Personal Story

11 ‘Friends’ Episodes That Made Me Think Differently About Parenthood

as someone who wants to be a mom
parenting friends episodes"
parenting friends episodes
Source: Warner Bros. Television
Source: Warner Bros. Television

As someone who has turned to Friends more times than she’d like to admit, I realized I’ve learned a lot from the beloved sitcom. The six characters were the prime example of how good friends can become family. Not to mention, seeing that it’s OK to grow out of things that no longer serve you was a lesson learned. (Looking at you, Rachel Green.) But mostly, I turned it on for a comfortable background noise or a guaranteed laugh.

Now, as I think about becoming a mom in the future more than ever before, the show speaks to me in a new way. It’s no surprise watching the show now that it was filmed in a very different era. Some of the jokes and storylines simply wouldn’t be appreciated today. However, Friends may have been ahead of its time in the parenting space. For one, it highlighted several alternative pregnancy methods that weren’t talked about much then. Topics like surrogacy and adoption are big storylines, to name a few.

While watching it back recently, I noticed all of the different ways the show portrayed parenthood. I then started to realize that maybe there is something to learn from the characters I used to simply turn to for a good laugh. Read on for all of the 11 parenting Friends episodes that made me think differently about motherhood.

Season 1, Episode 2: “The One with the Sonogram”

Early on in the series, we’re introduced to our first unconventional family. Ross and Carol were recently divorced after she fell in love with another woman, Susan. Not before, however, she gets pregnant with Ross’s baby. In this episode and beyond, Ross struggles with losing the “picture-perfect” family he once thought he’d have. As he realizes that even though their situation will be hard, it will be worth it, viewers—myself included—get a lesson on putting differences aside and doing what’s best for the baby.

parenting friends episodes
Source: Warner Bros. Television

Season 4, Episode 11: “The One with Phoebe’s Uterus”

Throughout the first few seasons of the show, we get to know more about Phoebe’s past. For most of her life, she didn’t have parents or a family of her own. Soon, she meets her birth mother, as well as an estranged brother who she shares a father with. As her relationship with her brother, Frank Jr., grows, the two get close enough for him to ask her an important favor. He and his wife, Alice, who is several years his senior, are not able to have babies on their own. They ask Phoebe to be a surrogate for them.

In this episode, “The One with Phoebe’s Uterus,” she has to decide if she’s willing to do this for them. Her birth mom tries to help her make the decision by temporarily gifting her a puppy. When she goes to take the puppy back, she explains how much harder it will be to give up babies when the time comes. Though Phoebe struggles with this, she ultimately decides to go for it. It’s this act of selflessness I think viewers can admire. It shows us how intricate surrogacy can be while highlighting the love that Phoebe had for her family.

phoebe and her mom
Source: Warner Bros. Television

Season 4, Episode 12: “The One with the Embryos”

Speaking of surrogacy, the very next episode is just as eye-opening. In a time when the practice of surrogacy wasn’t as common, this episode really hit the nail on the head in discussing it. We watch as Phoebe is floored to find out that it’s 1) not a simple process and 2) costs a significant amount of money. This episode opened my eyes to the reality of alternative pregnancy methods in a way that was both sensitive and humorous.

This also happened to be the episode where Rachel and Monica lose their purple apartment to the guys. What was Chandler Bing’s job, again?

parenting friends episodes
Source: Warner Bros. Television

Season 5, Episode 3: “The One Hundredth”

In the 100th episode, we watch as Phoebe gives birth to her brother’s triplets. An enjoyable episode all around, perhaps the most interesting part of it all is when she reveals to Rachel she’s hoping she can keep one of the triplets for herself. At the end of the episode, we watch as she shares a moment with the three newborns and says goodbye to them. Once again, we receive a peek into what can be the reality of surrogacy and a touching reminder that even the really beautiful moments can have their challenges.

friends parenting episodes
Source: Warner Bros. Television

Season 7, Episodes 23 & 24: “The One with Monica and Chandler’s Wedding: Parts 1 and 2”

As we go into Monica and Chandler’s wedding, of course, chaos ensues. Chandler starts getting cold feet while rumors of Monica being pregnant run rampant after a positive pregnancy test is found in her bathroom. Little do they know, it’s actually Rachel who’s pregnant. During these episodes, we watch as she comes to terms with the fact that she’s pregnant and may have to be a single mom. We see her shock and joy after finding out Phoebe lied while reading a second pregnancy test and said it was negative.

