10 Tips for Staying Friends After Someone Has Kids


For parents and child-free friends alike

by Stephanie Kaloi

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Out of all the relationships I’ve made and witnessed since having a kid, I find myself consistently stunned that so many parent/non-parent friendships are fraught with tension, hurt feelings, and anxiety. I find this strange, because personally I have quite a few friends who don’t have kids yet or plan to never have children, and I value their friendship and advice as much as I value any I get from my fellow parents.

But I have a theory about why it happens. First, when people become parents, it can bring up a lot of insecurities about who you were pre-baby and who you are now, with baby. On the flip side, when people choose not to become parents or they haven’t become parents yet (and yes: these are two different things), it can bring up similar insecurities about how your parent friends may or may not be perceiving your life choices. And while sometimes we might feel judged because we’re actually being judged (like that one time when two women sat next to me at the book store and loudly discussed how they never, ever let their kids leave the house with messy hair… and my kid’s hair was sticking straight out in the back and probably had food in it), I think a lot of the reasons this tensions exists is because we’re really judging ourselves on how effective and awesome we are in our new roles or how confident we feel in our decisions (and maybe projecting that on each other a little bit). Also, it doesn’t help that the Internet turns judgment into a veritable Olympic sport, with raising kids—or choosing not to raise kids—as like, the top tier competitive event.

But for me, my relationships with non-parent relationships are super important, and losing one of them over something that could have been prevented (like an assumption one of us made about the other) would suck. So I took to Facebook and asked friends of mine (parents, child-free folks, and people who might be parents someday) what the biggest roadblocks and issues they see to parent/non-parent friendship are, and brainstormed ways to overcome them. So here’s to friends, kids, and #adulting, because we all know growing up isn’t easy.

For Child-free Friends:

1. Realize that parents of young kids will (probably) want to bring them places

Not everyone has the luxury of being able to entrust childcare to family that lives in town, and a lot of parents of young kids feel anxious about leaving a child who isn’t old enough to clearly communicate and/or advocate for him/herself with a relative stranger or new sitter. So with this in mind, don’t be surprised if your parent friends consistently turn down invites to kid-free parties or gatherings… but don’t lose faith or take it personally. A child-free friend put it to me this way:

As a child-free person, I think that understanding friends with kids aren’t as mobile is huge. We make time to go to them, and accept that it’s what we do as friends. We can entertain ourselves during bath and bedtime and still hang out and talk and be people and friends. We can appreciate the adventures of parenting and listen to stories partly because we are part of some of them. We are a family of two spending time with another family of more people. I don’t think anything weird about stopping by to drop off a paper bag with Ben and Jerry’s and tell friends I know it is hard work but they are doing a great job. I don’t think having kids changes the fact that you are friends, if you are really friends. It changes where you go and how often or for how long, but it doesn’t change the Love.

2. Try to not make your parent friends feel bad for leaving early

Some of us put a lot of pressure on ourselves to act “cool,” especially if we’re getting negative feedback from friends who don’t have children about the demands of parenthood. As a friend told me:

With my friends who don’t want kids, I always have the pressure to “look cool.” Like, if we go out I’ll say I’m leaving at a certain time but I won’t say it’s because of [my daughter]. I’ll say I have a big job the next day or because I’m not feeling well—saying it’s because I have to wake up with my kid gets way worse responses. If I refuse a certain plan because of the logistics involved (find a sitter, etc.) I always try to come up with other excuses because if I don’t I am seen as someone who “used to be cool” and my kid as “the big burden” while I don’t feel that’s the case at all.

3. Know (or ask) when it’s appropriate to parent your friend’s kids

When my son was two, we had two adult roommates. One of them had been my best friend since I was fifteen, and the other was a friend my husband and I made in college. My best friend was great to live with, and the other guy? Not so much. There were several issues to work through, but one of the biggest is that he would spontaneously parent our child. I think he assumed he could because he has a lot of siblings, and his siblings have kids, and because sharing a living space with a family can create murky boundaries. A little bit of parenting is fine, because if my kid is about to stick his hand in a socket or touch a hot pant and you’re right there, you should totally reach out and stop him. But if my kid is having a highly emotional reaction (read: tantrum) to something that’s happened and I’m also in the room, I do not under any circumstances expect or want you to step in before I do. It’s confusing to the child, and potentially undermines the parent’s authority.

For parents:

4. make sure your kids know that not having a kid is a legit life choice

If you have friends that are definitely child-free, I think there are three very important responsibilities you have as their friend. First, you need to keep your opinions about the glories of parenthood to yourself unless you’re asked or you just can’t help gushing about something particularly sweet that happened, because that’s normal and human. Second, you have to truly believe that being child-free is legitimate and okay, and you can’t be secretly judging your friend and or expecting him or her to change their minds. Third, you need to make sure your kids know that being child-free is a choice people make, and that’s it’s as valid as choosing to have kids. I think these are all important because they all boil down to respecting your friend, and respect is, for me, a cornerstone of friendship.

5. ask your friends to baby-sit (And assume they mean it when they offer)

If you have kids and want them to have a good relationship with your friends… ask those friends to hang out with your kids every so often one-on-one (or one on two, three, however many kids you have). Don’t abuse the system and assume you can get free babysitting whenever you want it, but I think explaining to your kid-free friends that you want your kids to know and love them is a good start. After all, even though it sometimes seems like parents are supposed to pretend their kids are monsters to anyone who isn’t related to them (and sometimes, even to those people), the reality is that kids will be kids will be kids. If your friends offer to hang with your children, they probably mean it.

6. It’s up to the parent to set clear boundaries for friend-child interactions

It’s important to make sure you are setting boundaries about how your friends interact with your kids, especially when it comes to social media. Example: maybe you have no problem sharing photos of your own child to your private Facebook and Instagram accounts, but totally do not want your friends to share photos to their own—whether those accounts are public or private. If you don’t communicate this with your friends ahead of time, they might not realize it. As a friend explained:

My girlfriend took a selfie with our friend’s four month old and posted it on her wall later that night. I almost immediately got a text from my friend asking for her to take it down because she wasn’t comfortable with people posting pictures of her daughter without permission. Something seemingly innocuous caused tension among friends because clear boundaries weren’t set up and my significant other didn’t have the kind of insight, not having kids of her own, to ask if my friend was comfortable with her posting a picture with her daughter.

7. If someone says they like hanging out with your kids, you should believe them

It can be a big bummer if you actually like hanging out with the children of your friends, and your friends only see you as a way to get a break from their kids, right? I think communication is key—if you have friends who say they really like hanging out with you and your kids at the same time, believe them.

For Everyone:

8. Don’t assume you’re being judged

I think when you’re doing one thing (like being single) when all of your friends are doing another (like having kids), it’s very easy to feel like everyone is judging you (especially if you’re getting on into your thirties and forties and are still rocking your life choice). And you know what? There are some people judging you. There will always be people judging you, but if those people are the people you call friends, then you may want to re-evaluate your friend pool.

I think one way to counteract feelings of judgment or the temptation to judge someone who is living a different life than your own is to be genuinely interested in what’s going on in someone’s life in the first place. For example, pretending to listen to your single friend talk about her dating life while actually feeding one kid and wiping the face of the other isn’t very genuine… just like getting ready to go out or scrolling through a dating website while your parent friend is seriously trying to talk about her life isn’t cool, either. I’ve almost always found that when I feel like I’m being judged by someone it’s usually because I’ve been judging that person, and I feel guilty. Stay cool.

9. Have a little empathy

A friend told me that her biggest struggle with friends who don’t have kids is trying to figure out how to help them understand that while she doesn’t regret having her kids, there are a lot of things she would like to be able to do but can’t. As she explained:

Every time they say something about an improvised trip, a crazy career change, or whatever, they don’t accept my, “It would be so cool to do that!” Their answer is, “You are living the dream! You can’t complain! You met the perfect guy young and now are about to have two kids.” Just because I was lucky doesn’t mean I can’t crave the freedom of having no strings… and that doesn’t mean I regret or resent anything.

On the flip side, a child-free friend said:

Sometimes I feel like I need to filter my life through the lens of my parent friends. I’ll never be as tired or harried as them, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still tired and harried… for me. It’s really discouraging for me when I want to vent with friends and am met with something that feels dismissive. I’m always happy to be an ear for how complex it can be to raise a kid, but I still need my parent friends to hear me when I say I’m feeling stressed and exhausted.

10. Understand that you’re not going to come first most of the time

This one goes equally both ways—if you’re friends with a parent, realize that parent is going to prioritize his or her kid and family a lot of the time. I don’t mean just in the obvious ways, because I think most people understand that if a kid has a doctor’s appointment or a school performance, the parent has to be there. I mean in the little ways no one thinks about on the regular. I feel like I’m constantly canceling plans with a close friend who lives about two hours away, and it’s not because I want to—it’s because during the week (and on most weekends) I’m working, driving my kid to and from a class he takes, and I honestly just prefer to spend most of my nights with my family these days. I like knitting on the couch while my husband begrudgingly watches Friday Night Lights with me and we both comment on how amazing Tami Taylor is. Like, it’s kind of my favorite thing to do. It doesn’t mean that I don’t want to see my friend, because I do and I’m always so happy when I do make it down there and we hang out, but the actual physical event of getting myself from one place to another? It disrupts my family’s regular ole Thursday night, whether or not I want it to.

Likewise, my friend can’t always come visit me when it’s more convenient for me, because surprise: she has her own job, friends, relationships, and stuff going on. We chat on the phone regularly, and I think we have fully realized that we’re not going to be able to drop everything and hang out with the other like we could when we were fifteen (or twenty, or even twenty-five), and we don’t give each other passive aggressive drama about it. Life happens and plans have to change, but holding a grudge against a friend because they can’t come see you every time you want them to? That’s not cool.

What advice do you have for friends who are trying to keep their friendships alive despite different life stages or circumstances? What’s worked for you—and what hasn’t?

Stephanie Kaloi

Stephanie is a photographer, writer, and Ravenclaw living in California with her family. She is super into reading, road trips, and adopting animals on a whim. Forewarning: all correspondence will probably include a lot of punctuation and emoji (!!! ? ? ?).

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  • Amy March

    Ohhhh I disagree so much with the first one! Yes, yes I do take it personally when my parent friends lean into their anxiety, refuse to even attempt to figure out babysitters, and can never do adult things with me because grandma isn’t available after 7.

    I get that it’s stressful, and hard, and expensive, but ya know what? So was attending your wedding and your bachelorette and your bridal shower and your baby shower and trekking to the suburbs to visit with your babies (who I totally love and volunteer to babysit all the time). If you can’t figure out a way to attend even the most important grownup things in my life once or twice a year because “oh we just aren’t comfortable leaving Agustus with a sitter” that is personal to me, and it’s not ok.

    • Sarah

      Depends on the event. Shelling out $10-15 an hour for a sitter (which for some folks is very hard to find!) to go to a movie or a random party? Not worth it. But yes, for big life events. When child-free friends make an effort parents should too.

      • Amy March

        Right. My Christmas party? Whatever. My friend’s book launch? Yeah, it majorly sucked when her other BFF didn’t go because she had no one to take care of her three year old- because she “just wasn’t comfortable” leaving the kid with her husband.

        • Mary Jo TC

          Oh, I totally agree that was messed up of your friend’s friend. Why can’t her husband take care of the kid? Why would you procreate with someone you’re not comfortable leaving that child with?

        • AP

          Sighhhhh “‘just wasn’t comfortable’ leaving the kid with her husband.” My best childhood friend and I took a years-long friendship hiatus while her kids were small because she was a stay-at-home-mom who refused to leave her kids with her husband on his time off because “the kids were *her* job.” Thankfully now that her kids are in elementary school she’s ok with leaving them with her husband and others, but we just couldn’t make friendship happen while that was the standard.

        • raccooncity

          Yeah, I would take that as a “I don’t want to go to the book launch”. People use their kids as straight-up excuses for things they’re not interested in doing. My friends with kids so far have all admitted it’s one of their favourite things – getting out of stuff. That person just sounds kinda like a crappy friend.

        • z

          That seems like more of a husband/marriage problem than a baby or friend problem. Honestly, I am sympathetic to people in this situation. It’s pretty hellish to be the only competent parent for three years! The isolation, embarrassment, disappointment, and regret of having made a bad choice of spouse and not having a competent father for the child must be really hard to bear.

          • “The isolation, embarrassment, disappointment, and regret of having made a bad choice of spouse and not having a competent father for the child must be really hard to bear.” THIS! I’ve always known I wanted to have a kid, and as I got older, I considered each boyfriend’s potential as a parent as part of like… my process. I can’t imagine how horrible it feels to have created a child with someone who is wildly disengaged from the process.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            For the women I know who do this, their husband aren’t incompetent by choice. These friends insist on doing everything, have done so for X years and now they have a husband who can’t do anything bc he’s never learned or had opportunity. A lot of women set themselves up for this.

          • z

            Maybe. But sometimes men really do fall short of their promises. Or there’s something you don’t know, like that the husband drinks too much or whatever.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            I’m going by what I observe. When you tell me that you took over changing a diaper bc he was taking too long so you just did it and now 2 years later he doesn’t change diapers…well you kind of set yourself up for that. I cannot tell you the number of WOMEN who were surprised, shocked and appalled to see me alone out and about when my daughter was an infant and told me that when their babies were x months, they would have never dreamed of leaving them. I don’t believe that women are overwhelmingly so bad at choosing life partners that there isn’t a man who will be an engaged and involved parent if given the chance. I hear this story way too often.

          • z

            The point is, there might be things you’re not able to observe. But even so, I think this is far too much blaming of the woman for the man’s shortcomings. Why can’t he step up and advocate for himself? Teach himself some skills on his own. Why can’t he take the initiative?

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            Let’s be clear. I am not blaming women for men’s shortcomings. Culturally speaking, men do not wake up and suddenly decide they are feminists and that things are unfair. They’re in positions of privilege. They learn typically through relationships they have with women who have TAUGHT them HOW to be feminists, what that means, what that looks like, etc. Depending on how they grew up etc, men get all kinds of messages about parenting roles, etc the SAME way that women do and at the same time, they get a lot of messages that the way things are set up benefit them. Too many people aren’t going to come to their own realization to give up their privilege willingly. I don’t know why anyone expects men do to this.

            What I AM saying is that the fight for more egalitarian relationships and homes is a feminist one and women are going to be doing the heavy lifting here. If you want fairness is your home, you have to demand it and fight for it. What I blame women for is not advocating for themselves, for not stating their expectations and for not requiring more out of their partners. When you take over, criticize your partner’s parenting and make them feel like they can’t do anything, they’re not gonna do anything. No one has go out of their way to get shit on.

            Do I think that there are some men who just suck? Yep. But do I think that’s the majority of the partners women have? No. Some are just controlling and they end up with a problem that could have been avoided. Start out as you mean to go so that’s where you end up.

          • Lawyerette510

            “What I AM saying is that the fight for more egalitarian relationships and homes is a feminist one and women are going to be doing the heavy lifting here.” YES YES YES This is also why I think it’s important for us to talk about these things in all kinds of spaces (like here, but also in a supportive conversational way in person with friends who are thinking about having kids, who are pregnant, etc) while being respectful of people’s autonomy and boundaries.

          • JenC

            I think the narrative about a woman being able to do it all is what actually leads to this martyrdom. I don’t think it’s necessarily about blaming women but more realising the unrealistic expectations that society can put on us and, more importantly, that we put on ourselves.

          • Lawyerette510

            There are some great pieces out on the web about how this level of comfort/ competence with the physical acts of parenting has to do with being alone with babies. Because many non-birth parents (at least in the US) do not have the opportunity to be alone for whole days with the kid when it is an infant while the birth-parent does, it’s the parent who is there at the beginning struggling through the moments of “why is this baby still crying? I have no idea what it wants. Oh ok, this is working, I’ll do more of this. Wait, need to change tactic.” that becomes competent more quickly and sets up the divide that continues to grow over time.

            One of my best friends had her first child this summer. I went and stayed with their family from week 3 to 4 after the baby came to help cook, clean, keep her company, give them time to check in, etc. During that window, she and I went to see a movie around 10:00 am on Sunday, about 3 blocks from her house. It was the first time her husband was alone in the house with the baby for more than 10 minutes, and he was freaked out that he would mess up. She fed the baby right before we left, had her phone out so she could see if he needed her, and off we went. We came back 3 hours later, and while the dad was a little frazzled, he said he was glad to have ripped the bandage off to know he could do it.

