Dear You’re Stupid:
How do I deal with helicopter parents?
My friends with kids bombard me with invitations to visit their home on Saturdays, for the apparent purpose of worshiping the little results of their procreation. I am expected to watch the little ones play and listen with interest about their academic achievements in elementary school. There is no adult conversation, and only seldom the warm embrace of alcohol to help bring the hour near when I can say, “Well, I better get going!” These same friends decline dinner and coffee invitations from me with the tired line “Sorry we are a daddy and mommy now.”
Dear Greg C.,
Sorry, Boo, you gotta get new friends.
Ah, changes. Nobody likes ’em, but there they are, an inevitable part of life. One of the areas we most drag our heels in is dealing with people. But, like that futon you’ve been hauling around since freshman year, sometimes it’s time for a clean break. And an upgrade.
See, you are a Single. Childless. Man. I’m not saying that you do not enjoy children, or cannot enjoy the pleasantries of tossing a ball around a backyard with the spawn of others. I’m just saying this cannot be your lone social outlet any longer. You must move on and find others who have things in common with you if you are to pursue friendships with similar interests and values. Making new friends is tough–and man, does it get ever tougher as you age and no longer have the beauties of Humanities 101 and Jagermeister bombs to fuel the bonding process.
Here’s where I would start. Do you have any single friends? Good, hang with them more often, or plan more excursions with them. Join any and every Meet Up group you can find that is not child-friendly–i.e. Adventure cyclists or weekend enthusiasts who can take off for two days without shitting their pants over what the babysitter is/is not doing. Start pursuing some other interests in the evenings that tend to lead to stimulating talk with other adults, i.e. a political campaign’s grass-roots efforts; book club; cooking classes and/or similar. Take up yoga. Christ, almighty, why more straight guys have not discovered the sexy power of yoga–rooms filled with hot chicks, stretching, moving, blood pumping to body parts you want blood to go to–yoga studios would be filled with guys. Be that awesome secure straight guy who goes to yoga.
Go on more dates. Seriously. Go on more dates. You’ll get laid more to boot.
Start a club for childless singles who enjoy good food, wine, clean clothes, and spotless and tasteful homes. Trust. They are there.
And perhaps when your child-rearing friends get a glimpse of your newfound happiness and all the fun shit you’re doing, they’ll beg, BEG, you to be a part of it. And you can let them. Or not. But tell them that talk of their kids’ bowel movements, peewee baseball or Mommy and Me activities are off the fucking table.
Oh, and you can tell your newly babied friends that they’re being assholes when they invite you to things like this and act like that. That’s acceptable. One of the things that narcissistic asshole parents tend to pass on to their soon-to-be intolerable kids is that the world revolves around them. It does not. Not that I’m advocating what my parents believed–“children should be seen and not heard”–but they did instill that we came second, and that parents are in charge and need to be respected. Period.
I have friends who have kids and are awesome to hang with. Their kids know their place and know how to entertain themselves. I refuse to spend time with anyone who lets their kids run their lives. These are the people who will end up in an airport somewhere, with an 8-year-old jumping up and down and throwing things because they told him that he cannot have the ice cream, screaming “You’re limiting me! You’re limiting me!”
These parents are not doing themselves, those kids, or anyone else in society any favors. For these children will turn into 25-year-old man babies who will live at home and refuse to work for anything less than what they’ve been told from Day One is what the world owes them. Laughing yet? Yeah, it’s not funny when you meet them in real life.
BTW, those cool parents? Yeah, they’ll kill for an invite to an adult dinner and coffee and conversation. Find them, too. They tend to be comfortable with, hell even embrace, hanging out with others whose life choices differ from theirs.