I know that I don’t know what it’s like to be a mom. What I thoroughly understand is that I have zero understanding of the life of a parent. But, since my friends who are parents were once in my shoes – they didn’t always have kids – then I can say that they do know what it means to not be a parent. They know what it means to have my life. Though it can seem like that memory is totally forgotten once they have kids, because they can say things to me that I know them, in the past – the younger, childless them – would have hated to hear. So…do they just not think about that before speaking to me? Have they lost all ability to ask themselves, “How would I have felt if somebody said this to me before I had kids?” As the one who has experienced both sides of that change, being childless, and then having kids, shouldn’t my parent friends be the ones to be a bit more considerate in how they speak to their childless friends? That’s what I think. So I am often surprised when my friends with kids say these things to me. I know they have a million more things on their minds besides caring for my feelings but…if they want to keep their childless friends, they’ll need to be sensitive to them, too. Here are condescending things parents say to non-parents.
You just live for yourself
It’s not always as direct as this or as harsh as this, but it is getting at this. There will be some comment suggesting that I only live for myself, and I have no idea what it means to live for somebody else. Umm…I mean, I am married. And have older parents. I have people for whom I care, and who I think about often. I do think of the needs of others. Maybe not as much as a parent, but I don’t only think about myself.
You don’t know what tired is
I don’t understand the competition to be the most tired. What does anyone win by winning that? But, I feel like I can’t tell a parent friend that I’m tired, and why I’m tired, without hearing why they’re more tired. I think I just needed a little understanding nod and sympathy, not the play-by-play story of your day from 6am to 11am.
Now I see I had no real purpose before
I’m always shocked when parents say this to me. How can they not see how insulting that is? It is nearly directly stating that my life doesn’t have purpose, because I don’t have kids. Okay…I mean, I feel that my life has purpose. I think I make an impact on the people in my life. I think I do things that have meaning. Do my friends with kids not think that of me now?
Pets aren’t children
Just because I call my dog “My baby” and “Mommy’s little girl” and say that she’s part of the family doesn’t mean I think she’s a child. But also, let’s meet somewhere in the middle here. I do schedule my day around her needs, dedicate part of my income to her health insurance, food, and other supplies, and am in charge of her wellbeing. So…you can’t say I have no responsibilities if I have a pet.
You haven’t tested your relationship until…
Until we have kids. Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard it a million times. Parents making these sweeping claims about how parenthood showed them what their marriage was really made of and how they really didn’t even know what kind of partner they had until parenthood. Translation: my relationship is a sham and I don’t know my partner, is that right? I mean, we have gone through bouts of unemployment, depression, loss of loved ones, escrow, and illness together, and been together for seven years but…apparently that counts for nothing.
I thought I had money. Until I had kids.
“I didn’t realize I was broke, until I had kids.” “I thought I was doing well financially before kids because I could pay my rent and go out for dinners. But having kids made me realize I wasn’t doing so well.” Um, hi, hello. I think I’m doing well because I can pay my mortgage and travel a bit. Are you saying that I’m actually broke? I don’t think the measuring stick for success should be all about how you’d do if you had kids.
Don’t you want a family?
I have a family. Heck, I thought this very parent saying this to me was part of my family – you know, the whole, friends are the family you choose concept. And my siblings. And my other best friends. And my husband. And my in-laws. And my parents. Since when is a baby the only form of family somebody can have?
This is the truest form of love
As in…I haven’t experienced true love because I don’t have a child? Look, maybe they’re right. Maybe that does bring some extreme form of love into one’s life that you just can’t get elsewhere. But…why would a friend say that to me? Knowing I don’t have kids? What good does it do to notify me there is some love out there I don’t have?
I thought I knew stress before
Here we go with the competitiveness again. Can’t I just tell a parent friend that I’m stressed, without hearing a list of reasons she’s more stressed? I feel like some of my friends, since having kids, do not acknowledge when I’m stressed at all. They tune out when I tell them why I’m stressed. It feels disrespectful.
Mmm. That’s not child-friendly
The restaurant I chose. The party I’m hosting. The gift I’m giving. All of it is held up to the standard of, “Is it child-friendly?” And if it isn’t, it seems to be deemed wrong or bad. Well, I don’t have kids so, I don’t judge things that way. And if I put a lot of effort into something, or if I love and care about something a lot, it is hurtful to have a parent friend turn her nose up to it and say, “That’s not child-friendly,” writing off anything that could be good about it.
She’s a mom, so she gets it
I’ve had parent friends tell me they just spent time with another friend, who also has kids, and said how nice it was to hang out with someone who just understands what they’re going through right now. Uuuhhh….maybe just say that directly to that friend, and not to me, who feels like you’re directly saying, “I don’t relate to you as much as I do my parent friends.”
You lose your vanity as a mom
Maybe I tell a friend that I feel I’ve put on weight. Or I want some good anti-wrinkle cream. Or I love these new jeans that lift my butt. And instead of being enthusiastic with me, they say, “Oh, I don’t think about that stuff. You lose your vanity when you have kids.” Ah. So now I’m vain.
That’s just not important anymore
Whatever my concern is. It could have to do with my sex life. My social life. My condo. My wardrobe. A career conflict. Anything at all, really. And a parent friend might say something like, “I just can’t let that kind of thing get to me now that I have kids. I just have perspective now.” Well…that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still get to me! So can we talk about it or what?
I thought I was busy before having kids
Yes, yes, I get it. I’m not busy. I just sit around watching Netflix all day and getting facials. I certainly don’t, like, work from 9 to 5 and help family out and have to run mind-numbing errands and have to do taxes and have to clean my home. No no. I’m not busy at all.
Ah, don’t feel left out
When I concede and say, in response to any of the things I listed here, “Yeah, I guess I don’t understand,” a parent friend might say, “Ah. Don’t feel left out. You’ll have kids eventually.” I don’t want kids! I was just saying I don’t understand because it seems like what my parent friend wanted to hear. I don’t need pity.