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Birthday Parties: When Your Child Isn’t Invited

Birthday Parties: When Your Child Isn’t Invited

It’s happened before. I’ve caught wind of a birthday party that my daughter wasn’t invited to. Facebook especially has a way of letting the cat of the bag on these things. However, until recently, the lack of a party invite was never this blatant to my daughter. A few weeks ago she came home from school very excited about her close friend’s birthday party on Sunday. This upcoming Sunday? I definitely didn’t see an invitation for this.

My immediate reaction was to be honest and tell my daughter I hadn’t seen an invite for this particular party. I explained that it was probably a small party, just a few friends or that maybe there wasn’t a party at all. But my daughter came home on two more occasions with a similar story and more details. What the party would entail, who was going and yes, that I clearly missed the invitation according to her friend – a friend she’s known for two years. Four days before the party, with more insistence from my daughter that she was invited, I decided maybe I did miss something.

So, I emailed the mom. Yes, I actually emailed the mom (gasp!). I explained that my daughter (and the birthday girl) had insisted we missed the invitation. I didn’t tell her I knew who was coming or where they were going or all the little details. I just said that I didn’t want to be rude and not RSVP. After I sent the email my stomach was in knots for hours. Did I do the right thing? Maybe I should have waited for her to email me and ask if we were coming? Did I make this more awkward? I didn’t want her to feel like she needed to invite my daughter.

Several hours later I heard back from the mom and in fact there was no “party” she explained but rather her daughter and a couple friends were going to the movies to celebrate her birthday. She explained with it being so close to Christmas, having a big party was just too much. She apologized that her daughter had been so vocal about the celebration and that they had a talk about not discussing her upcoming movie trip at school, particularly with those not invited. I appreciated her email, her understanding why this would be so hard for my daughter to grasp. And frankly, while she didn’t say it, I appreciate her understanding how the other girls in the class would feel. And that’s all a mom can ask for.

I’ve always invited all the girls from my daughter’s class to our birthday parties but after this year, with 18 girls invited (and an expensive party to show for it), I decided that this would be the last year I’d do that. However, now being on the other side of the fence, I will try my hardest to talk to my daughter ahead of time about discussing her future parties openly at school. Perhaps she will listen, perhaps she will not. With this experience under our belts and the sadness she felt as a result, I hope it’s a good, hard lesson about keeping birthday party plans on the down low.

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12 comments

  1. Barbara Rippert February 26, 2014 at 11:00 am

    So you’re saying just keep it a “secret” when you don’t invite the whole class?

    I remember parents being cruel to my son when they did not invite him. They thought nothing of leaving the “deaf” kid out. My youngest daughter had a classmate with a horrific mom who did not like me for something, I still don’t know why. I do know when she stopped liking me because she said hi to me one day and the next, she ignored my greeting. We were in our 30s at the time. Her daughter, and she, invited the ENTIRE classroom and left my daughter out of the party. Very cruel and very suburban of her.

    The fact of the matter is, this too shall pass. Children need to know that there may be reasons why they are not invited. A parent can only afford to invite so many children. This is true and no problem. Or the child already knows if they are being shunned and this is hurtful. Children need to know that it’s not about them. It’s about the person doing the inviting. They need to know how to handle it, not hide it.

    This does not stop in childhood. It carries into adulthood. Adults are sometimes left out of parties. My suggestion is to discuss this with your child and make them secure. Secure in knowing that you will never leave them out. Teach siblings to love and respect each other. If there are no siblings, they have you, hopefully, mom and dad. Keep the power within.

    We can’t make others do what we want them to do. We do have to accept some things (not all) and learn how to deal with them. Childhood is where we suffer hurt most because we don’t know how to deal with rejection. Little lessons such as these bring us into adulthood secure in knowing “I’m Ok.” I can deal with this. If we are taught properly and loved unconditionally.

    Tough work being a parent:-) Good luck! Mine are in their 30s and I am still struggling on how to do it.

  2. Ceci May 31, 2014 at 12:42 am

    ok. I truly can´t believe what I am reading. I have lived abroad for 5 years (my daughter is now 6) and never we have left a kid out of a birthday party. If it got to a point that there were too many kids, we will just have girls or boys parties but not inviting some of them at that age is just cruel and I am horrified by the Too Expensive excuse. The only way a kids Bday party is too expensive is if the parent makes it expensive. What are you teaching your kids, that it is ok to leave kids out so you can have an even better party with a few and brag about it at school? So sad. Instead of being worried about them being strong and ok with rejection a much more positive thing would be to teach them that it is not ok to leave a kid out of a birthday party. It will be a little more humane.

