Who Decides on Child's Bday Party Guest List?

Updated on December 13, 2012
P.R. asks from Akron, OH
23 answers

We have a dilemma. Our next door neighbors are very good friends for several years now. We really like the parents a lot and my oldest daughter is very good friends with their daughter. They also have a son but he's not that relevant to this question. :) Their daughter is in between the ages of my daughters but is really only friends with my oldest. They're all within less than 2 years though. My youngest is somewhat of an introvert and the neighbor gravitated to my oldest who is the opposite - very social. For awhile maybe the 3 would play together and once in awhile my youngest and this neighbor alone if my oldest was out. But at this point, my youngest never plays with the neighbor. It's everyone's fault. My oldest wants the neighbor for herself, the neighbor (her mother admits) can be a bit obnoxious, my youngest often wants to be alone so didn't want to join or if she did join in with them, there was always some complaint or issue and I'm not sure it wasn't her fault in a way. She's not "easy" in terms of just joining in. Now my youngest's 7th bday is coming up and she doesn't want to invite the neighbor. We've always invited each other's kids... I was saying that she has to invite her as she's our neighbor and we're close friends with the parents and it's just one child etc. My husband says no, it's her party. I don't know what to do! My youngest went to the neighbor's party this summer though she really didn't want to... I think the parents would be fairly cool about it. I just think it's going to say to neighbor girl, "I really really don't like you!" My daughter really doesn't like her but they all walk to school together every day etc. Not inviting her is such a "statement". Sometimes neighbor is nice to her. Most of the time she comes over and just asks for my older daughter right in front on my younger and this started a long time ago but not like she outright is mean to my youngest. Also, the party is at a big place so can't claim we're keeping it really small... WWYD?

ETA: not just girls from class. Several from our neighborhood...

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So What Happened?

I think the majority say don't invite her but please keep the answers coming bc it's not a clear consensus! If we go the route of not inviting her, I think I will tell her she's basically saying to the neighbor "Suzy, I really don't like you." and is she ready to say that? "Suzy" doesn't dislike my younger I don't think. She's just very fixated on my oldest. Another mom in the neighborhood said how she doesn't like to share my oldest and I also don't think she has a ton of other friends. So it's likely just the easiest route for her to ignore my youngest. And it's also her personality to just be a bit obnoxious at times vs one of those always "sweet" kids. Also, the kids used to go to the son's parties and vice versa but now that they're older, it's been all girl/all boy parties usually. The parents really are fantastic so on one hand, that makes me think they'll understand. On the other hand, they're so great I had to negatively impact our relationship at all. They're like the family we don't have near us and they've said the same... Ugh. LIke I said, more answers are good so I can hopefully get a clear majority! :) Thanks!

Featured Answers



answers from Columbus on

We have two kids, and a lot of the kids friends have siblings that the other is also friends with. For every birthday, we invite at least one friend for the sibling to be with. I would invite her as a companion for the older daughter and without a lot of discussion as to that arrangement.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

She is seven - you control the guest list. I would also recommend that you take control now or you will have grandchildren living with you before she is 18!!!!

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from St. Louis on

Actually the son is relevant, if your girls are invited to his party then it would make sense you invite them to your daughters. If the son was never included then it was a function of friends and in that case she is not your younger daughter's friend so she shouldn't be invited.

I suppose if you want to keep the peace invite her as a guest to the older daughter so she has someone to hang around with.
After reading your what happened, don't do that. Seriously, saying to her that she is saying I don't like her is BS meant to manipulate and guilt her into doing what you want. You want her to invite the girl because you are afraid it will hurt your relationship with her mom. Whether or not Suzy's mom reacts poorly is her issue, not your daughters.

You invite your friends to a birthday party. No where, ever, have I seen someone sit down and say I hate her, and her and her, who does that leave? Oh I will invite them. Sorry, you invite your friends. You start with your friends and those left over are not your enemies, they are just not your friends!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Is she inviting just kids from her class? if so then ask the neighbor if your older daughter could stay at her house and hang out with "x" while your younger daughter has her birthday party with the 7 year olds from her class.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I think it's her party and she shouldn't be forced to invite someone she's not that friendly with and, in fact, doesn't like.

