Keeping Friendships Strong After Baby

Some of my friends ignored the birth of my first child.

Question

Most of my girlfriends who do not have children have virtually ignored the birth of my first child. They sent gifts but they haven't stopped by to see him after I've issued several invitations. I'm really angry with them and I want to let them know without completely alienating them. What should I do?

Answer

Before you act, I suggest that you do a little thinking about why your friends have ignored the birth of your child. There could be many reasons friends have been avoiding you lately, and those reasons will affect how you handle the situation. One friend might be suffering from depression, another may be consumed by her work, while a third believes the birth of your child means the two of you are now moving in different directions in life.

However, you mentioned that it is your friends who don't have children themselves who are avoiding you. This should give you a clue as to the most likely reason. Is it possible that they are avoiding you because of their feelings about your having had a child? Using my own life as an example, I can remember how difficult it was to spend time with pregnant women or new mothers after suffering a miscarriage. While I never told my friends why I was avoiding them, there were times I just could not bring myself to pick up the phone and call. I would mean to call but somehow would never get around to it. Those friends who are not calling or visiting may be experiencing some of the same feelings. While on one level, your friends may be very happy for you, on a deeper level, your good fortune may remind them of something they want very much but cannot have -- for whatever reason. In some cases, they may not even be aware of their jealousy or sadness. They just never seem to get around to calling.

Keep this in mind before you talk to them about the problem. It may help you a little bit with your anger if you have determined that their behavior is coming from a deep place of pain. Your compassion for their pain will also help you avoid alienating them.

When you do talk to friends about the situation, be clear about your hurt and anger. Use "I" statements, rather than accusing them: "I feel hurt that you have been avoiding me since the baby was born" or "I am angry that you are no longer available to me as a friend at a time when I really need you." You might also want to ask your friend why she hasn't called -- does she have a problem with your new motherhood? If asked in a compassionate way, this question can lead to a deep, meaningful discussion of what is obviously a painful topic for both of you. Using the above suggestions as a guideline, in most cases the relationship can be mended.

 

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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