Ask the grumpies: What to tell a non-mom friend who says you need mom friends

Rented life:

What to tell a non mom friend when she says you need to find mom friends. (I expressed being lonely, never mentioned my kid). I don’t want mom friends. I don’t like most other people’s kids and good lord I don’t want to talk about kids.

Crucial Conversations recommends thinking about the best story behind her actions.  Probably she’s just trying to make polite conversation.  But maybe she’s concerned for your welfare.  CC also recommends thinking about what your end goal is– what is your ultimate objective from this conversation?  Do you want her to know you better, do you want her to stop making this recommendation, do you want to spend less time with her?

What to say also depends on your relationship with said non-mom friend and what you want to get out of this interaction.  If it’s a close friend, then you can ask why and then say what you said here.  If it’s not a close friend, then is this someone you want to be polite to or someone you’d prefer to alienate?  Do you think she’ll keep saying things like this if you don’t stop her or do you think it’s a one-time delio?

If polite and one-time, then smiling and nodding is always good.  Saying something non-committal and changing the subject works well.

If you want her to stop, then just tell her that you’re happy with your current social life.

If you want to be really alienating then ask her if that’s a dig at you and is that her way of saying she doesn’t want to spend time with you, thanks a lot.

#2 says: #1 is much better at this than I am.  I would respond with “Why?”  possibly followed by “Boy, you’re rude, aren’t you?  If you don’t want to be friends, we don’t have to.”  #1 hopes that isn’t the case– it isn’t necessarily rude when someone is complaining about being lonely to suggest solutions.  Kids really can be a hindrance to spending time with friends (that whole demanding attention + people call CPS if you leave them by themselves thing), but can help with spending time with people who have kids about the same age (since the kids entertain each other and leave the adults to socialize– and not all parents are stuck on birth stories and poo!), meaning you don’t need a baby sitter to get adult interaction.  So it’s not a completely off-the-wall suggestion.

26 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: What to tell a non-mom friend who says you need mom friends”

  1. First Gen American Says:

    Well I remember not always wanting to hang with my friends who dragged their kids to thimgs they shouldn’t be at. (Like hikes that were way too long for the kid and then you had to take turns carrying the two kids because there was only one parent). Clearly said parent was still in denial about lifestyle changes required to add kids in the mix and inflicted the extra duties on all those around them.

    Now that we are the ones with kids, we at least try to do things that dont inconvenience the non kid friends, like hosting parties at our house.

    It sounds like your kid is young (hence the poo comment). I’d just say, hang in there. I felt very isolated when my kids were very young. I didn’t have the energy or inclination to seek out infant play dates but now that they are older, we do more of them as they do play together more which requires less attention and gives you a break.

    • First Gen American Says:

      I guess I would also ask why she thought I needed mom friends. She may have some good insight on it.

      • Rented life Says:

        She thinks once you have kids you would only want to talk about and relate to kid things and that’s why I was lonely–because she assumed I had no mom friends to share that stuff with. But I really don’t enjoy talking to people about their kids. The assumption has been you need friends who have what you have because if we were both moms we would have loads in common. Except I haven’t met moms that I do. Not in this area anyway. I just want(ed) adult interaction which I don’t get. Talking about my kid doesn’t count –for me.

  2. scantee Says:

    I don’t have any advice, but I do feel for you on not necessarily wanting mom friends. I had so few chances for adult interaction when my kids were young that I didn’t really want to hear and talk more about my or other people’s kids when given the chance to be around other grown ups. Adult conversations please! Thank god I kept working. I found that work friendships with women who were both younger and older really helped me out during that phase. Yes, they were interested in my kids, but they also wanted to talk about politics, music, art, pop culture, and that is really the kind of interaction I craved. Not two hours of chit chat about sleep training methods.

    • Rented life Says:

      Yes. I work remotely so I’m missing that element of conversation. I think if I had it it would help, but I like my job so I’m not leaving it just for that! :)

  3. Ana Says:

    Agree completely with scantee—I felt the same way.
    I don’t know how her comment was rude, though. I definitely took it as a genuine attempt to give advice. I wonder if she said it because that seems to be the popular opinion/advice out there. She may have read it in a magazine or something. You did mention being lonely—so she was trying to give you constructive advice—maybe she thought you were lonely because no one in your current circle really “got” what its like to have a kid so having mom friends would help with that. I would respond with what you wrote, basically. “yeah, people think moms only want to hang out with other moms, but what I really need is adult, non-kid-related conversation, so I don’t think that’s going to help me”.
    And, as much as I hated talking about birth stories (CRINGE), elimination & sleep, having fellow parents to talk about the challenges of older kids is actually really helpful. I mean, everyone knows babies cry & poop & don’t sleep and its all pretty boring (even though its also evidently very hot-button and emotionally charged for some). But the issues get a lot more varied as the kids grow up and I find it helpful to hear about my friends’ approaches (since they ARE my friends, we have some basic things in common, they aren’t going to recommend spanking, etc…). I particularly value the input of my friends with older kids—been there, done that, usually tell me not to sweat it, but otherwise will have the most big-picture advice since they saw how it all played out.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      A friend with older kids was invaluable for us when DC1 was still wearing diapers at night at a pretty old age. She recommended something that wasn’t in the advice online, and it worked!

