• Other Friendship Advice

My 7-year-old was left out and not invited to the party

Published: September 14, 2014 | By | 16 Replies Continue Reading
When a child is left out, it can be painful to both her and her mom.

QUESTION

Dear Irene,

My daughter (age 7) is in a cheer squad. There are 22 girls in the squad and all but two of them are new. Yesterday after practice, while they were waiting for their uniforms to be handed out, one of the girls proceeded to give out invitations to her birthday party.
Unfortunately, she didn’t invite everyone and my daughter was one of the girls left out. My daughter was so upset that she cried last night and again this morning.

I tried approaching the coach and she just shrugged and said there was nothing she could do about it. I emailed her last night and explained that I had signed my daughter up to be part of a team, not to be an outcast, and that this was affecting the trust and dynamic of the squad.

She never replied to me, but she sent out a mass email to the parents saying that she heard that some kids’ feelings were hurt and that in the future parents should be discreet and give out invitations when the kids aren’t looking.

The child’s mom sent me a text sort of apologizing for the mishap. Personally, I would never make a list of children and have my child categorize the level of friendship to see who makes the cut. It just seems so odd to me. However, she apologized and there really isn’t anything we can do about it now.

I am having a really hard time understanding the coach’s reaction though. Am I crazy to think that encouraging kids to sneak around and lie to each other is not appropriate for a cheer squad? Maybe my objectivity has been clouded by the sound of my daughter crying, so I’m reaching out for objective advice.

Signed, Tina

ANSWER

Hi Tina,

Being a mom myself, my hurt goes out to you and your daughter. When someone hurts your child, whether purposely or unintentionally, it’s natural that a mother’s blood would boil and put her maternal instinct (to protect) into overdrive. You aren’t “crazy.”

Yes, it would have been nice if the other mom invited the entire cheering squad to the party and it would have been nice, too, if she emailed or mailed out invitations more discreetly if everyone wasn’t invited.

Yet, I can understand how the other mom might have needed to limit the number of invitees because of cost, space or other considerations. She really was under no obligation to invite everyone on the team.

In terms of the coach, I think she handled the situation as well as she could. She probably was caught off guard when you approached her initially and I suspect you may have been very upset at that time. While the coach has no control over parties or other social activities that take place outside of cheer squad, she went the extra step of asking moms to be more inclusive and sensitive to the feelings of others. She responded with actions if not words. And now that it’s on her radar, she’ll make extra efforts to build the team.

When kids are seven years old, it’s the moms rather than the kids who usually have the final say about play dates and social get-togethers. When the other mom realized you and your daughter were hurt, it was kind of her to at least reach out to you and apologize, even though it was after the fact.

If I were you, I would downplay the significance of this incident with your daughter. Wipe away her tears, explain that sometimes everyone can’t be invited to every party and some kids are left out —and that when her birthday comes around, she may have to make some difficult choices, too.

Since this is the beginning of the season, it will take some time for the team to develop an esprit de corps. Despite this initial disappointment, try to give your daughter and the coach the chance to turn things around.

Hope this helps.

My best, Irene

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Category: Child and adolescent friendships, Helping children deal with friendship problems

Comments (16)

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  1. Victoria says:

    It is no more fun to be invited to a party because you “had to be”. She would have been hurt no matter what.

  2. Cheryl says:

    What about eVite or Punchbowl? I fault the party girl’s parents for not heading this off at the outset. The coach should have had explicit team rules about how party invitations should be distributed? Isn’t there a team roster with everyone’s parents’ emails and phone numbers?

    My daughter is having her party soon. She’s in a small school and Girl Scout troop, so she could theoretically include everyone in her class and troop. But there are a few kids she doesn’t like because (her words) “they try to act like teenagers” or are otherwise usually disruptive. This doesn’t make her a mean girl. But, invitations went out online and I’ve asked her to take care not to discuss her party at school or in the troop so that she avoids hurting the feelings of kids she didn’t invite.

