To think I am going to lose all my friends?(50 Posts)
My friends have all got young children, ranging from newborns to reception age in primary.
I love children, I really do. Unfortunately, I'm not in a position to have any (haven't got a partner.)
Part of me thinks this is just a natural consequence of our lives going in very different directions, but most of the time when I see my friends the children are there. This makes it really hard to talk about anything as there are just constant interruptions and "sorry, what were you saying" and it feels really silly if you've been talking about something important to have a toddler shout something in the middle of it and friend says "oh, sorry" and attends to him and so I end up saying "oh, never mind - what does Oliver need?"
The conversations also naturally revolve around the children, latest words, steps, funny sayings, new toys. I feign interest but it's getting harder to act as if I'm really excited too.
I just feel as if we're growing apart but it worries me, as obviously, going into 40s with few friends, no family of my own - is this how bitter old women are born?
I guess there’s a couple of points here, is it hard to maintain friendships when they have kids and you don’t. And do you want kids yourself.
In all honesty yes it is fairly difficult - kids take over your life so even if they’re not there you tend to talk about them even if it something like “oh it’s nice to have some peace and quiet”. You also spend 99% of your life rushing and exhausted so don’t have energy for things you once loved. The second point is do want kids of your own? These days there’s so many options you could consider if you do.
Meet your friends in the evenings if possible without their children. If they are talking about their kids a lot, smile politely but not too warmly and say 'that's nice' and change the subject. I make a real effort with my childless friends and even my friends with children actually not to talk about my daughter too nmuch unless I have a particularly funny story to tell as I know it is dull for them. I would also seek out some new friends too as you probably won't see your old ones as often now. You definitely don't need to lose them though. I really value my friends without kids as I feel like my old pre-kids fun self when I am out with them.
Could you start to do things to meet women without children, or with women whose children have left home? How old are you?
I agree with you - when you're not in that situation it's a pain in the neck to have to put up with it!
If you can weather the next few years the children will be less all consuming and ever present as they get older, and meeting without the children will be easier (also they will learn not to interrupt, and then that some conversations are private, eventually...)
I have largely lost touch with childless friends, but am making new friends these days, quite a few of whom are childless.
Just anecdotally I find people with several children go on about them less and don't expect others to be interested in their children's words of wisdom/ cute or amazing deeds, sporting prowess, genius or whatever the way people do with their first. So for many of your friends the expectation that you'll be interested in their children will wear off!
Sorry, I can see you've said your age. I think you need to widen your circle of friends - have you looked at Meet Up?
I am mid 40's, lots of dc but would love a friend regardless of whether they were interested in my dc!! Quite happy for a friendship that doesn't include them tbh!
Hang in there. The kids grow out of the constant interruptions stage pretty quickly. Plus all the mums I know are more than grateful to have conversations that don't revolve around nappies and so on. Your friendships may be a bit harder to maintain in the next few years, but your friends will appreciate you making the effort and in the long run it will be worth it.
This post could so apply to me.
And I hear you about the bitter old woman comment. I'm turning into one.
I feel the same about my friends (only difference with me is that I have a husband) but I understand your frustration/disappointment of growing apart from mummy-friends.
I remember going out for lunch with a friend and her 4 year old and telling her that my nan was close to death but constant interruptions from the kid and she didn't even listen to a word I said.
Not sure what to recommend other than finding new / more friends.
I've just joined Bumble to try to meet more people (I'm mid 30s)
The I felt like this before I had my DC and I was only just thirty. All my friends had children and literally every single time I saw them either we were pretty much unable to have a conversation without lots of interruptions or, if we went out in the evening, all they would talk about was the children. I love the children, I'm godmother to two of them but it bored me silly and made me feel really left out all the time.
Now I have my own DC and I am super conscious of not being a child bore! If I'm with friends and the children are there we'll, there's not much we can do. But when we're out in the evening I will now say 'ugh let's not talk about the kids anymore, I do enough of that in the day!' and no one gets offended because I'm including my own in that! If I'd have said that before I assume it wouldn't have been as well received.
I think OP you need to try and see your friends when the children are in bed and change the subject when they start to bore on. They really can't help the constant interruptions when they are there - they can't ignore their children and their needs and toddlers frankly don't get give a monkeys if Mummy is talking - but they can be considerate and interested in what's going on in your life, not just theirs.
Losing friends is the one side effect of being childfree that I was not prepared for. Of course it’s natural that friends with children will drift as they move in a different direction. Still hurts though to be so easily forgotten and let go.
You need to join a Gateway Women (GW) Meetup. Google Jody Day.
