I’m like that too. It’s bad because I’m like that with my family. Not my wife and kid, but family that isn’t with me.
@ddtibbs I’m very sorry to hear that for you and your station as well. Hang in there and lean on your friends a little harder these next few weeks. It’s what friends are for.
I think I’ve said it before but I was in your shoes not that long ago. I’m a huge extrovert and always tend to have too many friendly contacts I try to juggle. And losing a friend or even just losing touch with one hits me doubly hard. I’m thankful, as strange as it may sound, that as I hit mid-40s a slight personality shift started that has made me a bit more introverted and a bit more concerning of myself and my immediate relationships, not of trying to juggle all the bowling pins of others. What I’d missed along the way is that I was happy making everyone else happy, but put myself last on that list. And it finally took a breakup before someone close enough to me told me that. Be sure along the way you take care of yourself and your missus.
When I was in labor, I was on an IRC channel, and someone, I don’t remember now who because it was 10 years ago, made several derisive remarks about how now I’d be talking about nothing but my baby, and now I’d be boring and insufferable like the other parents he knows. I read the comments after the baby had come and I was home a wreck because childbirth was traumatic for me. He’d tagged me several times so it showed up in my feed. It really hurt to see it but (and?) I took what he said to heart and (1) never went back to that IRC server, and (2) decided to talk about my kid as little as possible because I didn’t want to be boring and insufferable. One of my college friends had kids when I did, so we’re still friends. The others waited, and even though they have babies now we lost touch since they’re 10 years behind me. So now I’m in the awkward position of (a) being a single parent who has no time to do anything except parenting; and (b) being a person who doesn’t talk about my non-work life with anyone because I don’t want to be that woman the IRC person was describing, the kind of person who only talks about her kid and has no other interests, except that hey, I don’t have other interests! I was joking with myself the other day that my new hobby is attending parent-teacher conferences because I’ve had like 20 of those in the last few months.
I guess the point is please don’t make new parents feel bad for actually talking about their kids sometimes. It’s alienating at a time many people already feel alone.
Said IRC person was an asshat and you should never hold back from talking about children, Fire. And this is coming from a 51-year-old with no kids. Be proud of being a parent and be proud of your kids. Even if you rejoin the dating game, don’t be afraid to talk about them. Only snowflakes need to shield themselves from the life the majority of people on the planet go through.
Being a parent, not just a new parent, can be incredibly isolating. Which is ironic because you’re looking after another person and attending to their needs. They just cannot really attend to yours. I didn’t have the time or more importantly the will and energy to keep up with friends who didn’t have kids when I first became a dad. I was often bored, and scared about not being a good parent. My friends without kids didn’t get that and just thought I was being a jerk I guess.
I had friends who liked my kid, but didn’t like kids in general. All of them, all of my close friends, had vowed not to have kids. They had dogs and cats and careers. I respected their decisions, but they never really understood mine, because not everyone is empathetic.
I know I talk about personal things too much here. Whether it be in the cooking thread or on the movie podcast. But I don’t have a very good emotional filter.
Anyway, you’re right about not making new parents feel bad. It’s a point well made.
I think I like my kids more than I like most of my friends though. Man, when they get old enough to have a drink with me, I won’t need anybody else!
As a parent you need to talk about kids and parenting and shit. I know, I have one that’s two and one that’s five. The reasons enumerated above, about taking care, and not being cared for. But also this:
We’re all afraid we suck at this parenting thing. We don’t know what’s right. All those sources are telling different things. So what can we do but reflect on our experiences with our peers? Of course all we do is talk about the kids. It’s what we do.
Ever talked to a newly fledged programmer? All they talk about is stacks and loops and functions and whatnots. It’s not strange, its human.
And if your friends cannot produce the empathy to show some interest in what’s moving you, fuck 'em. And yeah, that makes parenting one helluva lonely job.
