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.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Step-parenting and the baby decision

The step-parent can be a difficult role in a family.  I've worked with clients who have come to me because they have felt unsettled and unsupported in their role as the stepmother .  This is particularly true as  'wicked step-mom' is a negative stereotype that is still ever present in fairy tales, stories and movies.   For many of my clients who are stepmothers, the additional stress is that they often would like to have children with their partners but, their partners aren't keen because they are parents already. (I also wrote about this issue a year ago in a post Being a Step-parent - Without Having Kids of Your Own)

Some of the issues faced my my clients in this situation are:

- Feeling that they are 'on the edge' of family life.
- Not knowing what their role in the family is.
- Witnessing her partner in a good relationship with his children which can spark resentment about         wanting a child with him as well.
- Having to cope with hostility from his ex-partner

One of the things that can help a great deal is to look at what you are bringing and contributing to the family right now.... even if you are feeling under appreciated at the moment.   Another important thing to do is to talk to your partner to look what your shared vision is for your relationship - as a couple together and how to create that.  And, if a child is an important part of your vision of your relationship together you, be clear, upfront and positive with him about how a child could fit into your family life.    Try see if you can discover what his fears are and how you could both address those fears together.   (note: I'll be writing another blog post soon on the thorny issue of what to do if you want a child but your partner doesn't. which will address more of these issues)

I recently read this very moving and personal account in this article The Day my Step-son said I Love You from a stepmother who charters the complicated life of her relationship with her teenage stepson which I've linked to below.  It show how loving and mothering can exist in this sometimes difficult and always complicated relationship.

'Already wholeheartedly in love with the boy’s dad by then, and knowing how close they were, I wanted to build something special with him too. And, I wanted his approval. I wanted to be part of their existing family.

But, relationships aren’t made; they are nurtured. A seed is planted in fertile soil, dirt with: compost, clay, worms, oxygen, nitrogen, grass clippings, bugs, things I can’t name, things I don’t understand, things I may not even like. Without it, there is no growth, there are no flavors to smell and savor.'

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Is the gap between mothers & childfree friends so wide?


Mind the gap.... between parents and non parents!  Everywhere we are told that these two groups of people are oceans apart with much mis-understanding and prejudice on both sides of the gap. It's true that  tensions between parents and non-parents do exist.  These often show up in the workplace.  This article in the conservative Telegraph newspaper Women Without Children Work Harder in the Office points to some of these tensions.

'A major new survey has found that four in 10 working women without children believe that they work harder than their female colleagues who are mums. In a further sign of the two-tier workplace, forty-two per cent of British women polled who aren’t parents, are also angry that their mum colleagues’ holiday requests take priority. This tension, usually a taboo topic in the office, reflects the ongoing row in Westminster about whether to give all employees the right to request flexible working.'

I've had some clients talking about the sadness they feel when they become the only one of their friendship circle not to have children.   'I sometimes get left out of things that they all do with children, like picnics or trips to the playground, although I always get invited to birthday parties.  It's hard though to do without a child and other moms... who I don't know ask which child is mine.'  And for those women are contemplating motherhood, there is often the fear that they will loose their identity and old friendships completely... they will be just 'somebody's mother' and be stuck in an endless circle of mother and baby groups.

But is the divide between mothers and those who are child free so wide in reality? Can we find and meet in common ground?

That's the question that this article Choosing to have children, choosing not to seeks to address.   It's a very personal look at how two friends - one with children and one without live their lives.  It's also a positive affirmation of the way that women in different circumstances can support each other and their life choices.  In this excerpt, the two women go dancing and the different ways their morning will unfold are described.

'At 2:00 am we left the dancing behind .....We went our separate ways, back to different houses and very different lives. I would be woken in the morning, too early, by the scurrying of feet and the tips of my daughter’s hair on my face. She would be stirred by an alarm clock, perhaps, or by the rhythms of her own body. My day would unfold, for the most part, according to the needs of people other than myself, with all of the beauty that entails. She would rise to a day of her own choosing, with all of the beauty that entails. And we would both be happy.'


