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Invite My Kid to Your Birthday Party ... Or Else

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Momlogic's Julie: When a kid from my son's class came up to him and said "I'm going to Caleb's birthday party Friday," I wanted to cringe, scream, or punch somebody ... because my son hadn't been invited.

small boy

I don't know why mothers of second graders feel it's okay to invite a few people from class to a birthday party but not the entire class.

Don't they know that other kids will talk about the party, and make the ones who weren't invited feel excluded?

Don't they realize that this will get back to the parents, who will then feel ill will toward the parents who didn't deem their kids "worthy"?

I brought this up in a staff meeting, and a few moms said I needed to "toughen up." Life's not fair, they said, and your kid needs to get used to it.

Believe me ... I know life is not fair. But I don't know why my son has to learn that lesson in second grade. Isn't that a little young to adopt a "life sucks, then you die" philosophy?

The rule in my house is that my kids must invite the entire class or none of the class to their party, period. No, I don't exactly revel in the idea of that many kids invading my house, but when I think of the alternative ... some kid feeling like mine did on Friday, when he was told all about the party he wasn't invited to, I know it's worth the extra effort. In fact, I couldn't live myself if I excluded even one classmate from the guest list.

One mom I know said that maybe Caleb's mom couldn't afford to invite the entire class. Moms, if you can't afford to invite the whole class to the party, don't have the damn party! That's my opinion.

What do you think?

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97 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jennifer November 5, 2008, 4:25 PM

I understand the value in the teaching moment, but some parents are simply insensitive. I ended up on this post because my 2nd grader was not invited to a party that is happening directly after soccer where many, if not all for all, of the other players are invited. Shouldn’t parents have some kind of accountability for teaching our kids about inclusion and sensitivity? What has happened to do unto others?

Jessica November 5, 2008, 4:46 PM

If you’re on a budget, buying gifts and trying to have a special day for your child can be costly enough. I recommend that if you don’t want any of your childrens classmates to feel left out, that you can invite the whole class to a park, or arcade, or Chuck E Cheese, zoo…anything like that, and instead of having each child invited bring a present, spend that money on activities for that child for the group “outing”. That way, every child is invited, but the parents hosting aren’t overwhelmed. The parent(s) of the invited children are also welcome, which would be a good idea to help chaperone so 2 adults aren’t overwhelmed with 20-30 kids. If you want to plan an at-home party, you could of course include “no gifts” in the invitation. As far as what to do, make cupcakes, have each child decorate their own; have arts/crafts from things you’ve saved up over the past few months to draw, color, paint, make musical instruments, masks; make some edible playdough; if the kids are a little bit older, maybe they would like to put on a play that can be videotaped and watched with some popcorn as the party winds down…there are tons of ideas online.

Kimberly November 6, 2008, 2:00 PM

Seriously….If I can’t afford to invite 20 children to a party for my four year old child I shouldn’t invite any children?
So, forego my childs opportunity to celebrate their birthday altogether to protect your child from learning an inevitale lesson?

Linda November 9, 2008, 3:50 AM

So, what happens when you do invite the whole class and you plan a nice party - rented pool, swim party theme, and of 30 kids only 8 show up? We had RSVP’s from 10 who said they couldn’t make it - mostly the girls. We didn’t hear from at least 12 families - so had planned for 20 children. I had asked my son very gently to encourage the class and to get the teacher to help to remind people to RSVP. At the party one of the only little girls who did say yes (my son turned 9) said that one of the other girls in the class, who did not invite everyone because my son wasn’t invited so we didn’t know about the conflict, was having a party at exactly the same time on the same day. It all finally made sense. My sense of anger towards that mother or father of that other child is so deep. I cannot understand why she would not have called me to discuss the conflict. I don’t know if our invitations came out first or second - because my son wasn’t invited to her party - we didn’t know - but because her daughter was invited to our party she knew. I am sickened by the fact that children had to choose. My son is fine - we had rented out a huge pool and slide for the event so the 8 children who did come had a lovely time, I will be returning 12 loot bags and I am trying to decide should I talk with this childs parent to tell her what impact her decision had on my sons birthday? Again I say he is fine and my gut tells me to let it go…however, I would have tried to find a solution if I had been aware. By the way, this is a school where all the children are new, so we do not have any history as families and the children are all new to each other - that is why I decided to invite the entire class. I need to get over this but I am just so disappointed at the behaviour of the other parent. Help?

kathleen November 14, 2008, 11:15 PM

I have a second grade boy, last year I invited all of the boys from his class. Let’s say it was total chaos! He was only invited to one party a week later. Not one party after that, his was in Nov. I know there where other parties because I volunteer in his class and when another parent was there a boy came up to her and said I know you I was at your son’s birthday party. I felt bad and wondered why my son was not included. I do not think he should be invited to every party, but at least more than one a week later!

