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Impact on long-term friendships

  • 02-04-2021 11:03am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 2,643 ✭✭✭ R.D. aka MR.D


    One issue I have found is that my choice not to have children has negatively impacted on long-term friendships.

    I find that friends become acquaintances once they have kids.

    Are there any older childfree people here who have any experience of rekindling those friendships once the kids are older and leave home?

    I find that the longer time goes on the less likely I am to try to engage in making new friends, I just see an inevitability to them having kids and the whole process will happen again.

    Obviously I am happy for everyone who fulfils their dreams of having children but just wondering if anyone has any words of wisdom on it from the point of view of being the one without kids!


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,755 ✭✭✭✭ Dial Hard


    I've been lucky in that my two oldest friends are also child free, albeit by circumstance rather than choice, so our paths never diverged the way they might have otherwise. One of them is now engaged and actively trying for a baby, though, and I do suspect she'll disappear off the face of the earth as soon as that happens.


  • Registered Users Posts: 12,076 ✭✭✭✭ DaCor


    I've found similar over the years. Many friends had kids and naturally they become focused on the kids. I'm not going to fault them for that.

    But, as I can't relate to a lot of what is going on in their lives it becomes difficult to even have a decent conversation with them.

    I liken it to sport. I have zero interest in sport and the sport mad lads and I literally can't chat for more than 2 mins because we have nothing to talk about. Its the same when it comes to kids.

    I was at a family funeral 2 years ago and met up with a load of cousins I hadn't seen in a few years. For 5 hours solid, they only spoke about their kids. Regardless of the topic, it always came around to how they are experiencing it with their kids e.g. travel, DIY, going out, etc.

    As I said, I understand why their perspective has changed, but it just means we struggle to relate to each others experiences.

    The flip side of this is I have found other ways around this by seeking out specific topic related friends if that makes sense. For example Catrography, Cycling, Travel, Programming etc. I have groups of friends under each of those topics that I can meet up (insert covid disclaimer here) with and spend hours chatting to about subjects that interest me greatly. They are there for the same reason and we get on great. I couldn't tell you a single thing about their home lives and I like it that way.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,395 Mod ✭✭✭✭ pinkypinky


    I've found that some of my friendships with friends with kids lasted while they were little and then diminished as the kids got a bit older. Possibly there was some expectation that I might roll in with the program, or I'm less willing to put up with it longer term?

    However, there are several close friendships that did not wither - were they closer friends that I valued more, perhaps?

    I have an older childfree friend who I know deliberately drops people when they have kids. I doubt I'd go that far.

    Genealogy Forum Mod



  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 44,064 CMod ✭✭✭✭ magicbastarder


    Obviously we've seen less of our friends when they've had kids, but I can't say that's affected our friendships. Most of our friends with kids are still interested in the same things they were before they had kids, so we are still able to have the same sort of conversations. Obviously they do talk about their kids too, but that's fine and perfectly natural, the kids are a big part of their lives as you'd expect it to be. And we get on well with I think pretty much all the kids, you can kinda be the cool aunt and uncle to them, with a house full of breakable **** they're not used to.


  • Registered Users Posts: 927 ✭✭✭ BuboBubo


    Once a friend goes down that road, you must do the following.

    1. Unfollow on Farcebook, Instash1te, etc.
    2. Only visit at night, when their blessings are asleep. (Non covid times)
    3. Meet up in pubs, restaurants at night only. Double check there are no high chairs/kiddie menus etc. If there's a jar of lollipops beside the till, don't go there.
    4. When the conversation turns to kid stuff, change the subject immediately. Talk about politics, music, science, food - anything.
    5. Suggest a night class together, even if it's metalwork or axe throwing.
    6. If none of the above works, set a reminder on your phone to contact them in 2037.


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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 44,064 CMod ✭✭✭✭ magicbastarder


    BuboBubo wrote: »
    4. When the conversation turns to kid stuff, change the subject immediately.
    if you're not willing to talk to your friends about major changes in their life, i'd suspect you weren't really their friend in the first place.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,542 ✭✭✭ FintanMcluskey


    if you're not willing to talk to your friends about major changes in their life, i'd suspect you weren't really their friend in the first place.

    That is true, some talk is ok, but some people loose track of the fact that what their kids do is interesting only to them, not others.

    I’ve seen people loose all ability to hold a normal conversation after having a child


  • Posts: 0 Dax Creamy Disc


    Hasn't really impacted my friendships tbh. But then I really love kids and kids tend to really love me so I don't mind if they're with us when I'm spending time with my mates. I haven't seen my best friend or her two little girls in a year and I miss the two kids almost as much as I miss her.