Friday, 29 September 2017

Selfish vs Selfless: Reframing the Way We Talk about Motherhood & Not Having Children

One of the curious and frustrating ways that the choice to have children or not is contextualised is through the lens of selfishness/selflessness.  I've had clients in tears because they have been told my unthinking friends or acquaintances that if they were to not have children, they would be selfish.

This few is often confirmed by society and leaders.  A few years ago, the Pope made a speech where he described people who didn't have children as a symptom of our selfish society saying:

“A society with a greedy generation, that doesn’t want to surround itself with children, that considers them above all worrisome, a weight, a risk, is a depressed society... The choice to not have children is selfish. Life rejuvenates and acquires energy when it multiplies: It is enriched, not impoverished.”

Yet, there are many people who do not have children who live their values of service and generosity.  Ironically, many of those serving the Catholic Church do not have children, having made a choice to serve God and their community instead.   Clients who do not have children often have more time and energy to put into their community, volunteering or helping elderly neighbours. 

 And for women considering motherhood, the image of the motherhood as sacrifice can be off-putting and burdensome.   Karen Rinaldi, in her opinion piece in the New York Times called Motherhood isn't sacrifice but selfish  aimed to debunk the myth of motherhood as a sacrifice.

'Motherhood is not a sacrifice, but a privilege — one that many of us choose selfishly. At its most atavistic, procreating ensures that our genes survive into the next generation. You could call this selfishness as biological imperative. On a personal level, when we bring into the world a being that is of us, someone we will protect and love and for whom we will do everything we can to help thrive and flourish, it begets the question, How is this selfless? Selflessness implies that we have no skin in the game. In motherhood, we’re all in.'

In many ways, it is helpful to embrace the notion of the choice to mother as being a selfish act.  I talk to many clients who feel critical of choosing to have children 'just' on their desire to have a child.  'But, it's selfish... how can I bring a child into the world when it's selfish.'    I always say that no one ... not even people who adopt or foster ... ever makes the decision to have a child for purely altruistic reasons.   I'm always saying to my clients 'It's ok to want to have a child because you desire it!'

Personally, I'd rather we not use terms selfish or selfless to describe our choices.  They are really loaded terms that imply judgements.   When we talk about wanting to be in a relationship or friendship, do we talk about our choice to have a partner or not as being a selfish choice .... or a selfless choice?  No.  We say we really desire a relationship or we want more friends.  Let's  find new ways to describe our choices of having or not having children -using more positive terms with less judgement.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Acceptance: Knowing When to Let Go

I'm very pleased to be speaking at the Annual Conference for Childless Women and Men happening in the UK on Saturday 14th October.  As I mentioned in my last blog post, many people who are childless by circumstance feel isolated.  This conference is a fantastic opportunity to come together with other childless people ... most of who will be childless not by choice and discuss their situation and challenges they share.

The topic of my interactive session at the conference will be on  'When to stop trying? Making the decision and accepting it.'

Over my time coaching women on this issue,  I've found that it can be very important to give some focus to letting go (or acceptance) to help some of my clients make the baby decision. I've found that this is particularly important for people that I work with who have been struggling with trying to decide whether to continue with more complex options to have children including fertility treatment, adoption or surrogacy - either with a partner or on their own.

Sometimes I've had clients who have said that they have invested so much time and money into pursing an option like IVF, they feel that if they give up, they are someone admitting that they made a mistake in the first place.  Other clients feel that if they don't pursue every option, (even if they are struggling with that option) then they might regret it when they are older.

But options like adoption or having a child with donor sperm as a single parent might not be the right choice for everyone.  It's ok to say 'You know what, I have wanted a child but... it's too much for me at this point in my life to embark on fertility treatment/adopt a child/consider having a baby on my own.'   And if you have spent money and time on fertility treatment, it's ok to 'draw a line in the sand'.
When we do this, we do have to confront our sadness and mourning of the end of a dream.  When we are continually looking and exploring options we can hold back that sadness.  Part of letting go dealing with our sadness and accepting that life has not turned out how we had hoped or desired.