            My point being, I agree with you completely, the competence/ comfort of the parent who has spent less time physically caring for the kid(s) is often something that evolves from a little seed of cultural factors and expectations.

          • Ashlah

            Absolutely. This is why we’re saving extra money to hopefully give my husband a month at home alone with future baby when I’m done with maternity leave. We don’t want to set up a pattern where he and I are both uncomfortable with his care, simply because he wasn’t given a chance to bond and learn. I’ve seen that exact scenario play out with my coworker, and she really resents her husband for it.

          • Eenie

            My fiance and I just had this conversation. He gets two weeks paternal leave (thank god) and he’s taking the full amount of FMLA. I don’t care if we have to give up all things fun to make it happen. How he takes the FMLA is another story (all in one chunk, part time work, after I return to work, etc).

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            It happens over and over. You know what I would do sometimes? I would just leave the house. I would tell my husband that I was going out for a few hours just to give him time to parent on his own. He was FINE.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            Also, some stuff isn’t my problem. We have a bedtime routine. When I go out of town my husband doesn’t follow the routine and then he’s tired etc. I say nothing and offer nothing unless he asks. It’s not my business how he puts her to bed when I’m out of town. If he wants to make it harder on himself while I’m away, that’s on him.

          • Eenie

            Although when I watch my nephew overnight I really do try to stick to his general routine as much as possible. Because I know that if I want to watch him again I should make it easier on the parents for him to readjust his sleeping and eating. Different if you’re the parent. You’re kind of stuck with the kid ;)

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            Yup. The moral of the story is really, I try to let my husband parent how he wants to parent. Unless he’s doing something that’s harmful to our daughter, I find something else to do if his methods bother me that much. Last night he messed up his turn at bedtime (not following the routine. She does GREAT if the routine is in place) and she had a huge tantrum that HE had to deal with. I had a cup of tea, listened to music and read a trashy romance.

          • Eenie

            I think I know what you’re saying, but you have to be on the same page about major things. No two people are going to handle situations the same, but he’s parenting how he wants…within these specific boundaries that have most likely been discussed over many years. It’s different when you’re not one of the parents. I need to know where those boundaries are to feel comfortable watching your kid for you. For some friends/family that’s a lot easier for me to figure out than others.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            Your last sentence is SPOT on. How many men also think (wrongly) that having a uterus means that you have some special skill with babies, even if you’ve never taken care of a baby before? My husband started out thinking that I would magically know what was wrong and what to do. I schooled him REAL quick: this is all trial and error, babe.

          • Ashlah

            We haven’t had a kid yet, but I’ve totally had to point this out to my husband! To give him a little credit, he did point out that he’s also received the social narrative his whole life that he’ll be terrible with children, whereas I’ve received the opposite, so even though we both have the same lack of actual knowledge, maybe I’m more open to believing I can learn it? It was an interesting discussion.

          • lady brett

            i think along with the social narrative, it is common for girls to be socialized around babies/kids/caretaking in a way that boys aren’t, so it is common for women to have had an experiential education that is mistaken for an instinct. (i come from the traditionally male side of this distinction, and it is an intimidating learning curve. also totally doable.)

          • Ashlah

            Definitely. In our case, neither of us had been around babies since we were young children ourselves, but that certainly holds true for a lot of people.

          • Mary Jo TC

            I agree. I hate hearing about ‘mother’s instinct’ BS.

          • Basketcase

            I still dont believe I have any “mothers instinct”, although that could be the hangover from Post Natal Depression talking…

          • laddibugg

            My partner is the one who had younger siblings and cousins, and also took care of his ex’s daughter. I’ve changed a diaper maybe twice and have a limited idea of how to feed a baby.

          • Eenie

            I think her comments are meant more generally in terms of what society pushes us to do, similar to the name change. Women are pressured at the very least to think about changing their name where men are not. That doesn’t mean every woman feels this pressure or changes her name. It’ll be nice to have a partner that has experience with kids, either for your own kids or your friend and family’s.

          • Yes. This. I know a couple women who talk about their husbands babysitting or not trusting them with the young kids as if it was some source of pride that demonstrates how much their children love and need only them. And they think it’s funny that their husbands refused to change a diaper for the first 3+ months of the kids’ life. I personally find it horrifying and it takes everything in my willpower to not say anything or appear disgusted. That is just completely unacceptable in my book, but to each his/her own.

          • Eenie

            I keep trying to get my partner to agree that if I’m solely providing the food intake he should be in charge of the food output.

          • Mary Jo TC

            That’s what we did for the entire first year, at least for the time when husband and I were both home together with the kid (I did end up doing a good portion of the diapers while I was home alone on maternity leave and when I picked him up from care a couple hours before he got home). And he did all baths. I felt clueless about the baths when we started to split them every other night after the boy’s first birthday.

          • Lawyerette510

            I know a few couples who have largely taken this approach. My closest friends-with-kids took this, and the dad liked it because he claimed it as his thing before the baby came, started changing his niece’s diaper before their own baby came so he could have some practice, and it was one of the first things he felt comfortable with and that made him feel like he was contributing.

          • JDrives

            I remember you saying this in a thread maybe a few weeks ago, and it stuck with me! I floated the idea to my husband and he gave me a weird look, but the more I think about it the more I like it, so I am going to keep trying once we start having kiddos.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            I honestly just don’t understand how that happens. I mean, if he’s alone with a child and refused to change the baby bc “he doesn’t change diapers” I would probably be seeking a divorce.

            There’s something to that children only needing moms too.

          • JenC

            I feel like sometimes this can be a self-made problem. A family friend has a lot of anxiety at the minute about leaving her child with its father because he’s incompetent. However, dad is dressing kid and has put kid in odd socks, or put a jumper on before pants before the mother has snapped and said “I’ll do it, it’s quicker and easier and I’ll only end up re-doing it”. These things don’t make the guy incompetent. I get that sometimes people can pick wrong and sometimes you never know until the kid is here but I feel there is only so much criticism that someone can take before they stop trying. Our family friend has this anxiety with her own mother too (who raised her and her several siblings so was obviously doing something right). Unfortunately she isn’t the only woman I’ve seen criticise her partners parenting and then turn around and say he does nothing to help and can’t be trusted.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            That’s exactly it. And btw, if you wanna do everything, then I will just stand back and let you.

            I know TOO many women who are like this. Or just make things hard on themselves. I have a friend that complained to me she does everything and her husband doesn’t ever take the initiative to help her. Ok fine, but if you ask for help, will he do it? Yes, but I shouldn’t have to ask. Ok, then don’t ask and continue to be a martyr.

          • JenC

            I mean the entire reason I’m getting married is so that he can be FINALLY be fitted with the telepathic chip.

            Wait… Your spouse isn’t automatically fitted with the chip on getting married? Oh, ever… You have to… Talk? Oh… This is awkward.

          • Alison O

            “I shouldn’t have to ask.” Biggest relationship communication myth/mistake ever?

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            Lol. It’s such an exercise in frustration. Need help? Just ASK.

        • “because she “just wasn’t comfortable” leaving the kid with her husband.”

          I HAVE SO MANY ISSUES WITH THIS — with people who can’t seem to trust their husbands/partners with their own children.

          • rg223

            Especially a 3 year old!!! I would understand it more if it were a 6 month old and say, Mom breastfeeds and baby won’t take a bottle from dad, or something like that. But really any adult should be capable of taking care of a 3 year old who is well out of the infant stage.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            This is something I really do not get. I always ask my friends who are like this what would he do if you were dead? He’d figure it out and be FINE! This wasn’t even a thought in my brain and anyway, my husband was on his own when our baby was 7 days old bc I went back into the hospital twice.

          • Kayla

            When I was 18, I worked in the infant room of a daycare center. I walked in my first day knowing absolutely nothing about caring for an infant. By the end of that week I was fully capable of caring for multiple infants for an eight-hour shift.

            If I could do it, a baby’s father can do it.

          • Meg Keene

            IS THIS A REAL THING? I was hoping it was an urban myth.

          • Anon

            Anxiety like that about leaving then is could be pp depression.

          • Basketcase

            Right?
            2.5 yo is being left with husband while I go to the other end of our country to go hiking for a 5-day weekend at the end of this month. Saturday mornings are their “thing” together. I go out to committee meetings and the like twice a month.
            The only time I didn’t regularly leave kid in husbands hands was when he was exclusively breastfeeding and refusing the bottle (which meant I could do the supermarket and that was about it).

            That said, my country does seem to have an issue with new partners seriously harming their partners kids from previous relationships. But if you cant trust the man in your life with your kid (especially if the kid is not your own), then perhaps you shouldn’t be with that man (and thats an entirely different conversation).

        • K Robertson

          The not being able/willing to leave the kids with Dad (breastfeeding situations aside), or the only marginally better “Dad only “babysits” twice a year” is so rough. Those of my friends whose partners are active, dedicated co-parents definitely get a lot more adult only time with friends.

        • Sarah

          Yeah, it was early and I was struggling to come up with big-life events but that is totally one.

    • TeaforTwo

      I think this is addressed in #10: that parents are often going to prioritize their kids.

      As someone who doesn’t have kids, and whose siblings and close friends mostly do, this can be hard. I think it’s one of the biggest challenges in parent/nonparent relationships. But it also just is. Some parents have lots of access to childcare from family, some don’t, some are fine with sitters, some aren’t. I can’t expect people to change their parenting philosophies because they don’t suit me.

      Life changes, priorities change. When I was in a long-distance relationship with my husband, I had single friends who were annoyed that I was never available on the weekends, and told me how important it was to keep time for myself. I had plenty of time for myself, but I WANTED to spend every weekend with him, because I didn’t get to see him during the week. For lots of parents of small kids I know, if they are working full time, they pretty much only see their kids on the weekends. So part of it’s not trusting sitters (valid) and part of it is needing to prioritize a more important relationship (also valid.)

      • Eenie

        I know it’s not the point of the post, but losing friends during a LDR. It’s also really annoying if all your friends are coupled and you constantly feel single because they all go on dates and you’re either third wheeling it or stuck at home alone.

      • Amy March

        But it’s also valid for me to feel like you’re doing a bad job at being my friend if you’ve decided to choose to parent in a way that means you can’t ever show up for me.

        • That’s true – but that’s also life. I think this: “Life changes, priorities change. When I was in a long-distance relationship with my husband, I had single friends who were annoyed that I was never available on the weekends, and told me how important it was to keep time for myself. I had plenty of time for myself, but I WANTED to spend every weekend with him, because I didn’t get to see him during the week.” basically nails it. It sucks sometimes, but it’s truth. A lot of the time, parents truly just want to spend their time with their kids/family more than they want to spend it with friends.

          • CH

            And that’s fine, but isn’t the point of all of this to try to KEEP friends? If you never want to see them, then why even try to be friends?

          • Kate

            I don’t know, there are a lot of people that I was friends with at one point in my life that just don’t fit in now. High school, freshman year, work friends, etc. Those people were important to who I was then, but people change and life changes and to some extent you need to roll with that.

          • Amy March

            Oh totally, but the point of this particular article seemed to be ways to keep friends. I think its also fine to let friendships go, or recognize they are in a lull and hope that someday you’ll be able to resume them.

          • Maddie Eisenhart

            I mean, I would assume it’s a given that the kind of relationships we’re talking here are the ones worth holding onto. That you don’t want to lose as a result of some kind of friendship casualty, you know?

          • RoseTyler

            My best friend has a 18 month old and lives 8 hours away. We haven’t seen each other in 2 years. I’ve never met her son. (which is just crazy). We talk every single work day while we drive to work (She lives in the eastern time zone and works 8-5. i live in central and work 7-4). We’ve been doing so for 4 years now, and it works. We’d both love to get together again IRL and i’m sure we will, but for this season, it is what it is.

          • Lizzie

            Because sometimes kids > friends and sometimes friends > kids and you need both in your life, probably.

          • z

            Because the really needy kid stage is just a few years and after that you’ll get back to spending more time with friends. What is this “can’t ever show up for me”? It’s not forever!

          • Kayla

            But some people have kids and stop seeing their friends, and it is forever. I think making the effort to stay in touch (by phone, by email, by whatever means necessary) during those few needy kid years puts you on a much better path to stay friends with people when the kids are older.

          • z

            In that situation I would say they just don’t want to be friends with you anymore. It isn’t necessarily because of parenting– a lot of this is just normal life stuff and it’s unfair to blame it on parental status or on kids. Friendships come and go all the time among childless people too, right?

          • Kayla

            Right, I think that’s what I’m saying. Sometimes people just stop being friends, and that’s okay.

            But it can be hard to tell if new parents are trying to stop being friends or if they’re just too busy right now. Keeping some lines of communication open helps me know if it’s the latter.

          • Colleen

            My personal experience leads me to believe there’s a fallacy in the belief that children are only “really needy” when they’re very young. My best friend has three children, I have none. We met over 10 years ago, when her kids were all under the age of five. I saw her much more often back then because she could get a sitter, when financially possible, or just bring the kids along for fun, when doable and appropriate. Now her kids have their own stuff going on – school, sports, sleepovers, parties, dates, etc. – and she and her husband spend most of their free time driving to and from and attending chorus concerts and school plays and softball games and confirmation classes and all the other events that come along with having three kids in junior high and high school. These are children that I love, adore, and would welcome into my home as my own if something tragic were to happen to my friend and her husband. But these kids have only demanded more of their parents’ time, not less, as they’ve gotten older. Even as a non-parent, I can see that parenting is a full-time, 18 year (at least) commitment. The idea that “it’s just temporary” isn’t necessarily true and that can be very difficult on your non-parent/child relationships.

          • z

            Well, in that case I would say she’s made a choice. Three kids is a lot, and choosing activities that require a lot of parental time. Not everyone does it that way. It’s not like, say, night feedings, where almost all babies need to do it and it’s not at the parents’ discretion.

          • Colleen

            Sure, it’s a choice. Having children is a choice, regardless of the number. That doesn’t mean there’s not a fallacy in the general idea that children’s needs will lessen as they age. Children need their parents. The type of need might change from midnight feedings to carpool transportation, but the number of needs doesn’t necessarily decrease, nor does the time commitment involved. Every family is different and the choices they make are different. I’m just pointing out that the idea of the “temporary” pause on a friendship isn’t a given.

          • TeaforTwo

            This is a good point, although I would say that the demands of those kids does change over time.

            Within four months my family went from having zero kids to three babies in it when my brothers’ wives all got pregnant around the same time. Having kids around has permanently changed our family dynamic, and gatherings revolve around the kids and their schedules now. But when they were all babies, we couldn’t have a conversation because one baby was always fussing and they just took a lot of attention. Now that they’re school-aged, they can play in the backyard unsupervised while the adults catch up meaningfully, and it’s great.

          • Kayla

            I think also, probably, kids need their parents to have friends. My parents are both fairly friendless people. And that sucks for them, but it also sucks for me. I am the sole social support by default, and that’s a huge burden to put on your kid.

            I get that friendships will come and go, but I’m pretty sure having friends makes you a better parent in the long run.

          • Amy March

            This. That guy whose parents didn’t have family near by, weren’t comfortable with a sitter, who literally never got left by his parents at all, whose parents maintained no friendships? He is not loving being their only source of friendship in his 30s, and didn’t benefit from the attention.

          • Kayla

            Right, having devoted parents is great! But having devoted parents who spend some time away from you (when it’s logistically possible) so that they can maintain a group of friends who might someday be your adult mentors and role models is better.

            And I get that that’s hard. But parenting is hard, period. May as well have some friends along for the ride.

          • z

            Also, let’s talk about elder care! Sometimes I feel really old on this blog– seems like people aren’t very cognizant of what it’s like to have young children and care for one’s parents.

            I’m the only child of older parents, and I spend a LOT of time on them and their medical and other needs. They had friends but now everyone is old. In fact, it’s now my responsibility to help them attend the funerals of said friends. Sure, I would love to spend more time socializing with my friends. But between parents and a baby and a toddler… sorrynotsorry. Call me “bad friend” if you must, but I’m comfortable with my choices.

          • Kayla

            From the fellow only child/human being perspective, oof. This sounds really rough, and I feel for you. This conversation is so important.

            From the friend perspective, I just want to hear what I can do to make staying in touch possible. Maybe it’s buying you a hands-free device so you can talk to me while you change diapers and do laundry. Maybe it’s taking you on a friend date to one of those places where we can have coffee while toddler bounces in a bouncy house and baby chills on my lap. Whatever it is, I want to be there for you! But I’m not psychic. I need to know how to be there for you.

