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You're invited! ... but your little brother is not.

This has come up recently in our household.  In planning in the invite list for a party, there was one child invited, but her sister not.  It was a bit awkward, as the sibling isn't too much younger and really often blends with all the other kids.  But, the celebrant was adamant.  

It came up again recently, when a friend relayed that his child was inviting an older sibling, but not the younger.  So, it begs some questions: what to do when the kids start deciding who to invite and not to invite to parties when it carves lines between siblings?  Do parents require their kids to invite kids that the celebrant themselves don't want to invite because of various reasons? 


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I have not been on the receiving end of that debate but questioned it at my sons last birthday. Luckily he wanted to have his birthday at the park so a head count was not an issue, but if we had the party at a place like pump i up or the pool the amount of kids was an issue. I felt bad that I was not going to be able to have siblings come but from an economical stand point I really couldn't have a party with 10 kids PLUS all their siblings. This year we dodged the bullet. But I do think it is reasonable and understandable that only the kid invited should come.

If only the older child is friends with the child whose party it is, then I don't think the younger should go just because they're siblings. Maybe with the really young ones where the parents have to stick around to watch their kids at the party, but not the ones where party-goers' parents aren't going to be there. It could end in the non-invited friend being estranged from the rest of the party because they weren't originally wanted there. It's harsh, but I can see it happening quite easily.

it's ok to limit the invitation to the friend and not siblings for some things. like AJ, i've been relieved when kids wanted park parties and we didn't have to draw lines. but it's unreasonable to expect hosts to accomodate however many kids (of different ages) might be in a friend's family. for my own kids, i think it's an important experience to see that "sometimes it's my turn to go to a party and sometimes it's your turn." i'm comfortable with circumstances that remind my kids that things are never exactly equal, and fair is not our goal. we all get different opportunities and will have some disappointments and it's ok. i've sometimes wished that parents of kids invited to parties understood and respected the single invitation thing.

I am ok with a receiving a single child invitation as well. I also am ok with an invitation that says siblings are welcome, but that only the invitee is going to be covered in the entrance fee. I feel like sometimes parents feel obligated to invite everyone, and sometimes kids clash with other kids. I will never force my children to be friends with someone they don't like, but I will make sure they know that it is not ok to be mean to them.

I am OK receiving them too, though in the case you describe I question it. We actually had that happen last year, my older daughter was invited to a party that my younger daughter was not, the child was between the 2 kids ages and friends with the younger one first. That situation I did think twice about. Typically though I do not even think twice about a single child invite. If it is only addressed to 1 child that is the child I plan on going, next time another kid will be the 1 invited. IF it is a public place and I chose to stay and have other kids with me I go planning to not be at the actual party, just nearby, and pay for the other kids myself. I actually do the opposite, in when I am having a party at a park or such I may write on the invite "parents and siblings are welcome to stay" b/c if I dont a parent wouldnt even consider letting them. Sometimes we know all the siblings as acquantances and I will address the invite to all of them. But yes in other instances where you pay per child or are transporting kids, etc head count is more important and is bday child only

at this point we only do family parties for our kids (invites are for bobby and family), but if one of the kids was invited and not the other, then i would explain to the excluded sib that that's just the way it is. then we would try to plan a fun thing during the party.

When my kids were younger if someone asked if the sibling could come I would say yes, if they were over 5 years, if the parent wasn't staying. My 4th child's birthday is close to Halloween and we use to do a costume party for his birthday, well one year we planned for 20 kids and we had 45! Parents without asking dropped off all their kids! One was 3 years old! So the next year, I did put on the invite that only the child was invited, unless they called and asked permission first.

Years ago my little boy was best friends with a little boy who lived two houses down from us. They had a son and a daughter who were four years apart in age. I had a daughter and a son who were 1.5 years apart. So it went like this: My DD was 7. Their son was 6. My DS was 5.5. Their daughter was 2. If my DS wanted their son to spend the night, I also had to let their daughter. I really wasn't down with the free babysitting and it's like the girls were friends. I thought it was unfair to everyone and stopped inviting their son. Their son couldn't go anywhere or do anything that his little sister couldn't. I think kids should be treated as individuals and not as part of a herd.

