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Biggest Regret in Life? Having Children.

Posted by on Apr. 11, 2013 at 4:59 PM
  • 214 Replies
1 mom liked this

 Let's talk about the mom who regrets her children. Last week, the Daily Mail published a first-person storyby Isabella Dutton, a 57 year old mother of two who declared her children to be "the biggest regret of her life." Since the Daily Mailis possibly the internet's leading purveyor of "human interest in hating other humans" stories, it goes without saying that the article incited (and was intended to incite) a monstrous tsunami of scorn.

"A mother could never regret her children." It's a truism. But considering the life-altering effect of children on their mothers, it seems impossible that it could really be a universal truth. Isabella Dutton is clearly very unhappy. She feels trapped by the intense demands of her children, calling them parasites. I know lots of mothers who feel this way sometimes. But feeling like your kids are sucking your life force is one thing. Feeling like they "give nothing meaningful back in return"? That's something different.

Related: 10 rules for bragging about your kids online

Dutton believes she simply lacked the wiring for motherhood. She never wanted kids, but didn't want to deny her husband the experience. But then she says some things that make me wonder whether her feelings might have as much to do with the choices she made as a parent than her choice to be a parent in the first place.

Like this:

"I cannot understand mothers who insist they want children - especially those who undergo years of fertility treatment - then race back to work at the earliest opportunity after giving birth, leaving the vital job of caring for them to strangers…Why have them at all if you don't want to bring them up, or can't afford to? And why pretend you wanted them if you have no intention of raising them? This hypocrisy is, in my view, far more pernicious and difficult to fathom than my own admission that my life would have been better without children.

And here, perhaps, is the nub of it: I would not take on the job of motherhood and do it half-heartedly."


Harsh judgment from a happy mother. But when the woman who's doling it out has written a newspaper article about how her kids have ruined her life, it's a huge head-smack. What could be more "half-hearted" than devoting decades to caring for children and hating every minute of it? If this woman had been willing to enlist help, she would have had time to do the things she craved. Instead, she sacrificed her happiness in the interest of an idea about how to be a good mother. Maybe if she had been able to compromise her ironclad standards to meet a few of her own needs along the way, she might have a more balanced view of the parenting experience. And maybe not feel compelled to negate her children in a major newspaper (with photos, no less).

There's an interesting conversation about this happening at
The Hairpin, where Nicole Cliffe says she's glad to see someone acknowledge the fact that children are not for everyone. A bunch of people thought this confession was a relief. Some even said the writer reminded them of their own mothers. Quite a few of them were totally ok with that, and said they respected their mothers more for being so honest. I wonder whether Isabella Dutton's kids feel the same way.

- By Rebecca Odes

Have you ever regretted your choice to have children? Can you relate at all to this story?

by on Apr. 11, 2013 at 4:59 PM
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Replies (1-10):
Veni.Vidi.Vici.
by on Apr. 11, 2013 at 5:03 PM
3 moms liked this

Many people in this group know that I struggle with motherhood. Not only do I regret having children more often than not, I also regret getting married.

katy_kay08
by on Apr. 11, 2013 at 5:04 PM

yep

Sisteract
by Whoopie on Apr. 11, 2013 at 5:05 PM

No.

But mother did share with me years ago that were she to do it again, she would remain childless.

This of course was before she witnessed the end of life for several spinsiter aunts and now my dad's  childless widower older brother- About 2Xs a month my parents are called my life alert in the middle of the night that my 85 yo uncle has fallen and can not get up. My mom and dad (both nearing 80) trek over there to pick him up with a towel. 

I am sure my mom would now say that she is happy that the 3 of us are indeed in her life-

MrsImperfect
by Bronze Member on Apr. 11, 2013 at 5:08 PM
1 mom liked this
Its not for everyone. While I am not one of those mothers that daily believes motherhood is a blessing some days I couldn't see it any other way. Its difficult and with difficult children makes it even harder. In my case at least. I struggle with this subject with my sister. Who does not have kids and cant have any reems me a new asshole if I complain about motherhood. Idk. I dont find it 100% fullfiling but I dont want to see myself without them.
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OHgirlinCA
by Platinum Member on Apr. 11, 2013 at 5:13 PM
7 moms liked this

 I didn't plan to become a mother when I did, but no, I do not regret having my first child, or the two I intentionally had after that.  If anything, my first child saved me from, what I believe, was a destructive path I was heading down. 

 

MsDenuninani
by Silver Member on Apr. 11, 2013 at 5:15 PM
3 moms liked this

I firmly believe that not everyone should have children; I think there are multiple ways of finding meaning in one's life, and of being happy and fulfilled.  Motherhood helps me get there, but that's me.

Still what bothers me about pieces like these is that it feels like the women have unnecessarily doomed themselves to unhappiness.  And in doing so, are showing their children also how to be unhappy, and that's really, really sad.

TruthSeeker.
by Milami on Apr. 11, 2013 at 5:17 PM

 

Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:

Many people in this group know that I struggle with motherhood. Not only do I regret having children more often than not, I also regret getting married.

   I didn't know you regretted either:( I'm sorry to hear that. If you don't mind my asking and it isn' too personal, what exactly to you regret about it? The time? The seclusion? Giving up your own dreams?

TruthSeeker.
by Milami on Apr. 11, 2013 at 5:19 PM

 

Quoting katy_kay08:

yep

 If you had it to do again, would you chose to not have children? Are there just certain parts you regret?

katy_kay08
by on Apr. 11, 2013 at 5:22 PM
1 mom liked this


Quoting TruthSeeker.:

 

Quoting katy_kay08:

yep

 If you had it to do again, would you chose to not have children? Are there just certain parts you regret?

I would definitely make different choices if I had the ability to go back in time.  

survivorinohio
by René on Apr. 11, 2013 at 5:24 PM
4 moms liked this

No, I cant imagine my life without them. 

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