Thursday, July 25, 2013

5 Things Parents Need to Stop Saying to Non-Parents

First, I should say that I am 100% guilty of all of these.  I know this reads as an advice list, but really it's advice I'm giving myself. The "you" I am addressing in this piece is me... unless it applies to you; then it is you.

I ran head first into this parenting thing, and have gladly and gratefully let it redefine me as a person. One unforeseen side-effect has been that I view everything through the lens of parenting. Sometimes that is a good thing. For instance, I don't leave steak knives lying around as much as I used to. Sometimes, and this is what I've recently learned, it can alienate my non-kid having friends. Here are some things that are better left unsaid. 

1. Dogs are not kids. 

It usually goes like this. "Ugh. You know what really bugs me? When so and so compares her dog to my kid. Or when so and so refers to their dog as their kid. Dogs are not kids! She has NO IDEA!" 



dog in crib
He finally started sleeping through the night!


You know what? Unless "so and so" needs professional help, I guarantee "so and so" knows that her dog is not a human child. She also knows that having a dog is nothing like having a kid. What she's really saying is "Oh! Yes. I also have something in my life that poops AND brings me joy."

She is trying to relate to you and be a part of your life – the life where all you do is talk about your kids. I know that it's hard to relate when you have kids and your friends don't. What were once close relationships can become sporadic meet-ups where you do your best to try to catch up with someone with whom you have very little in common anymore. Sure, you two were best buds in college, but now you have very different lives. So when "so and so" offhandedly, and perhaps awkwardly, tries to relate to your story about picking poo out of your bangs by comparing it to scraping dog shit out of the carpet, cut her some slack. She's just trying to be nice. And she misses you.


2. You think you're (insert anything here)! Try having kids!

Tired, stressed, in pain, covered in urine, it doesn't matter. They all apply. Too often, we parents downplay non-parent's concerns by pulling ours out and tossing them on the table. "Oh man! You worked 50 hours this week? Try doing that with kids!" "Oh man, you think your feet hurt from working outside all day! I've been chasing my toddler blah blah blah punch me in the face please."

It's not a competition. If, on a scale of 1 to Passing Out Awkwardly in the Shower and Waking Up When the Hot Water Runs Out, your friend is at a 7, and three weeks into your first newborn you were at a 9, that DOESN'T MAKE YOUR FRIEND ANY LESS TIRED. 

It isn't that your experiences can't be a valid contribution to the conversation, but instead of a my pain is more painful than your pain approach, instead try sympathizing. Why not try using your experience as a new parent to help instead of compete? Say something like "Whoa! I bet you're tired. When I was tired after my daughter was born, I found that pouring coffee directly into my eyeballs was incredibly useful."

3. Don't worry, when you have kids you'll…

Not be grossed out by boogers, know who Dora the Explorer is, be happy… UGH. We've got to quit assuming that everyone is going to have kids. Some people don't want kids and choose not to have them. Some people really want kids and are trying incredibly hard to have them. Indicating to these people that having kids is the only way they will reach some higher level of understanding is both inconsiderate and rude. I don't know what the alternatives to these statements are. Maybe just cut anything that starts with "When you have kids..." out of your repertoire all together. It makes you sound like their mom anyway. 

4. Is the party kid friendly?

Unless you and your friend have some previous communication on this topic about how your little on is always welcome, assume the party is not kid friendly. Don't ask. If it were "kid friendly" they would have invited you AND your kids, and mentioned the awesome play room that they will have set up in the basement. By asking your non-kid having friends if their party is kid friendly you are putting them in the really awkward position of either MAKING their party kid friendly on the fly, or telling you that the party is NOT kid friendly which, then, no matter how low-key the party was intended to be in the first place, pretty much requires that they now provide a steady supply of hookers and blow.  Don't make your friends set up a kids room, and definitely don't make them buy hookers and blow. 



dog drinking beer
Is the party puppy friendly?

5. My life didn't have meaning before I had kids!

Another way to say this: My life was meaningless before I had kids. Another way: Life without kids is meaningless. 

Look, I know this feeling. Sometimes it feels like all the worries I had before my kids were trivial. I understand the urge to convey that feeling into words. Don't do it. Your life may have a different purpose now, but your pre-kid life was an important part of your story, and your non-kid having friends are a part of that. Don't dismiss that part of your life the way most people skip the foreward to a novel they really want to read.  By dismissing the "before" as just a build up to your kids, you are not only dismissing your friends, but you're also implying that their story has not started yet. 

-

Lastly, if you have done or said any of these things, you don't need to apologize. Just stop saying them. Apologizing will just make it worse. I apologized for one of these things and it came out poorly. It basically sounded like "Oh, you poor, delicate, non-kid having flower. I am sorry that I was so consumed in my awesome parenting that I was neglectful and dismissive of our friendship. Please forgive me." 

There was no forgiveness needed.  I hadn't harmed anyone, I'd just annoyed them. Forgiving me would have been like forgiving a fly for landing on you. So I promise to try and be more aware of how I say things, a better friend, and less of a fly. And by less of a fly, I mean that I will not land on you, vomit on you, and then try to eat you. College is over. I don't do that stuff anymore.   

