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?
Develop a scale to measure parental regret
In Study 1, we recruited 59 parents from online communities dedicated to parents who regret having children. We asked them 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.
Parental regret was positively related to negative mental health, attitudes towards having children prior to having them, and relationship quality prior to having children. In contrast, it was negatively related to positive mental health, identity, and emotional state prior to having children.
Correlations among Parental Regret and variables of interest
*size and colour of circles represent the direction and strength of relationship
We then wanted to repeat this study on a larger sample to confirm the results. Study 2, which is currently being conducted, involves collecting data from a sample of 500 Canadian parents, with an even split of mothers and fathers.
With a better understanding of who experiences regret and common experiences among those who regret having children, 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.
Data for Study 2 are currently being collected.