My first parent confession happened several years ago. Out of seemingly nowhere, a father shared with me that if he could go back in time he would choose not to have children. This surprised me as he seemed to love children and was a doting and devoted father of two.
Recently, I was out for lunch with an empty nester. She said the following to me, “I didn’t think it through before having children.” She stated that she was happy in her marriage and thought that the next logical step was to have a baby. She shared with me that she didn’t think that the sacrifice was worth it in the end.
While I was surprised by the two “wouldn’t do it again” confessions, I found myself even more surprised by a different kind of statement. In the lunchroom, a mother said to the group of us that she could see her life as equally fulfilled whether she had a biological child (she does), or adopted instead or had no children at all.
I am not sure why I was told these parent confessions. Maybe because we don’t have children? Maybe they saw me as a safe person to share their regrets with? Whatever the reason, it now causes me to pause when I hear people say, “you’ll never regret it (children)”. The internet provides anonymous confessions by parents who say that they regret having children. I wonder if a more accurate expression may be, “it’s likely that you won’t regret it – but I can’t say for certain, you just might.”