Can women without children ever truly be friends with those who do have children?
That controversial question was the topic of conversation on Wednesday’s episode of Loose Women and, needless to say, it sparked a very divisive reaction.
Three of the women on the day’s panel – Christine Bleakley, Lisa Riley and Janet Street Porter – do not have children, while Linda Robson has three children and two grandchildren.
Linda said she understood why some women chose not to be child-free and said she wouldn’t, for example, invite Janet, who doesn’t have kids, to her child or grandchild’s birthday party.
Janet replied: “Wise move.”
Christine and Lisa, however, both said they have close friends who have children and it hasn’t affected their relationships at all.
Christine, who is step-mum to husband Frank Lampard’s two daughters, said: “I have lots of friends who don’t have children and lots of friends who do.
“My best friends do have children and we have a really honest relationship. They’ll be the first to say if they’ve had a tough day or are feeling knackered and I’m their light relief.”
She said they view her as their “naughty night out” companion, where they can leave the kids at home and have fun.
“We have a perfect balance of them having children and me not having children. I don’t believe it’s the case that we can’t be friends. If you want to be friends with someone, I don’t care their family set up. You can make it work.”
Christine also said she felt as the woman without children, it was important to be understanding of friends who have kids and have to cancel plans because their child is ill or there is an issue at school.
Lisa, meanwhile, said she’s the only one of her nine female friends without kids, but she enjoys her “naughty aunt” role.
“I’ve been lucky,” she said. “They’ve let me be very involved with the kids.”
Janet added: “A friend is a friend, no matter what.”
Naturally the discussion provoked a huge response from viewers, who were on both sides of the fence.
Among those who thought the very idea was ridiculous was one viewer who tweeted: ‘”Can mothers and childless women truly be friends’ that is probably the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard.”
Other viewers firmly agreed with Christine’s stance that women can be friends regardless of their child status.
Others said having children shows who your true friends are, and anyone who phases you out for not having kids isn’t a real friend.
Other viewers, however, felt that having kids DID affect a friendship.
A Loose Women poll found 76 per cent of women felt you could stay friends with someone regardless of your child situation.
24 per cent said, no, they didn’t think it was possible.