23 answers

My Son Wasn't Invited to a Birthday Party

I feel really sad that my son wasn't invited to a birthday party that one of his preschool classmates is having. I know this is only the beginning of a lifetime of feeling hurt for my children and wanting to protect them from anything that isn't perfect. So, how do I make my children strong enough to handle life's minor disappointments? He doesn't know about it yet (I assume that kids in his class will be talking about it on Monday). I found out about it because another mom called to see if we could drive her little boy to the bowling party. Do you have any ideas about what I can tell him if he asks about the birthday party? He is almost 4 1/2 years old.

I think the mom didn't invite everyone in the class in order to save money (which I can understand), but I can't help but feel sad that my little guy didn't make the cut.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks for the advice. You're probably right that no one will even bring it up on Monday. It just so happened that my husband was planning to take our kids to a museum and even rode the train today, so it wasn't as if he didn't have a thing to do. I certainly wasn't planning on bringing it up. I guess I was just surprised because I hang out with this mom (and a few others) every Wednesday with our younger children as our older ones are at school. I get along with her very well and serve on the Board with her. Obviously, it is I who is taking this thing more personally than I need to. Our sons have a playdate arranged this week, but it is their first one-on-one playdate together.

To the mom who is disturbed that I used the phrase, "make the cut" I wasn't being funny, but I was using the phrase in a literary sense, not a literal sense. It was just a colloquialism. I wrote this question because I genuinely felt sorry for my son. That's it. No need to go psychoanalyzing. I love him to tears and just wanted advice on how to prevent this from becoming an issue if he notices it.

Featured Answers

Im sorry, but that mom is a jerk for leaving someone out. If she couldnt invite them all, she shouldnt have invited any. Arrrg! Mean people drive me crazy!

1 mom found this helpful

Tkae him out to lunch/dinner/Chuck-e-cheese style play place. Make it worth his while and when he asks - tell him its his own private party.

1 mom found this helpful

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I have 2 thoughts -

1. How were the invites distributed? This starts the onslaught of information that doesn't actually get home with kids. did she pass out invites at school? Could yours be crumpled on the floor of your sons cubby along with the notice about whatever that you didn't see either? We weren't invited to a party when my daughter was in 1st grade - lo and behold we HAD been invited, but no invite.... So you might want to check with his teacher.

2. Instead of thinking about this as your son 'not making the cut' reframe your mindset - this is about teaching your son that he (and others) have to make choices. just like when you go to the store he can't have EVERY toy, well when you have a party you can't invite EVERY kid and THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HIM. If YOU introduce this as he should be heartbroken then he will be heartbroken. If you are very matter of fact - yeah, jimmy had a party but not everyone could be on the list. No big deal. Then you are setting your son up to not take things personally - which is VERY important for later in his life.

I disagree with taking him out somewhere special. Don't set the stage for you having to 'make up' for anyone who 'does him wrong' - you'll pay that price forever. Start planning now for what you will do when he asks a girl to prom and she turns him down..... instead - this is a training opportunity for you to begin dialogue with your son about people in life making choices - and it has NOTHING to do with how they feel about your son. Make sure THAT is the message he receives.

Acknowledge that it's ok for him to feel however he feels, but that that is just how it is.

Good luck.

17 moms found this helpful

I doubt that kids will be talking about it, honestly. Even at that age, "yesterday" might as well have been a lifetime ago.

Personally I just wouldn't say anything about it at all. If he mentions that kids were talking about it on Monday, I would just tell him that not everyone gets invited to every party - it doesn't mean that he and the other little boy aren't friends. I would point out that he doesn't invite person X, Y, or Z over to play, and that different people have different close friends. If he's still upset, just empathize without making a big deal of it.

Remember, this is probably more hurtful to you because of how much you love your son than it is to him. Maybe he doesn't even really like that little boy, so he wouldn't have wanted to go anyway.

Good luck.

