How To Handle Your Child Not Being Invited
Birthday parties are a big deal with my boys. Usually, we throw their birthday parties at the house and invite every kid we know… I mean EVERY kid. The ones we know well and the ones we barely know at all. The ones we love being around and the ones we don’t necessarily adore. The ones that live in the rich neighborhoods and the ones that live in the common ones… absolutely, positively, no exclusions. I will spend a small fortune on decorations and supplies, order a handmade fondant cake, put together party favors, and have lots of activities to celebrate the day. Even when we haven’t had our parties at home, we generally still invite everyone we know… although at any given time the maximum amount of children we typically have is around 15 to 20. So, expecting this we still don’t necessarily break the bank when we pay to have a party at a specific venue. This is just the way we choose to do things, because my boys have always loved parties and I have always loved hosting them. It’s one of our family traditions that we all truly enjoy.
We also love being invited to parties! Generally, unless we are out of town or ill, we always go. The way I look at it… it’s a respectful gesture and my boys really love attending. My boys go to a very small school, where there are only about 70 children in grades K4 through 5th grade, so for the most part we all know each other. But once in a while, for various reasons, we might not receive an invitation to a friend’s party. This could be because it was designated an “girls only” party or maybe the party was for family only, and generally it made sense so we were completely fine with not being invited. Maybe if they went to a bigger school, it would be more common for friends to be selective; but with such a small group, it’s quite noticeable.
"But when there doesn’t seem to be a reason
why my boys were
not invited to a friend’s
party, I couldn’t help
but be a little hurt."
But when there doesn’t seem to be a reason why my boys were not invited to a friend’s party, I couldn’t help but be a little hurt. But the thing was, I was really the only one that seemed to care. See, my boys are quite resilient it seems, and the few times this has happened I’ve talked to them about it… and their response is usually something like “I’m good Mom… I’m fine with not going.”
Thankfully this rarely happens, but when it did I always seemed to let it bother me a little. Not enough to confront anyone, but I’ll admit I got my feelings hurt because I just don’t do well with exclusion. So, I took some time to think about why I was reacting this way… since it didn’t seem to be much about my child’s feelings, and more about my own. I eventually came to the conclusion that it was actually hitting nerves stemming from my past experiences with rejection, and I needed to leave well enough alone and not impart my feelings of rejection onto my child. There was a lot of freedom in this, and their attitude about it really helped me to see that there were more important things in life to do with my time than allow myself to be hurt over something so ridiculous.
I’m sure we are just getting started though. Eventually we might have these same scenarios on down the road where a close friend doesn’t invite one of my children to a party, or a social, or something… somewhere… and they wind up feeling hurt over it. It’s a part of life really, and I don’t think there’s a single person out there that doesn’t go through something of this nature eventually.
I have read stories about other children and their parents who were close with another child and their parents who didn’t invite them to a party, and it really affected them. It’s certainly never easy to learn this life lesson, that sometimes people just get left out and no one is entitled to a party invitation, but it’s never easy. There are some moms that might think that even discussing this topic is a waste of time (I’ve read a few responses to posts on this subject that seemed pretty cut-throat) and all I can really say to that is… we all value different things. To one mom, it may be a completely insignificant thing that their child was left out, and to another it might be a bigger deal.
We all have different situations and circumstances that make up our children’s lifestyle. We all have a different “normal” and what one family is used to will look very different from another. This post is for the moms that value inclusion, that are active in close-knit circles where being left out is a big deal, and where not getting a party invitation from a friend could potentially cause a little heartbreak.
So what are some ways we can respond well when
this situation occurs?
Make sure that your feelings aren’t stemming from a past experience that happened to you. Have you asked your child their feelings on not being invited? I suggest being raw and direct with children when it comes to certain life lessons, depending on their age, so we don’t sugar-coat things like this with them. We feel that telling them the whole truth and letting them experience the situation and all of its ugliness will only help them learn how to handle them in the future. It’s possible that they don’t even care about the party and have no desire to attend. Sometimes emotions stem from subconscious trauma from our past.
We want to ensure we aren’t subjecting our children to the discontents of our own emotional triggers; they certainly pick up on our reactions and learn from them, and sometimes ours aren’t so healthy. This does not mean that emotions are bad; emotions are normal, natural, and inevitable. The goal is to be in control even when we experience emotions. The more composed we are when handling our emotions, the better we can direct and guide our children in their journey to exercise self-control with their own emotions. After all, if they aren’t affected by not being invited then there’s probably a good reason.
