This article originally appeared on SHESAID.
First of all, I have to confess that I hate parenting articles. I don’t even like that word. Parenting — ugh! Please don’t think you know me just because I have kids.
So when self-declared “childfree” people go on rants about how their parent friends behave, it bugs me. Yes, a lot of parents are assholes. But you know what? A lot of people are assholes; some of them happen to have kids, some don’t.
I can’t speak for all parents, and I wouldn’t want to try.
But speaking as one particular person with kids, here’s what I wish my childfree friends would understand…
1. We’ll post as many pictures of our kids as we want on social media.
Go ahead and unfollow me if you want. Truth be told, I’ve unfollowed some of my fellow parent friends for spamming my timeline with their kids, too. I’ve also unfollowed friends for posting too many dog/cat/pet snake pictures, photos of what they had for brunch, nonsensical political rants and endless sports talk. Annoying and socially inept people are going to be annoying and socially inept whether they have kids or not. I don’t post about my kids that often, but if you don’t want to see their sweet little faces, just keep scrolling.
2. We’re still the same people.
Sure, I’m a parent. But I’m still me. I’m still a person. I’m doing something billions of women have done throughout history. I’m not that special, and neither are my kids. So if I go on about my kids for longer than you can stand, feel free to tell me to knock it off. In fact, please ask me about something else. Sometimes I could really use the reminder that I’m more than just someone’s boring old mother.
3. We still want to participate in your life.
You know what sucks? When you have a kid and suddenly stop being invited out. Don’t assume I can’t get a sitter or that I’m not interested in dancing at a nightclub until 3 am anymore — let me worry about that. If I keep turning down all your invitations, maybe ask me if there’s a particular time/place/activity that would work better for me so we can hang out — but don’t leave me out of things just because I’m a parent.
4. We know you don’t want kids.
You don’t need to hit us over the head with your childfree lifestyle choice — we get it. I know lots of people ask why you don’t want kids or try to convince you to have them. I understand that’s annoying, but you know what? People with dogs are always trying to convince me I should get a dog, and people who like to camp keep inviting me to go camping with them. I don’t want a dog — it’s all I can do to keep my children fed and cared for — and I hate camping. But I try not to get annoyed when people go on about their pets and their outdoorsy trips. People like to talk about stuff they love — there’s no need to be so defensive.
5. We wish you’d give us a break.
No, literally. Give us a break. Please offer to help us out with the kids now and then. Take them to a movie or to the zoo. You never know — they might even help you meet someone. There’s nothing like a cute kid and her cute single aunty or uncle to attract attention, right? Okay, maybe not. But still, a little effort goes a long way. And anyway, if our kids are bratty, they could probably use an afternoon with you to straighten them out. Consider it an opportunity to show us how it’s done, because, really, most of us have no clue.
6. It means the world when you show up.
Having kids is expensive, exhausting and isolating, especially when they’re little. We parents are aware that people in restaurants and airports see us coming and cringe. And we know you’re reluctant to invite us to your party for fear we’ll drone on about diapers and colic and the cost of daycare — or, worse, bring our toddlers along, allowing them to put their sticky hands all over your stuff and scream until your head pounds. But when you make an effort to include us, we appreciate it more than we can say. And we’ll always try to return the favor. We’d actually welcome a chance to spend some childfree time with you and remember who we are outside of our parenting (ugh!) duties.
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