There is absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting kids, and choosing not to procreate definitely doesn't mean you need to end your friendships with the people that did. If you've got friends that have kids, it might be difficult to comprehend the long list of ways in which their lives have changed (and no one can fault you for that) but it's important for both you and your friends to remain supportive of one another. One way to remain supportive is to avoid being too opinionated about the things you can't talk about if you're not a parent.
I know, what ever happened to freedom of speech, right? Of course you have the right to speak your mind, but if you value your relationship with your friends that have kids, there are certain conversations that you should just avoid if you, yourself, aren't a parent. I am embarrassed at some of the smug things I said about parenting before I actually had kids of my own, thinking I knew what was "right" or what I would do before I was in a situation that made me eat my words and apologize to far too many mothers. Trust me, I've made the mistake of commenting on parenthood when I wasn't a parent, and it did nothing but make a mother feel worse and me feel, well, pretty dumb.
There are things that all new parents want their friends who don't have kids to know, just like there are things women who don't want kids are tired of hearing. I think there's some middle ground between the two valid experiences, where we can all come together and support one another without making everyone feel defective or "wrong" or anything other than valued. So, for the sake of the people who are on my side of the parenting fence, here are a list of things you should just avoid talking about if you don't have children. Leave it up to the professionals, right? (And by professionals, I mean the exhausted parents who are just trying to figure out how to get through each day without screaming.)
Of course you are allowed to tell people you're tired, but you might want to think twice when telling your BFF, who happens to be a new and very sleep deprived mother, that you're, "just the most exhausted," because you didn't get home from a party until 2 AM. You chose to not sleep; your mom friend definitely didn't have a choice in the matter because her baby was screaming and hungry and has not yet developed the ability to feed themselves. It's okay to be tired from a fun night out, but make sure your mom friend has had a nap before you talk to her about it.
Before I had kids, I remember saying that I, "could never breastfeed in public because, gross." Yes, really, I was that person. What I said couldn't have been more smug or wrong or ridiculous, so please learn from my mistake and just support every woman that is keeping her baby's tummy full, whether it's from a breast or a bottle, publicly or privately.
How To Discipline Kids
I recently watched a video of a comedian (who I actually do agree with on a lot of subjects) going on a rant about how we need to start spanking children again. If this comedian had kids, I might have taken her argument more seriously, but she didn't. For someone who has never had to deal with the irrational tantrums of a toddler, who isn't yet old enough to understand why someone would spank them, she sure did know a lot about child psychology. Weird. Seriously, if you don't have kids (and if you're not a child psychologist), you probably don't understand how to effectively tame their tantrums and wrangle their behavior into submission, so you probably shouldn't try to tell a parent how to discipline their own kids.
The Vaccination Debate
If you don't have kids, the vaccination debate has a very minimal chance of actually affecting you. I've got kids, both of whom are vaccinated, and I'm still not comfortable weighing in on the argument with someone who has views that oppose mine because, yes, the debate is that intense. So if you don't have kids, just don't. (And seriously, why would you want to? This debate isn't fun. Trust me.)
Kids Being Spoiled
"Spoiling" a child is a subjective concept. To one person, taking their child out for ice cream as a reward for good behavior is just a way of positively reinforcing that behavior, but to another person that's "spoiling" a child. I think I actually can speak for every parent when I say that we all want to give our children the best that we can. We want to see them happy, and if we were all able to give them everything their heart ever wanted without facing the consequence of possibly making them feel entitled, we definitely would.
For people like me (who aren't always financially able to "spoil" our children all that often) when we've got a little extra cash to get our kids that toy they've been wanting, please don't ruin it for us by telling us that we're spoiling our children.
Comparing Puppies To Babies
Look, I get it: I had a puppy before I had a baby, and I also tried to compare a pet to a child and claim them equals. They're not. Sure, puppies poop and pee and you have to feed them and walk them and bathe them, but it's just not the same thing as feeding and changing a baby. Carefully cleaning an explosive diaper to protect your baby from germs or measuring how much your baby is eating and growing or trying to teach them how to roll over or sit up or communicate, isn't the same as taking care of a dog. I never lost any sleep at night worrying about whether or not my puppy was breathing, but I sure as hell did with both of my babies. A puppy might be a baby step towards caring for an actual human, but it is most definitely not the same.
Envy For Being Able To "Chill Out At Home All Day With The Kids"
I've been a mother who stays at home and cares for the kids. I've been a mother who dropped my kids off at daycare so that I could clock into work outside of the home. I'm currently a mother who works from home while my kids are here with me. Having been in every one of these scenarios, I can attest to the fact that every mother is a working mother. I can most definitely assure you that a stay-at-home mom isn't simply sitting on her couch and watching Grey's Anatomy while her kids fend for themselves. She's working hard to provide for her family inside the home, and it's a struggle that you can't really understand until you have kids of your own.
What Someone Should Feed Their Kid
We all have good intentions when trying to feed our kids, but sometimes those good intentions are trumped by strong wills and tight schedules and exhaustion and chicken nuggets. Feeding a picky child is one of the greatest battles any mother will ever face. None of us want our kids to be addicted to mac-and-cheese, but we also don't want our babies to starve so, you know, just lay off of the nutritional opinions and hand us a glass of wine while we look up ways to trick our picky eater into eating turnips.
How To Raise Someone Else's Kid
If you don't have kids, you don't know how to raise them. I'm sorry, you just don't. Hell, as a parent I'm still attempting to figure out how to properly raise children. You can have opinions and offer up advice that you think might help, but if you've never been down this road, how could you possibly understand how to navigate it?
Moms need all the support they can get, especially from their friends who don't have kids. You guys are the ones that help us to remember who we are when we feel like we've lost ourselves in an abyss of breast milk and dirty diapers.