How to Stop Fearing Regret and Find Clarity

A few weeks ago, we delved into the topic of regret. It was once assumed that every parent loved being a parent, but we now know that’s not true. As a childfree person nearing closer and closer to thirty years old, I am often warned that I will eventually regret my decision to be childfree. While I know these people do not possess the ability to predict the future, the question tends to haunt me.

Back when I was on the fence about the decision to have children, I was most worried about regret. What if I have kids and it turns out terribly? What if I don’t have kids and start to regret it once its too late?

Just as the people questioning me cannot predict the future, neither can I. There’s really no sense trying, either. The only thing anyone can do when facing a major life decision is to consider matters carefully and choose accordingly. I’ve learned that regret itself isn’t all that bad. The fear of regret, however, can be paralyzing.

By nature, I am an indecisive person. A question like “What do you want for dinner?” can send me into a spiral in which I may never formulate an answer. However, when my husband returns from the local deli with an egg salad sandwich, I’ll quickly realize what I don’t want to eat. And that may just be the key.

Sometimes we have to figure out what we don’t want before we can figure out what we do. In my case, I had to realize that despite the fear of regret, I truly didn’t want to have children. Once I decided against parenthood, I could begin focusing on what I wanted my life to look like.

I spoke about regret and indecision with Ann Davidman, Motherhood Clarity Mentor, licensed marriage and family therapist, and co-author of Motherhood – Is It For Me? Your Step-by-Step Guide to Clarity. Ann holds comprehensive 14-week clarity courses that help women and men who are struggling with indecision about parenthood.

Here’s what Ann had to say:

Why did you decide to create motherhood and fatherhood clarity courses?

Back in 1991 Denise Carlini and I wanted to run a support together and she noticed in her private practice that women were discussing whether to become mothers. I noticed women were working through their issues of feeling unwanted as a child. I thought it would be a great idea to have a support group for women who felt ambivalent about motherhood and then we created the course. Read more about the beginning of clarity courses here

We wanted to support men as well and tweaked it a bit to work for men.

Do you think your courses could help prevent regret?

Absolutely. I think that regret comes from not fully examining why a decision is made and understanding all of the ins and outs of that decision. In our book we talk about the fear of regret. It’s a complicated issue. Even if someone does our course and comes to a decision and later on they feel different about it ( I don’t know of this happening ) I think they will have such an understanding of why they made their decision that it won’t be regret they experience but maybe some sadness or some loss to grieve. They will have already worked through so much by having done the course.

I also think that if one knows they want to live a childfree life or knows they want children or to become a parent I think it’s a worthy course to take because it will make you a better parent or it will help you live your life more fully. The reason is because this course is about decision making and it’s about knowing oneself.

I think it’s so important to give women the freedom to question and that questioning doesn’t mean anything other than they want to know what’s best for them. Biggest myth out there is – if one doesn’t know if they want to become a parent they shouldn’t do it….could not be more wrong of an idea.

At the conclusion of the clarity courses, do you find that most women decide to be childfree or become parents?

When people take the course they are stuck because they are trying to figure what they want and what they’ll do. This creates gridlock. The course helps women take a step back and look at what they want while putting aside all externals of decision making. More often than not women don’t know why they don’t know. The course helps them identify what their indecision is about or their ambivalence is about. At the end of the course they do get clarity of their desire or they get clarity of the next step to take so they can know what they want. When I end with people I don’t always know what they will decide. Sometimes I hear from people a year later when they send me a picture of their baby or their dog. People might get clear they want to become a mom but for certain reasons decide to live a childfree life. And vice versa.

Thank you Ann!

I wish I had known about these courses when I was fence-sitter. The road to becoming childfree is not always easy. Although I’m certain I would have come to the same conclusion, these courses would’ve made for a smoother ride. To learn more about Ann and these clarity courses, click here.

Fence-sitters, I hope you find clarity in whatever you choose. If you’ve already found clarity, I’d like to know how! Comment below.

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  1. Reply

    Thank you, Brittany, for showcasing my work and our book. Both fearing regret and finding clarity are rich topics and there needs to be more places for women to discuss them. So, I’m delighted you are creating that space. My passion for this work continues to grow even after 25 years. I feel honored when women hand me their trust to help guide them. My heart goes out to women who struggle and don’t know where to turn for help. And I think about the women who’ve decided in either direction, which wasn’t their truth and they don’t know what to do with their pain.

    Congratulations to you for finding clarity and being a role model for other women who are still searching. When a woman can stand tall, and be proud of her decisions is good role modeling for all women. Thank you for your work. Ann Davidman

    1. Thanks Ann! I really appreciate all you do and for taking the time to speak with me. I know how hard it was to sit on the fence and struggle to come up with the right decision for myself and I don’t want other women to go through that same tortuous process. Your courses will definitely help others to find clarity painlessly!

  2. Reply

    Great post Brittany! I feel fortunate that I was never a fence sitter about kids, I’ve always known I didn’t want them. I will definitely recommend this post and Ann’s courses to people I encounter who might be interested.

    Love your blog!

    1. Courtney,

      Thanks so much! That’s really great that you’ve always known you wanted to be childfree. It took me a while to get to that place but I’m happy I finally got there! 🙂

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