Talking about your Children

Is it me, or is it really boring when people talk constantly about their children?

I ran into an old colleague in a conference a while ago. I said, hi, how are you? And that was the last time I said anything while staying beside him. He told me that since so many years ago, he graduated, got a job, got married and had a child. Then he told me how smart his daughter was and how she said things that were far beyond her age. How amazing she was because she called a donkey dadoo or something like that, how …, how…, how…

He talked with no deviation from the subject of his daughter for probably twenty minutes or more though it felt like a few life times to me. When another colleague of mine showed up, I said good-bye and practically leaped out.

I happened to visit some friends for lunch at their residence. During the two years I had not seen them, the couple had a baby. Just before the meal was finished, the husband got up and put a tape of his wife’s childbirth for us to watch. I couldn’t believe it, and I objected. He said that it was natural! Well, my idea of something natural after lunch was dessert and his was watching his wife going through labour. I had no problem with his idea as long as he didn’t impose it on us. Then he apologized and said that he just wanted us to see ‘this scene’ because all children’s eyes are closed at birth while his baby’s were wide open! They couldn’t have been more open than mine at this moment, I thought.

And I don’t want to start on people telling you about their children’s washroom habits and … It is not fair to any of us who have heard these before. Or the number of times my mail has crashed because someone has sent 35 photos (which seem to me identical photos) of their babies… It put me at an uncomfortable position as I didn’t want to hurt their feelings by saying, ‘well, do you think you can send me one or two at reasonably spaced times when I can at least detect a change?’ until I reached a practical (or cowardly) decision: I removed the emails without opening them.

Do people realize how boring it can be for other people to listen to all details of their childrens’ activities? Do they not know that we have eyes, ears, and some sense of distinction and can spot genius and all other extraordinary traits they ascribe to their own children on our own?

Yes, I can imagine if one’s main preoccupation in life is one’s own child (and nobody else’s in many cases around me), one would want to share that fascination, love, or whatever it is. I don’t have children; so frankly I don’t know. And I don’t want to know. I have stopped asking some people about their children because they take the question of ‘how is x?’ as ‘I would like to listen to every single thing about x for the rest of my life’.

And having people with children around is not much fun for many of us who do not have children. I was once at a get together with a couple staring at their newborn baby the whole time. I wondered whether they had not seen her before or …

Something has changed. Why? Well, I was a child once, and I was with parents and children and aunts and … while growing up. I don’t recall my parents or my aunts or uncles ever killing someone by singing their own children’s praises. We had one neighbour who kept saying her daughter was very beautiful, and everyone thought something was wrong with her. Her daughter was beautiful, but fishing for compliments and drawing attention to one’s child was not considered a good habit.

Is it a characteristic of this age of “me, me, me” and especially, “look at me, look at me, look at me” that is behind people’s over fascination and urge to show up their kids? Is this a way of drawing attention to themselves? Or is it just pure self absorption and lack of awareness towards others?

I know I will lose more friends with this post, but it is alright. Someone has to tell those with children to slow down (I know asking to stop may be too much), cut down, economize on how much you talk about your children and let the other side breath, think, and say/ask something about them. Your child is unique and special, but to the objective viewer or innocent friend or acquaintance, they are like the other billions of children who are unique and especial in their own way.

So don’t take offense, just take, at least short breaks, from focusing and talking about your children and try other subjects once in a while. I promise, it will strengthen friendships and you don’t have to wonder why such and such never calls you after you had your child.

And whatever you do, please don’t run to your friends and ask whether this is true. The chances are they will deny everything because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. We talk, those of us who share these views/feelings, and we discuss how to tell you. There are exceptions to this post like any other thing in life, but I am yet to meet an exception in real life who doesn’t mind listening to her/his friend talking about his/her kid hours in a row. Have you?   

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