• Things You Should Never Say or Do in the Presence of Friends Without Children

    Posted on August 15, 2013 by Darcy in Crib Notes, Parenting.

    I was at a mixed picnic yesterday. And by mixed, I mean that there were people at said picnic both with kids and without. (Although admittedly the amount of guests without kids were few, as us parents know how hard it is to get our childless friends to give up a weekend day to come hang out with our children.) I was standing in a group of women explaining to them why my son was acting a bit erratic when I uttered the words, “We missed our nap today.” I cringed as soon as the words came out of my mouth, and I saw a nice young woman (sans children) flinch instinctively.
    “I’m sorry, I hate when I say things like that. We did not miss a nap today (though I probably could have used one). Just my son missed his nap.”

    When we become parents, our lives become so incredibly altered by these amazing little creatures, that we often forget that everyone around us isn’t as dazzled, in love, impressed, infatuated, etc. with our children. And thus, for future reference, I have decided to put together a list of things that should not be said or done within view of our friends without kids. Do not take offense if you have committed any of these crimes. I have, as well. Plenty of times. It is so hard to separate ourselves from the bubble of parenting. But I am trying to be more conscious of it so my friends will still want to hang out with me.

    1. As above, the use of “we” in situations where “we” aren’t doing anything. Examples of this would be, “We are potty training,” “We haven’t napped,” “We are teething,” “We are pregnant.” No. No. No. And no. Say it to your fellow mommy and daddy friends and they understand. But unless in fact you and your husband and your baby all have new molars about to erupt through each of your gums, “The baby is teething” will suffice.

    2. “We are trying.” While this time it is appropriate to use the word “we,” unless you are specifically asked, or it is a very close friend or relation, it is not appropriate to volunteer this information. What your friends without kids hear when you say this is, “Me and my husband, who you probably like to think about having sex about as much as you like to think about your own mom and dad having sex, are currently having a lot of sex.” A Facebook friend recently left a status update that sums it up as follows: “Oh, I’d love to hear about how you’re trying for a baby,” – said not one person ever.

    3. Any updates, details, posts on Facebook (pictures especially!) of your child’s potty training progress. Look, I know you’re proud. When you no longer have to change diapers a gazillion times a day, you want to run around and shout it from the rooftops. And little Bobby or little Janie look so cute reading their board books sitting on the potty. Resist.The.Urge. While I understand that there are some things that kids do that are cute that are not cute when adults do it, poop is poop is poop. That is all.

    4. Ask people when/if they plan to have kids. This one is more serious. In my own life I know some people who have gone through very difficult and very serious struggles trying to get pregnant. Being asked when you are going to have a baby for the tenth time right after you have experienced a miscarriage only compounds the pain of that miscarriage. It’s not your fault that you didn’t know, but unless you are very very close with the person, leave it alone. If they want to tell you, they will.

    5. Anything along the lines of, “Oh man, you’re so lucky you have time to [insert activity of choice here- read, sleep, comb your hair, etc.].” Again, maybe the person desperately wants children and is struggling and might not be comforted by the fact that she still has “me” time. Or maybe she’s just a really busy person, with a demanding job, bills to pay, endless responsibilities, a dog and a cat, etc. Either way, unless she brings up her endless free time, it’s probably best not to make any assumptions.

    6. “I didn’t really understand what life was all about until little (Sophie, Jacob, Ollie, Betsy) was born.” Yes, becoming a parent might be the most profound thing to happen in your life. It gives you a sense of purpose and meaning that maybe you didn’t realize before. But not every life requires the same purpose and the same meaning. Your friend might derive pleasure, happiness, meaning, nirvana, etc. following a passion of hers. And it’s not fair to imply that unless you have children, your life doesn’t have the same value.

    Ok, admittedly some of the above is silly, and yes – who cares if you say “We are teething,” instead of “He is teething.” The main point is to try and be sensitive, because you really don’t know what everyone’s personal circumstances are. Additionally, when your friend has given up a Saturday afternoon to drive out to the ‘burbs and hang out with a bunch of people distracted by their children, the least you can do is give them a drink and spare them the gruesome details of parenting. That is, if you want them to come back!

    Some ECard

    Is there anything you’ve said to a friend without kids that you have immediately regretted? Did anyone say anything offensive to you before you had kids?

5 Responses so far.

  1. Nicole says:

    Eh, I’m half and half on these. I do say “we” for things like potty-training, etc., because let’s be honest — the effort, pain and suffering is far more on my end than the kid’s! And I did post a couple of potty-training pictures, but in a mocking way, like one of my son using the iPad while seated — “yet another bribe that totally failed to work.” (I draw the line at actually showing the contents of the potty. Do people do that?!)

    Yes, we do have to be mindful of people’s fertility struggles, toning down the kid-related talk and resist the urge to ask about things like “trying,” except perhaps among really close family/friends. But it goes both ways — childless folks shouldn’t assume we meant any harm in the conversation. We’re so friggin’ sleep-deprived, it’s amazing we can even string together adult thoughts into sentences sometimes, let alone ones that have devious meanings behind them.

    Of course, the best thing is to make time to hang out with your friends WITHOUT the kids! I propose another blog post here, about those self-destructive parents who refuse to leave their kids with babysitters…

    • Darcy says:

      Yes!!! Thanks for that idea because I agree about the babysitters. Then again, I leave my children with anyone who will watch them. So I am not representative.

      • Nicole says:

        I’d write it, but the rage would be more than the humor… I need a break from Seattle #firstworldproblems. Half the posts on my neighborhood’s moms & dads listserv today are related to a) requests for donated breast milk (DON’T get me started!) and b) helicopter parents freaking out about choosing a babysitter for their kid for the first time. At least the crazy carseat lady took a break from berating folks who dare to ask about flying with a lap-child…

  2. Noa says:

    I would say I am 50/50 here and have either done these things or been the victim of these things. It’s probably just better if I keep my mouth shut going forward. John would be so happy.

    • Darcy says:

      I am sure there are 10 gazillion other things I say that annoy people both with kids and without. This is just a small sample. haha.

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