2bees November 15, 2008, 12:15 AM

Say this out loud .. Life Is Not Fair… now say it again … Life Is Not Fair… sometimes it downright SUCKS! We lived in Utah for three year and my son was invited to 3, yup just 3, birthday parties of classmates in the entire THREE years that we lived there. The reason? Morman kids were only allowed to invite kids to their parties that went to their church. How do I know this? These kind, sweet, innocent kids told my son that. He, of course, was crushed and thought that we should go to the Morman church. How did I help my 5 year old feel better? I told him that parties cost a lot of money and maybe these families can only afford to have a few friends from school at the party. He of course was still disappointed every time there was a party that he wasn’t invited to, so, I got into the habit of allowing him to have other non-Morman/non-invited friends over on weekends when there was a party that he was not invited to. Not in a ‘you’re not invited to the party so we’ll have a party of our own’ way, but more like a ‘hey would you like to have Scotty & Daniel over?’ way. It was a hard lesson for both of us (probably me more than him), but, it taught my son at a very young age that life is not always fair, especially when it comes to birthday parties. Now he’s 15 and I don’t think he even remembers those years in Utah. Besides he would rather go snowboarding with a few close friends for his b-day then worry about how many people he can get at his party.

Ren November 16, 2008, 2:57 PM

I would hate it if my children were already in 2nd grade and didn’t have the notion that life isn’t fair. If you haven’t been teaching him that already, I could see why he was anxious for two weeks. If you appease every single one of your child’s desires for 7-8 years straight and then they’re suddenly denied, of course they’re going to be in shock.

“Life isn’t fair,” is lesson that kids need to learn so that they have the time to develop coping techniques.

anonymous November 20, 2008, 3:45 PM

It is logical not to invite the whole class but the closest friends of the birthday kid. Organising goody or loot bags for all the 20 kids is not economical these days. The kid that is not invited certainly will not feel anything when he realises he is not the only one who was not invited. Out of 20 kids only 10 would be invited the rest 10 can reason out that. May be parents can help them understand and make them better individuals.

Kendra November 22, 2008, 3:32 PM

I know I’m a little late on posting here, but my two cents is this: I don’t agree with the whole invite everyone thing. My son is not school-aged yet, but I dread this policy when he is. Why? Because if we are going to be sticklers about manners, then my son must attend EVERY party that he is invited to, and bring a gift to EVERY party. 30 parties per year? No thanks! Especially if he and the kid aren’t especially friends, what’s the point? We didn’t have this forced invitation policy when I was in school, and no one even batted an eye about it. Children invited their friends, and that was that. People take these “manners” ideals to the extreme, and it only makes life stressful…

schoolage girlchild November 30, 2008, 11:15 PM

i have to disagree with this post… A WHOLE LOT! i mean, rlly, if ur kid isnt frnds with evryone in their class then TOUGH COOKIES FOR THEM! and forcing a kid whose parents cant afford a 30 kid party to not throw a party at all is just mean! no offense, but no one cares how ur kid feels. him and u especially need to GET OVER IT. no one is gonna strain their budget so that poor little johnyy doesnt get his pwecious feewings huwt. no one cares, and no one feels sorry for him. learn it, live it, love it.

calimom December 5, 2008, 4:09 PM

How about all those comments! Sounds like most parents want to teach about cliques and discrimination at an early age!

Lisa December 8, 2008, 3:36 PM

I have a problem and maybe I just am being the brat. My daughter which is in 3rd grade was hurt because she was not invited to a party from her classmate and she had invited this particular classmate to hers. The girl had invited all the other girls in her class but mine and this really confuses me and also pisses me off. I told my daughter gently not to worry but it is a party that all the girls are talking about and she has to keep getting slapped in the face!!!
Give me advise PLEASE……………….

Jenna December 29, 2008, 8:31 PM

Just happened to come across this article. My daughter just turned 7 and we were staying with my in-laws while we looked for a place. It was made clear to me that we could only invite 5 of the 10 girls in her class. My daughter was heartbroken and had a terrible time picking the 5. 3 of them showed up and I was glad for it. My daughter didn’t seem to mind, she had a ton of fun with the good friends who did come. I couldn’t imagine throwing a 7 or 8 year old party for 20-30 kids. It would be a zoo.