          • Meg Keene

            I think inviting people in is so important. Having just been through a month with two major losses, we reached out to friends really specifically asking them to support us in X way if they could, no hard feelings if they couldn’t. A few people emailed back saying it was nice that we were not cutting off contact with people during a horrible time, but instead inviting them in. But inviting them in did feel a little risky, like, are we being “weird”? I don’t know what about our current cultural conversation makes inviting human connection feel “weird,” but it legit does.

          • Meg Keene

            I totally am dealing with caring for sick parents (not particularly old, just ill), and we lost my husband’s father to cancer last month. I just haven’t really talked about it much here because… it seems a little invasively personal to our parents lives. But in short, don’t feel old. And yeah, live gets intense as you get older. We probably should talk about that more here, it’s just been a little TOO real for me of late, if you know what I mean.

          • Lisa

            I’m sorry you guys are going through all of that right now. It sounds like a lot of joy and sorrow all at the same time.

          • I’m so sorry Meg.
            Also, yes. As we get older, I think we all need to realize that if you can’t be empathetic to friends’ situations, you just can’t be friends. I actually have always been closest to those friends that I could see once a year, because if you can’t pick up where you left off, then maybe you never really had anything to begin with. Life is hard and we need to be a little more understanding of each other.

          • z

            Thanks :-) I do think it bears more discussion, especially as a workplace issue. So many people are struggling in silence and it doesn’t have to be that way. I just think it’s unrealistic to start from the premise that we all have lots of time to spend with friends and if we don’t it’s because we’re choosing not to. I didn’t really get this in my 20s. But I really, really, really get it now. I can only imagine how much more intense it will get.

          • z

            It’s also why I talk about my kid. I’m not really keeping up with current events, fashion, pop culture, etc. And people don’t seem very intrigued by my tales of caring for two elderly dementia patients who live on opposite sides of the country. But that is my life right now. Sometimes a funny kid story is the best thing I can muster.

            Really sorry for your loss, Meg.

          • G.

            Supporting parents does deserve more attention, for a lot of reasons. But as someone whose father died unexpectedly 2 years ago and whose mother now needs more assistance, I can say with utter certainty that I wouldn’t have made it through these past 2 years without good friends. Friends who dropped everything (including their kids off at a relative/babysitter’s) to make sure I wasn’t alone, friends who changed their plans to bring me meals, friends who checked in on my mom (taking their kids and spending the night one time) while I was out of town, friends who made it a priority to check in with me (by phone, text, email, in person), the family friends who made sure my mom had a place at the table whenever she wanted, etc.

            In the acute phase after my dad died, friends were a literal lifesaver. Later, they became an emotional one. That wouldn’t have happened without the conscious choice to spend time with friends — a pattern my parents modeled and something my friends and I made a priority. This held for friends with kids and those without. They could swoop in and sustain us because the investment was there. I don’t think it would have happened or worked as smoothly had all of us not been choosing to make the time to spend with friends along the way. And this is why I’m adamant that there are choices to be made, and I think choosing to make the time for friends (in person, over the phone, email, text, whatever) matters.

          • Newish mom

            Condolences from an Internet stranger, Meg. I think keeping family hard times out of our jobs and out of our socials Iives is a bad system but it is the expectation in so many contexts. I struggle to let people in too as I don’t want to seem weird or week, especially as a professional woman with a baby (that everyone knows about –couldn’t hide that one).

          • I’m so sorry for your loss. Thinking of your family…

          • Newish mom

            Yes. Kids and parents. Or chronic health problems. I think a lot of people who don’t have many family responsibilities seem to want to be friends with people in similar positions. For those of us with an ton of responsibilities, that kinda of social life can feel like another job we have to hide our families from.

          • brookeje

            Oh my gosh, yes to this. I was raised by my aunt and uncle, who had (and continue to have) a wide circle of friends, to the benefit of them and all of us kids. By contrast, my husband’s parents have far fewer friendships, and the amount they lean on their kids to fill the “friendship” cup seems very unfair to me at times. I try to get out with a girlfriend or two at least a few times a month. When my girls ask why I am going out, and why can’t they go, I always tell them, “Sometimes I just need to go hang out with my friends for grownup time.”

          • Kayla

            I think a big part of the problem is that parents can feel so selfish if they take any time away from their kids. But taking time for some self care/adult time isn’t selfish. And it’s probably great for your girls to see you modeling that!

        • anon

          I think the problem is no one wants to accept that they are being a bad friend. And sometimes you are just being a bad friend – the end. It happens. But no one likes accepting that they are doing poorly at something.

          • z

            I don’t think I could be friends with someone who called me a “bad friend”, period. I’m doing my best but I’m not going to shortchange my children. If they can’t educate themselves on realistic expectations for what life is like as the parent of small children, and accept that life is long and there’s an ebb and flow, well, we’re not very compatible anyway.

        • La’Marisa-Andrea

          I think it’s valid for you to feel however you feel. I don’t know if I think it’s valid that a person showing up for you means that they have to sacrifice their parenting philosophy. Relationships change and you have to decide if you’re ok being friends with someone who can’t be there for you the way you want/need/expect them to be. People’s priorities change even when kids don’t come into the picture. If someone is no longer capable of being the kind of friend you want, it’s probably time to evaluate why you’re a part of that friendship.

        • Lawyerette510

          Absolutely if you’re not getting what you need from a friendship, then you don’t have to continue to nurture it. It can be a painful decision, but something that either side is free to do.

        • Maddie Eisenhart

          I feel like you can say that to anything.

          “But it’s also valid for me to feel like you’re doing a bad job at being my friend if you’ve decided to choose to work/travel/diet/be married in a way that means you can’t ever show up for me.”

          • Amy March

            Of course you can. But if you’re looking for ways to stay friends with someone without kids, my suggestion is that you need to figure out how to use a babysitter sometimes!

        • Meg Keene

          I mean, I don’t think I disagree with you here. Things change, priorities change, and then change back, but if someone can’t EVER show up for you, that’s a problem.

      • ” I think it’s one of the biggest challenges in parent/nonparent relationships. But it also just is. ” I totally, totally agree.

    • clairekfromtheuk

      I don’t feel like its that unreasonable to ask my friends and siblings who have kids to do non-kid things about 5% of the time. If the other 95% is miniature golf and bath time, so be it. What I find unreasonable are the parents who complain about me being ‘selfish’ about that 5%. I love my nephews and my friends kids, like, a lot, but sometimes I’d like my friends and siblings to make an effort to spend time on my terms when I do the same for them many more times over.

      • Amy March

        Exactly.

        • lottie

          Ditto.

    • Jenny

      So by that logic, someone with 6 friends who all have 2 super important grownup life events a year would need to find and pay for a sitter once a month. Depending on the length of the event, in my area that would cost probably 100-200 bucks, plus whatever expenses I might have to go to said event, and that’s for just 1 kid. Also being comfortable leaving your child with a sitter is not an easy thing, especially for new parents. I get that we all have important things in our lives, but surely your non parent friends don’t make it to every event either.

      Also, I find the adjective grownup things interesting. You could have just said the most important things in my life, but instead you clarified that they are grown up, which to me implies that you see your friends with kids as somehow not grown up? As someone who is pregnant, who has twice had this adjective used “against” her (I’m 32, married, own a house and feel pretty damn grown up), I’d be careful at implying that only your events are grown up events because it pretty insulting.

      • Amy March

        That’s not what I mean by grownup at all. If anything, I view my friends with children as more grownup than me. I was referring to those important life events that are just for grownups to attend, as opposed to all of my important life events, some of which are child friendly.

        I don’t expect anyone to make it to every event, childfree, childpending, childhaving, but I also expect my closest friends to figure it out sometimes, and when people just don’t ever try because kids, that hurts.

        • Jenny

          Fair enough. The grownup thing has caught me off guard, so I’m probably a little sensitive to it. And yes, I agree, I hope to be able to make it to events in my people’s lives that are important, and I will surely be leaving the kid with my husband or friends and family when I can, but you comment sounded a bit like you are expecting them at your child-free events twice a year, which doesn’t sound unreasonable, until you consider that they each probably have events that are child free to attend for lots of friends. It sounds like really what you expect is for your friends to make an effort to be there for you, which I think is totally reasonable, especially if you’ve communicated that you think it’s important for them to show up, even for a little while.

        • “I don’t think it’s at all reasonable to think you can just go ahead and
          never leave your kids to see your friends for years at a time and still
          expect those relationships to continue.” THIS!

          I can tell you exactly what happens when parents ALWAYS prioritize their children over friendships. My MIL turned her family into her one and only hobby, and now her children are grown and her parents have passed away. She no longer has her family close by to consume her life, and she didn’t maintain any friendships when her children were young. Now she’s in her 60’s and has NO friends at all, and guilt trips her adult children to come visit her. It is NOT pleasant at all for my husband and I. Maybe if she had friends and hobbies, she wouldn’t be so lonely and bored.

          I understand that children are important, but I don’t think friendships should be ignored for years at a time. Eventually you will have no friends left, and one day you’ll be an empty nester with no children at home and no friends.

          • Eenie

            I think this is a little unreasonable. My parents have move multiple times and ended up in the same situation – needing to make a whole new set of friends. It’s fucking hard to make new friends. People may choose to prioritize their children, but at some point they will need to re-enter the world of adults and build some relationships outside of family. This is not impossible, my parents have done it four times in their life (with and without kids in the house). You can make friends at any age, but you always have to be willing to put in the work. I think that’s the main issue, these people who give up on keeping friendships when they have kids are just not willing to put in the work period to maintain friendships ever. Kids were just a great excuse.

          • z

            +1. I have found having kids is a great way of making friends– I really love my neighborhood parent friends! And even if I didn’t, I still have the option of making new friends if I lose touch with the old ones.

            Your MIL’s lack of friends is not just because of having kids, nor is it because of her failure to keep in touch with old friends. She could have made new friends. I feel for her, it must be very difficult. But it’s just not true that losing touch with old friends=having no friends for the rest of your life.

      • Mrrpaderp

        The point about the frequency of the events is a good one. It’s similar to conversations we’ve had here about destination weddings. Sure, for the couple planning a destination wedding, it’s a once in a lifetime event. But your guests might have 6 other weddings to attend that year and cannot afford the cost or vacation time to attend your wedding in Santorini. If you want people to come to an event (wedding or otherwise), you have to make it accessible for them. Doesn’t really apply to something like the book launch, but I think it’s good to keep in the back of your mind.

      • z

        +1. And sometimes the #1 event in a particular friend’s life might not be in my Top 10 Important Friend Events for the year. Friend stuff has to be balanced with family stuff and work stuff. For example, a typical year might involve three weddings (two with travel/travel expenses), three of my own work events and one of my husband’s work events, (plus all the times I just have to work late or work on the weekend), plus family holidays and one or two other important family events, and then any sort of personal, family, friend, or work crisis that might come up. That’s a pretty punishing schedule. So I don’t necessarily feel like a bad friend if a year goes by without me attending an important event in the life of a particular individual, even if it is the most important event they have that year. And I don’t take it personally when they skip my events.

        • Jenny

          Yeah I think part of my what what reaction was that I have a hard time thinking of super important life events that occur for adults on a biyearly basis. Weddings yes, decade birthday parties that you are throwing yes, launching a business/huge professional life event yes, graduations yes, dissertation defenses, yes. For me, usually showers and bachelorettes are secondary I’ll try to make it, but I’m going going to prioritize your shower over another friends wedding. I mean sure I’ll try to see them during the year, but I might not be able to make it to their child free event.

          • Amy March

            I think you’re right here- one or twice a year is probably an overstatement of the types of things I’m picturing.

          • Mel

            I’d encourage people to ask too, what’s important to my friend’s life? As someone who has been single most of my life, the housewarming for the condo I bought all on my own was a big deal. The welcome party to the family for the dog I’ll (hopefully) adopt in a few years will be similar. Not everyone gets weddings and showers so it feels important that friends show up to the events in my life that might be less important in the scheme of their life, but are super important to me.

          • Jenny

            Oh I totally get this. One of my friends threw herself a masquerade 30th birthday party and I flew cross country after my first semester in my PhD program when money was tight to attend because she’s my bestie and I knew this was important to her (and also it was SUPER awesome!). I’m hoping that even though I’m married and will have a kid, some of my friends will come from out of town to the I’m a PhD party I’m planning on having because seriously I’ve worked on it for 5 years.

            I think it’s also important to communicate with people about stuff that is important to you. I’ll be honest, as a non pet person, unless you told me it was important to you I would never think that a party welcoming a dog was something someone might be offended that I couldn’t make it to.

          • Amanda

            I had a similar experience in college, actually, that you reminded me of. Because my “art” isn’t performative, I never really had an event for people to come to. But my friends were all actors and musicians and film makers, so I attended all the plays and concerts and screenings. Then, I had curated an art opening at a legit gallery and none of my friends made it to the opening, probably because they didn’t realize that it was so important to me. There was always another event on their horizon and they didn’t get that this was my one big thing. And it was better catered than their bad plays!

            I think this happens with kids and life events. A housewarming might not seem as important after their bridal shower because there’s just going to be a babyshower down the road. But when it’s your one big thing, it stings!

          • Cassidy

            I hear this. I make a point to really go all out when friends hit academic/professional milestones because DANG those take a lot of work (sometime years and years!).

          • Melissa

            ^^^ THIS. Maybe you don’t think an event is “important”, but if a best friend’s event is important to her, and you are choosing not to attend, then you need to be sure you’re making extra effort somewhere else, or expect your friendships to fall apart. If childless friends are expected to always be the more understanding and forgiving of the relationship (and they certainly are), then please be respectful and understanding of what’s important to them, even if you’re choosing not to come. If it’s a childless event such as a shower or a wedding and you don’t find a sitter to watch them for even 2 hours after getting the invitation 3 months in advance then you’re making a selfish choice. Don’t expect that to go unnoticed.

            99.9% of the time I enjoy my friend’s kids. But there are definitely a few situations that have jumped out over the last few years that really tainted my childless-view of some friends with kids:

            I think something that wasn’t included in this list is being respectful if your childless friend chooses not to come to every single one of EACH of your kid’s birthday parties over the years or at the very least comes without a gift and just a card, or some other event where it’s mostly parents with children. I have 10 couples in my life with children, many of them have more than one child. Sometimes I am attending more than one child’s birthday party in a weekend, which, for a woman in her 30s is not exactly the most fun. I do it anyway because I want to support my friends, but I’ve spent easily $100-$150 on multiple kids parties in a month, only to have the same friends cancel consistently on simply meeting for a drink 3-4 times a year. Your childless friends are making the time to come to not just YOUR events for you, and your husband along with now all of your kid’s events…I think it’s okay to expect the friend with kids to make at least some effort to show up for my 1 event for their every 3.

            I think another important point is just because you have kids doesn’t mean I like them or want to hang out with them. Please recognize when your kid is kind of a dick. It’s similar at times to the friend who brings the guy or the other friend that nobody really wants there, and at times was given no warning that they were coming along. I am meeting you because I had the understanding we were meeting to catch up. Not spend 90% of the time looking at, talking about, and talking to your kid. I’ve gone to a friend’s house with the understanding that we were hanging out for a few hours only to drive 1+ hours to get there and spend the entire time “helping” her put her son to bed. It took 2+ hours of him screaming, kicking me and throwing crap before I finally just said I had to go to get up early. Truthfully, he’s just a brat. Recognize when your kid is in a shitty stage and don’t subject your friends to that.

            Lastly, don’t give your friends shit if they throw childless events. If you find that offensive, remind yourself that some people find it offensive when your kid screams throughout someone’s entire wedding ceremony that they just spent thousands of dollars on. It’s your choice to have kids, and that’s great for you, but it wasn’t mine. The friendships that last are the ones built on MUTUAL respect of one another’s life choices and not dismissing one because you feel yours is “bigger” or more important.

      • Caitlin

        People have super important things twice a year? Man, my life is boring :/
        I would have counted wedding, birthday party for 20/30/40/50/60/etc, maybe a party celebrating something like getting a PHD? I suppose a couple of those could land on the same year..

    • Mary Jo TC

      For big events, and once or twice a year events, I agree with this. But if a child-free friend is only willing to hang out with me without my kid and at later hours, then I’m not going to be able to see her as often. I guess it takes compromise on both sides, and part of the compromise on the parent’s part is being willing to get a babysitter if necessary to be there for a single friend. I agree it’s not healthy for parents to be completely and totally unwilling to ever use a babysitter, even one you might not be related to. And maybe the child-free friend has to try to understand the hassle of finding one, and the fact that even if you try you still might not find one.