I'll be exploring this at the conference in October as I do with clients and hope to take participants through one or two practical coaching exercises to help them explore whether they are ready to stop trying and, if they might be, how can they move forward towards a state of acceptance about this decision.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Looking after each other - Getting Older Without Children

One of the common fears of my clients is that they will be lonely, un-cared for when they get older if they don't have children.   Getting older without children is a big concern for those people who don't have children - either by choice or by circumstance.   We live in a world which assumes that if you are older you will have children or younger relatives who will help you - take you to the doctor, ensure you take medicine, and generally keep an eye on you.  At the same time, society has become more fragmented and there is a sense that neighbours don't know each other as they used to. (However, this could be nostalgia)

 According to recent research carried out by the Campaign to End Loneliness:

17% of older people are in contact with family, friends and neighbours less than once a week and 11% are in contact less than once a month (Victor et al, 2003)
Over half (51%) of all people aged 75 and over live alone (ONS, 2010)
Two fifths all older people (about 3.9 million) say the television is their main company (Age UK, 2014)
63% of adults aged 52 or over who have been widowed, and 51% of the same group who are separated or divorced report, feeling lonely some of the time or often (Beaumont, 2013)
59% of adults aged over 52 who report poor health say they feel lonely some of the time or often, compared to 21% who say they are in excellent health (Beaumont, 2013)
A higher percentage of women than men report feeling lonely some of the time or often  (Beaumont, 2013)

In the UK, an organisation was set up to address this issue.  Called Aging without Children, the group says that:

Our vision is “Ageing well together without children” and our mission is “campaigning, information and support for people ageing without children”.campaigning, information and support for people ageing without children”.

Our  aims are threefold:

Illuminate – to generate greater awareness and understanding of this segment of the older population and of the implications of ageing without children for public services and society more broadly.
Connect – to build networks, connecting and enabling locality-based and online communities of older people without children.
Innovate – through working in partnership and stimulating action by other entities, to facilitate the development and testing of new services and initiatives that meet the needs of older people without children – and, more broadly, of our ageing society.

Other groups of adults without children are getting together to address some of these issues in practical ways.   In the article While I'll be spending my golden years with my golden girls, Kiran Sidhu writes about her and her friends light-hearted plans to buy a house together to live in and support each other when they are older so they will never be lonely.

'My friends and I have come up with an alternative way to live out our golden years. When the time comes, we have decided that we will pool all our resources and buy a property that we will live in. According to Age UK, more than 2 million people in England over the age of 75 live alone, and more than a million older people say they go for more than a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member. With our alternative old-age plan, we hope to avoid that loneliness. We will all live together and be each other’s carer and emotional companion.'

The Older Women's Housing CoHousing network saw the fruition of their dream realised this year when their co-housing project was built.  This was a great achievement and shows how a multi-generational community, a community where you will grow old with others of different ages, together.



Monday, 21 August 2017

Modern Families


Our preconceptions of what a family 'should' look like can contribute to our difficulty making the decision to have children.  Our society is much more inclusive  of different family compositions today as opposed to 10 years ago and TV programmes like 'Modern Families'  are mainstream and popular.

Yet, change comes slowly and there is still stigma faced by those that don't conform with conventional norms. Some clients who come to me are struggling with a desire to have children with the desire to have a child in a traditional two parent family.   But you might not be in a position to have a child in your 'ideal' family situation.   You may be single or you might have a partner who definitely doesn't want children.    Or you or your partner might want children but might feel that you need to have a child that is yours biologically.  This can set up a tension within us which can feel impossible to resolve.

I love collecting first person stories of people who are creating families in a different ways.  This story recently published in the New York Times Modern Love: Four Castaways Make a Family came from a woman who always knew she wanted to adopt and whose choice didn't resonate with most of her friends.

