Does having children spell the end of your past friendships?

Zoya Patel 17 November 2021 28
Baby Charli Crapp

Does having a baby have to be a dampener on your social life and old friendships? Photo: Lucy Cartwright.

The past few years have signalled the definitive end of my youth.

First, I turned 30, and then the final chapters were hastened along by COVID-19. These days, it’s unusual for me to stay awake past 10 pm, let alone go out into the world to socialise.

Combined with my own age-related lethargy and work-related mental exhaustion is the fact that barely any of the friendships that saw me through my 20s remain active. Some people have moved away, and others have drifted apart, but the single biggest driver of my friendship attrition rate is people having kids.

As soon as a baby arrives on the scene, the prospect of a social gathering is complicated by all of the related planning and tasks that relate to the child.

I totally get it: parents suddenly have to consider the routines of their child, their own lack of sleep, and the difficulties of finding a child-suitable venue/activity, all while managing the competing demands of their work, family and their own relationship.

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And not all child-free friendships are necessarily accommodating to those needs. I like to think I’m pretty flexible and try to anticipate the needs of my friends’ kids, but I know that often the intersections between things that I’d like to do with my free time, and things that make taking a baby into the world easy enough to accomplish, is slim at best.

Then, there’s the fact that once you have a child, your life is actually quite different from your child-free friends, and sometimes that means you have less in common. The things that interest my friends who are new parents are often quite closely related to their day-to-day life of caring for a small child, and as much as I’d love to hear about it and understand it, I indeed have little to contribute to those conversations; understandably, the same is the case for my own topics of conversation and how relatable they are for my friends, who probably have little interest in whatever workplace drama or random anecdotes I have to share.

Crying baby

Children aren’t always the perfect companion for a quiet coffee with friends. Photo: Region Media.

And then, of course, there’s the reality that many friendships from our youth were situational. There were the people we worked with in casual jobs, or former housemates, classmates, colleagues from our first jobs. As time passes, so do these friendships, and without the common factor bringing us together, there’s no real point in staying in touch. Kids add an element to this, effectively closing the door on some of those factors and opening the door to new friendships that emerge around childcare and parenting groups.

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I don’t think that having children makes my friends any less interesting or important to me, and I know they feel the same way. But the logistics of hanging out are hard to navigate, and on some level, I kind of just assume that we’ll reignite our friendship when I have a child, and we have a natural reason to connect.

If you have children, did you find it hard to maintain friendships after your child(ren) arrived on the scene? And for those who never plan to have kids, do you feel like your friends who are parents have stayed in your life, or did your friendship gradually fade away?

What's Your Opinion?

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28 Responses to Does having children spell the end of your past friendships?
Bek Clark Bek Clark 6:41 am 19 Nov 21

Depends. Some people are fairly obsessive about their brilliant baby whatevs and there’s only so many times you can hear the same stories over and over again.

    Margie Dorman Margie Dorman 6:53 am 19 Nov 21

    Bek Clark Yes. And you find the friendship and conversation is all about them and the babies. It turns into a one way street.

Karen Mack Karen Mack 9:57 pm 18 Nov 21

Pretty much yes.

Talia Howard Talia Howard 7:45 pm 18 Nov 21

The real friends stick around. The friends who dropped me like a hot coal during my first pregnancy have gone on to have their own families and I feel zero need to rekindle those friendships because at the end of the day, they were not interested in being a part of my life when it was inconvenient for them. The friends I have and the friends I kept are good friends regardless of whether they have children or not.

Ashley Keaveney Ashley Keaveney 7:03 pm 18 Nov 21

Not the real ones.

Rebecca Thomas Rebecca Thomas 5:51 pm 18 Nov 21

Elley Cairistina better not happen to us 🤣🤣🤣 you stuck with me for life 🤣🤣🤣

Sarah Gorman Sarah Gorman 4:52 pm 18 Nov 21

Yuuuup I have one friend left. Thankful for him every single day.

    Sarah Gorman Sarah Gorman 4:54 pm 18 Nov 21

    Jennifer Polhuis you're my sister you don't count 🤣🤣🤣

    Sarah Gorman Sarah Gorman 4:54 pm 18 Nov 21

    I'm joking make that 2 friends

Jennifer Polhuis Jennifer Polhuis 4:49 pm 18 Nov 21

Yep. A lot dropped like flys as soon as he was born.