Love, Dad (John)*


OK, one more picture of our adorable dog that I pretend not to like.
*No dogs were hurt in the making of this post. He was a noticeably annoyed, however.

P.S. If you're not currently a fan of the Ask Your Dad Facebook Page, but you like the blog, I highly encourage you to consider it. It's not just a place where I post new posts from the blog. I also post smaller humorous content, pictures and interesting articles. We laugh... we cry... we hug. (We don't actually hug.)

So, if you're interested click the "Like" on the Facebook Widget in the right sidebar and join the 2500+ followers who are already there!


120 comments:

  1. I was one of those "compare your dog to kids" people, until I had a kid. Now I'm horrified of my former ways. I read a quote somewhere that once you have kids, your dog becomes a dog again. It's so true. He used to be my baby!

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    1. Your dog was always your dog. But you love him and look after him, which is why you thought of him as a fur baby. No shame.

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    2. Chantal, please read the article above.

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    3. Agreed. Chantal, you obviously didn't read the article. The WHOLE POINT was to be nice to people who don't have children. You just broke rule number 1. Read before you reply.

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  2. "...where you do your best to try and catch up with someone with whom you have very little in common with anymore."

    That's a lot of 'with's. I suggest killing the third one.

    Also, fantastic article. Which is no surprise.

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    1. Great suggestion. That's what happens when I over edit a sentence. Fixed! Thanks!

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  3. Brilliant, and so true. I frequently find myself on the verge of slapping down non-parents when they complain of being tired, but you're right: tired is tired is tired. And it's not a competition.

    Also, my husband and I used to counter baby stories with cat stories before we had kids of our own. Like you say, we just wanted to join in the conversation!

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  4. Why shy away from being direct and clear?
    Is my kid also invited to your party? It's fine either way, just tell me.
    I don't want to assume...anything really.

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    1. This was asked and answered in the article; if your child is invited it will be stated. If not stated, then you can ASSUME you need to brush up on your adult socializing skills and ask about other people's lives and listen to them. What I think was not said in this article is that parents buffer life with their kid troubles and children stories and worries and woes so that they never have to connect with anyone else. I bet parents out there, for the majority, cannot remember the last time they celebrated a single/childless friend's achievement, making partner, but hey let's throw another kid party for making poo-poo in the potty.
      We are all adults, we used to make an effort to seek diversity and challenge. Please continue after you have a family, your children with thank you for it too. Just my opinion... oppps there I go .....

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    2. That's just not true. I've been to several social events that I found out were kid friendly when I got there, while my kids sat at home with a babysitter I was paying. Most of the time it's obvious whether or not something is open to kids, but if it's not, I'm going to ask. Your second statement is just ridiculous. Sure, some parents use their kids to avoid connecting, just like some people use jobs, the internet or hobbies to do the same. Most people have responsibilites though in one form or another and have learned as adults that responsibilities come before play, whether work, budget or children.
      P.S. My children will also thank me for surrounding them with adults of all kinds and lifestyles whom they can learn from in different social settings.

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  5. As someone who is childless by choice: thank you!Particularly for #2,3, and 5. I don't begrudge anyone's choice to have children - in fact, I adore my two nephews, and love spending time with them. I am tired though of having to justify *my* choice, and of being told so many times that I don't know what I'm missing, that it's different when they're your own, that I am selfish.... I've made a career out of dealing with other people's poor parenting, trying to help *their* kids heal. It takes time, and emotional energy, and if it's selfish that at the end of the day, I want a little left over for me, well - so be it.

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    1. You could easily argue that having children itself is selfish. aren't there. enough underprivileged kids in this world that you should be helping before you become so involved with your own? if we all spent time with children that need help the world would be a much better place both for the quality and quantity of people in it. think about that before calling the childless selfish. maybe they help others with their spare time and think there's already enough people in this world

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    2. Having children is the most selfish decision I have ever made. I am happy about it every day. :) <3

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  6. The truth is, you never know someone else's walk of life until you're in it. True, we don't have kids (yet, we're adopting, but due to my husband being in the military, it's taking significantly longer than I'd hoped) but we all have our own unique challenges that make our lives unique. We're tired ALL THE TIME already. My Husband works 14 hour days, 6 days a week, when he's not deployed. When he is deployed, he's gone for months at a time - no skype, no port calls, no phone calls... in a submarine, the company and the scenery never changes. How will kids fit into that picture? We'll make it work - just have to convince the social worker's first.
    Don't even get me started on the list of things NOT to say to adopting parents. If I hear, "but...don't you want kids of 'your own'?" one more time...
    Once folks learn to respect each other's journeys, it's amazing how much common ground we can find. ;)

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    1. Ditto on things NOT to say to adoptive parents. People who have never done it have no idea the aggravation and intrusion involved in adoption. God Bless you guys and I hope you are successful.

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  7. Great post. I have been guilty of a few of these.

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  8. This is great, thank you. I especially like #1. I want so badly to relate to my friends with kids the way I once could, but it always falls flat. And I do miss them.

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  9. I've never said any of these, but #1 is true and I'll shout it from the rooftops all damn day.

    Do some folks really love their doggies? I mean, REALLY love them? Yes. The fact is that no matter how much you wuv your widdle snookums, it is NOT the same as being a parent. Period.

