When Your Friends Talk Nonstop About Their Kids . . .

In the Jan. 6 episode of the new Sex and the City series on HBO Max, Miranda’s professor, Nya, and her husband have been struggling to have a baby. Their attempts at IVF have failed and they are taking a break. It’s a painful subject. The last thing they want to talk about is babies. But when they go out to dinner with another couple, their friends can’t stop talking about their children. Every time the professor tries to steer the conversation to other subjects, it always comes right back to the kids. It turns out their friends are pregnant with yet another child. More baby talk. This parent couple, totally clueless about what the professor and her husband have been going through, keep bugging them about why they don’t have kids yet and how they won’t know real love until they have them.

At The Childless Life Facebook group recently, a long discussion centered on the problem of not being able to talk to your friends once they have children. Suddenly, former best friends have nothing to say to each other.

Ah, the mom club. Their lives are wrapped around their kids, and yours isn’t, so it becomes difficult to have a conversation about anything else. You feel abandoned and left out. Dads do it, too, but not as much.

I still remember when the moms in the church choir would gather to talk about their kids and school stuff and I was suddenly outside the circle with nothing to do but sort sheet music. Some of these moms are now obsessed with their grandchildren, so it’s still not a good fit, but others have come out of the mommy cloud.

Not long ago, I had a great exchange with a female friend about football. Did you see the game yesterday? How could he have missed that kick? Etc. Yes, girls can talk about football. This friend has children, and she’s about to move away from here to go live with them, but they’re all grown up, and she has plenty else to talk about, especially when her Kansas teams are playing. Maybe the key is just to wait it out. Someday the kids will be gone, and your friends will rediscover that there are other things in the world.

But that’s a long time to wait. Meanwhile, what can you do?

  • You can just try to be interested in your friends’ families and join the conversation as much as you are able, even though you don’t have your own children to talk about. Talk about your nieces and nephews or other kids in your life. Remember your own childhood. Smile. Pet the dog. Excuse yourself to go home early.
  • You can seek out other childless people with whom you share other interests, whether it’s a book club, yoga class, softball team, writers group, or whatever. They might have children, but you have this other thing in common.
  • You can keep trying to direct your parent friends’ attention to things other than babies, to remind them that they need to hold onto the person they were before the little ones took over their lives.

I understand how children can become the main thing parents think and talk about and how they would gravitate toward other parents. I was that way about my puppies when Annie and her brother were small. Annie s still a central concern, and I enjoy a good conversation about dogs. But the best way to be a friend is to take a genuine interest in your friend’s concerns, whether it be babies, cooking, or working out at the gym.

If you’re at the age where most of your friends are having babies, try to be interested in their families, but also insist that they listen to you when you talk about what’s on your mind. Maybe they don’t even realize they’re obsessing until you point it out. Or maybe you’ll need to find other friends until the kids are at least in kindergarten.

How do you deal with friends who can’t talk about anything but their children? Do you have any advice on how to handle it? I welcome your comments.

***

Good news. The pathology report on my dog Annie’s tumor said she does not have cancer. It’s a bloody ugly thing and we’re still dealing with the big collar, but after the vet cuts out the tumor, we should be able to go on with our lives. Thank you for all your loving comments of concern last week.

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4 thoughts on “When Your Friends Talk Nonstop About Their Kids . . .

  1. First, glad to hear you got good news about your dog. Best of luck with the upcoming surgery/recovery.

    Back in the the days when all of my friends and family were having babies and lost their minds over it, I found it difficult to be in their presence, since I was still hurting and couldn’t abide their abandonment of being an understanding friend. They knew I wanted but couldn’t have children, but didn’t connect the dots between the pain I was feeling and their obsession with talking about their new babies.

    So when I found myself in social situations where the women clustered together to talk about their kids, I immediately relocated myself to where the men were. Nine times out of ten, there was little or no talk about children. (This was the 90s, so things might have changed by now.) I have always liked sports and was a businesswoman, so shared many common interests with them and it was often the only way I could get through an afternoon or evening without wanting to wallop somebody or cry my eyes out in the bathroom.

    The pain of those days has been diminished through the passage of time and I no longer find it impossible to hear women go on and on about their children. Boring, yes. Painful, no. I participate as best I can by talking about my nieces and nephews and no one seems to notice the difference, unless there’s a new person around who doesn’t know my plight and they begin probing about “my own kids”. As age begets a certain muscle memory that guides us, I pull out my old playbook and look for someone else, often still male, and politely extricate myself from the “offending” person. I also care far less that someone might find this tactic rude. It’s just self preservation.

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  2. I’ve really been lucky. Most of my friends have had children at different times, over three decades, so I’ve never been totally surrounded by friends with kids at the same stage. I’ve also been very lucky that my friends also have lots of other conversation topics – whether it be sports (I have two friends we talk about rugby with) – so whilst, of course, I have asked after their children and listen to their news, we have always turned to other topics, whatever they may be. My sister has this habit of telling me all about her friends’ kids, which can get a bit tedious. Very occasionally, when someone has been “one topic” about kids or grandkids or complaining about their children repeatedly, I’ve said something along the lines, “you know, I’m probably not the person you should be complaining/telling this to.” It is quite effective. lol

    Yay for the news about Annie.

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  3. Sue,

    I’ve experienced that same thing. I’ve learned how to tune it out. We men catch a lot of flak for not having kids. It’s as if we’re defective. Talk about feeling like chopped. Liver.

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