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Friends without kids- your experiences?

(48 Posts)
girlnextdoor Mon 30-Jun-08 19:37:31

My best friend of over 25 years has no kids.

We have a very close relationship, but she rarely ever asks after my kids. She is godmother to one of them too.

Even when they were small, she never once offered to babysit even though I have no family near. I was in hospital twice when they were toddlers and she didn't offer to help- though she does live an hour's drive away.

I really do care about her and she is having a rough time at the moment, so I spend a lot of time offering support- but don't get anything back.

Is this normal for friends who are childless- or is she really self-centred? I often find her behaviour very hurtful, but she thinks she is the most caring person ever- and she's be horrified if she knew I felt this, I'm sure.

OverMyDeadBody Mon 30-Jun-08 19:41:34

The only way to have a stress-free relationship with friends is to never ever ever have expectations about how they should behave or what they should do or not do as friends. You have to just accpet them as friends (that is, if they are nice to you obviously) and other than that, leave them to make their own decisions about what they are going to do as part of the friendship.

The minute you have expectations you will find yourself feeling let down and disappointed, which isn't really fair on the friend is it? Especially if they havevery different views than you about what constitutes a good friend.

NomDePlume Mon 30-Jun-08 19:43:54

She sounds quite self-centred. DH and I have 2 sets of very close childless friends (couples) and both love DD to bits, despite not wanting children of their own.

FairyMum Mon 30-Jun-08 19:45:09

I think many (not all) childless people have absolutely no idea what it means to be a parent . They don't think like parents which means they might not offer the help for example a parent might. I think I was the same pre-children. I am close to many childless friends, but the friendship-dynamic is very different to the friendships I have with other parents-friends.

artichokes Mon 30-Jun-08 19:45:55

Before kids I had three best friends who I have had since school. I am the first to have kids. They were all very exicted and came to visit me as soon as DD was born, they bought lovely presents and "ooohed" and "ahhed" over DD.

That was the best it got. One never asked really asked about DD again, she only wants to see me at night when DD is not around, if I start to talk about DD her eyes glaze over. If I complain about tiredness she says it was my choice to have kids. It drives me mad. If she complains about work I never say "it was your choice to do that career". Friends listen to each others problems with interest. Her and I are hardly in touch now.

I am still close to the other two but they only ask about DD is passing and rarely want to see me with her. They do howver listen if I shoose to talk about her. I find their lack of interest slightly hard but accept they have no idea how all consuming motherhood is and they want our friendship on the same basis it has always been. I am happy to keep our friendship on an adult-only level until they too are mothers.

For motherhood support I rely on my friends with kids.

notnowbernard Mon 30-Jun-08 19:46:47

Maybe your friend feels that you have changed a lot since having kids, and have become a bit 'child-centred'

I guess it works both ways

Not meaning to sound harsh, by the way. I have experienced this myself with an old friend who doesn't have kids, how different we'd become etc. I used to think it was her that had changed toward me. But now I have 2 dc, it's a bit like when I meet someone who is expecting their first child and they are totally (and understandably) wrapped up in the whole process of pregnancy, parenthood etc... it must be difficult to relate to if you've never been there

ElfOnTheTopShelf Mon 30-Jun-08 19:47:54

my best friend does not have children, she is godmother to my daughter and she adores her.

deanychip Mon 30-Jun-08 19:58:33

I was 33 when i had my son and so for many years i was "the childless friend" to most of my pals.
I had 5 Godchildren and felt a very special bond with them all.

BUT to be completely honest, i couldnt be arsed with them.
I wasnt selfish i just worked incredibly hard in my career, was renovating a house and had other things on my mind on my little bit of time off.
I LOVEd seeing them and spending time with my friends and their children, but if was given the choice....

Now i think back and i do believe that i was an arse and could have more of an effort.
Its the same now though, i want to be a more practical helper to my pals with kids, but i have my own to contend with.
I could tie myself up in nots with it all.

mistressmiggins Mon 30-Jun-08 20:00:22

I have friends who cannot have childrensad
They adore my DCS and vice versa.
However maybe its too painful for your friend and so she just ignores it.
Plus lets face it, parents are boring wink

deanychip Mon 30-Jun-08 20:02:22

lol YES! paents are bloody boring
i get on my own nerves some times!