A couple have stayed around(mainly because they have their own)

No skin off my nose. Just makes you realise who was actually there to begin with

Tim Mak Tim Mak 4:28 pm 18 Nov 21

Trust me, it happens both ways, you’ll lose your friends before you even tie the knot with your partner.

When a friend settles down and has a family and career, friendships will no longer be top priorities.

To maintain those relationships, we have to recognise that priorities change and to respect each other’s boundaries.

Paula Simcocks Paula Simcocks 2:58 pm 18 Nov 21

And if you have a disabled one, no matter how family or friends sympathise, they want out or give words of advice for 40-50 years - ‘are you feeding them properly? Does she really want to do that ? Etc ‘ as if they were 4.

Mitchell Kelly Mitchell Kelly 1:55 pm 18 Nov 21

Laurence Bernard you’re dead to me

    Nicole Semmler Nicole Semmler 11:09 am 19 Nov 21

    Mitchell Laurence wow Laurence 0 to 100

    Mitchell Kelly Mitchell Kelly 11:28 am 19 Nov 21

    Nicole Semmler he’s so disrespectful

    Laurence Bernard Laurence Bernard 3:57 pm 19 Nov 21

    Nicole Semmler if you can hack the heat get out of the kitchen

Mookie Moo Mookie Moo 1:19 pm 18 Nov 21

Not at all. If they are close special friends, then I will love their babies & embrace this stage too! Just as they have loved mine.

And yes, having children can bring new special lifelong friendships too.

Celia Jane Lancaster Celia Jane Lancaster 11:18 am 18 Nov 21

You make new friends. Sometimes friendships are meant to drift apart. Not everyone you know and care about will be on the same trajectory as you. You will have different life goals and dreams to many of your friends, and often it is better to find people with similar ambitions to you to spend time with.

Jess Tankard Jess Tankard 9:38 am 18 Nov 21

No, not always. In my case the people I once knew weren't at the same stage of life. Settling down, having a child etc everyone is different. Some will work on still having a friendship and always make the effort and some purposely distanced themselves so that they can end the friendship without hurting the parent.

I've kept my friendship circle very small, have lost many friends, created new ones and lost several mum friends due to differences. That is perfectly okay and I won't judge them for having a different lifestyle or persepctive.

Ingrid Decak Ingrid Decak 9:22 am 18 Nov 21

Only if people allow their children to rule their life and organise everything around them and their sleeps etc. Children need to learn to adapt to all kinds of days and associated activities of their parents in order to grow up to be well adjusted adults!

Claire Genevieve Wood Claire Genevieve Wood 7:33 am 18 Nov 21

Not always, life has stages, and people come and go through these stages, I've had friends since childhood and I've made amazing friends through my life journey, but my children have never caused me to lose friends just life made us travel different paths at different times. The heading of the article is loaded to make having children/ your children be negative - and that's not entirely cool. People come and go but your children are always your children.

    Carole Evans Carole Evans 9:14 am 18 Nov 21

    Claire, totally agree. I have friends from School, we all had children at different times. Are friendship is stronger for it xxx

Emma Louise Swinbourne Emma Louise Swinbourne 7:28 am 18 Nov 21

Yep, basically…

Brent Hunter Brent Hunter 7:26 am 18 Nov 21

Nup, we just take our child all the places we would go with friends. Children are allowed in most places 😂

    Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 1:27 pm 18 Nov 21

    Brent Hunter I went out a lot with my baby and toddler. Obviously not clubbing but by the time I had her I was getting a bit old to do that often anyway so I didn't miss it. Went to quite a few wild parties at people's homes with her though. She'd just sleep through all of it and my friends probably liked having a rare sober person there to keep an eye on them too. 😆

Dawn Bowra Dawn Bowra 7:19 am 18 Nov 21

Beginning of new ones. All those people who don’t continue their gift of friendship when you need it the most are just aquaintents…grieve the loss and make the new connections through your new past time. They grew up so quick.

    Yvie McGee Yvie McGee 9:28 am 18 Nov 21

    Dawn Bowra not always. Sometimes the single friend gets left behind and feels in the way. Either way, we grieve a lost friendship.

    Kari James Kari James 7:17 pm 18 Nov 21

    Yvette McGee Yes, totally. These are exactly the words I was looking for.

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