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Old 04-11-2014, 08:53 AM   #81
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This is a good post, and I agree with it. Both sides of this "debate" have people who absolutely rationalize things to confirm their choice. I have only met two people who were willing to admit they 'regret' having children. Regret isn't the right word: they love their kids, but if given the choice to do it over again, they wouldn't. I suspect the REAL number of people is higher than that, but it's tough to admit and also, subconciously, probably doesn't feel very good to do so! What would your kids think if they overheard or read your words to that effect?

So, it's tough to get a straight, honest answer from parents, and in many cases those who elect to not be parents.

I enjoy people's thoughts on the matter, but we will make our own decision.
You should do some searches on the internet. You will find many, many websites with stories about parents who regret having kids and can't stand them and want to get rid of them. Once freed from the stigma by the anonymity of the internet, these regretful parents let loose with their sad tales of having made the wrong decisions about having kids.

Then do a search of childfree people who regret their choice to be childfree and you will nothing or very close to it. The imbalance between these two types of regrets is huge, really huge, it is not even close.

I also recall that Ann Landers (unscientific) survey back in the 1970s when she asked her readers to write in and tell her if they would have kids if they could do it all over again. The response to her question was overwhelmingly tilted toward those who regretted having kids and would not do it again if they could go back and change their decision.

I submit that childfree people have put much more thought into their rational decision to not have kids than many (but not all) people who chose to have kids due to this huge imbalance of regret later on.
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Old 04-11-2014, 09:08 AM   #82
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Its hard to determine the actual impact of having children on your life, good or bad, until you have them, and then its a little too late to make this decision.
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Old 04-11-2014, 09:50 AM   #83
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I'd say do whatever you want to. Have kids or don't. It's your life and kids tend to stick around for at least 18 years. You have to take care of them, and it's a long time commitment. The rewards are immense, the responsibilities and time commitment is great.

I retired at 33 with 3 kids. If I retired without kids, life would certainly be filled with different (but not necessarily better) things.

An example of good things kids bring in early retirement - social interaction. A couple days ago I was walking back from school with my 2 year old after dropping off the 7 and 9 year olds. I bumped into some friends that have kids at our school on the walk back. We stopped and chatted in front of one of the lady's houses for a few minutes, then she invited us in for coffee. We hung out for an hour or two while our kids played with dump trucks and the dog.

After a couple hours, our little party broke up, I set off for home, and as I was unlocking my front door, I noticed a friendly couple across the street waving at me. I walked over to say "hi, welcome to the neighborhood" and we chatted about our 2 year olds (only a few weeks apart in age). Turns out the father stays at home with the kid during the day, so I may have a new friend for me (and a playmate for my kiddo!).

I'm not saying having lots of social interaction is impossible without kids, but I find kids are a great social lubricant. They have certainly led to many serendipitous new friends and acquaintances for me in early retirement. I'm sure a part of it is simply that I'm out and about the neighborhood every day walking the kids to/from their school, the library, community center, or walking to go shopping.
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Old 04-11-2014, 10:49 AM   #84
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....
I submit that childfree people have put much more thought into their rational decision to not have kids than many (but not all) people who chose to have kids due to this huge imbalance of regret later on.
It has only been since 1960 that people who enjoy copulating with the opposite sex (hey, who doesn't ) have had a realistic option of making a rational decision not to have kids. The impact of pharmaceutical contraception, approved by the FDA in 1960 (A brief history of the birth control pill - The pill timeline | Need to Know | PBS) on society is just so immense in so many ways.

But I digress (and say thank you, FDA, for making my college years a lot more fun!).
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Old 04-11-2014, 11:58 AM   #85
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It has only been since 1960 that people who enjoy copulating with the opposite sex (hey, who doesn't )
Homosexuals, for one. Certain clergy members for another.

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But I digress (and say thank you, FDA, for making my college years a lot more fun!).
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Old 04-11-2014, 12:02 PM   #86
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Homosexuals, for one. Certain clergy members for another.

