Interacting with single friends

"I would like advice on how to deal with single friends who don't understand you can't just run around as easily anymore. (Plus that you don't want to.) I love being a mother (age 23), and I love being tied down with my baby! I just wish others could understand!"

"Perhaps there is no true way for single friends to understand the new mothering instinct we new mothers have acquired. Maybe if they spent some time at home with your family; Swimming, cookouts, etc., to show them how your new family works. They may understand why you are not so quick to get out into the wild social scene."

"My best friend is single with no children. Her and I have adjusted to my having a little boy quite easily. Because I work full-time, she knows my evenings and weekends are my only time with my son. When we plan activities she knows I prefer to have my son included so we both plan accordingly. She has almost as much fun with him as I do. Occasionally, we'll meet for lunch if the two of us need to get together to talk."

"Why not take your kids with. I do errands every week plus go to lunch with friends all the time. I just take my son with me and I think he likes it too, because he gets cooped up just like I do by the end of the week."

"I understand your problem, my husband and I are the first in `our crowd' to have a baby (they all think we're nuts). We ease tension by setting up one weekend day or so per month to spend with them, and occasionally have someone over to our place for dinner and to see what life is like with a baby."

"I also have single friends who think I should go out all the time with them. When we go out, I take my daughter with us, and if she complains, I just say, `It's all part of being a mom.' If my friends choose not to come, that's their business. I'm often called an `old fogie' or a `Fuddy Duddy' or just plain `boring.' but as long as I'm happy, and I am, it doesn't bother me."

"Your relationship with your single friends can't help but change. But do find the time, at least once a month, to go out for lunch or to shop or a movie with them. As your child grows, the

child needs to see that friends are important. If you can't hop in the car at that moment when your friend calls, then make definite plans for another time. And remember some of your single friends are jealous of you and your baby."

"I've sometimes suggested to a single friend that she `borrow' a niece or nephew for an afternoon and join me in an outing with my kids - to the zoo or the beach, for example. The nieces' or nephews' parents will get a nice break while their child and his/her aunt become better acquainted. At the end of such a day, your friend will have a much greater appreciation of the challenges and rewards of parenting. This is a way for you to involve your friend in your new lifestyle. Once in a while, however, take the time to have dinner or a movie alone with your friend. Everyone needs a little respite. don't lose an old friend by giving her the impression that you feel her lifestyle is `emptier' than yours now."

"They won't until they're in the same situation. Just accept it and make the best of it. Let them know your feelings in a kind way and be sensitive to their feelings since you're the lucky one."

"All of your life you will be in contact with people who are at different stages of their lives than you. As parents of one baby, we cringe when single friends say, `Can't you just get a sitter...?' But we also are sick of hearing other parents tell us, `One baby is easy! Just wait until you have two (or three, etc.)!' I could fill this page with insensitive comments made by people who live their lives differently than we do. The only way I have been able to cope with the type of person you mentioned is to acknowledge the schedule difficulties, but not apologize for it (`You are able to make spontaneous plans easier than I can right now. I simply can't make it. I hope you understand.') Please don't say, `You'll know how it is when you have children' It was said to me when I was single and childless and I resented it, so even though we have children in common now, we don't see them. We don't want to hear, `We told you son.'"

"They probably won't fully understand until they have children of their own! When they do you'll find that they are going to want to stay home even more than you do!"

"I'm afraid many single people will not understand until they have children of their own. I was the first of my group of friends to have children and I'm now closer to those of us that have kids. It's such a huge part of your life and unfortunately they will drift away until they have their own kids. Then what fun you'll have."

"With a family, responsibilities and priorities change. To get someone to understand that, my husband and I let friends know that as a rule, weekends are `family time' but that occasionally we can afford a baby sitter to go out, or friends are welcome to come to our home."

"Involve your old friends and baby in activities together like shopping, movies, party at your place, etc. Openly communicate your feelings with your friends. Always be looking for new friends (some with children)."

"Let people know how much you love doing what you're doing. Invite your friends to spend time with you and baby, so she can get a glimpse of your different lifestyle. Who can resist a cute little baby? Offer to arrange some of your visits with and without baby, asking Dad to take over so you get some free time. Friends who don't/won't accept you for who you are now, may be better off as a memory."

