Just because I have kids, it doesn't mean I can't have child-free mates

‘It would be really great to have friends who are choosing the same lifestyle as us, so we don’t have to work our social times around bedtimes, around eating times, around school holidays.’ 

Danni Duncan, a 30-something, married and child-free woman, certainly wasn’t mincing her words as she described in a TikTok video how she preferred being friends with other non-parents to people with children. 

That, while she rather condescendingly admitted there was nothing wrong with having friends with children, she preferred not to have work her lifestyle around other people’s children and their routines. 


She certainly made me, a mum-of-two, cringe.

I’ve said on numerous occasions that having children is an option, not an inevitable milestone, and it’s a choice that isn’t for everyone. 

I understand that some people want to focus on their careers, travel the world or, simply, not turn their worlds upside down by having a baby.

I applaud Danni – and all of the other child-free people out there – for making a decision that makes her happy. But why is she being so disparaging of mine? And implying that, by having two children, I am less worthy of friendship?

I’m not denying that having children does change friendships – how could it not? You suddenly have another person, someone who is completely dependent on you, in your life. It’s a bit like when you enter into a serious relationship. You suddenly have less free time.

And, especially now that I have two – Theo, five, and Immy, three – I am less flexible. I can rarely go out when my husband, Tom, has plans, unless it is a special occasion when I’ll ask my parents to babysit.

Also, when the kids were younger, I admit, I did prefer to go out once the flurry of bedtime was over. It was always far more stressful leaving the house while they were still awake and crying, or wanting another story and hug from me.

Yet, none of that makes me a bad friend, or someone who wouldn’t be there for the people that I cared about.

Danni’s words maybe hit a nerve with me because, when I first had Theo, I did worry that my friendships would suffer. My perspective had shifted and, although I still adored my friends, I suddenly had another human in my life who I’d choose above anyone else.

Yes, being a parent comes with having a different lifestyle, but I value my friends, whether they have children or not

In those early days, I didn’t particularly want to leave him.

Yet, as we settled into family life and its newness wore off, I realised that having a night out with friends would actually be good for me and my little one. 

I needed my support network.

Over the years, I’ve proved to myself that I am still a good friend. A friend got divorced a year ago, and I’ve been there for her – both physically and emotionally – ever since.

I’ve looked after her children when she needed to work, and had them all over for sleepovers. When she was inconsolable one night, I left mine at 10pm to be with her. 

And of course, it doesn’t even have to be that serious. I go out for my friend’s birthdays, I voice note them pretty much daily to see how they are, and ask how work is. I go to the cinema with them, to comedy nights, and pub quizzes. All of the things we used to do, pre-kids. 

Nothing has changed, not really.

Likewise, I never feel like my friends with children are less good friends with me. I know I can rely on them to pick up the phone when I need them, offer me advice, come with me to a film I want to see, or just sit in the pub and have a laugh after a long day.

It genuinely doesn’t matter to me if they want to meet up after they’ve done bath time, or are busier in the six weeks holidays. The same way it wouldn’t matter if a friend worked an hour later than me, or had a gym class at 7pm, or any other commitments that meant they couldn’t meet until later on.

Danni goes on to say that, although she does still have friends who have children, ‘I think a key thing that people are missing is that we’re choosing to be child-free. We’re choosing to have a lifestyle that doesn’t include children in it. So when all of our friends have children, well you can see how that doesn’t really match up.’

I can’t see how she can divide people so distinctly. Yes, I wanted mum friends around when I had a new baby, to ask questions and share experiences. But that didn’t mean I was going to ditch my child-free friends completely – or avoid making new ones. 

Yes, being a parent comes with having a different lifestyle, but I value my friends, whether they have children or not. I will spend hours listening to my single friends describe their latest dates, or house-hunting escapades, or whatever else is going on in their lives.

It doesn’t mean they’re less worthy of my time because they don’t have kids, and me less worthy of theirs because I have two.

And I know, in turn, they will listen to me, whether that be about my work, my children, where I went on holiday or simply what book I’m reading. That is what being a friend is all about. It’s about being respectful of each other’s choices and accepting people for who they are and how they wish to live their lives. 

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