Preschool Classmates Birthday Parties...

Updated on October 06, 2010
L.P. asks from Uniontown, PA
20 answers

Ok, so my son started a new preschool this year, so we really don't know the kids well or the parents at all yet. My son is invited to 3 birthday parties in the next 2 weeks for some classmates, and I am torn as to whether to go or not.

I know it is nice of these families to invite us to the parties, and it sounds like they have made the parties "kid" parties, rather than basic family parties at home. One is at a bowling alley, one is at a farm, and the other is an outdoor party at the child's home, but supposed to be a 'festifall' party. I haven't told my son about any of them because I don't know whether we're going or not.

My reasons for not wanting to go:
-I don't know these people. I hate to sound antisocial, but I don't really enjoy sitting around making small talk with other mothers that I don't know. (I know, I'm awful.) Can anyone relate?
-We don't plan to have a "friend" party for my son's birthday. We'll do the same family party we have every year (he does have a couple of family friends children at his party in addition to family - one who also happens to be in his calss). And I'm not saying I'LL NEVER have a kid party, just NOT YET.
-This is a minor one, but still a consideration - that's 3 gifts in 2 weeks, plus we have a family friend and a cousin with birthdays in the same 2 weeks, so actually it's 5 gifts in 2 weeks.

My reasons for feeling like maybe we should suck it up and go:
-Worried that few kids will show at the parties, leaving the poor little birthday child very disappointed (and the parents spent money and planned these events for the kids.)
-Worried that the kids will talk about the party at school, and my son will feel like he was left out (because I didn't plan to tell him about the parties if I decide we're not going. If I tell him, he'll nag me to go until the cows come home.)

What would you do or have you done in this situation where your child was invited to parties for kids you barely know, and parents you don't know at all? (Just a side note, I would not be leaving him there... I'd be staying.) I feel like a real party pooper, but I really don't want to go either! But yes, I'm sure my son would enjoy the parties... and I know, it's not all about me.

Would you suck it up and go?

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So What Happened?

Thank those of you who gave positive advice and added perspective.

For those of you who felt it necessary to state that I think it's all about me, well, whatever. I didn't say I WOULDN'T EVER, DON'T EVER, CAN NOT socialize with other parents or do things for my son that I don't particularly love. 99% of EVERYTHING I do is for my son. I simply said I don't 'enjoy' socializing with people I don't know. I never said that I refuse to do it.

In any case, I'll allow my son to decide which parties he would like to attend, and I'll happily accompany him. And yes, he will have a good time seeing his classmates outside of class, and yes, I will get to see who he seems to click with. My son does have other opportunities for socialization with children outside of school. These parties are not his ONLY venue for socializing in unstructured environments. We have playdates with family friends children, we frequent play areas/parks, he is involved with sports at the YMCA, etc. So I do realize the importance of the opportunity to socialize. He gets plenty of it.

Thank you all again for encouraging me to go. I do think you are right and we will go to any that my son wants to attend.

WOW, MOMMYX3 really went off the deep end on this one... my son is SOOOO not antisocial. Did you even read my question? He is actually quite the social butterfly, much like his father. And WE DO SOCIALIZE. Geez, people, I didn't say we never leave the house, for pete's sake!!! Sheesh! And did I say anything about expecting gifts for my son? I only made the comment about not having a classmate party for my son's birthday, meaning that I wouldn't be reciprocating the invitation to the kids in his class!!! It had nothing to do with gifts!! In fact, we've asked family members to donate a gift to a needy child instead of party gifts!!!! SOOOO missing my point here....

THANK GOD, Christina M. I knew I couldn't be the only mother out there feeling this way!!!

More Answers



answers from Boca Raton on

I was a preschool mom.... Now my baby is in kindergarten. You have to go. Why? It's not about you and being social with the moms. It's about your child and the child learning social skills. My husband was in an accident when my son was in preschool. Hospitalized for 18 months. Guess who helped me with my son more than anyone? The preschool moms.... Not family. Those children are kind of like family to your child because they spend many hours together. I think your child would be hurt if his friends did not show up to a party you planned.... You stated that you want birthdays to consist of mostly family.... I can promise you that your child would want classmates to attend also... Good luck!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

my daughter went to every preschool party she was invited to last year, except one because of a family party. some kids never went, some only went when able.

what you first need to realize is your reason of "not wanting to socialize" should not even be a reason. because you are antisocial, is it fair to make your child antisocial as well? dont you want your child to have friends and be included? you dont have to talk to people if you dont want to. at 3, chances are your child will need your participation in some way and you arent going to be just sitting around. and you should want to see the children you son is around. its good to see the families of other children, it gives you an idea of who you might feel is a good playdate, or maybe one you want to avoid. its not about YOU socializing, its about being an INVOLVED parent!!!