"The key word here is `friends.' Friends who truly care about you do understand. It's probable your `friends' are jealous. Babies look so fun from a distance. If you are married, remember if you get a baby sitter and a chance to go out, it would be great to go out with just your husband and renew your relationship. When I had my third baby recently, my other two children were both in school Even my married friends with children said, `You're crazy. You're going to be free and now you're tying yourself down again?' I had relatives suggest the baby was a `mistake' and well meaning relatives suggested I have my tubes tied after her birth! Talk to people whose children are grown and gone. They all wish they had more children and spent more time with the ones they had. I nurse for a long time and never leave my babies. I've never regretted it. I have lost some friends over it, but through church, play groups and just going for a day at the beach, I've met a lot of great friends with my values toward children. It takes time and at first I missed my other friends, but now that they're getting married and having children, we are starting to renew those friendships. I don't feel `tied down!'"

"Most of my friends `dropped' me because I no longer go drinking or shopping or whatever. But maybe yours feel left out. Try calling them and ask them to lunch or have a sitter a few times to go shopping. Believe me, you'll benefit from an hour or two away once in a while. Talk about them instead of always focusing on your baby. Once they feel included and important, they'll start responding. If this doesn't help, find others who have children and move on with your life. That is what I did and I'm happy. I like my new friends."

"When my baby was about 3 months old and I was recovering from mastitis, I went out to lunch with one of my best friends (she does not have children yet). I had the baby along and it just didn't work - there was no changing table at the restaurant, the baby was tired, I wasn't even hungry and I was so exhausted that I almost fell asleep at the table. But don't give up! You will learn what sort of outings do work well for you, and keep trying. Friends are worth it."

"Invite your friends over and give them a chance to spend time with your baby. I guarantee that they will fall in love with your little one. Our single friends `flipped' over our baby and they understand why this life style suits us just fine."

"I certainly understand how you want to spend time with your baby! I feel the same way. My husband says I should get out of the house more and do the things I used to do before our baby arrived (our 1st). Although I do hate leaving my son for any length of time, I always feel refreshed when I return. I think it does all of us some good, and it's always so nice to come home again!"

"I do set up times to go out with friends, but only once per week. I get some time off and I'm home a lot, then, too. My friends have realized that being home is important to me when I can't set up a time to meet them until two or three weeks in the future. So many people delay having children until their late 20's, 30's or even 40's, that many of us have that same problem. They'll probably become closer friends when they start families, but until then, you may have to take a less important role in their lives."

"I found that when we had our daughter we saw much less of certain of our friends. their life style was so different from our new routine. Friendship is a two-way thing and sometimes the flexibility we needed with our baby just wasn't forthcoming. It was hard but we remain close to the people who were able to understand our need to change and who didn't mind that we weren't very spontaneous any more. It took time for the adjustment."

"They will probably never fully understand until they are in your position. Enjoy your baby and explain to single friends your life has changed and you simply don't have the same freedom as before because you are responsible for your baby."

"My husband and I face the same problem with friends who are single or married without children yet. We've invited them over to spend a typical day with our family and share the reasons why it's no longer desirable to run all the time.; Good friends should be willing to accept the facts of your new responsibility and not press, but don't hibernate at home continuously either. Make sure you and your husband get out occasionally, even if it means finding places you and your little one can go without much trouble or hassle. Our little one used to love going everywhere with us but now has entered the stage of enjoying familiar places and faces only, so we go out with friends occasionally for brunches for only short time spans or order out pizza and rent a movie which our friends can enjoy in our own home. There is little running involved and still a chance to relax with friends. It lets them know that they're still important in our life."

"I think you have to let them know that your number one priority at this time is your child. An alternative to going out is to have your friends over to your house. Also, remember that as your child gets older it will be easier to get away for short periods of time. Another thing you can do is to meet other women who have children the same age as you do by going to Early Childhood Family Education classes or other similar play groups."

"Steer conversation to how much you enjoy staying home with baby and enlighten them on how change is nice and this new life for you is more fun and exciting for you now. Remember, these times pass by fast, so enjoy it!"

"Invite them `in' for lunch, supper or an evening. It will communicate your reluctance to go `out', but at the same time letting them know you are not rejecting them. They may also understand your family commitments better as they get used to seeing you in that setting rather than in recreational settings."