    I'm not someone who likes high maintenance friendships though. You know the kind of friends who like to be in contact everyday, even just a text and meet up constantly. My friendships tend to be less intense so it's not too obvious if their children are taking up more and more of their free time.


  • Registered Users Posts: 21,466 ✭✭✭✭ Strumms


    if you're not willing to talk to your friends about major changes in their life, i'd suspect you weren't really their friend in the first place.

    The problem is when you meet the parent friend who you haven’t seen for a couple of months and they spend the whole first 90 minutes of the night when you just ask, ‘how is the family?’ Instead of giving you a 15 minute run down, they spend about 90 minutes going on about

    - little Michaels teacher being the image of their aunty Bernie, she’s a ride.

    - how hard it is to find car seats that are ecologically and environmentally friendly...

    - the argument with the wife or girlfriend about grounding him / her or remove games console if they misbehave...

    - you are trying to eat dinner and they take out their phone showing you the little *&€# puking on themselves and then start giving you the ‘disgruntled parent ‘ look when you don’t awwwhh and act all goooey. :confused:


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 44,064 CMod ✭✭✭✭ magicbastarder


    That is true, some talk is ok, but some people loose track of the fact that what their kids do is interesting only to them, not others.

    I’ve seen people loose all ability to hold a normal conversation after having a child
    thankfully, i've not had this experience. most of my friends seemed to go for the 'oh thank christ, someone i can talk to about random **** with which isn't about nappies' i suspect.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,643 ✭✭✭ R.D. aka MR.D


    Hmmm... It seems my issue might be related to not enjoying being around kids. I also tend to not like talking about kids for very long. I have a very high stress job and i make an effort with my friends to not mention it more than just in passing or maybe to talk briefly about an issue or something that happened. I find a lot of people with kids don't make the effort to chat about their kids for an appropriate amount of time, it is always kids, kids, kids.

    Also prior to the pandemic, parents seem so limited in the activities they can do so they can't join in. Then the 'must be nice' comments start to kick in if you talk about doing stuff they haven't been able to.

    I love the suggestion of an evening class. I will definitely try that next time. I know I need to keep friendships but I also am not willing to be around or talk about kids constantly, I don't have them for a reason!


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,578 ✭✭✭ Jequ0n


    It depends. I have a friend who lives for his family and spends every minute available with his kids. However, he barely ever talks about them to me because he knows that I have no interest. I don’t mind if the topic comes up sometimes but he himself admits that nobody is interested in others people’s children, so no problem there.
    Other people simply ignore this and keep bombarding me with stories/ pictures of their kids when a picture of their bookshelf would interest me more. In these cases I withdraw and keep the contact to a minimum because I can’t be bothered to feign interest. The funny thing is that these people don’t even notice so nobody is bothered


  • Posts: 8,860 ✭✭✭ Roy Curved Zoo


    Definitely lost a few friends through the years- probably due to a combination of location/ geography differences as well as no children but the “no children” was likely a key factor too. Saying that have maintained great friendships too with old friends who have kids so it’s certainly not impossible.

    What I do find though is you’re more likely to be invited to neighbours gatherings if you’ve kids, simply because there’s a commonality there be it, their kids are friends with each other, carpooling for school runs and sports etc so parental friendships develop as a result out of that contact and general empathy with each other - so definitely probably missed out on some parties through the years but TBH communions and kids birthdays are my nightmare and certainly not my idea of fun so I’m grateful not getting the invites to those - so for me it’s less about friendships lost, it’s more about the friendships never developed in the first place.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,008 ✭✭✭ Sunny Disposition


    I don’t think having children would help ye keep friends.
    It’s just the way it goes if you do have kids, you don’t go out as much or have the same type of life. You tend to have much less time with friends, doesn’t matter if they have kids or not, and some friendships inevitably don’t last.
    Child free people are more likely to have more conventional fun, no doubt.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 30,487 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Faith


    What I do find though is you’re more likely to be invited to neighbours gatherings if you’ve kids, simply because there’s a commonality there be it, their kids are friends with each other, carpooling for school runs and sports etc so parental friendships develop as a result out of that contact and general empathy with each other - so definitely probably missed out on some parties through the years but TBH communions and kids birthdays are my nightmare and certainly not my idea of fun so I’m grateful not getting the invites to those - so for me it’s less about friendships lost, it’s more about the friendships never developed in the first place.

    That's a good point. My husband and I recently moved into a new build estate, just renting for a few months. The place is crawling with young children and their parents gathered together outside (to be fair, everyone seems very friendly). But apparently the estate has two whatsapp groups for residents - one for "Mummies" and one for "Daddies". Even if I had children, I couldn't bring myself to be part of something like that!