    • Mrrpaderp

      It’s totally fair to be hurt that someone wouldn’t make the effort, especially when you make so much effort to hang out with them. But you know, longterm relationships tend to ebb and flow. Both in terms of how close you are to a person and in terms of how much effort you’re putting in vs. how much effort they’re putting in. If someone has a kid under 3, I would guess that this is a time in their life I’m going to be the one putting in more effort while she takes a step back. You have to ask yourself, in times that your time and emotional availability is limited, does she put in the extra effort for you?

      • La’Marisa-Andrea

        That’s what I was going to say. A person’s life when they have a 3 year old is going to be different than when their children is 10. So in terms of a long term friendship, that’s something to consider. For a few years, they just might have as much time for you.

        • Meg Keene

          Not to mention 3 month old! (Though our current 3 month old is easy, but our last one wasn’t.) Parenthood changes really really fast, and that means the people around parents have to deal with that constant change if they want to stay in people’s lives.

          And it goes both ways, and comes around, etc. We have lots of childless (not child free) friends. Right now our lives are CRAZY and theirs are comparatively much easier and simpler. But I joke—to remind myself of the truth—that by the time they have their first kids, ours will be sleeping through the night and/or already in free public school. I’ll bring them a casserole, offer some emotional support and a night of babysitting, and then get to go home and sleep ALL NIGHT LONG. So you know, it all evens out in the end ;)

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            I swear, parenting a little person is always for us at least, learning how to deal with or nurture some new stage of development and little folks grow super fast. At some point I think the changes won’t happen as quickly and we can adjust a bit better. But until then…bear with us lol

      • Absolutely!! My daughter is less than a year now. I’m sure I will feel differently about getting a babysitter when she’s older. But right now, there aren’t a lot of people that I can trust her with.

      • Basketcase

        Yes! Keep in touch and keep trying through those first couple of years and if they are a decent person and still wanting to be your friend, things will swing back up sometime soon.
        2.5 year old means our lives are starting to get back to normal (ish) now. We’re hosting our first pot-luck dinner at home since little was born later in the month, we used to do one every six weeks or so. Between work, university (for me), post natal depression and money worries, its not been something we’ve been capable of.

    • savannnah

      As a yet non-parent, I can only speak to how my own parents raised my twin sister and I, which is to say with a huge community of help and understanding. My parents went on their first post babies date 2 weeks after we were born and left us with friends for overnights routinely in our first year. We constantly were handed off to friends and family who were excited to steal us away for a few hours to give my parents much needed alone time and also friend time. With the rise of attachment parenting and other recent parenting cultural changes (perfectionism) I’m not sure they would have been able to pull it off without the underlying guilt that seems to be so present in many of my parent friends today . Taking the time to find a trusted sitter is a good thing. Not letting your otherwise healthy child out of your sight for the first 2 years is probably not great for any of your relationships.

      • lottie

        Yep. My parents firmly believed that adult friendships were important and that it’s important to prioritize happy life events lest they only see people at funerals. As a result, I recall a mixture of weekends spent at home with my parents, Saturday nights they went to weddings or parties or other gigs, and times where we were dropped off at one friend’s house with a babysitter for all the kids. I have no real idea of what the breakdown was, but they modeled being parents and being part of a larger community network that sometimes included kids and sometimes didn’t.

      • Maddie Eisenhart

        I find so much of this missing from the parenting conversations I’m seeing right now. Growing up, I watched everyone’s kids so the grownups could go out and play. My parent’s friends watched us, we watched their kids. It was all really mutual. And at least in the Bay Area, I feel like the conversation is that you’re supposed to be doing everything yourself, never asking for help. The amount of times I offer to babysit friends kids and am met with genuine shock and all kinds of “Oh we could never ask you to do that” is CRAZY. I’m not offering you my Kidney here. It’s a Saturday night. I can watch Grey’s Anatomy while your kids sleep just as well as I can in my own house. But I think parents are really encouraged to believe that their kids are their responsibility and their responsibility alone and that it’s irresponsible to ask anyone who isn’t blood related for help. It makes me sad, because I think we’re really seeing a dissolution of the kind of community I grew up with, and I don’t know why it’s happening.

        • Jenny

          Yeah, I totally agree! I watched one of my friend’s kids every Wednesday when her and her husband were training for a triathalon. for the first 6 months O went to sleep often either before I was there, or within the hour. I mean I was literally sitting in her house doing homework or watching netflix which was 100% the same thing I would have been doing in my own house. Plus as O got older we go time to hang out and I got to know her. It was super awesome. I get sad when my friends don’t take me up on my offer of free babysitting.

          • Wow. Can I just say, I feel like you are an incredibly generous friend.

          • Maddie Eisenhart

            I mean, it’s half selfishly motivated. I like kids a lot. :) But it also wasn’t an option growing up! It was a requirement. My parents essentially forced me to babysit, because I was available and someone needed it. So that’s kind of where I come at it from. Also, karma.

          • I don’t know. That’s just not something I have. Weirdly, we have a few friends that have very young kids, all but one couple live at least an hour away. Not convenient to hang out with them even when we didn’t have a baby. And we have one set of friends that has a son the same age as our daughter. But now that both babies have baby schedules, we can’t even hang out unless it’s during the day.
            I have one offer from our neighbor, who loves babies, and she wants her daughter to babysit. But whenever we’ve stopped by, her daughter (the potential babysitter) completely ignores our baby. It just doesn’t build a lot of confidence in my
            wanting her to watch my baby.

          • Honestly, I feel like the only person I know who loves babies and doesn’t have them is my nanny. That’s why we hired her. I just don’t know these baby-loving people.

          • Maddie Eisenhart

            There should be a Facebook group just for homebodies who miss their siblings that parents of young children can troll for babysitters. Maybe I’ll start that. ;)

          • Let me know when it’s up. You’re too far away or I’d invite you over.

          • Maddie Eisenhart

            In fairness, I didn’t even know what I was missing until my friends had kids. Then suddenly it was like BAM. Oh there’s this huge thing I grew up with that I haven’t had in forever and now I need again.

          • Newish mom

            Agreed. Jenny sounds like an awesome friend.

          • Jenny

            Thanks, I mean they did buy me dinner every night I went over, but seriously I just drove 10 minutes and sat in their house doing homework. I don’t really like doing things on school/work nights so it’s not like I was turning down fun things to do. When I started dating my husband, he would just come over and hangout with me. Plus I got to play with their dogs. I just feel like I have this thing (lots of time in the evenings) that you need. Why wouldn’t I offer it up for someone I love?

        • Maybe it’s because of where I live (Seattle and the Seattle freeze is real people) but I don’t think people really mean it when they offer to help. And in particular, I have a standing offer from one friend who bails on 95% of the occasions we plan to hang out, so not really feeling like that’s a real offer. I don’t know who you childless yet welcoming people are, but I guess I just don’t feel like I have those kinds of friends. Maybe if I were more desperate. Maybe if my other friend hadn’t said “I’ll watch her but I won’t change her diaper.” Yeah. That’s so helpful.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            I, too, have had these completely unhelpful and useless offers.

          • Honestly, I’d rather they don’t offer at all. I have one friend who says she won’t babysit until my babe is 5. That’s when she starts to like kids. At least she knows what she wants. That said, I never have to dog-sit (I love her dog, but too much work) so we’re even.

          • I love how my husband always thinks these are real offers. pft.

          • Kayla

            Fellow Seattleite here! I’ve totally been on the offering to babysit side, and I do feel like people don’t think I’m serious. None of my very closest friends have kids yet, though, so maybe they’re the ones who would really take me up on it.

            Actually, I feel like this is the Seattle freeze in a nutshell. It isn’t that people are unfriendly. It’s just that nobody ever follows through on plans.

          • I have no idea why everyone flakes out here. Even when the weather is good. No one follows through.

          • Kayla

            I seriously try to get people to assign a likelihood score to our plans. I’m like, “So… this dinner on Wednesday… would you say you are 100% going to be there? Or is there a 50% chance you are working late that night?”

            This is, I’m told, not a way people act in other cities. But I have mostly lived here, so I don’t know what normal is anymore.

          • I’m from here too, but you’d think that since 75% of residents here are from somewhere else, mostly California, it wouldn’t be that way. How on earth does everyone just decide to accept this annoying behaviour.
            I like your plan though. Sounds reasonable.

          • doublegus

            You guys are scaring me! We’re moving to Seattle from New England next year. I plan on casting a wide net at first for friends since we’ll have a four month old at that point and will need a support system. (Yep, currently knocked up!) Should I brace myself for future flakiness? I’ve had a couple of friends like that in my life, but most are very reliable. I guess it’s not as culturally acceptable in the South (where I grew up) or New England.

            I’ve totally been the one to offer to babysit and not have people take me up on it, though. At least here in New England. They look at me like I’m crazy. I like kids and grew up babysitting. But I guess it doesn’t translate?

          • Kayla

            The Seattle freeze can be thawed, but you do really have to make an effort to set up well-defined plans with a person you’d like to be friends with. “Let’s hang out next weekend!” means nothing here. I would say the most effective tactic is less like casting a net, more like spear fishing. :)

            We did do an APW meetup once, but out of the 10-15 people who RSVPed, only 3 of us showed up. It was very Seattle.

          • doublegus

            Thanks! This pregnancy is finally starting to feel exciting now that we’ve spilled the beans and my pants don’t fit and I no longer feel like a big grey slug.

            I will keep your advice in mind. It does bring me a bit of comfort knowing I made friends in a place with an unfriendly/cold/grouchy reputation, at least. I live in RI. Feel like getting a drink and/or coffee in July/August of 2016? ;)

          • Kayla

            I will put it on my mental calendar! :)

          • meganfm

            Does the rain just make us gloomy? I live in Vancouver and hear this ALL the time that it’s incredibly hard to make friends here if you didn’t grow up here (like I did) and thought this was a unique to Vancouver phenomenon that people were just friendly but very closed off. It’s a bit of a relief to hear this isn’t unique to us (and the part about people RSVPing and not showing is TOTALLY a thing in Vancouver as well).

          • CP2011

            Fellow pacific nw’er here and I really struggle with the flakiness too! So frustrating.

          • AP

            Haha, this just brought back the memory of that time 6 or 7 years ago when I was the only person who showed to the Nashville APW meetup. I think only 3-4 RSVPd though, so technically that was a 25-33% turnout.

          • Kayla

            Also congrats!

          • LadyWoman

            Seattlite here. The lack-of-follow-up rumors are true but not insurmountable! You just have to be prepared to take “let’s hang out next weekend!” and run with it. “So are you still up for hanging out this weekend? Are you free Saturday night? I was thinking dinner.” I also do, “Still on for tonight?” texts – yes, it gives them an easy out, but at least I find out in advance instead of when I’m getting ready to leave. I have given up on one or two perpetual, incurable flakes, but most people really truly are happy to hang out…they just aren’t going to be the ones to make the solid plans :)

        • Meg Keene

          I think it’s probably happening on both sides, not that I know why that is. Other than Maddie we don’t have a ton of friends offering to babysit, which is sort of a funny thing. Pre kids, I’d probably have PAID people to let me hang out with their kids, but I lived in urban areas where no one could afford kids.

          And that, in and of itself, is probably something. We were just up at a birthday party in a part of the Bay Area that’s still decently affordable. What we noticed is there were TONS of parents like us: our age, creative jobs, etc. Here in Oakland, it’s so hard to afford kids, or life, that… well… intergenerational living is on the downswing, for sure. (Which whatever, that’s a whole other conversation. About how we’d love to move the aforementioned affordable area, but that’s not where my husband’s job is… and THIS IS HAPPENING EVERYWHERE.)

          • Newish mom

            I have a 1 year old and the only friends who have offered to babysit have children and grandchildren now. Sadly, they both live too far away for it to be feasible. To those who are frustrated with parent friends for not getting a sitter, cost may be a bigger factor than you realize. Babies can Ben really expensive in a lot of hidden ways.

        • Alison O

          Not to mention snuggling babies is one of my TOP RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES, something I’d way prefer to do than pretty much anything else I ever do on a Saturday night. Except maybe snuggling a baby WITH MY PARTNER. I saw him hold a baby (our neighbor’s 8 month old) for the first time about a month ago, and I about a died from the beautiful cuteness of it all. I have told the baby’s parents I’ll babysit for free, but my partner said I came on too strong without knowing them well enough, lol. Another time when I sat with them in the yard the baby’s dad told me I was the first person to get her to really laugh. HELLZ YEAH LEMME BABYSIT THEN!

        • Amanda

          J & I babysit all the time–J’s nickname from parents (not a name he gave himself) is literally “baby rock star” from his storytime/singalong. He’s one of those baby whisperers. And we’re in Brooklyn, so you literally can throw a stone and reach a two bedroom with a toddler. And yet there are people who don’t take us up on the offer. But I observe this in #3 that I have a gripe with. Parenting is not a do-it-alone activity in every moment. There were so many people in my life as a child, and in my network now, who have taken on different guardian-type, disciplinary, community roles. None of that undermines parents themselves, it just broadens the network.

    • enfp

      As someone who has a baby, I think this is totally fair. And I’m sure there will be disagreements on what events qualify as important enough, or what kind of barriers to attending are justified, but fundamentally if you are close enough friends you will make an effort, and you’ll know when you need to make an effort because you are friends. And if you really really can’t ever be there for important events, then that probably is going to affect the friendship whether you want it to or not. A friendship is just not going to be the same if you’re not ever there for your friend’s important milestones. But that said, actually I think that number 1 is not specifically geared towards important milestones and is just acknowledging the reality surrounding normal going out invitations. I mean, on an average Friday night I’m just not going out anymore, though I will invite people over, and can and do make an effort to attend special occasions.

    • z

      Let’s be real about what’s involved in going to an evening event for me, as a nursing mother with a full-time job. Let me tell you, it’s a little more stressful than attending a bridal shower in the suburbs. And it’s not just about the sitter.

      As others have said, you’re not the person’s only friend. f I have 6 friends and my husband has 6 friends, then this is happening at least once a month, in addition to family and work events. So it’s really kind of a lot.

      *The work of arranging a babysitter, and paying $50-100 for it. Prepping for the babysitter– bottles, instructions, emergency plan. Pumping extra milk during the week so that bottles will be available. So that’s a few hours of work right there.

      *By the end of the event, I was usually in physical pain from the buildup of milk. Yes, there is such thing as too much milk, and it can be very difficult. Upon getting home, of course, I can’t go to sleep because it hurts too much. Time to get out the breast pump and pump for 30 minutes! Then the pump has to be cleaned so it is ready to take to work in the morning. Fun times.

      *Staying up late, adding to already-severe sleep deprivation problem. Normally I would try to go to bed around 9:30 so that I can be up at 2 for a night feeding (takes 45-60 minutes), and then up again at 6 to nurse again get the baby to daycare before work. But because I can’t even go to sleep until I’ve returned from the event and pumped, that might be more like midnight. Don’t forget, only two hours before the baby starts crying! Of course, sometimes the baby will have a bad night and be awake even more than that. So your event is not only consuming an evening of time with my baby, it’s also costing me several hours of precious, precious, desperately needed sleep.

      So, if it’s just too much sometimes, I’m really not sorry. The people I stayed friends with were the people who were realistic and understanding about this kind of thing. Nobody is a perfect friend 100% of their life.

      • Alexandra

        AMEN. So much amen. Our friendships are very, very important to us, but I’m a huge wimp about sleep deprivation…I go to bed at around 8 pm to cope with those nighttime feedings and anybody who tries to keep me up past that hour sees me transform into demon face.

        We kept our friendships by doing all the work for get togethers but making them at reasonable hours for us. Lunches. Early dinners. Brunch. We’ll bring you a great meal as long as we can get to your house at 4:45 and leave by 7:30.

        • Kayla

          This sounds like exactly the kind of expectation setting that makes friendships work (with or without kids; I work early and I also have a no-late-evenings rule on weeknights). If you need to be done hanging out by 7:30, that’s fine! If Sundays are really busy for you, that’s fine! If the only time you can hang out is Saturday between 7 AM and 9 AM, I can make that work! Just tell me what works for you, parent friends. I will make it work for me.

          • Amy March

            Yes this. Also, can’t show up for my event in person? Can you send flowers, or a card, or call me that morning, or RSVP with a note that says “can’t make this evening party with baby but would love to come over the next morning to recap- I’ll bring the baby and the mimosas,” or email me and ask how it was? I think its much easier to understand not being able to show up for things when you do make a special effort to show up in other ways.

