What do you do if your friend says they don’t like children?

You aren’t expected to explain why you share your home with a miniature version of yourself. They don’t have to defend their decision not to.

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Everyone’s got that one friend. You tell them you don’t like, say, steak, and their immediate responses are: “You’ve probably never had it cooked right” and “You’ll like it when I make it.” Don’t be that friend. Even if someone tells you they don’t like children.

Our children are our worlds. They define who we are. We love every expression and funny quote. We even love them when they’re sulking in their room. That makes it a tough spot to be in when we meet someone who is child-averse.

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There are lots of reasons someone might say they don’t like children. Kids are weird creatures: messy, exhausting, loud, unpredictable. Their repetitive learning activities can be incredibly boring. For some, it’s impossible to make a connection with children. It’s not necessarily a reflection of your parenting or your little one.

And just as you are not expected to explain why you’ve decided to share your house with a miniature version of yourself, they do not have to defend their decision not to.

Around 44 per cent of non-parents in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 49 told Pew Research Center surveyers in 2021 they will not or probably will not have children. That’s a seven-percentage-point increase from 2018. As the Canadian birth rate drops off a cliff, there are people who would call that decision selfish.

Yet it’s one of the most selfless things a person can do. They are self-aware enough to recognize it’s not something they’d enjoy. Perhaps they know they can’t handle the financial expense. They might believe bringing people into a world that feels doomed isn’t fair. I’ll say it again: They never have to defend themselves.

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If you’re friends with someone who is child-averse, it’s probably because you have other shared interests. Those interests don’t evaporate just because you’re also a parent. Rather than stressing over how your friendship might change, try using that relationship as respite when you need to feel like a full adult. Sneak out for a coffee with them, share memes and GIFs when you can’t get away from the baby and, yes, you can tell a story about your family now and again — they’ll know it’s a huge part of your life.

Try to avoid telling them about another friend who never wanted kids, but then had a “surprise” baby who changed their life for the better. They’ve heard that story before.

Sometimes you have to move a little to make space for friendship. If they’re into miniature trains and you just don’t get it, hopefully they won’t tell you it’s just because you haven’t seen their train set. Find your common ground, somewhere between your offspring and their boxcar.

Look, that friend probably isn’t going to come to a first-birthday party or piano recital. They’re not going to have coffee with you at the edge of the playground. And that’s OK.

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Originally posted 2023-10-15 16:21:18.