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,228 ✭✭✭ Feisar


    Faith wrote: »
    That's a good point. My husband and I recently moved into a new build estate, just renting for a few months. The place is crawling with young children and their parents gathered together outside (to be fair, everyone seems very friendly). But apparently the estate has two whatsapp groups for residents - one for "Mummies" and one for "Daddies". Even if I had children, I couldn't bring myself to be part of something like that!

    I've a wee dribbler to my name, groups like that sound vomit inducing. Herself is in a countywide mums group which can be handy for deals but some of the questions/crap people put on it that she tells me about, just ugh...

    First they came for the socialists...



  • Closed Accounts Posts: 118 ✭✭ bunny_mac


    I find a lot of people with kids don't make the effort to chat about their kids for an appropriate amount of time, it is always kids, kids, kids.

    THIS. A thousand times this. Friendship is a two-way street and, in my opinion, it doesn't matter what has happened in your life be it kids, wedding, job, travel, whatever. No topic is any more important than another, or worthy of more time. Everyone has their own life, their own things they love/find interesting and if you're really committed to a friendship, you won't dominate it with your own crap, you make space for the other person and their crap.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 118 ✭✭ bunny_mac


    I've had a real mixed bag with friendships. I'm lucky to have a few friends who don't have kids (albeit by circumstance rather than choice) and of the ones who do, some have disappeared down the rabbit hole and while I tried and tried and tried to keep the friendship going I eventually gave up because I was the one doing all the trying. Other friends with kids, sure I see less of them, but when I do see them they are conscious of not talking about the kids ALL the time, which I'm very grateful for. But it definitely changes a friendship. Every time I've found out about a good friend getting pregnant, while I've been thrilled for them, my heart has broken another little bit at knowing that I've lost that person as they exist in my life at that point.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 30,487 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Faith


    bunny_mac wrote: »
    But it definitely changes a friendship. Every time I've found out about a good friend getting pregnant, while I've been thrilled for them, my heart has broken another little bit at knowing that I've lost that person as they exist in my life at that point.

    I remember the first time a very close friend told me she was pregnant. I was lucky in that I’d gotten to my early 30s, but this particular couple were the ones we’d have absolutely wild nights out with - drinking unholy amounts, staying up most of the night, just laughing and enjoying life. When they told me, I had a moment of feeling like I might actually faint from shock, and I went through a genuine (entirely selfish) mourning period for all I had just lost.

    We’ve been lucky in that they have changed basically as little as it’s possible to by having children, but it’s still a big change. I completely agree with that idea of your heart breaking just a little with each friend who goes down the parenting road.

    Although, the plus side is our house is considered like a safe haven for our friends with kids, and they’re all mad to come visit us when they can because there are no children and no child-related paraphernalia all over the place :D


  • Posts: 8,860 ✭✭✭ Roy Curved Zoo


    bunny_mac wrote: »
    I've had a real mixed bag with friendships. I'm lucky to have a few friends who don't have kids (albeit by circumstance rather than choice) and of the ones who do, some have disappeared down the rabbit hole and while I tried and tried and tried to keep the friendship going I eventually gave up because I was the one doing all the trying. Other friends with kids, sure I see less of them, but when I do see them they are conscious of not talking about the kids ALL the time, which I'm very grateful for. But it definitely changes a friendship. Every time I've found out about a good friend getting pregnant, while I've been thrilled for them, my heart has broken another little bit at knowing that I've lost that person as they exist in my life at that point.

    Ive probably lost a few friends simply because i was in a relationship at the time and they weren't. If you stop the mad nights out, for some friendships you realise that the only thing you had in common was drink and very little else.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 26,285 ✭✭✭✭ Eric Cartman


    if you're not willing to talk to your friends about major changes in their life, i'd suspect you weren't really their friend in the first place.

    I think theres a certain line though, there are some parents who absolutely become frustratingly devoted to injecting their kids in to every given topic even when completely irrelevant.

    You have those people who cant tell a story without throwing them in

    “So i was going down the road and a light came on in the car so I pulled over and sure little billy and sorcha in the back were getting cranky and i had to give them a juice box to calm them down and then they were screaming etc... and so I had to get the car towed “

    Ive italliced the irrelevant bits, its annoying they cant tell a story without including the kids no matter how irrelevant they are to the story.

    Also I do find that some people with children treat you as less of a person in group settings, everyone talking about a topic and your input kind of gets a ‘ok but you dont have kids so you dont understand’ despite it being a non child related topic


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,008 ✭✭✭ Sunny Disposition


    Honestly, I think most fathers with small kids anyway would much rather talk about other things than their children. You'd be glad of a break from changing nappies, feeding etc, I think very few fathers wouldn't. Mothers might spend a little bit longer talking about the kids, but I'd say a lot of them would welcome a conversation about other things too.
    It can be a bit different when the kids are a bit older, the pride can come out a bit more!