          • Kayla

            I just need any signal at all that a friend is not trying to do the fadeaway.

            An occasional “I miss you” text? Good enough!

          • z

            If it really were the fadeaway, would you want to know?

          • Kayla

            No, I wouldn’t expect someone to tell me if it were the fadeaway. (In fact, I think once you tell someone you’re giving them the fadeaway, it no longer counts as the fadeaway.)

            What I’m trying to say is that I will probably assume it’s the fadeaway, unless someone makes some small effort to let me know that they actually do still want to be friends.

          • Meg Keene

            Yes. Agreed.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            If that’s how they are, it’s not about the kids…

            It’s like having the friend who never asks you about yourself. I had friends like this and realized…they didn’t ask because they didn’t care.

          • AP

            Yep. One of my best friends straight-up ignored my wedding. She has a two year old and a six month old. Her husband is overseas. I completely get that attending my wedding was not a priority, but it does sting that there was no RSVP, no gift or card, no phone call or text of congratulations or acknowledgement. Especially considering the level of friendship I thought we had and the fact that every time I’m in her town I stop and visit her and her kids. So yeah, I agree, it’s not really the “not attending,” it’s the “not showing up in other ways” that slowly kills a friendship.

    • You know, I agree with you on this. I wasn’t thinking of attending the occasional special event at all, because I do agree that it’s really, really important to support your adult friends for important events and occasions. I was thinking more like… weekend activities, house warmings, etc.

      • Amy March

        And I agree with you on that! I so do not expect you to turn up for brunch with or without your baby.

    • emilyg25

      I have a baby and I co-sign this. My baby takes a bottle and I have a partner who can watch him. yes, it’s a challenge and there are a lot of logistics, but friendship is a two-way street. You need to make an effort to show up for your people.

    • La’Marisa-Andrea

      I feel like this is just part of being friends with people who have kids. I think there’s a difference between not making an attempt and just not having options. WE are those parents — we don’t have family around or friends who can sit for us and no we aren’t going to leave our child with a complete stranger we found on internet. So we miss out on a lot. It just it what it is. If that’s a dealbreaker for people without children or who don’t relate, then the solution is simple: find new friends.

    • Rodrigues

      No life event that I can’t take my kids to is so important that I’d leave them in a situation I may not be comfortable with, if I didn’t have someone very trusted to watch my kids. Saying people use their kids to get out of things is the kind of assuming nobody needs. People without kids don’t flake? Hardly.

    • Amanda

      I so agree with you, but I’m going to make an asterisks. The first year certainly, I’ll give parents all the slack for missing stuff & I’ll definitely visit on their terms. Even into year two, for sure. But it feels problematic when the kids are older, potty trained, cool little guys and our important life events take hold for a 7 year old? I think that’s when it starts to hurt feelings. When the children aren’t babies any more but kids, and you have to miss my child-free wedding when I provided two professional nannies? Friendships will start to dissolve.

      • emmers

        It’s true, but sometimes that’s OK. I’m working on trying to be appreciative of my friends (with or without kids) who do still hang out/make events/invite me over. I still get the sad/hurt/rage-monster over some friends who I feel I should be able to count on for things, but it does feel good to start letting that go and start appreciating those who do show up (both literally and figuratively!).

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      Someone might have said something below, but I think this can really vary by kid and circumstances. It’s so much easier to go out when you have family nearby, or friends who will babysit for free, and a kid who will do well with someone else around. But if it’s going to cost $100 and your baby is going to scream for five hours straight while you try to enjoy yourself? I get why that might not be happening all the time.

      I think it’s important that we give our friends…periods of time where they aren’t as supportive as they once were. None of my friends have kids, but I’ve had to drastically reasses my expectations of friendship when one of them got into a serious relationship, for example. So many hurtful things happened during the period of time when they first got together, but it was worth holding out for our relationship to balance itself.

      Other people…it just became clear that the friendship wasn’t as strong as I thought and it’s OK to cut your losses. But there’s gotta be some grace periods in a lifetime of friendship, right?

      • macrain

        Absolutely. If I didn’t cut my friends some slack and allow them some grace periods, I doubt I would still have friends.

      • tr

        This is so important in every friendship, and I feel like it doesn’t get talked about nearly enough. I don’t have kids yet, and so far, neither do most of my friends. However, between law school/med school/doctoral programs/new jobs/romantic relationships/family issues/mental illness/etc., my friends and I have all taken turns being kind of crummy friends. If you want a friendship to last more than a few years, you more or less have to accept that there will be periods where one of you sort of sucks. If you actually have a solid friendship, and your newly sucky friend is a decent person, odds are, things will level back out eventually.

    • Meg Keene

      I think a few times a year is…. something people should totally be able to do. But I find when that problem shows up, the pressure to get out without my kid(s) is far more constant, and the problem on my end is more nuanced.

      Example: when you have a kid, things shift and you go through a whole lot of various stages. When our son was really little, like 4-6 months old, we went through a period where leaving him with a sitter meant that he would scream and cry uncontrollably the entire time we were gone. (Contrast with our daughter, who’s a very different human, and will just babble happily and fall asleep on a perfect stranger’s shoulder.) That was also the period where I’d JUST gone back to work, and felt like I only got to see my kid a limited amount of time on nights and weekends. All in, that meant that I wasn’t doing a ton of child free things. I would do some (we went to a wedding), or things where we could really plan in advance, but if you invited me to a dinner party with 5 days notice, the answer was probably, “I can bring the kid and put him to bed at 7 at your place and then hang out, or I can stay home. Whatever works, no hard feelings.” And in some cases there very MUCH were hard feelings. In part because I’d been childless 4 months ago, and most of our friends still were, and that allowed people to talk a big game about how “I’d changed so much…” In truth? I hadn’t changed fundamentally, but my life curcumstances had.

      Looking back, there are a few takeaways for me:

      1) I owe something to my kids that I don’t owe to my friends. Which is, it’s my job to protect them and care for them and make them feel safe in the world. That looks different at different times, but as a parent, I need to be a confident judge of that. If I know leaving my kid alone with a sitter, during a particular developmental phase, just isn’t something that gives him a basic sense of safety, I need to respect that, even if it means I look uncool, or people can claim I’m leaning into anxiety or spoiling my kid. Because, whatever, I’m not. I’m paying attention to his needs as a small vulnerable human under my care, and making real time judgement calls.
      2) Things change. Fast. Often. These days we easily leave our nearly 3 year old and nearly 4 month old and meet friends at bars and stay out late. Funny that it would be easier now than it was with just one, but it is. Now we have to kids in ages where they can cope.
      3) You need friends who trust your decision making and judgment, not second guess you.
      4) Exactly what you are saying here—it goes both ways. I need friends that go the extra mile with me right now, while my life is really complicated. And whenever I can I go the extra mile for my friends.

      • La’Marisa-Andrea

        The part about having limited time with your kids resonates with me. I work a LOT and have extremely limited time to fit everything in. And sometimes, I haven’t seen my kid all week really so that’s what I want do on the weekends or a day off. I have been able to show up for friends in ways that are important to me and important to them but it can get very complicated very quickly.

        Allowances in a friendship with someone who has kids, especially small children have to be made if you want the friendship to continue. Sometimes people CAN do more and they don’t. And sometimes, things are just really complicated. A few times a year doesn’t seem like a lot to me, but if those few times occur when things are really complicated…you might have to cut your friend some slack.

      • Granola

        This is so cogently articulated. Thank you.

        It also reminds me of the #giveyourmoneytowomen campaign from a few months back and one of the suggestions of emotional work was to know and remember personal things about your friends’ lives. Once of which being “oh they have a new baby, or are doing X” and how that impacts their time/availability/energy etc. Basically don’t expect them to never change.

      • Basketcase

        Also, a “few times a year” for a few friends from different circles can end up being a LOT of times a year.
        Depending what those things are, and how they are structured time-wise, it could simply be that one or two friends get largely dropped out because baby sitting funds / capacity is finite, and someone else got in first.
        Add in family-specific and kid-specific events (like birthday parties, its important your kid makes friends, right?), and travel, and time gets so constrained its not funny.
        Of course, thats entirely different to “uncomfortable leaving baby with a sitter” as an excuse. (says she who has only used her parents as regular sitters for 2.5 year old and keeps meaning to fix that, but, non-family babysitting is expensive, so why?)
        We have several sets of friends we see once a year at most. Just because life keeps getting in the way. But we keep trying.

      • Mira_Mira

        Exactly, thank you for expressing this so articulately, especially points 1 and 2.

    • Mira_Mira

      While I agree that every effort should be made by parents to attend their friends’ important life events, it’s not always possible to leave a child with someone other than his or her parents when you know he or she will spend hours crying hysterically. Sometimes the very real needs and emotions of a child have to come first or a compromise reached (e.g. one parent stays home and the other attends alone).

  • RoseTyler

    YES to the two examples on #9. I have a print in my home that reads: “Someone is praying for the things you take for granted”. I’m always amazed when i stop and think about how true this is no matter what position in life most of us may be in.

  • anonforthis

    I’ve struggled a lot with #10. I have a friend who has 2 year old twins and who lives about 2 hours away that I’ve tried to stay in touch with, but it’s so hard. When they were young, I offered to drop off food, and since they’ve gotten a little older, I’ve offered to come visit, but it hasn’t been accepted/ worked out so far. I was quietly upset for a long time (tears to my husband!), feeling like my offers for support weren’t being accepted, but now I’ve recognized that our friendship may not really be there any more, at least not in a way where we can actually hang out. I’ll still text her when I think of her, but I’m realizing that she has other priorities, and I’m sad we’re no longer close, but it’s understandable, and it is what it is.

  • I think it’s important too to consider your friends who aren’t rocking a life choice to be single and/or childless, who are maybe unhappily single and/or childless. It’s hard to listen to people complain about things you want desperately to have. We’re dealing with infertility now and it is putting a strain on some of my relationships with friends who are pregnant or have kids. I wish it didn’t, but it does make things awkward on both ends. Being pregnant and having a baby is hard. I get that. But not being pregnant or having a baby is hard too. For now, I vent to my infertile friends and I assume my parent friends vent to their other parent friends. I do still want to see the baby pictures and hear the cute stories, but I am even more grateful than ever for those parent friends I have who can also carry on conversations about topics other than their kids.

    • G.

      Yep. Marriage is hard, having kids is hard, but wanting to be partnered and it not happening is hard and wanting to have kids and not having them is hard. Sometimes respecting your friends also means empathizing when the life choices they want to make seem really out of reach.

      • Lizzie

        Amen. I think the tl;dr for this entire post and all the comments is “More empathy all the time, okthx.”

    • I have never dealt with infertility, but we made the decision EARLY on not to have a second child because of the (previously unknown to us) genetic condition our son inherited. We stand by the decision, but I still get pangs sometimes when someone spends their entire pregnancy complaining, or complains about having more than one kid, or whatever. So I can’t entirely relate, but as someone who once imagined having three kids, and as someone who is (finally) comfortable having one, I still wrestle with biological impulses and question our decision all the time… and it can be hard to hang with friends who have more than one kid and bitch about it all the time.

    • Kate

      And also important to not make assumptions about what people are going through or planning. Most people know that we want kids so we’re getting questions and comments about it now, which all come from a wonderful, loving place. But it’s taking longer than expected and I wanted to be like WE’RE FUCKING WORKING ON IT. But instead I just smile, nod, and say we’ll see.

      • Eenie

        *Literally* fucking working on it.

        • Kate

          Lol. Talking about it literally might end the conversations pretty quickly…I’ll keep that in mind.

          • dearabbyp

            Yep. That’s the way to do it.

    • Julia

      ^^ Definitely.

      I had a friend struggling with infertility who, upon hearing our baby news, completely changed behavior — canceled plans, curt tone via text, etc. I tried to ask if our news was indeed hard/awkward for her, and she literally responded “I can’t be a good friend to you right now.” We haven’t talked since then. I do appreciate her honesty because it helped me back off knowing how she felt, but our friendship totally crumbled in the meantime. I think it IS overall beneficial to know when certain topics are challenging for two friends within the space of their friendship… and it can be handled maturely and graciously, but sometimes it causes a drift that isn’t always repaired.

    • TeaforTwo

      Yep. Just like new parents can need a lot of slack-cutting, infertile couples can, too.

      We’ve done about a year of fertility treatments, during which time two of our siblings, half a dozen cousins, my BFF and many, many other friends have had new babies. And sometimes I can show up for them, and sometimes all I can do is hide their social media accounts from my feed and mail them a gift. I’ve tried to make it clear that I love them and they matter to me, and that…I just can’t be around pregnant women sometimes.

      Fortunately I still love being around babies, so these friendship pauses have been temporary, and then I’m happy to show up with casseroles and snuggle the baby while they shower. And since these people know what was up with us, it was way, way easier just to say “I love you and I’m so excited for you but I just can’t go to a baby shower right now” than to let things fester.

  • Jenny

    Love this! Thanks for articles like these!

  • Eenie

    I have quite a few friends who are child free. I would like them to be besties with my kid(s)! As someone who was child free and is now not yet a parent, I love bonding with my friends’ kids. I do think that you can be on either side of the above (kid/no kid), do all the right things, have the right attitude, and the friendship still fails. I like to remember that not all friendships are forever.

  • scw

    this is perfect timing, because one of my favorite people had her baby last night! I wrote about her in the post about our wedding. the baby is early, but healthy (mom is healthy too). I woke up ready to read the internet to figure out how to be a good friend in this transition, and was so excited to see this.

    also, unrelated, but I feel like #9 isn’t limited to friends with kids and can go for the dynamic between single friends and friends in a relationship, too. I feel like the top blurb there quite often – my single friends won’t acknowledge there’s anything hard about being in a relationship.

    • lottie

      Speaking for my own single self, it’s not that I don’t think relationships can be hard (I’ve listened and watched enough friends to know that it takes a lot of work and there are good patches and bad patches), but sometimes being single is really hard, logistically and emotionally, and most cultural narratives skip over that. So it’s easy to look at your partnered friend and think, “damn it, if only I had someone who would buy groceries when I’m on a huge work deadline and if only I had someone to give me a hug after a long day because it’s lonely and rough returning to a silent, empty apartment, etc etc.” And in that moment, it’s tricky to remember that the person who has what you desperately want but can’t seem to grasp also goes through rough patches. In a more calm moment, it’s pretty easy to know that everyone has good and bad days, all relationships (friendships, partners, business partners, etc) have their moments, but in the height of the storm? Not so much.

      • scw

        I guess what I’m saying is that there are advantages to each, and (to me, right now) it feels like you don’t hear about the advantages of being single as much. for sure, it is nice to split groceries and have the other things you mentioned. but it’s also hard to worry about someone else’s schedule or feelings every day all the time. there’s less room to be impulsive or selfish in a relationship, and less money to do those things. friends end up resenting me for saying I can’t hang out last minute on one of the only two nights a week I get with my spouse… and then I resent them for their freedom, and vice versa! it’s hard, and we all need to be kinder to each other and more conscious that everyone has bad days.

        • lottie

          I fully agree there are advantages and disadvantages to both. I’m just trying to explain, from my own experience, why, when you’re feeling really lonely as a single person (for whatever reasons), it can be really hard to remember that it’s hard to be partnered too. And I think this is especially prickly over allocating time because I don’t have someone else who is my priority and vice versa, which means I lean on a circle of friends to be there for me and to be social with and to have some sense of community. I totally get why you want time alone with your husband (perfectly reasonable and good!), but it can also feel like a deep cut when I’m in a lonely space and everyone else has other plans (so it’s probably not just you and more the collision of lots of people making the same choice which leaves me…alone). Which probably produces an over-reaction to not hanging out. So….yes to more kindness, to consciousness, and to empathy all around.

  • Tiffany

    I think this post is missing a big one: listening! All of my new mom friends talk about nothing but themselves and their babes. I get that your baby is important and I love them and think they’re great too, but being cognizant of when too much is enough is huge. There’s a time and to vent and stress and brag about your kids, and it is NOT 100% of all conversations all the time. I love kids and babies and am a school teacher so I could talk about child development for days, and even I have a limit. Just because you are now a mom doesn’t mean rules of conversation and how to relate to other human beings are over! Remembering to actually listen and care is a two way street.

    • Mary Jo TC

      I guess it could go the other way too. Parents may be particularly prone to dominating conversations, but anyone could have an obsession that they won’t shut up about, and it can be alienating for their friends. I’ve had single friends go on about their fitness training, diets, pets, gardens, jobs, drama with their significant others or parents, etc. And of course, brides and their weddings. No matter the topic that dominates conversations, it’s bad etiquette and bad friend-ing.

