How Parenthood Changes Your Friendships
There’s no way of avoiding it: parenthood will affect relationships with your friends. Some will wither away and disappear, some will remain the same, and some will evolve. And you’ll even gain some new friendships! But the fact of the matter is, parenthood is a major shift in life, and everything else will shift with it.
At the same time, let’s remember not to hold a grudge against the little one. That peanut comes first, no matter what. That child will change everything, and that isn’t necessarily bad. Life changes, and we have to learn to change with it.
You’ll lose friends
If you went to college or joined the Armed Forces following high school, those huge life moves meant that everything in life was going to change dramatically. How often you saw your parents, your siblings, and missing out on family gatherings. You also weren’t going to see all your childhood friends as often, you weren’t going to communicate as often, and that was ultimately okay. You found a way to cope and deal with the changes in those relationships.
Once you settled into adulthood, you found new friends and developed new social outlets. But then you got married and had a baby, and that meant changing all over again. Spur-of-the-moment invitations became harder to accept, you couldn’t stay out as late, and the drinking? Well, that was curbed too in favor of more pressing expenditures (e.g., diapers, formula, onesies).
True, you didn’t have as much in common with your kid-free friends, but that’s life. To maintain a friendship, two people have to understand and empathize with each other’s life situation, and that’s something that’s a whole lot easier to do when you’re on the same page at the same time. If a friendship never survived all that, it doesn’t mean either of you were bad friends, it just means that life transformed.
You’ll keep friends
A strong love of sports has helped me to maintain friendships with some dear friends. I might not be as available for pickup basketball or softball leagues now, but we still find time to watch an occasional game together in our living rooms or talk about the big game last night.
Those friends have also warmly become a part of my child’s life. They realize there’s a playpen in the room, some extra noise and distractions, and they embrace it.
Once again, it’s not to say that we are better at being friends because our relationship lasted. There are a lot of factors that can dictate how or why a friendship might last. Rather, I like to think those friendships were just at the right place and the right time in order to flourish.
You’ll gain new friends
Yes, when you join the parenthood club, it opens up a new world of friendships that evolve with the ages of children. You will first find these friends at day cares, playgroups, and libraries. Then you’ll find more at preschool and other schools. Plenty more will be found through sports and extracurricular activities.
These new friends are every bit as important to living a full life. They may not be your childhood friends, high school friends, or college friends – they’re new friends and every bit meaningful. Even if you could bring back all of your friends from the past and live like you did, you wouldn’t. You’re different now, and you wouldn’t do the things you used to do as a kid.
Friends will come and go, and all of them are important in adulthood. They’re especially important as you spend a lot of energy tending to the needs of your child. Embrace the new life that having this child afforded you, and welcome the changes that come with it in all of your friendships.