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    1. But why is it neccessary to say so? Really, seriously. WHY WERE YOU COMPELLED TO SAY THIS?

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    2. Wow, you really missed the point of that section. Go back and read it again.

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    3. Amanda its not MEANT to be the same and yes I love my dog. Enjoy your nappies and stretch marks love

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    4. similarly, no matter how much you love your precious little (human) snowflake, no one cares as much as you do.

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    5. It might not be the same, but it's just as important. And you suck.

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    6. This article exists for clueless people like you, Amanda. Read it again.

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    7. Find a different word besides "babies," pet lovers. Would you take a bullet for your dog or cat? Didn't think so.

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    8. As a matter of fact, I would take a bullet for my dog. Same as I would for my boyfriend, and our future children if we have any. If that makes me crazy then so be it.

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    9. I would 100% absolutely take a bullet for either of my dogs and I would say that they would do the same for me. Not to mention the fact that one of those dogs saves my life on a regular basis by warning me when I am about to have a seizure. And no that doesn't make my dog any better than anyone else's dog, I was just giving an example of a dog saving a life by choice (seizure dogs are NOT trained t to recognize seizures, its only after the dog shows the ability on its own that their reaction to it is trained to his they respond to it).

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    10. Amen dragon, my dog saved me from a deep, dark depression. Other people's f*ck trophies generally put me in one.

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    11. If you'd take a bullet for your dog...well, nice knowing you.

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    12. Nice NOT knowing you. Don't you have anything better to do than belittle and judge? Seriously, this blog should help you be a more considerate person, not somebody with a ridiculous sense of superiority. I'm proud not to know you, regardless of the fact that I don't have a dog.

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    13. "F*ck trophies"? Seriously? Bet your parents are REALLY proud of theirs. I don't have kids, and you're disgusting.

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    14. My "widdle snookums"? Are you even real? You may think your precious ankle biter trumps my dogs, but I have zero fucks to give about your kid.

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    15. The relationship between dogs and their humans is much different than humans and their children. Dogs are loyal, loving companions and that's really crucial for a lot of people to have (including me!). I really dislike people that downplay anyone elses relationship with ANYTHING just because it isnt their own.
      And yeah bitch, my dog is my baby. Once you stay up all night for a few weeks/months crate training and cleaning up somethings shit at a constant during potty training, comfort when sick or take them to the vet, go to doggy classes and bring them everywhere with you; YOU realize there are SIMILARITIES in the process.
      Obviously it's not raising a kid, but its none of your god damn business who I love and what I call them. I can't stand people like you.

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    16. Wow! People who call their dogs babies are even bigger jerks than people who say they aren't. Anonymous (Feb 27, 2014 @ 6:45 AM) You're the one that sounds like a "bitch."
      I have pets and no children. Both are wonderful, but not the same thing at all. There are similarities between apples and oranges too, but apples are not oranges. Pets are not children. The tone of the article is just trying to point out that friends are trying to relate and be a part of the conversation and that should be respected, but there are many freaks out there that actually think their pets are their children. They need therapy.

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  10. Here's what I'd say, if you know the person really well you probably won't be having conversations like this. For other cases, I encourage parents to be kind. You don't deserve some "badge of courage" to beat down us non-parents with. What if that couple is struggling with infertility? Or, like me. I desperately want kids but I'm waiting until I graduate. This isn't easy because I'm a non-traditional student…aka…old. How about the good old fashioned golden rule? Treat others how you'd want to be treated. Or, if you are a parent haven't you mastered "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all"? As a college student who struggles with hypothyroidism, I can tell you what tired feels like. How about just not assuming?

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  11. Don't ever tell someone they "don't know love" and "can't possibly until having a child" further insisting that person "only thinks they know love"
    It is rude, condescending, and while it maybe be the case in the life of the parent saying it that does NOT make it a universal truth.

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    1. Amen to that 100% TRUTH. I do know love - i dont have kids. End of story

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    2. And don't tell step parents they can't possibly love their step kids as much as their own. That's like telling an adoptive parent the same thing.

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    3. THANK YOU! As an infertile person, I may just haul out and punch the next person who says that to me.

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  12. Firstly, I will admit I've told people that dogs are not children. Not because I think having children is hard, but because dogs are dogs. Dogs shouldn't be treated like people. Yes love them, adore them, but for the love of Pete treat the dog like a dog. They can still be your baby and be treated like a dog.

    The only thing I say and that is IF solicited is that when you have a baby, for the next three years your relationship with your pet will change.

    Parenting is not the be all end all. It's hard. It's not the hardest thing in the world, but it's darned close and I admire people who can beat the biological urge not to have them. You DO NOT have to have kids to be happy, complete, successful and loved!

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  13. Sharing!

    One thing that I think would be really helpful for everyone (parent and non) is to always assume someone has it harder than you do. For different reasons. You're just an asshole if you turn everything into a "my life is HARDER than yours" contest.

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  14. I am going to argue with you strenuously on #4. Most of my kids default to having non-kid friendly parties. I'm cool with that. Most of the time these parties start after my bed time and I don't care anyway. Once in a while I get in the mood to see folks and I say, "Hey! Is there any chance this party might be kid friendly?" and people who rarely get to see us get to make a choice. I think that giving people choices is a good thing rather than just assuming my friends don't want to see me or my kids.

