry they might, at some point, or that she'll one day just crack and resent either her kids or her husband for taking that childfree life from her.
#41Using an alt. because my main can be linked back to me and I'm going to get very real.
I had a perfect pregnancy. I was super cautious, took my prenatal vitamin every day, never drank, walked away if someone was smoking near me, etc.
My child is severely special needs. She's autistic, but on the severe end with "global developmental delay" which is just a nice way of saying "mentally disabled." She is six but is now just learning to potty train. She is non-verbal but thankfully understands simple directions. She screams for hours off and on at a time every day and when she isn't screaming she is making noises. She doesn't interact like a normal child and treats other people more like inanimate objects rather than people- no affection, no emotion, no interaction aside from pulling me to the fridge to get her food or handing me her toy so I can fix something on it.
I don't feel like a mom, I feel like a caregiver. I get little joy in taking care of her and I am constantly worn down. I'm exhausted. This pandemic has destroyed what little sanity I had left as I can't even get a small break because there is no school.
This is going to sound absolutely terrible and this is why I'm using an alt. but raising her is not like raising a child. You raise a child to be a decent adult- you teach them manners, respect, education and kindness and you hope that as they grow up they will make friends, get good grades in school and go on to have a fulfilling life. This feels like I am raising a very high maintenance pet that will not evolve into anything more.
For me, I am just keeping her alive- I am keeping her fed, clothed, warm, safe and happy. It feels like I have been taking care of a baby for the past six years. She progresses very slowly and very little. I am hoping by the time she is in her twenties we can maybe have a simple one or two sentence conversation or maybe she can have the attention span to watch and understand a movie. I still talk to her and play with her but it's so discouraging after years of not getting anything back. I mainly just snuggle with her on the couch while she plays with her tablet, it's one of the few ways we really bond. She likes toys and simple games on her tablet, so I buy her lots of them to keep her busy and hope that they keep her content so she isn't screaming and hitting herself.
I see children much younger than her having full conversations with their parents and I get so jealous. I see them telling their parents they want burgers for lunch, or talking about a fun thing they want to do or whatever, and I can't even imagine how easy my life would be if she could just communicate simple things like that.
It's so tough. I take her to the playground and the other kids ask why she won't talk or play with them (pre-covid days), we go out to the grocery store and she has a full meltdown and we have to leave our cart behind. We go out to eat and she can't sit still and wants to get up and run around the restaurant so we have to leave. She's only getting bigger and taller and she's getting harder to manage.
She hits herself and others. Sometimes she smears her poop all over the wall. She slams her head into the wall and furniture when she's frustrated (which is often, like multiple times a day). She broke a window with her head a few weeks ago and I was scared s**tless she was going to need stitches, but luckily she somehow came out unharmed aside from a bruised forehead. I don't know how I am going to handle her when she is a teen and as big as me. I don't like to think about it.
If I knew this was going to be my life, I would've never had her. When I was pregnant, my husband and I agreed that if we found out the fetus was going to have down syndrome or some other special needs we would abort. You cannot detect autism in the womb.
My husband and I have aged 20 years, we're overweight from stress eating, we're constantly on edge that she's going to give herself a concussion because she self harms and we cannot stop it every time, we're sleep deprived, no sex life, our brains are fried from all the screaming and constant noise. We argue and are short tempered with each other. We are empty shells of what we used to be. Imagine having a monkey on your back 24/7 that just screamed and hit you. It breaks a person.
We've been in weekly therapy for years and I probably break down at least once a month during a session.
I never ever thought we'd have a special needs kid. There's no family history, and like I said I took amazing care of myself while pregnant. She was planned, my husband and I waited until we were financially stable to have her, we did everything right. We wanted more children but now have decided not to have any more because it would be too much stress. I mourn what could have been. I wonder all the time how my life would be if she was a typical kid.
If you want to put yourself in the headspace of a parent who has a profoundly special needs child, watch the movie "Vivarium." It's about a couple who get stuck in this weird suburb that they cannot escape and are forced to raise this strange alien child-like being until they die of exhaustion. It's an odd, science fiction alien/monster type of movie that's meant to be pure fantasy but for me it was the realist movie I have ever watched.
But even after all of that, I still love her so much and won't put her in a care center or in foster care (I'd be worried sick that she was being neglected or abused). When she's an adult we're either going to turn our basement into a living space for her and hire an aid to help her or we'll put her in an adult special needs home and visit her frequently to make sure she is okay. I just hate that it has to be this way. None of us deserved this life.
If you see parents with special needs kids out at the store or mall or wherever, please just be patient and kind.