    • Bruno September 17, 2014 at 8:55 am

      So true. Where the heck have our manners, our sociability gone? “Too expensive”??? What the hell does your kid need for a birthday party???

  3. Juan Carlo @ Debut Catering Services in Manila July 3, 2014 at 2:02 am

    Hello Mary, I really salute you as a mom. If I will be in your shoes that time I will definitely do what you did. I really admired your courage and boldness to email the mom of the birthday girl. It would have been worse if you never did that. The worst is your girl will go to the party and she’s not invited. You kept your girl from awkward situation.

  4. Micky October 9, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Tho has happened to me before and it definitely does not feel good. I have known my best friend for 6 years ( I’m in grade 7) and ever since grade 5 I believe that she has left me our of parties. Last year in the springtime I overhead her talking to this other girl who also was my best friend about a sleepover. Naturally, I asked if I was invited because I had never been to a sleepover and when I had them over for night it was both of them.(except a storm day) Well, as it turns out, they were never going to invite me in the first place. Today is her birthday, and again, I suspect I am not invited. She and the other girl are in the “popular crowd ” and let’s just say……um…. We don’t particularly like each other. I mean the popular crowd. I try to still be friends with the bday girl..

    • Jenna March 1, 2016 at 7:44 pm

      That happened to me before but on different occasions I knew my friends since 4th grade and now in 6th grade my friend invited my two other friends over without telling me or inviting me so me and my best friend where hanging out and we posted a video together on a app called musically and she started texting me saying why didn’t we invite her and all that crap

      Bottom line:she’s a jerk

  5. Melissa November 22, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    My 9 year old daughter has just been told by a child who she considered to be one of her best friends that she isn’t invited to her party. My daughter only had a small party herself this year but did invite that particular child. It seems we do a lot as a society to teach children to not exclude others, so why should we allow exclusion to occur with parties? This party involves an overnight trip to the family’s beach house & my daughter is desperately trying to understand why instead of being chosen to be included in the party, she has chosen to be excluded. The girls have enjoyed many play dates together & I’m struggling myself to understand the reasoning behind deciding my daughter shouldn’t be at the party. To be honest it makes me now a little annoyed with the mother which sounds so ridiculous on my behalf!

    • Pippa November 30, 2014 at 7:10 pm

      I used to dread the time of ‘upcoming parties’. My son was fortunate to be invited to every party, and the mothers were lovely.
      However, my daughter was in a small class of only 5 females and 12 males, and never got invited to the girl’s parties, but did get invited to the boy’s parties!
      It knocked her confidence and I always included all the class or definitely the girls only. It is always horrible though, as a parent you avoid socially excluding any child and instill the values in your own kids. My daughter is now 14 and told me that she is not invited to many of the parties within her peer group. I chatted to her about it, and she said that it was fine, only 5 girls went etc.. Or that she doesn’t have much to do with that girl. It bothers me I think more than her!
      Politics of school gates and parties really suck 🙁

  6. Lin March 28, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    It’s very heartbreaking. My daughter who is 10 and on Instagram just told me she keeps seeing pictures of her “friend” birthday party today and all the kids she invited through pictures on there. She said this was her friend and she sits next to her in class. I don’t know I don’t get it. This isn’t the first time this has happened.

  7. Brandi Smith Lopez August 21, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    This seems to happen alot with church events and church friends …I don’t know what to think about it .Suprised ,Hurt and not sure how to handle it.

  8. Heike Fonzi October 20, 2016 at 7:31 am

    OMG I thought i was reading my own story, except the girl wasn’t having a small party. To this day i have no idea why, i’m guessing the mother didn’t invite her because she doesn’t like me. I found out after about 10 moms told me they were going. After the email the mom had the nerve to invite my daughter, but i told her No i would be teaching my daughter a good life lesson from this. We invite the class…or noone at all. I do not want anyone feeling left out. Last year we did do a small party and honestly we only invited 1 girl from her class, everyone else was family friends. I just realized too, that my daughter hasn’t been invited to one for a year now. Breaks my heart. As long as she doesn’t notice though.

  9. Profile photo of Nancy

    Nancy June 14, 2018 at 10:37 am

    This is a difficult one. We’ve gone through it. Unfortunately it makes it even harder when the bday girl’s mom is someone you consider (or considered!) a very good friend. Then you wonder if you had a friendship in the first place. Such is life.

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