    Many many people have been ecstatic at the addition of my kids. They don't stress kid-friendly because they know very few people with children. And my kids have to be watched at their house because it isn't a "kid house" but if I want my children to know people..

    Life is about a series of compromises. :) You can only compromise if you ask people to meet you half-way. Otherwise, I think this is a nice post. You are a good writer. :)

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    1. Most of my *friends* default to having non-kid friendly parties.

      Typos on the first line make me sound way less compelling. Just saying

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    2. Great points Krissy! Thank you for leaving them, and thank you for reading!

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    3. Yeah, I agree. I don't have kids and don't often think to make it a kid-friendly party, but I actually like kids and am almost always happy to have people bring their little ones, I just like a heads up so I can be sure to bathe my dogs (since kids looooove dogs and will end up hanging on them).

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    4. I'm asking this genuinely and not to just rag on you, but you don't mention ever going to the adukts-only party without the kids. You did say that most of the time the parties are "past your bedtime" and you "don't care anyway," but you will ask to bring your kids from time to time. I think this is one of the biggest issues child free people have with certain parent friends. Some people cut their child free friends out because they cannot fathom going anywhere without the kiddos. It's a two-way street.

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    5. I don't normally comment on stuff but as a parent I do not leave my child with a sitter when I don't have to and especially just to go out. If my friends want to see me they can see both of us. We are a package deal and if they don't understand then they are not very good friends. When you have children your priorities should change and sometimes that means growing out of certain friends. A kid friendly party doesn't have to be balloons and cake and everyone can still have a good time.

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    6. Yes, you are the type of person who doesn't cater to anyone else's needs because it's all about you now that you have a kid. Maybe your friends don't feel like talking baby talk or saying "awww" every five minutes to make you feel better about yourself, now that you have no life other than being a parent. If my friends made me hang out with their kid every time I wanted ot see them I would think, oh thanks, so i can't discuss adult topics, can't ask for adult advice, can't speak like a full fledged adult, I simly am here to entertain your child. It is amazing to me how parents automatically think the whole world should cater to them now that they brought life into the world. You are not special, you simply are ignorant to the population problem here on Earth. You are the one who is a not very good friend, so you better get used to people dropping YOU.

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  15. I can't wait to have kids - I've always known I wanted 'em! ...at this point in my life, though, the only thing I've raised with my other half is a kitten and a puppy. My fur-babies are my pride n' joy so far. I take far too many pictures of them and share them with probably far too many people...which makes those people then compare my animals to their kids. Somehow, when it's this way around (and not me comparing my dog to their baby), it's more acceptable. Why the double-standard? Also, to take your kids to a kid-free party and say that everyone enjoyed your kids being there is perhaps you not allowing yourself to see the entire picture. I love kids, and I'll probably end up focusing on them if they're at a party...BUT I will probably be disappointed in the fact that I won't spend as much time focusing on the adults I was intending to socialize with (and there will be some people there just pretending to like your annoying snotty-nosed, sticky-fingered, drooling child...but you may not catch on). Perhaps make a comment about finding a baby-sitter and see if the host then says, "bring the kids, too!"

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  17. Ok, I agree with points two through five. Anytime a parent does any of those they are acting like an idiot. But if you are dumb enough to EQUATE your pet to a child then you are open game on the first one. There is a big difference between being an idiot (numbers two through five) and telling someone they are acting like an idiot.

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    1. You've missed the point of the article, and judging by your low level of class in conveying your feelings about #1, it doesn't shock me that your reading comprehension is also terrible. #1 is NOT about the childless person actually equating their pet with your child. It is about the parent ASSUMING that is what the childless person is doing with their dog/cat stories....which is pretty much what you just did. So, who is the "idiot?"

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    2. Why is it that people are even more judgemental than the post they reply to?

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  18. 3 and 5 for certain!. I despise children. I do not want to be around them, I do not like to deal with them until at least they are above 18. Most people are now insistent that at the age of 27 I must now marry and have children ASAP and tell me how selfish i am for not having them. I do not want them, and when these same people tell me I'm being selfish I'm telling them to go back to their lives and kids. I'm going to go out, buy that stuff for ME that I want, while they have to go budget their income for what their kids want and wonder if they can get that new odor out of the car seats.

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    1. When I tell people I have no intention of having children, as I do not like children they often reply with "its different when they are you're own". I then reply with "Ok, if I have children and its not different do you want them, cause I don't?" Very few people have been able to respond to that.

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  19. I always hated people who talked to their dogs and called themselves Mommy. Now with 3 dogs, I am one of them. And I also have kids.

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  20. Using 'mommy' and 'daddy' when speaking with your pet has absolutely nothing to do with your pet being a 'baby', it just means that you love them dearly. I don't compare my pets with anyone's kids because I don't know what it is like to have kids. This doesn't make me a selfish person. I love children. I just can't have them. So where does that love go? Into my pets, of course! My animals have been faithful and loving until the day they died. Too bad I can't say the same for most people's kids that I know.

