The majority of stories about parents or becoming parents or parenthood center around the joy of it all. Sure, there are hard times and it’s never easy, but society as a whole assumes that everyone who has children adores them and does their best to raise them right.

That’s just not true, though. There are a million different kinds of people in this world and a million different kinds of parents – and some of them are raising kids they 100% regret having.

It’s important to talk about all kinds of experiences, though, to make them a little less taboo.

16. Make sure your reason is good enough.

I was a nanny for a lady who really didn’t want children but needed up having 5 because she loved her husband. Each of her pregnancies her medical condition go worse, with her youngest she had to be in the hospital for two months because she had so many kidney stones. Part of her condition is she produces kidney stones at a crazy rate, and they are rare stones that have a hook on them.

Her kidneys are also more like a sponge looking organ than kidney, that aren’t functioning over 25%. She would give her life for those kids even though she never wanted them. Shitty part, when the youngest was 2, her health was declining alot. And her husband, left her for a chick he just met because, and I quote “I’m sick of you being sick”.

I miss those kids so much and I miss her. She got full custody and has even better insurance now that her ex left her. And he pays huge in child support and alimony every month.

15. It’s just completely draining.

I don’t know if I fall into that category, but sometimes I feel like I do. 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. I understand that there are people out there who enjoy spending time with kids, just like there are people who enjoy talking to strangers — and suffice it to say I’m just not one of them.

So I guess I want my kids, but what I really want is for my kids to magically be old enough that they’re no longer draining, and for me to get my life back a little. I mean, I love them and I want them to be happy and if anyone ever tried to take them from me I would go to hell and back to prevent it. But when was the last time I took a bike ride? When was the last time I looked forward to the weekend rather than seeing it as an exhausting slog? When was the last time I went into Monday a little rested, rather than just beaten down and exhausted? And, as importantly, when’s the next time I’ll get to do so? Five years from now? Ten? Will I be young enough to even enjoy it?

So, I don’t know if I’m in this category — probably not. But I definitely do feel that way a lot more than I’d like.

14. People should be able to decide this with no worries.

I honestly do not want children. I say it time and time again and the only people that listen and agree with me are my friends. But one of my biggest fears is that I am going to fall in love with a man who one day decides he wants children and I love him so much that I decide to go through with it even though I know I don’t really want to deep down.

My coworker (and friend) told me the other day it is selfish to not have kids. I think it is an incredibly selfless thing to refuse to have children that you know in your heart you do not want. “You’ll end up loving them so much though!” Yeah, I could. Or I might not. Better to not bring a child into the world that you could have ended up adoring than to have a child and end up wishing you didn’t.

13. You have to know your limits.

I had genetic testing done during very early pregnancy to screen for congenital problems and mentioned I would abort if they were present.

I had friends severely upset with me about this.

I know I couldn’t handle a disabled child financially or emotionally, I had to be honest with myself.

12. She doesn’t miss them.

I have three (a girl and twin boys). I really thought I wanted kids because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do…. be a wife and have kids.

I love them, and I want the best for them. But I don’t have the same connection to them that other moms seem to have. I don’t miss them when I have to go on a long trip, I just feel relief. Having them home because of the pandemic has been really hard for me. I have a lot of guilt about it.

I don’t withhold affection or anything, but I’m not a naturally affectionate person. My husband is. I feel pretty lonely and left out when they’re playing together, I feel like I don’t belong. It’s a weird dichotomy.

I don’t really know. Even though I’m surrounded by family, it feels pretty damn lonely. I don’t feel like I belong in my own life. I fantasize about taking off alone and living somewhere by myself. But I don’t want to mess them up like that, they’re innocent and don’t deserve it. So I do my best, and hope I’ll be alive in 10 years to be alone again.

11. Sometimes they’re just part of the plan and nothing else.

I have spoken with a woman who feels nothing towards her kids. She had them because that is what the church requires and her husband wants them. But I don’t think it’s just the kids.

Even though she says she loves her husband I don’t think that’s what she feels for him. She was picked on severely growing up and he is really good to her. I think it’s “thankfulness ” that she feels and confuses it with love.

Anyways she knows that it’s wrong (her words) to not love her kids and decided to view parenting as a project with the best possible outcome is have her children grow into healthy, happy and well adjusted adults.

She did clarify that she doesn’t hate them or resent them. After all they were part of her life plan. So she made up a way following all the best parenting advice and making sure she follows through. For example, keeps track of how often she cuddles them (by minutes noted in her journal) and if she notices that she hasn’t been doing it a lot she tries to correct it.

She also leaves discipline up to her husband because she doesn’t want them to associate any negative feelings towards her. She knows they’ll eventually be able to recognize her lack of feelings towards them and will think her discipline came from a bad place.

From what she told me she has never explained any of this to her husband and he has no clue how she feels.

This conversation lasted about 4 hours and was the moment I realized that you can CHOOSE to be a good parent or a bad one. Regardless of how you feel it’s never the child’s fault and an adult is responsible for making up for what they lack.

10. Perhaps it’s best to keep it to yourself once its done.

My mother point blank told us 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 knew I wanted them to KNOW they were wanted, planned for, adored.