7 moms found this helpful

When my youngest was in preschool, one particularly bossy girl told her "you're not invited to my birthday party" I was very proud when my 3 year old piped right up and said, "that's OK, no one gets to go to EVERY party" That is exactly what we always talked about with our kids (my youngest must have picked this up early from hearing me talking to my older daughter). We always say, "you can't invite everyone to your party, and you will not get invited to every party either" No one does, that's how it goes. No one owes anyone else an invitation to anything, sometimes you're invited, sometimes you're not. Not everyone chooses to have big parties anyway.

5 moms found this helpful

I think its ridiculous to invite a ton of kids to a preschoolers party. Maybe this Mom went with the ever popular you can invite as many kids as you are old- that would only be 4 or 5 kids he could invite. I didn't invite every one in my sons class, I just asked him who he wanted and he named a few, I'm guessing a month earlier or a month later he might have named a different few. Since he was going to go to school in a different town for kindergarten and wouldnt be seeing all his preschool friends the following year, I choose to invite the one child who would go to his new school and the one child that attends the same church because these would be the only kids he would continue to see on a regular basis. So it could have been the Mom's choice for reasons you dont know, or a distracted preschooler who just named the kids he'd played with on that particular day.
No reason to be upset unless he invited every child in the class except yours (which would probably indicate a lost invitation)
This will happen over and over again, he'll be fine unless you make it a big deal

4 moms found this helpful

I wouldn't necessarily bring it up to him but when he does you might do what I did with my daughter. We talked about how we are fotunate that we have parties in our backyard so can invite a lot of people but we still couldn't invite EVERYONE in school, All The Teachers, how about everyone in the neighborhood or town? Would all these people fit? She was young enough that she enjyoed the silliness and understood. I went on to explain that they may have an even smaller place to have a party and can't invite everyone they would if they could. Still dissapointing but a fact of life.

3 moms found this helpful

if you make a big deal out of it, your son will too. avoid mentioning the party and reminding it to him and on that day do something special with him. at his age children don't take these things as bas as adults do, unless their caregivers give them the impression that they should..i would save my concerns for later.

3 moms found this helpful

We never concentrate on what others have and we don't have, wether its an invitation to a birthday party or a toy. We always concentrate on what we do have and being happy for what others have. There is no reason why we can't be excited for other people and be happy for them. There is absolutely no good to come from feeling bad for something that we don't have or get to do. When these things come up in conversations I just begin asking questions about how things went and what was enjoyed and then I show how happy I am for them. My children just follow along for the most part. Every once in awhile one of them will say that they really would want or what ever and I agree that what ever it was, was a great idea and we may have to try that.

Your little guy is only 4 so it will be a bigger deal for you than it will be for him. Don't project what you feel on to him. I may even bring it up to the birthday boy so that I can show my child how to handle it. I would say, "I hear you had a birthday! How exciting!" I would go on to guide my child in how to be excited and happy for the other child.

3 moms found this helpful

Don't bring it up to your son. He may be completely oblivious to the party, because kids his age really don't talk about parties at school. I anticipated this same thing last year as I heard about a party that my daughter wasn't invited to, but she never even knew it happened. Cheer your son up if he does find out and feels bad, but even that sadness will likely be short lived. He can understand that not everyone can afford a party with everyone in the class and it doesn't mean the classmate having the party doesn't like him. There will be a lot of other parties that he will be invited to attend, and after buying all the gifts, you'll wish he wasn't invited to so many.

3 moms found this helpful

Don't look at it as your child not making "the cut" as you put it. So much of our children's disappointments come from watching our lead. Instead of understanding that parents don't always have the money, room or desire to have 20 little boys and girls from class at the party, they have their children pick ones they play most with. I would give my children a limit of how many people they invite, so did most other mothers back then. If a friend had a party and my children wasn't invited that is how I would explain it to my children "Sorry you weren't invited, it is ok, they probably would have loved to be able to have you there but couldn't invite everyone." I didn't make them feel worse by getting mad about it, I treated it as a fact of life. They didn't feel bad about themselves because so and such had a party and didn't invite them, they just knew that others had them and they were invited and that is ok. We have to stop "victimizing" our children with the excuse of self esteem since self esteem does grow with the realizing that we can go through those disappointments ok.

