On the heels of a pro-abortion story-telling campaign, a women’s magazine has published another new, disturbing set of stories about women who regret becoming mothers.
Marie Claire published the article last week, claiming that there is a “growing movement of women who wish they’d never had kids,” and shame and social stigma probably are keeping more women from admitting that they feel the same way.
The Federalist editor Joy Pullmann wrote a strong response to the article this week, criticizing the women’s magazine for “exploiting” women struggling with mental health issues and “sensationalizing their suffering for clicks rather thank helping to alleviate it.”
Pullmann described her own struggles with a lack of sleep, little support from family, postpartum depression and suicidal thoughts after the birth of her third child. She said her midwife helped her to work through her problems and encouraged her husband to help more so that she could sleep.
She wrote: “That’s what appropriate mental health care for mothers looks like. Wildly inappropriate — and dangerous! — mental health care would have been for my midwife to affirm my irrational, depressed feelings, and blame them on the baby. Yet that’s just what ladies’ mag Marie Claire does …”
The article encourages moms with regrets to dwell on their negative thoughts and emotions rather than seek help. The piece also missed a great opportunity to encourage society to offer better resources and support for struggling moms.
Marie Claire interviewed several women including Laura, a 37-year-old journalist from Los Angeles who said she did not know what she was getting into when she decided to have her son. She said she struggled with his long bouts of crying, frustration and boredom, and compared caring for her infant son to being trapped in a prison that she could not escape.
“The regret hit me when the grandmas went home and my husband went back to the office and I was on my own with him,” she told the women’s magazine. “I realized that this was my life now—and it was unbearable.”
Another woman named Carrie said she got pregnant on the birth control pill not long after she was married at 22. She said her mother-in-law convinced her not to have an abortion and later not to pursue an adoption plan for her child. Today, she said she regrets becoming a parent.
“I was surrounded by people who adamantly opposed my choices, so in some way I felt I had no choice at all,” Carrie said.
Not long after her daughter was born, Carrie said she and her husband split up, leaving her to raise the child on her own.
“I like to say I tried my best, but the truth is I didn’t. My daughter was left to raise herself in many ways. I’ve always said that she succeeded not because of me but in spite of me. I don’t regret her, I regret the fact that I never should have been a mother at all,” she told the magazine.
Online groups on Facebook, Reddit and Quora are popping up for mothers like Laura and Carrie who say they regret becoming parents, according to the article.
The article blamed part of the problem on societal expectations. Modern women are supposed to work full-time jobs and take on the primary responsibility for their children’s care — overwhelming and exhausting tasks in combination. But it also seemed to blame the children themselves, dwelling on the negative parts of parenting and not the positive ones.
“Well, if people keep presenting parenthood as a hellhole comparable to World War I foxholes from which anyone lucky enough to survive struggles with PTSD, yeah, fewer people will want to engage,” Pullmann said.
This discouragement appears to be working. Fewer young adults now say they plan to be parents, according to a University of Pennsylvania study cited in the Marie Claire article. The 2012 survey found that 42 percent of students planned to have children, down from 78 percent in 1992.
Plans are different from desires, however. A recently published poll from The Economist found that many people world-wide are having a smaller number of children than desired.
“Judging by the collective desires of parents and would-be parents, more suffering is caused by having too few babies than too many,” according to the research.
Researchers found that financial problems were the biggest issues for most families who wanted more children. Poverty, the cost of living, economic turmoil in countries like Greece, expensive infertility treatments and other factors played into peoples’ less-than-ideal family situations.
The reality is that there is no perfect time to be a parent (though the abortion industry often implies that there is), and there are no perfect parenting situations. Children have lots of needs and they misbehave. Parents get frustrated and sometimes play the “what if” game in their minds.
Everyone has struggles, and denying them does not help those who are suffering. It’s becoming increasingly clear that, through abortion and stories like the ones in Marie Claire, our society is failing moms and children. And part of the problem is viewing motherhood and children as the problem rather than as valuable human beings with needs.