Author Topic: All she can talk about is the baby! (Long)  (Read 3936 times)

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Brisvegasgal

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All she can talk about is the baby! (Long)
« on: January 09, 2013, 07:58:37 AM »
Hello Ehellions.  I hope you can give me some polite words I can use.

BG/ I have a friend (I'll call her J) that I used to be very close to...like a sister I would have said a couple of years ago.  In fact, we grew up together and called each other's parents Aunty & Uncle.  Two and a half years ago, she had a child.  This baby was a miracle because of some health issues J has.  I have 2 children who are now 8 & 12. End BG/

So what is the problem?  Well, ALL J ever talks about is her child or criticisms of other parents.  Seriously, that is every conversation and she repeats the same things over and over.  When my boys were young, I made a point of making one-on-one time with her and focussing on issues she had (I'm not saying this to be boastful but as an example of how I treated our friendship at that stage in my life). I have gotten to the point where I can't stand to visit with her or even talk on the phone because it always only ever about her life.   

There are two things in particular I need your help with.
1.  How can I politely say that occasionally you need to speak to me about things I need to talk about.
2. How can I tell her to stop criticising other people and their parenting choices.  In particular, stop being vicious about parents who choose to (or have to) go back to work after baby is born.  She is really quite nasty about this and she forgets that my DH and I returned to work when our boys were young so I feel like it's a personal attack.

I really hope you can help.

Redsoil

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Re: All she can talk about is the baby! (Long)
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2013, 08:08:17 AM »
Difficult situation to be in!  I suspect this child has become her reason for being, so probably no amount of diversion, or re-direction to other topics will suffice.

For the criticism, maybe saying something like "You realise that every time you say something like that, you're actually saying I'm a bad parent, don't you?"  Possibly, this might get her to tone it down; even if her attitude doesn't change, the snarky comments might stop.

If you feel close enough to her, you could ask her for a timeframe to sit down and discuss some issues.  Gently say you realise that her life has changed, and her miracle child is at the very centre of her existence.  However, at times, you feel the need to have her listen to you and your issues/life events etc. and you feel sad that this seems something she no longer cares about.  You could phrase it in such a way as to intimate that perhaps she doesn't realise she's doing this, but you'd be less than a good friend if you just ignored the situation, possibly leading to you both drifting apart, which you don't want, because you care about her.

Good luck.
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Davia

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Re: All she can talk about is the baby! (Long)
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2013, 08:32:38 AM »
Re: the criticism, I have been there! And I am a little ashamed to admit, for a while, at least inwardly, I WAS that parent, wondering why other parents were having such problems, making different choices, etc. My second child has taught me a world of perspective and humility.

I am usually able to tone down the generalized criticisms by my own anecdotes, particularly if I can tell them in a humorous way. I give examples of how Child #2 has taught me that each child truly is his/her own person, not merely an extension of the parents, and how I have been forced to accept that sometimes the same methods do not work with different children, even when one is a physical 3-years younger carbon copy of the other.  I'll also tell of my obsession with all the parenting books and philosophies, the fear of being wrong and fear of being a new inexperienced authority, not to mention the fear of my new daughter suffering any consequences if I guessed wrong.  I think in some cases the criticism of other parents stems from insecurities and a fierce desire for their own choice to be acknowledged as the correct one.

She may not hear you, there's just some things people cannot comprehend until they can experience it, but if she keeps getting responses like that from you, she may give up on criticizing other parents/parental decisions in front of you.  Good luck!

Roe

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Re: All she can talk about is the baby! (Long)
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2013, 09:12:07 AM »
Since you are so close to her, I suggest a good heart-to-heart.  Just tell her what you told us.

"Occasionally, you need to speak to me about things I need to talk about."
"Please stop criticizing parents for their choices. Everyone makes the best choices for their family even if you don't agree with them."  (and repeat if necessary)

Good luck!

m2kbug

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Re: All she can talk about is the baby! (Long)
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2013, 10:08:09 AM »
-Friend, most families can't survive on one income anymore.  People have to work.  I'm sure someone would stay home with the little ones if they could.

