All parents know that being a mother can put a strain on a marriage and relationships with family.
But female friendships are also often collateral damage, because parenting is always the ‘elephant in the room’. People you know (and total strangers) will judge you to your face, and behind your back, for your choices. A lot of it will be well-intentioned comments trying to help you.
Some of it will be a judgey, definitely judging you.
But then there are also those who are just trying to understand. For example, this member of Mamamia‘s parenting Facebook group The Motherish who raised a relatable issue.
The member, who wanted to remain anonymous, asked for advice on how to approach a problem with her friend:
“I have a group of friends who like to catch up for drinks in the city after work,” she explained.
“Most of us are single and childfree. Recently one of my friends has decided to bring her toddler every time we meet.”
The woman felt this was “not appropriate” because bars are not child-friendly environments. She was also concerned that the child would be bored, adding that they do catch up at other times where it’s more suitable for children.
The question she wanted to ask the group was:
“How do I tell my friend that it is not appropriate to bring a child to a city bar?”
Reading the post, most members of The Motherish group recognised there was definite context. The catch-up is not on holidays, where 'rules' go out the window - it's after work drinks in the city.
But the general consensus in answer to the woman's question was:
"How do you tell your friend what she's doing with her child is inappropriate? Simple: you don't."
Ellie said, "If her childcare is in the city, it is likely that she will not be able to attend if she doesn't bring her child. I wouldn't mention it."
Olivia added, "I wouldn’t take my kid into a bar but it is not her place to tell a person what is appropriate for their child. Especially not being a mother herself. If the mother feels it is appropriate that is her choice."
Naomi explained that with her husband being a musician who plays live gigs, sometimes being in a bar was the only time her child would get to see his father at work.
Posting a photo of her son in a bar, she wrote, "In the day time, but this was the only chance little man had to ever see his Dad play in a gig."
Naomi added that it was important not to define the friend just "as a mother", and try to include her where possible.
"I also think what is being said is excluding the mother from her social circle as it implies she is only welcome at the kid friendly catch ups."
Other group members also emphasised the point that motherhood can be a very isolating experience; something which the friend may not be aware of.
"I wouldn’t say anything," Katie said. "My kids have been in bars many times, it’s fine up until a certain time. If she can’t bring her child then she won’t be able to go and will miss out."
Jaclyn said: "No, it’s probably not appropriate but perhaps she does not have a choice. And she wants to hang out with her friends and doesn’t want to miss out. None of us want to deal with screaming children even when they’re our own but that’s life. I’d hate to be excluded like that."
Siobhan suspected that there may be an underlying issue:
"Is the issue the behaviour of the child or that you want child free catch up time with your friend? I think if it’s that you want child free catch up time sometimes you have to take it on the chin," she offered.
"It’s a tricky line between wanting a quality adult catch up and excluding your friend with kids. She’s probably doing the best she can to try to keep in contact with her friends and also be a mum."
What do you think? Is it appropriate for a child to spend time in a bar? Would you tell another parent your thoughts if they did so? Tell us in the comments section below.