Maintaining friendships as a new mom isn't easy. Not only do you not always have time or energy for your BFF, but you might discover that while you agree about politics, running routes, and the best sushi in town, you might not see eye-to-eye about parenting. In my experience, these differences of opinion can lead to some seriously awkward conversations. In talking with other moms, it seems like they have had to deal with awkward parenting conversations with their BFFs, too. So, I mean, at least I'm not alone?
From birth plans and breastfeeding to daycare and discipline, parenting is full of some pretty personal choices. As a result, what's right for you might not be a good fit for your BFF. No matter how strongly you feel about your choices, it can be hurtful, confusing, or just plain awkward when you find yourself on opposite sides of a debate. In my case, my BFFs were super crunchy moms, and I totally thought I would be, too. It turns out, nope, I'm way more scrunchy than crunchy, so we don't always agree or make the same decisions when it comes to parenthood.
In most cases, we've been able to move past the "mommy wars" and on to margaritas. Usually, in my experience, it's easy to make your way through any perceived weirdness and agree to disagree because, well, some things aren't worth a fight (especially not with your BFF). But I think there are some things you just can't accept or "make your way through," too, like when your friend thinks it's OK to spank their kid or shames you for not breastfeeding yours.
Ultimately, friendships are never perfect, especially once you have kids. You have to learn to deal with some awkward conversations, at least once in a while, and learn how to consistently respect each other's individual parenting decisions. You will laugh, and probably cry, and if you're lucky your friendship will be stronger than ever. In the meantime, though, you can at least enjoy the following awkward, cringe-worthy moments, and learn a few ways to fortify your friendships from moms who figured it out:
"My sister is my BFF. She's 26 with two kids, and I'm 25 with one. We do some parenting things very differently, and some the same, but we both take a pretty laid back approach. The most awkward conversation we've had is when she met my baby for the first time. We live on the other side of the country so he was 6-months-old. She came over when I was changing his diaper, and said, 'I know this is so weird, but I know you didn't circumcise him, and I just don't know what that looks like.' It was an odd moment but I just sort of laughed it off when she saw it and said, 'Oh... OK.'
We also had a good conversation that day about feeding. I'm still breastfeeding at seven months, and she breastfed her son for two months and her daughter for three days. She said, 'Seeing how great my son turned out made me much more confident in formula-feeding my daughter, but I do wonder how much smarter he'd be if I had kept on breastfeeding.' I told her what I had learned about the benefits of breastfeeding being overstated and we talked about the studies and agreed that all of our kids were great, no matter how they were fed."
"I have had the uncomfortable conversation about corporal punishment with a number of BFFs. It always starts with me saying, 'I don't believe you should physically hurt another human,' and almost always end with a friend saying, 'But, sometimes you have to.'
Then seven times out of 10 times they mention the time their toddler ran into traffic, they needed to hit them, and that they never ran into traffic, again. So, I've finally adapted my response to give facts and statistics.
I now say things like, 'Yeah, fear is powerful. So powerful it made you respond against your child with violence. It's hard to overcome those built in ideas. I can help you learn about gentler forms of education and correction.' Of course, they usually stomp their feet like a toddler and say they plan to keep doing it."
"I asked both my BFF and sister in law to be godparents for my daughter, My BFF hung up on me, deleted me from social media, and stopped answering her phone. Apparently she didn't want to share the duty."
"My BFF and I had pregnancies at the same time twice, divorced at nearly the same time, and met our current partners at the same time. She discovered she was pregnant at the same time when I received news that my unborn child was going to have disabilities, and we were keeping them. She was afraid to tell me she pregnant also and was likely considering an abortion for her own reasons, while I was dealing with that. I had to truly search my heart about how to support her and mean it. We came to the realization that we can literally tell each other anything, and come through it. I actually look back on those conversations as a time of reassurance that it is possible to absolutely love someone unconditionally no matter what."
"Oh, it was awesome. We just stopped talking."
"I was on the other end of the spectrum. My son said, 'What the f*ck?' when playing with the neighborhood kids, and my friends had to awkwardly tell me what he did."
"I live over six hours away from my core group of best friends. We don't see each other more than two or three times a year, max, but I feel like I'm really fortunate when it comes to talking about parenting with them. No question is insignificant or too gross. Even the friends who are on their second kid and have 'been there, done that' aren't afraid to ask questions and offer advice when asked. We really support each other, and love each other a ton. We even have a group thread called 'Not Regular Moms, Cool Moms' so we don't bore all of our childless friends with kid spam."
"Four kids and a full time job... what is a BFF? I need to get out, for real. I have just let my relationships fade away except for Facebook. I don't recommend it, I am just too tired, and honestly, broke, to put in any effort."
"My BFF had her daughter before I had my twins. She was on the 'breast is best' wagon and encouraged me to breastfeed. I wanted to be successful like her, so I was heartbroken when I couldn't do it. She was supportive enough when I stopped but made a comment once that hurt, although I know it wasn't her intention. She said that maybe if my twins weren't on formula then my son wouldn't have gotten a urinary tract infections when he was 6-months-old. It took me awhile to address that, but one day I told her and she realized how that was a hurtful comment. She's completely all for fed is best, because she witnessed how my struggle to breastfeed caused me to have a nervous breakdown.
"My BFF dumped me when I told her I was pregnant."
"After my second baby was born, my best friend came to visit me. She asked if the baby had been circumcised, and I said no. I decided not to do that after the horrible guilt of circumcising my first born, and learning more about the procedure. Seeing him wince in pain whenever I changed his diaper made me feel like the biggest monster on the planet. I remember looking at his little body wondering why on earth I would do that to him. It was traumatic and I wasn't going to do that again.
So I explained that to my friend, who was shocked that I didn't want baby number two to be circumcised, and she flat out said, 'It's not too late to change your mind, you know.' I didn't know what to say. She then said that he was going to want to look like his daddy when he got bigger and might be confused as to why his penis was different from his dad's and his brother's. She also added that 'those' kinds of penises look weird and that I should really just get it done. It was upsetting, and I was a little shocked. I tried to be blunt and just say, 'No, not happening,' until we awkwardly moved on to another subject."
"I try to frame everything as 'here is what I do' and avoid telling anyone what to do. I also like to follow up that I truly feel my parenting style is trial and error, so I may not be a good person to take advice from. So far, no major conflicts. At least nothing said to my face."
"My BFF and I are no longer on talking terms. She was very crunchy and in her loving way sent me books and information for me to read, including vaccination (not doing it), attachment parenting (did that), cloth diapering (did it part-time), extended breastfeeding (a no for me after having issues initially), and sleep (I had to use a supported routine for my son, as I was finishing a degree). I also had to have an emergency C-section so I wasn't a 'real mum' in her eyes.
About six weeks after having my son, she sent me a message to say that she felt sorry for my son, as I clearly didn't love him and that I was doing my darnedest to hurt him and hinder his health and growth because I wasn't anti-vaccine and not exclusively breastfeeding. I was sleep-deprived and irrational and cried for hours after that conversation. I was struggling with some postpartum anxiety and needed her support so much even if she didn't agree. Her telling me I was a bad mum just made me lose it. Months later over a vaccination argument she stopped speaking to me. I lost all respect for her, and TBH I was glad she stopped talking to me."