if you really cant afford the presents, then so be it, but i have gotten presents probaly $5-7. there is no rule that you have to get some extravagent gift. i actually would have prefered a coloring book and markers compared to toys.

and as for your sons party, i believe its very important to teach children at a young age that is about giving, not receiving. your son should never be going to a party because he expects them to come to his in return. he can easily understand he is having a family party instead of one with friends. i dont that needs to be a consideration.

so i guess i dont think any of your reasons are sufficient, lol. i really dont mean to come across harsh. its just that im not truley outgoing, but i would never let my personality trait affect my daughter and how she lives. its very important to realize preschool is about teaching your child to socialize with others, to learn the world does not revolve around them, and sharing with others. to deny your child an experience because you will feel uncomfortable is unfair, but also will instill a negative(antisocial is not positive) trait in him as well. that would actually be one of the reason i would go.

and it will be fun to watch your son interact with classmates. bring a camera, im sure there will be lots of cute things he does you will enjoy. i would say it would be more in his benefit to tell him about the party, whether you go or not. children are already talking about it, telling the child if they are coming. your son may think he was never invited in the first place. and if he would beg you to go, you need to be the adult and be honest with him, you shouldnt lie about this.

just go, and realize the party is not expected to be a good time for YOU, its for 3-4 year olds. and remember, you keep making a point about not knowing anyone. well...... dont you think this will be a good way to get to know people??? then, you wont be able to say "i dont know anyone" as an excuse not to go the 2nd, and 3rd party.

and just so you know, FATHERS are very involved these days. whether married or divorced, i would say every party i go to have 50% fathers, times have changed. you could easily decide to switch every other party. LET US ALL KNOW HOW IT WENT!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Yes, I would suck it up and go. :) Your son will enjoy seeing his classmates out of school, and you can at least meet the other moms. And the gift suggestions are great. One year I bought giant coloring books for two little girls in my daughter's class, and I added a box of washable markers. They loved them, and these are girls to whom we had given much fancier presents in the past. Kids like to draw, color, put stickers on stuff, and those are not expensive gifts.

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answers from Dallas on

I went through this very same debate last week. I appreciated my son being invited, but I assumed it was because everyone was invited. In our case it was a boy from his team and we didn't even know the child....I had to listen for his name on the field. My first inclination was to skip the party, but my son heard about it from someone and wanted to go. I too hate small talk. When I walked in I was doubly worried, they had so much family there. I was thinking, "Greeattt. I don't know a sole AND they are all related". I am sooo glad we went. The family was super warm and friendly. And since I stayed to watch my child, there wasn't too much small talk involved, I was kept busy following my son. They had lots of family there, but my son was the only kid who showed up who wasn't related to the child - and they invited the team and preschool class. That little boy was so excited and the little bonding moment seemed to kick start a budding friendship. Before going I looked at the gift as his "entry" fee (which is terrible, I know) to get into the place of the party . I shopped the clearance section and only spent $6, but found something nice he seemed to love. And many times, board games go on sale at Christmas time, I plan on stocking up this year, so I have inexpensive, but nice gifts on hand. I talked to friends with older children and they let me know there would be more and more of these kinds on invitations as our kids get older. So I have decided to just suck it up and get used to the idea.

My son also only had family parties until last year when he turned 4. And this year, now that he is in prek and sports, I do not plan on sending out mass invitations. I will privately send out invitations to kids my son is really friends with, not every kid he knows. I would love to invite everyone we encounter, but the truth is, we can't afford it. Even for our traditional, in the backyard birthday party. I don't think people send out invitations to get invitations. I really think they just want people to come and celebrate with them, make the day special for their child.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Preschool age? I wouldn't go to them all. I'm sorry, but I'm with you on the annoyance of having to socialize with people I don't know/won't get to know/have no reason to be buddies with outside of my PRESCHOOLERS class. I've already been through this once (my older boy is now in Kinder) and am preparing to go through it again (my youngest just started PK). We did not go to the majority of the parties. We didn't have a kidstravaganza for his birthday.
I wouldn't worry about the kids talking at school. They have short memories and it's not like it will socially stigmatize your child to NOT go to a birthday party at the age of 4.
Don't worry about the parents spending money on ginormous parties for their kids. If they want to spend money on that nonsense, let them. Just be sure to let them know that you aren't coming.
I don't know where this idea comes from that little children should have some sort of blow out for their birthdays. It's bizarre to me. They will never remember them, but the parents credit cards will. Heck, I don't even remember my own kids' family birthday parties, much less someone else's.
So basically........don't worry about not going. If you truly, really, dearly want to go, then great.

