Having nightmares of people having children

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Having nightmares of people having children

Post by Izmuth on Thu Oct 02, 2014 4:09 am

I'm starting to reach that age where people settle down, move in together, and start having kids.

...and I hate it.

I'm generally able to avoid any and all kids, except at family gatherings but that's only a few times a year so I can keep my anxiety in check.

But now I'm already dreading the moment where I can hardly avoid them, and it's already inducing panic attacks. Especially since I fear that I might be asked to babysit them (Do people ask single friends to watch their children? I really really hope they don't and this is an irrational fear) because the general opinion is now already "that I'm so good with kids" (kind of a halo effect? I look kind and not very masculine man, so I must be good with kids? Combined with a confirmation bias that is reinforced any time I'm forced to interact with a kid and I don't drop it on its head?).

How do I deal with that anxiety in general and people I know having children? I'm aware that I probably make it a bigger problem in my head than it is, but still.
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Re: Having nightmares of people having children

Post by eselle28 on Thu Oct 02, 2014 4:50 am

I'm coming at this from a dissimilar perspective, but am offering my experience because there may be some parts of it that may be helpful to you. I'm childfree and...well...I don't dislike children, but I have no particular desire to be around them in any sort of general way. I'm 34, and many people who are around my age do have kids. Despite that, the only children who I interact with regularly are my niece, the child of a former neighbor, and the infant of a new friend. It would be very easy for me to not interact with the latter two at all if I didn't want to, and there would be a lot of room for me to interact less with my niece as well.

People do occasionally ask single friends to watch their children, though it probably happens less often with men. I'd recommend a short, "I'm sorry, but I can't," if someone ever asks you. There are a million and ten reasons to not want to babysit (not being comfortable watching out for the safety of a child, not having a childproof house, being busy with other things) and parents who are reasonable will not end a friendship because you're not providing them with childcare. Children at gatherings is a more complicated issue. Friends with young children may want to bring them along, because childcare is hard to find and so are opportunities for socialization. I think that all you can do there is decline those invitations, indicate you'd be up for some one on one or adult time if they're ever up for it, and suggest you're flexible about the timing of that (people who actually have children might have better suggestions on how to phrase that).
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Re: Having nightmares of people having children

Post by Guest on Thu Oct 02, 2014 6:05 am

Izmuth, yes your friends will probably ask you. Yes, you can and should say no. My BFF-in-law was very shocked when I said I wouldn't babysit. I asked him, "Why would you want someone you know doesn't like children and has no experience caring for them to watch your kids?". Never came up again!

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Re: Having nightmares of people having children

Post by Izmuth on Thu Oct 02, 2014 7:46 am

Thanks for the input embertine & eselle!

It's a bit of a bummer that people do ask single friends to baby sit :/ Here's hoping that my friends secretly are really conservative and don't think men should watch their children.

I'm probably going to confuse the Hell out of people by acting like I'm allergic to children and can't be in their vicinity, since I probably can't hide completely I like entertaining kids the few instances I'm not able to avoid them, but I assume they'll just think I can't handle the responsibility of looking after them.

Should be able to avoid the torches and hayforks, methinks. Worst case scenario I've got to pick a fight over an imagined slight with everyone who gets pregnant. Would be a pity to lose a big part of my social circle tho :/
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Re: Having nightmares of people having children

Post by UristMcBunny on Thu Oct 02, 2014 7:52 am

This is one area where gender norms might play to your advantage, Izmuth. There's a decent chance people won't expect you to want to babysit or hold the new kid or whatever, and if you don't volunteer yourself for those sort of activities a lot of people will just never offer.

If it does come up, I'd make full use of "I am so terrible at children things how do I not break this tiny, squirming mass of germs and snot".

That said, more social gatherings will start being child-friendly, and how you handle that will depend on how comfortable you can be with kids just generally in your presence. If it's only interacting with them that will be a problem, you might be okay as adults who don't make themselves known to kids as "new fun person to get attention from"generally get ignored in favour of whichever family friend has designated themselves the Cool Uncle.

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Re: Having nightmares of people having children

Post by Guest on Thu Oct 02, 2014 7:58 am

Good point, Bunny. I can handle social interaction with kids if I have other adults, especially the parents, around to act as a buffer. I still get things that make me chuckle though; went over the BFF's house the other evening and she said, "I'm sorry, the kids are already in bed!". Er, I know that BFF, that's why I'm here NOW as opposed to EARLIER. XD

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Re: Having nightmares of people having children

Post by kleenestar on Thu Oct 02, 2014 9:19 am

Over and above the things other folks have said:

- You might want to think about what your policy is for the people closest to you. For example, if a very close friend had a health emergency and needed help, would you be willing to take a shift with the kids? If the answer is no, that's okay - but if it's yes, then setting those boundaries in advance might help you reduce anxiety. You're the one deciding when kid things are okay, not anyone else.

