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JLeslie's avatar

Any of you wish you never had children?

Asked by JLeslie (46167 points ) September 21st, 2009

I don’t have children, but always had assumed I would. My husband and I have had fertility problems, and have never taken the step to adopt. We are getting old to become parents, early 40’s, and I need to make a final decision.

I think I am pretty realistic about what having children would be like, the stress, the heartache, the joy. I figure it is more work than I could ever imagine. I love the idea of teaching them and watching them grow, and I think I might regret not having them when I am much older. But, my husband and I have enjoyed our marriage without them also. We travel, pursue his racing hobby, move cities easily, and enjoy each others company.

So, I am trying to decide to just let things be, or actually go ahead and adopt.

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38 Answers

jbfletcherfan's avatar

Our 2 daughters are the center of our lives, as are the grandkids they’re given us. Even when times were hard in raising them, it was worth every day.

mattbrowne's avatar

No. I’m glad I have children. But there were times when kids can drive you nuts.

MissAusten's avatar

We have three kids, and I’ve never regretted it. Of course, they aren’t teens yet. ;)

We waited four and a half years to have our second child, and I can tell you that one kid is easier than two. Two is easier than three. The first couple of years is hardest in terms of your lifestyle change, with middle-of-the-night feedings, working around nap schedules, having to constantly supervise, trying to run errands with a baby or toddler, etc. Not that there isn’t a lot of fun, as well. All of the things that are boring about other peoples’ babies are fascinating with your own. Even though I have moments where I want to pull my hair out or count the seconds until the kids go to bed, overall it’s a wonderful experience.

I know quite a few people who had children or adopted into their 40’s. The maturity and financial stability of older parents can be helpful in making the transition to parenthood. We had our kids relatively early, which also has its advantages. As I’m sure you know, the adoption process can take a few years. Only you and your husband know for sure if you should adopt, but I can’t imagine that someone who wants a child enough to go through the adoption process would come to regret the decision to be a parent.

limeaide's avatar

I have 2 boys and 1 due literally any minute now. The boys are 4 and 2. Someone told me something that I find rings true, “being a parent is the hardest thing you’ll ever love doing.” I never regret having kids, even when it’s a real challenge. The kids have made me a better person in many ways. The cliche is absolutely true having kids is a life changing event and you no one can fully appreciate that sentiment unless they have children. I’ve heard some people say things like I’m really close to my niece I know what it’s like being a parent and I would disagree they truly have no idea.

No regret, it’s amazing how things can change, love expands, priorities shift, etc… being a parent is the best thing that can happen to a person. I say go for it you may regret it if you don’t andI highly doubt you’d regret it if you did.

jonsblond's avatar

I wish I could have more children, but having 3 is costly enough. I would have more if money wasn’t an issue.

@limeaide great answer!

SuperMouse's avatar

I do not regret having children at all. There are many things I can’t do now that I did before I had kids. Money is tighter than it has ever been. I stress about parenting, backtalk, schooling, peer pressure, grades, sibling rivalry, sharing custody, sleep habits, and almost anything else you can name, but my love has multiplied so much in the past 11 years it would be impossible to quantify. I love those boys more than i knew I was capable of loving anything and I wouldn’t trade being a mom for anything in the world.

Darwin's avatar

We adopted after finding out that we had infertility problems (I was 38, my husband 49) and I most certainly do not regret it overall. Yes, there have been difficult times, and I certainly wish my son were not bipolar, but I can’t imagine my life without either child. I also have learned so many things, both good and bad, that I would never have learned if I didn’t have kids.

Yes, we would have traveled more, and yes, we would have more money and fewer heartbreaks (and no dogs), but life is so much richer with the kids. Life with children is both hard and exhilarating. It is something akin to struggling to climb a very high mountain, but getting an incredible view.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I do not regret having my 2 kids – the first was planned, the second was neither planned or unplanned (in that we didn’t use protection but it wasn’t to get pregnant) and I was pregnant and had a miscarriage once as well…only with the first did I think I was properly easing into parenthood…but I was wrong…you’re never prepared…but that’s okay…yes kids make it hard to live the life you’ve lived before but that doesn’t mean you now can’t have a new life and eventually when things settle, they can come along with you…and really there’s no need to constantly move cities, is there, :)?

