Some Dos and Don’ts for People Without Kids When Dealing with Their Breeder Friends

You don’t have to be a “kid person” to remain our friends after we have kids, just a “friend person.”

Most of my childless friends have adapted amazingly well to the changes that my being a parent has brought to our relationship. I imagine that it must be hard to watch a friend get swallowed whole by a completely foreign set of experiences. Since I’m the one getting swallowed, I can’t know what that’s like—but I can offer a few (entirely unsolicited) dos and don’ts to those who have not, as yet, procreated.

DO volunteer to help out with the kids. Maybe you don’t consider yourself to be “a kid person,” and that’s okay. I don’t consider myself to be “a furniture person,” but I still wouldn’t stand there and watch you move a couch all alone. Kids come with an absurdly long list of both gear and needs that we have to juggle. Learning how to put in and take out a car seat, or getting little Timmy a refill on his milk, might be things well outside your comfort zone, but they can be an enormous relief to a busy parent. Besides, that’s what friends do.

DON’T buy into to the myth that the lives of people with kids are awash with indescribable depth and meaning. Yes, we’re having an amazing and unique set of experiences, some of which are genuinely profound. Most of those experiences, however, are mundane and some are downright tedious. If you live your life right, while we’re busy at home changing diapers, doing homework and folding laundry, you can be having your own set of unique and amazing experiences. Your experiences will be different, but don’t let us try to convince you that ours are better by virtue of including offspring.

DO decline invitations to kids’ parties and do invite us to do great grown-up things that aren’t child-friendly. We ask you to soirées at Chuck E. Cheese not because we think you’ve been dying to try the new pizza buffet, but because not inviting you might communicate that we don’t want you around. Most parents have the good sense to not be offended if you pass on the opportunity to come to GymMania for cake and a trampoline. On the flip side, please invite me to that wine tasting/concert/beer and bowling tournament on Friday at midnight. No, I probably won’t go and, yes, I’ll blame it on the kids. But I need my childless friends to anchor me to the pre-procreation version of myself that understood that there’s more to life than sippy cups and soccer games.

DON’T describe yourself as exhausted/insanely busy/stressed. Of course you’re each and every one of those things, we all are. And that’s the point. Parenting has all the same demands, stresses and deadlines that you do plus we get to add perpetual responsibility for a small, needy, inquisitive, “me” machine to the ‘to do’ list. Have a bad enough week and you can crawl into bed Friday at 6 p.m. with a box of Chardonnay, some Hot Pockets and the remote control and not get up for three days. Your worst-case scenario is probably a nasty personal hygiene problem. If a couple of parents do the same thing, there’s a good chance that someone will die.

DO travel for fun, go to movies, be spontaneous, use profanity when none is called for, spend money thoughtlessly, have sex on the kitchen floor, leave sharp objects and dangerous medications all over the house, watch the unrated directors cut of “Showgirls” on the flat-screen in the living room, listen to whatever you like in the car, have coffee and read the paper in silence, go out for drinks with people from work without checking in with anyone, sleep on a plane, own modern furniture with lots of glass and sharp edges, have a long, uninterrupted phone conversation and sleep late. Seriously, you have no idea how awesome all these things are until you can’t do them anymore.

DON’T be annoyed by all the pictures of our kids we put on Facebook. Yes, it’s overkill and no—you’re right—they’re not nearly as cute as we think they are. But remember the time you posted a picture of that amazing meal you had at Patina? Okay, imagine that plate of pumpkin risotto followed you home and now you spend 24/7 with it. Imagine that, one day, it started talking or riding a scooter or danced out into the living room wearing a pair of Uggs and a fedora that you didn’t even realize you owned. You’d want the world to see that, right? Imagine that most everything you do revolves around the care and well-being of that delicious entrée and you’ll get an idea why you see so much of our children. I “like” your check-in at spin-class not because I even remotely care that you went to spin class but because I like you and I enjoy knowing what you’re up to. Cute kids are what we’re up to.

 

This was previously published on The Huffington Post.

Read more Lifestyle on The Good Life.

Image credit: edenpictures/Flickr

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About JD Roberto

JD Roberto is a writer, actor, and the Emmy nominated host of The Better Show, a nationally syndicated daytime talk show seen around the country. Game show fans known him from shows like The Price is Right and Shop 'Til You Drop, plus reality shows like Outback Jack, Are You Hot? and E! News Live. His writing has appeared in Parents Magazine, Huffington Post, the Los Angeles Times and on theBump.com. Check out his parenting blog at The Hands On Dad and follow him on twitter @jdroberto.

Comments

  1. cory huff says:

    As someone without kids, deeply involved with a religious community, this is hilarious. We had a party last week where all of the children were running around screaming. I thought it was hilarious, but I was glad that I could go home to a quiet house.

    I love my friends with kids.

  2. wellokaythen says:

    In the spirit of DO’s and DON’T’s, here are some plusses and minuses from the standpoint of one person without kids.

    DO:
    Distinguish between “childless” and “childfree.” Childless means someone who wants to have kids or feels like he/she is missing out on having kids. Childfree means an actual decision not have kids or someone who is just fine without them. Not all people without kids are “childless.”

    Be clear with friends without kids that your friendship, if it still exists, is a very different relationship now. Be clear that your friends without children will probably not enjoy being friends with you as much as they used to.

    Consider the possibility that your friends without children consider babysitting, especially unpaid babysitting, to be an imposition on their time and an unfair requirement of your friendship.

