analytic tracking code

Pracitcal Tips for Being Friends

Monday, April 26, 2010

Why don't kids affect men's friendships?

Can you imagine what it would be like for two women who are friends and get together every week for 18 years and not know the names of the other's children? It would be on Planet Never Would Happen. Because I find that women I barely know, whose children I have never met, assume I must know all their kids names, ages, and their allergies to peanuts.

Jeffrey Zaslow of the The Wall Street Journal, however, doesn't have to imagine what this is like among his male friends. He recently wrote an article about mens' friendships. In it he mentions that his good buddy, Lance, who he has played poker with every week for 18 years, has no idea what the names of Jeffrey's kids are.

Now I am not saying that men's friendships are any better or worse than women's. They are just different. And I think the biggest difference is that when a man becomes a dad, he does not instantly become friends exclusively with other dads. He will probably gravitate a bit more towards men with children. But he will be just as happy to drink some beers while watching the ball game with his buddies without ever feeling compelled to discuss diapers, getting into the right pre-schools, or anything else to do with kids. In fact, while dads love their kids, sometimes they want to get away and enjoying hanging out with their friends like they did in the Days Before Kids.

Moms, don't you want to do this, too? And who better to help you enjoy a Days Before Kids outing than the experts themselves, your childfree friends? So take a friendship tip from the Wall Street Journal. Leave the kid talk at home and come out and play with your girlfriends. And don't worry, if you happen to mention your kids, at least we will know their names.


  1. It's interesting. As a male with no kids, I have not had a "boys night out" or trip or anything like that with just my brothers since the first of them had kids. I'm pretty sure it would be seen as a hugely selfish thing for us to do by most of the spouses involved. I've sort of resigned myself to the fact that it ain't gonna happen this side of the grave.

    Now, I do have a lot of brothers. So the logistics are not simple. But it's still kind of sad.

  2. Sometimes for parents it becomes so automatic to think, "I can't go out, my spouse would think it's selfish and irresponsible" that they don't even bother to ask anymore. With a newborn, it's understandable. But once the kids are out of diapers, why doesn't the spouse ask? In the case of your brothers, they could even preface it by suggesting their wives go on a girls night out. Finally, if anyone still thinks that's too indulgent, you could gently remind them that a happy parent is a better parent, so it would be poor parenting not to out.

  3. Susan, one of the great pleasures of being a fledgling working jazz musician was the chance to escape Mom World--my son was a few months old when I started freelancing regularly with a dance/cocktail/wedding type band, and although it was exhausting to stay out late playing music when I knew I'd be awoken by the kiddo at 6 am, it was still worth it. I was usually the only woman in the bandstand--except for a substitute bassist we sometimes used--and for a long time I was most certainly the only parent. What a pleasure it was to be among men who'd politely and genuinely ask me how the baby was doing, but didn't expect to hear more than a generic "Great!" in response. And then we'd talk about other things--music, obviously, but also politics and stupid celebrity gossip and what not. Even once some of the guys started having families, they still tended not to verbalize too much about their children. They compartmentalized better than most of the mothers I was starting to get to know around that time.

    The thing is... I have always had just as many men friends as women, and just as many childless and/or single friends as married, so it is easy, natural, and fun for me to transition from my mother mindset to different ways of socializing. Also, I had consciously developed a very rich life, artistically and intellectually, long before I became a parent. For a lot of women, I don't think that's the case...they had jobs, maybe, but no great passions outside of their hopes for marriage and family. And so it is no surprise that they have trouble constructing social lives for themselves outside of these parameters. Eventually, though, most of the college-educated women I know do find ways to get emotionally "out of the house"...volunteering around the community, getting serious about athletic events, or whatever. Maybe just drinking to excess. :-)

  4. hmmm, I have to disagree here, my husband lost his best friend because the guy had kids and turned into the male version of a mombie. We try to keep ourselves separate from all things breeder related, we didn't go to some baby thing of theirs (held only because they wanted gifts) and the guy literally blew his stack in a very psycho manner. Kids change people, I will say women more the men but some men also become typical "it's all about my kid" breeders.

  5. however, to be fair this man was and is a VERY girly man in my opinion

  6. I find the term "breeder" to be very offensive. Can't we all be human? Children are human. Moms are human. People who choose not to have children are human.

  7. I agree with Sarah, and I would add that the word "breeder" is also confusing for some people. Withing the gay community "breeder" has been used to refer to heterosexuals.

  8. I agree. I posted this under another post, but we recently moved to a new town and my husband has made friends with quite a few guys with kids. I recently asked him if these guys talk about their kids a lot and he said no, they don't mention them at all unless it's in the context of something they are bummed they can't do because they have kids. I am really envious that my husband has more options when it comes to making friends.

    I have tried hanging out with the wives of some of these guys, as well as with other women who have kids, and it feels like we come from different planets because they talk about how much they wanted a night away from the kids and then when they get one they want to talk about the kid non-stop. When my husband and I hang out with these people and their kids are around, it usually ends up being a disaster. My husband might get some talking in with the man if he's lucky. I'll often be on the of the room trying to make conversation with the woman while the kid wines, runs around, acts rowdy or competes for mom's attention. Not much fun at all!