Sister 'S Odd Request Regarding Children at Our Mother's Birthday Party

Updated on November 08, 2017
S.L. asks from Arvada, CO
28 answers

My sister is hosting a 90th birthday party for our mother. I have a younger daughter (early teens) and my sister's kids are all grown up and live out of state. My sister called me and said that at this party, she was thinking about not inviting kids because she wanted the party to be about our mom, not the kids. She mentioned that the kids (including my daughter) usually put on a skit on holidays and she didn't want them to do that at this party and maybe my daughter could tell them that or maybe she just wouldn't have them over. The only other kids in the family are our cousins kids (they are all usually invited to family functions). Frankly, the skit (i.e. preparing for it) usually keeps the kids occupied and they work quietly down in the basement. It's almost like she wants my dd to be the "heavy" to tell the other kids they can't do a skit. I really don't care about the skit and neither does my dd (she' almost too old for that anyway). I just thought the whole phone call was weird.
My sister has always been a bit standoffish with other people's kids - although I will say, her kids were always included when they were small.
Anyway, I told her that our cousins would be offended if they weren't invited and if they were invited, they would be offended if their kids weren't. My dd is very close to my mother and if she's invited and the other kids aren't that would create some ill feelings.
I told her we could have it at my house and she said that wasn't the point. She wanted the party to be about our mom and not about the kids.
Okay, any advice...? I'm not even sure what my question is, I'm just thinking she is being a little rude - it's not like it's a wedding! Reality check needed here.

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answers from Washington DC on

Yes, the party is about your mom....and what legacy she's leaving behind.

unless your mom has stated she does NOT want any kids? Then tell your sister to pound sand - these are her GRANDCHILDREN and cousins - she's NINETY years old.

this isn't about what SHE wants - it's about what YOUR MOM wants....that's what I would tell her and then sit down with your mom and tell her the situation.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Well sister is hosting the party - so she wants it played out to her script.
I'd say the party sure isn't about the kids - or your mom - it's about your sister.
It's not a surprise party, right?
Why not ask your mom what she wants?

There's nothing that says you have to have ONE celebration for a birthday.
If you and sis can't agree - then each throw your own shin dig and let your mom enjoy them both.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Please ask your mom what SHE wants. Remind your sister that if it's really about mom then mom should decide.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Tyler on

Is the party a surprise? (not recommended for a 90 yr old IMO). If not a surprise, what does your mom want? I would start there.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

Ask your mom what she wants. I know that the great grandkids are the LIGHT of my 94 year old grandpa's life and he would be VERY disappointed if they were not at the party. If your 90 year old mom wants the kids to come or doesn't have a strong opinion about it I say definitely invite the kids because you never know how much longer you will have with someone at that age and every get together counts for a lot.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

Does your mother enjoy spending time with her grandchildren and great nieces and nephews? Most older people love getting to see the youngest generations of their family having fun and thriving so I would assume your mother may be much the same, and if so who is keeping the kids away really for? It seems it is more about your sister then your mother, and if this is truly a celebration of your mother what she would want should be the real consideration.

I would think that for a 90th birthday party inviting the kids would be entirely appropriate. "invited" or not I would bring my own child and my sister would just have to suck it up.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Call your mom. I can't believe she'd want a 90th birthday party with some of the family excluded if they are usually in attendance. If she wants it with just the adults, or with just her own children and their families (not cousins), that's one thing.

I don't think it's up to your sister to decide, and I absolutely think it's ridiculous to make your daughter the messenger to the other kids. That's all they need, a "bossy teenager" telling them what to do.

If your mom wants the kids, they all come. If your mom likes the skit, then they do it. I think, given the special circumstances, that a skit about her or about the number 90 (or both) might be extra fun.

If the kids are corralled and not running around (does your sister have a lot of breakables?), and if they are being policed around liquor (which they should be), I don't see what your sister's point is. Okay, she doesn't love kids. But family members have them. So, she can plan a private celebration with just her and your mom, or she can include people. But I think your mom should decide, if you can do that without making your mom feel she's choosing between her daughters.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Im sure your mom would want everyone there and it doesnt make sense not to invite the kids. Just be firm and tell your sister your daughter is going so she will look bad if the cousins kids are not invited.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

It sounds to me like your sister doesn’t like the skit. I can not imagine a grandmother not liking it though. I know I wouldn’t even have to ask my mom what her wishes were...she would want all the kids at her party.

