Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Party invites? Who needs 'em?

Occasionally I encounter parenting advice that makes me question how my upbringing in the Mid-west was so different from others around the country. My parents were no nonsense but heavy on the manners. Manners were a significant portion of my childhood. My parents demanded it and my grandparents expected it from us. As children we knew to have our please and thank you at the ready as well as noting when to be thankful for what we were given. The latter being the most important portion of our upbringing. We were expected to be thankful for what we had and to curb our "gimmes". I get more than I need of parenting magazines. As I write this I'm really starting to wonder what motivated me to accept them. Oh wait, I remember they were free. Sigh. I'm always sucked in with the free. After reading these I can tell you that very little in these magazines has any usefulness. Maybe the one article a year about children's health is but other than that they are filled with senseless articles. It may have to do with some of those former Cosmo editors suddenly having kids and needing a new focus so they slide on over to the parenting magazine biz. Recently I have decided that these magazines are completely stupid. I know I used the bad "S" word but there just is not a better word to describe them. I am reminded about how silly these magazines are every time I read the help columns. In the current issue (July 2013) of Kiwi magazine the Family Time section I could not believe the advice given by the author, a famous family psychologist.

The question was regarding birthday party invitations. A mother wrote in seeking help about dealing with her son not getting an invitation to a birthday party. This boy attends some sort of school (pre-school or elementary) where the parents assumed that many of the children in his class were invited to a classmate's birthday party. It's the 'ol "every one got an invitation but me" scenario. The mother's uninformed (I say this because unless you have spoken to the person hosting you have no idea who is on the guest list for all you know the "everyone" your child it referring to is really only 3 kids) assessment is that her son was being excluded And ::stamps foot::: It's not fair! The author advises the mother to talk to the teacher or school psychologist. The teacher! Wait, what? Ask the teacher to talk to the host and find out why a kid in the class was not invited to a private not-at-school party! Let me get this new social policy straight. Uninvited kid's parent needs to ask the teacher to get the kid invited to a party. Nothing about putting on your big boy/girl grownup pants and go ask the host directly?

Okay everyone we need to take a BIG step back here and think about this for 5 minutes.

Did I miss something in societal order and manners? Please tell me I did because this nonsense of pitching a fit about something unfair means you can get anything you want is ridiculous. (Does that mean if I throw a fit at the Tory Burch store I'll get that awesome $500 handbag for $50? If so then I'm all for it.) Have we all become 2 years old? I was thoroughly distressed by this author's advice. I am very concerned that a nationally recognized psychologist with many parenting books on top selling lists is handing out this advice. This is paving the way for more bullying parents to feel validated for their rude behaviors. Never has it been acceptable to force an invitation from a host. It is and will always be W R O N G. I don't care how well you think you know the host it is never good manners to guilt an invite out of a host. Never should you ask your child's teacher to get involved with a non-school event. Doing so is asking the teacher to get involved with something that has nothing to do with their role in educating your child. If we were to pose this very same scenario in an adult environment not one person would agree that their boss should intervene with the host co-worker and see why a few staff members were not invited to a BBQ. Doing so would seem ludicrous; So why is it ok to ask your child's teacher to do the same? Your kid will cry. Your kid will have hurt feelings. His socks won't fit right. The oatmeal is too hot. You didn't stop at the ice cream store. He can't stay up late watching TV. Must I go on with countless daily disappointments our kids face?

Listen up parents your kid may not get invited to every or frankly any party hosted by classmates. There is no reason why a host HAS to invite everyone. Sure that stinks and is bad form but still it's a private party and a host has every right to determine the number of guests. Children's birthday parties have become this insane expectation. Insane in the ways parents put on a highly expensive production and Insane in the ways that just because you know a person it is assumed you'll be invited to the party. Who decided the latter? When did it become acceptable to feel an invitation is assumed? Specifically why as a hostess should I feel obligated to invite additional children?

To digress a bit I've even heard of families complaining that a sibling was "so left out" at a party because the parent HAD to bring the uninvited sibling and how "totally upsetting" it was to watch other kids have fun while their party crashing kids had to "sit and watch" all the fun. By the way that too is rude. It's rude to assume that if one of your children has been invited to a party that the rest of them count too. If you know ahead of time that your other kids have to come along then you need to let the host know (sometimes many of us gracious hostess will just make sure we have enough for the sibs) AND you need to be prepared to take a hike and do something else with your other children. Here's a pro tip: It's really ok to leave your kid alone at a party. (I'm taking 5 years and above) Don't be that nutcase parent hovering around your kid. If you do that at my parties I'll put you to work so that you don't look like an uncomfortable freak.

For a moment let's forget about the lack of invitation and any reason regarding your child not being invited. Here's something to ponder: What if the host family does not like you? No, not your kid, but you the Mom or Dad? What if the reason why your child "never gets invited" is because the classroom parents know that you are detestable? Are you ready to handle that reality? In my 13 years of parenting I have seen and heard of countless kids being purposefully excluded due to an unreasonable jerk of a parent. It's one thing having to deal with intense over bearing parents at a school event but when it comes to our homes, our private parties, where we want them to be fun and positive very few of us has the willingness to endure a few hours of unnecessary stress.

Still want to protest that lack of invitation? Go ahead but forgo asking the teacher to get involved. Leave your teacher out of it. Involving the teacher will make you look foolish and increase your chances as being labeled a bothersome parent. Be an adult ask the host directly but you better be prepared for the answer. It may not be something you want to hear. Seriously parents if your biggest concern is that your precious little child will have lasting hurt feelings from not being invited to a classmate's party then clearly you have a blessed life.

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