Dear Carolyn: I’m at a stage of life when many of my friends are having kids, and I am very accommodating. I’ve always liked kids, and my friends’ kids enjoy spending time with Auntie Kate.
My problem is that I feel like a couple of these friends are really taking advantage. One has brought her kids along on every single get-together we’ve had since she had her first child five years ago. Another moved an hour away when she had kids, and about 95 percent of the time our social activities involve my going to her house for the day to hang out with her kids.
Socializing With Parents
Have you spelled out what you would like from these two friends?: “I’d love some one-on-one time. Maybe a nice dinner?”
If each says no, then you have your (unfortunate) answer — but I suspect just from what you’ve written that your being so amenable to having the kids around is part of the equation here, that your friends are taking advantage more by default than on purpose.
My wife is an introvert. I get that, and we long ago shifted to a system where I only ask her to attend outside-the-home events that are important to me. We do our best to keep those outside events to two or three a month. After previously declining seven invitations from a couple who are my friends, we have been invited to spend a weekend at a friend’s mountain cabin. My wife has agreed to go, but she’s sighing and moping and making me feel horrible for asking.
I feel like I’m torturing a kitten. What now?
No, she’s acting like a child. “When you say yes, please own it. Don’t mope around the house like I gave your kitten away.”
Just be sure you’re ready to take that strong a position.