As far as I knew, I was capable of getting pregnant. I just didn’t want to. There were half a million children in foster care in need of an adoptive parent. And I wanted children, so this made perfect sense to me.

It didn’t make perfect sense to my friends.

“Aren’t you afraid?” they asked.'

If your worries about having a children in an unconventional context is contributing to your struggle to decide whether to have children or not, things you can do to help include:

  • Looking for examples in magazines, newspaper and online of different types of families.
  • Talk to people who are single parents, adoptive or foster parents.
  • Write down all your fears and worries about having a child in a non-conventional family setting.  Put it away for a week and then re-look at it.  Do those fears still feel so powerful?  If there are still fears that feel powerful, do some writing on how you could address or deal with those fears.
At the end of the process, be kind to yourself.  You might decide you don't want to have a child as a single parent, you might decide you don't want to be a foster or adoptive parent.  These are challenging options and it's ok to also say that that's just not right for you.   I've worked with coaching clients who have decided to go ahead and adopt/foster/have a child on their own and I've worked with those who decided not to.    The process of coaching allows all these clients to explore and challenge their fears.  Whatever decision is made afterwards, these clients know that they are making it with fuller awareness and are not simply being led by fears or beliefs/stereotypes.


Friday, 11 August 2017

Are you shocked by women who regret motherhood?


View of Halifax, Nova Scotia
I hope everyone is having a good summer..... even those of you in the Southern Hemisphere where I know it's now winter.  I have a number of clients in Australia and New Zealand and I am forever having to remind myself that the seasons are reversed!

Last week, I returned to a rainy UK from my annual summer visit to my homeland of Nova Scotia. The weather there was beautiful and sunny while it has been rainy in the UK so I'm feeling very grateful that at least I have enjoyed some summer sun.

This week, I've been struck by the number of articles and writing on mothers who regret being mothers.  It's almost as if the media has just discovered that some mothers might experience a sense of loss of their identity and sense of self when they have children!  As I've mentioned elsewhere on the blog, it's a topic of concern for many of my clients.

I do find the way the debate is often framed highly problematic however. This article recently published in Australia called Anyone Shocked by Women Who Regret Motherhood Isn't Listening  made many interesting points about the structural nature of discrimination against mothers.

In the article, writer Amy Gray looks at the response to some of the recent writing on women who regret becoming mothers.

'Reaction to this [mothers who regret becoming mothers] has been mixed – a combination of recognition and personal revulsion towards the women. When we hear something veer off from society's tightly-held script, there's always an immediate emotional reaction which seeks to minimise the shock. Surely there is something wrong with these women, hushed shock that anyone could question the benign glow with which we paint motherhood.

Invariably, these women are painted as mentally ill, because people can think of no other reason they would find fault with motherhood. It must be the mother, who must have post-natal depression that has somehow lasted for 9 years or more.  It's the mothers who are judged, and not the systems that oppress them.'

As I wrote about in an earlier blog post called Regretting Motherhood, writer Rachel Cusk also talks about how the adverse reaction to her seminal book 'A Life's Work' which was one of the first books to talk about the issue of regret in mothers, was very judgemental of her.

As Amy Gray points out, the reality faced by many mothers is that they find themselves responsible for.....

'doing the majority of child rearing and home chores. You won't be paid for it, you won't be respected for it and it won't pay into your super [pension].... Not only are women expected to do this, they're expected to love it. This is despite the fact women are often unsupported and feel isolated if they don't fit the ideal picture of motherhood – the woman who can attend school meetings at 2pm, has a clean home, dotes on her children and anyone passing by. Who wouldn't be isolated by an identity that ignores who they are but continually judges what they can do for others?'

I think it's very important as a coach to help my clients challenge and disrupt these assumptions and 'norms' of what motherhood should look like.  This is because I think that what women are regretting is not having children.... but having accepted society's uncomfortable vision of motherhood.

 We want to examine the 'tightly-held script' that writer Amy Gray describes, look elsewhere and see if we can create a version of motherhood that is more realistic, that is away from the ideal picture of motherhood.  If you were to do that, is becoming a mother a decision that seems more plausible and less fraught?





Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Decidophobia: Are you afraid of making the wrong decision?

Princeton University philosopher Walter Kaufmann in his book Without Guilt and Justice looked at the fear that many people have of making decision.  Written in the 1970's Kaufmann coined the term 'decidophobia' to describe the fear some of us have of even making the smallest of decision.

I only recently discovered Kaufmann's work through this Forbes article which mentions him in passing in this article Overcome the Fear of Making Decisions.  I was drawn to him as he articulates one of the key reasons I've thought that many of my clients get stuck around the baby decision.   That is being stuck because of fear of making the wrong choice.  Many clients have said to me that if they didn't have a choice - for example if they either found that they were pregnant by accident OR that they were infertile and couldn't have children, they would feel a sense of relief as the decision would have been made for them.  As Kaufmann states in the paragraph below, the guilt and fear that comes from making the 'wrong' decision can often feel overwhelming.

Humanity craves but dreads autonomy. One does not want to live under the yoke of guilt and fear. Autonomy consists of making with open eyes the decisions that give shape to one’s life. But being afraid of making fateful decisions, one is tempted to hide autonomy in a metaphysical fog and to become sidetracked and bogged down in puzzles about free will and determinism. It is far easier to define autonomy out of existence than it is to achieve autonomy in the very meaningful sense in which it can be attained. The difference between making the decisions that govern our lives with our eyes open and somehow avoiding this is all-important. 

I love how he describes the paradox between us as humans wanting and asserting our autonomy while at the same time fearing it. What we are fearing is the enormous responsibility that autonomy gives us.   In an article I was quoted in about 10 years ago in the Economist called The Tyranny of Choice

We've grown up with a lot more choice than our mothers or grandmothers; for them, being child-free wasn't a choice, it was pitied,” says Beth Follini, an American life coach who specialises in the “maybe baby” dilemma. “The anxiety comes from worrying about making the wrong choice.” Having options seems to make people think they can have control over outcomes too. Sometimes, says Ms Follini, choosing is about learning to live without control.

How can we overcome this fear? One way is through looking at and addressing this self-sabotaging fear head on. When I work with a client who has an overwhelming fear of making the decision, we often look at what their saboteur or inner critic is saying.  Often, the client might have a very perfectionist saboteur and a belief that they must know, that they must have knowledge that theirs is the 'perfect' decision - the right one.   When clients can begin to reduce the power of this saboteur, then clients find that the overwhelming pressure begins to lift and they can begin to trust themselves to know that they can move forward and make the baby decision.


Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Childless by Circumstance - A Conference for Women and Men

I'm so pleased to be speaking at this Annual Conference for Childless Women and Men.  It's happening on Saturday 14th May in Birmingham and it promises to be an event to explore many of the issues and concerns facing women and men who do not have children.

Conference organisers describe the purpose of the event as a chance for all those who are childless by circumstance to get together in a safe environment and listen to the most phenomenal speakers and build on our supportive community.

Although I mainly use the term child-free in much of my writing on this blog, it doesn't adequately describe women and men who are childless by circumstance. Many of the clients I have seen fall into this group and the circumstances that face people in this situation include:

- having a partner who doesn't want children
- fertility issues
- being single and not feeling able or wanting to have a child as a solo parent

Kerry, the conference organiser describes some of the reasons behind organising this event.

When I first realised I was not going to have the children I had hoped for I was angry at first that I had, just prior to that moment, thought I was going mad. Grieving for something that had never breathed life. Only to then find out I was not the only one, by a long way. 1 in 4 women of child-bearing age have not given birth. Yet where were we all? We are 'hidden' within our own Culture  and dealing with others' often intrusive questioning was exhausting and stressful.

The intrusive questioning and assumptions made by others is something I have heard again and again from clients.  Our culture seems to assume that individual circumstances of fertility and child-bearing is something that we can all comment on  and this lack of understanding and sensitivity is incredibly painful.

