People who regret having kids but don’t want to admit usually display these 7 behaviors

My mother once told me, “Parenting is a lifelong commitment that comes with its fair share of joys and challenges.”

Indeed, having kids can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences. The unconditional love, the shared laughter, and the pride in seeing them grow—it’s all pure magic.

But let’s get real here.

Parenthood isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. It can be tough, exhausting, even overwhelming at times.

And sometimes, some parents might find themselves grappling with feelings of regret.

Yes, you read that right. Regret.

Now, it’s not something people like to admit. In fact, most parents who experience this often hide their feelings behind forced smiles and perfectly curated social media posts.

But if you pay close attention, you might notice certain behaviors that hint at this unspoken regret.

Below, we’ll discuss the signs that show that people regret having kids but don’t want to admit it.

1) They often seem overwhelmed and stressed

Life with kids can be chaotic. There’s no denying that.

School runs, endless chores, tantrums—it can take a toll on even the most patient among us. But if you notice someone constantly overwhelmed or excessively stressed, it might be more than just the usual parental tiredness.

These parents may often look drained, and you might hear them complaining frequently about their never-ending tasks. They may seem like they’re always on the edge, unable to find joy in their everyday life.

Remember, though, that stress doesn’t automatically equate to regret. Parenthood is inherently stressful.

But when it’s coupled with the other signs below, it could suggest underlying feelings of regret that are hard to admit or articulate.

2) They find it hard to connect with their kids

I had a friend once who was always the life of the party.

She was vibrant, full of energy, and had this ability to connect with everyone she met.

But when she became a mother, something changed.

She started to struggle with connecting to her own children. It was like she had hit an invisible wall that made it hard for her to bond with them.

She’d often confide in me how she felt out of place during play dates, unable to engage with her kids the way other parents seemed to effortlessly do.

This lack of connection doesn’t mean you don’t love your children, or that you’re a bad parent.

It’s just that, for some people, this disconnect can spark feelings of regret, even though they might not openly admit it.

My friend never did.

But her struggle was clear, and it’s something more common than most people realize.

3) Their conversations revolve around what they’ve missed out on

“Let’s grab a coffee sometime,” I suggested to an old colleague I bumped into last week.

She agreed, but as we sat down for our catch-up, I noticed something.

Every time she spoke about her life post-kids, it was always about the things she’d given up or missed out on.

Her once thriving career, impromptu vacations, lazy Sunday mornings—it was as though her life had come to a standstill after she had kids.

And the longing in her eyes was hard to miss.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s perfectly normal for parents to reminisce about their pre-kid days from time to time.

But when it becomes a recurring theme in their conversations, it might be an indication of something deeper—a hidden regret over the life-altering decision to have kids.

4) They rarely participate in child-centric activities

Overly critical of parenting skills People who regret having kids but don’t want to admit usually display these 7 behaviors

Have you ever noticed a parent who seems disengaged during child-centric activities?

Whether it’s a school recital, a playdate, or even a simple game at home, they appear distant—almost as if they’d rather be somewhere else.

I’ve seen this in parks, during school events, and even at family gatherings. These parents are physically present but mentally elsewhere, caught up in their own thoughts or engrossed in their phones.

This lack of engagement can sometimes be an indication that they’re struggling with their role as a parent. It might be that they regret having kids but aren’t ready to face these feelings head-on.

5) They openly express they weren’t ready for parenthood

Did you know that nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned?

That’s a significant number. And sometimes, these unexpected life events can lead to parents feeling unprepared and overwhelmed.

I’ve come across parents who openly admit they weren’t ready for the responsibility of raising a child. They talk about how their life took a sudden turn and how they had to give up their dreams and aspirations.

While it’s commendable that they’re taking up the responsibility and doing their best, this open admission of not being ready for parenthood can sometimes be a subtle sign of regret.

They might not say it directly, but their words often carry an undercurrent of ‘what if’ and ‘if only’.

6) They seem detached during their child’s milestones

Every parent cherishes their child’s milestones—their first word, first step, first day at school.

These moments are usually filled with joy, pride, and a lot of photographs.

But not all parents react the same way.

Some seem detached, almost indifferent, during these events. It’s like they’re going through the motions, but their heart isn’t in it.

I remember a neighbor who barely reacted when her son took his first steps. While everyone around her was celebrating, she stood there with a forced smile, her eyes vacant.

It was heartbreaking to see.

Parenting can be overwhelming, and everyone copes in different ways. This detachment could be a sign of deeper struggles or regret they’re experiencing but aren’t ready to express.

7) They avoid discussing their feelings about parenthood

One of the most telling signs is when parents avoid discussing their feelings about parenthood. They steer clear of conversations that delve into the emotional aspects of raising kids.

Ask them how they’re doing, and they’ll likely focus on the practical aspects—how busy they are, how their child is doing at school.

But probe deeper, and you’ll hit a wall.

This reluctance to discuss their feelings can sometimes be a defense mechanism to avoid confronting their regret. It’s easier to focus on the day-to-day challenges than to delve into the complex emotions they’re grappling with.

Final thoughts

Parenting is filled with many highs and lows, and it’s okay to have mixed feelings about it.

The important thing is not to let these feelings consume you.

If you’re grappling with feelings of regret, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent or that you love your children any less. It simply means you’re human, navigating the complexities of one of life’s most significant roles.

Acknowledging these emotions is the first step towards dealing with them. Seek support if you need to; there’s no shame in reaching out for help.

Remember, there isn’t a perfect ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to parenting. It’s a journey of self-discovery and growth for both you and your children.

So be kind to yourself. Parenthood might be challenging, but it’s also a beautiful journey that can teach us so much about ourselves and the world around us.

Picture of Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

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