-Friend, there is nothing wrong with pursuing a career, even if they have little ones.  It doesn't mean they aren't good parents. 

-Friend, it's just hard to talk to you sometimes because the only thing you talk about is your child.  It would be nice to talk about other things and sometimes I just really need a shoulder to cry on or ear to bend and talk about things going on with me and my family.

This one is hard.  I do get wrapped up in my own life and want to go on and on, but stop myself and listen to the other person and engage in conversation.  This is not boastful, as you said, it's a normal part of conversing with other people and taking an interest in their lives, their interests, their problems and solutions.  Sometimes your own life situations dominate the conversation, and sometimes someone else's does.  It's hard when they get stuck on one topic and won't leave it alone. 

GrammarNerd

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Re: All she can talk about is the baby! (Long)
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2013, 10:40:47 AM »
Could you not respond in any way, shape or form to her rants or conversation about her child except with a general 'Huh.'?  Basically, I guess you could say don't give her any positive reinforcement (i.e. a conversation) on ranty/kid-centered topics?

If she's been a good friend and you think you can get away with it, what about a somewhat light-hearted but blunt clue X 4 type of comment?

Her: (Rant about bad parents)
You: Huh. (pause) So have you met any good parents lately, or is everyone else a bad parent?

Her: (Rant about bad parents)
You: That's HORRIBLE!  Gosh, how do they live with themselves? Boy, you should call the authorities!  Imagine, putting their kids in a licensed daycare in order to provide a better income for their families!

or...
Her: (Rant about bad, working parents)
You: Huh.  Well, I guess you don't want to associate with me anymore.
Her: What? Why?
You: Because remember? I worked when my kids were little too.  When you rant about how bad working parents are, you're basically saying I'm a bad parent.  That doesn't sit so well with me.
Her: I wasn't talking about YOU!
You: You might as well be.  Nobody's perfect.  We all make different choices, and we all do the best we can.  Different choices are not necessarily wrong, just different.  So can you cut it out with the rants? (you could add, 'it makes you come across as really judgmental and holier than thou, even though I'm sure you don't mean to portray yourself like that).

or...

Let her get in a few minutes of talking about her kid, but then after that time, don't respond directly to ANYTHING she says about her kid.  Nothing.  Throw in a totally unrelated comment.  If she says anything, you can say, "Friend, I know you love your child.  That's great.  But there ARE other topics of conversation.  (Don't pause). Did you hear about that new little sandwich place that opened up?"

Call it to her attention, redirect her, and don't give her a choice.  Then if she's embarrassed, it gives her an out to go on to something else without dwelling on it further.  And if she wants to dwell on the kid thing, you can say, "Do you realize that since this conversation began, I've heard A, B, C, D and E about Child.  Seriously, that's not a conversation, that's a blog.  It's not that I never want to hear about her, but come on, not a 15 minute monologue containing information about her pooping habits, okay?  Now, did I tell you about that cute jacket that I found on sale?....."

Please let us know if anything works, or how this plays out.  We all know people like that.

TurtleDove

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Re: All she can talk about is the baby! (Long)
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2013, 10:54:59 AM »
This is tough, but I agree with other posters that you should call her on her behavior and if she reacts poorly or doesn't change, back away from the relationship.  Life is too short and busy for one-way friendships.  Just explain to her that she has become a value drain in your life rather than a value add, and unless that changes, you will have to cease contact.

Bexx27

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Re: All she can talk about is the baby! (Long)
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2013, 11:20:59 AM »
This is the kind of topic that makes me wonder if I'm socially inept because it doesn't occur to me to apply etiquette maneuvers such as bean-dipping and other indirect tactics when it comes to close friends. I would just be honest. OP, I'm curious how you've responded in the past. The first time she started criticizing working parents, I would have said, "you realize you're talking about me, right?" When she said anything nasty about others' (reasonable) parenting choices, I would have disagreed and outright told her she sounded judgmental. I have spoken similarly to close friends in the past (though not with regard to parenting issues) and it's led to productive discussion and positive results.

