Motherhood is a friendship-killer

Published: May 8, 2008 | Last Updated: May 8, 2008 By | 8 Replies Continue Reading

Mother’s Day celebrates motherhood—as well as children, flowers, candy, and greeting cards. But there’s a seedy side to everything—and motherhood is a known friendship-killer. Motherhood challenges female friendships for a variety of reasons:

• You are a mother, and your BFF isn’t one and wants to be one. Her fertility problems are making her extremely frustrated, depressed, and angry at you.

• Your BFF is a merry mother of six and you have no desire to even be a mother of one. When you’re together, she never stops talking about her brood.

• You and your BFF both have children but they are at different ages or stages (And one of hers is a biter).

• You and your BFF have vastly different views on child-rearing. You’re permissive and believe in letting kids be kids. She believes in turning children into little adults.

• Your children and/or spouse don’t get along with your BFF’s children and/or spouse. When her son punched yours in the nose, her husband said your son provoked him.

• On a practical level, all other things being equal, you have less discretionary time for friendships than high-school or college-age women, married women without children, and older women. With all your responsibilities, you barely have time to shower.

• You are a mother-martyr who places the needs of your children and family above your own social needs.

• You have fewer opportunities to meet new friends than you did when you were younger and more care-free—you only go to noisy, active places with children where it’s hard to have heart-to-heart conversations.

At different times of our lives, there are real shifts in the number and nature of our female friendships. Living in a dorm, you may have been surrounded by a circle of close female friends. For one or more of the reasons mentioned above, motherhood is one of those times when you might have more than your share of problems making or maintaining female friendships.

Many of us spend so much time juggling our roles as daughters, wives, workers, caregivers, and mothers that we wake up one morning and suddenly realize we have a serious friendship deficit! We think: If only there was someone we could call—or have coffee with—who could understand the gaping hole it has left.

This Mother’s Day, give yourself a little gift that no one else would ever think of. Jot down an appointment on your calendar to have lunch with a friend, or to have a girl’s night out. It’s the equivalent of putting on your own oxygen mask first.

Taking small steps to build female friendships enhances our own physical and emotional well-being, and makes us better mothers in the long-run.

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  1. Justine says:

    Reading this as a doctor, I just want to add that there are a few genetic links to socialisation issues, if there is a specific condition that has been diaganosed by a paychiatrist. These conditions include Asperger’s Syndrome and other autistic spectrum disorders, certain personality disorders, and depression to name a few. But these are not usually the case. Mostly, being introverted is just a personality type which is a combo of how you are born and your upbringing. It is not necessarily a bad thing.

    • Justine says:

      Sorry, not sure why but this posted on the wrong article!!! It was meant for another post about a mom worrying about her kids being lonely and not having friends. How can I fix it?

  2. twist says:

    This is so true, after I became a mother I have been neglecting my friendships a bit, thank you for pointing it out to me.

  3. Anonymous says:

    You are young and your BFF is the first person you know to have children. You unintentionally come off sounding insensitive and stupid because you have really no idea what it is like to be pregnant, breastfeed, or have constant childminding responsibilities.

  4. Roxanne says:

    This post is so true. Another scenario is that you are the mother of one and your friend has 3, 4, or 5 children. While we love our children to no end, having a child doesn’t make you a kid person. It just makes you a person with a kid. Some find it difficult to cope with a larger group of children.

    The fact of the matter is that any change in your relationship can throw a friendship off. If it is a friendship that you want to continue, you must find a way to maintain it. Sometimes that requires attitude adjustments or compromising, just like in a marriage.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I agree. As a childless-by-choice woman, I find it really tough to be friends with people with kids, though not because they pressure me to have kids (I think people are less likely to nag a lesbian to have kids :-P) I don’t particularly like being around kids outside of my job. I’ve had way, way too many experiences with parents where every conversation I have with them ends up revolving around their kids. Also, their kids severely limit what they can do and when. While I’m free to pretty much come and go as I please and they’re… not. As a result, they either never go out, drag the kid along (I even had a co-worker consider dragging her toddler to a bar so she could keep plans!), or expect me to plan my schedule around when they can get a babysitter. I don’t think either path is better or worse, I just find that my world and theirs doesn’t mix very well, so I avoid making friends with parents.

  6. Irene says:

    Thanks, Sophie
    Good addition!
    Yes, that is another common scenario that causes friction in friendships. Another one is being single by choice.
    Best,
    Irene

  7. Sophie says:

    You are childless by choice and a friend with children tries to convince you that your life is sterile and meaningless.

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