How often do Americans think parents and non-parents regret their choices?

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
April 04, 2022, 6:05 PM GMT+0

A recent YouGov poll asked 18,644 Americans their opinions relating to parenthood and regret. First, we asked respondents how often they think parents regret having children. A little over one-quarter (28%) of U.S. adults say they think parents very often or somewhat often regret having children, while 53% say they think parents regret their decision not very often or not often at all.

Men and women who have children of their own, either young or fully grown, say they think regret occurs less often than what adults who don’t have any children say. Older Americans also are less likely than younger Americans to say that parents often experience regret over having children.

We also asked how often Americans believe that people who choose not to have children regret their decision. More Americans say that regret is common among adults who decide to remain childless than among parents: 40% say adults who have chosen to remain childless very often or somewhat often regret that choice, while 40% say they regret it not very often or not often at all.

Men and women who are parents are more likely than their childless counterparts to say that regret is frequent among adults who decide not to become parents. While younger adults were more likely than older adults to say regret among parents is common, age does not significantly impact opinions on the frequency of regret among people who remain childless by choice.

Do people ever consider whether their own parents regretted having them? Nearly one in five Americans (18%) say that at one point they’ve thought that one or both of their parents regretted having them, while 58% say they haven’t thought this. Adults under 45 are more likely to say they’ve thought their parents regretted having them than are Americans age 65 and older.

See the toplines and crosstabs from this poll:

Methodology: This Daily Agenda survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 18,644 U.S. adults interviewed online on April 1 - 4, 2022. The samples were weighted to be representative of the U.S. population, based on gender, age, race, education, U.S. census region, and political party.

Image: Getty

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