Tell your sister to stop being a party pooper. 😉

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I haven't read the other responses - so this is just my take. It just sounds like your sister wants a small affair, which ... for a 90th birthday party for your mom, I can see ... I don't happen to think is that odd. But it really depends on your mother's wishes. With my mother, we would have asked her what she wanted. It changed oner the years - some years, drastically depending on her health and what she was up for.

Do you have other siblings? In our family - sometimes my sister and I discuss things and then one of us has to be the 'heavy' and let the others know how a party or event is going to go down. Often, we're communicating what others have requested. So I'm wondering if your mother has requested something very small and quiet and this is your sister's way of (albeit, perhaps poorly) communicating this.

I do not think she needs to ask your daughter to communicate this to the cousins. You don't put that on a kid. I don't get that part - no. That's not your daughter's job.

If all that is wanted is a small quiet birthday party (and not a milestone affair) than it's easy to communicate that kindly. Just ask your sister the reasoning behind this. Maybe your mother is not feeling up to it - and does not want to alarm anyone. Maybe this was her suggestion. Or maybe your sister senses it and is just acting on your mom's behalf.

The other option is - if your sister is just being odd about cousins and kids (or just teenagers) - then just talk to her (I would talk, don't text) and say "Is there a problem with teens? because they are cool about not doing a skit. We just did the skit to keep them happy and out of the way at the parties. Is there something I'm not getting here? You can let me know - I'd rather you did. No worries - I'd prefer to know.".

My family operates that way. It's so much easier - just get it out in the open. Hopefully she will. I'd approach it that way.

Added: we once went away with my mom, just us siblings. It was wonderful. She had requested it. We went out for a meal and an overnight stay and then brunch the next day. I can't think of another time we had all done that. Our kids and spouses were not offended but it wasn't presented in such a way to be exclusionary.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Yikes! What a situation! On one hand, the party is for the mom - she should get final say on who attends/what happens. On the other hand, your sister is hosting the party and can (not should, but can) dictate who she invites into her home and the events/menu/etc.

How "competent" is your mom? Is she still able to speak her mind and make decisions about things. Where does she live? Still at home? With this same sister? In a nursing home?

I guess if it was me - and I am totally basing this off of my relationship with my siblings and my mother - I'd not allow my sister to railroad my mom's birthday party. I just wouldn't. The party is not for HER. If she wants to have certain caveats because she is hosting, then either she shouldn't host at all or concede to mom's wishes.

I agree - she is being rude to exclude family members based on HER opinions/wants/wishes.

Good luck - this is tricky!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

At a 40th birthday party, often it's the birthday woman and her best girlfriends, having drinks and alternatively celebrating and commiserating over turning 40.

At an 80th, 90th, or 100th birthday, usually the typical rules are out the window. The birthday man or woman is looking back on a long life, and unless there's fighting going on in the family, or unless the person is too ill to enjoy a party, then things are joyful, spontaneous, and fun. Everybody comes.

We had a 100th birthday party for my grandfather, and his great-grandchildren had a blast buying him a toy crown, a toy scepter (from a party store), and ordered a completely ridiculously funny cake about his being the king of the world now that he was turning 100. He loved it, although he was usually pretty reserved and business-like, and wore that stupid silly crown all day and pretend to order the kids around like he was a king. Both my grandpa and the kids would dissolve into laughter as they pretended to bow and call him more and more ridiculous names like "your most excellent majesty of the universe".

I hope that you can convince your sister that your mother (and happy birthday to your mom!!!) will love a party that is all about her, and that means celebrating having her grandkids being part of the party and if they want to recite a poem or put on a skit or sing and dance, fine! As long as the poem or skit or song is about your mom, or birthdays, it would be fun. It wouldn't be right for them to just do a skit about the zoo or dolphins if your mom hates animals and has never been to the ocean, for example. But if they do a skit about something that relates to your mom, or birthdays, or family, great!!

Can you imagine a party being about a woman who has made it to 90, who has a family who wants to celebrate her, but excluding grandchildren? Maybe you could suggest to your sister that you could have the fun party with the kids and skits, but that later on (next week or next month or the next day), you and your sister could take your mom out for a dignified tea or an adult dinner at a lovely restaurant - just a ladies only more restrained celebration.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

She's so very wrong. Please, have it at YOUR house and YOU make the rules.

