Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“How Can I Tell My Friends I Don’t Want Their Kid at My Parties?”

From the forums:

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I like kids. But I don’t have kids. I don’t want to have kids. I want to have a lot of fragile things three feet off the ground and uncovered electric outlets and household poisons in my house and not, you know, kids. I am that age (34!) where nearly everybody has kids. I have a lot of parties — big, casual brunches and bbqs and so forth — kids are almost always welcome.

My friends “June” and “Mary” have a very sweet three-year-old. He’s polite and cute as a bug and smart as anything. I dig him. And I’m happy to accommodate him and everyone else’s children at parties. I have a basket of board books, soft balls, various toys, and so on. I make a few kid friendly foods and drinks. I try to put fragile things out of the reach of little fingers. But this kid is an unstoppable human tornado. His parents have twin infants, and they’re a little distracted. He’s undergoing a big life change. I’m sympathetic to all involved. But he took some other kid’s crayons and colored my fireplace orange the last time he was over. The time before, he broke an expensive lamp while riding my couch arm like a horsey. His parents are always embarrassed and apologetic and really do do their best to keep an eye on him. But it’s hard, and I get that. And I don’t have time or the inclination to follow him around.

All of this is to say, I don’t want to invite Tornado Boy to a party at my house until he’s a little older. June is a friend but I know Mary less well, and she’s a bit… touchy. Suddenly stopping the invitation to the whole crew would be a slight, and I think that’d really offend Mary. But I’m not really sure if I can say “get a sitter or stay home.” — Wanting a Tornado-free Home

Honestly, if you were to tell your friends that their kid isn’t welcome at a party where other kids his age will be, I don’t think it will be just touchy Mary who will be offended. You have to decide that you either have parties where no kids (or no kids of a certain age) are invited or you invite all the kids, including Tornado Boy. If you go the former route, you could switch your brunches and BBQs to more nighttime affairs — dinner parties and/or get-togethers that start after 8 — and you can include on your invitations, “Get a sitter and come enjoy a night out — you deserve it!” (Or something like that). You could also just organize your daytime parties for your friends who don’t have young children.

If most of the friends in your social circle have children, you do have to accept that that means changes in your social life, even if you decide to not have kids. It’s just a fact of life. Kids are chaotic and they change things. They change the dynamics in friendships and the dynamics in relationships and the dynamics in families. They makes noises in public — on the plane, in restaurants, and of course, in parks and pools and beaches. They get in the way, and they make life messy. (They also bring an enormous about of joy and laughter, too, of course). But you don’t have to deal with them in the privacy of your own home if you don’t want to. You may have no choice on a plane, but in your own living room? You can say no. But… if you’re saying no to kids whose parents are your friends, then you have to accept that those friends may not feel welcome at your home anymore, ESPECIALLY if you are welcoming other kids the same age. (That’s really the clincher here; it’s one thing not to invite any children, but to invite all but one? Ouch.). You also have to accept that just because you disallow one particular kid into your home doesn’t mean one of the other children in attendance at a party won’t accidentally break something or have a tantrum or pee on your furniture or inconvenience you in a way your adult guests wouldn’t. Kids are accident-prone, so even the ones who are really well-behaved and docile can eff shit up (and so can adults, for that matter, especially if they’re drinking).

So, let’s say you decide to suck it up and continue inviting Tornado Boy to your home in an effort to preserve the friendship you have with his parents. What can you do to preserve your stuff and your sanity? I like CaptainsWife’s advice to hire a babysitter. Maybe you could even hire an older kid (or a niece or nephew) of one of your friends for a cheaper price than a grownup baby-sitter would cost. I don’t know where you live but here in NYC most adult sitters cost between $12-15 an hour to watch one child. “Mother’s Helpers,” as younger/ teenage babysitters are sometimes called, often charge around $10 an hour (and I’ve heard of some kids charging as little as $8 an hour; Just imagine what Kristy and Stacy and Claudia and Mary Anne could do with all that coin!). And if you live somewhere cheaper than NYC (which is basically everywhere but SF), you can probably find a sitter who charges less than that. Over the course of, say, three hours, the price of a babysitter might cost the same as two or three six-packs or a couple bottles of wine (which will probably be left at your place by your guests anyway). You could also designate kid-safe areas at the party — your back yard and say one room in your house (maybe a basement if you have one?) where you remove anything fragile. Of course, the trick with having just a couple kid-safe areas is that the kids still need to be supervised, but parents (or a babysitter!) could take turns supervising the kid spaces and making sure the kids don’t wander off where they shouldn’t be.

