Does Having Kids Affect Your Friendships?

Golden Retriever

A lot of our couple friends got dogs around the same time we did. When we get together for group events we often let all the dogs play together, and then watch them and chit chat and marvel at how sweet/goofy/loveable our pups are. It’s in those moments that I realize we’ll probably be doing the same thing with our human children in a few years time.

And then I realize how differently we’ve raised and parent (discipline/train) our dogs. I worry that we’ll all be such different types of parents that it will be hard to stay as close as we are now.

At dinner several months ago with my Mom and Grandma, they insisted that many of our friendships will change when we have kids. I know this is probably true, but what if I don’t want it to be?

This is something I think about fairly frequently, especially as our friends are all getting engaged and married and are pondering kiddohs in the next few years. As time goes on, I’m less worried about the lifestyle change (because let’s be honest, we don’t party too hard these days) but more worried about having wildly different parenting ideologies from the people closest to us. What if we love each other as people but can’t stand each other as parents? It’s a scary thing.

So my question to the Moms out there is this: how did having kids affect your friendships?

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  • So I’m not at the age that I have to start worrying about that too much (luckily) but I understand your concern! I think that as friends there’s a lot of things you think differently about and the way to go about it is to just respect each others differences I guess. I can also imagine that once friends start to get babies its and extra time of bonding because its such special moment in your lives that you’re sharing.. idk, maybe I’m to optimistic but I feel like it should all work out fine 😉 <3

    • I hope that you are right, that having kids at the same time really bonds us. I don’t know that it will work out that way, but I can dream!

  • that core group of friends that have been there with you through everything won’t change. you’ll definitely notice a shift of priorities and maybe not be able to see your “kidless” friends as much as you’re used to (because the baby goes to bed at 6pm and you can’t hang anymore). but those core friendships strengthen and it’s wonderful to watch them love your babies like they love you 🙂

    p.s. the dog, however, realizes he’s not the only child anymore and gives you lots of forlorn looks!

    • Oh gosh, just thinking about Archie’s sad face breaks my heart!

  • Samantha Bayer

    I don’t have the best perspective because most of my friends are in the same place as me (having babies) but in regards to different styles parenting, I think I’m pretty good at realizing that as a parent you know what’s best for your child! So I remind myself that my friends are doing what’s best! There is no room for friends judging you on how you parent, so I try not to judge my parents!

    • I hope that we’re all mature enough to not judge each other etc. I’m sure I’ll do what I think is best. Still, it’s something I worry about as we all get to that age.

  • This is something I’ve never worried about because I’ve seen how most friends that have kids at the same time bond. We’re the childless couple while most of our friends have now started having kids. That’s what worries me the most because we’ve seen time and time again good friends that have completely abandoned us. I know they don’t have the time to hang out like they used to– I get that and have acknowledged that with them, but they’ve never acknowledged the fact of their side of things and the fact that we still need our friends as much as they do. They cancel plans without letting us know (aka just not showing up), rarely respond to our texts, ignore us when we talk to them because they’re focused on the baby the whole time, etc. Sometimes we joke that we should have kids soon so that we can have our friends back. I think when you’re all having kids at the same time it’s similar to the dog situation– you all share your experiences. But when some are having kids and some aren’t, it starts to feel like a break up.

    • Oh gosh, that sounds challenging. I was imagining too, what if one set of friends wants to be parents but are unable to be? It’s such a huge thing to do in life (make another freaking human!) and I imagine that it would be hard for people on both the parents and non-parents side of things. I promise, especially after reading these responses, that I’m going to make an effort when we become parents to not be the jerks who just don’t show up. That sounds mean 🙁

  • I don’t think parenting styles matter so much as your friends being at the same place as you. If you have a baby, it’s harder to connect with friends who don’t have kids yet in the same way because they don’t really understand how your life has changed. They won’t understand why you can’t or don’t want too go to a party, or go away for a weekend without kids.

    • That’s definitely what I’m getting, after reading the responses on this post. It sounds like it’s hard to connect as friends if some have kids and some don’t. It makes me hope that we all have kids at the same time, although I know that’s wishful thinking.

  • Having Ella definitely affected our friendships. We were the only married couple among our friends when I got pregnant with her, and we’re still the only ones to have a child. I think it’s been harder on my friendships than on Eric’s, mainly because Ella basically goes everywhere with me. I do get the occasional girls night & weekend away, but it isn’t as easy for me as it is for Eric. All of my college friends met Ella initially, then completely distanced themselves. I hate to say I’ve “replaced” them, but that’s basically what has happened. I’ve become friends with women that I work with who have their own kids, and I’ve made friends with Ella’s friend’s moms. Do I still have my die hard besties from our wild party days? Yes. But you’ll quickly figure out who your true friends are once you have a child.

