Thursday, November 9, 2017

Advice Column Gets It Wrong

Here's an advice column question and answer, if you're into that sort of thing.

Childless Couple Vows to End Friendship over Kids

There's so much to unpack here.

First of all, NO. There is no comparison between losing parents that lived full lives (and with whom you have memories) and losing children with whom you didn't get to share life. I've already explained that here.

I can agree that "a mature adult learns to process sadness and tolerate discomfort, and not punish others for it." BUT... Processing not only sadness, but devastation and traumatic loss, is a pretty big deal. It takes time. I don't think it's wrong to give some people a couple of years to do this. I mean, that's a pretty tall order, am I right? Plus, people that are in the situation like this/mine (living life without children after surviving infertility) are not punishing others; we are simply taking care of ourselves in a world that, not only does not take care of us, but that also absolutely does not understand, nor have any iota of compassion, understanding, or space for us.

We are just living our lives like anyone else, thank you very much.

So I drafted a response letter in my mind.

Dear "Friends Until Kids,"

I'm sorry your friends are draining you. What you may not understand is that they've been through this before. Things change after you have kids. And that's okay. Understandable even. You're right that choosing not to adopt or not go through IVF is their choice. It's one that spares them any further trauma.

I'm here to say: your friendship with them may indeed be limited. They have probably been down this road before. They know how it goes and they are just giving you a heads up, even if the warning is early in its time. You'll learn soon enough--that your time will be made up of (insert your child's name here). Your friends? They already know.

It's complicated. Your friends can volunteer; they can be mentors or teachers; they can be an awesome aunt and uncle. But there are appropriate and necessary boundaries for those roles. There is no substitute for that parent-child bond.

It's okay. That's just how it is. But for people who wanted what you're getting, well, they're just probably giving you space at this time. Space to enjoy what you have. For you to enjoy your life. While they enjoy theirs. So, it's nothing negative. Not from you, not from them. They just know how it goes. With Love~

One Who Knows


  1. The comparison with not having parents is ridiculous. So adult people are as consumed with their parents as people are with their children? Their adult lives revolve around their parents and their schedules etc, in the same way as with parents-young children? Ha, hilarious. Very wrong-footed. A minority of adults have elderly parents who are dependent on them for round-the-clock care (like children!) but I personally, at 45!, don't have any friends in that position. I do, however, have plenty of friends who are entirely consumed by the kids and can't see me very often. I'll read your post that you link to about this now; it's really annoyed me that they answered with such a nonsensical analogy.

    1. Shores! I always love hearing from you. :)

      You're exactly right. Caring for aging parents does not usually require the time and all-consuming attention that caring for a newborn does.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks. I may have been preaching to the choir, but at least someone heard me and listened. Thank you. <3

  3. Excellent response! You should send it to Ask Amy, because clearly she needs help on this topic. LOTS of help!

    I had a lot to say, but I think you might be inspiring me to blog about this.

    1. Hahaha I honestly hadn't thought of sending my response to the columnist. I might do that... And if you blog about this, I will really enjoy reading it!

    2. You did inspire me. I had a bit of a rant about this here -

  4. Awesome response on your part. Not going to lie, bristled hard at the whole "they could easily find fulfilling ways to have children in their lives" -- like you said, sure you can do things with other people's kids, but it doesn't take that pain and loss away. That was one thing the therapist I quit kept saying, was "how are you going to get children in your lives" as if by having some sort of surrogate child relationship it would ease our own loss. I'm all for kids in my life, and I enjoy my friends' kids, but I do not enjoy child interactions where one is foisted upon me, or there's a group of people with kids and we're the only sad childless ones. There doesn't seem to be any empathy for the couple, who are just trying to be honest that their friendship will change once they have kids. As you said, because they've probably been through this before. Argh. I agree with Mali, write it in!

    1. Thank you. The whole response irritated me. I have worked or volunteered with kids my whole life and have loved it, but I never felt like I was a parent to any of them.

      And I *hate* how the letter writer says the couple "chose" not to adopt. Like it's a choice. I've started telling people when they ask me about adoption that it's not a guaranteed process. People are usually surprised to hear that.

      And I hate being with a group of people with kids and being the only one that isn't a parent. It's uncomfortable for several reasons. Maybe that's another post sometime...

  5. We don't have to worry about it as every single one of my closest friends ghosted me during IVF, even the one without kids (she had 6 miscarriages and no kids, but refused to see how my infertility had anything in common with her situation) who stood up for me at my wedding. Suddenly they would cancel at the last minute or wouldn't have time for anything but a "quick drink" (knowing I was off alcohol). I can't look at my wedding picture with all my girlfriends that I used to love because they are all gone. When I was single I had friends with kids and most of them would turn it into an either/or situation - you either dealt with them being halfass friends or not at all. One was the kind who would never, ever leave her kid with her husband and our coffees were basically just me watching her do that creepy rationalizing talk to her <1 year old and never really hear anything I said, and another with teenagers would ONLY call me when driving with them in the backseat and had no hesitation to stop and talk to them for 5 minutes while I'm sitting on the phone. Ah yes and she's the one who recommended to my husband that I should - get this - go to a psychic for help with my infertility. And *I'm* the one who's supposed to be a doormat for these supposed "friends"? Ha.

    Good on ya for this blog, thank you.

    1. Yep. I can relate. While I not only lost my children to infertility, I also lost my friends (with and without kids) and my peer group. It was too much loss for me to handle at the time. Then I went back to school and that completely took over my life. So now it's only on school breaks that I notice their absences and wonder what everyone is doing. Oh well. Nothing I can do about it. I wish them all well. Our lives have gone in different directions.

      I am now excited about my new life that I have been creating for myself the last three years. Once I move I am going to seek out women without kids. And if I don't meet any and find that I am just going to work and to volunteer and coming home to read, cook, and craft, well then that's fine too! I'm also going to get another dog in a year or two, once I'm somewhat settled. But I bet eventually I will cross paths with some women without kids... I've got a good feeling about the future! And I don't take that optimism for granted for a single second. It's miraculous that I am excited again. :)