Why would I require my child to invite someone to their party that they don't want there? It's their party. We had a situation in our neighborhood with two brothers who squabbled constantly and so only one would get invited and then the family basically said 'both or none' and now neither has been invited since. I think it's great to do things apart from your siblings and there's nothing wrong with having your own friends and your own space where you're not expected to be an older/younger... brother/sister etc, but just yourself without the burden of those roles and that history. I see parents bring younger siblings to parties and then basically foist them on the older sibling while they schmooze and it frankly annoys me. Instead of having fun at the party the poor kid is entertaining, comforting or shepherding a younger sibling.

My kids are getting to the age where invitations are sometimes for one kid only, and that's okay. My 7 year is planning a very small play date / birthday party with only three friends for his 8th birthday, and our expectation is that the invitation is for invitees only, not for kids.

We always check if it's unclear on invitations we get. As kids get older, I think it's fine to only invite one and not the whole brood. The mistake is in assuming.

Can we possibly obsess and pay more attention to birthday parties then we already do?

Birthday parties have become so "keeping up with the Jones's". I refuse to do big parties anymore. And I understand the way things are, with big parties-it's hard to invite siblings sometimes. Especially when your friends have 3 or more kids. This year, my son got to invite 3 boys only for a sleepover and video game marathon. Keeping it simple is much more fun and stress free. We never had or went to parties like that when I was growing up.

Luz, it's a question, not an obsession.

Hi - I appreciate this question, and would like to know for next year's birthday parties, how does one specify graciously that the party is only for the intended invitee and not for siblings? We hosted a party this year at a venue that had a kid maximum, so my son could only invite a few of his friends, since it was obvious that siblings would come along. Since then, I've been more conscious of taking only the one of my children who has been invited. Still, how does one specify this on the invite? I would appreciate the feedback.

I would just say, "Unfortunately due to space the invitation is for one guest only." or something like that.

If you invite one child that has a sibling that socializes in the same circle of friends and the children are young enough that the parent needs to stay for the party, you should invite both children and not force the parent to look for childcare for the other child. If you can't invite the sibling due to space, you shouldn't invite either child. When this happens we always try to make other plans with those we didn't invite...a park picnic or something similar.

We have neighbor kids that are siblings that bicker and create a tug of war-triangle dynamic with other children. There have been times when parents have considered not inviting one or the other but in the end it came down to the fact that they were all friends and we as parents need to teach our kids to resolve these squabbles, not allow them to misuse their power to reject kids that they consider good enough to play with any other day of the week.

I have three kids close in age, and they have a lot of the same friends. However, in cases where only one child has been invited, we only take that child. I don't think anything of it. I actually kind of like it - it's a chance for me to have some time with the child invited. They feel extra special that day, and get a chance to do things on their own. Dad usually takes the other two out to do something equally fun. I think that's a good lesson for everyone.

"...not allow them to misuse their power...." if this doesn't perfectly capture how utterly ridiculous the birthday party madness has become I don't know what does.

I love having a big celebration in honor of my childrens birthdays....

Christmas is the one that feels like madness to me.

This year, we had my daughters party at a pumpkin farm. Access to the petting zoo, hayride, mazes etc. required a $6 sticker. We purchased tickets for all of the kids, and asked parents (in the invite) to buy their own, in lieu of gifts. It felt a little uncomfortable, but worked out fine.

We just celebrated my son's 3rd, and the parents and siblings of his best friends attended. We also had my son's grandparents and uncles and aunts. In November, when outdoor parties are too risky, that many people necessitates renting a venue, and it's hard to throw a party that isn't loud and crowded. We felt lucky that our relatives, our son's best friends, and their families could join us, but I could see that my son was overwhelmed and freaked out. He doesn't like being in a big noisy chaotic group, and frankly, my husband and I aren't wild about it either. I love our friends and family, but feel like we're able to enjoy each other more in quieter, smaller groups. I think when it's time for his 4th, we'll be ready and relieved to have a just-kids party, with the number of kids corresponding to the birthday age (does anyone do this anymore?)

(Kimberley-I completely agree with you. Our family experienced this situation too!) As far as parties, our child's birthday is in the winter, so not at parks, and we pay for specific amount of kids/activity--like SCRAP, and we do not invite siblings.

Anon, we've been doing that type of party--when you turn 5, you can invite 5 friends. It's worked out well, and so far, has worked out in our favor in terms of keeping the party small and very low key. Our oldest turns 6 next week and I have not planned a party yet because the thought of having 6 boys running wild at my house sounds awful! We've so far also only done house/backyard parties in an effort to keep it simple. Now I'm thinking an outside venue seems appealing all of a sudden...

