There’s no doubt that the moment you become a parent for the first time, the friendships in your life tend to change. That’s inevitable. After all, you have a different set of priorities now – and not a soul could blame you for how your worldview has shifted.
Some new parents, however, tend to find themselves worrying they have gone too far. This concern tends to be confirmed as a genuine worry, especially with STFU Parents constantly showcasing examples where parents have crossed the line. When you have child-free or childless friends (there’s a difference!), you can feel like you’re walking on eggshells trying to maintain the friendship. You don’t want to be that Mom can’t talk about anything else, but at the same time… there’s not a lot else that interests you now.
Parenting is consuming. It becomes the focus of our day, much to the bafflement of our child-free and childless friends. For one thing, we’re constantly on the alert for new information. Someone has some new advice, tips, or research? We’re more than happy to set aside our other worldly concerns so we can check this out immediately and see if there’s something new for us to learn. Then there’s the fact that if someone asks if we’ve had a good day, our answer might depend heavily on how our child – rather than us as an individual – are doing. We see them as one and the same thing; child-free and childless friends, however, do not.
Nevertheless, maintaining strong friendships is an essential component of getting yourself through the early stages of being a new parent. There’s also the fact that spending time with friends is a vital component of the “me time” that every Mom needs every now and again. So how can you keep these friendships alive when your baby arrives?
1) Be Careful With Your Choice Of Words
One of the main things that your childfree/less friends want to know when you have a child is that you’re still you. As a new parent, it’s easy to fall into the habit of using “we” instead of “I” – so: “we went to the park” or “we went to the grocery store”. This can feel alienating to friends who don’t get how that feels, so try and be careful to use “I” instead of “we”. It’s such a small thing, but it’s basically making it clear that you’re still you, just now with a child in tow.
2) Keep Your Expectations In Check
Sometimes, you’ll hear a story about how a Mom has become angered by her childless/free friends not coming to her child’s birthday party. It’s usually an overreaction, which is why maintaining your expectations is important. Your friends care about you and your baby, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to want to be involved in what are conventionally “Mommy” type things – so give them a break every once in awhile.
3) Shed Toxic Friendships
The above are good ideas for maintaining friendships, but try and remember that it works both ways. If you have friends who never show an interest in your baby and fake yawns any time you mention the trials and tribulations of being a parent, then maybe they’re not such good friends. If you’re going to make the effort to find a neutral space where you and your friends can just be “you”, then it’s not unreasonable to expect them to occasionally show an interest in your life-changing experience. It’s all about balance, and you’re not the only one who needs to be willing to do it!