“Sydney is crying,” my friend told me. Sydney is not my friend's daughter, but one of her child's classmates. Sydney had not been invited to a sleepover and her mom was upset with my friend. “I just don't have enough room in my house for everyone we want to invite,” my friend explained. Still, Sydney's mom was pushing hard for her daughter to be invited even though lots of kids had not.
|Not being invited conjures up lots of unpleasant emotions|
Feeling left out is disappointing. It often brings up feelings of not being good enough, forcing someone to ask “What's wrong with me? Why was I left out?” Obviously, this is an experience no parent wants their child to endure and many, like Sydney's mom, intervene to spare their child's feelings. I've written in the past how I received an email from a mother basically saying, “I invited YOUR child to my kid's birthday party; you HAVE to invite mine to yours.” And while I understand that parents feel the need to advocate for their children:
coddling like this prevents a kid from learning one of life's most basic lessons:
you don't get invited to everything.
So what can you do when your child doesn't get included in an event? Explore the possible reasons why they were left out which probably have nothing to do with them. These reasons may include issues such as:
- Space - As with my friend above, her house simply isn't big enough to accommodate everyone they would love to invite.
- Family – Some parents limit events to just family.
- Budget – Parties are expensive resulting in guest lists being limited.
- Social – These include your child simply not playing with a kid anymore or politics (if we invite Caitlyn, then we're obligated to invite her sister because that's Caitlyn's parents' rule).
Ironically, in my experience, the kids often handle these issues of non-inclusion better than the adults. Recently, someone handed out birthday party invitations in front of my daughter. She was not invited. I asked why she had not been and she shrugged, “She's having a video game party and knows I don't like them.” To her, it was no biggie.
|Kids often handle not being invited better than their parents do!|
It's important to teach kids that “you can't always get what you want.”
They need to be able to deal with this disappointment gracefully, without parental interference. My friend stuck to her guns and as sad as Sydney is, if her mom handles the situation right, the child will grow from this experience.
For more guidance on how to help a child cope when they're not invited to something visit:
- This CNN article entitled “When Your Kid Isn't Invited"
- This article from Huffington Post entitled “Sorry, You Aren't Invited: A Practical Guide to Children's Birthday Party Guest Lists”
How do you handle it when your kids aren't invited to something?