As the childfree know, we can often get flack from parents who are convinced we will eventually regret our decision not to have kids. In talking with thousands of childfree in the last 10+ years, I can say that… not one person has spoken of regret. Some ponder what it might have been like to be a mother/father, but not to where they wish they’d made another choice. Instead, most childfree talk about the regret they would have if they had had kids!
The truth is parents can be the ones with the regret. Problem is — that is real taboo to talk about. That’s why it’s refreshing to see the candor from those who are brave enough to break the taboo. Here is a father who did just that.
He recently shared his regret New York Times journalist Lisa Belkin’s blog, Motherlode: Adventures in Parenting:
“My wife and I didn’t get married until we were in our 30s, and didn’t have our first child until five years after that. We were both well-educated, with great jobs, and we lived a jet-set lifestyle: apartment downtown, busy jobs, etc. We now have two kids, ages 4 and 1.
No matter how well prepared I thought I was, I was not prepared for the sheer magnitude of changes to my life.
Being the go-to guy at work, who can jump on a plane at a moment’s notice to go meet a client: gone.
Working on my master’s degree with evening classes: gone.
Playing on a local basketball league: gone.
Playing golf on Saturdays and lazy Sunday mornings: gone.
Living in a bohemian loft apartment: nope, now it’s a house in the suburbs with a 45-minute commute.
No more personal projects, like the book I wanted to write, or starting a consulting business on the side, or training to run a marathon: all gone.
So if I knew then what I know now, I might have only had one child, or zero….I have committed myself to being the best darn father I can be, and I have slowly accepted the fact that all those personal dreams are basically pushed to the side because of that.”
This father is not alone. While there are lots of parents with no regrets, when surveyed many others say otherwise. Dr Phil’s recent survey of over 20,000 parents, 40% basically said if they knew then what they knew now they would not make the same choice. And anonymous surveys of parents have shown even higher percentages. Like the Ted Talk that takes on parent taboos, being out there about one’s regret is just not what one is “supposed” to feel or say.
What if people were more open about this? Might it help others make better decisions about whether to become parents themselves? One thing for sure, if this mindset became less taboo, parents might do a lot less incorrect predicting that childfree will be the ones with the regrets.
Childfree, who’s told you you’d regret not having kids? What do you tell them?