No parent likes to think that their child is left out of social situations at school, or is part of a clique that excludes another child. But knowing how to deal with either of these situations can be tricky, and sometimes by interfering we could possibly do more harm than good. The truth is, we can’t force children to form friendships, we just have to hope that we can teach them to treat others with compassion, kindness and respect.
One mum has taken to the Reddit forum, AITAH for advice regarding her daughters upcoming twelfth birthday celebrations. The issue arose when her daughter asked to invite all of the girls in her class except for two. When asked why she didn’t want to invite them her answer gave her mother cause for concern that her daughter was part of a mean-girl group.
My daughter is in 6th grade, she turns 12 next week. She is well liked and has many friends in her class. She’s really excited about her birthday, and she told me she wants to have a “cool” birthday this year. In the past, most of her birthday parties have just been at our house with 10-15 people – some of her class friends and also her cousins and grandparents. She’s changed a lot this year, though. Middle school and all. So anyways, I asked if she wants her birthday party to be at a new laser tag place that opened nearby, and she was really happy.
She’s been planning the color scheme, theme, and decorations enthusiastically, and she even made invitations online that she asked me to print out. I asked her if she wants me to print one for all the girls in her class, and she said she’s inviting everyone except 2 girls. I asked why and she said she doesn’t like those girls. She said no one really likes them. This bothered me so I pressed her, asking if they’ve ever been unkind to her. She said no, but they have no fashion sense and they’re just generally boring.
I didn’t like the way she was talking, so I said she has to invite them too, if she’s inviting literally every other girl in class. She got upset and said I was being unfair, because it’s her birthday and it’s supposed to be for her.
Thought I’d ask for a second opinion.
Edit: I just wanted to add- I’ve met a few of my daughter’s “friends”, and they are weirdly competitive and judgmental. I feel like my daughter has changed a lot since middle school began, and I don’t know how much is because she’s growing into a new phase of life, and how much is because of the other people she spends time with. So yes, it’s valid to not like someone because you just don’t have much in common, but I don’t think this is why her class doesn’t like these kids.
Many people were not supportive of the mum’s solution, and thought she was setting the excluded children up for a miserable time if they attended the party.
Word of caution. Middle schoolers being what they are, if the 2 girls come under a forced invitation to a laser tag place, and are disliked by the rest of the class, you are setting them up to possibly be bullied and ganged up on. Your daughter won’t keep it to herself that you are making her invite them.
I can give no judgment, but would advise going back to the 10-15 closer friends rather than a class wide invite if you are going to make her invite the 2 girls. (Shibaspots)
I don’t think the two girls are gonna appreciate being the objects in OP‘s teachable moment for her daughter. This isn’t gonna be fun for them. (Fast02)
Indeed, some commenters were quick to warn the mother about the possible repercussions of forcing the daughter to issue ‘pity invitations’ and shared their personal experience of being on the receiving end of them.
Having been one of the kids no one liked who got pity invites and at the time didn’t realize they were pity invites, I’m going with YTA.
I get what you’re trying to do. But you can’t force your daughter to like kids she doesn’t like and if you make her invite them and they show up, you’re setting those kids up for being ignored at best and picked on at worst.
I got those invites as a kid. My mom, ever the optimist, told me to go and have fun, spend time with the kids and make friends. So I’d go. Sometimes I’d just be ignored and have to watch all the kids having fun together while being very obviously and deliberately excluded. Once I was at a kid’s house, being ignored, and went looking for a book to read to pass the time. I found instead a story they wrote about how much they and everybody in class hated me and were so glad I was sent away for whatever villainous thing they had me do in the story.
By middle school, I realized the pity invites were pity invites and stopped going when I got them. But I haven’t forgotten the ones I got and went to as an elementary school kid. (griffonfarm)
I was one of the outcast kids, too. “Boring” to the other girls and no “fashion sense”. I also got pity invites I did not realize were pity invites. My mom insisted I go and try to become better friends with the rest of the girls in my class. It was always made (often painfully) clear I was not wanted and was only invited because the birthday girl was “required” to. Often, the party was full of people who bullied me day in and day out.
OP, I think you are coming from a good place, so my judgement is a very gentle YTA. I don’t think requiring your daughter to invite these girls would be the good deed/positive learning experience you think it would be. There are times for lessons of inclusion, but maybe a laser tag birthday party is not one.
Perhaps talk to your daughter and her teacher to find out more about the dynamic in the class and make sure your daughter is not being cruel to these 2 girls. Sometimes, people just don’t have enough things in common to be friends. So long as no bullying is happening, that is just fine. (Initial-Respond7967)
Teach your daughter not to be a raging asshole to other people, but don’t force her to invite people who aren’t her friends to her birthday party. (stew_pit1)
Gentle YTA here. I get what you’re trying to do, have the talk with your daughter about how those girls must feel being excluded from everything…that being said forcing her to invite people she doesn’t want is a recipe for disaster. Those 2 girls aren’t going to feel welcomed at the party, in fact they will probably be teased mercilessly for not being wanted there, or simply excluded from all interactions.
Your heart might be in the right place, but forcing unwanted social interactions never really works out…for anyone involved. (ExcitingEvidence8815)
Some people expressed the view that it was perfectly acceptable for her daughter not to include very one, pointing out that as adults we do this all the time, and it’s just how real life is.
I don’t support inclusion bullshit. I won’t make my kid hang out with anyone they don’t like for whatever reason they may have. My ONE rule is not to be unkind. She’s allowed to have her friends and chose whom not to befriend but if I find out she’s been unkind to anyone then it’s different.
It’s ok to politely say “I would prefer not to hang out with you” without giving a reason and without being unkind. As adults we practice this often. At 12 she’s old enough to understand. YTA. She should be able to choose who she wants at the party.
Exclusion isn’t bullying; it’s simply choosing your friend group and even 12yo kids need to learn that not everyone will like them. I’m not going to entertain responding to close minded individuals. If an adult can chose to exclude, so can children. It’s not abuse or bullying at all.
And she’s 12; of course she’s gonna pick her friends for stupid reasons. You think a 12yo chose friends because of their credit score? Loyalty? Etc. No she cares about 12yo crap, like fashion and how “cool” someone is. (CatchMeIfYouCan09)
yes YTA a caring one but still a low key AH on this
at 9 my daughter gets to choose who she engages with outside of school including at her parties. there are kids she likes and kids she doesnt like so she isnt forced to interact with kids she doesnt like.
your daughter is developing her own personality and desires and whilst it may seem “unfair” quite honestly that is life and everyone needs to learn that lesson from time to time. (HorrorPast4329)
Other people thought the best solution was to reduce the number of friends invited to the party so that it didn’t feel as though everyone had been invited except two.
NTA. I don’t really subscribe to the idea that at this age all kids must be invited, or all girls, or whatnot, but in this case, I think obviously leaving out just one or two is indeed unfair.
I think that if the party was scaled down, to say like 3-5 girls, it would be ok to exclude the rest, as the size and scale of the party would not be at the level of being essentially the whole class. So consider giving your daughter the choice to add those two girls or scale down the party to fewer friends.
I do appreciate this will feel like you’re kind of treading on her autonomy but given her explanation for disliking those girls, it seems like she’s just kind of subscribing to a group think mentality against these girls for no real reason, and is playing a BIT of a ‘mean girl’ role for them. This is an important lesson for her. (Owls_andcardinals)
What do you think the mum’s best course of action is in this situation?