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  21. I really like and appreciate this post- being a woman in her late 20's whose friends just had their 3rd child and working on their 4th (if they haven't gotten one already). I have a husband and a cat- my life is not that interesting and taking 20 pictures of my cat and posting it onto Facebook doesn't get the same reaction as 20 pictures of a person's child does. I have had friends drop me online and off for not being "one of them"- I don't get them because they're somehow more evolved when they're parents. I do feel left out and it's a bad feeling as I want kids but don't have the ability or means to have them. One thing I wish was listed on here was if people say they don't have kids and do want them- PLEASE do not give a list of options of what they can do or, worse, say "Don't worry, it will happen eventually, you just have to keep trying/God will provide/ so-so was in your situation and she ended up having 10." It's insulting to say I haven't looked at my options when I have and to disregard my condition by saying I'm just not ready and nature will tell me when I am. That's insulting! I wish everyone would remember that one when making lists. It's briefly touched on with "you don't know they're situations" but nothing as extensive as I described.

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  22. Dear Ask Your Dad,

    I am incredibly impressed that you, as a parent, somehow managed to empathize so accurately (and generously) with us non-parents. Thank you for this post. You've articulated things I've felt but never found words for - such as the implied assumption that nothing about my life is important or meaningful because having kids is the only thing that matters. The fact that many parents feel this way doesn't make it the universal truth.

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    1. I could not agree more, Kim! Nice work, John.

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    2. You're welcome Kim. Thanks for the kind words.

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    3. I second what Kim said. I'm a non parent and just had a disagreement with my girlfriend (parent) on this topic. She doesn't want to empathize and I just forwarded her this post. Thank you John and everyone else who commented.

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    4. I agree. This is an important discussion for society. We are sold the idea that family life is the valid life and superior choice but the fact remains many people are single, by choice or otherwise, some choose not to have children or can't and in my opinion (as a single parent of one) this is also a valid and productive choice for society and one which I was ready to live too. Too much discussion is now focused on the individual (result of marketing/advertising which makes us feel entitled to it all) and too little on how society as a whole functions. Society doesn't need everyone to reproduce and every adult contributes regardless of whether they have reproduced or not. I chose to have my child, I love my child, I am responsible for my child but I could equally have imagined or lived a child free life. People who have kids have no right to be smug over those that don't and unfortunately this is all too common.

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    5. I don't think it is judgmental to express how having children has improved or changed my outlook on life. Whether or not it is the right choice for someone else is their choice but why complain about the choices of others and then about how you feel they have judged your choices.

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  23. No.6 "You're single, What do you know about raising children?

    Let's see Einstein, I believe you've never raised children before now if not mistaken. You don't have to own them to know how your going to raise them. Use your common sense, nobody gets a Master's Degree in this field. By the time you might be lucky enough to excel in parenthood, you're too old to have them and besides, each child will be totally different!

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    1. Not to mention the people who actually have degrees in child psychology--you're seriously going to condescend to them about how you know everything just because you pushed the kid out? Yeah, no.

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  24. I'll just drop this here in regards to #1 ;-)
    http://www.dogster.com/the-scoop/dog-news-study-dogs-are-like-kids-children


    I really love #s 3 & 5. I can't say how many times I've had someone say this to me & my husband. It's incredibly condescending and beyond rude. Thanks for this!

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  25. I'm just mad, period. This article made me even MORE angry. Hell is other people. If you are in some way trying to get into my life by injecting your own crazy-boring agenda which is actually JUST MORE YOU, go ahead and forget about it. I'm busy and too busy to even be writing this. Trust me, we were never that close no matter what you felt.

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    1. Whoa. What happened to you? You don't have to operate from your pain center.

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  26. A lot of this reminds me of when people tell about how "when you've been together for as long as us [weirdThing1] and [weirdThing2] become totally normal and cute."

    Meanwhile I've been with my GF more than twice as long them, and what they're doing is still creepy as fuck.

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  27. As a non-child having person, thank you for this article. My additional comment is that while having kids might make you a better, more conscientious and empathetic person, it does not necessarily do so. There are plenty of parents that are self-centered, arrogant, mean, and unbearable just as there are with non-kid having persons. Also, being a parent does not make you right about anything, even the best way to raise a kid. I know parents don't like being given advice on parenting (or anything really) by non-parents, but I was a child (and a damn smart one who enjoyed the hell out of his childhood) and have a pretty good idea of what my parents did that worked, and what didn't (such as my parents thinking not letting me have donuts once or twice a year would help me not be fat later in life..yeah that totally worked). So I'm aksing all the parents to put away the smug and at least pretend the having a kid is a normal thing that millions of people do every year, and not something that puts you in a special class of humanity.

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    1. I have friends who seek me out for parenting advice because they think I can offer a unique perspective as someone who doesn't have kids. I have no skin in the game. no need to prove my way is the best way. I'm not competing for the golden vagina award.

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  28. "raising a child is the most important thing a person can do". have you heard that one. no really. out may be the most important thing you have every done but my success its not wrapped up in s little person shaped package!

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  29. No.6 "You're so lucky to be able to spend your time and money how you want".
    Firstly this is patently not true - non-parents have plenty of uncontrollable constraints on their time and finances. Secondly, becoming a parent is a lifestyle choice; you choose to take on the compromises associated with it. Any parent who has ever said this to an infertile couple has clearly never gone through fertility treatment, one of the most financially and emotionally draining things you can ever experience.

    Thank you for an insightful and empathetic article. It says what many of us non-parents have wanted the courage to say for a long time.

