parenting

What parents shouldn't say to non-parents

July 15, 2013 at 12:17 PM ET

Caution: Conversations between friends who have children and those who don’t may result in friction. Proceed carefully.

Just as the single heroine of “Bridget Jones's Diary” felt alienated in the company of “smug” married couples, people who aren't parents may be put off by the comments and attitudes of friends who are.

John Kinnear
Courtesy John Kinnear
John Kinnear poses with his two kids. A conversation with friends who don't have children inspired him to write a list of what not to say to non-parents.

John Kinnear, a Utah father who writes the Ask Your Dad Blog, recently came up with a list titled, “5 Things Parents Need to Stop Saying to Non-Parents," after a series of conversations he and his wife had with some of their good friends who don't have kids.

"I think the catalyst was me saying something along the lines of the ('dogs are not kids') comment," Kinnear told TODAY Moms in an email.

"My friend didn't say anything back, but I could tell that I had been rude. Later I awkwardly apologized, and was told that it was not necessary."

Here is Kinnear's list:

1.  "Dogs are not kids" -- People who respond with dog stories when you talk about your baby know having a dog is nothing like having a child, Kinnear says. What they’re really saying is "Oh! Yes. I also have something in my life that poops AND brings me joy," he writes.

2.  "You think you're (insert anything here)! Try having kids!" -- “Too often, we parents downplay non-parent's concerns by pulling ours out and tossing them on the table,” Kinnear writes.

3.  "Don't worry, when you have kids you'll…" -- People should quit assuming everyone will have kids, Kinnear advises. Some people don't want kids and choose not to have them.

4.  "Is the party kid friendly?" -- “By asking your non-kid having friends if their party is kid friendly you are putting them in the really awkward position of either MAKING their party kid friendly on the fly, or telling you that the party is NOT kid friendly,” Kinnear writes.

5.  "My life didn't have meaning before I had kids!" – That’s another way of telling your friends their pre-kid life is meaningless, Kinnear says.

That last item is the one most parents, including himself, are most guilty of saying the most often, Kinnear told TODAY Moms.

"Life changes so much once you have kids that I think it is natural for parents to feel completely transformed," he said.

"Where we fall short with our friends is how we communicate that experience. Just because it is a positive for us, doesn't make the not having that experience a negative for someone else."

Kinnear is sure there is an equally relevant list of things people without kids may want to stop saying to parents.

Do you agree with his list? Tell us what you would add to it on the TODAY Moms Facebook page.

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