There’s a Facebook group, I Regret Having Children, illustrated with a picture of a woman with the word “GUILTY” written across her forehead. “This page is here to let all the mothers and fathers know that regretting having a kid(s) is not abnormal and shouldn’t be a taboo subject,” reads the text below. When you scroll down, there’s a memo warning against “soliciting regretful parents for adoption”, and reassuring users that there should be “no shaming of women or men for their non-euphoric feelings”. The group has 5,800 followers. The talk is of parenting plus depression, debt, extreme stress; it is of not being able to relate to your children.
One father posts: “I have an almost five-year-old girl. She is amazing. I spent her first four years regretting having her. Seeing all my single friends, or married friends without children, made me jealous. It’s like I died and lost my previous life. I entered a new life with much less joy, sex, sleep, FUN… I do wish people would talk about it more openly. Thank you, REAL people who are true to their feelings. I believe most parents suffer but they stay quiet with a fake smile.”
Offline, a few writers are addressing the subject, too. Corinne Maier is a French psychoanalyst, a mother and the author of a bestselling book, No Kids: 40 Good Reasons Not To Be A Mother. When it came out in 2008, the book featured on every French talkshow, in every bookshop, on everyone’s bookshelf. Parents came forward to debate the idea, and Maier referred to the wave of people being newly open about regretting parenthood as “a movement”. The BBC included Maier in a 2016 list of the 100 most inspirational and influential women in the world. I email Maier to request an interview, and settle down with a copy of her book.