How To Be Good Friends To New Parents

May 3, 2011 in First Year Fatherhood  

How To Be Good Friends To New Parents

I’m writing this little diatribe on behalf of all new parents who don’t want to lose friends. If you’re a friend of someone with kids, and you don’t have kids yourself, below are 5 tips that will make you a kick-butt friend for people with kids.

#1 Pay Attention

Honestly, I love you, and you have no idea what it’s like to raise a kid.

In fact, odds are pretty good you don’t have any idea about what it’s like to be married!

Your internal gauges and empathetic imagination won’t be able to guide you very much as you try to anticipate our needs.

And that’s ok! This isn’t information you’re supposed to have pre-built; it’s learned over weeks and months, mind-numbingly confusing and beautiful experiences, and a good deal of schizophrenia.

So, pay attention. Pay attention to me here in this post. Pay attention when you’re hanging out with us. Watch the crap we do all day and night… peep the insanity, yo.

When you pay attention, you’ll see things you didn’t see before: a mom blowing the hair out of her face as she holds baby and stirs pasta sauce; a dad lifting baby and smiling big into it’s face; playtime on the floor putting toys just out of reach of the child; lots of movement, lots of never ending, o-god-please-make-it-stop-and-give-me-five-goddam-minutes-of-rest movement.

Watch what parents do, and then maybe help out with that stuff. Think you can help out with any of that? :) Cheers!

#2 HOLD THE FRIGGEN BABY!

A knock rapped out on the door, and Jacob walked in, “Hey! What’s up guys!”

“Jacob! Welcome! Let me get you a stiff drink” the host said and moved towards the liquor cabinet.

“Oh, that would be great! Say, where’s that baby… I’ll hold him for a little while” Jacob replied.

Jacob wins in this little scenario: not only does he get to hang out with the baby, but he also get’s the best f-ing cocktail in the house!

Why? Because if you walk into my house and ask to hang out with the baby for a little while, I’ll be treating you like royalty!

Why? Because I won’t have to be hanging with the baby; because my wife will be able to keep cooking your friggen dinner without one-arming the child-thing; because we’re new parents and our baby is hands-on all the time!

Ask to hold the baby. Hang out with the it-thing. Remember some of the ways you saw mom and dad playing with the baby and do that stuff.

Not only will you probably have a good time with the little raptor-spawn, his little dimples dimpling and tail wagging, but you’ll be giving the new parents the rarest commodity of their new life: time without immediate baby responsibility.

Honestly, you will get great cocktails… It’s worth it for this alone! Right? Top shelf for you Jacob.

#3 Don’t Stop Holding The Friggen Baby!

WHHOOOOWEEE! What a great cocktail! Thanks!” said Jacob to the hosty host.

“You’re welcome man… anything for you… Pillow? Dates?” replied the host.

“No, thank you. I’m perfect,” Jacob said as he put the cocktail down and continued playing with the small-thing-person.

He lifted it up in the air, and placed it’s feet on his knees, and tickled and made faces and the whole nine yards… And for 2.5 minutes the poop-factory had the time of it’s life.

But soon it started to get a little fidgety, looking around the room and reaching towards things away from its ripping-tearing talons.

“Ok, little guy… looks like you need a change of scenery. Let’s get up and move around a little bit,” Jacob said… his stomach warm, defenses down from the superb top-shelf cocktail the host had masterfully prepared for him.

Listen, no matter how long you’ve held the baby, maybe just try to hold the baby a little longer. I mean, you don’t have any requirements on you, or parental responsibility to hold someone else’s baby, but these parents, these poor souls reaching, grasping for every shred of vitality they can muster, these fools, are your friends.

So, when you’ve held the baby for a few minutes and the lil’ turkey starts to fidget and look unhappy, just get up and move around with it.

This goes back to #1 – watching and learning. See how we play with the creature, how we change positions and the playing setup. After playing with the childling a few times you’ll start to pre-empt these changes in mood and get creative with playing.

Your drinks just got better… I hide liquor just for you in a special place now.

#4 WTF!? Why Are You Still Holding The Friggen Baby?

Listen, you don’t have to hold the baby all night. I mean, a 5 minute stretch would be awesome. All that matters to us new parents is that you’re trying… making the effort rather than pretending everything’s the same as the pre-baby days.

So when your creativity and elastic soul has been used up, don’t be afraid to abruptly say, “All right, it’s time for someone else to handle this little lovely-lump,” and give it back to the grateful parents.

Here’s the thing: you’re our friend, we love you. We want your help here, but it’s not your job – you don’t have the responsibilities here that we do, and we know that.

It’s important you know your boundaries here so YOU don’t get burnt out. Just like it’s important you feel confident enough to outright ask to hold the baby.

As long as you make the effort, and maybe push yourself a little bit to get creative and play, your drinks will be good all night long, and your new parent friends will be so grateful; so, so grateful.

