There’s something about being a parent that makes you gravitate toward other parents. I assume it’s the same feeling of kinship that soldiers share after being in the trenches—fellow parents know what you’re going through. They know what it’s like to go for weeks without a full night of sleep and question your existence and forget that you have spit-up on your pants and then wear the same pair of pants for a month straight without a second thought. They get it.
But what happens to your childless (or child-free) friends after you have a kid? I know what happens. You invite them to all of the baby stuff—baby showers and meet-the-baby and christenings and what have you. You have the best intentions to keep them in your life, but maybe you feel guilty about the constant baby overload in your friendship. Soon enough, the invites start to trickle off, and you only keep in touch with your childless friends on Facebook.
I’ve probably been guilty of this myself. It’s hard to connect in the exact same way after having kids, especially if you still have couple friends without kids and single friends in your social circle. It’s just easier to phone up your parent friends to go to the park for the afternoon because they will understand when you have to leave early when your toddler has a meltdown at 5 PM. (It’s dinner time, duh!)
I’ve even tried to make new parent friends—meaning parents that I wasn’t friends with before having kids. Most of the time, the interaction is forced. All we have in common are our kids. While that’s all fine and good and may foster a play date or two, I prefer making friends with people that I actually connect with, with or without the presence of children.
Don’t forget about your childless or childfree friends after you have kids. You may think that they don’t want to hang out with you and your baby on a boring afternoon, and maybe they don’t, but at least give it a shot. You were friends with them before kids for a reason. In my world, I’d rather stay connected to kid-free friends and minimize the baby talk than manufacture new parent friendships based on kids as the common interest.
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