Friday, June 28, 2013

"You're not invited to my birthday party!"

Have you ever been the mom who's child didn't get invited to a birthday party?  Most likely it made you sad for your child.  Sad that they might feel excluded or rejected.  Hearing that your child wasn't invited probably brought up a whole slew of feelings of rejection that you've experienced over the years with your own friends.  That feeling sucks!!!!  I've been there as a mom, and as a person.

However, I've also been the mom who could only afford to invite 12 kids to my daughter's birthday party.  And guess what, 1/2 of those kids had to be her siblings and cousins!  So then she's left to only invite 6 friends.  And between classroom friends, family friends and neighborhood friends...6 isn't a lot.  So what's a mom to do?

What I tell my children is that they can invite a certain number of kids, but they are not allowed to go to school and talk about the anyone.  They have to remember that not everyone can come and feelings will be hurt and they need to be sensitive to that.  And if a child asks them if they can come, but they are not on the guest list, we have a prepared response like "I'm so sorry, I could only invite a few kids.  But my mom's bringing treats for school lunch on my birthday and we can celebrate then!"

I ask my child which 6 kids THEY want to invite. I don't invite the kids "I" want to invite since it's their party.  Before my kids were in school, they didn't really care and I just invited my friends and their children because those were the kids we hung out with all the time.  But after they went to school and made their own friends, I had to let go a bit.  It's their party, so they should be able to invite who they want.  With the exception of inviting the opposite sex to sleepovers, ect.  I would hate it if my husband made me invite someone I didn't like to my birthday dinner.  I respect my kids enough not to do that to them.  And I won't go bankrupt to invite ALL the kids she knows. So if there can only be 6 friends, it's her choice of 6 friends.

Also, when I'm the mom of the birthday child and I know that there are a few children, in particular, whose feeling might be hurt by not being invited, then I like to call/email their mom and give them a heads up and explain the situation.  This gives the mom time to prepare her response for her child.

With that said, planning a birthday party can sometimes be very stressful and time consuming, so if I don't call you, please have grace for me.  I probably forgot to call or just didn't think about it with all the birthday planning craziness occurring.  When in doubt, forgive me please. :)

So what do I do when my kid's excluded?  Well first I feel sad.  Then I feel angry.  Then I  finally tell myself the truth.  I tell myself that there was probably a good reason they couldn't invite my child and that this isn't an evil master plan to exclude me.  Then I put my ugly big girl panties on and say to myself, "that's right Holly, everything in life is not about you!"

So after I've processed my feelings of rejection, I sit my kid down and explain to them how life works too. Teaching them how to push through rejection and disappointment is such a great quality to learn.  I make sure not to do it when I'm feeling rejected or angry; otherwise, I know it will come through to them and be more about me then them.

What I say to my child is this: "Listen honey, sometimes you get to be first and sometimes you have to be last.  Everyone gets their turn in life.  And just because you weren't invited doesn't mean they don't like you.  It might just mean that they didn't have enough room or money.  And it's ok to be sad about it.  I've not been invited to parties before too and it stings.  But let's not be angry at the birthday boy/girl.  However, we can feel sad we weren't able to go. (hugs) Fortunately, there will always be more birthday parties.  How about we go to the park that day instead and make our own fun!"  This teaches them to process their sad feelings without becoming resentful and bitter.  And that they can make their own fun and don't have to wait around to be invited to "fun".  And if I'm truly honest with myself, I'm probably a little relieved that I don't have to buy another birthday present!  HALLE-FREAKIN-'LUJAH!!!

Now, what if my child doesn't particularly get along with my best friend's child?  What if my child doesn't want them to come at all?  What do I do?  I've experienced this before and it sucks.  It sucks because you don't want to hurt your friends feelings or their child's feelings.  But you also want to respect your child's wishes for their special day.  You don't want your friend's child to come and ruin the party because you know they will hit other kids, fight over toys, have a bad attitude, open all the presents them self, start a food fight and make your child miserable.

In this situation I would swallow the vomit that's pushing up my throat, and then talk to my friend and say "my daughter chose a certain number of kids and I'm so sorry to say that your child wasn't one of them. Some kids have good chemistry and some just don't; just like adults.  I know it sucks and I wish they got along better, but I want to respect my daughter's wishes on her special day."

Bottom line, life isn't always fair.  And to teach our children that it is fair is such an injustice to them.  When my children feel excluded, I try to help them process their sadness in a healthy way, let them cry, validate their feelings, hold them and comfort them.  Let them feel the disappointment so they will learn not to be scared of that feeling in the future.  They will eventually learn that they won't always be included in everything (us moms know that better than anyone) and that's ok.  They are in charge of making their life happy and fun.  They don't have to wait on other's to invite them to fun.

And, on a side note, I never had a birthday party growing up.  It's important to me to teach my kids just how freakin' special it is that they get one and that they get to go to other people's parties.  I want them to be grateful that they even have friends to invite them to begin with.  That's the real deal! :)
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