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  30. This kind of reminds me of a quote from Bill Cosby, "You know the only people who are always sure of the proper way to raise children, are those who don't have any."

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  31. One thing I've always wondered about is why there are so few books, blogs, whatever, about MEN who are ambivalent about having kids (or don't want them). There are starting to be books about WOMEN who choose not to have children, there's a few blogs about that, but they're still considered somehow "shocking".

    Of course, there's plenty of books and articles and websites devoted to the "heartbreak" of not being able to have kids or whatever.

    But what I'd like to know is, why are there so few (or none) books and web resources regarding MEN's choices with regards to children? Is it like nobody's interested in talking about it? Or just the shock value is small, since women have so much pressure to have kids, whereas it's less on men (I would guess - I never have felt pressure to have kids, my parents were never pushy about that).

    Any comments on that?

    - Tim

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  32. My husband and I don't want kids and I've never wanted kids. It annoys the crap out of me when people tell me about how I'll change my mind about them...implying that my decision not to have kids is the wrong one.

    I also have three dogs that I totally love like kids. I get it that they're not my kids, but I still love them like I birthed them myself. (I didn't.) And yes, I know they're dogs and not kids.

    You make excellent points.

    I just found your blog from a friend of mine, who suggested I read it because we have similar writing styles. Since I obviously think my writing style is brilliant and hilarious, allow me to congratulate you on the same. :-)

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  33. I have heard most of these from my friends with kids, and so I loved this column .

    I only say this part because I also do some writing and I would want someone to tell me, not because I'm a smarty-pants. You wrote "forward," when I think you meant to write "foreword." Sorry. I'm a jerk.

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    1. Wow. Nice catch! Don't feel bad. I'm not insecure about my horrible grammar skills. As long as you knew what I meant, then I'm still accomplishing what I wanted to accomplish. The homophone has been fixed. Thanks John :)

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  34. I know when I say my dog is like a child, I mean he is similar in his bratty ways. The training styles for dogs and small children are also similar but only in the consistency and discipline necessary for good training/upbringing. I have 3 younger sisters and was very involved in helping care for them and there were and are many instances with raising my pup that remind me of when I was trying to 'trick' my sisters into wanting to behave. It is, of course, a very narrow window of similarity, but one nonetheless. I do not think I would be vainglorious enough to claim the pain I experienced raising a puppy is the same as that of raising a child without having at least some experience with children - and without noting that dogs, once they are trained, are virtually all fun and no work after they are 2 years old. Not the case with children!

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  35. Wish I could go! But it's a bit hard living in Sydney and all.. gorgeous inspiration, though.You are looking so pretty and I love your post heartily. Great idea to enjoy with friends. Words With Friends

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  37. Thank you for this article..I did not feel the impact of not having children when my friends were. I guess I was busy with children all day as a single teacher. NOW I feel it as my friends all start having grandchildren and I hear these things all the time. They talk of the natural evolution of things. You get married and have children, then you watch them marry and now you have your children’s children. All so natural....It makes me sad but I love my friends and I try to understand their side of things. A very well written article...thank you

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  38. I think that an article needs to be written for "what dog owners should never say to parents" because it seems that us parents get treated like we are horrible because we did choose to have kids, or if you are adopting, fostering, in the process of trying to get pregnant I will give you a stand ovation because it is friggen hard!

    1. Unlike purchasing a pup you can't go into the classifieds and find a "baby" you need to go through sometimes YEARS of work to get to be called a parent. For those of us who did get pregnant we still needed to carry the baby, while it may seem like beauty in a photo it is HARD to do... And labour isn't easy either... SO let us not compare YOUR baby to MY baby.... from the start they are different... It is insulting to have you tell me your dog is your baby... call it anything else, best friend, amigo, the only thing in this world that understands you but not a baby!

    2. It is frustrating when someone tells you that they stayed up all night drinking and partying and then had to go to work and are SOOO TIRED! BITE ME! I was up all night with Jr who was sick and I was attempting to sleep I wanted to sleep I was so desperate to sleep I have standing up! So YOU don't get to tell me about your tired cause that is self inflicted and PISSES me off! {on another note... if you too were up all night trying to sleep, studying, working long hard hours WE are in the SAME group WE are tired and WE can flip off the jerks who can't seem to get telling US that their partying ways are ANNOYING!}

    3. Is the party kids friendly? Are other people bringing their kids? Hey I like being polite and asking, in fact I ask... is it kids friendly or do I need a sitter? I am cool either way I just thought I would ask. On the flip side just because I have invited you over for dinner, lunch, coffee etc does not mean bring your dog, your pet is not invited, this is my house your dog belongs in your house! Don't bring spike and then say oh is it okay I can't leave him in my car... DAMN STRAIGHT you can't leave him in your car what kind of person does... So don't bring them!

    4. Don't bring your pets shopping {this excludes to the pet store} the grocery store, mall etc is not a place to bring your pet... To be honest I would like to go there without my kids but laws state I have to... to those of you who don't get this go shopping with your two dogs who are having a dog fight... all the non-dog owners will give you SUPER fun advice about how you are letting the ENTIRE world down by allowing this to happen, how you are HORRIBLE because you haven't trained them to act properly and even other owners will sneer and glare and whisper my little spike would never behave that way... BUT back to shopping... for the sanitary reasons, and allergies people have be kind to all of us and leave your dog at home!