My dad remarried and adopted two children of his second wife’s then they had one together, making us a family of 5. Now I get so much in way of a rich childhood for my children with all their cousins and aunt and uncles to love them. It’s not always completely life ruining I suppose but it did have a profound affect on how the first half of my life went for sure, how I felt about myself

9. People should be able to set boundaries.

This question makes me think of the guy who posted about having pressured his ex into having the baby when she found out she was pregnant. She agreed but only if she could give up all parental rights and (at time of posting) pays more than the required child support. He wanted to know if there was any way he could legally oblige her to take care of the child.

Like, this lady got pregnant, didn’t want to have a child, and agreed to carry the pregnancy to term only if she had nothing to do with the baby besides paying child support. Buuuuuut 1.5 years later the guy realized being a single father was hard and wanted to know if he had any way to legally force the bio mom to physically help raising their son.

8. It might still work out ok.

I read this Reddit story once that I have never been able to forget. It was a confession I think- can’t remember the subreddit. This woman had a kid she didn’t want, I can’t remember the circumstance of whether if was hers or a dead siblings. Anyway, she talked about how she felt so guilty for not loving him that she worked extra hard to give him a good life- all her money went toward his education and things he wanted. But the part I can’t forget is that she had set an alarm on her phone to go off everyday to remind her to tell him that she loved him, because it didn’t come naturally to tell him that and she was afraid of him not feeling loved.

That story is an amazing reminder that love comes in so many forms and looks different for everyone. She doesn’t love him, but is so worried about his well being that she goes to lengths many, many people with kids would never consider to go to to make him feel wanted and happy. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.

7. I can’t imagine giving them back.

I girl I worked with had a five year plan. Get a designer man, have a massive wedding, travel to fancy hotels and have a baby. She managed it all except the baby.

Two years of IVF later and still no baby.

After a long adoption process they get a 6 month old. Three months later they give him back and divorce.

She realised that she had only wanted a baby because that what people did and that meant she was successful! She had never thought about what having a baby meant and what it would do to her ‘perfect’ life.

The husband couldn’t live with what she had decided so left. At least the baby went to a couple who did want him eventually, instead of staying with her.

6. You never imagine it could happen to you.

This is a story of a very close friend of mine, on a bit different note, but I guess it could fit, in some light. He was abused as a kid (violence and mentally, by both parents), and was scared of ever even getting close to kids, in a fear he would hurt them in some way. He is generally a really meek, but caring person, like a total opposite of what he got at home – this was his just coping mechanism, as kids literally clung to him. Then he met a loving woman and they married. She slowly warmed him up to being around younglings (it helped she works in preschool/daycare), and finally they (both) decided it’s okay to go.

Two attempts (sadly) and little over year later he was holding small baby in his arms – his eyes, his hair, her face, her smile.

He told me, during the pregnancy he was super happy, and did everything he could for his wife and future junior. He started loving it truly, and when he felt it kicking, he was internally overflowed with happiness, that a small human was growing there, and he, or she will have dreams, laughs and hurdles. Yet, standing there, he felt nothing. Like no spark, no love, no happiness, no resentment, no joy, nothing. He was holding small, hot, moving piece of meat which he had absolutely no attachment to. It crushed him. Talk with wife crushed him even more. He did everything he could to care for her in hope he will grow to love… but it never came. As soon as time allowed, he went into therapy, and after three years heard that sometimes… this just happens.

His daughter is now 6, is healthy and happy, as far as I can tell, but I heard my share of his pain. He feels inferior as a human, for deceiving his daughter, and he powers trough it by sheer willpower and effort. ‘If I can’t love her, at least I will still try to give her something I couldn’t have – caring home’. He told me exactly once, that he really, really regrets agreeing to have a kid, but I could feel his shame.

His wife is wonderful person enough to accept him, like this. She told us (my fiance is more of her support than I am), she wanted more kids, but she is really afraid to put more on him. Raising one will be enough of a challenge for them, that’s for sure. I know he will keep all his promises and words, but it already takes a toll on him.

5. It’s a choice everyone needs to make for themselves.

I think society needs to start accepting children as a choice rather than an expectation. I think so many people have a kid because that’s what you’re expected to do – you finish school/college, get a job, buy a house, get married and have a baby.

A lot of people do just roll with it because that’s what they think they’re supposed to do, so they race to the end and realise that it’s not what they wanted, but it’s too late.

4. Love is different for everyone.

Love isn’t a light switch that you suddenly feel. Love is a process. It takes time and work. He’s doing that work.

Media and hype around kids is built up to stupid levels and leaves many parents with feelings of inadequacy. Lots of parents (especially Dads) struggle with this. Pregnant mothers have a bit more time to come to terms with the fact they have a child, and hormones to back it up. It often doesn’t feel “real” for dads many parents until months or sometimes even a couple years after their kid is born.

Sometimes you just need to get out of your head and stop worrying about what you’re “supposed” to feel. Take care of your child. Make them feel loved. That’s all that you need to do.

3. Trauma abounds.

When my daughter was a year and a half old I unexpectedly got pregnant a second time.