I think it's okay to invite just one child as long as the plan is for that child to be dropped off(and there will be adequate supervision at the party, and there is something nearby for the parent to do with siblings during the party). When our child gets invited to parties at Pump It Up and the like, we just say no thanks. My hub and I really dislike going to these places (totally screaming chaos in suburban warehouse zone that everyone has to drive 20 miles to get to) and we don't feel great about the level of safety (you have to sign that release that says your child may experience serious injury or even death which doesn't seem far fetched from some of the antics we've observed)--plus even if we did just drop him off--there is no place to go.

If you want a parent to come with the invitee, then you sort of have to take what you get as far as siblings. We are lucky that our son's birthday is in summer. We like to have a casual gathering at our house inviting kids and adults and siblings to share food and drinks and hang out--it's fun and relaxing for everyone. We enjoy visiting and catching up with the adults while the kids play (but it's still a crazy amount of work before and after--the downside of doing it at home).

We have been co-hosting our daughters Birthday with two other families. We met in prenatal yoga, and had the same due date.

It began because they both returned from a long trip right before their childs first birthday, so I invited them to join us in a 'Baby Birthday Bash'. It was so easy, splitting up expenses and jobs, that we continued each year. We have a 'no gift' clause, to keep it equitable, except for maybe a book exchange.

I love it, because then we don't end up with a bunch more 'stuff', and we can have a bigger party because we are sharing cost and effort.

We expected them to not want a joint party this year. They have now been to other birthdays and seen what it was like. But they did, and my daughter is adamant that they are the 'Birthday Club'. Maybe they will have their Sweet 16 together.
This year, we expected that they

The birthday child is under no obligation to include siblings of their friends. How chaotic that could get! And what a burden it places on the parents of the birthday child. Kids need to learn that not all outings are "family" events.

Just got a fabulous story book from the library about this very subject called The Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Kahn. Beautifully written and very real. Older kids will be OK reading it, too.

It's absolutely fine to not include siblings-and it's usually indicated (or easily discovered) on the invitation. If one name is written on the envelope, then it's for that kid only-with evites this would probably be a bit more difficult to figure out if you're not sure, but our family NEVER assumes both kids would be invited, unless that is clearly stated. We feel it is healthy for each kid to have his/her own time with friends and other families.

i think you can invite whoever you want to a bday party. I just handle the hurt feelings on my end. if one son is invited, usually older, and younger, by 2 yrs, is left out and I know he likes to play with birthday kid, I just reply "no" to the invite. done. if my younger doesn't really know or play with the bday kid, then older son goes to party and there are no hurt feelings.

I had a very gracious parent ask if her 2-year-old could join her 4-year-old at my daughter's party. I was glad that she asked -- and I felt obligated to say it was fine, because another parent was bringing an 11-month-old baby sibling. It ended up feeling really awkward, because I'd prepared a treasure hunt with things that weren't age appropriate for the 2-year-old at all ... I didn't have quite enough balloons, etc. I still feel bad about it. I want to figure out a way to have one-child only on he invite without sounding rude or making it hard for the single parents to come. But I hate park birthdays. Sigh.

I keep chiming in here.

On my sons first Birthday, we had an edible 'Art Party' at our home. In the invite I told parents that "This party is for tiny tots, 6 - 18 months old. Older siblings are welcome, but will be banished to the basement for a movie, or the back yard for some romping.
( No older sibs upstairs because -- his life is always being directed by his big sister, so it will be fun for him to get in some good play time with his peers.)"
I hired a baby sitter, made a big bowl of popcorn. It went fairly smoothly.
So, a baby sitter for siblings could be a fairly inexpensive option.

Wow--I feel it's a no-brainer--if invited, come, if not, you're creating a burden on the hostess. It's no big deal for one kid to do something and the other not. It's the b-day kid's family treating guests that they invite, so don't be rude and bring others--there's planning and food and supplies. It's crazy to me that people wouldn't understand that and be respectful of it. It takes planning and $ to throw a party and a bummer when guests don't have common sense. I'd never ask to bring extra people--the invite is the invite. Just be considerate, folks. There are plenty of other times for 'the more the merrier.'
No party thrower should be expected to hire a sitter or accommodate for siblings--that's nuts! That's the job of the siblings parent!