I always say one doesn’t have to have children to find englightenment but they can certainly be a way…in so many ways being a mother, a parent, can make you feel prepared for life…you wouldn’t believe it because of how chaotic life can be with young children but handling them and handling parenthood makes you ready to handle anything and that’s worth more than any education or any experience…my children fascinate me, I still don’t understand how they got here even though I brought them into this world…sometimes I want to get away from them and I get to because I have an amazing partner that is completely on board with parenting as well…in fact, he’s the primary caretaker of our youngest as I work full time…point is you both will have to make sacrifices because the pitfall for a lot of people is saddling the woman, the mother, with the children and if you’ve enjoyed an independent lifestyle prior, it’ll be a hard transition…

I wish you the best in this decision making process, were we face to face, I’d take your hand, I’d look you in the eye and say ‘do it, just do it, you only live once’

JLeslie's avatar

Lurve to everyone so far, thank you so much for sharing. It will be interesting to see if we actually get someone who wishes they had not had children. I once overheard a friend of my parents say it, but I was not around for the elaboration on the topic, and I don’t know if maybe he changed his mind as he got older, or even if it was just an off-the-cuff statement that was not serious.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JLeslie In general I think there are a lot of people who wish they didn’t have children – it’d be a hard thing for them to speak about though because of the assumption made that it means they don’t love their kids, which isn’t true…I think many people have children because that’s what ‘one is to do after marriage’ or ‘one to do to be a proper woman’ or whatever…take your pick…and when the truly difficult aspects of parenting are revealed, many rebel, they feel taken…they feel disillusionment and really it is hard and some aren’t cut out for it…but they have their kids…and I know they do their best but we all know parents who transfer so much psychological bullshit onto their children, parents who live through their children, parents who don’t take the time to wonder about their kids’ traumatazing experiences, parents that treat their children like they’re their pets, etc. my husband and I spend a lot of our lives figuring out how to best meet our kids’ nutritional, developmental, social, etc. needs…this takes a LOT of work as we both do a lot of research (all the while trying to keep things organic, green and good for the environment) before we buy anything…and yet we miss things, rooms aren’t cleaned, floors go unwashed, dishes pile up…and sometimes, like yesterday, we realize that the infant has been scratching his ear because there was some dirt behind it that got the area irritated and we felt badly…we do our best, I gotta tell you, and we are both incredibly functional people and we still aren’t all always ‘on top of it all’...so can you imagine all the people that don’t do the research, that don’t spend the time, that don’t cook from scratch, that don’t consider classes or reading or whatever…please, it is a hard job, being a parent, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are MANY parents out there wishing they weren’t parents.

casheroo's avatar

There are definitely days where I think to myself “What the hell was I thinking?!” I’m sure every parent has those days. It’s amazing how much one little person can make you feel so happy, so much pride, and can also break your heart.
I’ve always wanted children, and if we couldn’t have them physically we would have looked into adoption or surrogacy.

Yes, there are other things I could be doing with my life right now…I’m only 23 years old. I could be off galavanting around, but I’m glad I have my head on straight. I feel that my son literally saved my life and I will be forever grateful that he came into my life when he did.
And yes, parenting is very difficult. You deal with issues you never even thought were issues! You want the best and you want to do all you can to give it.
The best part is the unconditional love. I will love my son no matter what.

Jeruba's avatar

People who grow up to be petty criminals, con artists, addicts, drunks, murderers, sluts, cheating politicians, abusers, embezzlers, and terrorists all had parents, too, and some of them were good people who sincerely did their very best. There is no reason to assume that joy is the lot of every parent. There are real risks, and not just of the “drive you crazy” (with a smile) kind. Some may not wish they had never had children, but they may wish they didn’t have the children they have. Only you can decide what the prospect of parenthood means to you and what you’re willing to sacrifice for it.

