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Thread: Birthday party invitation debate - WWYD?

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    It's BEN and Jerry, not GWEN and Jerry! Catamount's Avatar
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    Birthday party invitation debate - WWYD?

    Should kids accept invitations to birthday parties from kids they do not want to be friends with?

    There is a girl named C the same age as my daughters. All three girls have some challenges with their social skills, and C's method of engaging with them is to pick on them. She seems to be trying to start a friendship, but interactions end in screaming or tears every time. After two years of C being in the same class as one of my kids, the teachers decided to separate them onto different teams this year in the middle school, so they don't share any classes. I just learned that all three girls are on buses that arrive early in the morning, and they are apparently tangling in the cafeteria most days while waiting to be allowed into the school building before separating for the rest of the day.

    My kids came home feeling uncomfortable yesterday, because apparently C is planning to invite them both to her birthday party. My kids attended her party two years ago when the girls were in the same class and before the situation became entirely clear to me, then declined last year with the excuse that we were unavailable. I was expecting that separating them at school would have been enough to eliminate future invitations, particularly since we have never reciprocated. This is not a relationship that I want to encourage, but I suspect that C doesn't have a lot of other friends to invite. As a parent of kids with social challenges, I can imagine the pain of having no one want to come to a party, but this friendship has no future, and it would be better for C to pursue other options.

    WWYD?
    "Correlation doesn't imply causation, but it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing 'look over there.'"


  2. #2
    Full Sponsor TapToTalk's Avatar
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    What do your kids want to do? They're old enough to be a part of this decision.

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    Moderator purplekitty's Avatar
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    I agree with T3. They are old enough to start making some of these decisions themselves. If they don't want to go, they can just decline. There is no requirement to be someone's friend or go to someone's party. It's actually a good life lesson for them either way if you think they can handle it.

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    It's BEN and Jerry, not GWEN and Jerry! Catamount's Avatar
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    I should have included that in the original post.

    They want to take the path that is least likely to hurt her feelings, and I'm not sure that path is clear. They are willing to attend a party if it will make her happy to have some kids around because they want to be kind, but they are afraid that attending sends the message that they are interested in pursuing a friendship, which they are not. I think they both relate to the experience of being awkward in social skills, and they are willing to extend her the benefit of the doubt that her intentions are good, but they don't enjoy her company.
    "Correlation doesn't imply causation, but it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing 'look over there.'"


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    Moderator purplekitty's Avatar
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    I don't think it's being kind to go to a party without wanting to pursue a friendship, iykwim. The kindest thing they can do then, given the additional information, is to decline the invitation so that it's clear they do not want to be friends with her.

    The bottom line is that her feelings may still get hurt. Getting hurt feelings is part of life that everyone needs to learn how to manage. And setting up false expectations will eventually be more hurtful.

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    Where the flowers bloom Andee's Avatar
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    I would be finding something else to do that day and decline the invitation.

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    Nihongo dame desu villanelle's Avatar
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    It sounds like your girls only reason for kind of wanting to attend it not to hurt her feelings, but they don't actually want to be at her party with her. Given that, I think it would be a decline, with a talk with the girls about boundaries, and how sometimes it it okay to do something uncomfortable in the long run for the sake of everyone's comfort and happiness. They don't need to be at a party they don't want to be at, just for the sake of someone else's feelings, especially when they are trying to create a healthy boundary and distance due to a very real issue. Hurt feelings aren't fun, but they also aren't something to be avoided at all costs and when there are greater issues at play, sometimes hurt feelings are the result of a greater, healthier good.

    *IANAParent

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    Premier Sponsor Peanut's Avatar
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    Why should they be concerned about not hurting her feelings if they tussle every morning at school? I agree with purplekitty.

  9. #9
    It's BEN and Jerry, not GWEN and Jerry! Catamount's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peanut View Post
    Why should they be concerned about not hurting her feelings if they tussle every morning at school? I agree with purplekitty.
    Because our family puts a high value on being kind. My kids have trouble with high-level social skills, and have made far more errors assuming ill intent from people than missing when someone is actually trying to be mean to them. Our school system has *a lot* of kids with challenges (more than 1 kid in 10 is on an IEP in our district) and bullying behavior that is seen by an adult is shut down quickly and consistently. I'm sure it happens under the radar, but all kids know it's not acceptable.

    When I said they 'tangled', I meant interactions generally end with the other girl shouting and / or stomping off, rather than physical violence.

    It's helpful to hear that everyone shares my perception that attending a party is a signal that one is interested in deepening a friendship. Some of the framing in your answers is really helpful, too. I'll definitely use some of this when we talk about it here again. Thanks.
    "Correlation doesn't imply causation, but it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing 'look over there.'"


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    Quote Originally Posted by purplekitty View Post
    Getting hurt feelings is part of life that everyone needs to learn how to manage.
    And you claim to teach courses on a modern university campus? This attitude might be career limiting.

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