The Ethics of Birthday Party Invitations
One might think that there is nothing more innocent and free-spirited than the act of extending invitations to a birthday party. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Because within the planning of children’s birthday parties and the offering of invitations there is a minefield full of ethical obstacles and booby traps. Here are three tips to help you maneuver the maze.
Pointer #1: Invitation Sticks
How tempting it is for a child to pull out a birthday party invitation after friction enters a friendship. “You are no longer invited to my birthday party!” it is a common schoolyard choir. However, it is important for your child to know that an invitation, such as a gift, cannot be claimed. It’s best to wait until four weeks before the party date before sending out invitations, verbal or written.
It is the rare child who is unaware of an upcoming birthday. I once heard Sam’s older sister, age 9, say, “So, Sam, you’re going to see all your friends this afternoon.”
Glanced up. “Why?”
“Today is your birthday party!” she yelled, exasperated.
“Oh,” he said with a shrug. “Right.”
Other youngsters begin serious planning for the next birthday party the moment the ribbons are pulled from the floor for the current holiday. In the middle are children of various inclinations. Here’s your cue: As soon as your child begins to verbalize plans for the next birthday party, say, “Remember, don’t invite anyone until [give a date four weeks before the party or a reference point such as a holiday, beginning/end of school, etc.] You never know who you’ll still be friends with later on. Because once you give an invitation, it sticks.”
Indicator #2: A guest is 100% invited
Guest overlap is another common dynamic. Youngsters will freely announce who is “next in line” at their birthday party. However, forming a waiting list too clearly shows children that they are waiting for their secondary and lower ranking. Your child better understand that if a guest is invited, the guest is one hundred percent invited.
Friends who weren’t invited to the party may ask your child, “How come I’m not invited to your birthday party?” or even continue with: “You were invited to mine.” Your child might respond by saying, “I was only allowed to have [#] guests. Do you want to come over to my house and play soon?” Then she sets up the playdate.
In the suburbs, it’s not uncommon for kids to invite a large number of guests to an afternoon party, and from that group, invite a smaller number of their “closest” friends to stay for a sleepover or sleepover. . If your child proposes such an arrangement, don’t think for a second that uninvited guests won’t find out about the most desirable party later on. Faster than the speed with which a birthday present is opened, word will spread. Those who are not invited will instantly and sadly notice their diminished stature. On more than one occasion I picked up my daughter from a birthday party to find her fighting back tears, while other parents near me similarly comforted her children, also abandoned, and knew the real the party was just beginning.
Make sure your child understands that when a guest is invited, one hundred percent is invited.
Tip #3 – Distribute invitations discreetly
Completing and sending out birthday party invitations is an unpleasant task. It’s no wonder parents are tempted to speed up the process by hand-delivering birthday party invitations at school.
When my youngest daughter, Hannah, was in preschool, I noticed that parents were stuffing birthday party invitations into the children’s open square cubicles. While this method presented no problem when all the children in a class were invited to a party, when some youngsters were invited and others were not, especially when the invitations were in brightly colored envelopes, it was too light for those who did not. invited that there was no envelope in their cubicle In the preschool years, it is best for parents to deliver invitations directly to other parents or caregivers. Or, if that’s not possible due to work schedules, make amends and mail them. Better yet, send the invitations by email if that’s a good alternative.
The tendency to hand out invitations in public places runs through the grades. In the ruckus that followed a high school play, I saw a preteen handing out birthday party invitations to a delighted crowd surrounding her. Looking around, I noticed that other young people were also watching the excitement and they weren’t so happy about it.
Let these three tips guide you to defuse the ethical traps in the world of birthday party invitations. Perhaps it’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that the genre of children’s birthday party invitations represents a microcosm of American ethical practices. Aren’t those everyday interactions of family dynamics the grain of our lives?
So approach those birthday parties with energy, vigor and knowledge. With your guidance, give your child a different, more lasting kind of gift.