      • Lisa

        This is so true. I think it’s also important to be cognizant of the fact that lifetime friendships will naturally ebb and flow in conversation – maybe one friend just had a new baby and needs to talk about all of the crazy stuff that’s happening or the other gets and engaged and wants to discuss wedding details. Who needs to dominate a conversation will naturally change as life happens, and I hope that, if I’m there to be a sounding board for my friend’s new baby, someone in my life will respond in kind when something major happens to me.

        • Mary Jo TC

          Yes. We take turns. Different life stages require more listening and support from friends than others, and everyone needs to be aware of that.

          • Laura Holway

            YES.

        • *applauds*

        • Lawyerette510

          Exactly. My friend who had a baby in July, in May, June, July and August, most of our conversations were about how her life was changing (not all, but it was a big focused). Then, late September when things went sideways with my husband’s job, I texted her asking if she was still awake (boo time-zones but yay for 11:00 pm feedings) and she called me right away and let me cry and freak out and for the past month most of our conversations have been about my family (of 2).

        • RoseTyler

          i agree. This also seems to apply to the effort put into friendships. I spent part of my career doing taxes. During that season, one of my good friends put in ALL the effort. She appeared at my house with food on the weekend while I worked from home etc. I had no spare energy to maintain that relationship. During final exam season for her … the responsibility is all on me … i have spare time and energy she does not.

    • Alexandra

      This is true about friendship in general, not just parent/non-parent friendship.

      I don’t know what this says about me as a parent, but I find talking about my son to be pretty boring. When people ask me about him, I never know what to say. I love him to pieces, but…it’s not like he’s about to win a Nobel Prize for chemistry or just got back from a cool trip to Osaka. Nothing too exciting about a one-year old…

      I always just say “he’s a lot of fun!” (because he really is…just a barrel of monkeys…but I’m his mom and don’t even mind changing his poopie diapers, so I’m assuming my persepctive is totally warped) and move on.

    • Sarah

      Yes, just last night I was talking to my husband about us taking courses at the University I work at and basically how we can keep some “intellectual curiosity” after becoming new parents in a few months. I’ve been fortunate that most of my kid-having friends aren’t all baby/all the time chatters but I wonder if when I have a kid they will switch to this mode a bit more?

    • Julia

      I’m pregnant and try to be mindful of how often the “I’m expecting a baby, omg!” theme dominates conversations with friends. On my end, I’ve found it does take more of an effort to remember the things going on in your friends’ lives as well (I guess just because baby stuff seems so life altering and all-consuming), but it’s so important and respectful to listen and ask questions.

      Similarly on this note, I have a good girlfriend who lives in a different city, and literally all of her friends there have children. She talks about this all the time – how she wishes her parent friends would remember that she has a life, too, and how alienating it is when 100% of the conversations all the time involve the kiddos.

      • Jenny

        Yeah I feel like in someways you can’t win with the pregancy/kid conversations. I had a really really rough pregnancy and also have several people around us who were struggling with infertility so it felt like I couldn’t talk about how much it just SUCKED at times, like my body was failing at this this, and I didn’t know what to do. It was super isolating and hard. Because I think I’ve internalized the don’t talk about the pregnancy all the time or you’re a bad friend I tend to only bring it up when people ask, which has led to a lot of people thinking I’m not excited about the pregnancy, or thinking it was unplanned/unwanted.

        I think everyone has a different opinion about the “right” amount to talk about pregancy/kids is, and it’s hard to guess and feel super fraught because you don’t want to be the one everyone is complaining about in this thread who is dominating all the conversations, but at the same time, it is a HUGE thing that is happening and not being able to talk to people about a huge life event can be isolating, so we seek out people who let us talk about stuff.

    • Amanda

      I agree with this in a big way, but the exact opposite thing happened to me recently & it was pretty funny. Some friends of our’s had a baby last year and we finally made it to see them. I was so so so eager to hear all about the baby, and all they wanted to do was hang out with their childless friends and feel like their “pre-baby” selves. Go figure.

    • Meg Keene

      My sense (and I could be wrong) is that the key part of that paragraph is *new* mom friends. Having kids is so huge and overwhelming and disorienting, that I think when you have your first kid, you often just deeply deeply want a chance to process what’s happening to you. So if you have 30 minutes and coffee and a friend who you think will listen, you’re going to try to get 30 minutes of trying to process out of it. Just like if your friend just… I donno… got dumped by her boyfriend, she’s going to want to process that with you intensely if you give her 30 minutes.

      Once parenthood isn’t so new anymore, it becomes less pressing. So in short, I think it can be the need to make space for a friends major life event. And then hoping they’ll make space for your next major life event that they need to process.

      That said, of course you should steer conversation to where you need it to go, when you need that.

      But it can also be about thinking about when you can be there for someone to process. If I have a friend who just lost a parent, and we get a chance to get coffee, I’m probably going to open with, “How are you doing? What are you feeling?” and then let them talk as long as they need. It can be harder to see new parenthood as a similarly dramatic shift needing similar processing time, but I think for many people it can be.

    • Melissa

      This ^^^^ FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, this.

  • Erica Klein

    My fiance and I are childfree and likely the only ones among our families and friends who are (with the exception of my sister THANK GOD) and my biggest challenge as a friend of folks with kids is that it feels like there is never anything to talk about EXCEPT their kids. I’m happy to listen to their stories, offer empathy/sympathy/advice whatever they want and need at the time pertaining to their children and family lives, because although I’m not terribly interested in most of it I love them and like their kids just fine and I care because its important to them….but after awhile i think its fair to want to talk about the OTHER parts of our lives, and I often find it nearly impossible to steer the conversation to other topics. I also think its pretty natural for parents to gravitate to other parents because like most things, people want to talk to others they can relate to, and parenthood is basically impossible to understand unless you’re living it – my fiance and I can’t relate to ANYTHING they have to talk about, though we try. I am pretty certain that there will come a point where all of my child-having friends are going to be the close-knit group they ought to be, leaving us somewhat on the outside, and that’s lonely.

    • Erica Klein

      I also would dearly love to be the “cool auntie” to all my friends’ and cousins’ kids, but I am just SO BAD with kids. I just have no idea how to talk to them/behave with them, and if I’m honest I’m just not patient enough – part of the reason I’m not having any of my own! I doubt I’ll ever really have a relationship with them, and that sort of bums me out too.

      • RoseTyler

        Yes! And having a decent job, I want to buy the cool Christmas gifts …. but have zero idea what those are.

        • AP

          I don’t know infants but for older kids: STEM gifts (there are some cool circuit building sets, room design sets, robot kits) and books with awesome female protagonists for all genders! Those are my go-to. Also anything that gets kids in the kitchen helping to cook (kid-friendly cookbooks and tools). Real art supplies- not just markers and play dough, and especially the messier things parents won’t buy.

          • RoseTyler

            STEM gifts sound amazing. Once the kids I love get older, i do want to invest pretty heavily in http://www.goldieblox.com/ products. I hadn’t thought of things to encourage their involvement in the kitchen, but that could open some pretty cool ideas too! Thanks!

          • Natalie

            I bought Goldiblox for the kids table at our wedding. Big hit! Even though we don’t have kids, we now have a (bottom) bookshelf in our living room devoted to Goldiblox, coloring books, crayons, and books for friends’ kids. It makes our friends happy, gives their kids exciting new things to play with, giving the grownups more time to visit uninterrupted by “I’m bored” complaints. Highly recommend buying some if you have friends with kids even if you yourself do not.

      • lady brett

        honestly, kids are (weird and confusing) people – from my point of view (severely awkward with a side of social anxiety) interacting with people is hard and you have to form a solid relationship before it gets easy, and that is just as true with kids. i am not “good with kids” but i’m grand with my own and my good friends’ kids because i know them. (the other side of that is that if you are *good* at interacting with strangers, that is in part because you have a solid grasp on social cues and rules, which kids just…don’t, so i think that throws people off too.)

        which isn’t to say that also it’s just fine if it’s not your thing – but if you *want* to change that, i think it is doable.

      • Lizzie

        Same here, and per the post I would love the chance to babysit and get to know my friends’ kids better, but it’s circular logic working against me: I’m not good with kids, so I don’t get to babysit, so I don’t get any better with kids, so I don’t get to babysit. But hey, I’m CPR certified, so maybe one day my babysitting offer will be able to stand on that alone. #lowstandards

        • z

          You can get better with kids by being around them without “babysitting”. It’s a learning curve. Spend more time with them and you will gradually acquire babysitting skills.

      • Maddie Eisenhart

        I make no claims at being an expert with kids (seeing as I have none of my own), but having grown up with kids around me, just, ALL THE DAMN TIME, most of being good with kids is not seeing them as another species. I talk to them like I talk to my friends, try to find common ground. Also, kids will think you are literally made of magic if you show them something they never knew before. Like…you can earn serious kid points by knowing how to draw a cat. Or fold Origami. Or any other party tricks you’ve got up your sleeve.

        • Eenie

          I think it gets easier in general as they get older, but I’ve learned with my new nephew that there are a few things that he always likes: Reading a specific book, singing, and being tossed in the air. I only gained this information because I asked the parents. So don’t be afraid to ask for some common ground either.

        • Kayla

          Agree to all of this.

          Also, I have captivated a table full of preschoolers with simple origami on more than one occasion. It might be actual magic.

          • Maddie Eisenhart

            Right? My niece things I’m the smartest human on the planet. I’m holding onto that for as long as I can. She hurt her knee while at my MIL’s house once and was like AUNTIE MADDIE WOULD KNOW WHAT TO DO IF SHE WAS HERE. ::hearts in eyes::

        • Violet

          Off-topic, but one can totally be an expert on kids without having their own. Don’t downplay your awesome skills!

        • Jess

          I dunno, there are some kids I think I can find some common ground with but most? Probably not. To be fair, I have trouble talking to a lot of adults sometimes. I’m an introvert who didn’t generally like talking to other kids when I WAS a kid. So it’s really hard.

    • Amie Melnychuk

      It’s hard as a parent when your whole world is suddenly topsy turvy over an adorable, squishy, demanding and tiny human. That’s all you want to talk about because that’s all you have! If you are on parental leave, your entire day is your baby. When you are back at work, you are counting down the hours, even at a job that you love, so you can go pick up your now toddling little, hold her and bring her home for just a couple hours of playtime before bed.

      It’s a lot of work getting “you” back, or keeping “you” in the picture. Just being willing to listen to the crazy amount of baby stories is a huge help. And maybe poking in and saying, “Wow, I didn’t realize how much of your life they are taking up right now,” can be a good moment for the parent-friend to click in and realize just how much they are talking about the babe. We want to be the former us, we do. But we also want to share the amazing things this little person is doing. It takes time.

      We also want to hear about your lives, because, until we get back to the original “us” we can live vicariously through you. You can be great inspiration to keep going with the goals we had when we were kidless.

  • z

    I think it’s important to accept that maybe the friendship had run its course and was going to lapse anyway, and maybe parenting just pushed it over the edge or provided a convenient rationale. That’s hard, and it hurts, but it happens in a lot of relationships, for a lot of reasons. Parenting sometimes isn’t the real reason, it just happens to be a way to fade out a friendship without either person having to acknowledge what’s happening. Does anyone really want to hear “it’s not because of the baby, I just don’t enjoy spending time with you anymore.”

    People miss friends’ major life events all the time. It’s socially acceptable to move far away, to go abroad, to take a 100-hour-a-week job, etc. I don’t think missing things because of parenting is really any different, and I don’t know why it’s so fraught. I don’t expect my friends to prioritize time with me over major life goals and experiences!

    • raccooncity

      “Parenting sometimes isn’t the real reason, it just happens to be a way to fade out a friendship without either person having to acknowledge what’s happening.”

      I’ve noticed that in friendships (not having kids myself) where my friends have kids and we were fading out anyway, kids put a nail in the coffin of the friendship. With other friends who are close, their having a baby made us closer – more reasons to visit, etc.

      That said, none of my usual life routine has involved late nights for some years now and I also don’t mind a little baby talk here and there. But my parent-friends are delightful people who love talking about their kids but are also DYING to hear about anything else.

      • THIS. A good friend of mine is so great at asking about my kid when we first start hanging out, so I briefly update her on anything of note, and then we spend the next few hours talking about EVERYTHING ELSE. When I’m with a friend, and especially when I’m with a friend who doesn’t have kids, I want to talk about other things. I get bored talking about parenting with other parents most of the time. :/

        • K Robertson

          This has definitely been true in a lot of my friendships with people who have kids! My bestie works mostly from home with two toddlers who are nine months apart in age and we message each other throughout the day about politics/news/theology/celebrity gossip. We talk about the kids too for sure, but being home with toddlers most of the time can create a serious need for adult conversation.

        • Mary Jo TC

          OMG yes. I’m a parent and I find parent stuff boring a lot of the time. I get so consumed by tantrums and potty training minutiae in my daily life that when I’m with friends I just want to escape from that crap and talk about anything else. Usually they ask, I do a brief update, and we move on.

    • emilyg25

      We’re in this right now, with a mass shedding of friendships in our baby’s first year. It feels kind of shitty, but I know it was inevitable and I don’t really miss those people. I also know that eventually I’ll find new friends, and that the ones who are still around are my true blues. But oof. Transition. It’s so hard!

      • Kayla

        I would add that some of the shed friends (if they haven’t behaved badly and you’d like them back) might work themselves back into your life once kiddo is older.

        I have a few friends who had absolutely no interest in hanging out with me/my step-kids when said step-kids were just lying around being babies, but they are now really excited to tag along and play with the youngsters on a trip to the zoo.

    • G.

      Sure, if the relationship is running on ultra thin air, I think this is accurate. BUT, I think often what happens is that there’s a friend group in which a majority experiences a major life change (marriage, kids, new jobs, whatever) around the same time, and the people who are in the friend group but not part of the major life change group feel left out. It’s not necessarily purposeful and it’s not necessarily because the friendship had run its course. And in those cases, a little extra sensitivity to what it might feel like to not being the one to get married, have kids, have older kids, have a new job, or whatever it is, can do a lot to keep a friendship that is well worth keeping.

    • abroad

      Hmmm I would argue otherwise. I’ve moved abroad, and it’s definitely not as socially acceptable as having a child. I receive lots of passive aggressive remarks about missing things and people ask me *daily* when Im going to move home and have a child. Even strangers ask this of me. So ya, this hasn’t been true at all for me.

      • Mary Jo TC

        Hell, people ask that when you didn’t even move abroad, but just out of state. I get so sick of hearing it. It’s like my family thinks life does not exist outside our hometown. The life I’ve built for my family 5 hours away is pretty great, thanks, and actually we couldn’t find jobs as good if we moved back. My brother who’s currently living and working in Germany gets the same thing but worse. I can see that moving away can be seen as a ‘selfish’ reason to miss an event in a way that babies are not.

  • z

    Also, let’s bear in mind that toddler parents are sometimes secretly pregnant. I missed a lot of friend events in my second and third pregnancies because I was just too damn tired/incessantly vomiting, and for the first few I missed some more events due to recurrent miscarriage, which I also did not want to tell people about. Oh well, friends.

    • Meg Keene

      OFTEN secretly pregnant, I think. Seriously though. At daycare it’s so so common that the kid hits two and the mom announces she’s pregnant. (raises hand!). and I for SURE missed stuff when I had a toddler and was throwing up all the time in secret.

  • Rachel

    Truth be told, I haven’t had much experience with this – the majority of my friends are either single, in the early stages of dating, are childfree, or married without children yet. I say yet because I know these couples plan on having kids, they’re just not ready yet (and in one case, the wife is only having a kid because the husband wants one…oh lord). In addition, most of my siblings don’t want kids (not sure about my older sister – she has never said anything about wanting or not wanting kids, and is honestly not even interested in dating, and that’s perfectly okay). So I’m not sure how friendships will change once friends start having children. I imagine less time with them since the priority will be the kid (and that’s okay!), but I imagine that we can make time to hang out – with or without kids. But on the other hand, while I like kids, I am so awkward around them and have no idea what to do. Most of the time I’ll just smile at them, but as I get more comfortable I’ll hold them, tickle them, snuggle them (with parent permission of course). I’m better with older kids. I relate to them better since I still watch Gravity Falls and other cartoons and I usually carry around my 3DS (yes, with StreetPass on). I guess time will tell what happens.

