YouGov undertook what’s believed to be the first quantitative “parenthood regret” survey earlier this year, quizzing 1,228 parents — 671 women and 557 men. It found that a whopping 19 percent of mothers and 20 percent of fathers regret having children. They love their offspring but, if given the choice, would steer clear of parenthood a second time around.The reasons surrounding this regret, at least for women, have to do with the lack of accommodation in German society for combining parenthood and a career.
Young German women often struggle to find permanent employment following their studies, says Geissler, and the country’s generous maternity leave — three years with one’s post reserved — is available only to those who have such job stability. There also are limited options for working part-time as a professional. Nele Dagefoerde, a business-degree-toting mother of four in Esslingen, just outside Stuttgart, says that as long as companies and society fail to provide convincing models for moms to return to work part-time, and make it easier for men to do the same, it will always be difficult to have both a career and a family. “As long as women still have to make a choice whether to go for a career or to become a mother, there will be moms who regret motherhood,” she says.There also appear to be limits to child-care combined with schools that end at mid-day that are oriented around a more traditional world of non-working mothers. Reading between the lines, you can see that Germany (like Japan, as well, as I've noted before) cannot reconcile itself to a world in which women are encouraged to become educated and employed in the paid labor force, and yet they are also expected to be full-time mothers. Women are essentially forced to choose and a lot of them decide to forego children as a consequence. Germans have known about this for several decades, yet have clearly done very little about it.