What are your greatest childhood regrets

It's like having parents who regret being a parent

Regretting Parenthood translates as "Regretting Parenthood" and is one of the most socially important hashtags on the Internet this year. The discussion was initiated by the sociologist Orna Donath, who presented a qualitative study on mothers who regret their motherhood. Until then, it was apparently a taboo to say publicly that you would be better off in life without your children - despite your love for your offspring.

Especially on Twitter under #RegrettingMotherhood there was a heated discussion as to whether one should feel remorse as a parent. Helicopter parents quarreled with relaxed mothers and fathers, hobby educators with childless adults. The fascinating thing about this study was — from a sociological point of view — not even the study itself, but rather the reactions to it. As is so often the case, those who did not have a say were the affected children of repentant parents.

That actually such a debate as #regrettingMotherhood exist make me sick, that people are making money on such a disgusting thought #Sickening
- Bourdin Frédéric (@Francparler) June 27, 2016

To be sent to the kitchen by the 2 year old. This is what real appreciation looks like. #regrettingmotherhood
- Yeti of Chaos (@chaosyeti) July 5, 2016

In addition, the discussion also brought many insights into the errors in our system. Presumably, far fewer parents would regret being a parent if they had enough childcare, career opportunities and economic resources. "Parents' remorse is mostly due to excessive demands and a subjectively perceived renunciation," says the psychologist and sex therapist Daniela Renn. "As is well known, parents don't seem to regret parenting that much after their offspring have moved out."

As long as having children is an expensive private hobby that is a ruinous professional hobby for women alone, there will be #regrettingmotherhood
- Anna Handschuh (@anna_handschuh) August 1, 2016

But even before the hashtag, there were parents who openly told their children that they regretted becoming parents. In some cases it's a short joke on the side, in other cases it's a hysterical argument. Some parents only say it once, others keep saying it.

Vicky is now 29 and looks back on a childhood marked by regret: "Our mother told us very often that her life would be much nicer and easier without us. What she did just to have us children. That she can't stand us anymore and wants to kill herself. "

She remembers how overwhelmed her mother was and hit the ceiling on little things like getting a school signature. She also reports beating when her mother was particularly desperate, which was not uncommon. When I ask her about a lasting memory, she tells me how she once made a bracelet for her mother when she was at elementary school. Her mother refused because she didn't like the colors. Then she made two new bracelets. They were also rejected.

Leonie * is 28 and the second of three children. While her big sister was a desired child, her mom wanted to have an abortion — and she kept telling the same story in public. Her father prevented the abortion because he is more of a family man, as she says. For Leonie, her mother's constant regrets in public has nothing to do with honesty — instead, it was always a sign that her mother needed an outlet and a scapegoat.

An incident that still concerns Leonie today has to do with a pregnant vet's visit to her mother: "I was standing on my mother's right side, in front of us the vet who was standing on the side of the metal treatment table when my mother was Shook his head and said, 'If I had to decide again today, I would never have children.' The vet looked at me sadly. At that time I thought she had just realized for the first time that she had made the biggest mistake of her life. Today I think she felt great pity for me. "

Although Leonie, unlike Vicky, does not report violence, she experienced strong feelings of guilt, chronic gastritis and a massive fear that she might one day regret her own children. Today she thinks about it reflectively and, like Vicky, no longer has any contact with her mother: "I never had the impression that she wanted to tell me, as her trusted daughter, her worries Teenagers should use as counselors. "

The psychologist Renn appeals to the mind of the parents: "From a developmental point of view, one should under no circumstances confront the child before the age of ten with possible repentance or let the child feel it. Children tend to relate what is said to themselves and to be responsible for feeling the parents' discomfort. "

During later puberty, my mother often threw at me in an argument that I wasn't a desired child.

Your suggestion is that parents deal with themselves and reflect on their own environment. If the need persists to let the child know that they regret being a parent, do so in adulthood. The child itself is rarely the cause of the repentance - it is more the circumstances that come with the child to blame.

Max is now 29 and also not a desired child. However, his parents seem to have done everything right: He works in his dad's business and associates absolutely no negative feelings with the revelation that his parents actually wanted to remain childless.

He was 21 when he helped his dad with work on the house and the conversation turned to starting a family and having children. "Then he told me quite frankly that they both had never wanted children. When the time came, an abortion or adoption was out of the question and they both became more and more happy to become parents."

Although Max felt insecure for a moment, he is generally happy about his father's honesty. 23-year-old Sophie * is also grateful that her parents told her that she was not a planned child. "At some point when I was 13 I asked how the wedding came about. I was already on the road unplanned. In later puberty, my mother often argued that I wasn't a desired child and that her life was now without me would be better. But since I still felt very loved and pampered, I knew that it was only said in affect. "

The repentance of Sophie and Max's parents wasn't one that determined their parent-child relationship - probably also because the negative feeling wasn't the only thing their relationship was about. When asked, Sophie would also tell her children honestly whether they were wanted or not. And appreciates her mother's open manner.

Above that is the question of why there is the need to tell your own child that you regret parenting. Daniela Renn advises a certain amount of self-reflection. That is also possible for healthy parents. Vicky's mother has, or has likely had, health problems. Shaming doesn't help, of course - just one treatment. And since children cannot see such a thing as a medical problem at all, we adults should look behind the facade when a parent friend tells us about their repentance. Often it is just a quick release of steam with friends. In rare cases, the parent may need medical help. And so will the child subsequently.

* Name changed by the editor

Fredi has Twitter: @Schla_wienerin

Get the best of VICE emailed to you every week!

By subscribing to the VICE newsletter, you consent to receiving electronic communications from VICE, which may contain advertising or sponsored content.