How Not To Be A Dick To People With Kids

Don't start speaking in hushed tones about beach bonfires and boozy cabin camping trips. I'm not YOUR parent.
Publish date:
April 16, 2013
parents, how not to be a dick, friends with kids

After watching everyone I knew fall pregnant when I was 24ish, I swore up and down I would never do it. Like fun I wanted to push one of those little bastards out!

I wrote embarrassing, half-baked pseudo-feminist blog posts about how women didn’t have to have kids, and it was a shame really, wasting all this talent and youth with babies. Never once did I think, “Oh, shit, this might really hurt someone’s feelings or make them feel marginalized” because I was a pretty stupid young adult.

My thought was that if people wanted to ruin their lives by having kids, they should also expect to be cast out of social circles or something? Here’s a few notes that might help you not be a dick like I was.

Try not to talk about how awful children are in front of parents/their children.

I get that when you haven’t been around kids, it’s easy to see them simply as grubby little life-ruiners. And they kind of are: You have to crap out a tiny elderly person, which includes giving up some of life’s most precious gifts, such as seafood (haha! MAKE ME!) booze and sleep. From the outside, it looks like a total bum deal.

Yes, most new parents can’t go out partying for days on end and stay in bed as late as they want, but it’s because priorities have been shifted. You know what else can be a life-ruiner? Having friends. A good job. Buying a house. Getting married. All of these things that make you responsible to someone else other than yourself.

Being somewhat responsible doesn’t always have to be a bummer. Parents still travel, have nice things and can actually maintain dignity.

Dial back the dispensing of parental advice.

Not because you have bad advice, but because, every goddamn person in the world has advice. Strange ladies at the grocery store will yell at you for doing it wrong. Your baby is too cold/hot/scared/hungry/tired/not exposed to Christianity enough. Your parents will tell you how you’re ruining your child. Books, websites, shit even Maury will chide you for this or that. It’s coming from all over, and it’s boring as shit to be all “Whatever crazy lady on the subway, my child isn’t going to die from being fed formula.” constantly.

Advice is sweet when you’re asking, but having childless friends tell me I should "sleep when the baby sleeps" and other shit they read on Dear Abby is frustrating. And it makes me want to fight you with nunchucks. Stop. Maybe I want a poorly adjusted child who doesn’t like being held, OK?

Be patient.

Getting the ball rolling with kids in tow can take ages. Hanging out with kids can be like entertaining the cast of "Jersey Shore." They demand insane shit. For real -- my sister’s 3-year-old lost it when he wasn’t allowed to crap in the fridge. Cajoling a child to put on their shoes, or let you put them into a car seat can take longer than you think.

I’m not excusing people being chronically late and being all “Whelp! KIDS!” like suddenly cell phones aren’t a thing. It’s just, you know, be prepared for the unexpected when hanging out with a parent.

Plan stuff with them a bit ahead of time.

I hate when my friends call me 15 minutes before a movie/concert/thrift store excursion, to be all “Girl where you at?” I'm at home, a good 30 minutes away from anything, and that’s not counting primping. Getting a babysitter isn’t a deal, but it does require a heads-up of a couple days.

I know being spontaneous is pretty great, and totally don’t rule that out -- if you’re killing time at the coffeeshop, hit a parent up, and see if they’re down to grab a quick cup. And totally feel free to tell me to leave the kid at home if I can. If you figure out a clever way to say “Leave your asshat boyfriend at home” let me know.

I am not your parent, BTW.

This totally happens: People matronize you when you have kids. I am sure there’s a gender-neutral-Catholicism-approved term, but this is how it made me feel: matronized. I had just moved when I got pregnant, but my acquaintances started speaking in hushed tones about beach bonfires and boozy cabin camping trips. Like for some reason, I was not just pregnant, but was a many-headed beast comprised of first-grade teachers and disapproving moms.

Hey you guys, I’m still ME. I’m not going to judge you for making out with that stranger, like ever. I still enjoy hanging out, and not being able to drink is not the end of the world. Even better, I will totally DD for you fools.

Cats are a type of baby.

I could write a book on how having pets made being a parent heaps easier. There are a ton of similarities, first and foremost, being beholden to a small, helpless being. Do I want to hear what you cat did this morning, that is so precious? The answer is yes, and spare no detail. But don’t get all spinster-y when I tell you an absolutely true story of cuteness involving a tiny human.

You don’t have to prove anything to anyone, I don’t doubt your desire to die surrounded by 15 cats. My birthday toast from my best friend when I was 22 was “May your ovaries shrink and lay bare! And may your cats be ever glorious!” I know crazy cat lady. Protip: Baby clothes TOTALLY FIT CATS.

We don’t think everyone needs babies.

Truth, most people I know don’t. Need, that is. I have a few friends that are aching for kids, and that’s great, but since having one, I’m not out proselytising

I know babies can be total game changers, and it’s important to recognize that it’s easier for some people. It was easy for my family to adjust, but some people’s style would be seriously cramped by adding any tiny people. Just because you have baby rabies and need to hold an infant every now and again won’t make me tell you The Story of You Need a Baby Now.

I know some parents lay on the guilt pretty thick, and to them, I say “Mind your own damn business before I put you in a home! You know I’ll do it!” This threat isn’t as useful to strangers Try it, and get back to me on that.

This is my personal beef. I know there’s more. And just a disclaimer, I am totally guilty of all of these. Especially the first one. Holy crap, I was such an insensitive jackass.