  3. Rain says:

    Our job as parents is to prepare our children for adulthood. One of the mistakes we make is shielding our children from every hurt, disappointment, rejection etc that life throws at them. And life is cruel, no doubt about it, and it starts in kindergarten and before, but by allowing them to experience these childhood experiences with comforting arms close by, prepares them for dealing with the harsher realities of adulthood. As a parent educator, I have huge concerns about today’s children. Our over-protection is crippling them and we have children on the brink of adulthood who crumble when life throws them a curve ball because they have never learnt HOW to deal with them as children When a child sees himself master his own environment, he builds self worth and confidence, this is the child that will deal with adulthood well but if you make this child a victim, they will deal with adult experiences in that same way.
    Your job as a parent is hard. It is agony to see your child hurt but let me tell you, it is worse to see your child in a mortuary slab because they couldn’t cope.
    Tina, you said “I had signed my daughter up to be part of a team, not to be an outcast”. The truth is, you signed your daughter up to be part of a cheer squad, and that is where the boundaries stop, at cheering. Being a part of it does not guarantee invitations or friendship.
    How do you allow your child to deal with this sort of thing in a healthy way? Accept that they will feel pain first. It is normal but it is how they deal with it that determines success. First and foremost, your role modelling is the number one teacher. How do you deal with it. Show them, don’t tell them. When you see someone dealing with something in a negative way, talk about it to your child, ask them, how could they deal with that differently. Teach them, life is full of hurts etc, and it is often more about the other person than it is about your child.
    Every single thing you do, your child watches, learns from you, the parent/s how to be an adult. Teach them well.Teach them strength, not with words, with your actions.

    • Leeanne says:

      Great response! One of the greatest joys in life is watching kids come up with solutions to difficult or uncomfortable situations. Your comment about mastering their environment is something all children should be taught. It eliminates having a victim mentality and gives them so much personal power.

      • Tracy says:

        it really is. I just read an article on how we have become a nation of the perpetually offended. It is true the experience was not pleasant for the child and of course NONE of us like to be the spectators of our child’s hurt feelings. But it is also true that we must prepare our kids for disappointments. This lady received apology and action and still it is insufficient.Actually it could become a great learning tool for how to explain to kids that what makes us feel bad will probably make others feel bad too. Take the moral high ground and move on. It’s just the stuff of life and the sooner we accept it, the sooner we can move on from being offended over trivia

  4. Tanja says:

    I don’t like the coaches response either. Of course there was something she could do. In the future, she needs to tell people to be discreet about handing out invitations and not to do it in front of everyone. She should have also told the parent of the girl to talk to her daughter about behaviour that is rude and imppolite and exclusive.

    Now, some schools have a policy, where teachers will not hand out invitations unless the whole class is invited. I don’t necessarily think you should invite the whole class. As a parent, I tell my son that he can invite two friends over from his class and he is discreet about it. So, the mother of this girl could have made it that she only invite three girls. If you are not going to invite the whole team then make sure that two people are not excluded. Make sure it is the other way around where only two are invited, nothing personal but finances an issue.

    I am sorry your daughter is feeling this way. It was not very polite of the mother of that girl and the coach.

  5. Leeanne says:

    @ Mrs. Chen. I agree with everything you said. I think most reasonable people feel very sad for the daughter but I think it could have been handled differently. Teach your daughter that life isn’t always fair, that the lack of an invitation might have been for other reasons (financial etc.) and I think the worst thing that was done is to allow your daughter to feel like a victim.
    Do you also think that getting involved to the extent you did might have actually hurt your daughter if the other children found out that “Mommy” had to intervene? That could have been even more humiliating.
    The coach’s solution was perfect…hand out invitations privately. Your daughter can take that advice into adulthood where it’s common for people to be invited to things that their peers aren’t.

