Once your baby arrives, it’s easy for new dads to get caught up in caring for them and to feel that their friendships from before are being neglected. There are ways to keep in touch, however, and to avoid some of the pitfalls of parenting.
Every relationship that you have will be touched, in some way, by the arrival of your child. A loss of spontaneity is one of the first things you’ll notice. Whereas just a few weeks before, you and your partner could decide to go out and an hour later be on your way but when your baby arrives, everything takes ten times the planning. Even when people arrive at your home unannounced, you’re likely to be too tired to appreciate it.
You may find that your relationships with single friends are hardest hit. Single friends are either going to be a source of envy (you may miss their carefree lifestyles) or you may find that they avoid you, thinking you have other things on your mind. Couples with kids are a good choice as friends, but be warned that while some will be a great source of advice and help, some will be condescending and you can’t assume that just because they have kids, they’re a good fit. Some of your existing friends may even look down on you for being a hands-on dad. Those aren’t really good friends though, so follow your instincts. In short, you’ll have to work hard to maintain the relationships that matter and you’ll have to choose new friends carefully.
As your child grows up, and becomes a toddler, you’ll find that he or she starts making friends on his or her own. That will invariably lead to friendships with your child’s friend’s parents, and that can mean a lot for your social life. Beware, however, that when you socialise with the parents of children the same age as yours that competitiveness can often be a problem. Try to avoid it whenever you can.
If you want your new (and old friendships) to last, you’ll need to put in a lot of work. Here are a few ways to make it a little easier:
Use a diary or calendar to work out a schedule with your partner that allows both of you a little alone time for friends and make sure that you also schedule time with friends that both of you enjoy spending time with.
Understand that having a child changes everything, and sometimes, that means that you drift apart from friends. Don’t worry though – you’ll make new ones too!
Try not to let your enthusiasm for your child become annoying. Even your best friends don’t want to listen to you going on for hours about how clever / pretty / amazing your child is. Try to keep conversations interesting for everyone.
Take advice with a pinch of salt. Ultimately, how you parent is up to you and your partner, so if you get unwanted advice don’t assume that you have to take it. Likewise, don’t let friends with outdated ideas about parenting, such as the one that women should raise children, influence your thinking.
Forget competition, and don’t compare your child, or your family to anyone else. As long as you and your child are healthy and happy, and your child is developing normally, then everything is just perfect.