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How to handle friends with baby envy

If you are reading this, you are likely one of the many parents out there who have been blessed with parenthood. You are filled with the emotions of pride, happiness, and joy. And of course you want to share every moment, picture, and milestone with the world because in your eyes, your baby is so perfect! But what do you about the best friends who have been trying for months or even years to conceive and still have no baby of their own?

Baby envy is real and can damage even the strong and oldest relationships. Your friend who has had trouble conceiving will likely have very mixed emotions. On one hand, she will be happy for you and want to celebrate with you. On the other hand, it can be a reminder of the tiring efforts she has gone through to conceive.

Your first instinct may be to refrain from sharing the news with them. You want to protect them from hurting further, and you don’t want to appear as if you are rubbing your fertility in their face. However, it can cause more hurt and controversy if you hide your news from your friend. This communicates they do have something to be ashamed of and reason to distance themselves from you.

It is best if the news comes from you rather than someone else. This way you let them make the choice of how involved they want to be in your journey instead of making the decision for them. Could they isolate themselves from you? Yes. Try not to take this personally. This is not due to any wrongdoing on your part. They are simply protecting themselves from hurt and emotional pain because they wish to share the love and joy that come with having a baby of their own.

Another response may be to highlight all the negative aspects of having children, as if to communicate they are better off childless. But do you actually feel that way? Parenting has its challenges, but trying to talk someone out of wanting to be a parent can be demeaning and insulting.

Maybe the worst thing anyone can do is to say that maybe it is not for them to have children. This communicates they are not worthy or there is something wrong with them preventing or keeping them from having a baby. This is not for you to determine or decide, nor would it be appropriate to suggest.

You may find that your friend wants to be closer to you to get their baby fix. In this case, you can accommodate within reason. If they treat you poorly out of their own emotional pain, it may be necessary to distance yourself in order to protect your own feelings and hormonal mood swings.

Have you ever experienced baby envy? Share your story in the comments.

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About Dr. Raquel Anderson, Bundoo Behavioral Health Specialist

Raquel Anderson has 14 years of experience as a mental health provider in institutional and private practice. Aside from her private practice, she is an advisory board member for the Mental Health Association of Palm Beach County’s Be Merge Initiative and is a contributing author to Raising Boys with ADHD.

Comments

  1. Baby envy, as with all sort of negative motivations related to envy, is a serious emotional blocker to women to achieve their goal. It may come about not only specifically and directly related to a close relative or friend giving birth, but to other achievements such as a new job, monetary gains or life improvements. Those who are affected by this issue are not usually moved to these emotions by weakenesses or somber attitudes, but by a positive-neutral force that makes that person’s focus to be directed to what specialists call a “entropy object”. It is hard to detect once that loop of “gain-status-power-establishment-nourishment” begins, specially at younger ages, when a person is not open to admitting one’s problems or seeking professional help. If left undetected or untreated it can have devastating effects in one’s life. The way our society can overcome this issue will depend on choices our government and leaders make in the future, specially regarding economical distribution and keynesianesqe controls of the malthusian curve. Once those signals are clear, we can decide one of the two options we have to tackle this: break the cycle (VERY hard), or add one additional element to it: pacifism. Either way, solving it will solve baby envy, and, by consequence, bring us closer to our single objective: a truly free enterprise and free trade society.

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