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To wonder if friendships between parents and non-parents can ever really work?

(219 Posts)
moonwashigh Tue 22-Oct-19 08:17:28

I’m not being goady, or trying to knock anybody, either people with children or people without. I don’t have children (that’s not a choice) and because of the age I am (late thirties) pretty much everyone in my friendship circle has had a baby within the last five years, most are now on their second.

Obviously, I understand and expect that the children come first and I’m not saying it should be different. But being honest about how things are, it means that obviously nights out don’t happen and that’s fair enough. That means seeing them during the day and the children are of course there. This wasn’t so bad when they were babies but now the stages mean you can’t have any sort of conversation - again, that’s no ones fault, it’s just how it is.

To be totally honest on here in a way I wouldn’t be in RL, I don’t really want to be spending my free time in soft play, farms and child friendly cafes but then this obviously means if I do elicit this choice I don’t see my friends as I fully understand that this is how it has to be.

It also means the onus is on me to see them rather than anyone travelling to see me. I get this - driving three hours with kids in tow is a nightmare - but obviously then I am constantly doing the travel with the time and money this takes up and that also feels a bit unfair.

So is the disparity just too great or can it ever really work? To me, it feels the only way it can work is if I accept my lot in life is to travel, sit and dote on other people’s children and then travel home again ...

beingsunny Tue 22-Oct-19 08:24:43

The really young stage doesn't last that long, mines seven now and I still have a great relationship with my best friend of 20years who is childless by choice. She also couldn't imagine a worse day than visiting a local farm grin

It's doable, you might just have to make some compromises in the early years, if you think the friendships are important enough.

She would occasionally come over for a wine after bedtime or we would meet at the beach with the kids.

MrTumblesSpottyHag Tue 22-Oct-19 08:25:20

My best friend doesn't have kids and it works for us. She puts in a lot of effort with my girls and I arrange to spend time alone with her when I can. I have told her repeatedly how grateful I am that she's let our friendship evolve to include the children. I love her!

HauntedPinecone Tue 22-Oct-19 08:25:54

I think you just need better friends! Some of mine have children, most don't. We compromise. Sometimes we have to do kiddy things if we want to meet up, sometimes we do adult things. It sounds as though your friends expect you to do all the giving and it's just expected of you. Not fair or reasonable!

MrTumblesSpottyHag Tue 22-Oct-19 08:26:18

Oh but it does help that she's a massive child and actively enjoys petting farms and day trips to the amusements 😂

FriedasCarLoad Tue 22-Oct-19 08:27:31

I think it can work - I became a parent at 40, and many of my friends had children far earlier.

As a non-parent I did more of the driving and saw friends less than I’d have liked (without children), but loved being included in aspects of family life and still benefited from the friendship.

As a parent of a toddler now, I sacrifice my previous early nights sometimes to stay up chatting and have to summon up energy for meeting up, but enjoy hearing about friends’ adventures and getting a glimpse of life outside the home!

My closest friends include a couple of single women my age, a few grandmothers, and a childless couple. Very different lives but the love is there.

kalinkafoxtrot45 Tue 22-Oct-19 08:27:38

Of course you can, it just needs a bit of flexibility on both sides. Sometimes you’ll do stuff with the kids around and sometimes you’ll do stuff without them. And what’s lovely is that the kids grow up and can become your friends too.

Vulpine Tue 22-Oct-19 08:27:39

I generally see my friends (parents and non parents) in the evening when the kids are in bed so the existence of kids doesnt really come in to it.

cherryblossomgin Tue 22-Oct-19 08:28:30

My best friend has two children and it hasn't affected our friendship. I don't have children yet. I love spending time with them. She has a new baby and a teenager.

Jennifer2r Tue 22-Oct-19 08:30:10

I do the travel because it is easier for me. I refuse to go to soft play. I like those pubs where there's a playground.

They do get older quickly and then the friends start coming back wanting a night out etc.

Like @FriedasCarLoad says if the love is there it works.

TeenPlusTwenties Tue 22-Oct-19 08:30:17

Things go in phases.
For now you travel and go to farms.
When they are older they can be left with their other parent for the evening or overnight.
Older still and they have fled the nest.

Queenoftheashes Tue 22-Oct-19 08:30:59

I have absolutely no problem with this. My friends who are parents I’ll visit at home and we still have occasional meets in pubs and restaurants. Non parents it’s basically the same thing tbh but more flexibility.

moonwashigh Tue 22-Oct-19 08:31:40

I can see that if you adore spending time with the children then that works.