True, but same-sex copulation rarely has pregnancy as a potential outcome. Clergy members? Not going near that one

ETA: Oh, never mind, I get it. Duh. Funny.
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Old 04-11-2014, 12:23 PM   #87
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You should do some searches on the internet. You will find many, many websites with stories about parents who regret having kids and can't stand them and want to get rid of them. Once freed from the stigma by the anonymity of the internet, these regretful parents let loose with their sad tales of having made the wrong decisions about having kids.

Then do a search of childfree people who regret their choice to be childfree and you will nothing or very close to it. The imbalance between these two types of regrets is huge, really huge, it is not even close.
There are several factors here that makes this exercise essentially meaningless. First, the number of people who have children is at least five times greater than the number who don't. So to begin with, the number of potential cases of regret is five times higher (at least) in the group with children.

Second, you're comparing documented regrets about an action taken with documented regrets about an action not taken. No doubt you'll also find far more people expressing regret due to complications from LASIK, compared to people who voice speculative regrets about what they might have missed out on by not having LASIK. Now magnify that difference by an order of magnitude or more, accounting for the innumerable ways one's daily life is affected by raising children, the fact that the impact is nearly continuous during child-rearing years, and continues until death in most cases.

Finally, confirmation bias. I'll just say that it likely affects you in this case, perhaps even to the point of ending your web searches as soon as you found the results you were looking for.

None of this is to say that I think you are right or wrong when it comes to the actual incidence of genuine regret on either side. I'm simply saying that your measurement methodology isn't very useful.
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Old 04-11-2014, 02:06 PM   #88
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When DH and I married, we started saying that maybe we'll have kids in 5 years. After about 12 years came and went, we finally decided it wasn't something we really wanted.
The impact to our retirement date was one thing, but the impact to our lifestyle was probably the biggest. After we decided to not have kids, we moved from the suburbs and into a walkable neighborhood and have loved every minute of it.

The only regrets I had were after my father passed away. As I looked over old pictures and thought about what a great father he was, and how important it was to him, I was sad that I didn't do the same. I spent some extra time with my nephews, and the feelings passed.

I'll be 39 next week, so my window is about to be sealed shut.
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Old 04-11-2014, 02:14 PM   #89
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Maybe folks should regret having regrets
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Old 04-11-2014, 02:18 PM   #90
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When DH and I married, we started saying that maybe we'll have kids in 5 years. After about 12 years came and went, we finally decided it wasn't something we really wanted.
The impact to our retirement date was one thing, but the impact to our lifestyle was probably the biggest. After we decided to not have kids, we moved from the suburbs and into a walkable neighborhood and have loved every minute of it.

The only regrets I had were after my father passed away. As I looked over old pictures and thought about what a great father he was, and how important it was to him, I was sad that I didn't do the same. I spent some extra time with my nephews, and the feelings passed.

I'll be 39 next week, so my window is about to be sealed shut.
Don't get careless. Pregnancies can occur into 40s and 50s.
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Old 04-12-2014, 04:48 PM   #91
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You should do some searches on the internet. You will find many, many websites with stories about parents who regret having kids and can't stand them and want to get rid of them. Once freed from the stigma by the anonymity of the internet, these regretful parents let loose with their sad tales of having made the wrong decisions about having kids.

Then do a search of childfree people who regret their choice to be childfree and you will nothing or very close to it. The imbalance between these two types of regrets is huge, really huge, it is not even close.

I also recall that Ann Landers (unscientific) survey back in the 1970s when she asked her readers to write in and tell her if they would have kids if they could do it all over again. The response to her question was overwhelmingly tilted toward those who regretted having kids and would not do it again if they could go back and change their decision.

I submit that childfree people have put much more thought into their rational decision to not have kids than many (but not all) people who chose to have kids due to this huge imbalance of regret later on.
You cannot in anyway draw any meaningful conclusion from what you read on the internet about parents regretting their children. Bringing up children is hard in modern America, particularly for poor parents who are often single. Day to day efforts with some children can be very trying and parents are known to vent things that they don't actually mean which is just a reflection of their frustration.

