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.

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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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Don’t let people deny your childless grief

Dear readers,
Of my 406 posts here at Childless by Marriage, the one that has drawn the most attention over the years is the one titled, “Are you grieving over your lack of Children?” It was published in 2007, early in the blog’s life and has drawn 205 comments. Most come from women who are struggling with painful feelings about not having children. Many seek advice on what to do about reluctant husbands and how to cope with their sadness. Some can’t seem to find anything to live for if they don’t have children.

It’s hard for me to know how to respond. I offer sympathy and some advice, but I don’t have all the answers. Each of us has to decide for ourself whether we can live without children and how much we’re willing to sacrifice to have them.

Over the years, I feel that we have built a community, and I hope you readers will read each other’s comments and help each other.

Meanwhile, let’s talk about this grief. It’s real. We have lost the children we would have had. It’s almost like a death. Our whole lives we will see other families with children and grandchildren and remember that we will never have what they have. It hurts bad. But people who are not in our situation don’t always understand.  They may tell us we’re better off without children, that we’re lucky to be free of kids, that all we have to do is adopt, that’s we’re exaggerating our feelings. They will unwittingly say and do things that cause us pain. Some of us choose to avoid people who have children, even staying home from activities with family or friends because we know we’ll be uncomfortable. People not in our shoes will tell us to get over it, to enjoy other people’s kids, enjoy the money we’re saving, and just move on. But it isn’t that easy, is it?

I have written here many times that it gets easier as you get older. It does, but the grief doesn’t go away. The loss is still there. Please support each other as much as you can. And don’t let anybody take away your right to grieve. The feelings are real. Be honest about them. As we work through this holiday season, let’s take care of each other as much as we can. Right now, let me wrap you in a big virtual hug. ((((((((((((( ))))))))))))). Thank you for being here.

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