Any other ideas from readers?

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

59 comments… add one
  • avatar

    BecBoo84 July 31, 2014, 10:14 am

    I like Wendy’s advice, but I also find it odd that “Tornado Boy” has caused damage to your property on two separate occasions and his parents haven’t offered to replace the broken lamp, help clean the fireplace, etc.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy July 31, 2014, 10:20 am

      Do we know they haven’t? (And I agree that it’s odd if that’s the case).

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  • avatar

    jlyfsh July 31, 2014, 10:20 am

    I think I’m glad that most of my friends with kids choose to have the events at their house 🙂 I don’t really worry about my stuff, my dogs have eaten and helped decorate enough things that not much phases me. But, I do worry about my dogs. It makes me nervous to have them around too many kids. So basically I just don’t invite that many to my place at one time. I like Wendy and Captainswife’s advice as well.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy July 31, 2014, 10:30 am

      You know, I actually HAVE a kid and I don’t like having too many children at our place at once. For one thing, we live in an apartment and our downstairs neighbor complains if there’s too much noise from us (even at three in the afternoon on a wednesday when we have just one other kid over, but I digress…). But we also have a small space (or average-sized by NYC standards) and there simply isn’t ROOM for too many people. I get anxious when there are too many children in too small of a space. I think four kids max (including jackson) is my limit. We do birthday parties at our very large local park. I don’t know what we’ll do if it rains this year though…

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      • avatar

        jlyfsh July 31, 2014, 10:36 am

        Yeah we also have a space issue. It’s enough for us but not for large parties. I’m sure if the dogs had somewhere better to hide out I’d be more relaxed. Hopefully if that happens you can find somewhere reasonable to host it!

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  • avatar

    Lily in NYC July 31, 2014, 10:33 am

    I am in a similar boat to LW. I am not going to coddle people who can’t be bothered to watch their kids. Most of my friends are really good about wrangling their own kids or getting sitters – but I have one who just doesn’t get it. She dumps her kid on other people at parties and socializes – and her kid is a huge pain in the ass. The last straw was when he went into my bedroom (door was closed) and dumped my jewelry box all over the floor and then broke a very expensive sculpture that I had hidden in the bedroom for the party. Mom tried to laugh it off and that is the last time I invited her over. I don’t care if her feelings are hurt – why is that more important than me being hurt that she feels free to take advantage of my good nature and not offer to pay for anything the kid has broken? Well-behaved kids (well, they don’t have to be that good, just non- destructive) are more than welcome to come over, and I don’t feel all that guilty about leaving one person out. My doormat days are over and I am not going to reward people who can’t be considerate.

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    • avatar

      Ivory July 31, 2014, 11:59 am

      Good for you! I’m kidless and love to host parties. I now do evening kid-free parties only because of one couple in our friend group whose kids have never entered my house without running around (and they are not little – youngest was 6 or 7 last time), going into my bedroom, walking on the furniture.

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    • Lady_Red

      Red_Lady July 31, 2014, 12:08 pm

      Wow, that mom sounds awful. You shouldn’t feel guilty at all about leaving her out – she’s shown that she’s just not capable of hanging out with others. I mean, laughing about her kid ruining your things? That’s just not cool. Most people would be apologizing profusely, and definitely offering to replace anything damaged.

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    • avatar

      Lucy July 31, 2014, 2:59 pm

      I lock my bedroom doors when I have parties. I actually had a guest tell me that was rude once. Did Not Invite Again.

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      • Portia

        Portia July 31, 2014, 6:10 pm

        Someone told you it was rude to lock your bedroom door?? That is so weird. Must be a snooper… Or someone that likes having sex in public(ish) places?

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  • avatar

    peachy July 31, 2014, 10:36 am

    Is it a given that all people have to be invited to all parties all the time? Captain Destructo won’t be three forever, maybe your next family-friendly party should be a huge picnic in the park.

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. July 31, 2014, 10:47 am

    I don’t have kids, but I have one friend who entertains a lot (who also doesn’t have kids) and this is what he does: he designates 9 pm as the “adult time” at the party. Kids are welcome up until that point, and then they must leave, as more adult things happen after that time. This does mean that some people leave the party early. Most couples send one parent home with the kid while the other stays at the party. They switch off for each party. This works well in our group.