      • Ana Says:

        we did that with our 4.5 year old, and he did great for a week without a single accident—I think he was afraid to really sleep well, and was waking up an hour before his usual wake up time, so getting progressively more grumpy each day—and then exhaustion took over & we had soaked bed every night for a week. So back to diapers for a few months until he told us, at 4 8/12 that we wanted to do it again, and never had a single accident since. we’re going to do the same with our soon to be 4 year old, who still soaks his diapers every night.

      • xykademiqz Says:

        We’ve done that with all kids and it worked well.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        If it works for so many people, then why didn’t the night-training webpages suggest it? Stupid internet. Sometimes google is not as helpful as real people.

      • xykademiqz Says:

        We have trained all kids, night and day, this way — start putting them in underwear and they eventually get with the program (first during daytime, generally within 2 weeks they are completely dry during the day), then later nighttime. There is an occasional accident, but we have a huge crib with plastic-covered mattress so we don’t move to big-kid bed until the bed-wetting essentially stops.

        You ask why more people don’t suggest this? I think part is that there is a lot of peeing involved (albeit for a short period of time), so there are wet clothes and wet sheets and wet beds. Many people move kids out of the crib fairly early and then don’t want to have pee on the real mattress (although, as you said in the post, you can just buy plastic lining, it’s not a big deal). But yes, there is a lot of mess involved for a few weeks; I personally don’t mind at all, but for instance if it were up to my husband he’d have the kids in diapers till college — he’s an example of someone who just does not want to deal with bodily fluids and the thought of several changes of clothes during day and potentially several sheet changes during night would be enough to send him for more diapers/pull ups.

        I guess what I am trying to say is that it may be that people are trying to recommend ways in which kids potty-train with the caveat that the amount of rogue pee is minimized. In my experience, it really works well to brace for the mess and then be done in a couple of weeks.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Not people suggesting, but the MD pages and parenting pages. They all said stuff like, “night training isn’t possible, unlike day training, it’s physiological, not learned” and if they suggested things it would be stuff like restricting drinks or waking the kid up to use the restroom in the night. So although they would say switching to underpants directly is a valid day training exercise, it will not work for night training. But anecdotally, that does not seem to be true.

    • scantee Says:

      I agree. Mom Friends when you have older kids are fantastic. There is less obsessiveness and the friendships return to being more well-rounded. My best friends are those that are not relationships of circumstance. We’ve been friends since before I had kids, with babies, and now as a parent to school-age children.

  4. jane Says:

    While many many mothers work from very early in their mothering days I wondered if the writer was perhaps a SAHM and the person suggesting more ‘mom friends’ was addressing the issue of ‘you are alone all day and the only other women your age who are in your position are other SAHMs’. Because, often, people who go to a workplace with other adults are less in need of socialization with other adults, and also less available in the middle of the day. Or, I might be totally off base.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I think rented life telecommutes?

      • Rented life Says:

        Yup! Days go by before I talk to an adult! Well there’s husband but he’s working 60 hours a week and not awake enough for conversation.

    • Kellen Says:

      That’s what I thought might be the case too. I’m also imagining if I’m currently hanging out with a mom-friend who tells me she’s lonely… in that moment, I guess I would assume that the loneliness is not fixed by us hanging out like we’re doing right then? Or I might assume she is home with the kid more than she is (if she’s telecommuting.)

  5. chacha1 Says:

    Not being a mom, and being relieved not to have mom friends, I would tend to turn this around and instead of interrogating the friend, interrogate *myself* a little.

    Was this suggestion prompted by something else in our conversation, did I imply fatigue with non-mom conversational topics, was I talking about my kid a lot more than maybe I realized, and – most importantly – what did I mean by “lonely”?

    Why did I make that comment, and particularly why when I was talking to this particular friend? Was I looking for a suggestion or was my subconscious saying “I wish we got together more”? Did I mean less that I was “lonely” and more that (maybe) I was bored with the mom routine or (maybe) I don’t see my partner much w/o child or (maybe) it’s been too long since I saw my parents or siblings?

    Not saying any of these are applicable; I know neither LW nor friend. Just … this is one of those areas (pursuing friendships) where it really, really helps to know exactly what you want from other people.

    • MidA Says:

      This; really good points!

      Also, you are making a sweeping generalization that a “mom friend” will automatically mean having to talk about kids. Sure, kids could be an entry point but they don’t have to be the focus of conversation.

      Following chacha’s line of questioning: why are you completely dismissing the idea of talking about a major event/change in your life? Are you feeling too defined by it currently? Do you need a mental break from it?

