How To Be Friends With Someone You're Attracted To
How to Be Friends with Someone Who Has Kids when You Don't
These days, many people are choosing to have kids later in life, or choosing not to have them at all. Still, by the time you reach your mid to late 20s, chances are very good that at least one of your friends will have decided to have children. It is common for childless people to lose touch with old friends once they have kids, but it doesn't have to be that way. With a little extra effort, you can maintain your friendship (or even start a new one) with someone who has children, even if you never plan to have any yourself.
Relating to Your Friend
Include your friend’s kids in outings with your friend.It can sometimes be difficult for people with kids to find someone to watch their kids. If this often happens with your friend, then you might suggest meeting up somewhere that is child-friendly.
- For example, you could suggest meeting up at a local park. The kids can play while you and your friend can catch up. Or, find a kid-friendly event, such as a concert or festival, and ask your friend if they would like to come with you and bring along the kids.
- Even picking a restaurant that has activities for kids can be helpful. For example, you could arrange to meet your friend at a restaurant that has a playground or that provides coloring books and crayons for kids.
Be willing to talk about kids.From the outset, it will be important for you to understand that for most parents, parenting will be their primary non-work activity. So, it is only natural that your friend will want to talk to you about their children.
- This may not always be interesting to you, especially if you don't particularly like kids. The details of finding a daycare or the cute thing the kids did last week may not be too exciting. If this person is a good friend though, you'll need to try to take an interest.
- Even if you don't find children interesting, hopefully you care enough about your friend to take an interest in his or her life, with all its new challenges and experiences.
Talk about other things.While it is understandable that your friend will want to talk about his or her children, don't allow this to dominate every conversation. Talk about other interests and happenings in both your lives.
- Focusing entirely on the kids doesn't allow you to share much in the conversation. Discuss other topics you can talk more about and that are important to you.
- Parents can become so focused on their kids that they forget to talk about other topics, but the do have other interests as well, even if they don't have as much time to purse them as they did before having children. Give your friend an opportunity to talk about other topics.
- Many parents will be grateful for an opportunity to have a conversation with another adult that doesn't revolve around their kids.
- There's no need to tell your friend you want to talk about something else. Just look for a natural place to bring up a different topic. If your friend likes baseball, for example, and has just told you about his or her son's recent soccer game, you could say, "speaking of sports, have had any time to follow the Cardinals this season? They're really doing well!"
Schedule adult time.Find time to hang out with your friend without the kids present, doing grownup things. Invite your friend out of for a drink or a grownup movie, or to some other activity you both enjoy.
- Recognize that you may need to schedule kid-free time weeks or even months in advance, and that it will probably be limited. Even so, to have a healthy friendship, you'll need to find some time together when you can have real conversations and do things you both enjoy
- Even if you don't think he or she will be able to attend, continue inviting your friend to adult social functions. It will help him or her keep in touch with who they are outside of parenting.
Be flexible and understanding.Children often make it difficult to connect with other people. They get sick, or babysitters don't show up, leading to canceled plans. Kids need naps at specific times, making it harder to make plans in the first place. Be understanding of these difficulties, and do your best to be accommodating.
- Try not to be hurt or offended if you friend isn't available for social functions he or she used to participate in, or if your friend has to cancel plans abruptly.
- Find out when your friend's children take naps. These can be good times to give them a call on the phone to catch up.
Don't criticize your friend's parenting.As a rule of thumb, unless your friend asks for your opinion on a parenting situation, offering criticism isn't a good idea. Your friend is under enough stress as it is, and there's a good chance you don't fully understand the situation anyway.
- Many parents will be offended when people criticize their parenting decisions. Unless you see something happening that creates a genuine danger for the child, you're probably best to keep any criticisms to yourself.
Be positive about your decision not to have kids.Although their intentions may be good, many parents say things to their childless friends that make them feel guilty about not having kids (yet) themselves. Remember that you have to make the choice that is best for yourself. You get to decide when you are ready to have kids, or if you want to at all.
- Comments like "you'll change your mind someday" or "you don't know what real love is until you have children" can be hurtful and insulting. If your friend says things like this often, it is ok to tell him or her that it bothers you.
- No one gets to tell you when (or if) it's the right time for you to have kids. By waiting until you are ready (or not having kids at all, if you don't want them), you are making a responsible, adult decision, whatever anyone else might say.
