Your best friend helped you navigate semester finals, a rocky post-college dating life, and some dramatic months of wedding planning, but she's a no-show now that you've brought kids into the picture. It's natural to be a little upset, but what can you actually do about it?
"Just like not everyone is a pet person, not everyone is drawn to ooh and aah adoringly over children," says Fran Walfish, Psy.D., a Beverly Hills child, parent, family, and relationship psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent. Try not to take it personally while realizing that your pal's mind is probably elsewhere. And on top of that, she may not be thrilled about sharing your attention with the little one, Dr. Walfish adds.
Resist the temptation to air your grievances. You may be hurt and want your friend to know how you feel, but you don't want to risk opening a can of worms when you can have a fresh start instead, Dr. Walfish says. With that in mind, here are six tips for what to do when your non-mom friend is showing little to no interest in your new life.
Instead of pretending that nothing about your friendship should change, it's a much better idea to communicate openly about the things that have changed (think: lack of sleep and less time for late-night phone calls) since you became a mom, Dr. Walfish says. Tell your friend that although the baby has naturally become your top priority, you still value her friendship and spending time with her, and you want to ease the transition in a way that works for both of you. "Let her know that you are hoping you can have open, honest dialogue," Dr. Walfish adds. This kind of straight talk will set the stage for a more equitable relationship and deepen the friendship.
While you might be quick to tape a "DON'T BOTHER ME" sign on your forehead during your child's nap, consider penciling in some friends-without-kids time instead, whether it's on the phone or in person. If your children are preschool age, ask your friend to meet for coffee after morning drop-off. She'll appreciate the effort and this way you can focus and give her your undivided attention, Dr. Walfish says.
Your friend might warm up to your bundle of joy if you give her some moments to bond when your infant is in a good mood, Dr. Walfish recommends. Having your pal hold your little one will give you a chance to keep your eyes pointed in one direction without interruption, and both friend and baby will enjoy the cozy cuddles.
Once your child reaches preschool age, make a point of doing some extra art projects that your tot can gift your friend, Dr. Walfish suggests. Or bake something sweet for her and attach a hand-drawn scribble from your kiddo. "Embracing them inclusively may help light the embers of affection between your non-mom friend and your child," Dr. Walfish says.
As much as your pal may appreciate receiving gifts from your child, asking for a kid-related favor from her may further endear her to you and yours. Just be sure to make the exchange short with built-in success, Dr. Walfish notes. For example, try asking if she can feed your baby a few spoonfuls of her favorite puree while you put in a load of laundry. She'll feel like she's an important part of your new life and may truly enjoy being useful.
After all is said and done, there's a decent chance your friend becomes a parent herself one day. And you should do everything in your power to be a good friend from the beginning, even if she couldn't do the same for you. "Remember, you and she became good friends before kids were in the equation," Dr. Walfish says. "Your friendship is the foundation and you now have your mutual role as mother to layer on top of that friendship, so it can only become stronger."