The Friendship Conundrum: PWIKs vs. PWOKs

Allison P. Davis explores the divide between 'people with kids' and those without
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2023 6:00 AM CDT
The Friendship Conundrum: PWIKs vs. PWOKs
   (Getty / NelliSyr)

"I think it's time to discuss the babies in the room," writes Allison P. Davis in New York. Her piece explores the divide that occurs among friends when some have kids and others do not. Davis is in the latter camp, by choice. "My close friendships have survived most, if not all, the big-adult life events," she writes, but as "my friends settle into new parenthood, I can't ignore the ways we're drifting apart." The piece, however, is not a first-person complaint—Davis covers both perspectives, noting that members of each camp often reduce their counterparts to stereotypes. "On on side: People With Kids (PWIKs: frazzled, distracted, boring, rigid, covered in spit-up; can't talk about movies, only about how they wish they had time to see them). And on the other: People Without Kids (PWOKs: self-absorbed, entitled, attention whores, grumpy about life's inconveniences even though their life is easy)."

Slights are easy to come by, and they build up. Innovation helps. Davis talks to a Brooklyn father of two toddlers who invites friends over to help with bedtime—"it's real intimacy," he says—and to hang out afterward. Situational friends may cringe at such an invite and fade away, but the ones who opt in "will feel like family," he says. In the end, Davis finds hope in such situations—in the "hard slog of communicating and committing" when it comes to maintaining friendships. She writes about a birthday party she attended for PWIKs and PWOKs—the kids' version in the afternoon and the adults after 7. Of course, not all the kids cooperated by going to bed at 7. "It was fun, but it was compromised fun," writes Davis. It was also worth it. Even "though nobody quite got what they wanted how they wanted it, at least we found a way to hang out." Read the full story. (Or check out other Longforms.)

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