    • Eenie

      I’m only having kids because my fiance wants them. There may be other reasons for the “oh lord” comment, but just because you’re having kids for your SO doesn’t mean you’ll be a horrible parent or making a bad choice.

      • Rachel

        I agree, but that particular relationship is really rocky. Last week she was ranting to me about how they had a fight and he was hitting the walls and how he broke something that she made for him for his last birthday. So, the “oh lord” comment was specifically for them.

        • gonzalesbeach

          woah. this sounds like more than rocky and potentially really scary. maybe there’s some way you can talk to your friend about this event with her hubby (is it an isolated incident? escalation of previous behaviours?) and options for addressing it (read: anger management, family or solo counselling if he’s unwilling). if she’s not yet pregnant- does she want to get pregnant when there is clearly an issue with anger management? please consider asking your friend to reach out to a domestic abuse hotline (or if she doesn’t want to- you could – they might be able to give you ideas on how to approach this.) Could be a one-time, never happens again thing and he’s very sorry and figures out how to manage his anger in less violent ways. but what if it’s not? wishing you and your friend the best.

          • Rachel

            Well…it’s not an isolated incident. They’ve been on and off for about twelve years (I think they broke up like four times before they finally got together for the last time and got married three years in) so I don’t know what his behavior was like before. When I met her, she was dating a friend of mine, and the now-husband would like interrupt our outings by calling/texting her things that would push her buttons and she’d end up in tears. In the time they’ve gotten back together, three incidents stick out in my mind where they’d have massive fights. She says he’s never hurt her, only things (like breaking the handmade gifts, punching walls) and that when things are good, they’re good, but when they’re bad, they’re really bad. This last time this happened, her mom was prepared to lend her money for an apartment, she had stuff in the car, she was ready to go…but of course she went back to the house and went back to him. One of the conditions she set for him before she would take him back was to go to therapy. He agreed…for a while. They never did make it to therapy but he convinced her that dropping acid was way better than therapy so they did…and now that’s what they do most weekends. The pregnancy thing – she doesn’t want kids. At all. She’s told me this repeatedly, but said that he wants them so she’ll have one for him, as long as he does the brunt of the child rearing. She’s not pregnant yet and I don’t know if/when they plan on it. They’re in a good period now, she posts all the time on how he’s the best husband ever, but…I dunno. I worry, but she didn’t listen to us the last three times, she’s probably not going to listen if it happens again. I hope it doesn’t, for the sake of the future child.

          • gonzalesbeach

            oooff – well, seems like she has supports – like you and her mother in case of crisis. hopefully she will hear the message that from people who care about her – I wouldn’t stop saying it, even if she doesn’t listen now – maybe it will be down that line that she asks for or accepts help. sounds like you’re all being supportive and doing what you can

  • Laura Holway

    Thanks for this! I really appreciate the perspective on both sides. I have a 5 month old- my first- and though I’m 33, I’m the first of my close circle of friends to have a kid (most are childless by choice, which I 100% support). I just can’t stress enough how much having a kid rocks every aspect of your life in ways unique to every person, especially during the first year. I’ve grown close to two other women who had kids around the same time that I did, and we’ve had totally different sets of challenges- some of which make it really tough for us to be social. Not every Mom necessarily wants to pump and leave a bottle for their baby, for instance. And maybe their baby refuses a bottle. And not every baby goes to bed nicely at 7pm so that their parents can sneak away. And not every parent is awake enough to want to socialize. And sometimes you’re stressed about things (sleep, sex, combining work with a kid) that feel really intense, which you don’t necessarily want to bring up over drinks with a friend. When I do have a free night and childcare, it’s a tricky decision as to where to spend it. I need to see my husband! I need some time to myself. I have a career that necessitates showing up to evening events. So, yeah– I have to prioritize. One last thing: I can’t stress enough what a gift it is to have friends who truly LISTEN when you’re going through an intense transition. I have always been the friend that listens for many of the people in my life, and when I had a baby, I really needed them to return the favor. A couple of them didn’t. When I was bleeding and laying on the couch with engorged boobs and a crying infant, they came to unload about their lives. Though I know that it wasn’t personal and they just didn’t get it, it sure sent me the message that I might need some new friends who can better relate to what I’m doing through.

    • LM

      Yes to all this! I also have a 5 month old and am the first in my friend group to have kids. I’m feeling more used to having a baby in my life, and am slowly adding back some of the things I enjoyed pre-baby but it has been such a profound change and I’m still figuring it out. I used to get together with friends after work a lot, but now, if I do that, I don’t get to see my kid before he goes to sleep. The weekend is another option but it’s also a time to see my kid and husband and take care of ‘house’ things. My friends have been really great in coming to visit, etc, but I still think we’re figuring out new ways to hang out and relate.

    • Julia

      Um, I think about the prioritization thing ALL THE TIME. How do you moms do it? Or cope with the deciding? I know that once our kid arrives, “me” time will naturally be much more limited in terms of frequency… but when that window does open up, and the options are partner/self/career/etc.. it just seems really hard to figure out which one needs it in the most right then? Ha. (Laughing in a scared kind of way.)

      • z

        In my experience, you Just Decide. And you don’t spend a lot of time deciding, because prolonged fretting about decisions is something you don’t have time for. That makes it easier, sometimes, actually.

      • Granola

        I’ve tried to set realistic expectations about what I can actually do. Can I leave for four hours and go shopping for an afternoon? No, not really. (breastfeeding, and yes, YMMV. But mostly I mean that as an exactly of something that’s logistically complicated enough not to be worth it). But do I have half an hour to take a walk or read a book or whatever? Yes. But if I spend all my time lamenting what I can no longer easily do, then I miss out on what I actually can do.

  • Carolyn S

    As one of the last in a group of friends to have kids, I think the biggest difference I feel between the friendships that have gotten harder and the friendships that have stayed strong is how much effort the parent puts in to showing interest in my life.. I don’t have kids but I have enough kids in my world that I can talk “parent” all night. What kind of stroller, how is feeding going, how is the kid sleeping, what kindergarten are you looking at. I can carry these conversations, I have tiny people in my life and I can remember that those are the big things going on for a lot of my friends and I’m happy to share it with them. The friendships I really value though, are the ones where the friend remembers to ask how I’m doing, how work is going, how my relationships are going. I think we all do better both directions when we spend time with parents and not parents and remember we all have different things that matter.

    • Elizabeth

      BINGO.

    • lottie

      100% yes.

  • lady brett

    i would add that both parenting and friendships ebb and flow.

    when we became parents we were *so overwhelmed.* like, barely functioning overwhelmed, we just didn’t have the capacity to do…anything other than our obligations (work and parent). we didn’t have anyone offer to help, but if we had, i’m not sure we would have been able to accept it, because we were in that nose-to-the-grindstone state where you can’t make decisions or changes (even ones that would make your life less grindstoney).

    and then there are friends (and family). that has gone a lot of different ways for us – all of them completely valid, even when they sucked.

    friend one was a shitty friend. having kids both brought out how much this person was only interested in things that were all about them and made us seriously examine *our* priorities. that friendship fizzled from close to very superficial pretty fast.

    friend two doesn’t like kids and leads a not-kid-friendly life. as such, we see them pretty seldom. we still all *like* each other as much as we did before, but circumstances are such that we are not especially *close* anymore.

    friend three was my honey’s best friend when we had kids. we thought us having kids totally destroyed our friendship – we just never saw each other (and we were more sensitive to inappropriate stuff that we let slide when it wasn’t around the kids). turns out, we were busy and overwhelmed with kids at the same time that he was busy and overwhelmed with recovering from his alcoholism. so none of us had the time and energy to be a support system for the other and we all had a hard and lonely couple of years. he is one of our best friends now, and we serve as each other’s main parent support system.

    and my in-laws. who were *so excited* about us having kids. but they weren’t really much support when it happened. well, us having kids was a learning curve for everyone in our life, not just us (not to mention that they have obligations of their own!). they aren’t the babysit every week kind of support, but they are always there when we need them, and that is unbelievably important.

  • enfp

    I have a seven month old and this article just prompted me to write to a friend and set up a time to grab a drink with her, so thanks for that:) My partner and I each get one night off during the week which has helped us both keep up with friends. Sometimes I’m super tired and it’s hard to motivate myself to make plans (or I become a little selective about what those plans are) but for me those Thursday nights have been so important for allowing me to have some baby free hang out time, with friends, on their terms. Weekends are family time, so we either have people over so my partner and I can socialize together, or we do baby friendly hang outs during the day.

  • Corinne

    Great timing as always, APW! My husband and I are the only childfree couple of our closest friend group and the final remaining childpending couple just announced their pregnancy this weekend. While I’m absolutely thrilled for them, and I am/have been for all of my child-wanting friends, it feels things have taken an abrupt turn around a corner. I’m feeling sort of left out…of a club or status that I very much don’t want to be “in” either. It’s an odd place to be.

    Carolyn S below talks about how she can “talk parent”, which made me realize that I…can’t. At this point, I don’t really have kids in my life- I don’t work with them, I don’t have more than a couple of small children in my extended family (who I see for holidays), and the friends that have kids older than infants live far enough away that I don’t see them super frequently. I’m afraid of losing the thread of friendship simply because I don’t have the language or the relatable experience with kiddos. I’ll get some experience with this group of kids my friends are having, but I’ll never be deeply involved in a kid-heavy life.

    I’ve been close with this friend group since childhood, and if we’ve made it this far, I know that we can navigate this transition too. But in the meantime, I’d just like to throw out there that your big life changes can mean some upheaval in your friends’ lives as well! I know I’m going to need some time to adapt to this new stage, too.

    • lottie

      I think the left out feeling is really normal and really difficult and really tricky to navigate. Because if you’re like me, you are genuinely happy for your friends and want them to get all the things they want. But you’re still left out in the cold a bit. Not maliciously or intentionally, but that’s how you feel. At least, that’s how I feel as someone who is still single (not an intentional life choice) amidst a friend group that is married with kids — whom I like, but yeah, not my life.

      I was talking to one of those friends yesterday and we were discussing how I need my work space to be a social arena because I don’t have that elsewhere in my life right now and how she needs her work space to be quiet and asocial because her home life is noisy and crazy. So part of the loneliness, I think, comes from the way life events/choices spill out into other arenas — the byproducts and consequences can sometimes be harder to work around than the change itself.

    • JenC

      My friends are starting to have kids but I don’t “talk parent” either, it’s hard they’ll talk parent together and it leaves me on the edge. I’ve found it useful to ask questions and because I’m genuinely clueless I’ll ask why they’re doing something a particular way, they know it’s from a lack of understanding and not judgemental. I’m learning a lot but also helping my friends alleviate some anxieties because they have to give me the idiots guide to kids.

  • Kayla

    This part stood out to me: “I feel like I’m constantly canceling plans with a close friend who lives about two hours away, and it’s not because I want to—it’s because during the week (and on most weekends) I’m working,
    driving my kid to and from a class he takes, and I honestly just prefer to spend most of my nights with my family these days.”

    I think for parents (or anyone) in this situation, being honest with yourself and your friends is a good way to avoid canceled plans and hurt feelings. Not wanting to drive four hours on weeknights/most weekends is super understandable! But it’s also super understandable to feel dismissed by a friend who is constantly canceling plans. If you know you aren’t going to want to see friends on the weeknights, that is totally fine! Just set that boundary for yourself, tell your friends about it, and don’t make plans on weeknights.

    This is my biggest pet peeve with parent friends and other very busy friends. I genuinely am fine with only seeing each other twice a year, so long as we only make plans twice a year. Don’t “pencil me in” every single month at times you’re pretty sure won’t work for you just to cancel on me all the time.

    • abroad

      yes yes yes. I understand you are busy and I definitely ask waaaaay less of my friends who are new parents. But if you do tell me we are going to do something together, repeatedly, and cancel, repeatedly… I am less understanding. That’s shitty. If you have a child or not.

    • ML

      YES. This happens with a lot of my friends, whether parents or not. Last minute canceling is not cool when it becomes a pattern. I don’t know how to plan my life around the uncertainty, and it feels really disrespectful. My flexibility and patience has its limits.

      • Kayla

        Flaking out is definitely not a parents-only behavior, but I do think it’s possible for total exhaustion to make a person flakier after having kids than they were before kids.

    • Eenie

      There are some caveats. I have a couple friendships where this is just how it’s always been. We both make and cancel plans, and so when we actually execute said plan every once and a while it seems very special. It’s the attempt and discussion that happen around the visit that keeps the friendship going. That may not be for everyone though. I don’t want all my friends to be like that, but there are a couple that would end if we stopped, and I’m not ready for them to end.

      • Mary Jo TC

        I think it also depends WHEN you cancel, if you’re going to. If you give plenty of notice, or back out when the meet-up is still in the planning stages, no big deal. But if you cancel at the last minute, when your friend is already at the destination or on her way, or even day-of, when she’s already arranged her day around it, that’s way more rude and inconsiderate.

        • Eenie

          Yeah I’m talking no place tickets purchased, but sometimes it is last minute (night/day before). Or it’s a group thing and they bail last minute. One of these friendships I decided wasn’t worth it, and the other one I’ve decided to stick around because I get payback from it in other ways. Friendships are very unique.

        • Kayla

          Totally. I’m also fine with, “Let’s make tentative plans. Sometimes Billy sleeps in on Saturday and won’t get out of bed, and if that happens, I might have to bail, but I hope we can make it. I’ll let you know by 8:30.”

          Just… be honest with me, to the best of your ability. That’s all I ask.

    • macrain

      I get what you’re saying and I have felt frustrated by this too, but I try to look at it through a different lens. I look at it as my friend really, truly wants to be able to see me more than she ends up seeing me, and so she’s going to try her darndest to make it happen. It’s not until the 11th hour that she realizes she can’t actually make it happen.
      And really, this pattern is sort of random, most of the time, isn’t it? It’s not consistent, and maybe 1 time out of 3 she really does pull through, because- she wants to!
      Yes, I do get frustrated when she bails, and often I think to myself- this was never a good plan to begin with! Can’t you just be realistic about what’s possible and what’s not? But then I remind myself that she wanted to come, she wants to see me. That’s why she held out before bailing.
      I just think there’s a ton of defensiveness because we’re all assuming the parents would much rather stay at home than come hang out with us, and it’s just not the case.

      • Kayla

        Yeah, I get this. And, realistically, I expect both parents and non-parents alike to have a higher-than-zero flaking out rate. Shit happens. No one shows up 100% of the time. And sometimes plans are iffy. I wrote somewhere above about having certain plans vs. let’s-do-happy-hour-if-you-get-off-work-early plans. I make those plans a lot!

        But I believe that if you’re making plans with someone every Saturday morning (for example), and canceling every Saturday morning, at some point you should stop making plans on Saturday morning, and just set that time aside as family time (or self time).

        Personally, I stopped making plans to be out late on Friday nights, because I am almost always too tired to stay out late on Fridays, and I was sick of disappointing people. It feels really good to have Friday set aside for something relaxing and an early bedtime. And I’m sure my friends are happier with me now that I make plans on Saturday night, because now I actually show up.

  • laddibugg

    I used to have a friend who would always complain about ‘not having a sitter’…thing was 99% of the time when I and most of our mutual friends invited her out, it was to generally kid-friendly places. SHE was the one who wanted to go to bars and R-rated movies. Definitely an odd little duck. I understand wanting child free time, but don’t make him an excuse.

  • Sarah

    Just bought tickets to an all-day booze and food event for two months after scheduled arrival of our kid. We’re going with two other couples–one has kids, don’t know about the other. This may be the first time baby will be without us for a whole day (like 12-8ish maybe) and I’m already excited. But….it’s totally because of grandparents.

    • Amanda

      Just wanted to say, I totally might steal this idea. If I already have something scheduled after the birth it’ll force me to create the space to go out!

  • z

    I think it’s important not to attribute all problematic social behavior to parenting. Yes, I am a parent, but sometimes I flake on my friends because of work, just like I always used to do. If someone is unreliable and inconsiderate about social obligations, and then has a baby and continues that way, it’s not really because of the baby.

  • Kayjayoh

    On the invites thing, I try to make sure I invite parent-friends to things *with* their kinds and also *without*. I want them to know that their kids are welcome in my space. I also want to make sure to not assume that they can’t come because of kids, and know that sometimes they want a break from kids. If they can’t always come, that is fine. I just make sure to keep asking and not start assuming.