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  • avatar

    jhoran85 July 31, 2014, 11:06 am

    I’m also wondering if the parents offered to pay for the damage their son caused. They should realize that perhaps their son isn’t transitioning well yet with the new siblings and maybe they need to stop attending outings for a bit until their own family dynamic is under control.

    This kind of reminds me of that episode of Sex and the City where Carrie’s shoes were stolen from her friends place, because she was asked to take them off, and her friend made a huge deal about the price of the shoes.

    If you are inviting someone into your home, and that person or their child damages something, they should offer to replace or fix the item. Vice versa, if you ask everyone to take off their shoes, put their bags in one room, etc, and something is stolen from them, then you are kind of responsible in that case to at least offer some sort of financial restitution.

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    • avatar

      Ivory July 31, 2014, 12:02 pm

      Totally agree. I don’t have kids, but I do have dogs. My puggle found a hole in teh fence, and went into the neighbor’s yard, followed her cat through the cat door and into the house. Then panicked and pooped in her living room. Immediately, I offered to fix the cat door (puggles are fatter than cats so he knocked it off the track), and to steam clean her living room. A few hundred dollars is worth it to ensure that a neighbor (or friend in the case of the LW) doesn’t feel taken advantage of.

      Its part of the responsibility that comes with having pets and/or kids.

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      • avatar

        jhoran85 July 31, 2014, 1:18 pm

        agreed! I have a cat and if she were ever to accidentally ruin something that belongs to one of my roommates, I would definitely do what I could to replace or fix the item.

        Its all about taking responsibility for those that depend on you, whether its a child or a pet.

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      • avatar

        MissDre August 1, 2014, 10:36 am

        I just wanted to say that I have a puggle too 🙂

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  • Miss MJ

    Miss MJ July 31, 2014, 11:16 am

    If your child is repeatedly coloring on your friends’ walls and breaking her expensive stuff, then isn’t it on you as a parent to either (a) stop bringing your child over until he’s older and hire your own sitter – without being asked or (b) if you can’t hire a sitter, stay home until your child can handle going to someone’s house and not destroying it? Expecting someone else to just deal with your kid repeatedly breaking their stuff is ridiculous, especially if he’s breaking stuff because you’re not really supervising him. This LW sounds like she’s more than accommodating for children and it’s on this kid’s parents to make sure he doesn’t destroy someone else’s home when he is visiting, not on their host to have to play babysitter – or pay a babysitter – to make sure nothing gets ruined.
    .
    That said, I do appreciate the awkwardness of trying to explain to someone who clearly doesn’t care (and them continuing to bring and not supervise Tornado Boy despite his past destruction indicates that they really don’t care) that you’d appreciate it if they wouldn’t bring their Tiny Terror into your home. So, my advice is to either only invite them to adults-only events or only invite them to kid-friendly events that are outside. Basically, since you can’t really just exclude one kid from your house, then take the parents off the indoor party guest list, too for a while.

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    • Kate B.

      Kate B. July 31, 2014, 12:40 pm

      I agree, it has to be on the parent. I personally would not be willing to hire a sitter for someone else’s kid, unless it was a special occasion, like a wedding or something. I have friends who did this and it worked well. But a party? No. Part of the reason I chose not to have kids is so I wouldn’t have to pay for things like that.

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    • avatar

      Amanda July 31, 2014, 3:15 pm

      WMJS. The LW seems to be very accommodating to her friends’ children. The parents desire to socialize does NOT trump their responsibility to watch their child. If they cannot adequately watch him at someone’s house, then they shouldn’t take him there.

      I am a parent of a 6 month old, and if she damaged someone’s property in the future, my first response would be to ask the property owner how I could fix it. Then, I would assess why the damage occurred. Was I not watching her well enough? What could I have done better? What changes could I make to minimize the chance of something similar happening in the future? Certainly, accidents are going to happen, but if a pattern starts to develop that is a big problem. The parents here seem to have a pattern of not watching their son enough. It’s their responsibility to do better for him.

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    • avatar

      captainswife July 31, 2014, 4:24 pm

      I agree with all of you that yes, it is on the parents. However, the tone of the LW was not, “I’m so fed up with them and their parenting that I never want to see them again.” To me, it felt like she wants to have kids come and feel welcome.