I can only speak for myself to say that my children are my world and I cannot imagine life without them. They have brought great joy and meaning to our lives. Although at times, I become exasperated by their antics and wish they were already grown and out the house, that's only a reflection of my momentary frustration. This much I would say. Nature made sure that when you have children an unbreakable bond is forged no matter what. I very much doubt it was possible for me to experience the deep unconditional love for anyone if I did not have my own children. My guess is that's true for all normal parents. A parent will not hestitate to make extreme sacrifice for their children including throwing themselves in front of a flying bullet. Very few people will do that for anybody else. I can't imagine regretting my children even if they disappoint me because they've brought us so much joy and I am looking forward to grandchildren one day.
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Old 04-12-2014, 06:49 PM   #92
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You cannot in anyway draw any meaningful conclusion from what you read on the internet about parents regretting their children. Bringing up children is hard in modern America, particularly for poor parents who are often single. Day to day efforts with some children can be very trying and parents are known to vent things that they don't actually mean which is just a reflection of their frustration.

I can only speak for myself to say that my children are my world and I cannot imagine life without them. They have brought great joy and meaning to our lives. Although at times, I become exasperated by their antics and wish they were already grown and out the house, that's only a reflection of my momentary frustration. This much I would say. Nature made sure that when you have children an unbreakable bond is forged no matter what. I very much doubt it was possible for me to experience the deep unconditional love for anyone if I did not have my own children. My guess is that's true for all normal parents. A parent will not hestitate to make extreme sacrifice for their children including throwing themselves in front of a flying bullet. Very few people will do that for anybody else. I can't imagine regretting my children even if they disappoint me because they've brought us so much joy and I am looking forward to grandchildren one day.
Then how do you explain the daily news reports about parents who abuse their children? Every time I see one of those reports, I think to myself, "Those people should have chosen to be childfree." When I see a news story about someone struggling financially for several years then seeing how he/they added a newborn to the mix, I ask myself, "Why did they DO that? They should have remained childfree. This is comparable to child abuse."

I am quite sure that a parent is far more likely to lie and say s/he loves their kids when they actually hate them and wish they never had them than a parent saying s/he hates their kids and wish they never had them when they actually love them and do not regret their choice. Why would someone go to one of those "I hate my kids and regret having them" message boards and lie about hating them? Instead, I find it far more likely that a parent who actually hates his/her kids and regrets having them would lie and say they love them and they are their pride and joy and blah blah blah, just to fit in with the crowd and avoid getting scorned.

This is why I believe those "I hate my kids and regret having them" forums. I am far more likely to believe someone going against the grain and saying things considered unacceptable than someone who says things no more meaningful or convincing than "I like ice cream."
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Old 04-12-2014, 06:59 PM   #93
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I can only speak for myself to say that my children are my world and I cannot imagine life without them. They have brought great joy and meaning to our lives. Although at times, I become exasperated by their antics and wish they were already grown and out the house, that's only a reflection of my momentary frustration. This much I would say. Nature made sure that when you have children an unbreakable bond is forged no matter what. I very much doubt it was possible for me to experience the deep unconditional love for anyone if I did not have my own children. My guess is that's true for all normal parents. A parent will not hestitate to make extreme sacrifice for their children including throwing themselves in front of a flying bullet. Very few people will do that for anybody else. I can't imagine regretting my children even if they disappoint me because they've brought us so much joy and I am looking forward to grandchildren one day.
Well Letj, things are fun when kids are small and cuddly. Then they get into high school and turn into adults (or we hope they do). Then the fun can begin.

I can't even post about the misery, worry, fright, anxious nights staying awake, etc that one of our "sweet, cuddly, loving, etc" children brought upon us. We still love her dearly, and she actually made it through the drugs, etc, without getting pregnant or too severely brain damaged.

I used to tell my wife I felt relieved and could sleep all night long when the kid was in jail where it was safe.

Well we made it through that and she is an adult now. But no way she can have kids (something happened?) and actually has been delightful to be around. She can't get a good job (blew college off) and with the criminal record...hmmm. The other daughter passed away at 22.