"Much more than marriage, becoming a parent is a watershed in you life with friends. Some friendships just won't endure the transition. Try to include that special friend in some of your family activities. The person who can get into it with you may be that life long friend you'd love to have. If a friendship is important to you, then you must also bend - get a sitter and `do lunch' now and then."

"Your friends won't probably ever totally understand, until they have children of their own. My friends had children before I did, and now I understand their actions much better. Find some other friends who do have kids, you may find you have a lot in common with them, other than just children."

"You may not be able to participate in spontaneous activities, and you simply must explain that when invitations arise, `I'd love to, but I can't get a sitter on such short notice.' But do make an effort to stay in touch regularly. Phone friends when baby is sleeping or napping and schedule activities as time permits. I've found it important to stay in touch by phone. My friendships are important to me, but they've definitely changed."

"Try to have friends come to you. Have them bring a lunch and talk to you at home. Or stick to activities close to your home. That way you're not driving everywhere. Plan barbecues or pot lucks with your friends at your home so that your child is in his/her own environment and usually happier. And your friends can still talk with you without worrying about your baby."

"Your life has changed, in a thousand different ways, and it will be up to your fiends to understand this, and then chose if they wish to continue the friendship....but that will probably have to change too. I would be as open with them as possible, and let them know that your child is a part of your life now....and that has to be accepted."

"First, explain to your friends that motherhood in no way resembles its portrayal on TV and in other media. Unlike soap opera and sitcom mom's, real life mothers don't have the time, energy or even the desire to lunch with friends daily, do hours of volunteer work, dance & party all night or attend 2 to 3 exercise classes a week. In real life, a baby or child is not just an addition to one's life, but the very center of it. Don't dismiss your single friends from your life though. Try to include them in your family activities (e.g. holiday celebrations, dinner at your home, etc.) and in your child's life. Try to cultivate friendships with mothers too. You can meet them in church, play groups, malls and parenting classes."

"I was even more settled in to my free lifestyle than you were. I married at 35 and gave birth at 36! To a certain extent yo have to let go of those friends who can't adjust to the change, and make new friends with similar interests. But there is value in keeping old friends too, and in having a variety of social contacts. One thing that has helped us is to entertain at home - very simply (to avoid additional burdens). Dessert and table games, potluck suppers, or an evening of handwork and chatting. These are some ideas that we've used to get together with single and married friends without children. Our 3 month old loves the company!"

"I don't think single (and childless) friends will ever full understand. Look at how your relationship with your partner has and will change because of a baby. A friendship needs to be that flexible, too. Instead of going out, invite your single friends over. Let them see how much work a baby is. Either they will learn, and appreciate your position, and become a better friend, or sadly, they will move on. then you will be able to assess how much of a friend they were to begin with."

"There seems to come a time in everyone's life when they change (mature). It is usually with a new job and/or marriage. But it definitely happens when children come into the picture. Sometimes not, when the child doesn't have caring parents. Twenty three nowadays, is considered young to be married, let alone having babies. It is always hard for single and/childless couples to really understand, especially at your age. Unfortunately those friends are often lost, but maybe not forever. Try to make new friends with couples that have children. I'm sure your friends will better understand someday when they have children. Don't worry yourself. Until then, enjoy your youth and your baby. It is great to hear when someone loves their child, especially as young as you are."

"You've heard the saying, `You can't describe the taste of an apple - you actually have to eat one to know the flavor.' I think it's the same with children - understanding how wonderful having a child is just isn't possible without the experience. Help your friends by understanding their needs are different - they don't have your wonderful baby!"

"I am also a 23 year old mother and I love it just as much as you do. I have had similar problems with my friends. I just explained to each one how I feel about being a mom and how parenting has changed my life (for the better)! It took only one talk with most people - however sometimes people need reminding - just stick to your guns and they'll get the message. Another thing I found helpful was meeting some other moms at a play group, park, etc., that share your lifestyle - they're more understanding."

"I try to plan things ahead of time. I firmly state that from 1 - 3 pm, I am not available and I must be home during that time (nap time). I ask for promptness. I hate waiting for a friend to arrive while the kids are all dressed and ready to go or the baby sitter is there. I have a friend who is very intense. My kids are uncomfortable with her and vice versa. I try to get together with her in the evenings or when there is a baby sitter."