      From the parents’ perspective, young twins = not enough arms and WAY not enough sleep. They’re probably thrilled to be welcomed anywhere away from their house at the moment. That said, of COURSE they should offer to pay for the damage (and, LW, if they didn’t, there are plenty of ways you can let them know subtly that you would appreciate it) and perhaps leave him at home the next time.

      From the long-term perspective, if LW really likes the parents, she seems to understand that Tornado Boy could easily outgrow this stage — and is just trying to figure out how to protect her stuff.

      I have a horde of kids, and some were great! (Say no one time, and no problems). Others? Not so much (only able to “look” with their hands, etc.). It’s EXHAUSTING to be on that kid’s back all.the.time, and LW’s welcoming toys and house could have given the parents the idea that they can relax a bit in this home. Does that make sense? Luckily, with time, all of mine outgrew this and I don’t think I lost any friends. That said, we always paid for any breakage (truthfully, that was negligible), and when the kids were a little older (say, 4) we had them dictate apology notes for anything untoward that happened.

      All this to say, if she wants to exclude the parents from invitations, it’s completely understandable. If she wants to exclude ALL kids from gatherings, also great. But when you start saying, essentially, “Your kid is behaving in an age-normal manner, but we don’t want him while we accept all other comers” — that will lose you a friend. It would be less hurtful just not to include the whole family for a while.

      Those who don’t have experience with kids: infant twins are HARD. And an active toddler on top of that? Gee whiz.

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  • muchachaenlaventana

    muchachaenlaventana July 31, 2014, 11:21 am

    I don’t think you can really tell them that without coming off as super rude or offending them. I agree with Wendy-you probably shouldn’t have some kids and single out one family and tell them their kids aren’t allowed. If you don’t want their kid there I really see your only option is to just stop inviting them to events at your house. If they ask why just be as nice and honest about it as you can/feel comfortable. I don’t think it has to be some huge deal. They may be relieved to not have to go out as much if they are dealing with twin babies and a 3 year old; maybe they view invitations as one of those obligatory things, idk just trying to put a semi-positive spin on it. If you still want to hang out with the couple, just invite them to your adults-only evenings/dinner parties and you can get the best of both worlds.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark July 31, 2014, 11:24 am

    If a friend of mine frequently got so out of control that she kept breaking things at my apartment — I’d stop inviting her. Why should it be any different if its their kid. I do wish we knew whether or not the parents in question paid for the damage.

    PS: Oh, and nothing annoys me more than people having MORE kids when they clearly can’t control the one’s they already have… Bah.

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    • avatar

      captainswife July 31, 2014, 4:29 pm

      In answer to your p.s., some of the out-of-control stuff is temporary, though, BGM. And it’s often preferable to have as many kids as you want spaced closer together rather than farther apart just so you don’t have a HUGE age gap. That way, activities tend to be better for the whole family at the time…rather than some kids who are ready for R movies, while others are still in G-ratings!

      Yes, discipline is definitely on the parents. However, kids are kids. They are rugrats. You were one, too, as were we all. I distinctly remember melting crayons into a ziploc baggie over my mom’s white wall-to-wall carpet once. Why? Who can say. It could have been at someone else’s house, though, for all the difference it would have made…and then it would have been their carpet my parents would have paid to fix. I DEFINITELY suffered the consequences, but the damage was already done.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom July 31, 2014, 11:48 am

    One thing that you can do that would keep the attention and focus of most of the kids is to play DVDs. You don’t even need to buy them, most libraries will have them available for checkout. Tornado boy would probably sit and watch movies and shows and be too distracted to be destructive. Bill Nye the Science Guy is popular right now and so is Rio 2. Both boys and girls love The Land Before Time which is about a group of young dinosaurs and there are about 10 of those movies so you could get a different one each time you had a party. The Magic School Bus is good and most kids will watch Disney movies. I wouldn’t usually suggest using the TV to babysit but in this case I think it is a good solution.

    If you decide to do this and you don’t have a library card you should visit your local library to get a card and learn their loan policy ahead of time and to browse their collection to see if they have things you think would be interesting to a preschooler. Ask a reference librarian for help if you don’t know what to choose. They will know what is popular right now. Our library loans movies for one week which would allow you to get the movies days in advance of the party and give you days after the party to return them. Another way to do this would be to have the parents bring their child’s favorite DVDs with them and use whatever the parents supply.