Rachel’s story in these episodes highlights two unconventional parenting moments: unexpected pregnancy and single motherhood. While she shares her feelings of fear, she also holds excitement for what’s ahead. I love this episode because it shows how much love we have to give a little one, even when we don’t think we’re ready.

parenting friends episodes
Source: Warner Bros. Television

Season 8, Episode 20: “The One with the Baby Shower”

Maybe one of the most relatable Rachel moments throughout the entire series is at her baby shower. Here, she opens up about her lack of knowledge about how to take care of a baby. (But let’s be honest, the breast pump really did resemble a beer bong.) She almost agrees to let her mom stay with her and Ross when the baby is born for eight weeks. In a world that doesn’t always talk enough about how much of a learning curve there is to welcoming a newborn, this episode is a highly refreshing rewatch.

friends parenting
Source: Warner Bros. Television

Season 8, Episodes 23 & 24: “The One Where Rachel Has a Baby: Parts 1 and 2”

While Phoebe’s birthing experience may have been a quick turnaround—even with three deliveries—Rachel’s labor experience shows us another side of things. She not so patiently waits as several other expecting moms go into labor right in front of her. Her journey highlights just how uncomfortable waiting for baby can be. Plus, as we watch mom after mom come in and out of the hospital room, we see how diverse individual birthing experiences are.

rachel has a baby
Source: Warner Bros. Television

Season 9, Episode 1: “The One Where No One Proposes”

The topic of single motherhood is again at the forefront of our minds in the ninth season. Even though Ross has shown how present he’ll be in Emma’s life, in an unexpected turn of events, Janice gets into Rachel’s head. She explains that Rachel and Emma may be left alone someday when Ross meets someone new and starts another family. As she deals with a mix of emotions, we watch Rachel’s resiliency to be the best mom she can, regardless of any future circumstances.

friends lessons on parenting
Source: Warner Bros. Television

Season 9, Episode 11: “The One Where Rachel Goes Back to Work”

Rachel’s motherhood journey takes us well past labor and delivery. In fact, we learn a lot from her and Ross about finding childcare, bonding with baby (Baby Got Back, anyone?), and more. Perhaps one of the most eye-opening episodes of her parenting journey is when she goes back to work. She goes into the office to find someone else sitting at her desk, leading her to question her job security and advancement.

We ultimately watch as she learns to juggle both career and motherhood—a reality for many moms. What I loved about watching Rachel step back into her previous work role and into her new motherhood role was how she accepted help when it was given to her. When Gavin, who stepped in for her while she was away, offered to watch Emma while she went into a meeting, she accepted. Maybe this episode can serve as a reminder that it’s OK to accept help.

rachel and gavin friends
Source: Warner Bros. Television

Season 10, Episode 9: “The One with the Birth Mother”

Monica and Chandler’s journey to parenthood also wasn’t a conventional one. Throughout the final seasons, we find out that they likely won’t be able to get pregnant. This leads them to adoption. In this episode, the two are being interviewed by a mother, Erica, looking for the perfect couple to adopt her baby. The adoption agency gets their file mixed up with another couple.

Wanting a baby so badly, the two go along with the mix-up for a while. They eventually come clean and risk not being chosen. But, after a beautiful speech, Chandler is able to convince Erica to select them as the adoptive parents. What’s so touching about this episode is how much love Chandler and Monica have to give a baby. The love especially shines when they show their true selves. The episode captures the highs and lows of the adoption process, something not every parent will understand.

friends adoption episode
Source: Warner Bros. Television

Season 10, Episode 17: “The Last One”

As the series wraps up, Chandler and Monica are in for their biggest surprise yet: having twins. We watch their shock as the doctor announces a second baby would be arriving shortly. And though Chandler’s idea of splitting up the babies and giving them each half of a medallion to reunite later in life is certainly creative, I love Monica’s response the most.

She explains that even though they may not be “ready” for two babies, that doesn’t matter. She says, “I don’t care if it’s two babies. I don’t care if it’s three babies. I don’t care if the entire cast of Eight is Enough comes out of there. We are taking them home because they are our children.” This response shows that even though we may not feel “ready” for all of the obstacles parenting may throw at us, we always step up to the plate for our children.

chandler and monica's babies
Source: Warner Bros. Television