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Rift in friendship since becoming mums(14 Posts)
My close childhood friend and I both had 2 children around the same time with similar age gaps. The children are all pre school age.Before becoming mums we'd see each other a couple of times per week, eat dinner together with DPs, go on days out and holidays together etc She was a very important part of my life. We chatted openly about everything and confided in each other. We knew we could always rely on each others support and friendship. We were like sisters.
Fast forward 4 years and our relationship feels more distant now. I suffered a bout of PND, at which time she offered practical support, she wasn't very emotionally supportive - (changed the subject or was unresponsive on the few occasions when I tried to talk to her about my depression.) Although we still see each other once every couple of weeks we don't meet regularly like we used to as I find I don't enjoy her company as much.
I feel she has changed and that we have quite different parenting styles. To be fair to her, neither of her children sleep through the night and she works in a very responsible, high pressure job so I think she operates in 'survival mode' most of the time. However, she is very dismissive if I try to talk to her about this. She has gone down the 'attachment parenting' route and I find it difficult to engage her in conversation when she's around her kids e.g. If her child wants a story reading to them, she'll stop mid- conversation to read them the story. If we meet up at the park with children I hardly speak to her as she'll just go off and play with her children whilst I sit back and let my children get on with playing independently. She's so intent on watching over her children that she seems to find conversation distracting and irritating. I feel I can't open up to her anymore and our friendship has become much more superficial and stiff upper lip. We just don't seem to have the same rapport that we used to. I miss our friendship of old and am wondering if in time we'll get it back once out kids are out of the 'early years' phase.
Has anyone had a similar experience? Or any advice to offer on how friendships change once you become a mum?
I have given up on a couple of friends who behaved like this. DSis is prone to it too. I think it is often driven by anxiety (your friend is probably exhausted too, hence struggling to multi-task, empathise with others, etc). Now I am a parent myself I am still mystified as to why you'd invite someone over/out, or accept an invitation, in order to ignore them -- it leads to some very confusing conversations, as well! Try not contacting your friend for a while, if you're the one who arranges to get together. It may well be you can re-start the friendship in a few years. Or that you need to find people with a more similar attitude to parenting. I would also say that she may be depressed herself and not everyone reacts in the same way e.g. hers is to be uber-Mum and not talk about it.
If she's working in a high powered job, the times you see her with her DC are probably her only times with her DC. So of course she will want to interact with them.
Yes, the rhythm of your lives is very different now. You can embrace this if you want to. But comparing your parenting styles is always a highway to disaster. And even the little indicators (such as making assumptions about how she interacts with hers, and that your way is preferable) show that you've already decided you're out.
I have no experience as I'm only expecting my first now. But have had this happen sigh friends of mine. Do you knw how her home life is happy etc ?
If she's finding it hard at home or find she doesn't relax around the children etc it could be an element of jealousy as you are relaxed and content where she's on edge alot and she may feel slightly resentful towards you because she feels you have it easier.
Or it could be she's so busy all the time thE she doesn't switch off and even seen such you finds it hard to engage in conversation while other things going on, I'm the type of person if I'm looking after my nephew and dp tries to have a conversation with me I feel he's taking my full attention away from the child which could the case with your friend x
Do you ever see her without your children being there?
It sounds like you judge her parenting skills a bit and she is probably aware of this. She was probably too knackard herself to help you through your depression.
Sounds like you need to look at how YOU can help her, rather than always thinking about how much she's NOT helping YOU. It might help turn things around and you'll feel good for it.
Hope that makes sense, not having a go at you, just think sometimes it helps to hear how it looks from a strangers perspective so please don't disregard this advice. Good luck and if it's not worth saving, just politely drift away and spend time with those you have more in common with.
In all likelihood your friendship will grow again when you're out of the very young children stage.
I would sit it out. Clearly you think very differently about parenting but this is common at this stage. It will pass once the kids are a bit older.
I have had similar experiences to you. Not exactly the same. I made a lot of nct type friends but after a year or so their annoying parenting styles (similar to your friends) I got so exasperated and bored by them I've cut off contact. Harsh, but that's life really.
I was friends with someone who refused point blank to discipline her son so he spent the whole time hurting my daughter. Another one talked non stop NON STOP about her child being 'soooooo advanced' that I cut her off too.
My mum friends are now down to earth straight forward no nonsense women who I get on very well with.
You may well have to accept its the beginning of the end I'm really sorry xxx
Thanks for your responses everyone. Phin.... Yes I wonder whether she's depressed. She often says kids are not sleeping, she's tired etc but then changes the subject.
VikingVolva - she doesn't work full time. Although I suppose I'm coming from the opposite perspective being a SAHM I often crave a bit of adult conversation
Hobbes... We see each other about once a year without children. I think this is a big part of the problem. When we meet, we don't meet as 'friends' but as 'mums' on play dates.
Sandysmam... I take your point. I have been there for her in emergencies, dropped everything to look after her children to help her out. I know she's appreciated that. when i've offered emotional support or to look after her children so she can have time off she's just dismissed my offers. She's very independent and strong willed and generally resists being helped by others (dismisses / rejects offers of help and changes subject).
Reassuring that a couple of you think thing will get better as kids get older.....
Oh yes absolutely this will improve. Try to reduce your feelings of judgement if you can - that way madness lies. You are both still in survival mode with small children. It will grow less intensely busy (but more complex) and differences like attachment parenting style or not will vanish. So please try to give the detail less thought now and hang onto your friend. Sounds like an essentially good friendship that will come good again soon
It will get better. I know it's really annoying to have a friend go off and play it read to their child when you've met up, but it's her style and it won't go in forever...in a few years her DC won't want her anywhere near when they're playing.
She must be knackered, and probably feeling sad she doesn't get a chance to talk to you like she used to, even though it her choice to put her children first.
I actually totally agree that the times she is with her DC she is probably wanting to wring out every moment and not talk about day to day stuff with a friend. It must be really difficult to attachment parent and hold down a stressful full time, professional job. I imagine she is probably plagued with Mummy guilt and if her kids aren't good sleepers then totally knackered into the bargain!!
You're judging her parenting, how would you feel if she judged yours?
I think you need to stop comparing how you each do things, accept that your parenting is different and maybe meet up as friends without DCs more.
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