2 moms found this helpful

I would tell him exactly why you think...."It's very expensive to have birthday parties!! I bet he just got to pick one or two friends even though I am sure he wanted to invite everyone!" Then change the subject.

2 moms found this helpful

I don't think the mom didn't invite everyone in the class in order to save money, I think she didn't invite everyone in the class because it wasn't necessary.
I have had birthday parties for the last 6 years and we have NEVER invited more than 5 other kids, simply because any more is unnecessary. How does your child have fun when they have 20 (or more) other kids competing for their attention in a 3 - 4 hour time period?
When your son has his birthday will you be inviting every child in his class, even if he doesn't play with them, just so no one feels left out?
I know that pre-k is different but most of the elementary schools in our area have 33 - 35 kids in a class! That's a lot of kids to invite to avoid the much needed reality check that you can't always get what you want.
If you start out their social lives teaching them to expect an invitation any time there's a birthday or a party, there's going to be a lot of let down and disappointment in their young lives.

2 moms found this helpful

I doubt the kids will say anything about it, they're only in preschool.

Everyone else gave you good advice. I just have to say, the way you wrote your last sentence is a little disturbing. Hopefully you just meant it humorously. Your little guy didn't "make the cut?" He, and you, need to understand that he will not be everyone's best friend, and that is perfectly okay. He will probably have a handful of good friends, and he will attend their birthday parties. The fact that he won't attend the parties of everyone he comes into contact with doesn't mean he didn't "make the cut." There's no cut to make. It's just life.

2 moms found this helpful

Let the teacher know that not everyone was invited to a party so she can be sure the talk doesn't turn to that. Secondly, preschools do not need to have parties of 12 or 14 kids, and elementary school kids do not need to have parties of 22 or 24! So no one should be inviting the whole class. Moreover, you will soon learn that you do not want your child to be invited to 15 or 20 parties a year - you don't want to always be shopping for gifts or have your weekends taken up with yet another party. And you really don't want to get sucked into the competition of how much money you can spend on the coolest party - it's a very unhealthy competition! As an aside, I can't imagine 4 year olds having much fun at bowling! They don't have the gross motor control to do much with the ball, and they can't add enough to keep score!

Tell your child that parties are very small, and when his birthday comes around he won't be inviting everyone either. Explain that we don't talk about our invitations in front of people who weren't invited. If he says "Jimmy is having a bowling party," you say, "How nice for Jimmy." If your child really seems interested, maybe you can take him bowling some time and see if it's really all that fun. I wouldn't get into the habit of saying you'll take your kid to everything he didn't get invited to, though.

Try hard not to have phrases like "make the cut" in your own mind, because it's easy to transfer your own disappointment to you child. At this point, he doesn't really know that some people have big (and, sorry, RIDICULOUS) parties so you don't need to plant that idea in his head. Four and five year olds cannot handle a huge party - it's too much stimulation, there is too much going on, it's too much for the host parents to manage, and so on. Money may be just one issue, and it may not be there at all. If you take the financial aspect our of your own mind, you can get rid of the notion that your child isn't "valuable" enough to be included. You also don't know if the host family has relatives or cousins who need to be included.

Also, I did not want my child to get spoiled by getting a whole ton of presents - it's no fun for 20 kids to sit around and watch one kid open 20 gifts. It's time consuming, boring, and looks pretty excessive.

I'd let it go.