Truthfully, I don’t: it’s a bit painful for me right at the moment but I think even without that I’d find it hard. It isn’t anything personal against anyone whatsoever, it’s just toddlers and very young children aren’t easy company!

saraclara Tue 22-Oct-19 08:31:57

I was the last of my friends to have kids, and I remember well how frustrating it could be. I'd want to have a conversation, but I never had their full attention. I was going through some stuff, but gave up on trying to talk to them about it, because it made me feel even worse that they'd lost the ability to listen to me.

I can't say if it gets better, because in the end I became a parent too. But I think it's the nanny/toddler stage that's the worst. It's all consuming.

BillywigSting Tue 22-Oct-19 08:32:14

My two closest friends also don't have children (though one has neices and nephews he is very close to and the other has god children she see a lot) and it's not been a problem.

Yes it was harder in the early years but now dc is school age it's not that bad.

They do both live quite close to me though and we tend to meet in a mutually convenient place (none of us drive) so the travelling isn't quite so one sided, though when dc was small and I was beholden to nap time they did both come to visit me a lot more than we went out.

If it's a really valuable friendship it can be done.

I did lose a lot of friends when I had dc though as our lifestyles just weren't compatible and we drifted away. But the really important ones who also valued my friendship highly stuck around.

Branleuse Tue 22-Oct-19 08:32:19

I think it depends on the ages of the kids.
First few years, if not longer, then parents are often in a kind of zone. So busy, so child focused. Really hard to connect with people that arent in same zone.
My kids are a bit older now and its much easier to have friends at different life stages again because im not always dragging kids around and can leave them more easily. Im more a person in my own right again.

MonnieMoo Tue 22-Oct-19 08:33:27

My best friend on the whole world has no kids a bday I have 4. We’ve been best friends since 14/15 and are now 38/39 so yes they can.

Samsamsuperman Tue 22-Oct-19 08:33:37

I have 2 young kids. I have friends with and friends without kids. I don't see any of them as much as I used to but I do still spend time with all of them. Friends with kids I normally see with my kids in tow (not always), friends without I tend to see in the evening when my DH can stay in with the kids. I enjoy those meetings and the chance to have a child free meal/glass of wine.

MonnieMoo Tue 22-Oct-19 08:34:44

In the whole world* and I don’t know where bday came from blush but it should and I have 4

moonwashigh Tue 22-Oct-19 08:34:50

sara, yes, and of course it’s understandable but still, for me it ends up feeling a bit pointless.

The thing is, I can quite see that it doesn’t last forever but it still spans a good seven to eight years assuming someone has more than one child, and when that’s over it’s easy to say that you pick up where you left off but you don’t, because life does go on.

I’m impressed some have managed it, I just honestly don’t really see how at the moment.

Ragwort Tue 22-Oct-19 08:34:51

Of course it can, totally depends on your friends though, one of my dearest friends is childfree (by choice), many of my friends have much older children than me as I had my DS at 43. But I made sure that I could meet up with friends without my child always being with us, I don’t think I would have suggested going to soft play with a childfree friend grin. Also my DS was a good sleeper so if friends came round at night he would be asleep in bed by 7pm or I would go out as DH is perfectly capable of staying in with DS.

AgeLikeWine Tue 22-Oct-19 08:35:00

Yes, it can work but the non-parents have to understand that the parents’ lives have changed massively, and the parents need to understand that their friends’ lives do not revolve around their child, who they may not find particularly interesting.

AlmaMartyr Tue 22-Oct-19 08:35:15

Yes, I think so. Friendships go in phases, like others have said. We had children first of all our friends. For a while they all visited us and indulged us with walks to play parks etc, while we listened to all the fun they were having! Now our kids are older, our friends have had babies and we visit them, offer to babysit and happily spend afternoons in playparks with them. I love my friends so happy to put in effort and happy that they cared to put in the effort when my kids were younger.

moonwashigh Tue 22-Oct-19 08:35:51

It is interesting though that some are replying that yes, they can, as the ones who are parents.

I’m sure a lot of my friends would say it’s possible but they don’t know how dejected I’m feeling, and I can’t possibly say so.

EpicDay Tue 22-Oct-19 08:36:18

One of my best friends in all the world is childless and I have two DC. I think it makes a difference that we have been friends since our teens and so had a lot of love and shared history prior to me becoming a parent. We both compromise - she spends time with me and the kids sometimes and I more often find time to see her without them. But she is very very precious to me and I guess thats the answer - it matters enough to both of us to make the effort. But yes generally speaking I can see where you’re coming from OP!

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