#5 Take The Daddy Out (Moms Sometimes Too)

Remember that pre-dad, best friend, party animal dude I used to be? Well, that guy’s still in there, he just doesn’t get much play time.

So, make some time to get that old school party animal out… away from the nom-nommer and the mommy and the chores, and into the sweetness of the open night sky, the dank, dim bars, and the siren call of the moon… oh… god… the moon.

And you know what? You couples can team up on us: men going out to drink and get teary eyed about the good ol’ days; women staying in to put the tuckered turkey down for bed and drink white wine and chat. Maybe once you’ll get to switch that around, but I think you’ll learn from your mistakes and never let a pack of men put the baby down for bed again.

Here’s a couple of things which might have changed about that moon-howling party animal turned dad:

  • Get it on the schedule: You’ll definitely need to put those nights out on the calendar so he can have plenty of time to remind the wife of “the night of his non-responsibility” coming up on friday. It might be new for your wolfpack to schedule something, but do it for the sake of the new dads among you.
  • Don’t bitch a dad out: If I do meet you out at a bar for one of your “every night we don’t have children or wives” meetings, don’t bitch me out for having to retire at 9:30. Chances are good I’ll be up at 5am with the rain-taker trying to give mommy a few more hours of sleep. Remember, for the big nights out, get it on the schedule.

Conclusion & Letter To My Friends

The above is just a simple starter list of things you can do to be a better friend to new parents.

They say it’s common for new parents to gravitate away from friendships with single and un-childed couples towards friendships with other parents. People say that.

But people also say it takes a village to raise a child. Now that’s the kind of thing I can get into.

Dear friends, you will play a huge role in our kids’ lives. Your laughter and patience and support will create the world we want to raise our little poop-factories in.

Lend a hand, help us out, because this is our life now, and some shit has changed. We don’t want to feel isolated from you, and we need you to be aware of exactly how shit has changed and help us out a little… cuz, like, we love you… and stuff.

Your Thoughts

Have some ideas or stories about how your friends helped you in early parenthood? Or how you were a good friend to someone? Or anything else that’s relevant? Please comment… I <3 your comments… srsly.



Please Comment & Add Your Voice!

John Metta May 3, 2011 at 9:20 am

You forgot the most important thing:

#6 Make helpful suggestions on parenting

You know, parenting is an amateur sport. No-one knows what it’s like to be a parent before they are one, and even when they are one, they are really just barely scraping by on the knowledge front. In fact, they basically know no more than non-parents.

So, since everyone knows pretty much the same amount, non-parents can help parents by making suggestions on parenting. I mean, come on, every little bit helps! We’re all in this together, folks!

So, when you see your friends with kids do something that seems wrong to you, go ahead and suggest a better way- it might give them the knowledge they need for next time. If your friends aren’t doing something with their kids that you think would be a good idea, go ahead and tell them– or better yet, just go ahead and do it.

The best thing you can do for your child-rearing friends is help them rear their child.

Reply

chasereeves May 3, 2011 at 2:25 pm

John, It sounds like you’re saying: “I don’t have kids, but I’ll tell you when I think you’re parenting wrong.” Is that correct?

Paul May 3, 2011 at 11:42 am

Chase – Great friggin’ stuff! Now 10 weeks into this amazing shindig of being a dad to a daughter, and having no clue, about pretty much everything, I’ve asked God to forgive for me for every insult under my breath at those parents just trying to see the inside of a restaurant again with the sweet little angel that is hell bent on thwarting the meal.

A great friend? Bringing food to you. Holding the baby so you can actually eat the food. And then giving you the baby back so THEY can clean up the food. A-Mazing. A couple did this for us and I cried.

Reply

chasereeves May 3, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Wow, that *is* cry-worthy. Good work, Paul!

Mitch May 3, 2011 at 12:47 pm

This is such good stuff, and so well written. I was laughing so hard (“I hide liquor in a special place just for you now”). This should be plastered all over the internet for the sake of all parents. I’m doing my part :)

Reply

chasereeves May 3, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Nice, Mitch. Glad you dig it!

Adam May 3, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Great stuff Chase. All so true!

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Cindy Holman May 4, 2011 at 2:48 pm

HILARIOUS! Thanks for sharing!

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chasereeves May 4, 2011 at 2:58 pm

@adam and @cindy thanks! i appreciate your comments greatly!

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ThatGuyKC May 5, 2011 at 10:40 am

DUDE!! This just might be your most EPIC post yet. It’s dripping tigerblood my friend.

Thank you for the laughs and cheeky reminder to share with my friends who don’t have kids yet.

Brilliant.

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Chasen May 5, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Amen!

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Josh May 6, 2011 at 9:08 pm

I think when we have kids, I’m going to make welcome packets of this stuff for my friends to pick up at the hospital when they visit us.

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