2 moms found this helpful

My son is 4, and you're right, this is the beginning of a life filled with hopefully only occasional disappointments. I had a 4th b-day party for my son. We invited non-preschool friends & some pre-school friends. I asked my son who from school he wanted to invite. He gave a few names. The next day he gave a couple other names. I simply couldn't invite everyone. The boy with the party is really too young to pick boys he "likes" and not pick boys he "doesn't like." He probably just named names. Maybe he couldn't think of your son's name off the top of his head, hadn't sat next to him in awhile, etc. Don't mention it if he doesn't ask. If he asks, just say sometimes we get invited, sometimes we don't....you're sure there will be another party soon. I don't think kids that age would even talk about it at school....Try not to take it personally....this age is too young for that to come into play (hopefully we have another couple years of the innocence!).

2 moms found this helpful

Tkae him out to lunch/dinner/Chuck-e-cheese style play place. Make it worth his while and when he asks - tell him its his own private party.

1 mom found this helpful

Im sorry, but that mom is a jerk for leaving someone out. If she couldnt invite them all, she shouldnt have invited any. Arrrg! Mean people drive me crazy!

1 mom found this helpful

I would lie. lol If he brings it up and he's sad I would probably say, "oh no honey. that's too bad, but it's ok because we can't go anyway. We have to go to chuckee cheese that day for mommy and son day." Or some other made up thing. Then maybe on our date I would talk about how sometimes when you have a party they only let you bring 10 people and we're not always going to be part of that 10 or ask him if he had a party and could only invite 10 people, who would he invite and would he feel bad for the kids he couldn't invite. I would have the conversation at a differant time and place than when my son was upset.

Well don't make a big deal about it in front of your son. I have 3 kids and I only once invited the whole class ( against my better judgment) I was pregnant with my third and it was too much trouble.
I can't afford to have big lavish parties. Its nuts. Most people around here have their parties at party places...which start about $400-$500 but go higher. Those parties the whole class is invited and don't scrip on expenses.
I usually purchase a birthday cake and come up with homemade games myself. The kids have just as much fun.
Have you made an effort with this family? Did you invite them over for a playdate? Or do you just know them to say hi to?
If he brings it up..I would say you have a special day planned for you, your husband and son..maybe go on a hike and enjoy the day.

I used to feel the exact same way when my oldest was in that 3-4 range. But people have to draw lines for financial and sanity reasons. I wouldn't take it personally at all! If you are matter of fact about it, he'll be fine with it and shouldn't feel badly.

I really like wickerparkgirl's answer. Another thing to - you can play the bad guy in this too. I didn't get to go to hardly any parties because my parents had to ration their gas. If I remember correctly - I only went to one when I was like 10.
Plus I wouldn't delve to much into it anyway - he's 4 1/2 years old. What do you do when you say No to a new toy that he wants? Life has it's ups and downs - you win some and loose some. It will make him a stronger person if he overcomes these small obsticles in life.

He might not even mention it. Hopefully he won't!

I had the same thing happen to my son. I felt soooo sad for him. He's almost 4 and wasn't invited to a b-day party. I didn't mention anything to him. He didn't say anything to me about it, so I'm thinking if they did talk about it, he really didn't put it together. I know his b-day is coming up and I'm trying to decide if I should invite the whole class or just the friends he really plays and talks about. It's hard because I don't want anyone to feel left out.
I would get a feel for it. Ask him about the kid who had the party and if he plays with him, ect....if he doesn't say anything, it really didn't bother him.
It always hurts us a little more.

I guess the mom handed out invites outside of school, as isn't it most schools policy that every child has to be invited if you hand out invites in class? Maybe he was invited and the invite is in his "mailbox" in class? If that isn't the case, then I wouldn't worry about it. Maybe one kid might mention it, but at 4 by the time Monday rolls around it is forgotten. If your son brings it up I agree with the poster that said just say not all kids get invited to all parties and I would add, the parents probably can't fit everyone. It also has nothing to do with your little guy making the cut. Is this child one of his BFF's? If not it is so early in the school year I'm sure the mom influenced who to invite, by the moms she knows and spends time with.

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