Monday, July 13, 2015

Conversation Starter: Do you think you've lost friends because you do not have children?

Not really. Perhaps surprisingly but most of the people we socialize with have children. 

The people we feel closest to have kids and we are "invested" in the lives of their children – especially milestone events. In the old days bar and bat mitzvahs, now going into the army (most Israelis go from high-school to military or national service before even thinking about college) and weddings.

Obviously, we have drawn closer to some people and drawn away from others along the journey of life. In thinking about married friends with children the key variable has had more to do with their choice of life-partner than whether the couple has children.

Or in the case of a single parent whether this person is capable of thinking about anything beyond their parental role -- whether they can relate to others. 

The self-obsessed, socially tone-deaf, and oblivious bore me -- having nothing to do with how many kids they have or don't have.

Intuitively, our friends has mastered the ability to make their children part of our circle rather than a factor that separates us from them.

Clearly, sometimes friendships among children lead to their parents becoming friends. And there are scores and scores of child-specific experiences that my friends have that I can't share. That's alright. 

Yet true friends and sensitive people generally have the inter-personal skills needed to include childless singles or couples in their lives.

What's important is that the chemistry of friendship remains strong. People evolve and when the chemistry of friendship keeps up with the times -- the friendships survive. 

When I look back at the past 20 years or so, there have been people who orbited out of my friendship circle. Some because of geographic distance. Some because the friendship was tenuous to begin with. Some just because life is hectic and you can retain only so many friends! Especially if, like me, you are not a shmoozer on the telephone.

But I can't think of an instance where a friendship I wanted to preserve was the casualty of a couple having children.

Maybe this answer would be different if I were in my 20s, but that's my experience. What's yours?


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