Zen's avatar

Happy I have my kids love em to bits! Happy I have my kids love em to bits! Happy I have my kids love em to bits! Happy I have my kids love em to bits! Happy I have my kids love em to bits! Happy I have my kids love em to bits! Happy I have my kids love em to bits! Happy I have my kids love em to bits! Happy I have my kids love em to bits! Happy I have my kids love em to bits! Happy I have my kids love em to bits! Happy I have my kids love em to bits! Happy I have my kids love em to bits! Happy I have my kids love em to bits! Happy I have my kids love em to bits! Happy I have my kids love em to bits! Happy I have my kids love em to bits! Happy I have my kids love em to bits! Happy I have my kids love em to bits! Happy I have my kids love em to bits!

MissAusten's avatar

@Zen, I can’t decide if that was cute or creepy in an “I’ve been brainwashed” kind of way.

Zen's avatar

@MissAusten Let’s say cute and I won’t ever do it gain, k?

SuperMouse's avatar

@Jeruba lurve for a great answer and making a point that most people would rather not even consider. It reminds me of an experience I once had with my father. We were talking about the fact that he had six children. I asked him if he wanted to have a big family he answered, “your mom loved babies and wanted to keep having them, I didn’t care one way or another so I just let her.” It was a very surreal moment.

Zen's avatar

@SuperMouse—Not to belittle the surealism of the moment, but from my own experience, as much as I love and adore my kids, and I think I have a great relationship with them, my daughter asks some things at different times which would get a response I wished I could’ve edited.

Sometimes it’s the nature of a father/daughter relationship, combined with her being a teen (oy!) and sometimes I’m just cranky, tired, and a big ol’ bi-polar bear. Sometimes, all three. Sucks. But what can you do?

I say, remember the love and good stuff; try not to hang on to one particular event or thought or phrase. It’s not easy, but it is possible. I’m sure there’s a chicken soup book or something about how to go about doing it. Sweat small stuff, make chicken soup, you get what I mean.
L)

MissAusten's avatar

I remember my mom telling me once, when I was in high school I think, that maybe it would have been better if my younger brother had never been born. I was floored. Not so much because of the sentiment (although that was bad enough), but that she would share that with me. I couldn’t have been more than 14 or 15 years old. Although, my mother is very strange and not a good representative of human behavior. My brother was never even a “bad” kid! More of a “boys will be boys” kind of kid, and only 10 when my mom said these things to me.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Zen if there is one thing I have known about my dad as long as I can remember, it’s that he wasn’t cut out to be a parent. I think he realizes it too. I gotta go bone a chicken.

Zen's avatar

@SuperMouse @MissAusten Aren’t all our parents pretty screwed up it seems?! (Wonder if my kids think the same about theirs.)

Jeruba's avatar

Somebody once said to me, “Everybody’s parents are screwed up.” I guess that’s because one way or another we all are. As parents we try to compensate for it where we can and give our best as we can, but perfection is not in us. And wouldn’t we be horrid to live with if it were? Still, I can think of a few folks who could do with a little more of it….

Zen's avatar

@Jeruba—You must clarify: ” I can think of a few folks who could do with a little more of it….” is that screwing up or giving the best we can?

I know I could screw up a lot more, and probably will.—

:-)

Jeruba's avatar

Sorry. Oblique again.

…perfection is not in us. And wouldn’t we be horrid to live with if [perfection] were [in us]? Still, I can think of a few folks who could do with a little more of [perfection]….

JLeslie's avatar

One of the best gifts I think I had as a child was knowing that all of my friends had crazy annoying parents also. My sister never felt this way and still doesn’t. She feels jipped and continues to be angry that she did not have the perfect family.

Jeruba's avatar

From the day my firstborn joined our family, we have said, “Well, we have to give him something to tell his shrink when he’s 25.” One thing is sure: things don’t look the same from both sides of the parental divide.

Darwin's avatar

Once when I was just starting high school (so I must have been 15) my mother told me that if she had had to do it all over again she wouldn’t. Have children is what she meant. She was quick to assure me that I was a fine person but…

I have never forgotten her saying that. And that was the same year she told me she wanted a divorce from my father, but she never went any further than that. I don’t even know if she ever told him. Obviously that was a bad year for her.