I just have to add:::
When, as a society, did we become so kid focused? Why does it need to be about a 4 year olds "needs"? As far as I know, all my kids "need" is: food, shelter, love, education, clothing, healthcare. Luckily we can provide those. As far as I'm concerned, this whole attending kids birthday parties hoopla is just as bad as over-scheduling older kids with sports. There comes a point where it is just too much. The family needs to come first. If we went to every party and participated in all the sports, we would NEVER see each other!

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answers from Chicago on

I agree with most of your other responses. It would be a nice way for your son to socialize with classmates and for you to get to know some other parents. I've taken my daughter to classmate parties (and have another one this weekend). She LOVES to see her friends outside of school and I like to meet the other parents. I usually go to Target and let my daughter choose a toy for about $15 that she thinks the child would like.... you don't even have to spend that much though. I'm sure that they'd just appreciate having him there.

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answers from Dallas on

I would plan to go to at least some of the parties. I would decline the other - "we already have a family birthday that day". I would put a smile on my face and make an attempt to meet the other parents and also become more familiar with the kids at the preschool. Who might be a good playdate for my child at a later time? Learning how to handle a social situation for your son would also be a good learning lesson for him. Be pleasant, offer to help (so you are just not sitting around)

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answers from Los Angeles on

Oh, jeez, I am so w/ you on this one! I didn't read the other responses, but I'm not one to enjoy hanging out w/ people I don't know, chit-chatting about nothing in particular. Havng said that ... yeah, sometimes (heavens, not ALL the time) you just have to suck it up and go. I actually rotate w/ my husband on that one! :)

We just finished two years of preschool. During that tme, we ourselves had one big bday party for our daughter at the park, w/ family, friends and schoolmates all invited (the next year was friends/family at our house w/ a bounce house). We had good attendance by the school mates (about half?).

There were quite a few party invitations that we received as well and we decided on a case-by-case basis. I must say, I was more inclinded to attend a bday party of a child who HAD come to our daughter's party. Is that terrible? I hope not!! As for the parties we did miss, I never heard a word from our daughter about anyone mentioning it at school, so no problem there.

And I must say, I think it's sooo sweet of you to think about the other childrens' feelings should little to no children attend. I always see posts on here about no one showing/RSVPing to their child's party and it makes me really sad. Good luck!

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answers from Santa Fe on

We end up going to some birthday parties my son is invited to but not all (maybe 1/3). It depends on if we have other things going on that weekend or the convenience or if it is a really good friend. Just go to one of the three and make your excuses when you rsvp for the other two. Then you can socialize a little bit and your son will have fun, but you don't have to take up all your time going to bday parties and you don't have to buy all those presents. have fun!

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answers from Boston on

You don't know the parents and what better way to meet and get to know some of the parents then hanging out a child's party. I say let your son go to the parties its not about whether or not you want to go its about your son.

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answers from Saginaw on

I know you've already decided your answer I just wanted to add...I'm one of those moms that hates going somewhere where I don't know anyone, but I forced myself to do it for my daughter. My daughter was in preschool last year. Mine started with an invitation to meet up with another girl from her class for a community halloween festival. I was so scared. My husband wouldn't go, he stayed home with the our younger one. I'm not the small talk type of person. Luckily for me the other girls parents were very talkative and made it easy to talk to. Fast forward to almost a year later....her mom is one of my very good friends. We talk almost daily and whats even better is that now for birthday/school functions I always know I have at least one family I know really well and that will be there.

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answers from Tulsa on

The kids that attend the parties will become fast friends. They will be close and your son may feel left out.

We attended all the little parties during preschool. My husband hated every minute of it but I enjoyed it because it gave me the opportunity to get to know the other moms, which I would not have had the opportunity to even carry on a conversation with them otherwise. It is a good chance for you to maybe meet new friends.

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answers from Washington DC on

This isn't about YOU - it's about your son. SUCK IT UP AND GO.

Try to expand your horizons - you might be surprised what you find and learn along the way.

You might find that you will want to have a "KID" party for your son instead of a family party for you - I know - that sounds brutal - but that's the way I read your posting - it's all about you, you won't change what you do for your son, we will NOT invite or have a "kid" party....