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    • JK

      JK July 31, 2014, 12:59 pm

      Great idea! Netflix also has a ton of kids shows and movies, my girls love it. 🙂

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      • avatar

        jlyfsh July 31, 2014, 1:00 pm

        And everybody loves the Magic School Bus, right? Or is that just me? 😉

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      • JK

        JK July 31, 2014, 1:09 pm

        I dont think Ive ever seen it!

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      • Portia

        Portia July 31, 2014, 2:36 pm

        I loved the Magic School Bus books growing up! Although I think the TV show was slightly after my time, maybe my cousins watched it. When we were over the other day, Bassanio’s niece was watching the show, so it still seems to be somewhat popular…

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      • avatar

        jlyfsh July 31, 2014, 2:48 pm

        According to google it started as a tv show in ’94. I definitely remember watching it in college after it had been out for a few years. Apparently Netflix is bringing back a version of the show in 2016 that’s based on the original!

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      • Portia

        Portia July 31, 2014, 7:04 pm

        Woah, ’94? I was guessing much later, but my sister probably watched it if that’s the case. Although I think she was more into Power Rangers and Batman.

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    • something random

      Something random July 31, 2014, 6:44 pm

      TU (thumbs up)

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  • avatar

    SassySteph July 31, 2014, 12:37 pm

    I wouldn’t worry about offending someone who disrespected and damaged my home. Why is it considered being rude to stand up for yourself? Inviting kids into your home does not give the parents carte blanche to abdicate their responsibility to supervise their children. If damage is caused, by a child guest or adult, it is their legal and moral responsibility to make it right. If this isn’t happening I wouldn’t think twice about not inviting them again.

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  • avatar

    Lindsay July 31, 2014, 12:51 pm

    In our city (Atlanta), there’s a company called Bring The Kids. Their whole purpose is to provide babysitters for parties. They’re fabulous and not terribly expensive. They bring their own crafts to do with the kids and they keep an eye on all the kids while the parents socialize. Perhaps there’s something similar in your city?

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    • avatar

      Rangerchic July 31, 2014, 1:00 pm

      I’ve never heard of such a thing but that is a fabulous idea! Wish we had something like that here (I don’t need it now but know several parents who would appreciate something like that).

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    • avatar

      ktfran July 31, 2014, 1:10 pm

      Oh my god, I want to start this business!

      Although, I’m guessing it would require to work a lot of weekend nights. Hmm… Still, it’s a fabulous idea! And, as Kate mentioned above, I do like the idea that if you’re hosting a weddings sans kids, and there are a lot of out of town guests, you provide some kind of babysitting option, like this.

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  • findingtheearth

    findingtheearth July 31, 2014, 12:57 pm

    If you are very worried, can you talk to the parents about their son’s behavior? Does he just need a little bit more to entertain himself? Can they bring toys from home that he likes? The kiddo is going through a big transition and may really welcome the attention he is getting from other people, since his parents are occupied with the new twins.

    Also, is this friendship worth throwing away over a colored in fireplace?

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    • Kate B.

      Kate B. July 31, 2014, 2:09 pm

      Uh, yes. If I want an orange fireplace, I’ll build an orange fireplace. Have you ever tried to get crayon out of brick? If some kid colored in my fireplace, or my couch, or anything I own, and the parents didn’t pay to have it restored to its original condition, those people would never come into my house again.

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      • avatar

        Kicia July 31, 2014, 2:36 pm

        I agree. I think if the parent’s didn’t offer to replace or repair any damages by the kid, it shows more about their character. I personally wouldn’t want friends like that in my life.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. July 31, 2014, 3:26 pm

        Right? It’s basic manners. You treat other people’s things with respect. Kids need to learn that. (Some adults do too, frankly.)

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  • avatar

    Rangerchic July 31, 2014, 12:57 pm

    I would be mortified if my kids ever broke/tore something up while at someone else house. One of my girls did pop my friends workout ball (you know the giant one). Those things are supposed to withstand a ton of torture but it got popped anyway. They are only about $20…I didn’t have cash on me but told her I would pick one up at the store next time I was out but she didn’t want me to replace it (she had quit using it and was kinda grateful it got popped).
    Anyway…I like everyone’s suggestions here and agree with Wendy.