"Ask yourself how important it is that you maintain these friendships now that you have less in common. If they are valuable to you, you will now have to work double hard to insure these friends still have a place in your busy life. Make an effort to see them one on one without the baby occasionally and try to keep the conversation from dwelling completely on your new life. Meanwhile, look for new friendships with young mothers. Your old friends can't be expected to understand your new feelings completely but in time they may change also."

"Boy can I relate. I had a lot of close friends that didn't have children. Just, if you haven't already, explain to them exactly how you feel about them not understanding and that your glad to be a mom. Also, get in touch with your school and find out about community education classes. It's a great way to meet moms and still be with your baby."

"I am 23 also, and the mother of a 3 year old and 5 month old. I had the same problem. Single people our age have a hard time accepting our new wants and needs as parents. I have found that your best friends will make an attempt to understand. You need to tell them that you need time in advance to make plans. My advice is to meet people that have young children. I still have single friends, but I rarely see them because they have become frustrated with my inability to do things at a moments notice. Good luck!"

"People who are not parents may never understand! Remember that our present society is telling your peers that you've made a mistake that you'll be sorry for. I started having my family at the age of 23 also, so I feel I know what your up against. Try to find community ed. type classes and activities for moms and babies. This way you will meet others who are more in tune to your lifestyle. Also try asking your friends to baby sit! Remember they don't know what they're missing and someday the chances are that most of them will be in your shoes."

"As many of us can testify, `You just don't understand until you have one of your own.' Before having a son of our own, we often resented people who brought their kids to crowded stores, the State Fair and other areas where stress and amounts of people can be high... we often wondered what they must be thinking, and of course, we had many ideas of our own about what they should be doing. Now, besides eating a lot of our own words, we love nothing more than to spend time with our son; bringing him almost everywhere we go and we like to stay home much more, also! Single friends can't understand what they haven't experienced, but maybe you can tell them how you feel and hope that they'll at least try to be supportive."

"I think it is important for you to keep contact with your friends by joining them in some of their fun and at the same time, explaining to them that with added motherhood responsibilities you need to cut down on some of the outings. Good friends generally understand."

"If you don't feel talking about your feelings to your friends is enough try to make an extra effort to reassure them about your feelings for them or their importance in your life. If they don't want to be involved with you and the baby then take a little time to pay attention just to them. Maybe talking to them on the phone or seeing them while the baby is taking a nap. Even if it's just for an hour."

"I have found that you can't make anyone understand your situation. Single people and even married people without children won't really understand until they have their own children. I just make an extra effort to invite them over and do things at home instead of going out. If you beat them to the invitation, you won't always have to be the one turning an invitation down."

"Having a baby is a love affair! It's perfectly natural to want to spend time with your baby. You may try to explain this to your single friends but you do not need to apologize for it. Invite them to your house to spend time with you and your baby. Keep in touch over the phone. they may be feeling left out of a big part of your life. but do not expect them to understand this new role - it's difficult to know the intensity of the love affair with a newborn unless you've experienced it. My advice is to enjoy your baby, try to keep your friends involved in your life, but do not feel embarrassed or guilty if what you want to do is stay home and be with your baby. Do not begrudge your friends if they do not understand. You are just in a different place in your life."

"Unfortunately, sometimes changing situations changes friends. True friends will respect your decisions ofstaying home and are flexible. At the same time you can't expect them to change their lifestyles and want to stay home like you do. Maybe your get togethers could be a lunch date. Make it fun. Ask your friends what they would like to do. If you both give a little, your friendship will last."

"It has been my experience, I'm afraid, that there is no way to make childless friends understand your new lifestyle. Childless singles and couples who are truly our friends, make allowances for and plans which include our children. Even so, we probably don't see them as much as we once did. Childless friends who refused to accept our children and our lifestyle really weren't friends and we have chosen not to see them anymore. We have tried to make new friendships with people who have children and we find these very fun, rewarding relationships. Also, we get a sitter once in a while so we can enjoy a childless night out with childless friends."

( What advice would you most like to give about experiencing life with a new baby?"
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