Truly, this woman is making about herself. Not her mother. A 90 year old woman who has relatively little time still on this earth delights in the loved ones around her, INCLUDING the grandchildren. If her grandchildren were not there, she would either not understand, or she would be sad.

You know how funerals are usually when the families get together? Everyone sees everyone except the person who has brought them together - the person who died. Don't let your sister take this away from your mother.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

I know if it was my mom, she'd want all of her grandkids present. The main thing is finding out what your mom wants.

I have never heard of a situation where kids in a family were so prone to put on skits at family gatherings that it needed to be addressed. Fortunately, the solution is simple - tell your kids they are not the entertainment for the party. There will be no skits or other actions performed for the adults. You're the adult parent of the kid who tends to organize it, so it will be on you to relay the message.

There are many other ways for kids to amuse themselves. Board/card games, party games, a movie if there is a tv down there, MadLibs...the possibilities are countless.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Ask your mom what she wants since this party is about her and not your sister. She may like the skits. But for sure your daughter should not be the one to tell the kids no skit. If someone tells them it should be your sister. And not inviting the grandkids and nieces and nephews to something like this to me would be unthinkable. This is something the entire family needs to celebrate. Sounds to me like your sister is being a control freak!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Fort Myers on

Bring your daughter. Your mom isn't young. How many more times will your daughter get to see her grandma? Tell your sister to stop being controlling and to loosen up.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Tell her you'll come but you're not depriving your child of possibly the last chance she'll get to see her grandmother. It's rude to not have every possible person there. Life is short for some and ends abruptly for others.

Sounds like she's into controlling everyone.

On the other hand, let her arrange this party then why don't you invite everyone to go out to eat together or to another sibling's house or a church gym/dining hall or something and let the kids do their skit there and all the kids come, and run amok if there's room.

I wouldn't want to limit anyone having contact with grandma

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I don't know your mom, but wouldn't most grandmothers wish to see the grandchildren at their birthdays, and be delighted to see them put on a skit? I would honestly just ask your mother which she would prefer since it is about her! I wonder if your sister is planning some adult entertainment, like a stripper? lol!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

Ask your mom about it. I'm mean, don't say, "Hey Mom, do you hate having the kids at your party?" But you might say, "You know how the kids often do a skit for you. What do you think of those? Is that something you enjoy?" You might want to rephrase it, but see if you can't find out how she really feels about it. For me, that would be the deciding factor.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

As so many others have said, it is important to find out what you mother wants. This party isn't about you or your sister the birthday girl's wishes and desires should come first. All of the 90 year olds I know want all hands on deck. Every family member and friend are welcomed and wanted.

If your sister insists on having this no kids party and leaving out cousins and you mom wants them, then perhaps you could host a gathering of those left out to celebrate mom.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I agree with your sister that it should be about your mom. I also agree with you that if your mom would want everyone to be invited, then everyone should be invited. So, invite everyone and let the kids know that this is all about grandma, and that their holiday skit can wait to be done until the holiday. If your daughter is the oldest of the kids and the natural leader, then she can deliver this message. If she's not comfortable with that, then any adults can let them know. It doesn't have to be awkward - if they start to run off to prepare a skit just tell them "Hey, just so you know, there won't be any skits today. That's a special holiday tradition, so keep your ideas for the holiday."

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Happy 90th to your Mom!! That's wonderful! I would imagine she would love all her grandkids there!! I think a little entertainment breaks it up a bit! Maybe they can do a show of grandmas favorite things! Tailor it to grandma as a gift!! Your sister is completely over thinking this!!! I think the more the merrier to help celebrate your moms 90th! Best of luck!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Waco on

Seems to me that your sister is being very rude. The day is not about your sister. It is about your mother's 90th birthday. If your mother hasn't stated that she doesn't want kids around, then it is in very poor taste to not invite them. It should be a celebration of your mom's life and all those involved with her life.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Unfortunately, if your sister is hosting the party she gets to invite who she wants. I can’t imagine your mother not wanting to include children, however. Ask you mom what she wants and then you can plan another party for her to see all of the grandkids if that is her wish. Just inform her your sister is having an adults only party and you are willing to have a party for her to enjoy the children.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

A question: Is your sister also planning to invite people who are not family to this party? You don't mention that either way. Is it possible that sister's invitation list includes people such as elderly friends of your mother's, friends from church if that's mom's thing, friends from mom's neighborhood or wherever she lives--? If that is the case, then possibly sister is focused on a more formal event and/or she is worried about kids being too much for non-family guests, or she's embarrassed at the thought of a kids' skit in front of old family friends or the church pastor or whatever.