    5. When a place says NO DOGS, i.e.. the Beach DON"T BRING THEM! Just like if a beach says ADULTS ONLY I won't be the jerk off who says screw that I am bringing Jr here I don't care how uncomfortable everyone is when he cries, poops and I need to chase after him... When I take my kids to the beach I don't want dog poo in front of them, or massive dog licks, jumps and more... Just like at an adult beach you want to relax and not hear my kids.

    I think people compare because it helps connect but really to us parents it devalues all the blood sweat and tears we have put into making these humans apart of society, when your dog gets old they will be a part of your life... and maybe some friends and family, when my kids get old they {hopefully} will be upstanding citizens and touch thousands of people, maybe be a nurse, dr, police officer, or EVEN VET... but there is so much more pressure to raise a baby human, than a dog... So don't compare.

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    1. You have some VERY good points....but some things in your tone are what this whole article was trying to address in the first place. I'm not even a huge pet person, so #1 in this blog wasn't a big deal to me, and I didn't even agree with #4. But a YES YES YES on #2 (and I'm responsible and not a partier...and I do a lot in CHURCH)...and as a single childless woman who didn't WANT it that way #2 CAN really rub salt in the wound. And almost every job I've had has been with children in some capacity or another, and I LOVE being an aunt...but sometimes when I try to share joys and experiences in those areas I still get a SNIDE, "It's still not the same as having your own." Well, DUH, but can't I share about the experiences I DO have? I mean, really.

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    2. Kati, you are mean. I hope you are raising children that are learning in school to be accepting, inclusive and impartial because you are not teaching it at home. Your trouble is with Dogs not People that Own dogs. Clearly, you dislike the inconvenience they cause you and the comparison between dogs and children makes your narrow life seem vain and ordinary, because frankly it is. Everyone's is, laugh and move on Kati...

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    3. With a mother like you, your children are going to grow up to be lower than dogs. Good christ, woman. You made the choice to pop out "Jr.", who kept you from partying (which, by the way, you seem intensely bitter about). In other words, he's also "self-inflicted".

      My hangover will last one day and I'll gripe about it all I want. Don't blame me because your hangover lasts 18+ years.


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  39. Dogs are not kids. We know this, but they are special and they do take a lot of work to take care of properly. So you have been to one of those sleep deprived parties where you’ve put the knife in the fridge and the celery in with the silver wear. It is easy to solve the problem of which life should be better, just switch the shoes you have been walking in. I know that whichever pair you just put on that you will be wanting your own back in no time.

    from Lesa Matte at Professional Doctorate

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  40. aupair, Worldsharer is all about sharing your part of the world. It is about finding a room to stay in when you go traveling. Why live in a hotel when you can share a room in exchange for some help around the house. Maybe you have a spare room and want to meet a new friend from another part of the world.

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  41. This post is absolutely fantastic. I've often sent those silent apologies myself - I really just didn't know any better.
    Dad dog

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  43. Regarding #2:
    "Whoa! I bet you're tired. When I was tired after my daughter was born, I found that pouring coffee directly into my eyeballs was incredibly useful."... better yet, just remove and ignore the whole bit about being a parent completely. It's irrelevant to the situation, so don't try to make the connection period. Being empathetic (not sympathetic) doesn't require it.

    Instead, say something like:
    "Whoa! I bet you're tired. When I was that tired, I found that pouring coffee directly into my eyeballs was incredibly useful."

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  44. As an older lady who was never able to have children, I made the decision three years ago to adopt a dog. She has added great joy to my life and I love her dearly. I knew when I got her that my job was to provide, protect, and enjoy her. I know she is not a child. I also know that my life has changed forever. We all have choices and challenges that are not the same as others. Whatever makes a persons life work should be respected and accepted. Life is about choice.

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  46. Thank you for this blog. My husband and I are infertile. Last Christmas as we struggled to decide what life path to take, I adopted a puppy from the pound. She saved my life. For now, my husband and I are choosing childlessness with the caveat that either of us can change our mind in 5 years. We continue to redefine what family means on a daily basis - I've since adopted a bird, and we already had a dog and a snake. Both of us are teachers, so we still get to share our hearts and knowledge with amazing little minds every single day. Isn't love what it's all about in the end?

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    1. Thank you so much for this comment. Keep up the good work! You and your husband rock.

      Delete
  47. Thank you for this blog!

    I agree with all of these. Another one not listed above that I HATE is "It is so sad you can't have children, it means you'll never feel real joy and happiness & you'll never know what true love is" You know what? stuff you. I know what happiness & joy & true love is! I don't need to have a baby to know those things.

    And yes, in answer to an earlier comment, I would take a bullet for my dog & yes I do say she's my baby girl. She may very well be the only one we ever have. If it wasn't for her, my husband & I probably both would have given up on life a long time ago I also call my nieces & nephews my baby girls & baby boys or princesses & little prince's - does that put them in the same boat as my dog?