No grandkids for us, but that's OK. We are just part of the statistics. But we always loved our children dearly but have some regrets now. Blame us?
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Old 04-12-2014, 07:02 PM   #94
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I see my neighbors' kids pretty often around the neighborhood and they always make me smile. Happy little dwarves!
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Old 04-12-2014, 07:11 PM   #95
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... We are just part of the statistics. But we always loved our children dearly but have some regrets now. Blame us?
So so sorry and who could blame you for some regrets. There but for the grace of God go all parents.
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Old 04-12-2014, 08:35 PM   #96
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Well Letj, things are fun when kids are small and cuddly. Then they get into high school and turn into adults (or we hope they do). Then the fun can begin.

I can't even post about the misery, worry, fright, anxious nights staying awake, etc that one of our "sweet, cuddly, loving, etc" children brought upon us. We still love her dearly, and she actually made it through the drugs, etc, without getting pregnant or too severely brain damaged.

I used to tell my wife I felt relieved and could sleep all night long when the kid was in jail where it was safe.

Well we made it through that and she is an adult now. But no way she can have kids (something happened?) and actually has been delightful to be around. She can't get a good job (blew college off) and with the criminal record...hmmm. The other daughter passed away at 22.

No grandkids for us, but that's OK. We are just part of the statistics. But we always loved our children dearly but have some regrets now. Blame us?
So sorry to hear. It is a risk having children but it's all part of the journey we must take; if it's not children's problems, it could be something else. I imagine that as parents we continue to worry about them even if as adults. Their problems become our problems (divorces, sick grandchildren, etc). Unfortunately, it's all part of life and we all wish life could be smooth sailing but more often than not, it isn't.
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Old 04-12-2014, 08:40 PM   #97
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Then how do you explain the daily news reports about parents who abuse their children? Every time I see one of those reports, I think to myself, "Those people should have chosen to be childfree." When I see a news story about someone struggling financially for several years then seeing how he/they added a newborn to the mix, I ask myself, "Why did they DO that? They should have remained childfree. This is comparable to child abuse."

I am quite sure that a parent is far more likely to lie and say s/he loves their kids when they actually hate them and wish they never had them than a parent saying s/he hates their kids and wish they never had them when they actually love them and do not regret their choice. Why would someone go to one of those "I hate my kids and regret having them" message boards and lie about hating them? Instead, I find it far more likely that a parent who actually hates his/her kids and regrets having them would lie and say they love them and they are their pride and joy and blah blah blah, just to fit in with the crowd and avoid getting scorned.

This is why I believe those "I hate my kids and regret having them" forums. I am far more likely to believe someone going against the grain and saying things considered unacceptable than someone who says things no more meaningful or convincing than "I like ice cream."
There is no denying that life can be hard for children born to parents who are ill equipped to be parents. Those parents are often poorly educated or not educated at all, poor, mentally ill and in some circumstances desperate drug addicts. Under those circumstances, children can be a real burden. However, it still doesn't mean they regret their children. The abuse and abandonment is often an expression of the way they themselves were raised. We learn what we live. We also cannot minimize the toll that mental illness can have on families.
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Old 04-12-2014, 08:48 PM   #98
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It's a wonderful thing when folks who don't want children don't have children, that's for sure.

Sometimes having kids is like having a friend who keeps calling you to help them with computer problems. You should have chosen to be "friend with computer problem - free," but you're not.
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Old 04-14-2014, 04:36 AM   #99
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Don't get careless. Pregnancies can occur into 40s and 50s.

My neighbor had her first (and only) child at age 43 with no issues. Her son is now 11 and all of them are happy and healthy!

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Old 04-14-2014, 07:51 AM   #100
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It is a risk having children but it's all part of the journey we must take.
Some of us have elected not to take that particular journey. There is no "must take".

As a pediatrician I saw many parenting disasters. People who obviously have difficulty managing their own lives bring children into their chaotic world and give them a disastrous start, setting up a cycle of dysfunction that will last for generations. But even parents who seemingly do everything right can be faced with disasters not of their own making. They are just better able to cope.
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