    • Very interesting. That sounds like it would definitely be challenging and possibly kind of isolating.

      I’ve actually always hoped that I do find friends with kids close to my kids age, when the time comes. Because all of my college friends are in California, my friends on the east coast are just those I’ve had for the last few years. I hope when the time comes, some other woman in the mommy and me class wants to be friends.

  • I totally understand this! I only have a few close friends who have had kids so far, but honestly, the change has just made our relationships stronger. It’s been amazing to see my friends morph into these amazingly strong, nurturing mothers. And our time together is really just as precious and fun as it ever was! I was also concerned about how my friendships would change once I got married, but I think it’s always going to depend on the person.

  • I don’t have too many friends that have kids, but I can say my parenting methods differ a lot from my cousins and siblings. I think if you’re committed to keeping your friendship and try not to judge, than things should be fine.

  • That is something that may be a bit challenging I think. Especially if it a couple that you spend a lot of time with and have very different parenting styles. How can you not let your kid behave certain ways when they see their best friends doing the same thing and both sets of parents are around ya know. I think it could be hard. I have a friend whose parenting style I don’t agree with and while I don’t have kids it can be hard for me to stand by and not do anything.

  • Laura

    It definitely can affect friendships, but I’ve found it’s mostly with friends that are in different stages of life (so far for us that means our friends with no kids). Our core friend group consists mostly of friends with no kids, and have no interest in having kids ever. It was difficult for us to adjust since we go to bed super early now since our daughter is up at 6 am regardless of when we go to bed! Ironically that group of we’ll-never-have-kids friends are WONDERFUL “aunts and uncles” to our daughter and they never mind if we bring her along to stuff. Most of the time we bring her pack n play, park her in the guest room and then we can visit once she’s asleep. We definitely don’t go “out” as much now though.

    So far, I haven’t found too much conflict when it’s different ideologies of parenting. My brother and sister-in-law are about as opposite of parents as we are, and we still manage just fine 🙂 You’ll always have stuff in common with other parents regardless of your parenting style.

  • Kids undoubtedly impact friendships. Priorities and responsibilities change when kids come into the picture- it’s inevitable! I don’t necessarily think that has to completely change the friendship, but I also think it would be unrealistic to think that it won’t just simply by how much you life changes when you have kids. I have been thinking about this a lot lately myself, actually, so this is a timely post for me.

  • thank you so much for bringing this conversation to light. i’m married but have no kids and slowly but surely my close, out of state friends, are popping out babies. it’s changed some of our friendship because i’m more hesitant to call in case i wake the baby up and it’s mind blowing to consider my college friends now moms! they are still only a few months old so it will be interesting to see how our friendships evolve.

    • Ooh yes! Every time I want to call my friends, I remember it’s probably not a good time cos of their kids 🙁

  • Mae

    This is such an interesting concept but so true…

  • I’m a single 23-year-old who has quite a few friends with kids. Each relationship has changed in a different way; some friends and I have completely lost contact and others I see almost as often as I used too. A lot of factors play in; availability being the largest. Some of my friends who I’m not as close with now think that I’m “too busy” to see them & their kids and they don’t want to “keep me back” from living out my younger years by spending Saturday night watching a 2 year old play house vs being at a bar (watching 20 something’s act like two year olds….)

    Change is inevitable, but I think if each party makes a SERIOUS effort to keep the friendship flame going that there is a great chance of that friendship surviving.

  • I’m the friend who doesnt want kids. My best friend has two and my other friend has one and while I dont mind us visiting each other, I feel at some level I’ve lost my friends as our lives no longer relate. I have no one to go on adventures on a whim with anymore, or late night wine drinking for the hell of it, etc. At 36, I feel like I need to make new friends as all of my friends have either paired off or sprouted sprogs 😀 I still have a lot of adventure and wanderlust in me and that is part of the reason I choose not to have children. I miss having fun with my friends but their choices are their choices 🙂

  • This is the point of view of a not married 26-year-old without kids. I’ve found that since college I have both made and lost a good number of friends. I think a lot of it has to do with how other people let their new milestones define (or not define them). I have friends who got married and all of a sudden everything became about /had to be run by their husbands – those friends I wasn’t able to stay in touch with. I have friends who have had children that still go to choir rehearsal multiple times a week and go out of their way to bake an insane number of pies for Pi Day; those friends I have been able to stay in touch with. I’m not saying that one way is right and one way is wrong, I just think it depends on which way people fall.

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