CAN PARENTS AND THE CHILDLESS BY CHOICE STILL BE FRIENDS?

Bayo Ajibola

Can Parents and the Childless by Choice Still be Friends

She’s your best girlfriend and you used to do everything together. You went to the same school, commented on each other’s wardrobe choices and vowed that you’d always be besties. He was your
college roommate, the best man at your wedding and the guy who you could always count on to help you move apartments. But you’re a parent now and your lifelong chum has clearly stated that pets are as much responsibility as he or she is willing to take on. Can your friendship still work?
Most people who opt not to have children aren’t hostile to the concept. In fact there are many who serve as loving aunts, uncles, godparents and mentors. So first, get it out of your head that your friend’s
reticence about having children of his or her own is somehow an indictment of the lifestyle you’ve chosen.
Unless Mr. or Ms. Singleton or the D.I.N.K. (Dual Income No Kids) couple in your contacts list has sought to exclude your children from events they’re probably not at all bothered by your little ones. They may even like your kids.
That said, the friendships between single, childless people often include spur of the moment outings, last minute holiday trips and visits to places that just aren’t appropriate for children. It is inevitable that you’ll
have to bow out of some of these invitations when your children are very young. But just as “date night” for you and your co­parent is essential to keeping you well rounded, so is time with your childless friends.
Let them know when you get to the point where you feel comfortable leaving your kids with a sitter. It’s far too easy to drop off the radar of an old friend when your lives take different directions. So communicate your desires to have some grown­up time occasionally.
Once you’re a parent you tend to drift toward the other parents you meet through your child’s daycare or school. When your kids are old enough to develop friend preferences you may find that the parents of the
child your son or daughter likes may not have much in common with you. These are the folks you’ll see at school events and birthday parties throughout your offspring’s childhood. But this doesn’t mean you have
to limit yourself just to the people in your kid’s circle. You’re an adult and you still have some free will despite being a doting parent.
In addition to leaving the kids with a relative or sitter for couples events it’s important to embrace your one on one time with friends. The most successful parenting arrangements are often those that allow for the
occasional girls’ or guys’ night out. Mom and the kids might not want to go to that sporting event with dad and his buddy. Meanwhile few children would enjoy tagging along on a shopping trip with mom and her
girlfriend. Making time to “cover” for each other on the parenting front can free up partners to maintain the formative friendships that were instrumental in making them the people they are today. Even if that
old friend has made different decisions about family.

Picture from Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr


Bayo Ajibola

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