      As a relatively new mom, I have found befriending other moms helpful. We talk about many things besides kids, and it’s relaxing to spend time with another adult who is forgiving because an unanticipated baby need causes you to be late, is ok to take a break so you can feed, etc. (Non-moms can be this way too, but there just seems to be a more understanding attitude amongst those who have very recent shared experiences.)

      Finally, there is a difference between having to be friends with someone because your kids are friends/the same age, and connecting with someone initially over a common experience. Why the resistance to the latter?

      • Rented life Says:

        This will make me unpopular but it’s not a “defining” or life changing event to me anymore than any other event.

        The reason questions like hers hurt is because I try to maintain contact with friends and I hear that–basically sounding like I should look for new ones now since I have a kid–even though I didn’t mention mine once the entire time. Both my husband and I have tried to make plans with others only to hear “well I’m sure you are too busy with LO to really do anything”–people are deciding that not us because apparently if you have a small one you’re supposed to stay home all the time until they are older. We’ve accepted it as is because it’s tiring to keep asking.

      • chacha1 Says:

        I would not have seen it as a “defining” event either, had I had a kid. I would still be the same person with the same interests … just, probably, a lot less time to indulge them.

        It’s sad that people would push you away when you’re trying to maintain those adult friendships. :-(

        We were old enough when we married that only a couple of our friends have had children in this stage of life, and in both cases their moving well out of easy-get-together range preceded having kids. We tried to keep up with social things with both, but once home they wanted to stay home. Eventually we stopped asking/offering, and after kids the only things we were invited to were kid things, so it really did put a damper on the friendships.

        But ultimately, friendships evolve, independent of the kids question. We have a very few friends who are in our lives consistently, year over year. Other friends are in and out. My solution is to just keep doing things that interest me and eventually there will be new people (potential friends) associated with those activities.

  6. xykademiqz Says:

    I think all first-time parents go a little nuts about the kid initially, but then settle down and are no longer nuts. A good friend will hopefully persevere and stick with you through the crazy. I was a much better friend as mom to newborns 2 and 3 in the sense that I could speak like a normal person from the get go and not like the anxiety-riddled exhausted bag of hormones that I was with No 1.

    I have had some child-free friends start treating me like I had leprosy after I had kids. And I found it hurtful that they wanted absolutely nothing to do with what was important to me [the kid(s)]. But oh well. I mean, I listen about dick-pics and sexting (true story) as my newly divorced friend rejoined the dating scene, which are funny but hardly my life priorities when I have a newborn; it’s a real downer when your friend so clearly doesn’t really give a $hit about what happens with you because her dating Random Dude No. Eleventy is inherently novel and interesting, but you having a kid is boring and stupid. (Not saying this is relevant to rented life and her friend; but did happen to me). I know several friendships of other people dissolving over one party having kids.

    I have mixed feelings about being told to go find some mom friends. Being moms at the same time is hardly enough to become someone’s friend, but yeah, if you are a SAHM and cooped up at home all day then likely your only companions are other SAHMs. I think a lot of new-mom loneliness is really exhaustion and sheer tedium. Just getting out of the house and interacting with humans who don’t puke on you is often enough, and other moms or SAHDs or retired neighbors will do just fine to help the early days go by.

    (There is also a bit of something that we as a society are guilty of: everyone seems to think that being a mom and talking about kids is somehow lesser than talking politics or pop culture or business or whathaveyou. Honestly, I would not mind fewer people chiming in about politics or pop culture, because those are the topics where everyone seems to think they are a much bigger expert than they are.)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Given where I usually live, talking about politics is up there with religion as completely and totally taboo. I think mostly I talk about food and the weather. I must be pretty boring for people who aren’t foodies or midwesterners!

      • Rented life Says:

        Same safe topics here. How local sports which I stopped following when I stopped teaching.

    • Ana Says:

      well, there are those that seem to think they are experts at parenting, too. I don’t like to talk in any details about my kids except to trusted friends—there is so much judgement to be thrown around regarding the different choices we make. and politics can indeed be loaded. Its hard to know WHAT to talk about sometimes.

      • xykademiqz Says:

        well, there are those that seem to think they are experts at parenting, too

        True. But at least if you have kids you can say “In my experience, this or that…” while very few people really have comparable experience to talk, for instance, international politics.

        I really like to talk about the weather, I find it strangely comforting. And I like to talk about general geography and real estate: how’s the cost of living, traffic, public transport in the different places that people have lived. And I love, LOVE talking with people about their jobs (but then someone will say it’s rude to ask and them SAHMs/SAHDs will feel bad). But I love my job and I love hearing about what other people do! It’s sad and disappointing how few non-academics, who only know me through my kids, will even ask me what I do/if I work… There is a true story of a swim-team dad (with whom I talked probably 15 times throughout the season) who at one point gave me a mini-lecture on what the average of two numbers is, all with saying that the average is less than the bigger number but more than the smaller number. I was amazed and amused, but he’s been talking down to me pretty much the whole season (my kid swimming slowly obviously must mean I don’t have an elementary-school math education); to this day he probably thinks I am some sort of dumbass.

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