OTOH, when the first grandchild was born and everyone rushed to hold her and pass her around my mother refused to hold her, saying “Once you’ve seen one baby you’ve seen them all.”

I would suspect that she missed the career she gave up as women did in 1950 to marry, and that she had babies because that is what one did.

Jeruba's avatar

@Darwin, your mother is one unhappy woman. What a shame that she was just a few years too early to enjoy the new freedoms of the sixties. I am sure you are too wise to take it personally, but still. It is a great challenge for a woman to learn how to lay down her mother’s pain and not pick it up again, or a man his father’s.

Darwin's avatar

@Jeruba – She did go on in later years to return to her first love, painting which had to be replaced by engineering due to WW II in large part thanks to my dad. He encouraged her to rent a studio with some friends and helped her furnish it. We knew something serious was up when she quit painting some years later, but it took the doctors a couple of years to discover she had Parkinson’s. My father now spends his day caring for her.

I went ahead and had my career first, before I ever married or decided to raise children. In fact, I was all set to be a “spinster” and do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, but then I met this guy…

I have no regrets.

MissAusten's avatar

@Zen Pretty screwed up is putting it mildly as far as my mother is concerned. I believe that had her symptoms (for lack of a better word) become so extreme earlier, my brother and I would have serious issues. She was always a bit eccentric, but I was in college by the time she really started to go off the deep end. Once I had my own children, I realized how completely she had sabotaged our relationship with our dad and how inappropriate many of her decisions were. Still, I had it good as a kid. Now I just rely on caller ID and the distance of several states as insulation. I try to remind myself that she has done me a favor by teaching me what not to do with my own children.

summerlover's avatar

I have great parents, I mean really, really great parents…not perfect but wow..how they lived and continue to be just really good people is an inspiration to me…sometimes I really regret mistakes I made as a teen and how it must have taken years off their lives….unless you are a parent no one can explain to you just how much you will love your child…it is unlike any other love…but that love can mean that at times you are feeling so happy and other times feel like your heart is being riped out and stomped upon. I hope that I can somhow be as wonderful to my kids as my parents have always been to me….

Zen's avatar

@MissAusten I see you, and raise you one.

JLeslie's avatar

I once overheard my mom talking to some friends in the neighborhood. They were all saying how much they loved their college years, my mom said, “my favorite time in my life has been with my children.” Made me feel good. If I ever have children, even if it isn’t true, I think I will tell them that.

jonsblond's avatar

@JLeslie That’s so sweet. I feel the same way. Even though life is difficult now and not carefree like my college years were, I feel the same way your mother does. It’s good for a child to hear things like this. :)

scamp's avatar

@JLeslie, I didn’t have time to read all the other answers, but have you considered being a foster parent? If you aren’t quite sure you are ready to commit to full time parenting, you might want to think about that. It would be temporary, and you can see if you and your husband want a child full time or not.

Plus, you would help a child in need, so it would be a win win for all concerned. iI you do this, just know that it may be somewhat harder than full time parenting, at least for a short time, because many foster kids are very troubled, so they would need extra love and patience.

JLeslie's avatar

@scamp Yes we have thought about it, still do. We did have a couple of teenagers stay with us for 5 weeks once, but they were not troubled kids, they were ballerinas with the ballet school I used to go to, so it doesn’t really compare

mponochie's avatar

@Jeruba your wonderful response reminds me of something my mother told me during my first parenting breakdown, “Your best is never good enough and your worst isn’t is never that bad”.

lfino's avatar

When I first had kids, it seemed like I would never be away from the ear infections, the fighting, the need for constant attention, the sleepless nights….and here I am 28 years later. I can’t tell you how fast the time actually went. Everyone will tell you that the time flies, and they’re not kidding. My 3 kids are everything to me, and now I have one grandchild who is simply amazing. We’re all close and see each other often. I have never regretted anything about having kids. They were the best move of my life.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I don’t have children but I love ‘em :) Wishing I did doesn’t do any good so I give my love to the ones I know:)Some of the best people I’ve ever met have been 5 year olds!LOL!

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