Childfree-parent friendships can have their challenges, but this time of year can bring special kinds of challenges. Obviously, the childfree don’t do the Santa thing with their kids, but the parents do. There can be expectations of gifts and attending parties with kids. Or the reverse—the fact that we don’t have kids means parents assume we don’t want to be in on the Santa thing or party loop.
There are ways to help keep childfree-parent friendships strong at any time of year; let’s take a crack at applying some of them to holiday time…
The general tip: When your friend has a kid, his/her life truly does change. Don’t take it personally.
The tip through the holiday lens: Because they have kid(s) they will celebrate the holidays differently than you. Welcome how they’d like to include you, and with how they don’t include you, don’t take it personally.
The general tip: Be willing to initiate seeing them with and without the kid(s).
Holiday lens: With kids, parents will more than likely have a busy social calendar with other parents and their kids. Make your invitations early to see them during the holidays. Maybe even make it an invite with the kids and another without. No matter how many invites, most important: get on their calendar.
The general tip: No matter how different your life is from theirs, come from a place of curiosity and interest.
Holiday lens: Be genuinely interested in how they do the holidays. Foster connection through honest conversation about your and their experience of the holidays–what you/they love, get annoyed about, stressed about, etc.
What others can you think of?
The general tip: Talk about more than the kids.
Holiday lens: Watch your talk time regarding what you and your kids are doing for the holidays. Ask questions and show interest in what your childfree friends are doing during this time.
The general tip: Do things to show you are committed to the friendship.
Holiday lens: Show your childfree friends you want to share the holiday with them. Sure, invite them to occasions you are planning with kids but also plan something with them without the kids. Let them decline the event with kids if they want. If they do, don’t take it personally!
The general tip: Say yes to their invitations of time together with kids and without.
Holiday lens: Rsvp yes to your childfree friends’ adults only parties.
Others you can think of?
During the holidays and always, whether you are the one with kids or not, the key is to start with your love for your friend first. If I love my friends I will always want to see them, include them in ways that work for them, and genuinely be interested in their lives, and in this case, their experience of the holidays.
Rather than concentrate on the differences, try to find what you can share. Rather than make assumptions about childfree or parent friends, which generally arise out of defensiveness or hurt, take the position that their differences are just that, and those differences don’t diminish their love and care for you.
If you come from this mindset, the holidays and other times of year are more apt to bring connection and cultivation of a friendship that truly can get more dear – even when you have this big difference called kids.
At least this has been my experience. You?