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Dear Wendy

Kid’s Birthday Party

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  • #1116111 Reply

    I would try to get a little more information about why.If they’re bullying him or something I guess maybe make an exception, but generally I would lean strongly towards inviting them. I think that it’s really hard for kids to get excluded like that. SoF’s* previous school had a rule that if you’re inviting more than half the class, you have to invite the whole class. I agree don’t make your kid socialize one on one with people he doesn’t like, but there are going to be a bunch of other kids there.

    *Spawn of Fyodor

    #1116113 Reply

    I admit I actually never have to deal with this because both of my children have their birthdays during long school breaks, so we can invite whoever we want, and we keep it either small or enormous. We once had a 52 person birthday party at our small house. And I know it’s different when you’re on a team. We’re not into team sports yet, we’re into dance, mountain biking, art and STEAM club.

    I don’t know. I’m torn because I really like to honor my children’s boundaries when they make them.

    I guess invite everyone and hope they don’t come? That’s what I’d probably do.

    #1116114 Reply

    There is a lot of push (in particular for girls, though obviously that’s not the case here) to force kids to put aside their personal feelings for the sake of being “nice”, which I really don’t agree with. But Wendy makes a really good point that it would be a good idea to root out more information about why he doesn’t want to invite them. So I rescind my initial “just don’t invite them” judgement in favor of getting more information.

    #1116115 Reply

    It’s fine for kids to not be friends with everyone and to have boundaries about that. But unless it’s a serious bullying situation, you shouldn’t have a big party with all but 2 teammates, all but 2 classmates, etc. Either have a small party with like 2-3 close friends or invite everyone. I guess the adult equivalent would be if you are organizing an after-work happy hour for your office of 20 people, it’s a bad look to only invite 18 of them. You don’t have to be BFF with all your coworkers, but you really shouldn’t exclude 2 of them unless they’re going around groping colleagues all day.

    #1116123 Reply
    Avatar photoLady_Red

    Thank you all so much for the input! I had a talk with him on the way to school this morning.
    One of the kids he says can get angry, and that’s why he doesn’t want to invite him. I have seen this kid have a few timeouts at soccer practice before. One time he tried to run away and his dad had to chase him down. He’s also new to the school, so it feels extra rude to me to not invite him.
    The second kid he doesn’t want to invite because they have the same name, and he thinks it would be confusing to have 2 kids with the same name. I feel like there has to be something else, because that doesn’t seem like a very good reason.

    #1116124 Reply

    If that’s all it is, I would invite them and try to gently give a lesson about accepting everyone, the kid who is new may have just been having a hard day, or is having a hard time adjusting to a new school. Excluding them for these reasons does seem harsh. And you can get him a birthday shirt or hat or something. No one is going to mistake who the birthday boy is if it’s just that they have the same name.

    #1116126 Reply
    Avatar photoPhoebe

    I have kids who have been on both sides of this. We’ve never regretted including the kids we were “iffy” about, and we also don’t forget someone who excluded our kid even 10-15 years later when you barely remember the other child’s name. A small party, fine, of COURSE you don’t have to invite them. But don’t leave one or two out. Just…don’t.

    It was after a few birthday parties that one of mine decided he didn’t like some of his friends, in part because he felt they’d been unkind with invitations to others. I don’t tell my kids who to be (or not to be) friends with, but when they pick things up on their own, well, it says something. Kids can be horrible (middle school — shudder), but don’t ever think they’re stupid.

    #1116128 Reply

    I absolutely agree with @vathena. If it’s a group of many, it’s rude to leave a couple people unless of course there’s extenuating circumstances like bullying.

    I always liked my family’s approach. Smaller parties of like 5-10. Don’t hand out invites in class or at the group practice. OR invite everyone.

    #1116129 Reply
    Avatar photoCopa

    I don’t have kids, so feel free to take that into consideration, but I’d invite the two, especially after reading your update. I grew up moving a lot and it was hard to be the new kid. Adjusting was hard and while I never had behavioral issues, I was shy, quiet, and I’m sure sometimes very very awkward. I can remember a few times (in middle school specifically) when I was still trying to find where I fit in and knowing I’d been left out.

    #1116130 Reply
    Avatar photoDear Wendy

    The kid who gets angry and is new to the school may be on the autism spectrum. Transition (like being at a new school) are really really hard for kids with autism, and it’s super common for them to have meltdowns. Trust me, I know. Please encourage your child to be kind to this kid. And maybe even reach out to the parents if they are new to the community. It’s incredibly isolating and lonely to have a kid who’s neurodivergent, has meltdowns, and isn’t included in activities bc other kids are weirded out by them.

    #1116131 Reply
    Avatar photoDear Wendy

    The running away is also an autism hallmark, fyi. Not saying that’s what it is for sure, of course, but this could be another opportunity to discuss how anger and meltdowns could be a sign of feeling overwhelmed and a good teammate gives support when possible.

    #1116132 Reply

    I think 8 could be old enough to understand the etiquette lesson about “you can invite a few close friends privately or you can invite the entire class / team / office, but if you do the latter, you can’t leave a couple of people out, because their feelings will be hurt.”

    I also thought spectrum / special needs regarding that one boy’s behavior. The other one, maybe your son can be “Birthday Ben” and the other kid can just be Ben.

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