    I also can’t imagine not keeping an eye on my kid unless they were outside where there is less to break (generally). I don’t understand these parents!
    We have a trampoline (with side barriers) and that has always been a great distraction.

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  • avatar

    Lili July 31, 2014, 1:28 pm

    When I was a teenager one of my friends parents would throw a huge Christmas party every year and would enlist me and my friends to help with the young kids, they set up the basement with toys and provided snacks and we would just hang out and play with the kids until about 10 when most of their parents had come and got them. then we were allowed to make use of the awesome home theater for the rest of the night, they never paid us or anything but it was fun and dinner was provided so no complaints from us.
    If you found a likely teenager who maybe wants some babysitting experience but is nervous about being home alone with a kid, setting them up with a kids room in your house might be a great solution, with all the parents on hand the pressure is off if something goes wrong.

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  • avatar

    snow.angel July 31, 2014, 1:32 pm

    I’m so glad Wendy answered this letter, it’s such a tough situation. I have to say though, that I don’t agree that it’s the LW’s responsibility to provide the childcare at parties she is hosting in her home. The responsibility of providing supervision to your child belongs 100% to the parents. I’d also like some clarification about how the child’s parent’s handled these situations and if they offered to repair the damages. To me, it would be ridiculous if they didn’t. If they had their child out at a fancy restaurant, a store in the mall, or countless other places in the world, and the child broke something they would be expected to make amends. Of course accidents happen, and if it wasn’t this child breaking the LW’s things it could easily be one of her other friend’s kids. But the fact is that this seems to be a recurring pattern for this child, and the LW is not out of line to ask the parents to either figure out a way to provide better supervision to their child in her home, or refrain from bringing him. I understand that the parents want to be able to socialize and it can be hard to balance that with tending to infants and supervising a rowdy three-year-old, but their difficulties can’t keep causing destruction to their friend’s home. I was a “mother’s helper” as a teenager for a family with 7 children, and I was often invited to parties and events so that I could help manage the kids while the parents had a chance to socialize and enjoy the party.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy July 31, 2014, 1:40 pm

      Just to pipe in about the idea of providing childcare at parties you’re hosting: of course, it’s absolutely not necessary or usually expected. BUT it’s a nice thing to offer guests and I’ve seen it done a lot at weddings where there are children in attendance and at birthday parties (parents come with their kids, but the host parents will also have a sitter on two to help supervise so the parents can have a little break). I’ve also been to (adult) parties where there’s a hired bartender and/or someone who helps prepare and serve appetizers. These are things the host provides to increase the maximum fun and relaxation potential for their guests (and themselves!). They aren’t provided at EVERY party, but for special occasions, I think if a host can afford it, these things are a real thoughtful and fun touch.

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      • Classic

        Classic July 31, 2014, 1:49 pm

        Dear Wendy, I did that job one time, from Craigslist! The one about going to the party and preparing and serving appetizers (and pouring/serving drinks, and keeping things clean and organized). It was fun! It was the day that we had the meetup in Del Mar– I had to leave and get ready to work at a party for someone I had never met before. It was so much fun.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. July 31, 2014, 2:13 pm

        My entertaining friend I mentioned above hires caterers to serve the food and pick up trash. He does this mainly so he and his wife don’t have to do it. It makes hosting the party more fun for him, really. It’s usually a birthday party and who wants to spend their birthday party picking up trash?

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      • avatar

        Simonthegrey July 31, 2014, 6:53 pm

        That was basically what we did at our wedding: borrowed a big bin of toys from the church, bought some cheap coloring books and colors from the dollar store, and asked the older kids attending to watch the youngers in return for a gift card. Everyone was thrilled and the little kids weren’t bored and trashing things!!

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  • JK

    JK July 31, 2014, 1:58 pm

    Just remembered, some friends of ours rent a bouncy castle every time theyre going to have a lot of people over. That could be another great option.

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    • JK

      JK July 31, 2014, 2:07 pm

      Also, for my 3 year olds bday party this year I printed off a ton of colouring in pages (you can find heaps online, esp at the disney site), and set up a table with the pages, and boxes of crayons. The kids that weren´t on the bouncy castle or in the play tent were colouring in a lot of the time.

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      • avatar

        ktfran July 31, 2014, 2:32 pm

        My sister is inviting children to her wedding and she is doing something similar. There will be a table with activities. Although I have a feeling my little five year old niece will be dancing the night away.

