But recently, it also occurred to me that there is a big difference between my friends talking about their kid, and them talking about being a parent. To be honest, I’ve only got so much patience for the former because, in many cases, I don’t actually know the kid very well and who wants to hear endless stories about someone they don’t know? It’s not like the stories most parents tell about their kids are all that interesting in their own right (unless, of course, you’re Bill Cosby). But I realized that when my friends talk more about what it’s like for them to be a parent – how they’re coping with the new schedule, whether she wants to go back to work full-time or not, how relieved he is that the kid isn’t a screamer – that means I’m actually finding out more about them.
I should say that, contrary to the common stereotype of women who choose not to have kids, I do actually like kids (I don't think I'm very good with them but that's sort of a different issue). So I may have a higher tolerance for kid-related talk than most single, child-free women. But even if I didn't like kids, I'd like to think that I'd still be interested in talking to my friends about what is going on in their lives. After all, I have certainly not liked some of the people my friends have chosen to date and I've still been willing to listen to them go on and on about those relationships for hours. But I think the key is focusing on my friends, encouraging them to talk about themselves, which will naturally include a lot of talk about being a parent, but doesn't necessarily have to be just about their kid.