If you are having a party for just your daughter's friends, make it that. No neighbors, no other adults, no nothing. Just because you neighbors invited you doesn't mean you are committed forever for all future parties. Your daughter is an introvert and just wants something small with people her own age. When kids are 2 and 3, you just invite and plan the party. At 6 or 7, the child gets to plan. You can say "no" to 25 kids and a pony, but I don't think you need to pretend that there's a relationship between 2 kids of different ages just because they are neighbors and you like the parents.

Kids change their friendships all the time, and you don't need to invite everyone for the rest of her childhood and teen years just because there was a prior relationship. The kids have outgrown each other.

If you don't feel your older daughter needs her "own friend" at the party, and you want her to interact with her sister, then leave out the neighbor child. You don't need to make a big deal to the neighbor parents. It's okay to comment now and then that Janie is so introverted and is such a different personality than Susie is, it's hard to believe they come from the same gene pool, blah blah. You can even say (if you feel you should) that a big age range is too overwhelming for Janie so you are just having 4 kids from her class to keep it small and not stressful.

If you don't feel your older daughter needs to be there, then send her off on her own adventure, perhaps with the neighbor daughter. I wouldn't have her over as your older daughter's friend, as was suggested, just because your younger daughter doesn't like her. But that also sets a precedent for future parties so think about it.

Since your youngest didn't want to go to the girl's party last summer and you kind of made her do it, I think now's the time to let up on this. They don't like each other. Let it slip away! If there's a neighborhood BBQ, then they have to be polite. But this is your daughter's own birthday party and it should be HERS. You never know, the other girl and her parents may be relieved! They can't be blind to the lack of a strong friendship anyway.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I think that birthdays are a special time when we all get to have things our way. When a kid is old enough to say no about somebody and mean it, then I think that the parent should honor that. I'm kinda weird and mean, though.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I think you should let your daughter invite who she wants. Yes, it's your money, and you'll be the one to have to explain to the mom, but your daughter shouldn't be railroaded into inviting someone she clearly isn't interested in having a friendship with, at least not more than what you've described. The other mom sounds like she'd be understanding any way. I don't think the mom will ask why her daughter wasn't invited. I've never asked another parent why my sons weren't invited to their kids' parties, especially when it seemed obvious to me that my sons would be invited. I just figured that they had a limited number of people to invite or something like that. Honestly, I didn't dwell on it, and my kids never asked. People have their reasons, and it's rude to pry any way. My neighbor has never invited either of my boys to her kids' bday parties even though we used to invite both of her kids to my kids' parties. No explanation was ever given, I never asked, and my kids never asked either. It just is what it is!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

In an effort to not rock the boat, I would invite her. I understand your youngest doesn't like this girl and if it was a random kid from her class, I'd agree she doesn't need to invite her. But I think she needs to understand that sometimes, for the sake of neighborhood peace, we need to socialize with people we don't necessarily like. You're right that it would make a "statement" - feelings would be hurt and no matter how friendly you are with your neighbors now, the underlying relationship would change. Inviting her would be the socially correct thing to do (especially if your youngest attended her b'day, whether she wanted to or not). Reciprocating the invitation is just basic good manners.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

"I just think it's going to say to neighbor girl, 'I really really don't like you!'"

Of course it's going to make that statement! Your daughter DOESN'T like this girl, and this girl doesn't really like your daughter. No, she's not mean...but that doesn't matter. They were both raised right, which means that neither of them is going to be outright rude to the other....but the absence of outright rudeness doesn't mean that they are friends. They tolerate one another because your families have a relationship. That's it.

I'm siding with your husband on this one. Men are so much better at not pretending to like people. If they don't like to be around someone, they don't invite them over for a beer because they're afraid of hurting their feelings. They aren't necessarily rude about it. Many women should pay attention to that, because asking someone to attend an event when we don't like them, and then resenting them because they are there is PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE behavior. I guarantee you're going to end up with some resentment from both girls if you force your daughter to invite this girl.

Not only that, in my opinion, if you make your daughter invite this girl, you're molding her into being a passive aggressive little people-pleaser instead of an honest and forthright young lady.