  • K Robertson

    There is a lot on this list that is helpful. Another thing I’d say is avoiding generalizations can help. A friend talking about how much she loves her kid or how exhausted he is with a newborn in the house is great, because I want to hear about my friends’ lives and experiences! However, hearing things like “people don’t know what love is until they have children” or “no one knows what it’s like to be tired until they have a baby” can hurt, just like the stereotypes that once people have kids they aren’t cool and fun anymore. Also, those viral videos about “Child-free People Just Don’t Get It” that imply that people without children are all insensitive and self absorbed are just the worst in the world.

  • Amanda

    Hemmm…I have to raise some red flags around #3. Your kid is throwing a tantrum, your housemate is there, and he’s just supposed to chill and wait for you to deal? Nopeadope. Theoretically, this person should be familiar enough with your parenting style to know how you cope with tantrums, and follow that. If my friends’ kids are being destructive/tantruming (pulling hair, throwing things, screaming) and the parents are out of reach, I’m not going to sit idly by–I’m going to talk to the kids about appropriate behavior, and let them know that it isn’t how we behave with Aunt Amanda. That doesn’t “undo parenting”–it teaches the kid to respect people beyond the family unit, to become a part of larger social fabric. Now, if you don’t like how your housemate handled it, you can say, “Hey, next time little Sally is ‘having an emotional response’, this technique really seems to work with her.”

    J manages a bookstore & ran a very popular storytime/singalong. When a kid pushes another kid, it’s okay for other adults to step in. When a kid puts picture books in its mouth, the bookstore can both make the parent buy it and/or remove that book from the kid. When a kid is throwing a fit and pulling all the books off of shelves, it’s okay for an employee to step in. Then the parents, instead of disciplining their children, would yell at the bookstore employee for doing their job & maintaining a happy store. The store is NOT YOUR LIVING ROOM (literally, you cannot potty train in the kids section of a bookstore–seen it happen more than once). I LOVE kids, but I’ve seen the 3 year olds who were allowed to do whatever as their parents sheltered their discipline become rude, nasty, snotty, entitled 8 year olds.

    • z

      Sometimes ignoring the tantrum is the strategy. It can be a very good one in the long run.

      • Amanda

        Oh yeah, I’m a big fan of crying it out, especially showing that “tantrums are not how we get what we want.” But I will not be pelted in the head with matchbox cars, without taking every matchbox car that hits my head and put it in a high cabinet. And certainly in public, kids are people–not just little things that magically become people at age 18–and we’re teaching them about community. I don’t think it’s helpful to just let kids run wild in public and let them be…and it’s okay for a proprietor of a store to step in.

      • Violet

        Agreed that ignoring is a great strategy to reduce unwanted behaviors, when used intentionally and consistently. But aggression shouldn’t be ignored in most circumstances, particularly if it is self-stimulatory in nature.

    • Ashlah

      Totally get where you’re coming from, but Stephanie’s story said she was in the same room as her tantruming toddler, and the roommate took it upon himself to step in before she did. I’m giving Stephanie the benefit of the doubt that she didn’t just refuse to parent her child in that moment, but that the roommate overstepped his bounds.

      That said, I agree that many of today’s parents (at least the ones you read about on STFU Parents and the like) should be more open about others stepping in when their children are in danger or causing damage/pain, but the parents should always be first in line if they are around and willing to parent.

  • Rodrigues

    What I keep hearing, on both sides, is: Life is effing hard and we all want to have a friend who we can tell about it without judgments or assumptions just because their life isn’t on the same path.

  • Lawyerette510

    I think another tip is making your home welcoming to kids, if you want to see your friends (or family) with kids. Our home is by no means “child proofed” but we definitely have a few toys that hang out in a basket and a few things whose locations may get moved depending on the kid that is coming over. Also, when we are having a social gathering, friends are welcome to use one of the bedrooms to put the kid down or give the kid some down-time, and we’ll have a sign for the door ready ahead of time that asks people not to disturb. The result being that we have friends who bring their kids to our parties, and sometimes even family-slumber parties happen.

    • Ashlah

      This is a good point! I was totally open to our friends bringing their infant over to our house regardless of its state, since they pretty much just sleep and get held. Now that their child is mobile, though, some basic changes definitely need to happen before I (or likely they) would be comfortable having her over.

    • Kayla

      It’s also great to know a couple kid-friendly restaurants/coffee shops/places to get a drink. I think there’s a big difference between saying to a parent, “Hey, let’s grab coffee,” and, “Hey, let’s grab coffee. I know a place with a great play area for the kids.”

      • Lawyerette510

        Oh very good point!

      • TeaforTwo

        YEP. My BFF has a small kid and a husband who travels all the time couldn’t make it to my adult birthday party which was late and at a restaurant that would have made her kids miserable. But she came to visit for a Sunday and we went to a park and let her kid do his thing in the sandbox while we drank iced tea and gossiped for hours. Five years ago it would have been in a bar, but this is still worth it.

    • Natalie

      THIS. We don’t have kids, but some of our friends do. We’ve got a kid-level shelf in our living room devoted to toys, books, crayons, etc. for our friends’ kids. The kids love the new-to-them toys and books, and it sends a message to our parenting friends that we value their friendship and their kids.

  • Bsquillo

    I think what I’m finding most interesting about this conversation has nothing to do with parenting, but has everything to do with how other people’s expectations from friendships differ from my own. Maybe it’s because I’m fairly independent, or because the nature of my work means I have a wide circle of friends who I only see a few times a year (that’s typically what happens when busy musicians are friends with other musicians), but I feel like in general, I don’t expect that much from my friends. I know that might sound sad and not fulfilling on the surface, but what I really mean is this: when I haven’t heard from someone in a while, I don’t automatically assume that they’re actively trying to sabotage our friendship or even fade out. I just assume they’re busy, or stressed, or dealing with all the crap life throws at us, and the next time we run into each other, we’ll just pick back up where we left off. I know that other people’s friendships may require more maintenance, and that’s totally valid; it just hasn’t been my experience for most of my adult life.

    I think as a general rule, it’s dangerous to assume you know everything about someone’s life, even if they are your closest friend and you talk every day. It’s like that quote from somewhere, “everyone is fighting a battle you can’t see,” or something like that, right? You might think you know that your parent friend makes enough money to pay for childcare, or your childless friend seems to have all the time in the world, and maybe they’re just being rude for turning down plans. But maybe they’re dealing with debt, or illness, or an aging parent, or mental illness, or any number of things they can’t share. Like someone said below, we could all stand to benefit from more empathy all around.

  • FancyPants

    I have a question about #3, as a childless friend of several new-ish parents, with the acknowledged caveat that this is personal and different for everyone: when does the boundary get crossed for parenting other people’s kids?
    Honest question to parents: is it offensive/annoying/counter-productive if a friend helps assert rules, like saying please/thank you, or waiting their turn/sharing? It had not occurred to me, and I will open a dialog with my parent-friends about this, but I had sort of thought we were all on “team adult” together and would assert some general rules/behaviors in a united fashion, not just coming from parents.

    • Eenie

      I think sometimes it’s not the general rules and behaviors that are an issue but how are they enforced (time out, no dessert, a verbal warning, loss of a toy/privilege). If it’s just you reminded a kid to say please or thank you, there’s really no harm there. But yeah, you should ask the parent. When in doubt ask. General rule of thumb for everything.

    • z

      People sometimes have very different ideas about what those rules should be. So we’re kind of on “team adult” as far as things like not running into the street, but beyond the bare minimum of safety, there’s quite a diversity of views. And it’s sometimes irritating when people with no parenting experience feel qualified to step in. Everyone is a perfect parent after reading a few articles, before they have kids. Real life parenting is much more nuanced and complicated.

      Also, sometimes I’m trying to implement a particular parenting strategy that others may be unaware of. Here’s an example: I’m trying to get our daughter to say “please” without being reminded, so when she doesn’t say “please” I look at her and wait, rather than telling her what to say. If someone jumps in to remind her, then she doesn’t get to have the experience of remembering it on her own and the learning opportunity is lost. It’s not a big deal, but I generally prefer that others not interfere if I haven’t specifically empowered them to do so.

      Another reason is that kids sometimes respond very poorly to direction from adults they don’t know well, and that can make a fussy situation into a full-on meltdown. So I would recommend holding off unless it’s truly necessary or unless you know the kids very well.

      • z

        On the other hand, if I say “no more cookies” right in front of you, then please do prevent my child from obtaining cookies. When in doubt, you can always say “ask your mom/dad”– that way you’re backing up parental authority without adding any potentially conflicting content of your own.

    • Kayla

      To me, it’s fine if you enforce a rule you’ve specifically seen a parent enforce, but less okay if you try to get my kid to do something that’s not our routine.

      My step-son is autistic, so it’s especially hard when strangers try to police his manners without understanding his limits. Until recently, please and thank you were not really in his limited vocabulary. (He knew the words, but didn’t understand how to use them in context.) Every so often, a well-meaning stranger would demand he say please, get angry when he didn’t, and cause him to have a meltdown.

      So even stuff that seems basic (please and thank you, waiting turns) can be tricky. And it’s best to follow the parents’ lead. Or to ask! Asking is always good.

      Granted, I’m a step-parent and not a full-time parent. So advice may vary.

    • lady brett

      yes, team adult! for me the big dividing line (assuming we’re all in the same room or something) is between talk and discipline. unless you know me – and my kids – very well do not discipline my kid! or threaten my discipline on them. but the thing about polite reminders and rules is that, in general, even if i disagree with you, i think it is good for my kids to learn that different people have different expectations and that is okay.

      • TeaforTwo

        I really like the way you’ve put this. I remind my nephews to say “please” and sometimes wonder if I’m overstepping, but the thing is…I would do that with literally anyone who said “GIVE ME SOME CHEESE NOW.” There aren’t any adults in my life who could get away with that, and I just don’t want to be spoken to like that.

    • Amy March

      In general, I try to view other people’s kids as people. Are you hitting me? I am going to tell you to stop. Would you like me to give you something? You need to say please. Are you being very loud and giving me a headache? I will ask you to be quiet. Not from a parenting standpoint, but because its reasonable to set expectations for how people interact with me, whether they are old or young. And obviously only in appropriate circumstances.

  • Amelia

    So many of my friendships died after friends had children, no matter how many times I reached out and offered to babysit, offered to bring dinner, offered anything really I was met with silence. i get it’s really really hard but it kind of seemed like there was literally no way they still wanted contact. Sad.

  • Granola

    This is tangential, but I could use some collective APW wisdom help. I read an article a couple years ago I think? Or maybe a year. About gender imbalances in parenting labor and also them evening out over time as kids grow. I could swear that it was posted on APW and I think it was published in either the New Yorker or the New York Times.

    Am I imaging it? Does anyone else remember this story? My google fu is failing me and I could use a point in the right direction.

  • Christina Helen

    I’m childfree and have other childfree friends who complain about how parents can only talk about their kids. And I get bored by that too, sometimes. But if my friend has kids and my friend wants to talk about kids, even if I don’t find it the most interesting thing in the world, I am happy to listen to them talk about their kids for (quite a) while if that’s what they need from a friend right now.
    My problem is more that I just don’t feel like I have anything to offer my parent friends in terms of interesting conversation. Because when it comes right down to it, if we’re lucky (and I am), the stuff our lives are made of is pretty boring. I have work deadlines and stresses, and a loving partner with whom I make dinners and have interesting conversations, and I watch TV and read voraciously, but none of those things are remotely interesting to someone who’s not living them. I don’t have drama in my life ripe for discussion the way I did in my early twenties. Sometimes I think one reason parents talk a lot about their kids is that it gives them something to talk about: kids are endlessly changing, doing cute things, generating new stories.
    I mean, I’m not a bad conversationalist if you want to talk about literature or ethics or one of a dozen academic interests I have, but those are not topics my parent friends show remotely any interest in discussing, and I just don’t have that much to say about myself and my own life. So whenever I *do* get together with my parent friends it makes me feel like just the most boring person on earth.

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  • CP2011

    Timely– just found out a friend of mine (not particularly close) is pregnant. First thought? There goes that friendship. I don’t see her as much as I would like as it is, so I think it’s realistic to think I won’t see her hardly at all post baby. And we’re not close enough for me to be a big part of her support system.

  • Jess

    Oh, I disagree with asking your friends to baby sit. I don’t have kids and don’t think I want them and don’t want to be asked to baby sit. No thanks, sorry. My best friend just had a baby and I would really prefer not to be left alone with her until she’s like…12 unless there was some kind of crazy emergency situation. They don’t really have family around and don’t have many friends so this probably makes me a bad friend but…I’m just not comfortable around kids.

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  • Amy Warner

    What about the people who don’t like kids? Should they volunteer to babysit so you can go out? Ummm, no. Because as mean as it sounds if they wanted to deal with kids they would have had my own. Same for hanging out when you have your baby in tow, they probably don’t mind bringing them shopping, or hanging at yours or their house. Don’t insist on a ‘child friendly restaurant’ though, please don’t ask them to deal with even more kids than they volunteering to. Don’t bring them to afternoon tea, or a wine bar. If they arrange a party or event understand that unless stated it does not include your kids.
    It sounds awful, but they are friends with you, not your child. When I was growing up my parents didn’t insist on their friends spending time with me, because I wasn’t their friend… my parent was. The friends didn’t sign up to have kids. So many parents forget that. Don’t force your kids onto friends most of whom are too polite to tell you they don’t have anymore interest in your child than they would your goldfish. (Not to say I don’t care about your kids, I’m totally happy for you to bring the little one over, so long as it’s an appropriate event, I want to hear about your kid…just not all the time. I will spend time with the kid, but don’t leave me alone with one cause I panic about what to do when they cry etch…please remain in the room with me. I am not good with kids. Not everyone will want to have a connection to your child though, and it’s not a personal thing.. Some people just have no interest in kids/ are not comfortable around them- respect that and don’t force your child onto them. You wouldn’t do it with a dog if someone was uncomfortable, don’t do it with a baby.)
    If I offer to ‘help’ babysit that means I expect you to be in the room, do not take it to mean you can then make plans to see other people or get a massage.
    Once they’re about five, sure. I’ll babysit alone for a few hours whilst you get a spa session, but don’t expect solo babysitting offers from me for a newborn – 5 year old.
    The suggestion that childfree friends should stop to drop off ice-cream and stroke your ego is ridiculous, and entirely one sided…I didn’t see anyone suggest the parent do the same if her childfree friend had a bad day at work.
    It’s not their job to get you ice-cream and comfort you, it’s your spouses job. (I know some parents don’t have a spousal support) but expecting the friend to play pampering peer/servant is an unfair expectation.
    I hate the phrase ‘it takes a village’ the village didn’t have a kid, you did. Don’t expect everyone to help you co- raise your child.
    So much of this seems to be ‘how to do everything possible to keep yourself totally cemented in the lives of your newly parented friends without expecting much back.’
    I get that the point is to have mutual respect for each other and each others life choices, and to put in the effort of retaining your friendship. But this feels so one sided.
    Tbh if this is what it took to keep a new parent friend I’m sorry but I wouldn’t have the time or energy to waste on the new relationship that is focused mainly on what I can do and put up with for them.
    Another thing is the boundaries, if I invite you and your child over I will give them a list of house rules (kids over 2) not majorly complex or varied- basic, no running. No tormenting pets. Etch. Some of them might be different to the rules in your house, if your child breaks them I will tell them off. Do not berate me for it, it might be your child but it’s my house. In your own home you are in charge entirely, I wouldn’t dare assume authority over your child in your home, in my home it is entirely my place to tell your child not to do something or to calm down. So many parents let their kids run rampant in other people’s homes and get angry when the property owner tells them off, if you want your child to visit my home don’t tell me what I am allowed to do in my home- my house, my rules.
    Obviously there will be boundaries, and I would only step in if you appeared to be failing to get your child to respect my house hold rules, but do not after try to tell me it is not my place.
    The adjustment period is the most important stage, both childfree and parents are trying to manage this new level to the friendship. People tend to behave how they did when they first became friends with someone, neither of you can do that when a kid arrives and it takes a while for each to adjust. Especially if you’ve been friends since you were teens, parents font abandon them…Remember that your friend has never had to share you this way before and probably isn’t used to it.
    I suggest before the baby is born talk to your closest friends and realistically discuss expectations and concerns…it will make each of you feel more secure, the gap often arrives and stretches over the pregnancy period.

  • Carrie

    For parents: invite your friends without kids to your kids’ birthday parties, if other parents are going to be there. Just because we don’t have kids doesn’t mean that we one, don’t want to celebrate yours and two, that we don’t want to socialize with other adults even if one of their eyes are on the kid!