I am a parent of 2 girls, a 9 yr old & 3 yr old. In my personal experiences I have had a parent call beforehand to ask if the older sister can come, which I said was ok because we were within the amount that was already being paid for. Additionally we had another experience where a mother who was staying for the party sat off to the side with her other child that was not invited, but when it came time to cut the cake I asked him to join us. I know sometimes things happen & a parent may have no babysitter options and bring them to the party, but depending on the party activities and/or ages, it really could become a disruptive influence to the child of honor's celebration.

If this party is located in a venue in which the host is limited or charged by attendee than absolutely it's ok to restrict to the friend of the child only. For example, if a Pump it Up JR party only allows 10 friends and the birthday child invites 10 friends, but 5 siblings show up the parent is charged extra and/or they'd only be able to invite 5 friends in the first place to allow for the 5 siblings they aren't friends with in the first place. It's FINE for kids to have their own special events and friends.

Agreeing with all the parents pointing out it's fine for kids to have their own friends, siblings to be left out, etc. Particularly when it involves additonal charges for the host or other imposition.

I say all this as a parent who generally DOES throw quite the gala event every year for her child. It's a considerable amount of work and planning, and I'm actually an event planner.

I'm even flexible about stuff (I had a party at Big Al's one year, found a dad and his younger son biding time during the party, so I made them join us. Likewise, I had a mom bring the younger sibling one year, but she was apologetic and bought an extra gift). But I've still had parents get really nervy about it (my daughter's 9th birthday was a swim party, one mom tried to leave her three year old with us).

When all is said and done, this is only the beginning of your younger child having to deal with the "left outs". While I'm sure it's hard on them, it's also life. And rude to force the younger child on the hosts.

I'm with Southern Raised. I almost think it's weird to think that the other sibling would or should be invited. I was close in age with my brother growing up and I can't remember being invited to a single one of his friends' parties.

In the preschool years, younger sibs (who were often themselves going to soon enter the school and would be seen around and known) were always assumed to be invited- the assumption being that the parent would need to do something with them (not everyone being able to split parent duty with a second parent). We also almost never just dropped off a kid at that age, unless it was a very close friend, thus it did become a family affair with parents socializing as well. We are now at 2nd grade just barely reaching the age of the kids on their own.

Hi. We are having a bday party for our son it is a pool party. Per the facilities orders, every child under 7 they must have a parent in the pool with them.
So is it rude to:

1. .. Not to invite other siblings
2. Only invite one parent per child since they do have to be in the pool with them.

Fyi, we get charged for additional lifeguards for every 20 people. We also do a full lunch, pizza, salads and wings.

I find this issue to be so annoying. I have 3 kids. I NEVER expect that when one receives an invitation that it's a "package deal". I never want to put someone out for the cost of one of my kids just to be a "sympathy invite"....

My almost 5-yr-old is going to have his first "friend party". He wants to have it at Pump It Up... One friend has 3 siblings, and the mom asked if she could bring the other 3, who are all MUCH OLDER. Now it gets uncomfortable for me, because I feel that I will have to ask, "are YOU paying for them, or are you asking me to invite and pay for them?" Money is not plentiful in their home, so I guess I will have to pay for the other three, who are older and not friends with my child; (all could be watched at home by the oldest, who is FOURTEEN)... It's just uncomfortable. I would NEVER even ask a hosting parent, because it would make them uncomfortable; but that's just me. I suppose in the grand scheme of things, my dropping another $30/$40 for these extra kids is better than dealing with this... This person is HYPERSENSITIVE as well. To anyone who has drawn such lines (i.e., said "no"), she calls them heartless, mean or racist. Just sayin'... Just awkward dealing with the mannerless...

How about when the 4th grader and the 1st grader BOTH have siblings in each others classes and though it's billed as a 4th grade party, all the younger siblings and assorted 1st graders end up invited (wristbands given to a community pool where we are residents). You can't exclude just one 1st grade sibling and then fib about the intent of the guest list (4th grade only) to that parent. Both classes gabbed about the upcoming pool party and I was told to RSVP. The nerve of this mom to suggest I not bring my first grader on my own to supervise separately from the party. She ended up getting a piece of my mind when it became apparent all the rest of the 1st graders had been invited and she was caught in her lie. Better to exclude both my kids than to put me in that position.

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