Complete News World

Study turns into a trend: When parents regret having children

Study turns into a trend: When parents regret having children

More and more women are talking about the dark side of motherhood. But one in five German fathers also said they regretted having children.

Fabian Strauch / FUNKE Photo Services / Imago

Since a small study conducted by sociologist Orna Donath, more and more people have been talking about regretting parenthood. A tour of Reddit’s online community.

no time? Blue News sums it up for you

  • A 2015 study by an Israeli sociologist on women who regret becoming mothers is getting a lot of attention in 2015.
  • Since then, this phenomenon has come to the fore, as more and more people have found the courage to talk about the taboo topic.
  • Many lively communities have emerged on the online platform where those affected can express their feelings.

It all started with a study conducted by Israeli sociologist Orna Donath. In 2015, she interviewed 23 women who regretted their decision to have children.

Donath’s small qualitative analysis set the ball rolling and, in addition to further studies, also sparked a social debate.

Are you allowed to do that?

The discussion takes place online

At least on the Internet. This topic is particularly hotly debated on Reddit, a kind of hybrid between a classic online forum and a social network. Many subreddits deal with this phenomenon, ranging from “motherhood regret” to “fatherhood regret” or “parenthood regret.”

In these online communities, the problem is examined from a variety of perspectives. It’s about the ‘normal’ problems of everyday life with children, and whether they have regrets, all the way down to philosophical questions, such as whether modern Western society makes parenting hell.

It’s still taboo

However, many posters simply want to take out their frustrations and be heard. Because regretting your fatherhood or even saying so is still taboo. It’s easy to assume that you don’t love your children or that you’re cold-hearted in general.

But it’s not that easy.

In Donath’s groundbreaking study, the majority of mothers surveyed reported that they loved their children but still had regrets about motherhood.

Psychologists emphasize how important it is to be able to talk openly about the topic. Because regretting your parenting does not mean being a bad mother or father.

So simply expressing the burden can bring relief to some. One Reddit user wrote: “I’m so glad I found this community. I’ve been looking for a space for a long time where I can be honest.”

Another user complains about the social pressure on parents as well: “I’m new here and I had tears in my eyes when I read some of your stories. I feel like I wrote them.”

Sociologist Orna Donath: author of the study that got it all going.
Sociologist Orna Donath: author of the study that got it all going.

Imago/El Mundo

In the USA, but also in Europe, at least a debate has begun on a topic that was previously considered non-negotiable. The sociologist herself was met with intense hostility and was astounded by the media hype she generated.

In Europe the debate was about Regretting motherhood Especially in Germany, where Donath’s study received a lot of attention. It is possible that this is why the largest such surveys were conducted there.

The following year, a representative study with more than 2,000 participants showed that in Germany this phenomenon occurs not only among mothers, but also to an almost equal extent among fathers. About 19% of women and 20% of men said they would no longer have children if they decided to do so again.

‘Inhuman expectations’

Of course, parents can also regret their new role. But for mothers, this taboo is much greater, as being a woman is sometimes seen as synonymous with being a mother, even in supposedly enlightened Western societies.

The sociologist writes, among other things, that women suffer from “inhuman expectations” placed on them. All the women surveyed from different social classes reported that they were confined to their role as mothers. Some of them were already grandmothers, and their children had long since left home.

Many women on Reddit also describe similar experiences. One wrote: “I love my daughter, but I hate being a mother.” “If there’s one thing in my life I’d like to undo, it’s becoming a mother,” laments another.

Maybe she was never told in real life

Donath’s pioneering work was followed by many additional studies in various disciplines. However, research on this topic is still in its infancy, as is acceptance in society.

Because the stories about this phenomenon are completely different Regret about fatherhood They’re also on Reddit: What almost all of them have in common is that they’ve probably never been told in real life.