I Love My Life, But I Wish My Parents Never Had Me

Between abuse and neglect, my parents and I would have been better off if they were child-free.

I Love My Life, But I Wish My Parents Never Had Me Alena Ozerova, 400tmax | Canva

Editor's Note: This is a part of YourTango's Opinion section where individual authors can provide varying perspectives for wide-ranging political, social, and personal commentary on issues.

In light of recent attacks on reproductive rights, I’ve thought a lot about how my parents legally had the choice to bring children into the world but culturally, felt as though they did not have an option. As two rural Catholics in the mid-1990s, the right to choose signified the choice between leaving their culture and support system behind in a defiant moralized act or pleasing their culture by popping out children that they couldn’t afford. Of the two bad options, they chose the latter. 


Although they always said they wanted to have kids and spoke fondly of my siblings/my birth, the joy of parenting seemed to end when they brought us home from the hospital.

From an early age, I could tell that I was not wanted. My parents never said that they didn’t want children, but they yelled at my siblings and me for making the amount of noise that children make or having the needs that children have. My father expected silence in the morning until he got up around noon or 1 p.m. If we played enthusiastically, his booming voice would halt the fun by berating us for taking up space in his home. This is child’s play compared to some of the more violent expressions of hating children that happened in that home. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t a happy place to grow up.


The universal fear of abused and neglected kids

Like any formerly abused child, I worry that I would become my parents if I decided to parent. After all, my parents’ explanation for why they treated me the way they did had to do with how their parents treated them. As much as I would like to think that I have healed to the point where I could never be like them, sleep deprivation, financial strain, and existential dread can make a person do strange things. 

@marshanadahlia Some of us are determined to repeat the mistakes of our parents instead of learning from them. Most of us WILL live our parents life TWICE because we refuse to so the leading and growing. Don't get stuck in a patter #BreakTheCycle #Relationships #Dating #Marriage #DatingTips #DatingOver30 #DatingOver40 ♬ original sound - Marshana Dahlia Spavento

In this current political climate, I worry that parenthood might not always be a choice in my lifetime. As a result, I grapple with the fear that I might one day learn the hard way what made my parents behave the way they did and I plead with the universe to spare me that experience.

RELATED: 8 Ways To Break Generational Curses & Trauma


Unpopular opinion: Not everyone should be a parent

I firmly believe my parents became parents because it was “the thing to do.” First, they got married and then they had babies. There was no thought process behind it or questioning whether they might be cut out for that role.

As long as I knew my parents, my father worked part-time at best and my mother was a stay-at-home mom. Both of them struggled to stay on top of cleaning and organizing. Instead of maintaining their space, they left almost all the housework to my siblings and me as “chores” from an early age. What’s more, they used the medical conditions that a couple of us had as income boosters by signing us up for disability without our knowledge. In short, they didn’t know how to run a household without our free labor and they couldn’t provide for themselves without us boosting the family SNAP benefits or cashing in on our disabilities.

Some people would say that this was well within their rights as parents. Legally, they wouldn’t be wrong. But to me, if you’re going to have kids for financial gain or free cleaning services, you shouldn’t have them.

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The effects of abuse and neglect don’t end in childhood

After spending my childhood with feast-and-famine meals based on my mother’s motivation to cook, constant screaming matches, and parental behaviors that skirted up against the line for physical abuse, I left my childhood home but the effects of it didn’t leave me

On top of PTSD, I struggled to take care of my basic needs or understand how the world was supposed to work. I’d always existed to serve my parents’ purposes, so living a full-fledged life felt foreign. The first few years of independence were riddled with hospital stays, terrible “relationships,” overworking, and burnout.

Somehow, I made it through to the life I’d always wanted — one in which I write to support myself, attend a college I enjoy, have a positive support system, and genuinely love getting up in the mornings. Still, the current success does not negate the failure of my parents to raise me properly and gift me a childhood, something that most people take for granted because they should.


I wouldn’t have faulted my mother for aborting me

At some point during my childhood, my mother let it slip that a doctor suggested that she abort one of my siblings due to medical concerns. The implication was that she wasn’t obligated to bring us into this world. To pile on the guilt, my parents frequently reminded my siblings and me that we “owed” them for covering the costs of our diapers and other necessities in babyhood. Although I didn’t have the words or the nerve to say it then, I would love to go back in time and remind them that they had a choice in parenting.

Even if their beliefs wouldn’t have let them abort, they could have given their kids up for adoption to ease their financial woes. Despite their lack of funds, positive parenting examples, and life skills, I would have respected that decision more than their decision to parent.

RELATED: 5 Things A Child Never, Ever Owes Their Parents, According To Experts

Stopping the cycle

I can’t change the fact that my parents had me, but I can take how I feel into consideration when I think about procreating. Although there’s a lot of pressure on me from my somewhat rural, traditional community to have children, I know that there’s a chance that I will fail kids if I have them. They may look back at their childhood and see the lack of what I could provide as neglect. They could also (rightly) accuse me of taking out my crappy upbringing on them, even if it would be unintentional.


Although I don’t think it would be morally wrong to do what many other unqualified people do and have children, I feel better about the decision not to have any. If a woman like my mother or a man like my father approached me and asked if they should have children, I would ask if they wanted to hear the truth and calmly proceed to tell them “Absolutely not.” Hopefully, they would listen to my warning and get a new lease on life with their abundant freedom from caring for kids they don’t want.

Maybe I was put here to be that voice of reason, that permission slip, for someone brave enough to be honest with themselves about their limits surrounding parenting. If you don’t want kids, please don’t have them. You won’t regret missing out on parenting nearly as much as you’ll regret putting another unwanted soul into this world.

Children need enough care to be healthy and enough supervision to be safe. 


Child neglect is when a parent or caregiver does not give the care, supervision, affection, and support needed for a child’s health, safety, and well-being. Adults who care for children must provide clothing, food, and drink. A child also needs safe, healthy shelter, and adequate supervision. There are several kinds of child neglect, which you can read more about on the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline’s website

There is no “smoking gun” for most child neglect. While even one instance of neglect can cause lifelong harm to a child, neglect often requires a pattern of behavior over a period of time. If you suspect a child you know is being neglected, contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline for more resources at 1-800-4-A-CHILD.

RELATED: If These 7 Signs Sound Familiar, You Were Likely Emotionally Neglected As A Child

Maya Strong is a writer who has spent the last six years blogging about relationships, LGBTQIA+, mental health, lifestyle, and cultural commentary online.