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Pracitcal Tips for Being Friends

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Unspoken Rule Among Parents

When I was in high school, I went out with someone who was into Dungeons and Dragons, a popular game at among the nerd/geek/dork crowd. I figured if my boyfriend (who was not a complete social dork) was into it, how ridiculous could it be? But that's before I walked in on a game and this was some weird other universe that I had no idea existed.

And that's the same feeling I got when I started to look into the Mommy blogs. It's a whole different world. When I searched for posts about friendships with women without kids, here's what popped up at the top from from Work It, Mom

Another change you can count on as a new parent is that within weeks after the new arrival, all of your old friends disintegrate and are reformed into a brand new circle of friends. Who all have kids. It’s the Unspoken Rule of Parenthood: breeders and non-breeders can’t be in the same room together without bloodshed and explosions. Like mixing ammonia and chlorine bleach.

Bloodshed and explosions? That sounds worse than a diaper blowout. Here's the deal. I don't think it has to be like mixing ammonia and bleach. Especially when there is vodka and cranberry juice around.

What I want to know is, do most moms talk like this or is this more on the extreme side? Is the separation of tribes this deliberate? Would love to hear from both sides.


  1. This posting led me to additional reading to see which side of this debate is in fact more extreme. Full disclosure - I am childfree myself by choice. I don't think that impacts my determination that the non-childfree crowd is definitely more extreme in its language and positions. I mean, reading references to "breeders" versus "non-breeders" and other terms like that indicates that some with children feel threatened by or even malevolent towards those who elect to be childfree. I would be interested in hearing from others and their viewpoints on this

  2. Hi, I stopped by to say thanks for the info on adding a page to Blogger. Your posts are interesting. I'm now a follower.

  3. Susan, my two can let anything go up like the Berlin Wall between friends and family if you're not careful. I have a son with autism, and for years, I shut people out unless they "got it" because it was too difficult to explain everything to them. Not a good way to live. I had to consciously make an effort to find common ground, and I believe all moms, dads, humans need to do that.

  4. I'm still on the same terms with my childfree friends as I was pre-parenthood. It's really not that complicated if you genuinely have a good relationship with each other. I don't understand why there would be a big divide unless one or both parties were just plain resentful of each others status in life.

    Seriously. Some parents just plain resent anyone who doesn't have children for their freedoms and tries to convince everyone around them to become parents. Misery loves company. Then there are those without children, who can't stand children or parents and are resentful of their friends' choices. There are also those who might be jealous or resentful that they are unable to have children - biological or otherwise. Either way, it takes a great deal of negativity to dissolve a friendship, and it's the fault of the adults, not the children.

  5. I go onto Facebook about once a week as it's just too much fucking NOISE. But I was happy to see your post about your blog and cruised over there. GREAT stuff. You're articulating such an important and really I feel unspoken issue. Maybe it's me but my feel is that those w/out the kids or massive pregnant belly are pretty much on a lower rung. Again, maybe that's me but I certainly just feel that vibe. I think in a lot of ways, despite the endless whining that parents do (once they've spent the endless amounts of money on IVF to get the kids) that they have it easier: they don't have to think about what to do with themselves or how to be productive in this world anymore as they have an 18 year homework assignment sitting and shitting in their arms. Their lives have ended.

  6. By the time I had a child, most of my friends already had kids and we did discuss them; I had a lot to learn. However, not all of my friends had kids and I did make an effort to not talk about my kids with the them. They sometimes ask and I give brief updates, but that's it. They don't want to dwell on them and I find that neither do I. That being said, I do think that overall what you say is true. I think article and sites like yours have made most mothers more sensitive of this situation.

  7. Interesting thought....As a mom of five, I do have more friends that have children than don't only because I spend a lot of time at my children's activities, school, etc. I don't think this happens immediately after child birth, but slowly as your children grow up. However, I have to pipe in and say that sometimes it is difficult to have friendships with others with children even though I do have children. Here's why. I make decisions about my children or make rules for my children so that my house runs more efficiently, to teach my children respect or just because I believe it's the "right" way to do it. Many times, I think it's hard for parents to adapt or adjust to other family's ways of doing things. I get all the time, "well, you do it that because you have five children." Well, maybe so, but maybe I have the rules or traditions because that how we have decided we wanted our family to run. So I think people are people and anyone can be close minded. In the end, you have to find friends you connect with. I agree that many times parents flock together only because of children being in mutual activities, but that doesn't always mean it's a good fit. It's always good to be respectful of everyone you meet and find common ground (kids or soemthing else).

  8. I do love vodka and cranberry juice, however indulging in that drink for the first year when my baby was breastfeeding was something I chose not to do. Finding other moms of infants to hang out with and relate to at that time seemed very important to me. Most of my friends had not had children, and still don't. I've been longing for more friends with kids while maintaining my friendships with my current friends. Reading your post makes me see the benefits of my friends that don't have babies. And the comments remind me that friendships with other moms will happen naturally as my child grows.

  9. I find it really hard to continue a friendship once my friend has a kid. Not because I don't want to, mind you. I am definitely in the minority among my friends and I find my friendships dropping off one by one, and it sucks. More than anything else, however, I think the biggest roadblock is that I find that the new mom just doesn't have *time* for me anymore. She becomes swept up in a constant stream of christenings and family barbecues and playdates and dinner at gramma's house. Even if I make the time to stop by their place to say hi, it's in the midst of a sea of toys and I only get 25% of the mom's attention. It's frustrating and discouraging and eventually I stop trying. And I find it I'm not trying, usually the mom's definitely not trying! It just fades. It's sad.

  10. okay.
    i have friends- female friends- with and without kids.
    let me break it down in bitchy yet simple terms:
    if you are amazing before/without kids- it is likely you will remain my friend, and not lose every iota of coolness and commonality within our relationship.
    if you are just okay as a friend but a borderline jerk-face, you will most likely suck big stinky butt post birth!
    this formula has weeded out the women in my life from "the moms."
    women are women regardless of what they birth- ideas or kids.
    moms are moms and may only be seen as thus primarily- especially by themselves.
    and may i add- ironically, the women i suspected to remain child-free were the first to exit my life after birthing. yuck.

  11. I am a big believer in the fact that friendships take efforts from both sides and post kids my mum mates give up trying. I get they have less time and other priorities but I agree with the post above (Oct 11, 2010) it's up to me to drop in and arrange catch ups that fit in with their schedules, and when I do the conversation is all about the child. One friend's husband even made a comment one day on my marriage... 'you'll understand what real cooperation is one day when you have a child' - I'm not a lesser person cause I haven't had a child!! I feel judged by my friends with kids everything I do in life has less significance to them. I'm not sure that post baby friendships can survive and if they do I'd say it's because of the efforts of the childless ones.