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What You Should Never Say to Your Childless Friends

Yes, parenting is complicated, but don't play the parent martyr.

Becoming a mother had the single biggest impact on relating to my friends. Suddenly I became extremely close to those who already had children because of the simple fact that they could nod knowingly when I bitched about my lack of sleep, breastfeeding or how difficult it is to even get out of the house to go to the grocery store … and oh, let’s not talk about the grocery store because what a nightmare.

See? I already bored you, and if you’re reading this you probably even have kids.

Conversely, after having kids you can lose touch with those childless friends who are still living that swinging single lifestyle. Either because you’re annoyed that you no longer have anything in common with them or because they’re sick of hearing you yammer on about your parenthood.

However, if you have longtime friendships that have survived you having children or if you just barely had children and are struggling to maintain valuable friendships, here are some things you should never say to friends, according to Jillian Mackenzie over at Shine Yahoo. Mackenzie doesn’t have kids but most of her friends do so she knows what she’s talking about.

1. “When will you finally have kids?”
Of course you mean well. You are loving parenthood and want your friends to share the experience of overwhelming love you have for your children. But just shut up. Unless they bring it up first! Sometimes the situation is more complicated than you think. The friend could have been trying for a long time, or maybe one person in the couple doesn’t want kids. Either way, it’s a question that couples inevitably face the longer they’re together and it’s intensely personal.

2. “You’re so lucky you get to sleep in/shop/travel.”
Mackenzie says these kinds of comments make childless people feel “lazy, selfish, or shallow” for not having children and, as we’ve already covered, the reasons people don’t have children are never that simple. Also, yes, as parents we understand just how much freedom you give up once children are born but that doesn’t mean that childless people aren’t facing difficult circumstances or are sleeping any better than we are. Don’t play the parenting martyr, it’s annoying!

3. “I’m sorry it’s taken forever for me to call/email/text you back.”

This one borders on playing the parenting martyr again. Your life is just so busy compared to the lives of others, right? Don’t start every correspondence with an apology. Again, remember when you were single? You were busy too! It’s all relative, and Mackenzie says it’s likely your friends, who are likely also very busy with their own lives, didn’t notice a lag.

4. “You wouldn’t understand.”

I think this one is the worst. SO condescending. Sure, there are things that are probably better discussed with fellow parents and, as Mackenzie says, “honestly, with anyone other than a close friend, that’s probably best — I lose interest fast when someone I don’t know well talks too much about their kids.” But so does anyone! I’m a parent and when someone yammers about their kids too much I get bored. That said, when you have a real, true friend she will be interested in any aspect of your life so as Mackenzie says, “don’t let our relationship fade because you’re afraid of boring us with parenting stuff. Just like we used to listen to you talk about your ex, we want to hear about what’s important in your life now. And we hope you’ll do the same for us.”

These are just four of Jillian Mackenzie’s ten things you should never say to your childless friends. Click over to Shine Yahoo for the rest, they’re all just as good!

What about you? Got any good tips for those of us that are parents with childless friends?

 

Child-Free Friend Zone: 14 Ways to Keep Your Childless Friends

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