It's the Same Question for Non-Parents and Parents: Can’t We All Get Along?
For the past 11 years, I have made an annual pilgrimage to the heart of Atlanta, Georgia over Labor Day weekend. Plans are already confirmed for my 12th trip in 2018. What exactly is this magical event?
I’m talking about Dragon Con! This year, the city of Atlanta saw more than 80,000 people converge over several city blocks covering five hotels and all the buildings between. Dragon Con is a large, fan-run pop-culture convention that has something for everyone. Sure, you can see huge celeb,rities but you can also attend smaller tracks discussing space or science. (Comic-Con, by contrast, is now significantly fueled by the entertainment industry, not the fans that attend.)
What really gets me excited for Dragon Con every year is connecting with friends from all over the country. That's me below at the 2017 Con's trip to Atlanta's aquarium, I'm the Ghostbuster third from left, standing next to my partner Matt, the Gorton's fisherman.
In just in my small friend group alone, we represent both NotParents and Parents alike. And although we have these very different life experiences, we happily come together for five days of nerdy fun celebrating all of the things we have in common rather than the things that divide us.
I wonder why there needs to be such a divide in the greater culture between those who have had children and those who didn’t?
How can you maintain relationships with friends who have children? Here are a few simple things to keep in mind that have helped me over the years.
Be yourself. If a "friend" doesn’t like you for who you really are, she or he isn't a very good friend. Even around your Mom friends, it’s important that you be yourself, and that includes speaking up when children make you uncomfortable.
Set boundaries. It is perfectly OK to set boundaries for your own life. If you don’t want young children in your home, be sure to state that explicitly. It’s when expectations aren’t shared that boundaries are easily crossed.
Be respectful. At the same time, you need to be respectful of your Mom friend and her needs. If you go to her home, you can’t act as though her children are your burden. Either make plans to meet elsewhere or have respect for people around you, no matter their age.
Focus on common interests. There is a reason you’re friends, so focus on those things. Your Mom friend doesn’t want to be defined only as a Mom, so this is a perfect opportunity to allow her to express herself in other ways.
Do you have good friends who are parents? How do you maintain those relationships?