Booboobedoo Mon 30-Jun-08 20:04:04

Just a thought girlnextdoor: have you tried asking her for the kind of help you'd like?

I was feeling quite hurt that a (male) friend of mine had pretty much disappeared as soon as I got pregnant, but I then mentioned to him that we were having trouble finding baby-sitters, and he's looked after DS twice in the last month!

Sometimes people just need things gently spelled out for them.

squeaver Mon 30-Jun-08 20:12:02

Ours vary. We know a few couples without kids and tbh they're not that interested in dd. I'm not bothered - I was a bit like that before we had dd. I liked my friends' dcs but I didn't want to spend all my time talking about them. And now I don't want to spend all my time talking about dd and that's why it's nice to have friends without dcs!

Sympathise over your best friend tho. My (childless) bf is dd's godmother and I really think I only asked her because it seemed the right thing to do. She loves dd, but she also rarely asks about her and it does hurt a little bit sometimes - but I would never mention it.

I have a friend who has 4 boys and always wanted a girl and I wish I'd asked her to be dd's godmother. I think it would have meant more to her.

girlnextdoor Mon 30-Jun-08 20:31:38

Expectations- well, I can't agree. How do you NOT have expectations of what you want someone to do? It's not so much expecting them to help or whatever, it's being hurt when they don't and other people do! I can't see how we can avoid wanting people to behave in a certain way- that's one of the reasons we choose them as friends, because of both who they are and how they behave. It's also a case of judging yes!!their behaviour against your own- *do as you would be done by* is the phrase.

I don't feel I am child- obsessed- far from it- in fact I feel awkward talking about them at times, as it is so obvious she doesn't want to know.

They are now in their 20s, so no baby talk etc !! A typical example is when she once came to visit and left just before my DD came home from school-there was no reason for her leaving at that precise moment- and she hadn't seen her for months. I couldn't have done that if she'd had kids. I found it very hurtful that she obviously had no interest.

Mummyandi Mon 30-Jun-08 20:56:19

Maybe your friend is not very confident with children. Some childless people don't have a clue how to relate to kids at all. I have both types of childless friends, the type who would babysit in an instant and take my DC's out for the day and the type who wouldn't even know how to say hi to my kids.
I think you have to accept that it is the way your friend is and she won't change.

notasheep Mon 30-Jun-08 20:58:53

Its lovely to see my friend without children and NOT talk about my dd and ds!

RubySlippers Mon 30-Jun-08 21:03:43

have you ever gently brought this up with her?

she may not even realise she is doing it

someone on MN once said (in reply to me on a thread where i was be moaning lack of involvement by In Laws) that it is a big mistake to assume everyone is as interested in your children as you are

beaniesteve Mon 30-Jun-08 21:08:35

I have no kids yet.

I would say it's normal. I was bridesmaid for my best friend and an god mother to her three children. At the moment we live a mile apart but I have never baby-sat. I always buy them presents at Christmas and Birthdays but I see them rarely.

My friend relies more on her family for babysitting, or takes care of her kids herself with her husband (they oth work).

She also has friends with their own kids who do not do things like baby-sitting.

MadamePlatypus Mon 30-Jun-08 21:10:55

I don't think I would expect a friend without children to be overly interested in children - certainly not to babysit.

Before Children, people tend to either do children or not do children. Hopefully we parents are interesting enough ourselves to be interested in people who have no interest in our children. Hopefully this will stand us in good stead for when our children are no longer at the centre of our lives in quite the same way.

My parents have some childless friends who had absolutely no idea how to talk to me or my brother as children - they were still very, very good friends to my parents. I certainly didn't make friendships at school on the basis of future babysitting possibilities, so if one or two of those friends aren't now interested in my children, I'm not really surprised.