    And also on the woman who commented earlier saying about things not to say to adoptive parents - I agree! I am sick of telling people that we are fostering & adopting & having them say "why? Don't you want your own baby bad enough to actually try?" We can't afford the 10's of thousands of dollars for IVF here in Australia and even then, with mine & my hubby's fertility problems, it is still only a 5% chance it will work. We do want our own but we have come to terms this will never happen.

    The closest we can get right now, is being foster parents, being on the waiting list for adoption & showing our 16 nieces & nephews all the love we can muster.

    Some parents really need to think before they speak.

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  48. Grateful to Dad and Buried for sending me this way.

    There is actually a parenting world analogue that helps with this kid/no kid line: parents of multiples/parents of singletons. At exactly the moment any level of parenting smugness starts to kick in, think about the parents out there who have one more [insert age of your child] hanging around. Two newborns, three toddlers, four rounds of the terrible twos all in one shot, etc.

    I'm a parent of twin toddlers and spent a significant amount of time in my girls' first year of life trying to make singleton parents feel adequate enough to complain about their kids (Singleton Parent: "Oh wow, I shouldn't complain, I only have one baby." Me: "Oh no, it's fine, all newborns are hard!"). Parents of multiples can fall into the same condescension traps that singleton (mostly first-time?) parents fall into with non-parents. Life in itself is hard, just the circumstances involved are different.

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  49. I agree with all of these except #4. When it comes to parties, I don't recall receiving separate invitations as a kid except under when it came to birthday parties for other kids. If you're going to be enough of an adult to host a party (kid-free or otherwise) you can certainly handle setting the parameters of the party. "Please bring a side-dish, don't take the neighbor's spot, oh and leave the kids at home." Telling someone it's a kid-free zone should be no more difficult than telling them you're not accommodating overnight guests or vegan dinner plates.

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  50. You are right, my dog is not a kid. He is waaaaaaaay better!

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    1. So much cheaper and more convenient and when it dies you can just buy a new one. Sounds like love.

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  51. I have a friend who knows we can't have kids ( infirtility issue) but every time she emails me, every single time, she wishes me to become a mom... I just keep telling myself :"oh,just ignore her" but I do want to slap her :)

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  52. Or maybe the childless could try to be a little less oversensitive. Jeesh!

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    1. so what do you mean by that a little less oversensitive...i'm assuming you are a parent right let me ask you this if your child was to be taken from you ( i won't use to the word die not even in a hypotheitical situation like this one) and i told you that you were oversensitive Jeesh (in other words get over it) would that sit well with you. No....so what gives you the right to say someone is oversensitive especially about an issue that tears your heart out. what my problem is with most parents they figure cause a person don't have kids they don't have feelings and they can just say whatever it may not be important to you but it's important to childless people who would give anything to become parents

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    ReplyDelete
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  55. The 'life is meaningless with kids' bit. Can you imagine, you watch people your own age fall in love, settle down, get married and celebrate their love as the best thing that happened to them, then a few years down the line have children. Then someone wonderful walks into your life and the message is 'it's nothing, not real love because you don't have children'. Way to dampen the magic, maybe I should just forget him and and just have kids on my own!

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  57. Great article...you put yourself in your friends'shoes, and it's what we all should be doing to be better humans. My friends and family with kids mostly are lovely, considerate and in no way smug on this subject, but for the others, and there are a few...this says it in a nutshell...thank you!

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  58. Well done, man. Well done. I especially enjoyed #3. I would add that, in addition to "Indicating to these people that having kids is the only way they will reach some higher level of understanding is both inconsiderate and rude," it also incorrect and kind of ridiculous. -CJ

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  60. Calm down folks, that escalated quickly! I must say that I find it extremely hard to believe that if it came down to it, you would take a bullet for an animal, the thing that makes us human is our inherent desire to live and dying for a dog goes against nature. Seriously people, be honest with yourself, your dog, while a member of your family, is a still an animal.

    Ok let the the hate reign down!

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  61. This article makes me feel more normal! It IS annoying when proud parents unwittingly make you feel your chosen life is less special purely because you are not on the same path as they are. Plus, in a non parent position it is very difficult to say anything about their comments without offence being taken because 'it's the BEST thing that EVER happened to me and I'm PROUD' when all you have really meant is that you are happy with your life just as they are happy with theirs. I'm all for proud parents but a little self awareness goes a long way.....thanks for this well balanced article :o)

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  62. This was such an insightful and relatable article. Well said on so many counts.

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  63. Thank you so much for this! My dog is 100% my furbaby, and I do plan to have a child within a couple years. I'm so interested to see the balance I strike. I still believe that I'll be able to snuggle my furbaby along with my real one. :)

    I'm so glad I found your blog, I almost find myself cheering along with some of your posts! I nominated you for a Liebster Award, you can read about it here: http://doubledoorranch.com/2014/03/19/liebster-award-nomination/

    Have a great day!
    Lisa @ Double Door Ranch

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  64. Thanks for the article it's good to know from reading other non parents comments that i'm not the only dealing with the irritation that parents tell us on a regular basis. here's one of my irritations sometimes moms especially act like because they are a mom that they have the answer to everything. 2+2= 4 and i know this because i'm a mom, the sky is blue and the grass is green and i know this because i am a mom. ok i am exaggerating but you get what i'm trying to say it's annoying as hell when they become an expert on everything, not just parenting issues

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    ReplyDelete