That's why it's so wonderful to see the energy gathering to bring people together to talk about and explore many of the issues faced by women and men who are childless by circumstance.   I'm looking forward to meeting everyone there and discussing more of these issues together.
Hello, my name is Kerry and when I first realised I was not going to have the children I had hoped for I was angry at first that I had, just prior to that moment, thought I was going mad. Grieving for something that had never breathed life. Only to then find out I was not the only one, by a long way. 1 in4 women of child-bearing age have not given birth. Yet where were we all? We are 'hidden' within our own Culture  and dealing with others' often intrusive questioning was exhausting and stressful.



Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Do I want a baby enough to go through IVF and ongoing fertility treatment

For some of my clients, deciding whether to have a baby is complicated by problems with fertility. According to the NHS website, around one in seven couples may have difficulty conceiving. This is approximately 3.5 million people in the UK.  That's a lot of people who do want child but who are struggling.

I've sometimes worked with clients who, if they could have gotten pregnant naturally, would not be struggling with the decision.  But the stress and heartache of IVF forces people to ask themselves the question.  Do I want to go through IVF? Do I want a child enough to go through what can be a long and difficult process?  Will I regret it if I don't do everything in my power to have a child?

This article Motherhood and Waiting Takeover explores the journey of IVF and how the waiting takes over your body and your life.

'It is not just the takeover of your body that makes IVF so challenging, but the takeover of your schedule, your life. Every-other-morning appointments, waiting by the phone for news about the results of blood draws, timing injections precisely, ordering more medication or procuring discounted or free leftovers from women finished with their cycles: it all takes time'

Clients who have tried to have a child naturally and are now facing the decision to go through IVF often feel guilty and worried.  A common theme is 'I've wanted this and now that there are some challenges, I'm questioning whether I do want children because if I really did, I would go through anything.'

 I believe that it's important to give ourselves permission to make the choice not to go through with a difficult and stressful medical procedure.  Many times clients say that they are not keen to go into IVF but they feel that they should, that they should try everything or else they will regret it.  Yet, when we are kind to ourselves and give ourselves permission to let go of guilt and the 'I should'  we can make the choice that is right for us.  

When clients do this, sometimes they realise that it's ok to make a decision based on the context.  It's not giving up to say that in this circumstance, I have decided not to have children.   And then, sometimes  sometimes they decide that they will try IVF but without the same negative feelings of guilt or worry pushing them to do so.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Why would I want to bring a child into this world?

It's been a heartbreaking couple of weeks here in London.   As some of my readers may know, I sing with Borough Market Choir.  My practise room where I see face-to-face clients is just 5 minutes walk from London Bridge and Borough Market.  It's my neighbourhood.  The photo above is of one of many moving tributes for the victims of the attack that have sprung up all over the area.

And then, two nights ago a terrible fire in West London in a tower block.  The horrible images of people being trapped  including the desperation of parents trying to escape with their children is almost unbearable.

When terrible events come close to us, it's frightening and disturbs our sense of security.   It can bring a sense of despair.

So for those considering parenthood, it can seem as if it is madness to bring a child into the world.  I wrote about this before in a blog post which explored how the concern about the environmental crisis in the world does affect some people who are considering whether to have children.  Why would I want to bring a child into this world? is a question I've heard from clients.  

There is no simple, no straightforward answer.    There are things happening all over the world seem chaotic and frightening.  For me it comes down to a key question.

 Do you want your decision to have children or not to be based on fear? Do you want to you want to give into the standpoint that the world is essentially a violent and hopeless place?

What happens when we tap into the feelings of community, love and belonging that always shines through in terrible times?  We can see people connecting more in the face of tragedy, people donating to charity and volunteering their time.    Maybe bringing a child into this world would not seem so hopeless, maybe we can see how our lives and the world would be enhance.

Or maybe, we would decide we didn't want a child after all.  But not because we were scared or thought the world was a bad place.  But, because it's not right for us - because we could create love and connection in other ways.


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.