    DON’T:
    Say you are still friends and then tell your friends they should not ever complain to you about their lives. Now that you have children, that means your friends without children can’t say anything negative about their lives to you? You have no more sympathy for anything they’re going through? Sounds to me like you are not really still friends with them.

    Tell your friends how to feel or how to react to photos on your Facebook page. A friend has kidded you for years about the things you post online, but now that you’re a dad those jokes are off-limits?

    Assume that your friends without children have absolutely no concept of what your new life is like. Don’t assume their primary response is envy!

    • Yes, I personally am childfree–I find it hard to be friends with parents–this article is very self-gratifying…

  3. OMG! Thank you for the badly needed laugh and derailing from my crazy-train!
    A perfect 10 !!!

  4. Your last DON’T is ridiculous. You say not to get annoyed by your endless pics of your kids on facebook. YOUR facebook profile should occasionally contain a pic or post about you. If you really feel the need to post pics of your kids, just make a facebook page for your kid. That way, whoever is interested in those photos can enjoy them until the cows come home without “annoying” the rest of us. What is even more inconsiderate is the assumption that it is a tit for tat exchange of annoyingness. What about those that don’t post that picture of our totally delish meal at Patina? Maybe we are equally annoyed by your kid-gasm of photos but don’t respond in kind with photos that annoy you. The solution is simple, and your kid will appreciate the very full timeline when they are grown. If you are lucky, you can also reserve the name space on facebook.

    Also, if you think it is a “DO” to offer to babysit for over worked parents then I sure as hell hope you suggest something that is equally important for the parents to offer in return something of value and consideration. A possible consideration would be to find a babysitter for a night out without it seeming like you rebuilt Noah’s Arc.

    Disappointedly,

    Childless

  5. I’m childfree by choice (I’m just not that into kids). And the whole exhausted part bothered me. People with children forget that those of us without children may have other obligations that do make us exhausted. Working over full time and then taking care of one’s aging parents, for example, is exhausting and someone might die if I fail at that. Also where I am those of us who don’t have children get to work every single holiday because after all those with children can’t and summer vacations? Forget it. Because after all those with children only can vacation in the summer. So yes I’m exhausted. I can’t piece together a vacation because between school breaks, children’s illnesses and holidays that I have to cover for there just isn’t time for me to call in sick or do a good chunk of days off at once and when I’m not there I do have two needy humans to take care of too. So yes I’m exhausted too.

  6. These do’s and don’t’s remind me why my friendships have tended to die once my friends have children. I can’t tell you I’m stressed now? Well, heck, just because I don’t have children doesn’t mean my life is nothing but carefree, happy bliss 24-7. I have a job, I have relationship troubles, I have financial stresses. Friendship is a 2-way street: I acknowledge the ups and downs in your life and you should return the favor. Otherwise what’s the point? Our friendship can’t just be about me constantly admiring your sacrifices as a parent and telling you how fabulous your kids are, while saying nothing aout what’s going on with me. Also, please don’t expect me to help out with the kids. I think children are amazingly cute, but they are like little alien life forms to me. I have absolutely no idea what to do with them! Finally, I’m not going to keep inviting to things if you always say no. I will get the idea that you don’t want to do anything with me. If you value our friendship, you will have to make as much effort as I do in keeping it going.

    I actually think it is tough for people without kids and people with kids to stay friends. At that point, you just don’t have much in common anymore. As time goes by, you have less and less to talk about. If I talk about the fun things I’m doing, you get resentful and talk about how you never have time anymore. If I tell you I’m insanely busy and stessed at work, you tell me that it’s nothing compared to having kids. So after awhile, I feel like I can’t share anything with you and I stop calling.

    • I have friends with children but there’s a careful balance that had to be achieved there I found and it is tough.

      The other things I find frustrating is the expectation of helping with the kids and gear. Wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t constantly followed up with some negative remark about my complete lack of maternal instinct. Or how dare I not know that you are doing some freakish diet with your child that means they can’t have this or that. And shame one me and my lack of germ consciousness for not bathing in sanitizer myself and bathing the child in it before letting them consume anything because they didn’t just pick up 100,000 germs eating sand out of the community litter box in the park. The constant nagging is what stops me from even considering helping. That and something apparently happened between the time I actually cared for children professionally and was responsible for my ex’s child where the entire house has to come with a diapered child instead of just a simple little diaper bag with some necessities (which was perfectly adequate for me). You choose to bring one of everything. you carry it.

      And the whole lack of not being able to talk about stress bothers me too. I remember I was waiting for my own cancer test results to return when one parent had a stroke and I had to keep it together for the other parent because someone had to do the care taking. I finally had 5 minutes alone and my friend at the time chastised me when I mentioned my stress because I couldn’t possibly know what stress was when they had this colicy child with an ear infection. I realized at that point that it’s a rare friend that can see through the reality that there are other life stresses outside of children. Since I had so many friends that had children at one time I basically stopped talking about any stress I have at this point because it’s not worth the fight.

      • I gotta say I resent the term “breeder.” We are not cows. It’s a derogatory term. As the gay community merges mainstream perhaps they should be a bit more sensitive? They too can breed if they like, however they chose not to, so there really is no distinction. It’s just not cool.

        • Haha, Diana–that is funny–you are breeding…get over it. Parents have such an entitlement, and it’s obvious in this article…

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