If the feelings are truly their own and need attention, take a few minutes and attempt to figure out why it might have occurred. Could it be one of the situations I mentioned earlier, where the party was for only girls, only boys, or only family? Could it be that their party was limited to only a few friends who were closer to the other child, and choosing just 10 or 12 kids was probably difficult for them? Really, it just boils down to them having a different definition of party protocol. Put yourself in the other parent’s shoes and give them the benefit of the doubt. There may be a very simple reason that your child was excluded, and it’s not personal at all. Explain to your child that any of these possibilities could have occurred, and help them to see the bigger picture.
Some suggest reaching out to the other parents or even mutual friends of the other child’s parents in an attempt to figure out why your child wasn’t invited. I do not recommend this, and I’ll tell you why: it only makes things worse in the long run. Chances are, the very fact that your child was excluded in the first place means that they probably don’t value things like this the way you do. It will come across as petty to them, and then you’ll have another problem on your hands. It’s best to let it go and if you absolutely must reach out to them, do so in a very nonchalant way at a later date by asking questions that aren’t directly related to the party such as “How do you think [their kid] and [your kid] have been getting along?” You might find out something you didn’t know, or you might not. Either way, it’s best to not draw attention to the matter. It’s not fair to them, or you, to expect an invitation or feel that your child is entitled to one. Accept that it is what it is, and don’t ever let them see you sweat.
Embrace the heartache. This is the perfect time to love on your little one a little bit more. Talk about it together, and discuss things related to disappointment so that they know that, sometimes, life just sucks. Let them cry if they need to. Part of being a great parent is teaching them to be resilient, and they need to know from us just how worthy they are regardless of being excluded. They need to know that their value doesn’t lye in receiving or not receiving a party invitation. They need to be told that they are loved SO greatly by their family and friends, and you can even go as far as to call them all out by name. This will help them focus on being grateful for all of the wonderful things they do have. You can remind them of all the times they were invited to parties, or other events, and that there will be many more. Share with them some of your experiences to help them understand that not being included is sometimes just a part of life, and we all go through things like this. While life is rarely fair, there are so many reasons to love it and drawing attention to those things can help them learn how to cope with disappointments.
"Go forward without discussing it anymore. Literally, just forget it ever happened. Harboring resentment about the situation only hurts you in the long run."
Go forward without discussing it anymore. Literally, just forget it ever happened. Harboring resentment about the situation only hurts you in the long run. Don’t retaliate by treating them the same way that you were treated at your next party; remember, you may not have all the facts. Friendships at young ages are easy come and easy go; next year things might be entirely different. Be the bigger person, because at the end of the day the only thing that truly matters is that your child is learning healthy habits from you by displaying strength and dignity.
Like I said, accept that it is what it is, and don’t ever let them see you sweat. You and your child are just as important as anyone that may have excluded them, so never let your confidence be affected by something so trivial. Be vigorous in your determination to be different than them; choose to be more aware and compassionate by handling these situations in a healthier way than they did.
If you feel the need to cheer up your little one, don’t hesitate to treat them to something special. Not everyone will agree with this, but you might find it beneficial (according to the situation) to take them for a visit to the park or make a play date with another friend to keep them from dwelling on their state of affairs. While I don’t think we should always attempt to “fix” our children’s problems, if the situation is especially devastating for them they might need a pick-me-up. After all, we as adults do this for ourselves when we need to cope with disappointment, and we should allow our children to have this same luxury if the situation calls for it. Getting them out to do something they enjoy will inject a little happiness while they work though their disappointment.
If the situation is especially unique, and you and your child are very close to a family who is habitually not extending invitations, it’s possible that you might want to reevaluate the relationship. Every now and then, we might form relationships with other families that simply take advantage of other people. While I do not suggest doing this if the relationship is not close, if the relationship is especially close and this family is regularly asking for favors, sending their child to your home for playdates, and it would seemingly be very anticipated to attend their party but they just didn’t include you… evaluate the situation and make your best call. Chances are you will have noticed several situations already that will clue you in on the issue.
The last thing any of us need as mommies are relationships that are not healthy. Don’t allow yourself or your child to be a doormat for people that are always taking and never giving. With that said, this would really only apply under specific and rare circumstances and would not apply to acquaintances or semi-close relationships; I’m talking close, where your kids are together quite often and you know each other well. Only you can make this call, but I would never want a mom or a child to be taken advantage of by another family who isn’t performing to standards on their end of the relationship. If this is the case, it might be time to consider finding better friends who are worthy of keeping the friendship on a two-way street. Don’t go bold and “let them have it”, instead just gradually set boundaries that will steer the relationship in a different direction.
While being excluded is never fun, it is sometimes just a part of life. Every situation can be different, so only you can make the best decision for you and your child. It’s always the goal to be the finest example you can for them, so whether that be to forgive and forget or decide it’s time to choose better friends, use your head instead of your heart. Our children are watching our every move, so make a decision you know they will benefit and learn wisely from.
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