On the other hand, I never had a particular 'best friend'. I suppose if you had a very close friendship with one person, it would be more upsetting if your lives obviously took different paths.

girlnextdoor Mon 30-Jun-08 21:40:56

Thanks all- thing is my friend is THE most confident person in the world and gets on with my kids (now adults) great whenever she sees them- which might be once a year at most?

I think sadly it is self-centredness and simply not having had an experience of being a mum.

Ags Mon 30-Jun-08 22:09:58

My best friend (since age 15) is childless (by choice) and is extremely good with my children. She offers to babysit quite often which I take her up on occasionally (usually last resort as she lives about 1.5 hours away and I feel it is big hassle for her). She is Godmother to my firstborn and is very generous with both of them.

I am very appreciative of her interest in and help with the children as I definately would not expect it from someone who has chosen not to have children herself. She often comments that we never get to have a conversation when the children are around but I make sure we have times when we can go out alone to redress the balance, and the hour a day we spend on the phone helps too!

I agree with whoever said we should not 'expect' friends to be interested in our children but I would say that I would 'expect' a very close friend to be interested in me and to give me support and help in whatever area of life I needed it.

meep Mon 30-Jun-08 22:18:06

I had dd when I was 36 - and was godmother to children of two very close friends. I had absolutely no idea at all what it was like to be a mum and loved my godchildren but if I am perfectly honest was quite pleased when they went to bed so that I could have a glass of wine with my friend!

I always tried to be interested and to play with them, but for me, pre-child of my own, other people's children were fine....in small doses!

Now I have dd I am so much more interested in other people's children and have apologised to my friends for not being there more for them.

I really think it depends on the type of person you are. I was not a baby/child/maternal person before I had dd - now give me children of all shapes and sizes in large doses and I think it's wonderful!

rookiemater Mon 30-Jun-08 22:25:04

I think if you were to actually have asked your friend to babysit then she might have said yes.

My best friend had a child before me and whilst I don't think I offered because it probably wouldn't have occurred to me I was more than happy to do it when she asked. I was however very unsure about what to do if the baby woke up, so her DH kindly drew me a flow diagram which went through the basics and ended up with "PHONE US"

My other close friend who has now emigrated, is childless and when I had DS she just didn't get it. She came and visited but after that it was up to me to get in touch and there seemed to be a huge chasm between us that I couldn't bridge. It got a lot better when I went back to work,because once again we had more in common, but then she went and emigrated.

I don't think there is a lot to be gained from discussing this issue with your friend, just reserve her for girly gossips and shopping and keep the conversation child-lite.

girlnextdoor Mon 30-Jun-08 22:27:28

Ags- that is the point I was trying to make- I do not expect my friend to be interested per se in my kids, as she chose not to have kids herself, but as she is a very close friend, i would have expected her to be interested in me and my life overall- and that includes the trials and tribulations of my kids. I'm talking of the ordinary every day stuff that even neighbours ask- have they passed their GCSEs, A levels, degree etc etc!!! If I didn't tell her, I don't think she would think to ask.

Whereas another close friend who has 3 kids asks about them all the time and me about hers.

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Tue 01-Jul-08 08:01:37

Two of my closest friends have kids (I'm in my twenties so when I was younger it was less likely that my friends would have kids) and I've been pretty involved all along. I don't mean I'm babysitting all the time but will do when asked, go to birthday parties, will talk about the trials and tribulations if required, and absolutely adore their kids. I'm happy to see them with the kids or without. I think some people just find children boring TBH, I never have!

littleboyblue Tue 01-Jul-08 08:15:20

I had a best friend. we had been friends since we were about 11, anyway, I had a child, she came to see him the day we brought him home and even babysat 1 night, but she was just unbelievably mean and selfish. She'd ring me and ask how I was or what I was doing and the minte I mentioned ds, she'd say, well that's not what I called about so anyway........
Then she'd refuse to come to my house if all I would do was talk about my newborn and even when we planned to meet for coffee, I'd get a mouthful if I was so much as 5 minutes lkate.
I really do think that those without children just don't nderstand (although I have friends that are great with it all). In the end, I told my friend that she was a selfish cow and to fuck off. I cannot and willnot be friends with someone who does not like my children.
Arggh. My rant over

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