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'I feel trapped': Parents who regret having children, open up anonymously about taboo topic

Parenthood can be a nightmare for some, especially if you've been forced into the decision by your partner or family.

'I feel trapped': Parents who regret having children, open up anonymously about taboo topic
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While pop culture paints parenthood as a blessing, the reality is far from that for many. Postpartum depression is hardly acknowledged and is considered a taboo subject, much like miscarriage even though both are normal occurrences. Even otherwise, having a baby can upend your life financially, workwise, and even in terms of the sleep you get. There's a lot more to early parenthood than what vivid outdoor photoshoots often portray. Parents who regretted having children opened up about the matter on a Reddit thread and it gives us a fair assessment of how tough parenthood can be. The thread posted by Reddit user u/SniperGlizzy asked, "What is it like to have children you don’t want?" Here are some honest answers that caught our eye.

1. "It sucks the energy out of you"

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"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."  — u/SafetyDanceInMyPants

2. "You feel guilty"

"When you have a kid you kinda get this idea in your head on how things are gonna be. How you're going to teach them things, share special moments as they learn and have this cool amazing bond. Then your kid comes into this world and is not at all what you expect. My kid has special needs and has major developmental delays. He's 2 and basically just lives in his own world. Doesn't communicate, doesn't respond to his name, and has basically missed every single milestone out there. So you feel regret, despair, and a whole bunch of other negative stuff. Especially guilt. It wasn't his fault he came into the world this way. He didn't ask to be here. So there's a lot of complex emotions going on. However bad it makes me feel though. I just kind of wish he didn't exist." — u/redditingatwork23

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3. "I don't think I'm cut out for it"

"I have custody of my brothers' kids. I didn't want them. I already have one of my own. My brother's kids are not as well-behaved as my children. It is very frustrating. I love them. I will protect them and take care of them. I find myself very upset by the fact that I just can't seem to love them as much as my children. It's depressing. I hate myself because I feel this way. My brother's kids put a strain on my marital relationship because they act out so much. My brother is homeless and addicted to drugs, with really no hope of him getting better. I try so hard to not let my nieces and nephews see that I struggle with this. But kids are smart and I know they pick up on this. I hate that I can't just be happy with this. At least for their sake. Can't talk to family about it. I'm this hero who took the kids so they wouldn't end up in foster care or group homes. But I'm really not a hero. I stepped up because no one else would, but I don't think I'm cut out for it." — u/throwthisaway712


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4. People shouldn't be shamed into having kids

"I have a friend with a toddler who feels this way. She gave in and let her husband have one kid she didn't think she wanted. She was right. She thinks about leaving often but won't because she is now responsible for this life. People should not have to hide behind what other people think are 'good reasons' not to have kids. It's a personal choice and nobody's business, and it shouldn't be shamed. They are feelings. And they are valid." — u/EmEmPeriwinkle

5. "None of us deserved this life"

"My child is severely special needs. She's autistic. She is six and 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. I don't feel like a mom, I feel like a caregiver. 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 but raising her is not like raising a child. 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. I see children much younger than her having full conversations with their parents and I get so jealous.

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. We've been in weekly therapy for years and I probably break down at least once a month during a session. 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). 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."


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6. "I'd have made a lot more of myself"

"I honestly believe if I'd never had a kid, particularly as young and alone as I was in a very socially backward 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" - u/momisahamster 

7. "I feel trapped and like I'm sacrificing my own future children"

"My husband and I have been raising my niece for 3.5 years. 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 a while 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 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." -u/V4ult_G1rl 

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8. I want my kids to know they were planned for

"My mother point-blank told us that 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 wanted them to KNOW that they were wanted, planned for, adored." -u/StMungosHeartHealer 

9. I didn't want this kid 

"Ex-girlfriend baby-trapped me. She stopped taking her birth control and didn't tell me. Then cheated on me while pregnant. 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, traveling, 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 shit 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 me 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."- u/phantaxtic


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10. I’d have preferred not to have a kid around

"My 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, but ideally, I’d have preferred not to have a kid around. Never really said that out loud — this is liberating." —u/Dewy_Wanna_Go_There


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