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,285 ✭✭✭ Aisling(",)


    Faith wrote: »
    I remember the first time a very close friend told me she was pregnant. I was lucky in that I’d gotten to my early 30s, but this particular couple were the ones we’d have absolutely wild nights out with - drinking unholy amounts, staying up most of the night, just laughing and enjoying life. When they told me, I had a moment of feeling like I might actually faint from shock, and I went through a genuine (entirely selfish) mourning period for all I had just lost.

    I'm so glad to see someone else say this!I've felt the same when my close friend group have had kids.I saw mad nights out and girls holidays fly straight out the window.It's selfish of me but It was how I felt,in addition to being delighted for them.Its not as bad when the babies are a little older and they're comfortable to leave them for a few nights.

    We had a trip booked to go to Brussels last year, and 2 of the girls had young kids, it was cancelled by covid but it just shows it wasn't something that will be out of the picture forever.


  • Registered Users Posts: 614 ✭✭✭ notsoyoungwan


    I’ve only ‘lost’ one friend to the children rabbit hole. She has become a real mammy-martyr. It’s all about the sacrifices and struggles she has to make, whereas in reality she wants to make them, which of course is absolutely fine, I just wish she wouldn’t pretend or be so martyr-ish about it. For the first few years after she had her child, I made a lot of effort and always was the one to travel to her (about a two hour drive) but once the child became older I felt she should be making some effort, but she never did. The final straw for me was when I drove to her as planned, for an early bird dinner, so that she could get back home for the child’s bedtime (cos apparently his father couldn’t put him to bed...!) only to find said 5 year old tagging along on our meal out “oh he said he wanted to come!” and she didn’t think to say “no honey you can’t come, I’m off out with my friend, daddy will mind you and I’ll be back to put you to bed, bye!” The evening was of course dominated by him, and we had no normal conversation at all. That was the last time I drove to see her! She didn’t see anything wrong with how the evening panned out at all. We talk on the phone about once a fortnight now, and text most days, but our friendship has certainly suffered.


    On the other hand, I have other friends who have navigated parenthood differently and we have maintained and grown our friendships, and also have friends who i have gotten to know after they’ve had kids so we’ve never had a different kind of friendship, and those two in particular are well able to lead lives in which they’re not totally consumed by children, and we go on one European city break a year and two within Ireland.


  • Registered Users Posts: 21,466 ✭✭✭✭ Strumms


    I can relate...

    I had my mate who like me is a huge music fan and a gig goer... “ Jesus, it’s been about 2 years since I saw a proper gig, I miss that and the pints after and...”

    My reply... “ your wife’s parents who dote on your kid and their daughter, live about 5 kms away, call them “

    Him “ yes but I don’t like to impose too much, and it mightn’t be good for the kids all the time an an... “

    My reply “ 3 or 4 nights a year, or your brother n law lives close, he himself has one kid roughly the same age. It’s not ALL the time..”

    Him “ yeah i dunno, I dunno, seems weird leaving them hmmm”


    Going to see a band in June in Vicar St, the planning starts in March, about 30 WhatsApp messages.... he has a blast when we do go... will talk about it for a week, pics on Facebook....’rolling back the time’ was one caption ( he is 41 ) then back to the vids of the kid flinging peas at him again for the 40th time in two years...

    For somebody so social, outgoing, friendly, with interests ranging from live sport, art, music, traveling... he’s gone... his brother agrees, weeks trying to get him to go to a match... oddville.

    I thought about messaging him earlier but can’t face.. the ‘it’s hard being a parent ‘ schtick for the 1678th time, this year.


  • Registered Users Posts: 614 ✭✭✭ notsoyoungwan


    ^ that’s very frustrating. It’s hard to see a friendship become a one-way street, with no effort being made on their part.


  • Registered Users Posts: 21,466 ✭✭✭✭ Strumms


    ^ that’s very frustrating. It’s hard to see a friendship become a one-way street, with no effort being made on their part.

    Yes, it’s not out of badness though... his wife became a little obsessed with parenthood/family.. embracing it certainly is good but... she’s a bit manic and kinda has himself reprogrammed.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 44,064 CMod ✭✭✭✭ magicbastarder


    first kid?


  • Registered Users Posts: 614 ✭✭✭ notsoyoungwan


    first kid?

    Yep


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  • Registered Users Posts: 20,809 ✭✭✭✭ Larbre34


    Parents of young kids are massive bores. Yes I have some good friends I don't wish to lose, but I'll catch up with them in 10 to 15 years. Meanwhile I'll be on the Golf Course or at a nice restaurant if they need me.


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