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One type of folks I am really, really annoyed with are the mothers talking about their first kids in their first years after birth. They virtually cannot talk about anything except their children.

After having observed this dreadful pattern for many unrelated moms for several years, I am wondering whether it is possible for them to speak normally and not about when their child learned to recognize the family members, to say the first word, to go to the john itself, or to start playing with the other kids. Such crazy talks of these moms are as automatic as machine guns; the moms are unstoppable and uninterruptible, physically unable to finish under half an hour. (My cousine is a prime example: she talks and I silently listen.) If you gather several moms in one room, you are guaranteed to keep them busy for the whole day unless they, well, need to take care of their kids.

In other words, is it possible to get anything unrelated to their child from them upon asking a simple "Hey Nancy! How are you doing?" or is it better not to ask them anything at all?

My interpersonal goal is to improve my communication skills in this matter by getting out of a conversation I dislike or changing the topic quickly.

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    Great edit! I understand better. This is a related question, you might find it helpful: How do I steer the conversation with my mom away from same topics we always talk about? – ElizB Aug 7 '18 at 17:28
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    Would you consider editing to improve the tone? Removing exaggeration and stating your question more neutrally would significantly improve it. – Em C Aug 8 '18 at 12:51
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    I did see the earlier comment saying it was meant to be humorous, which is why I think an edit might help - over text it's difficult to tell when someone is joking or being sarcastic, so it's better to err on the side of caution when discussing subjects people feel strongly about. (That said, I'm not confident rewriting your question right now so I'll leave it to you to decide if/how to edit.) – Em C Aug 9 '18 at 1:49
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With that vague of a greeting, there is really no way to tell how they are going to respond. If you don't want to talk about their children that badly, it would be best to simply not engage them in the conversation.

However, keep in mind that being a mother is a very hard task. Their children, especially firstborn children, basically become the center of their lives due to the amount of time and effort it takes to take care of a child, especially if they've never done it before. Therefore, it stands to reason that they would not have much else to talk about. Maybe you could try being diplomatic and listening for awhile to what they have to say before trying to steer the conversation in a different direction.

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Your question is both too broad and too narrow. Too broad because people vary and what works for one will not work for another. Too narrow because people get obsessed on narrow topics beyond children: their upcoming or recent marriage, the PhD they are finishing, their new house, the bread or cheese or beer they now make themselves, a board game they've started playing, how hard it is to care for their dying parent... the only possible difference here is that you find yourself routinely in groups where several people have the same obsession and are happy to discuss it with each other.

You don't say why you want to talk about something else, but it's kind of strange to expect that you can vaguely say "how are you doing?" and the person will magically start discussing a topic that's ok with you. To have better conversations, be a better conversationalist.

Hey Nancy! Did you get that orchid to bloom?

Hi Nancy! I was thinking of you yesterday when I was making butter tarts.

Nancy! Great to see you! You still headed to the lake this summer?

Of course, these things require you to remember things about the person from last time you talked, and be willing to discuss something (anything) that is not their child/wedding/bread. If you can, people will end up thinking of you as that delightful person who helps them forget all their troubles for a few hours and talk about summer plans or butter tarts. Or reminisce about the days when they had time for gardening. Or look forward to the days when they will have time for it again.

If what you want to do is sit still, throw out vague greetings, and then feel left out if people settle on a topic that doesn't interest you, don't think you can somehow correct or stop them. They're enjoying it. Offer them something more enjoyable if you want a change - and don't do it after they already have a full head of steam on their favourite topic.

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I'm assuming that you are not a parent.

One thing you need to understand, is that children are the single most important thing in most parents lives. Their lives literally revolve around their little ones.

This apparently is a terribly boring and inane topic for you.

The only thing I can suggest, if 'baby talk' bores you so dreadfully, is that you find some other non-parent friends to communicate with.

If you're hoping to convince a mom that some other topic is more interesting than talking about her children, you will unfortunately be disappointed.

You might be able to engage her in a discussion on some other topic, but really she will just be filling in time talking to you while looking for another mom to talk to about her favourite topic.

  • Don't conversations go both ways? It's on both participants to make sure they're discussing a topic that's of interest to the other. Parents, of course, are able to discuss topics other than their children. – ell Aug 8 '18 at 16:42
  • @elle It seems the op simply dislikes the topic in general. Why try to engage someone in conversation, when you know that the topic about which they are most passionate, offends you? – user1751825 Aug 8 '18 at 23:13
  • For a meaningful two-way conversation, I believe it's necessary for each to have some respect for the things the other is passionate about. Something the op clearly lacks. – user1751825 Aug 8 '18 at 23:21
  • @user49915 Perhaps your post was an exaggeration to make a point, but some of the language you've used could be interpreted as quite disrespectful. – user1751825 Aug 9 '18 at 1:11

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