I'm also curious how you've tried to handle the second issue of only talking about herself and her child. Have you tried to bring up other subjects or just started talking about your life without waiting for "permission"? If you do that and she steers the conversation back to herself, it's perfectly fine to come out and say you'd really like to talk about X for a while.

If honesty doesn't go over well and it's clear she's not interested in you as a person but only as a listener, you'll know the friendship is one-sided and not worth preserving.
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these. -George Washington Carver

TurtleDove

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Re: All she can talk about is the baby! (Long)
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2013, 11:32:11 AM »
This is the kind of topic that makes me wonder if I'm socially inept because it doesn't occur to me to apply etiquette maneuvers such as bean-dipping and other indirect tactics when it comes to close friends.

Hah!  Agreed!  I, like you, am straight forward with close friends, and otherwise, they aren't close friends and I don't waste my time worrying about the situation.

VltGrantham

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Re: All she can talk about is the baby! (Long)
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2013, 11:41:44 AM »
Quote
-Friend, most families can't survive on one income anymore.  People have to work.  I'm sure someone would stay home with the little ones if they could.

This has just been my personal experience, but giving this explanation is simply likely to lead to another argument.  Every time I meet someone who bemoans the fact that I work and left my infant with a caregiver (her grandmother!), I have heard every justification from:

"You shouldn't have had a child if you just wanted to leave them at home."
"So what if she's with her Grandmother?  You're her Mother!  How could you leave her?"

And if it's money:

"You should have thought about that prior to having children."
"Well, you and DH could give up your vacations, home, cars, going out to eat, {insert something else here}.  No sacrifice is too big to make for your children."

I've learned to draw a very hard line with people like this by saying "Our parenting choices work best for our family and if you don't like them, that's unfortunate, but it's also your problem.  Can we discuss something else please?"

CakeBeret

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Re: All she can talk about is the baby! (Long)
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2013, 11:43:49 AM »
I agree with PPs, have a gentle but honest conversation with her. I think that you owe her that much, based on your long friendship. If she changes, great; if not, it's probably time to back away.
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Deetee

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Re: All she can talk about is the baby! (Long)
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2013, 12:46:39 PM »
Re: the criticism, I have been there! And I am a little ashamed to admit, for a while, at least inwardly, I WAS that parent, wondering why other parents were having such problems, making different choices, etc. My second child has taught me a world of perspective and humility.

I am usually able to tone down the generalized criticisms by my own anecdotes, particularly if I can tell them in a humorous way. I give examples of how Child #2 has taught me that each child truly is his/her own person, not merely an extension of the parents, and how I have been forced to accept that sometimes the same methods do not work with different children, even when one is a physical 3-years younger carbon copy of the other.  I'll also tell of my obsession with all the parenting books and philosophies, the fear of being wrong and fear of being a new inexperienced authority, not to mention the fear of my new daughter suffering any consequences if I guessed wrong.  I think in some cases the criticism of other parents stems from insecurities and a fierce desire for their own choice to be acknowledged as the correct one.
She may not hear you, there's just some things people cannot comprehend until they can experience it, but if she keeps getting responses like that from you, she may give up on criticizing other parents/parental decisions in front of you.  Good luck!
Welcome to the board!
I want to thank you for sharing this. It is very insightful and reminds us that extreme judgement most often arises out of deep insecurity.

In this case, why else would the friend care so much about how other people raise their children. It doesn't affect her or her kids so how can it possibly matter?

I find these ridiculous. My daughter is in daycare and I will perfectly honest with anyone that it was a choice to do that. We could easily afford to have me stay home. (I'm actually in school so we couldn't afford to have my husband stay home as he is the one the job right now) In fact, we would be better off not paying tuition and daycare. But I am happier. Therefore, my husband is happy and my daughter is happy.