- When I have to say no to someone, I often give them an alternative that I can say yes to. (Though I only do this for people where I care a lot about the larger relationship.) The only tricky piece here is that if you're saying no to childcare, you can't offer them an alternative that requires childcare. But having something in your back pocket for these situations will be very helpful, if you can take the time to figure it out in advance.
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Re: Having nightmares of people having children

Post by Guest on Thu Oct 02, 2014 10:29 am

Good point kleenestar. When BFF was expecting Small #2, I said that I would go with her to hospital, while BFF-in-law waited with Small #1 for his parents to get there so that he could join her. I was not prepared to be on my own with Small #1, but I did want to help. Not needed in the end but at least I was able to give them an alternative.

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Re: Having nightmares of people having children

Post by Mel on Thu Oct 02, 2014 10:38 am

If it helps at all, I am a new parent and can't imagine asking one of my non-parent friends to baby-sit unless they'd expressed an active interest in/enthusiasm for kids or my particular kid, or if it was a total emergency and I had run out of other options to ask. It just... makes way more sense to turn to people you know have experience with their own kids or who have been clearly happy to interact with yours. (Though I could see it being more of a thing for someone who simply didn't have many friends who did have kids/were enthusiastic and so had limited options--and in that case I agree with those above saying people should be fine with you saying no.)
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Re: Having nightmares of people having children

Post by Izmuth on Thu Oct 02, 2014 11:50 am

Hmmm... My biggest problem is having to spend time alone with kids. I even enjoy entertaining them with games and such in bigger family gatherings, since the parents also seem grateful for a break to hang out with other people without having to watch the children all the time.

My problem is however that if you spend time with kids in bigger gatherings and don't seem to hate it, it seems like lazyness/jerkiness that you don't want to watch them on your own even if there's an emergency as kleenestar describes.

Just gotta hope that emergency never comes I guess.
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Re: Having nightmares of people having children

Post by Mel on Thu Oct 02, 2014 12:01 pm

Izmuth wrote:Hmmm... My biggest problem is having to spend time alone with kids. I even enjoy entertaining them with games and such in bigger family gatherings, since the parents also seem grateful for a break to hang out with other people without having to watch the children all the time.

My problem is however that if you spend time with kids in bigger gatherings and don't seem to hate it, it seems like lazyness/jerkiness that you don't want to watch them on your own even if there's an emergency as kleenestar describes.

Just gotta hope that emergency never comes I guess.

I think you could simply say that you don't feel comfortable being a sole caretaker. If someone gets really pushy, maybe frame it as an anxiety issue? I think this is a case where a white lie is acceptable. e.g., You could say you get panic attacks if you're solely responsible for a kid. Or you could use a situational white lie of having some other responsibility (you figure out what would make most sense for your life) that prevents you from stepping in, that you have ready if an emergency does come up. A good friend wouldn't fault you for any of that.
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Re: Having nightmares of people having children

Post by Enail on Thu Oct 02, 2014 12:18 pm

I've never been asked to babysit for friends/family with kids. Most of the people I know with kids are pretty reluctant to have anyone but the most mature and good-with-kids people they know babysit, so it's not a guarantee that people will ask all their single friends.

But when the subject comes up generally (eg. if they're saying they're thinking it's time they find a babysitter and take a night out at last), I'll generally just mention that I wouldn't be comfortable babysitting (I like kids fine in small doses, but babies terrify me - they're so small! they spit up on you! they may start screaming at any moment!! - and I just wouldn't feel competent to look after one) but I'd be happy to run X errand for them or help in some other way. No one's ever pressed me to do it or acted like that was strange or rude.

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Re: Having nightmares of people having children

Post by reboot on Thu Oct 02, 2014 12:40 pm

I have only rarely been asked to watch kids, but just told them that I was not comfortable around children and clueless about what to do with them (not entirely true....I just dislike babysitting because I did it so much as a kid) and people were fine with that. They really do want someone who knows what they are doing. Offer to help outnin other ways or ask around to other friends with kids to see if they know any sitters.
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Re: Having nightmares of people having children

Post by nonA on Thu Oct 02, 2014 4:11 pm

It'd be helpful if you told us exactly what about kids bothers you. It sounds like you're fine with them, so long as their parents have reasonable people boundaries. This is normal.

If you're worried about child-having friends seeing you as a source of free childcare, you can always say no.

My problem is however that if you spend time with kids in bigger gatherings and don't seem to hate it, it seems like lazyness/jerkiness that you don't want to watch them on your own even if there's an emergency as kleenestar describes.

Parents will often say things along this line, because parenthood is Special and everybody else must do everything in their power for the wonder baby.

Similarly, many religious leaders say that anybody who does not sacrifice their own self-interest for the church is lazy/jerky for not sacrificing their own self-interest.

Important life skill: Realize when someone's argument is nothing more than reaching for justifications why you should make their lives easier. Maintaining your boundaries is normally an important life skill, and it becomes especially so in this sort of situation.

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Re: Having nightmares of people having children

Post by kleenestar on Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:14 pm

I'll just say this: the idea of a friend who's willing to come over and play with my kid while I do other things at home sounds like a dream come true. It's the best of friend-time and kid-time, all together.