I was ditched by my pre-children friends. I was probably distracted but I wished they’d stuck around.
If these are old and dear friends, hang in there. Soon little Oliver will be a hulking adolescent who won't be seen dead near mummy and her friends, and your friends will (or ought to be) grateful that you are still there for them when they've escaped the small child haze. I have small kids and work shifts and I am terrified of losing my friends as it is only very rarely I can get away without them, I treasure my old friends all the more for the patience and understanding they have shown me. And I do try very hard to not talk about my kids (but as I am either working or with them sometimes its hard not to. I am painfully aware of how dull I am).
I wouldn't say you are bitter OP. Just a different stage/path in life. I have bigger children and I really find it frustrating to meet up with people with small kids, because they are small and all consuming. Messy. Loud. When they are your own, you love them, you grow with them. I was once seated next to an almost 2yo on an airplane. Screeching and wriggling and kicking the whole way. Not the parent's fault, nothing they could do. But drove me up the wall all the same. I smiled at the parent, I was not nasty.
@Kitsharrington I've found the opposite actually, I've lost friends since having children! I have two friends who I've known since childhood who are both child free
by choice career women (and I know this is the case, not fertility issues or anything that would have upset them, we were very close) and both of them have gradually, but completely distanced themselves from me since I first got pregnant. And as I said in my pp I make a big effort not to be a child bore, I always ask about work, promotions, relationships etc and try to arrange dinners out, lunches minus my DC. But it's just like I'm a boring Mum now (I'm a SAHM but previously had a successful career) and almost like they've lost respect for me. Their loss I suppose!
If you are feigning interest in their children, you’re not really a friend.
I have three good friends who had children long before I did. I’m not really a person who was around children a lot and found myself being quite awkward at first as I had no idea how to be around children. But not once did I feign interest in what they were doing, how they were getting on. As time went on, I was able to baby sit for them, pitch in when they were struggling, and got to know their growing family. And we still managed to have conversations which weren’t children related.
If any of my friends felt they had to pretend to be interested in my daughter, i’d be happy to see the back of them.
You may benefit from trying to meet some other women without young children, but hang in there with your other friends. Try to arrange meet ups without the children when possible, suggest evening etc. Also wait it out since this time will pass and the children will not interrupt so much. You absolutely don't need to lose your friends, just accept that things will have to be approached a bit differently for a while.
If you are feigning interest in their children, you’re not really a friend.
Rubbish. Not everyone is interested in kids. It’s much better to fake an interest because you care about your friend and she cares about them rather than just ditch the friendship.
Dh and I had many years of infertility before dc so many of our friends had dc before we did.
We actually became closer to some of them, because we were always happy to arrange seeing friends around their dc's needs and to engage with the dc and so on.
Maybe it's because I'm from a culture where it is normal to have lots of small children around, but I find it's not actually that big a deal to interrupt a conversation to deal with a small child, and that my friends with young children were so happy and relieved that I was always comfortable continuing a conversation like that (which was the only way they could ever have a conversation at all!) that they were generally very happy to keep our relationship going.
And in the end, it's only a few short years until the dc are old enough that they can be held on a very long leash and it it possible to go back to uninterrupted conversations.
I remember feeling like this before I had DD. It is really frustrating and my DSis is terrible for it. If it cheers you up at all, I sometimes feel like this still. It is very annoying being constantly interrupted by someone else's child, even if you like them! I don't think my DD is too bad for this. Because she's an only child, she is generally so thrilled to have someone to play with that she completely ignores me and the other adults.
I think you maybe need a wider circle of friends. I joined a choir some years ago and met a great range of women there - some have DC (mostly older than mine) and some don't but we can talk about all sorts of things and the activity is an ice breaker with new people too. Any activity that attracts a range of ages is good. Don't think you have nothing to bring to the conversation, either. I have had some excellent advice over the years from friends without DC, because they don't have particular preconceptions or an axe to grind.
I think your friends bear some responsibility here. My friends are about 50/50 with children/childfree and when i see my childfree friends I don't take my DD and only talk about her if they ask. It was hard at the beginning as it was all so consuming but I just asked about their work/holidays etc and now I'm 'back in the world' a bit more it's easier and I've kept my long term friendships.
See if you can meet them without the kids and do an activity like cinema or something that you can chat about after.
Do you think by faking an interest, you’ve unintentionally made your friends think you like hearing all the boring stuff about their children?
I must say it does get tedious trying to talk with constant interruptions from toddlers and you think I might as well give up trying. Could you not meet up at the weekend for a meal if they can leave their dc's for a few hours with their partner. Even every few months would be something.
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