A Response to a Response

How about this: Don’t Bother (http://happilychildfree NULL.com/rants/?p=633&sms_ss=wordpress).

I read a response to a parenting article on Happily Childfree (http://happilychildfree NULL.com/rants/) today.  The author posts a response to a parenting article entitled “How to Stay Friends With Parents (http://blogs NULL.news NULL.com NULL.au/naughtycorner/index NULL.php/news/comments/how_to_stay_friends_with_parents/).” (The grammar in some of these articles needs to be ignored, by the way, possibly even in my own article!)

The upshot of the original parenting article: If you want to keep being friends with parents, and you are childfree (or even childless at the moment) you must jump through all sorts of accommodating hoops. The upshot of Happily Childfree’s article: Why bother?

I have an answer for the last question. Personally, I would “bother” because I was still close friends with the parent in question. Emphasis on “close.” And yet, and yet…

Why would I remain friends with someone who had so many rules and regulations if those rules didn’t fit into my lifestyle? In all honesty, I don’t know if I would remain friends with anyone so demanding, parent or not! In the past, when someone made too many demands on me without giving back, the friendship did dissolve. However, if I lived in the parent author’s world, there could be a few rules for her to follow if she wished to stay friends with me, also:

  1. While I understand that you are on a schedule, sometimes I might have to touch base with you during “difficult” hours, simply because I’m busy working during “naptime” or “mommy’s/daddy’s day out” and can’t take or make personal calls at that time. Please be tolerant and at least listen to the voicemail at some point, if you’re truly interested in my friendship. Also, I don’t mind spending time with you and your children if you invite me to do so, but really, about an hour or two in “toddler world” is probably all I can stand. (Exceptions will/have been made, especially if I invited myself or otherwise encroached upon your hospitality for some reason. I do that, sometimes. My parent friends were awesome about it.) Please don’t invite me over to spend time with your kids (because if they’re in the room, that’s what we’re doing), or worse, don’t invite me over and then ask, “Would you mind watching them for a little while while I cook dinner/watch tv/some other activity?” Not only is that rude, it defeats the purpose of my visit and also endangers your children. Trust me, I  have no idea what they are doing: it looks like they are small drunk people who are intent on destroying themselves. I’m completely useless in that department, and very happy to remain so.
  2. If I am organizing a party, I will probably give plenty of notice. It will probably be at night/during the dinner hour. If you can’t come, I probably won’t be annoyed. I would love to see you, but I’m not going to organize my whole event around you. Sorry. If only one partner can make it, we would love to have him/her.
  3. Please do not bring your kids to a “fancy restaurant.” If I say “we’d love to see the kids” while inviting you out to one, I’m probably just being polite, although I rarely do/say things like that just for politeness’ sake. If only one partner can come, we’ll probably have a great time with him/her. Maybe next time both of you can come, or, here’s an idea: why don’t you invite me somewhere and you pick the place. I might even come, if your children are genuinely well-behaved  for their ages (and not just “well-behaved” by your standards: I mean behavior I can actually tolerate without wishing I or they were dead).
  4. I don’t usually answer the phone after 9pm, either. I don’t care when you leave if you come out; I have to get up early, too. If you act like you did me a favor by coming out with me, you probably won’t be invited out with me again, anyway.
  5. If you don’t call me back, I don’t mind. We are all busy people, even those of us without children. I will probably call you again eventually. Or, you could just call me once in a while, if you think about it. I won’t mind, and if I have the a few minutes free, we could catch up. You could actually have an adult conversation, with an adult, even! Isn’t that what parents sometimes complain about, not getting enough “adult” time?

So here’s the upshot of my article: friendship is a social contract. We operate within social contracts in order to help each other to be happier and healthier. That’s what boundaries are for. If you want a friend, be a friend. If you want good neighbors, be a good neighbor. Be aware that your lifestyle and your boundaries and what-not may look a little different from the outside. This advice is not just for parents, it’s for everyone. I think the author at Happily Childfree (http://happilychildfree NULL.com) just doesn’t want to be friends with entitled, demanding people, not necessarily parents. Although entitled, demanding parents are just as annoying as any other entitled, demanding people. Some parents just use their children as an excuse to be so, which is kind of icky. All parents aren’t like that. This particular demanding person in the article just happens to be a parent.

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