In the last two years that I've been a parent, I've realized most of what I talk to my friends about revolves around my constant state of exhaustion. In fact, we usually discuss how we can't even believe how tired we are. There are other conversations, of course, and the emotionally charged nature of parenting means some of those conversations can veer into tricky territory. That's why, for better or worse, the awkward conversations about parenting you'll have with your BFF are inevitable, unavoidable, and (honestly) pretty necessary.
Just like we're told we shouldn't talk religion or politics on dates, for parents, we should probably avoid conversations about sleep training, developmental milestones, or breastfeeding. Apparently, they're all so emotionally charged it's almost impossible not get fired up and, eventually, either hurt someone's feelings or have your own feelings hurt. After all, our kids are precious to us parents, and passions can run extremely high when you think your kid is or isn't functioning or developing as quickly as someone else's kid. When those passions, fears, and topics combine, some really awkward conversations with your BFF about parenting can emerge.
My advice? Be kind and try remember that your friend worries if your child is developing faster, or your situation is different than theirs, too. Always try to keep in mind that we're doing the best we can for our kids, but that may look different for someone else than it does for you. Meanwhile, enjoy these eight awkward conversations I've had with my BFFs already, because #Solidarity.
The "Working Or Not Working" Conversation
This can be a really tricky subject to navigate, for a number of reasons. First, if one of you is working and the other is staying at home, even the language about working "outside the home" or "inside the home" has to be correct so as not to offend anyone. Second, conversations between people who have only done one of those two options — but not the same — can make it hard to relate. Even if the two of you agree that both of those options are equally hard and great, it can be hard to relate to the struggles if you haven't experienced the other side.
The "Activities" Conversation
A friend once remarked to me that she was signing her kid up for swim classes and asked if my daughter and I wanted to join them. I thought it sounded nice to be included, but just not something I thought was necessary for my 4-month-old daughter. It was a little awkward to explain that I just didn't want to do the thing she thought was a great idea for her child. That's when really good BFFs can manage to stay friends and not quibble when they disagree on what's best for their children.
The "Sleep Training" Conversation
Opinions about how to get your kid to sleep through the night are so difficult to navigate. We chose to sleep train our daughter when she was just a few months old, and I know some of my friends thought it was a terrible idea. I, on the other hand, thought it was a terrible idea to not get any sleep until my daughter was 4, but I tried to keep my mouth zipped. We always tread carefully here and, in the end, remembering that our children are all different and, in turn, need different sleep schedules and situations went a long way.
The "Breastfeeding" Conversation
Right up there with sleep training, breastfeeding or formula feeding is easily in the top five "scary things to talk abut with anyone ever."
My daughter took formula from the time we met her in the NICU, so my experience of breastfeeding is obviously nil. I try to keep that in mind, although I did, one time, inadvertently try to give advice to another breastfeeding mom about sleep training without understanding the implications of said breastfeeding. Likewise, I try to keep thick skin when friends are extolling the virtues of breastfeeding, because I really didn't have the option to breastfeed my adopted daughter. It's hard not to feel bad about not being able to nurse, when friends are going on and on about how important and wonderful it is.
The "Money" Conversation
I can count on one hand the number of times I've had a conversation with most of my best friends about money. In fact, I can't remember actually having a real, serious conversation about money with any of my friends. An aside here or there, maybe, but it's a topic we generally avoid, and I'm happy to avoid it when I talk to my BFF about parenting, too. However, sometimes it's hard to work around.
Conversations about parenting that involve babysitters or expensive kid activities or expensive kid equipment sometimes take you into scary conversations about money land. I'll admit that I haven't done much in the past to be honest about what I could and could not afford. It's just easier to redirect the conversation rather than say, "We just can't afford that."
The "Milestones" Conversation
So much of what can lead to awkward conversations about parenting with your BFF is down to how excited we can get, as moms, about the little things our kids do. I know that, 20 years from now, we're not going to be remembering the differences in how our kids hit milestones, but when they're tiny it seems like the biggest thing in the world and nearly impossible not to compare. My daughter was a little slow to roll, and I know it worried me when my friends talked about how early their babies rolled or reached other milestones.
The "Language" Conversation
My friends and I are at the stage where our kids are starting to speak and pick up language skills. Obviously, every kid develops differently, but it's so hard to remember that when they're all lined up next to each other and their differences are so obvious.
When my daughter first started saying words, I had to make a little mental note not to talk about it too much to friends whose kids weren't so into talking quite yet. I knew they would understand that I was just excited about my daughter, but I still had to be more conscientious.
The "Weaning" Conversation
We weaned our daughter from bottles and formula right around the time she was 1 year old, when the pediatrician mentioned she should be finishing bottles. I didn't think much of it and went cold turkey one day. Meanwhile, a few friends have bottle-fed or breastfed for much, much longer. To the point where sometimes I've wondered why I gave up in the first place. Weaning is a terribly personal decision, though, and I've found it's best to tread carefully when discussing it.