Examining the Experiences of People who Regret Becoming Parents
Graduate Researcher • September 2019 - Present •
Research design, literature search, study development, data analysis, report writing, knowledge translation
With the anonymity of the internet, more people are starting to come forward and admit that they regret becoming a parent and if they could go back in time and do it over they would choose not to have children. Perhaps given the taboo nature of the topic, little research has been done to date on parental regret. The research that does exist, however, suggests that, on average, 10% of people regret having children, with some reports as high as 20%.
Methods: Survey, Statistical Analysis
Tools: Qualtrics, Prolific Academic, R, JASP, Trello
How does parental regret impact mental health?
What is the prevalence of parental regret in Canada?
Are there specific antecedents that are likely to predict experiences of regret?
In Study 1, we recruited 59 parents from online communities dedicated to parents who regret having children. We asked participants to tell us about their experiences before becoming a parent, the specific things they regret, and what their current mental health was like. We also asked them about how much they identify as a parent.
We then used correlations and Bayesian linear regression to characterize the experiences of our participants.
Parents who experienced regret reported having negative mental health, negative attitudes toward having children and poor relationship quality before becoming a parent. In contrast, our parents who experienced regret reported low rates of identifying as a parent and worse emotional state to having children compared to those who experienced less regret.
Correlations among Parental Regret and variables of interest
*size and colour of circles represent the direction and strength of relationship
With a better understanding of parents who experience regret, we then wanted to build on this to with a larger study of more diverse participants, including those who do not experience regret. This sample would allow us to make comparisons and develop more conclusions about the differences between those who experience regret and those who do not. In Study 2, therefore, we aimed to collect a sample of 500 Canadian parents, with an even split of mothers and fathers.
With a better understanding of who regrets becoming a parent and the common experiences among these parents, we can develop interventions to help parents cope. With a theoretical model, we can also begin to understand how to prevent regret beforehand, by understanding common antecedents among regretful parents, and how to provide parents support.
This project will make up my PhD dissertation and will be written up for publication. Results of Study 1 have already been presented at an international conference.
This project is still in progress