Interacting with Your Friend's Children
Ask your friend about her discipline preferences.Some people prefer to discipline their children themselves, while others might be okay with a close friend or relative correcting their children now and then. Ask your friend what they prefer.
- For example, you might say something like, “Your kids are really well-behaved, but I just want to ask you about something. If any disciplinary issues arise when you and your kids come to visit, would you prefer to handle it on your own or do you want me to say something when I feel that it is warranted?”
- Keep in mind that even correcting your friend’s kids in minor ways may rub them the wrong way, so if you are unsure or uncomfortable asking, then it is best to leave the disciplining to your friend.
Spend time with your friend's children.When your friends have children, those children become a central part of their lives. If you want to have a deep connection with this friend, it will help for you to be involved in this part of his or her life.
- Accept invitations to events with the child, like birthday parties or trips to the amusement park. You don't need to accept theseeverytime, but take part sometimes. Let your friend know you want to be invited to these types of activities.
- If you feel comfortable doing so, offer to babysit from time to time.This will give you a chance to connect with your friend's children, and will also give your friends some freedom to do other things the kids can't be involved in.
- If your friend tells you about something he or she had hoped to do, but is unable because of a lack of childcare, just let him or her know you'd be willing to give it a try!
Don't talk down to them.Childless people often make the mistake of talking down to children or ignoring them when they try to contribute to adult conversations.This is frustrating to both the child and the parent.
- Acknowledge your friend's kids and respect their efforts to contribute to conversations, even if they seem silly.
- Remember that kids learn by asking questions. These interjections into adult conversation can be trying at times, but they are a part of how children develop an understanding of the world.
Don't try too hard to be cool.Don't try too hard to get the attention of your friend's kids or be the "cool uncle/aunt." While you don't want to ignore the children, it's often a good idea to let them come to you.
- Some children are anxious or fearful of people they don't know well. Your attempts at cuddling or playing with them may have the opposite affect to what you intended.
Preparing Your Home for Visiting Children
Take the child's perspective.If you have a good friend who has children, chances are good that at some point they will bring their children to your home. Before they arrive, go through your home and imagine you are a child of that size and age. What would interest you? What would be in reach?
- Get your eye level down to where the kid's will be. Get on your hands and knees if you have to, so you can see what objects will be most obvious in the child's field of vision and what his or her little arms will be able to reach. Any time it's something you don't want a kid playing with, move it somewhere else.
Put valuables away.ANYTHING in your home that is valuable to you, whether monetary, sentimental, or just functional should be moved out of sight and out of reach.
- Hide TV remotes, or the kids will. Make sure you collection of priceless records/comic books/souvenir plates/antique toys is nowhere in sight.
- Understand that anything you leave out may be played with, drooled on, or worse.
Minimize safety hazards.In a childless adult's home, there can be many dangers for a small child. Do what you can to make your home safe for visiting kids. Depending on the age of the child, this could include:
- Covering electrical sockets.
- Putting up baby gates.
- Securing cupboards or moving potentially hazardous items to higher storage.
- Locking doors to certain rooms.
- Covering sharp furniture corners.
- Most importantly: if you own firearms, make sure they are out of reach, secured and unloaded.
Communicate about your concerns and house rules.Let your friend know before the kids arrive if there are specific concerns you have or specific rules in your home. Especially if the kids are older, this gives your friend a chance to talk to them in advance, and lets him or her know what to keep an eye out for.
- For example, if you have a pet that is skittish or fearful of kids, let the parent know. If there are areas of your home that will be off limits to the visiting child, pass this information along as well.
Have activities on hand.Often, a busy child is a happy one. Hopefully, your friend will bring toys and other activities to keep his or her kid busy and content, but it can't hurt to have some options on-hand yourself.
- Before the child arrives, consider buying some kid-friendly movies, games, or music.
- Especially if the child will be visiting often, purchasing a few toys or children's book to have on hand is a good idea too.
- Make sure that you have some outdoor activities available too, such as hula hoops, jump ropes, soccer balls, or other kid-friendly outdoor toys and games.
- Offering to babysit and give your friend a night off from the pressures of parenting will make you the best friend imaginable.
- It shows thoughtfulness if you buy inexpensive gifts for your friends' children at holiday times if you're also buying something for your friend. Any good toy store will be able to point you towards something age-appropriate.
- When going to visit your friend, it can be very nice if you show up with a little treat for their children. A chocolate bar is sufficient.
- Understand that your friend's children will always come first. Don't be angry or hurt if plans are cancelled at the last minute because one of the children is ill.
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