Wally January 13, 2009, 5:35 PM


I like what Janelle has to say on the topic. Primary school is not too early to teach kids discretion. My son has a genuine friendship with a boy in his class, and last week the boy and my son spent a lot of time talking about the boy’s upcoming birthday and his party. My son hopes to be invited and spoke to me about his wish to be invited, and when he asked his friend if he was invited to the birthday party, his friend said, “I don’t know who is invited yet.” I asked the boy’s Mom. And my son is not invited. And, yes, I cried when I found out my son hadn’t been invited. I would have to be a real moron, or made of teflon, not to share my son’s soon-to-be disappointment. But we cannot make one size fits all rules for birthday parties or families. I have limited the size of parties as well. And I have been flexible enough to invite extra guests when news of the party gets around and kids express strong interest in attending.

I have asked the other Mom to have her son speak directly to mine about the party invite so they can clear the air between them and move on in their friendship. She thinks it is a good idea. And then maybe we’ll have a good cry together, get on with it and wish the boy a very happy birthday!

N January 14, 2009, 5:22 AM

I’ve had the same experience. On one occasion the class bully pinned my daughter own and teased her about missing his big birthday. It was easier to reason why she wouldnt want to go to his event anyways. But this morning a nice kid who plays with my girl was handing out invites at the door as the kids walked in. All of my girl’s mate got one except her. Its a crummy way to start the day but I guess at the end the sting hurts more on the parent level — I hope.

M January 22, 2009, 6:58 AM

What do you think about inviting 7 of a total 9 girls in a kindergarten class? The birthday girl was also told NOT to discuss her upcoming party at school because the other two girls would be mad at her. (I know this because her mom told me not to say anything to the “un-invited’s” mothers). I can see not inviting a whole class of 25-30 children, but what is the difficulty in having 9 girls at a party vs 7? I do understand that life lessons need to be learned, but I think it’s very harsh and insensitive to start excluding at that age.

Kris January 27, 2009, 11:31 AM

In elementary school, PARENTS know better, but choose not to do better. I believe that the mother’s perpetuate the exclusionary games that they never got over. The high school mentality with grown women is still alive at many a kid’s school.

It’s not economical to invite an entire class. BUT, don’t give invitations out at school. Mail them to the select few that are invited. Life isn’t fair, yes, a good lesson to learn, BUT, some mother’s have a total disregard for teaching their children kindness and sensititivity towards others. It really boils down to the fact that it IS the mothers that allow the hurtful situations to occur.

K. January 29, 2009, 3:07 PM

In regards to M’s post—my daughter was recently on the receiving end of a very similar situation. The reality is that children do talk about their upcoming parties. I find it interesting that the mother focused on the fact that the excluded girls would feel angry rather than hurt. Were the girls excluded because they are mean, unruly? Or simply new, quiet, or not “cool”?

KC January 30, 2009, 7:40 PM

My daughter wanted to invite 6 of her closest friends plus 3 girls who invited her to their party. Basically, the same girls we have invited for a couple years now. We sent our evites to be discreet. Less than 12 hours later I received an email from an upset mother of a child we did not invite. Apparently, one of the mothers of an invited child called her to let her know we hadn’t invited her child. She wrote that this must have been an oversight and if not, her child will be very hurt because we invited a couple of her closest friends who she see every day. First of all, my daughter also see these girls everyday too…they all go to the same school. My child is also friends with these girls that why they invited my child to their parties. Number two, my daughter has not been invited to this child’s parties in years. In fact,my daughter was the only girl excluded from this child’s party in the past. Since I did not want to have any more moms calling husband and I decided to invite all the girls in my daughter class (approx 16 girls!). We just don’t want any trouble with this mother who think her child is entitled even though she doesn’t behave accordingly. Needless to say, we will only invite my daughter’s closest of friends next year. I am certain my daughter will be excluded from this child’s next birthday party again. Will I call this mom on it…NO because it is rude and I want to set an example for my girl. My daughter was very hurt the first two years this child stopped inviting my daughter. But I taught my daughter that you don’t get invited to eveyone’s parties and that’s ok…it called having grace in uncomfortable situations. This happens in life. How did I explain having to invite all the girls to my daughter? I told her that under the circumstance, we didn’t want to upset any girl because we know how it feels. Next year we only invite her closest of friends even if she get invited to these other girls’ party. Moms are suppose to set an example…When I think of how I want my daughter to behave as a grown woman…its easy to see through such silly behavior and see the bigger picture.

Bella February 27, 2009, 10:07 PM

Well are Caleb and your son friends? And also if he invited almost all the class but not your child then it is bad, but if it was a few chldren in the class going and many not then it was okay. I understand why you are upset though.

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