It’s OK to Hate Your Kids … Just Don’t Tell Anyone


Have you seen the article from the mom who calls her children the “biggest regret” of her life yet? It’s been everywhere after showing up in the Daily Mail (or as it’s known for running articles just like this one: the Daily Fail). Among the highlights: mother of two Isabella Dutton compares her now grown children to parasites, and says her son and daughter “took” from her while giving “nothing meaningful in return.”

I respect her opinion.

What I don’t respect is her decision to air it publicly, at least in the manor she chose. Because not only did Dutton put her own name at the top of the article, she also shared the names of her children, along with photos of them.

She aired her dirtiest of laundry in front of the world’s audience, with little care about how it might affect her kids. As a writer, I see the value in what she had to say. It’s often the job of writers to say things that others cannot because they can’t form words.

We tackle difficult topics every day. We give voice to the thoughts of many.

And yet, it’s as a writer and mother both that I’m disappointed in Dutton. She could have shared this story without her name at the top, without photos of her children. A pen name would not have made her feelings any less valid, just less Google-able by her kids.

That was her responsibility to her kids. That is something she owes them. Because they didn’t force themselves to be born.

The fact is, Dutton may have been dragged into motherhood, but even she admits that she chose it. Of course, her decision is curious, all things considering, and in many ways downright misguided. I have several friends who have dubbed themselves child-free for life, and I can’t applaud them more loudly. They know they don’t want to be parents, and so they’re not going to inflict themselves on kids they don’t want.

Equally troubling about Dutton’s approach to parenting is how judgmental it sounds:

I cannot understand mothers who insist they want children – especially those who undergo years of fertility treatment – then race back to work at the earliest opportunity after giving birth, leaving the vital job of caring for them to strangers. Why have them at all if you don’t want to bring them up, or can’t afford to? And why pretend you wanted them if you have no intention of raising them? This hypocrisy is, in my view, far more pernicious and difficult to fathom than my own admission that my life would have been better without children. And here, perhaps, is the nub of it: I would not take on the job of motherhood and do it half-heartedly. Unlike so many would-be mums I thought hard about the responsibilities of my role, and, I believe, if more women did before rushing heedlessly into it, they might share my reservations.

No wonder the old bird was miserable! Her version of motherhood sounds absolutely abhorrent.

Granted, reading her article I quickly surmised that her kids already know how their mother feels about them. Although Dutton insists that she loved her children, every word about them drips with so much disdain that it’s easy to tell that her version of “loving” her kids is not what most of us think of when we say we “love” someone.

Dutton is a classic bad mom. She thinks she was better at it than she was, and by golly, she’s sticking to her version of the truth.

But it isn’t in hating motherhood that Dutton is truly “bad.” It’s in how she decided to out herself.

It’s in not putting up that front for her children’s sake.

Because while I don’t agree that every mother needs to park herself at home just to be a “good mom,” there are things you sign up for when you decide to make a baby. You are now supposed to be that child’s back-up. Forever and ever, Amen.

That does not mean that you don’t discipline your kids. It doesn’t mean that you become a lawnmower mom, never letting them be hurt or have a little trouble in their life. But it does mean you’re there for them when it happens.

You are the voice that says, “Hey kid, sometimes you screw up, and it doesn’t make me happy, but God, I love ya and always will!”

This is what good mothers do, what loving mothers do. Because those kids have the right to the unconditional love due them from a parent.

You may not love every minute of motherhood. You may tell your friends how much it sucks. You may write anonymous articles that make child-free folks feel better about the way they feel about kids.

But for God’s sake, you make sure their kids don’t find out how much you hate being their mom.

You owe them that.

Do you agree with Dutton? Is she a “good mom” despite what she’s done?

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  1. Clearly she can't see beyond herself and shouldn't have been a mother. As when you Are a mom you hand a little bit of yourself over to your chid… and if you're a good mom you do it happily. And fear friends in This you are not seeing the forest for the trees as be sure your lIfe would not be better… at all. … for too many reasons for me to list

  2. Actually, I appreciate that mom's honesty. It should serve as a brutal lesson to people who want to change the minds of those who express a desire to remain childless. Maybe her biggest regret was having children, but her biggest mistake was continuing a relationship with someone who wanted children.

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