I was not ready. I was exhausted as shit from my daughter being a typical toddler and a dog we rescued that needed constant emotional coddling.

And hindsight makes it easier to see my depression was wildly out of control but I didn’t realize it because my panic attacks were not. I would lay awake at night, in pain, wanting to vomit from heartburn, exhausted because my daughter decided sleeping through the night was no longer a thing and would think “ya know… if I miscarried I’d probably feel relieved” and other things along those lines.

And this went on for the whole pregnancy…. right up until 32 weeks when I went into labor… and my son was dead. Gone for at least three days before I went into labor.

Despite all the expected mental anguish and trauma, for just one single moment when we were driving home with empty arms and an empty car seat, I felt relieved. I have yet to forgive myself for that.

2. You can never see the future.

Using an alt. because my main can be linked back to me and I’m going to get very real.

I had a perfect pregnancy. I was super cautious, took my prenatal vitamin every day, never drank, walked away if someone was smoking near me, etc.

My child is severely special needs. She’s autistic, but on the severe end with “global developmental delay” which is just a nice way of saying “mentally disabled.” She is six but is now just learning to potty train. She is 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. She doesn’t interact like a normal child and treats other people more like inanimate objects rather than people- no affection, no emotion, no interaction aside from pulling me to the fridge to get her food or handing me her toy so I can fix something on it.

I don’t feel like a mom, I feel like a caregiver. I get little joy in taking care of her and I am constantly worn down. 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 and this is why I’m using an alt. but raising her is not like raising a child. You raise a child to be a decent adult- you teach them manners, respect, education and kindness and you hope that as they grow up they will make friends, get good grades in school and go on to have a fulfilling life. 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. It feels like I have been taking care of a baby for the past six years. She progresses very slowly and very little. I am hoping by the time she is in her twenties we can maybe have a simple one or two sentence conversation or maybe she can have the attention span to watch and understand a movie. I still talk to her and play with her but it’s so discouraging after years of not getting anything back. I mainly just snuggle with her on the couch while she plays with her tablet, it’s one of the few ways we really bond. She likes toys and simple games on her tablet, so I buy her lots of them to keep her busy and hope that they keep her content so she isn’t screaming and hitting herself.

I see children much younger than her having full conversations with their parents and I get so jealous. I see them telling their parents they want burgers for lunch, or talking about a fun thing they want to do or whatever, and I can’t even imagine how easy my life would be if she could just communicate simple things like that.

It’s so tough. I take her to the playground and the other kids ask why she won’t talk or play with them (pre-covid days), we go out to the grocery store and she has a full meltdown and we have to leave our cart behind. We go out to eat and she can’t sit still and wants to get up and run around the restaurant so we have to leave. She’s only getting bigger and taller and she’s getting harder to manage.

She hits herself and others. Sometimes she smears her poop all over the wall. She slams her head into the wall and furniture when she’s frustrated (which is often, like multiple times a day). She broke a window with her head a few weeks ago and I was scared shitless she was going to need stitches, but luckily she somehow came out unharmed aside from a bruised forehead. I don’t know how I am going to handle her when she is a teen and as big as me. I don’t like to think about it.

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.

My husband and I have aged 20 years, we’re overweight from stress eating, we’re constantly on edge that she’s going to give herself a concussion because she self harms and we cannot stop it every time, we’re sleep deprived, no sex life, our brains are fried from all the screaming and constant noise. We argue and are short tempered with each other. We are empty shells of what we used to be. Imagine having a monkey on your back 24/7 that just screamed and hit you. It breaks a person.

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

I never ever thought we’d have a special needs kid. There’s no family history, and like I said I took amazing care of myself while pregnant. She was planned, my husband and I waited until we were financially stable to have her, we did everything right. We wanted more children but now have decided not to have any more because it would be too much stress. I mourn what could have been. I wonder all the time how my life would be if she was a typical kid.

If you want to put yourself in the headspace of a parent who has a profoundly special needs child, watch the movie “Vivarium.” It’s about a couple who get stuck in this weird suburb that they cannot escape and are forced to raise this strange alien child-like being until they die of exhaustion. It’s an odd, science fiction alien/monster type of movie that’s meant to be pure fantasy but for me it was the realist movie I have ever watched.

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). When she’s an adult we’re either going to turn our basement into a living space for her and hire an aid to help her or we’ll put her in an adult special needs home and visit her frequently to make sure she is okay. I just hate that it has to be this way. 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.

1. It might not turn out the way you think.

This is kinda crazy because I was just thinking about this today. I’m not gonna use a throw away or anything. Not that I think anyone on here would actually know me… 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 is 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.

For instance, as I was writing this, I went to the bathroom and in the 3 minutes I was gone he took a dump forced both his hands into his diaper and smeared shit all over his face and pin and everywhere else. Now my whole apartment reeks and I had a half hour of clean up because I left my toddler alone for all of 3 minutes. This isn’t the first time this has happened.

I just can’t connect with him and it has me feeling like I’m just his care taker rather than his dad.

I can’t even imagine, but I think that’s why we need to read articles like these.

If you’re less than thrilled about your decision to have kids, tell us in the comments what you’re experience is like, too.