Parenting is tough and interesting. You never know what those kids are going to do, and ever day is a new challenge. For the most part, kids are cute. I know there is a part of our culture that hates kids or seeing kids and loves to put down parenting as something anyone can do. I know there are people that want to shame parents for being tired, or proud or any range of emotions to do with kids. Those people sting. I don’t really understand their point of view, and I would rather never have to deal with them The fact is, there is little a person can do that is more important then be a parent, especially not in the private industry.
One of the few things I look forward to on Facebook is seeing parents post pictures of their kids being cute or awesome. I don’t need to see your awful political opinions, or stupid signs. I don’t mind pictures of holidays, but when it comes down to it, kids are cute, fun and exciting. They do interesting things, unlike their parents.
So, tell us what your kids are doing. At the very least, I will find it interesting.
It’s not that they lack empathy. It’s that the conversation doesn’t interest them, and that’s ok. If I have a friend who takes up knitting, and now that’s all he wants to talk about, I’ll quickly tire of that kind of conversation.
Fuck knitting. That’s not the same is kids at all.
Talking about kids would be closer to talking about F1 racing. Sure, I don’t know anything about F1 racing, and never watched, but if you are an F1 driver, and want to talk to me about it, I would listen. Cause that is cool
And I would probably be curious for a little while and then tune out because while I would bet they have procedural stories you’d never think about, etc, fundamentally I am still not interested in racing. That’s also how I feel about kids. I am not saying I couldn’t talk about them occasionally, but I don’t have them and I don’t want to, so my enthusiasm for the topic is limited.
None of which should be construed as discouraging parents here from sharing their stories, to be clear.
I don’t think is generally applicable. I work in a pretty esoteric field and I know from experience that when people ask what I do, I need to keep my explanations simple and short. Eyes start to glaze over after about 5 minutes. I’m also always telling my kids that “No one who doesn’t play videogames cares about them.” Discussing Minecraft esotera is only fun with other people who know what you’re talking about.
Talking about kids means talking about what kind of diapers you use, how the kid sleeps at night, what kind of medicine you give the kid when he has the sniffles or a fever, what the kid likes to eat or doesn’t like to eat.
When the kids are older it’s about how the kid is doing in school, about any bullying going on in school, about how the kid wants to play videogames or watch TV too much, about the sports teams the kid is playing on, about how the kid is already bugging you for a phone, etc.
These things are interesting to other parents because they are the issues those parents are dealing with too. It’s like the retirees hanging out a McDonald’s in the morning. They are talking about the issues of aging, about how the world is going to hell, etc. It’s interesting to them because it’s what they have to deal with or how they perceive the changes in the world in their lifetime. It’s not really interesting conversation for others.
I’ve never understood this, nor have I ever understood this:
I find people fascinating. I find what they think and feel fascinating, even if I disagree with it. Now if they’re assholes, that’s different. But I love drawing someone out to talk about what they are passionate about. I was cooking at a get-together last year and everybody was gathered around this one dude scientist (he might be an engineer…I’ve gotten in trouble for confusing the two) who was talking about his fascination with the Rubik’s Cube. It was really cool hearing him go on about the different cubes he has and what he thinks about them.
Then I noticed that his date was just hanging back because I think she was used to taking a back seat in these situations, so I asked her about herself at a break in a conversation. Turns out her job is to collect seeds. Seeds! She goes out to the desert to collect seeds and then goes to her lab and stores them. We started talking about the oak trees around us and why the indigenous ones in the area are protected. She was fascinating. And it was all about collecting and saving and testing seeds.
I love finding out about people.
That sounds really interesting, and I totally agree. People are interesting and fun to talk to.
And kids are the most fun people around! They hit all the buttons. So I am in favor of hearing about kids and what they are doing. The majority of people in the world have kids or will have kids, but even if you don’t have children, everyone has been a child at some point in their life. Everyone has had parents. There is nothing about children that isn’t at least somewhat related to everyone.