Your son is missing out on things - SUCK IT UP AND GO! You don't need to buy expensive gifts. You can contact the mother and ask questions about what her child likes/needs and go from there. Oh heck - you can get a coloring book and crayons - I don't know any kids that don't like those!! And that's about $2.50 - if you buy Crayola instead of Artcraft and a Disney instead of a no-name.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I can relate because have some social anxiety myself, but sometimes you do things that make you a little uncomfortable for your kids, and for other people's kids. (personally, I dread the school Halloween carnival each year more and more, but it's a big deal to the kids, so we go)

Here's what I would do. I would absolutely bring the invitations to your son's attention. Be positive and enthusiastic with your son about how nice that he was invited to celebrate the birthdays of these new classmates. Then look at your family calendar. If you don't already have plans or a family obligation that would prevent you from attending, ask your son if he would like to go to the parties. If he is major relunctant, I would say that is OK, and respectfully decline. If he is a little unsure, I would strongly encourage him to go, have fun, and get to know the kids a little more. If he is excited, of course I would take him. Everyone is just getting to know one another at the start of the year. I would feel so bad for the little kids having a birthday party if few or no kids came. Don't assume that if the whole class is invited, the kids will have a ton of little birthday guests anyway. A lot of people will think that their child doesn't really know little Bobby all that well anyway, and not want to invest a in a small gift and bow out.

You don't have to have a kids party for him if you don't want to if you talk to him about not everyone has the same type of birthday celebration, some have friend parties, some have family parties, and some don't have a party at all, and that is all OK too. Families all have different traditions, ideas, and budgets.

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answers from Boston on

I would totally go! I would try to look at is as an opportunity to make some new friends for myself too. Going to someone's birthday doesn't mean that they'll be invited to yours, so don't worry about that. It might be kind of nice to see who your son plays with though, so you can see who his friends are and have them over to play.

I would also worry about the expense of the gift, but I've just tried to get myself comfortable giving what we can afford and going from there. Markers, play-doh, a book, none of those are super expensive and all are very popular.

If you really don't want to go to all of them, ask him if he likes to play with person X,Y or Z and then take him to the party(s) of the people he's really friends with. That will probably cut out one or two.

Have fun!

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answers from Dallas on

Okay, I'm that way. About people I don't know. The thing is...I don't want my kids to be that way. It's tough, but I try to go. Preschool and kindergarten are the hardest but once you get past those you get into parties where you can drop your child off if you know the parents well enough. You want you child included even if there will be no birthday party for your child to have friends over for. (though I will suggest you consider letting him have one friend over for a special treat. This is the beginning of the time when your son is going to realize that family parties are not the only way to do it. In the next couple of years he's going to want a kid party).

Anyhow, when we moved and had to start meeting people all over again, it was hard, but you may as well get some practice in now while he's little because there are going to be social functions with parents and teachers all year long. I'm not saying you have to go to all of them, I'm just saying give a few a try. Maybe ask your son which one of these kids he is closer to or which child he is friends with, without telling him why you are asking. My husband and I like to go together so at least we know each other, but if that is not possible give your child a time limit before you arrive. Stay for games, cake, and gifts, and then when it has been a little while excuse yourself.

As for presents we shop cheap. Especially for a preschooler. Some of my favorites are; coloring book and crayons, bubbles and bubble wands, one of those big bouncy balls that are like $3.00, or any of those plastic dinosaurs or animals you can find at Wal-Mart. Little kids are just happy to open something a lot of the time and often just showing up makes the child happy.

I hope you guys can work out a good plan that works for you. Good luck, I know it can be crazy navigating the preschool social waters!

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answers from Philadelphia on

I am like you I have our b day parties at our house. Nothing fancy. Anyhow he was invited I would go unless you have a good reason not to attend. Its nice to be invited. Then you could have some of his friends over to recipocate.

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answers from Washington DC on

We have moved a lot, military, and a birthday party is a great way to get to know another couple moms. Usually a couple preschool moms stay just to be there for the mom giving the party or because the child is just too young to be away or is wild and needs mom there or mom doesn't know the family very well, the list goes on.
So going would help you get to know some of the other families.
Find a cheap book and buy 5. Sticker books are good. So are craft supplies, Michel's has a $1 bin with some inexpensive crafts. Or spend more on the family friend and the cousin and go very inexpenive for the preschool children.
Tell your son he is invited to the parties. If you decide to go to all three then great if you can only make one let him know that Johnny's party is the only one you can go to. That way he isn't left out and it's your fault he wasn't there. :o) you can take that disappointment.

Do not feel like you have to invite everyone to the party you have for your son. In pre-K many invite the whole class but others don't even have parties.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I would definitely go. But I always enjoyed those parties as a way to get to know my son's friends parents and for something super fun and different for my kids. Kids really do have a great time at these parties. It is such fun for them to see their friends out of school.

If your son will not be at the school much longer and if those parents will not be the ones continuing on with you to Kindergarten and beyond-then skip it if you really don't want to go. But if you will be around these parents for years to come I would go and get to know them. I know its hard but it IS really good to know your kids friends parents. At least thats how I feel. Makes it so much easier when they ask to go over eachothers houses.

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answers from Boston on

Yes, I would suck it up and go. Your son will have a great time and experience new things and socialize.
I'm with you totally on the not being good/enjoying sitting around making small talk but I still do it for my daughter.

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