One to One Coaching

I offer free 30 minute telephone/Skype consultations for people wanting to find out more about coaching on the 'baby decision'. Email me at mailto:beth@ticktockcoaching.co.uk and assistant Laura will respond and arrange an appointment with you. Visit http://www.ticktockcoaching.co.uk/ for more information about my coaching services.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Will I regret having children? Will I regret not having children?

Long-term readers of this blog will note that often I return to this topic of regret.

It's probably the one main driver in women (and some men) seeking coaching on the baby decision. Recently, a client said to me 'I feel trapped.  No matter which decision I imagine making, I constantly feel consumed by the fear that I will regret whatever choice I make.   When I imagine having children, I worry that I will regret this choice.  And then, the consequences of this choice will not only affect me, but it will affect my child and partner.    So then, I turn towards the option of being child-free.  But very soon I am overwhelmed by worries that I will be lonely, that my partner might have died or our relationship will have split up and I will be alone.  He might also regret the choice that I made - and he might find himself longing for fatherhood.'

This sums up the place that many of my clients find themselves in... of being driven by a fear of regret no matter what choice they make.

I think that's what keeps my clients and others in a limbo state - because when you are still deciding, you don't have to face the possibility of making the wrong choice, of regretting the choice you have made.

I've tried over the years to find ways to articulate my thoughts on regrets.  I say to clients that it's a paradox of the decision.  It's a decision that has big implications for our future and yet, we can only make it in the here and now.   In coaching, we work on visioning, looking at how we want to live our life now and in the future... and yet, we also have to be able to let go of the worry and desire to know and control our future in order to make the decision.

I found this short article by Oliver Burkeman Stop Worrying About Future Regrets really spot on about regret.  He references another recent article about parents who regretted having children.  Says Burkeman:

'The worst part about trying to minimise future regret, surely, is that you’ll never know if you succeeded. Who’s to say you’d have felt more or less regret if you’d taken a different path? In a feature in the Guardian back in February, several parents broke a major societal taboo by admitting that they regretted having kids. Obviously, though, they can’t know for sure if they’d have regretted not having kids even more. (The same applies, in reverse, to those who regret being childless.) I suspect what’s going on is not that some choices are more regret-proof than others, but that some people are more regret-prone, given to ruminating on roads not taken. Rather than having made a terrible mistake, maybe those regretful parents are just the kind who tend to regret things.'

I interviewed a woman who had decided to be child-free and she was in her early 60's.  She said that occasionally she felt a pang of regret when she saw a friend with a grand-child.  But she believed that whatever path you choose in live, you will feel regret.  It's part of being human.


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