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    • avatar

      captainswife July 31, 2014, 4:16 pm

      Bouncy castles require a lot of parental supervision, though, IMO…otherwise things get out of hand in a hurry. This depends on the kids’ ages, of course!

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      • JK

        JK August 1, 2014, 10:40 am

        I´m lucky in that my friends kids have a large variety of ages, and they all love each other, so the older ones look out for the younger ones. But yeah, you´re probably right, especially with Tornado Boy

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  • sobriquet

    sobriquet July 31, 2014, 2:20 pm

    I like the idea of hiring a teenager to look over the kids at your next get-together, as well as designating a certain area for them to play in. You may want to invest in some toys and play things, too, for your own peace of mind. I’m thinking a kid-proofed room filled with legos, toy cars, barbies, dress up clothes, etc. would keep the kids occupied. No, it’s not your responsibility to make sure the kids are happy and well-behaved, but it wouldn’t hurt anything to be prepared and I bet it would go a long way in keeping you sane (and your guests happier!) if you want to continue having kid-friendly get-togethers.
    .
    My wedding shower was a co-ed, extended family affair and several small children were in attendance. We were concerned that the kids would sort “take over” the shower as they are wont to do, so my best friend and I picked up some dollar store fairy wings and other little activities to keep them occupied. My mom went above and beyond and put together little activity bags for the kids with things like lego’s, bubbles, etc. and even bought a little pop-up castle for them to play in. A guest room at the house was designated as the kid-zone. The kids were incredibly well behaved because they had things to keep them occupied. They thought the party was for them! Their parents were incredibly appreciative, too. Overall, the little bit of extra effort made the party more enjoyable for everyone in attendance.

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    • avatar

      _s_ July 31, 2014, 4:16 pm

      I don’t know, if you don’t have kids, it seems like providing “a kid-proofed room filled with legos, toy cars, barbies, dress up clothes” is a lot to ask.

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      • sobriquet

        sobriquet July 31, 2014, 5:34 pm

        Well, sure, if people are asking for it. But if all her friends have kids and babies and what not, and she wants to continue hosting parties and spending time with said friends, then buying a few toys to keep the kids occupied might be worth the investment.

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  • avatar

    BecBoo84 July 31, 2014, 2:26 pm

    I hear a lot of people pretty emphatic on the fact that it’s now the LW’s responsibility for provide things (or a sitter) to entertain the kids, which is true, of course. However, I completely agree with Wendy that it’s a nice thing to do to be a good host.

    As an example, I don’t drink generally, but especially not over the past 2+ years that I’ve been pregnant/breastfeeding my 17 month old. My husband doesn’t really drink either. However, whenever we have get togethers, we make sure to always have plenty of alcohol on hand because we recognize the fact that it makes the party more enjoyable for our guests.

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    • avatar

      BecBoo84 July 31, 2014, 2:34 pm

      Not the LW”s responsibility to provide things…

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    • Portia

      Portia July 31, 2014, 2:45 pm

      My parents didn’t really drink when I was growing up, but we always had some beer in the fridge (they drank so little that they always seemed to have 6-packs expiring). It was only years later that I realized the beers were probably to offer to guests. I’ve heard that even some of the mormon couples from the neighborhood they live in now tend to have a bottle or two of wine around to offer to guests.

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    • Kate B.

      Kate B. July 31, 2014, 3:47 pm

      I don’t drink at all. My policy is “Bring your own booze and take it with you when you leave.”

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  • avatar

    Paperwhite October 14, 2014, 8:57 am

    Hello lovelies!
    Just thought I’d chime in and give my opinion.
    The problem age is between 2 and 6 years old. Outside that range they are easy.
    So, these types of families are better for small get togethers where supervision is easier.
    Secondly, there is always going to be that one kid who is a total nightmare.
    For me it was my nephew, he did things like turning off the hot water system (which we didn’t notice until freezing showers in the morning) , leading my 2 year old out to the road and leaving her there, letting the dog ‘play’ with the guinea pig (it died) and ‘daring’ another child to eat a dishwasher tablet. I finally snapped when I found him fishing headache tablets out of someone’s handbag. I’m ashamed to say I grabbed the little f@cker by the upper arms and gave him a real close up Dirty Harry type of warning to stop acting like a little shit and stay where I could see him. He seems to have grown out if it now but for about 3 years I glared at him with ferocity every time he set foot in the house.

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