So, go on your merry life not talking about kids. Shut yourself out of the experience that most people go through. Don’t make it sounds like it’s weird or horrible that people want to talk about their kids.
I don’t think it’s weird or horrible that people want to talk about their kids, and really, I don’t know that I’ve seen anyone in this thread say so. It makes perfect sense that parents would want to talk about something so deeply life-affecting for them.
But for quite a few reasons, I know very firmly that I’d never want to have children, and thankfully, my partner feels the same, albeit for a different set of reasons. We’re a good match for each other there, and have a lovely and fulfilling life despite the seeming lack. I look forward to many years of adventures with her and my friends.
That said, I don’t really find children to be interesting in-and-of-themselves, and there is a threshold for “other people are fascinating” for certain kinds of conversational tunnel vision. The point about “I try to get my own kids to understand that blathering on about Minecraft for hours on end at someone who doesn’t play Minecraft can be a little rude” above was fairly apt here.
I like passionate, invested people. I try to fill my life with them. But conversation is give-and-take, and a mutual journey of discovery of each other. If someone dominates a conversation utterly with a topic only they know anything about, and moreover, does so repeatedly, over and over again, I find that trying. Whether it’s my old friend Dave who only liked to talk about what was wrong with every RPG and movie anyone else liked at all, or one old friend, Valerie, who really did fall into the trap of “and then we tried THIS diaper brand” level minutiae about the moment-to-moment experience of her baby every time we saw each other.
And hey, I get it. Dave really is an irascible bastard who spends most of his time thinking about why he doesn’t like things. And Valerie really did spend most of her time managing waste products and feeding schedules, especially when the second kid came along as unexpectedly as the first (she was really bad at understanding how to use BC, considering the two miscarriages in high school and the utter bewilderment at how each pregnancy occurred).
But when they prove unable to allow for other people’s experiences, or to try to find middle grounds of discussion and agreement with other people, after awhile? They kinda cease to be conversational partners. They’re existing in their own world wholly, and I feel like someone to be talked at.
I’m lucky in that most of the people I fill my life with are engaged, active people with a wide variety of experiences, tastes, beliefs, backgrounds, and hopes. Including more than a few parents who enjoy sharing amusing anecdotes about the time they accidentally misconfigured a new digital kid-monitor/speakerphone system, created a ton of feedback, and wound up scaring the fucking soul out of their 2-year-old when they told him to “go back to sleep!” remotely and sounded like Satan himself in the process. But they’re also open to other avenues, ya know?
I dunno, on some level, it might be setting up a strawman. I’m glad that most of the folks I know are decent enough friends/conversationalists that they remember not to make every conversation they have with others focus solely on their primary domain of experience. But I have met people like that, and whatever the subject, be it kids or their latest business conquest, they rarely strike me as especially pleasant or empathetic themselves.
None of which goes to say that a parent whose every waking moment really is concerned with the wellbeing and care of their children (and good on 'em for giving a shit and trying to be a good parent; the world needs more folks like that) isn’t entirely within their right to need safe spaces to share those experiences, hear they’re not crazy/bad at parenting/going to warp their kids forever. And I’d never suggest that they “keep it to themselves” or scorn them for having passion for their lived experience. I think what I’m hitting on here is a more general-purpose form of rudeness. Then again, lego might tell me that anyone who can’t appreciate a neverending one-sided conversation about someone else’s kids makes me a hollow unperson, which, well, I won’t deny ;-)
I mean I figure that scatalogical queries of parents of young children might be informative and useful for your future waste deposit endeavors!
Too long, didn’t read. Hey this morning my kid barfed up the weirdest thing. I think I have a photo of it somewhere, I’ll try to find and post it.
Now there’s a story about your kid I wanna hear. It’s the ones where they barf up the most mundane thing that I feel myself getting drowsy! :P
You know what happens when a kid barfs after eating pink peeps?
WELL I DO NOW AFTER LAST NIGHT AT 1AM!