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 inside planning children’s birthday parties and offering invitations there is a minefield riddled with ethical hurdles and booby traps. Here are three tips to help you maneuver the maze.
Pointer # 1: An invitation sticks
How tempting it is for a child to toss out a birthday party invitation after friction enters a friendship. “You are no longer invited to my birthday party!” is a common refrain in the schoolyard. However, it is important for your child to know that an invitation, such as a gift, cannot be claimed. It is best to wait up to four weeks before the party date before sending invitations, verbal or written.
It is rare the child who does not realize an upcoming birthday. I once heard Sam’s 9-year-old older sister say, “So Sam, this afternoon you’re going to see all your friends.”
Glanced up. “Why?”
“Today is your birthday party!” she screamed in exasperation.
“Oh,” he said with a shrug. “Right.”
Other young people begin seriously planning the next birthday party the moment the ribbons are pulled from the floor of 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 will remain friends with later on. Because once you give an invitation, it stays. “
Pointer n. # 2: a guest is 100% invited
Layering guests is another common dynamic. Youth will freely announce who is “next in line” for their birthday party. However, lining up a waiting list clearly shows children that they are waiting for their secondary and lower ranking. It is best for your child to understand that if a guest is invited, the guest is one hundred percent invited.
Friends who are not invited to the party may ask their child, “How could I not be invited to your birthday party?” or even continue with: “They invited you to mine. “Your child might respond by saying,” I was only allowed to have [#] guests. Do you want to come and play at my house soon? “Then make the date to play.
In the suburbs, it is not uncommon for children to invite a large number of guests to an evening party, and from that group, invite a smaller number of “closest” friends to stay for an evening or sleepover party. If your child proposes such an arrangement, don’t believe for a second that guests not invited to stay will not find out about the most desirable after-party. Faster than the speed at which a birthday present is opened, the word will spread. Those uninvited will instantly and sadly notice your diminished stature. On more than one occasion, I picked up my daughter from a birthday party and found her struggling to hold back tears, while close to me, other parents were similarly comforting their children, who had also been left behind, and knew that true the party was just beginning.
Make sure your child understands that when a guest is invited, the guest is invited 100 percent.
Pointer n. # 3: distribute invitations discreetly
Completing and mailing birthday party invitations is an unwanted chore. No wonder parents are tempted to streamline the process by personally delivering birthday party invitations at school.
When my youngest daughter, Hannah, was in preschool, I noticed parents placing birthday party invitations in children’s open cubicles. Although this method did not present a problem when all the children in a class were invited to a party, when some young people were invited and some were not, particularly when the invitations were in brightly colored envelopes, it was too clear to the uninvited that there were no about in its 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, bite the bullet and mail them. Better yet, email invitations if that’s an acceptable alternative.
The tendency to hand out invitations in public places is traced through ratings. In the hubbub that followed a high school play, I witnessed a preteen distribute birthday party invitations to an enchanted crowd surrounding her. As I looked around, I noticed that other young people were also observing the emotion and were not so happy with it.
Let these three tips guide you toward disabling ethical pitfalls in the world of birthday party invitations. It is perhaps not too much of an exaggeration to say that the genre of children’s birthday party invitations represents a microcosm of American ethical practice. Aren’t these everyday interactions of family dynamics the essence of our lives?
So approach those birthday parties with vitality, vigor and knowledge. With your guidance, give your child another, more lasting gift.