I am NOT saying sister is right here, though. She may be vastly overthinking this and be far too focused on what she sees as a formal party -- someone said, it's not a wedding, but is it possible your sister is seeing it as nearly as momentous and formal, since this is a big milestone birthday? You mention the kids being in the basement at other parties etc. but is this party at her home or somewhere like a nice restaurant--? It's possible sister is so invested in a perfect event for those who are not immediate family that she's forgotten to ask your mom what mom wants. Or if she did ask, your mom might have said "whatever you think is best, dear," as moms sometimes do.

In your shoes, I would talk to your sister ASAP and in person if you can -- phone only if you're not nearby. Text or e-mail is a no-go because she cannot hear "tone" in those. Tell her very kindly that you appreciate her willingness to do the party, but you're confused by the request and ask if she clearly asked your mom who mom wants on the guest list. I would really recommend that mom, sister and you put together the guest list as a team, so you can be sure mom's wishes (even if those wishes really do turn out to be "no kids") are being heard by sister. But only you know if inserting yourself into the planning is going to cause friction.

If sister balks, I'd tell her very nicely but clearly that your DDis not a "child" but a teenager who would love to help out at a grown-up party. That could be good-- offer to have DD help serve appetizers or drinks or whatever. I'd then agree that the skit is not happening but tell sister that your DD won't be comfortable telling her cousins that, and that sister should speak directly to those cousins' parents. Don't agree for yourself or your DD to be the go-between and the "heavy," as you put it. The reiterate that just because the kids are present, that does not make the party "about" the kids. I think she sees the skit as the part that will put all the focus on the kids, so do without the skit but tell her she has to be the one to speak with other parents about that.

Don't just take over the party. A post below suggested having at your house, your way, but if your sister is already committed to doing it, you will create even more bad blood if you announce you're doing THE birthday party.

It seems vital to get your mom involved and be sure mom understands that sister wants to exclude the kids. That is fine if it's sister's party and mom is on board--IF mom knows about it.


answers from Boston on

Give mom a call and see what she wants. She's 90 so the birthday girl should get a say in what goes on at her party. Its funny how your sister assumes the cousins will want to do a skit even if nobody mentioned it. Instead of a skit maybe the kids would work on a banner or posters to honor grandma and keep them busy. Another idea is to see what kinds of games she played as a child and set those up for the kids to see what grandma did when she was their age.

Whatever you do don't get involved in your sister's drama. Kids are a part of family get togethers and as a grandma myself I can't imagine celebrating anything without my grandkids there. Find something that will involve them without making them the center of the celebration and run with it.



answers from Kansas City on

I would definitely include the kids! If she doesn't want a skit, okay maybe that can be the compromise, but it shouldn't be NOT inviting the kids altogether. Your mom is 90, making the party about her is just overwhelming. I would imagine that she would want to see the grandkids and that it would help to not have all the focus on her because she's 90!

I mean you certainly could ask your mom what she wants, since it is her party, but the 90 year olds I knew didn't fuss much, were tired, and enjoyed seeing the children because children are adorable. When our grandmothers had 90th parties they were happy to have kids there and actually did not want all the attention because it's draining to be in the spotlight all afternoon at that age.

Personally, I think you call your sister back and say hey listen, I was thinking about what you said and I just don't think it's going to work. You can work out compromises on other aspects of the party.



answers from Minneapolis on

I think you need to ask your sister directly, "What does mom think about your idea of making her party for adults only?" It's possible she will have to admit she didn't have a conversation about this with your mom, and this is actually HER vision for the party. You can gently tell her that your mom should be consulted in the planning, in case she has a differing opinion. It's her birthday, so most importantly, you want to respect her wishes. Make it a light conversation. Plan a visit to your mom together with your sister, perhaps, when you all can talk about the party. If your mom really feels as your sister does, respect her wishes for a quieter event. Maybe then bring your daughter and grandma together for a celebratory lunch or tea at another time. If your sister is hosting, and she is inviting all the kids, you should respect her wishes to engage the children in an activity other than a "skit" if she chooses. A quiet craft, maybe? And I agree with the others it's NOT your daughter's job to tell the other kids "no skit" It's on your sister to get the group exciting about a different kind of party or activity this time around.

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