When our lives change, so do friendships. Friends often don’t get their full attention from the start of their professional life and their first serious relationships. But the change becomes particularly drastic when children are added.
Gone are hours of phone calls, nights of roaming the streets together, and impromptu get-togethers. What counts for parents now is that the little person is doing well. Felicitas Heyne is a psychologist and author from Heidelberg. She knows it’s hard for a childless woman to imagine just how dramatic this “landslide” is.
“A newborn child leaves no area of life untouched. There is not only a shift in interests and energy, but also a paradigm shift.” As a new mother, you are suddenly fixated on another little person around the clock, says Heyne. There’s not even time for yourself. How about a girlfriend or a boyfriend?
Psychologist: Resentment is not helpful
Horst Heidbrink says that the childless part is particularly upset that this is the case. As a psychologist, he dealt with the topic of friendship for many decades and says: “New parents lose sight of friendships to a certain extent because they are so busy with the child.” friendship were used to.
But: “It is normal for life to change, for other priorities to arise, for close friendships to end,” says Wolfgang Krüger, a psychologist and author from Berlin. If you reacted with displeasure here, it would be rather stressful. “We have to accept that as friends we sometimes take second place and that life isn’t all about us.”
Allow friends to participate in family life
If it’s a close friendship, you sometimes have to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, advises Felicitas Heyne. And at least there are ways to continue to maintain close friendships. Just maybe not quite as intense in terms of time. However, it is advisable for parents to involve close friends in particular. Then they no longer felt left out or useless.
Wolfgang Krüger also advises new parents to make agreements with their partner so that they can “retire at least once every 14 days”, for example to make phone calls in peace or to meet other people. Otherwise, the following applies: “You have to adapt the relationship with friends to the new circumstances and, for example, invite your girlfriend to you so that she can participate in family life.”
According to Felicitas Heyne, it is also good to show understanding for the situation of the childless girlfriend or boyfriend. You can choose sentences like: “I can imagine that all this is not so exciting for you right now, but he or she is getting bigger and it will be different again.” Or: “I can’t turn to you right now, as I would like. But please don’t assume that I don’t care about you.”
Willingness to adapt is important
And what is the best way for the childless friend to behave without jeopardizing the friendship – or causing stress for the young mother? The psychologists interviewed are certain that childlike insistence on a friendship that existed before life completely changed is wrong.
Horst Heidbrink thinks it makes sense to remember what we used to do together. And ask if there isn’t any way to do it. But no one can expect parents to put their child on the back burner. “I have to take that into account!”
Demanding that the girlfriend or boyfriend takes the same time for the friendship as before can also backfire, says Felicitas Heyne. “Good friendships are characterized by an understanding of such situations.” But you can say what you miss and formulate your needs, says Heyne. “I would wish that…” is a sentence that you can always say.
The magic word is interest
And the offer of being able to look after the child is also advisable, says Wolfgang Krüger. “Then you have a common topic.” In order for the friendship to survive despite major changes, a great willingness to adapt is also necessary.
“And the childless girlfriend must know how exhausting and exhausting her girlfriend’s life is at times.” One of the magic words for psychologist Krüger: interest. “The children, the problems in raising children, the life of the other person in general.” Then, as a childless friend, you might become a companion for life.
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