I could make an argument that keeping a kid home with only a parent and no professional childcare and limited interactions with peers is unhealthy. I won't because it isn't any of my business what works best for a family or a child. What that family chooses is what is best for that family. I just want to be clear that some people chose childcare because they believe on strong evidence that this is the best choice. It isn't something people are always forced into by terrible circumstances.

For the friend, I would just make it less easy for her to talk about her judgemental ideas. Don't be the cheery agreeable friend. Remind her you stayed home. Let her know you disagree. (It is best to disagree by saying what is positive about the choice they are shooting down. It feels less confrontational.
eg: Her: "Parents who go back to work after having kids are dreadful"
You: "You really enjoy being home with your son don't you? When I went back to work, I missed my son, but we enjoyed the time together so much, it really was the right choice for me"

If she takes it badly, maybe you will lose a friend, but it feels like you've kinda lost her already.



 

Emmy

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Re: All she can talk about is the baby! (Long)
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2013, 12:50:41 PM »
I agree with the others that you should address friend honestly, yet gently about these issues.  If friend is droning on and on about her child, you could let her know you love to hear about her kid, but the friendship is starting to feel one sided and you need her to take an interest in your life too.  If your friend is coming up with yet another rant about working moms, you could remind her that you worked as well as that comment feels insulting.  You could also let her know that she has the right to her opinion, but spewing venom about parents who make different choices it very unpleasant to talk with her.  You could also play devil's advocate and point out the other side of an issue.  For example, a working mom might feel that your friend is very selfish for placing the financial burden for the family on her partner's shoulders while she got to stay home all day.  Everybody has different situations so what works for one family may not work for another.

If the OP had a talk and her friend continues to be self-centered and self-righteous about her parenting, I think it would be OK to let this friendship fade.  It seems like friend changed a lot from the person she once was and doesn't have much in common with the OP anymore.     

m2kbug

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Re: All she can talk about is the baby! (Long)
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2013, 02:31:22 PM »
Quote
-Friend, most families can't survive on one income anymore.  People have to work.  I'm sure someone would stay home with the little ones if they could.

This has just been my personal experience, but giving this explanation is simply likely to lead to another argument.  Every time I meet someone who bemoans the fact that I work and left my infant with a caregiver (her grandmother!), I have heard every justification from:

"You shouldn't have had a child if you just wanted to leave them at home."
"So what if she's with her Grandmother?  You're her Mother!  How could you leave her?"

And if it's money:

"You should have thought about that prior to having children."
"Well, you and DH could give up your vacations, home, cars, going out to eat, {insert something else here}.  No sacrifice is too big to make for your children."

I've learned to draw a very hard line with people like this by saying "Our parenting choices work best for our family and if you don't like them, that's unfortunate, but it's also your problem.  Can we discuss something else please?"

Good point!  I have heard this as well. 

bah12

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Re: All she can talk about is the baby! (Long)
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2013, 02:36:29 PM »
This is a really close friend, so I think you can sit her down and have a heart to heart with her and just lay it out there.

Point 1:  "Friend, I know that your child is a miracle baby and I hoped for her to enter into this world as much as you did.  I'm overjoyed that she's here and healthy and that parenthood is all you wanted it to be.  The thing is though, you talk about her all the time.  To the point that all of the other things are friendship is based on has taken a back seat...and forgotten.  I miss how we used to talk about X, Y and Z and would love to get back to that again.  Not that we can't talk about our families and kids, because we should. I just want to balance out the conversations some."

Point 2:  "Friend, we all do the best we can when it comes to parenting our children.  And some decisions are neither easy nor black and white.  Just because a parent chooses to do something differently, doesn't make it wrong.  Remember that DH and I both went back to work when the kids were young and I know that was the best choice for our family at that time.  When you criticize other parents for making that same choice, I feel like you are attacking me personally.  It hurts foremost, but also I don't agree that there's just one answer to that issue.  I don't want to debate it, but I do want you to be sensitive to the fact that all of us are different, have different circumstances, problems, resources and therefore make different decisions.  It's not fair to judge based on your experience alone."