Kiddo birthday parties are a landmine.
Throwing a kids’ birthday party is high-risk behavior in the department of offending or excluding people. Clearly, no one intends to exclude kids from birthday party fun, but unless your party planning involves inviting every cousin, classmate and neighbour, there is no way around it.
If you are looking for ways to avoid that sinking feeling you get from leaving a child out, here are a few easy ways to try to prevent it:
• Don’t send paper invitations to class. I e-mail the parents of the children coming to my kids’ birthday parties. If I don’t have an e-mail address, I send a note into the school to go home with the child simply asking the parent to contact me.
• Back-up plan: Invite everyone. If you want to send paper invitations, probably best you plan for a big party and invite the whole crew.
• Have a talk about not talking. Talk to your children about not discussing their birthday party outside of the actual party. No child wants to go to school on Monday to hear all the kids talking about a party that they were not at. It’s fine to have this discussion with little party-goers as well. Remind them how they would feel – it’s a good lesson in empathy.
• Help your kids understand. Let your children know that not everyone can go to every party. This helps them realize that it’s not personal if/when they end up as the excluded kid. Not getting an invitation doesn’t necessarily reflect the friendship – it most likely has to do with the size of party the parent has planned. Often when one of my kids is invited to a party, the parents feel obliged to invite some siblings as well. I remind the parent (and my kids) that it’s not necessary – everyone gets their turn in their own time. It’s a good lesson to learn early in life.
• Mind the Facebook sharing. If you’re going to post birthday party pictures on Facebook, remember that some of your Facebook friends may have children who didn’t get invited to that party. While the rational mind knows that it’s no big deal, it can sting a Mama’s heart to think her little darling was not taking part in the celebration.
Keeping the politics out of parties helps to make the day a success for parents as well as kids. Have you encountered any birthday party politics since becoming a parent? How did you deal with it?