Posts Tagged ‘ Friendkeeping ’

Does a Friend’s Kid Drive You Nuts? Author of ‘Friendkeeping,’ Julie Klam, Has Advice

Friday, September 27th, 2013

My friend’s kid is trying to kill me! Basically, every time one certain dear pal comes over with her offspring, her Tasmanian Devil destroys my house. Like I have to call the fire department and then the handyman. Somehow, she doesn’t notice this. I really love my friend, but, man, what do I do about her kid? I immediately thought of asking expert Julie Klam, author of Friendkeeping, for advice. Julie knows all. In real life and in her book, she tells it like it is with wisdom and wit.

KK: What do I do when I do not like a friend’s kid(s)? I have a situation where I love my friend, but she lets her kids act evil. It’s difficult when they play because my kids aren’t allowed to act like hers act. I am dying to tell her how to parent, but I realize that’s a sure way to destroy our friendship (even if it does save my dog’s eyes and my couch).

JK: I sometimes think of this situation in the way I see my friendship with a conservative republican. How can two people be friends when they see things in such a different way? You love this person, but this is tough because you strongly disagree with a large aspect of his/her personality: how s/he parents. When my daughter was a baby, we joined a playgroup. All the babies pretty much sat there like lumps, occasionally sitting up or falling over. I didn’t really have any disagreements with anyone on how they parented. Someone did a family bed, or believed in letting a baby cry it out, and I just felt like it was all so difficult that any way a person found to get peace was cool with me. As they got older, things changed. Suddenly, the pudgy little smiley baby became a mass hitter and his mom turned into a ‘use your words’ type, and I really liked her. What can you do? Let your little angel be whomped? Obviously not.

And there are as many parenting styles that don’t mesh as there are talking Elmo toys, and it isn’t necessarily a bad kid or a bad parent (though it can be and then it’s a nice opportunity to feel smug. Just kidding!) So what do you do? Up until about age 10, there is so much to disagree with – too permissive with junk food, too much TV, making a really big deal about my kid watching too much TV, which she might have, you realize that if a person is somewhat likeminded, it’s still possible for them to be annoying with their kids. I really don’t think it’s something you can discuss. There is no way friends who parent “differently” can do so without one of you feeling judged.

The best solution is to meet without the kids, it’s healthy for you too. That way whatever wacky stuff they do won’t affect you you or kid, and you can smile and pretend you think it’s fine for a two-year-old to build a birdhouse with a real hammer and nails.

For more great insight, check out Julie Klam’s book, Friendkeeping!

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Friendkeeping: A Book That Gets Women’s Complicated Relationships

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Today seems like the perfect day to write about friends. I wasn’t able to post much last week because of Hurricane Sandy. I live in New Jersey, and I’m very lucky that my house in Montclair was spared. So many people I love lost their homes and their electricity. Many are still without power. School hasn’t started up again yet. We’ve all been doing what we can for each other. We’re happy that routines (if not gas) are getting back to normal. What would this disaster have looked like without the kindness of others and the selflessness of friends?

Author Julie Klam is a New Yorker, and she has emerged from the storm intact according to her tweets, which I love to read. I want to be friends with her. Klam is the author of the new book Friendkeeping. (Check out my review in the November issue of Parents magazine.) First of all, she made me laugh out loud. Second, she just gets it. Friendships are complicated, and each one seems to have its own life cycle. For example, my BFFs and I bonded much differently before I had my babies. Not only did I have to stop raging until 2 a.m., I wasn’t even available for dinner unless we could meet at 5 p.m. Then there’s the whole motherhood issue. Some friends wanted kids desperately but remained single; some had fertility issues, and then some–the ones I was able to stay closest to–had children around the same time I did. Awkward. But this situation happens to many of us, and it also happened to Klam. She lays out her relationships in detail with insight and humor.

Have a friend who married someone you just can’t stand? What about a friend you loved but lost and then finally reconnected? What about the friend who always seemed to suck your emotions dry? Klam can tell you all about it.

My favorite part of the book is when Klam’s pals come through during her health crisis. When she is diagnosed with preeclampsia toward the end of her pregnancy, her friends help her manage bed rest, meals, a messy apartment and the overwhelming wall of gifts she receives even though she is too sick to attend her own shower. Unlike her worried mother, her girlfriends know not to talk about the baby and to bring her gossip mags and chicken dinners. Her close pal Jancee straightens Klam’s apartment proclaiming, “I love cleaning!,” words that ease Klam’s feelings of guilt and vulnerability. Klam and her baby turn out just fine (not really a spoiler). But her potentially fatal pregnancy makes the author more empathetic when pals go through tough times.

And that’s what it’s all about. Friendships go up, down and sideways in a constant motion. We may argue, disagree, envy, support, hug and love each other. It’s all good–as long as we’re friends.

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