I'll let you know if this attitude continues when the rubber hits the road. Razz
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Re: Having nightmares of people having children

Post by Izmuth on Fri Oct 03, 2014 6:34 am

Mel wrote:
I think you could simply say that you don't feel comfortable being a sole caretaker.  If someone gets really pushy, maybe frame it as an anxiety issue?  I think this is a case where a white lie is acceptable.  e.g., You could say you get panic attacks if you're solely responsible for a kid.  Or you could use a situational white lie of having some other responsibility (you figure out what would make most sense for your life) that prevents you from stepping in, that you have ready if an emergency does come up.  A good friend wouldn't fault you for any of that.

Sounds good, thanks! If I tell them it's an anxiety issue I can also ask another friend to join me, then I don't have the problem of being alone with kids ánd I'm still helping them.

I've got a few years to prepare the best way to phrase that, luckily enough.

Enail wrote:I've never been asked to babysit for friends/family with kids. Most of the people I know with kids are pretty reluctant to have anyone but the most mature and good-with-kids people they know babysit, so it's not a guarantee that people will ask all their single friends.

But when the subject comes up generally (eg. if they're saying they're thinking it's time they find a babysitter and take a night out at last), I'll generally just mention that I wouldn't be comfortable babysitting (I like kids fine in small doses, but babies terrify me - they're so small! they spit up on you! they may start screaming at any moment!! - and I just wouldn't feel competent to look after one) but I'd be happy to run X errand for them or help in some other way. No one's ever pressed me to do it or acted like that was strange or rude.

I know! Who designed kids and babies that they seem to want nothing more than to hurt themselves in surprisingly creative ways and yet are fragile like glass?

reboot wrote:I have only rarely been asked to watch kids, but just told them that I was not comfortable around children and clueless about what to do with them (not entirely true....I just dislike babysitting because I did it so much as a kid) and people were fine with that. They really do want someone who knows what they are doing. Offer to help outnin other ways or ask around to other friends with kids to see if they know any sitters.

I read outnin as outninja, which produced the most spectacular images in my head Razz

nonA wrote:It'd be helpful if you told us exactly what about kids bothers you.  It sounds like you're fine with them, so long as their parents have reasonable people boundaries.  This is normal.

If you're worried about child-having friends seeing you as a source of free childcare, you can always say no.

My problem is however that if you spend time with kids in bigger gatherings and don't seem to hate it, it seems like lazyness/jerkiness that you don't want to watch them on your own even if there's an emergency as kleenestar describes.

Parents will often say things along this line, because parenthood is Special and everybody else must do everything in their power for the wonder baby.

Similarly, many religious leaders say that anybody who does not sacrifice their own self-interest for the church is lazy/jerky for not sacrificing their own self-interest.

Important life skill:  Realize when someone's argument is nothing more than reaching for justifications why you should make their lives easier.  Maintaining your boundaries is normally an important life skill, and it becomes especially so in this sort of situation.

I'm not sure how to phrase this, but I've got the amazing superpower of inconvenient boners around animals and children.

So in the event that shit ever hits the fan (they're already conducting research how to detect me in a general population, and presumably involuntarily "cure" me, even thought I did not, do not, and will not do anything wrong. Sometimes you gotta love the hand that you're dealt at birth [/rant]) and people start suspecting things about my sexuality, I want to be able to prove that I was never alone with a kid, so as the parents will not torture themselves with questions that I can only give my word of honour in response to.
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Re: Having nightmares of people having children

Post by kleenestar on Sun Oct 05, 2014 10:37 am

I think "asking a friend to join me" is a great solution if it's someone you'd like to help out. I don't think you even need to explain. "I'd love to do that, but only if I can ask a friend to join me." Ideally you have a suggestion in mind, or ask them if they have any constraints on who you can invite. If you handle the friend-finding logistics, I'm guessing most parents will be totally fine with it.

Also babies seem, from my research, to be a whole lot more physically resilient than you'd think. I'll let you know how it goes after the first few times I drop mine. Razz
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Re: Having nightmares of people having children

Post by Izmuth on Mon Oct 13, 2014 5:48 am

kleenestar wrote:I think "asking a friend to join me" is a great solution if it's someone you'd like to help out. I don't think you even need to explain. "I'd love to do that, but only if I can ask a friend to join me." Ideally you have a suggestion in mind, or ask them if they have any constraints on who you can invite. If you handle the friend-finding logistics, I'm guessing most parents will be totally fine with it.

Also babies seem, from my research, to be a whole lot more physically resilient than you'd think. I'll let you know how it goes after the first few times I drop mine. Razz

I think I've got a broad enough social network to make this work! Yay!

I feel a lot better now, actually. It's pretty silly since it'll be some years still before anyone gets knocked up, presumably, but it was already a weight on my mind.

(Belated) congratulations on the pregnancy by the way!
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Re: Having nightmares of people having children

Post by UristMcBunny on Mon Oct 13, 2014 10:28 am

Hey, there's nothing wrong with planning ahead!

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