Your daughter and this neighbor girl aren't friends and don't want to be. So stop forcing the issue. The girl is your older daughter's friend, so she should be invited to your older daughter's events. End of story.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

If you are truly good friends with your neighbors, they will get it. Just mention that "Sally" has decided to just have friends from school come to her party this year.
I also like Sherry's idea below!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Stationed Overseas on

Personally I say let your daughter decide her guest list. It's her party. Now you can encourage her to invite the neighbor, maybe ask her why she doesn't want to invite her, talk to her about not hurting people's feelings, but ultimately why should she have a kid at her own party she doesn't want there? You yourself said they rarely play together anyway. When I was growing up we had some neighbors that were almost the same ages as me and my sister (they were sisters too) but after a couple years once we got to the tween years our interests diverged and they were really only friends with my sister. If she had them over I might join in, and we still chat even now when we see each other when we're all visiting our parents or something, and it's not that I don't like them, they're great girls (well I guess women now). But I certainly don't invite them to my get togethers, and they don't invite me either, we just don't "click" like that, and everyone understands that. If your'e worried the parents will be offended, just explain to them that you all know their daughter doesn't really play with your youngest, and your daughter just wanted her birthday party to be her close friends. If they are reasonable people they should be able to understand that. I understand you don't want to negatively affect your relationship with them, but again, if they are reasonable, mature adults they should understand that you're not being mean, or saying you can't be friends, some people just don't "click" like others, and that's okay.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I haven't read all the responses, but have you thought about letting your older daughter invite the neighbor as her own guest? That might be a way to compromise, where your younger daughter does not have to invite someone she doesn't like, but the neighbor is not excluded.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I think if anyone else is invited to the party outside of her school class then you have to invite this girl. She will play and hang out with your other daughter anyway so why not just invite her to come hang out with her and not invite her to the party proper. Just sort of "Come with us to the party so you can keep XX (older daughter) company".

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Invite her. Its just one more, there are plenty of other people, and it is neighborly/kind/polite and doesn't take anything away from your daughter. If it was just kids from class or a very small party, that would be different.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

If the party isn't at your house, no need to invite her. Our neighbors get an invitation if we're having a party at our house, but if it's somewhere else we are a little more selective. My son invites some of them, my daughter invites her girlfriend in the neighborhood, but not the boys, etc.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

How about your older daughter and the girl do something special together that day? Dad can take them out or something while the party goes on.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

When the kids were little, parties were more inclusive. Now that they are older and have a grasp on friendships and preferences, they only invite their actual friends. I would not make her invite the neighbor kid just because she is the neighbor kid.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I would let my daughter decide, but I would also make sure she understood that this will be considered rude by the neighbor girl and might make things between the two of them not so nice. You said the neighbor girl is nice to your daughter; that may change after the non-invite to the party.

It's your daughter's day; she should decide but she needs to make an informed decision.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dover on

Typically, I invite family and close family friends (they are a given) beyond that, my kids tell me who they want to invite. Right now my little one is young enough that her invitations get handed out at school so it's all girls, all boys, or whole class (which is what we do) but as she gets older and her friends parents and I have each other's contact info I am sure that will weed down.

In this case, I would probably invite the family not the child individually.

Is she inviting ALL the kids from the neighborhood? What about all of the ones that she walks to school with? If the answer is yes, then invite her. If the answer is no, consider giving her a max number of people to invite (so that this girl is not the only one not invited and you can honestly say there was a limit on invites).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

For my kids I let them give me a list of who they want to invite and then I add my people I want to invite that the boys don't have a choice in if they are invited or not.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

At that age, I think you get input on the guest list. Like you, I think she should be invited as a courtesy. Consider it an invitation of neighborliness, not an invitation of friendship.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Provo on

I don't know that there is any right way to handle this, but at least it isn't at your house where the neighbor girl would definitely be aware of it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

I would not invite the neighbor if your daughter does not like her. I don't understand why people try to force friendships on people who don't care for each other even though you are neighbors. just because the girls walk to school together, doesn't mean they have to like each other.
I am not trying to sound mean. I hope the mamapedia nazis don't come after me for not being nice and civil.

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