Planning for your child’s birthday party? Have you told her (or him) she should invite everybody in her class? Please rethink this. And what should parents do if their kid’s classmate invites just about everyone to a birthday party except their child?
I once read a letter to “Dear Amy” concerning parents perplexed by this common problem with kids’ birthday parties. The parents were distressed over how to handle this. I often read about kids being excluded from a classmate’s birthday party; the child is one of “several” kids excluded from birthday parties. Parents then think this is very rude on the part of the birthday party child and his/her parents.
In a perfect world, everyone in the whole class is invited to every kid’s birthday party. But it doesn’t work that way, and parents should educate their “rejected” kids why. It’s part of learning about life. Anyone — parents or childfree adults — can relate to this birthday-invite phenomenon, because the exact same thing happens to adults in the workplace. Just about every person, who works in an office, has experienced “rejection” when a coworker invites practically the entire office to a birthday party, barbeque, baby shower or some other event.
If parents believe kids should invite their entire class to a birthday party, in the name of not letting any child feel left out, does this mean that the parents, themselves, would invite every single one of their coworkers to their own birthday party, housewarming party, dinner party, college kid’s graduation party, summer barbecue, Christmas party, etc. ?
Come on now, let’s have an honest answer. How many parents include every coworker on their own party list?
It’s not an issue of limited seating. There may be only eight coworkers. Yet two or three will not be invited to your birthday party or other event. Why not? Why not invite those coworkers? Won’t their feelings be hurt if you don’t invite them? Yet, you will not invite them, because adults have a right to invite whomever they please.
Why shouldn’t this same right extend to kids? Why can’t kids be just as discerning and discriminate as parents when it comes to whom to invite to a birthday party? A child’s classroom and school is like his office and workplace. Kids have discerning minds. They are capable of liking some classmates, while disliking others. They have just as much right to this as their parents do with office coworkers. If you disagree, then what’s the cut-off age to where kids are finally old enough to invite only a select group to a birthday party? 12? 14? 16?
Are kids supposed to magically like everyone their age? What adult likes everyone his or her age? I used to work in an office and there were people you couldn’t have paid me to invite to my birthday celebration. My reasons are no more valid than a child’s reasons for excluding Wendy, Vicky, Becki, Billy and Tommy from her birthday party list. If adults can dislike certain coworkers, why can’t kids dislike certain classmates?
Maybe Emily can’t stand Billy because Billy often talks about unpleasant things. Maybe Becki is always bragging about herself. Maybe Wendy is as boring as a doorknob. Perhaps Tommy never bathes. Maybe your little angel Vicky is actually a snob at school. Or maybe all five of these kids just don’t click with Emily, just like at your job, certain coworkers just don’t click with you.
Kids need to learn that they will sometimes be excluded from birthday parties, and must learn how to deal with this, and not everyone owes them an invite. If they don’t learn this, how will they handle not being invited to a coworker’s baby shower or dinner party years later? How will they deal with any kind of rejection in life?
How parents react when their kids are excluded from a party is extremely important — kids learn values and coping methods from parents. If your child is excluded, do what the School of Common Sense dictates: Explain to your child that the world is full of different personalities. Some personalities go together as well as peanut butter and jelly, while others don’t quite match up.