  6. lottie says:

    Hi Tina,
    So sorry your daughter was left out of the party,the tears will have hurt you just as much. Girls can be mean at any age. The mother is to blame for over indulging her daughter and allowing two children to be excluded. What does it cost for two more to be invited…peanuts I would think when you are already having twenty two. The coach I think handled the problem well. The mother has apologised and probably also fells terrible for what has happened. I bet she wishes she could turn back the clock. Accept the apology with grace. Your daughter might be best friends with the birthday girl this time next week.Take care Lottie

    • Amy F says:

      I believe assuming the teammate is a mean girl simply because some girls weren’t invited to a party is unfair. There nothing in the letter that suggest the child is mean that I saw.
      I think children are better off not being treated or considered victims as this can imprint on their personas.
      Kids need to feel strong and capable and empowered. They’re better able to problem solve and more resourceful.

      • lottie says:

        Hi Amy F,
        Yes I have read it wrong. I thought I had seen twenty two children had been invited and two excluded one being Tina daughter. Had that been the case I still think it would have been very mean and I blame the mother who has already apologised. Like Mary has kindly pointed out I have made a mistake. Thanks Lottie

    • Mary says:

      Lottie it wasn’t just two girls that were not invited, the writer/mother said that all but 2 of the girls were new to
      the cheering squad. If twenty were invited but two not the
      non invitation would be a whole different level of offense.

  7. cyndi says:

    The coach was totally inappropriate in the way she handled the situation. To be discreet in handing out invitations does not make the hurt any less, there would have been talk of the party the next time the girls get together and your daughter would have found out eventually.As an adult I know how it feels to be left out, I am handle that but for a child, her peers are the ones she looks towards for acceptance. In the future take your daughter out on her own special day a girls day of shopping, lunch and perhaps a salon day. She is learning young about the dynamic of cliques and how cruel they can be.

  8. Mrs. Chen says:

    Tina,
    You are not crazy, you were hurt and you overreacted. Children, like adults, are not expected to invite everyone to their parties. Your daughter, being just 7, felt the rejection like a truck hit her. But you – you should be the voice of reason. One that reassures her that this sort of stuff happens ALL the time to EVERYBODY. That it is no big deal. That she should continue to be the kind person she is and she’ll make lots of friends. Maybe she’ll even become friends who the girl who didn’t invite her. There is no point in holding grudges. So what is she is not invited to this one? I bet she gets invited to plenty of other parties.

    I agree with the others that the coach behaved very appropriately. She did more than I would have expected. You are right – it is not the best thing to tell kids to sneak around. But that is better than having to deal with angry moms whose children were not invited to certain parties.

    The other mom also behaved very graciously as she had nothing to apologize for. No one can afford to invite all the kids in one’s daughter’s class plus all the kids in all her extracurricular classes.

    Lastly, not being invited to a party hurts even more in tween and teen years when girls are at the nastiest and most insecure. So whatever you can do right now to “normalize” this type of situations for your daughter, will serve her well into her teen years and beyond.

  9. Amy F says:

    Not being invited to a party hurts at any age. When I read your letter, the first thing I though was 22 kids, plus whatever school friends she wanted to invite is a huge party for a little kid and it may be financially prohibitive to have a party that large.

    I also thought the coach handled the situation well. In your mind, what would have been the best way for the coach to respond? To me the big issue was the public passing out of invitations, and it sounds like that won’t happen again in cheerleading.

    Back when I was a child, kids would invite a few children to their birthday. Some girls could be left off the list for one party, and others for another party. Nobody went to all the birthdays.

    You can use this experience as a teachable moment. Just like she is closer friends with some girls than others, the party girl is closer to others. It doesn’t mean the girl doesn’t like her, it just means she was only allowed to invite a set number of girls (even though you don’t know this for sure, I’d go with this explanation). If she could only invite six girls to a party, who would you invite? Hopefully she won’t say party girl. Then mention some other girls she’s friendly with, and remind her that she still likes these girls, but she could only invite 6.

    If your child was the only one not invited to the party, I’d feel differently. Unfortunately, there will be many more things she won’t be invited to, it’s part of childhood. She might not make a soccer team, when she’s older, she might be left out of a small group project and have to find different partners, she might not be invited to play with a few girls one day and have to find others. In doing so, she learns resiliency, problem solving, social skills, and dealing with disappointments. Seven isn’t too young to learn this, it can happen in preschool too. Ask your daughter if she’d like to have a friend over the day of the party, or a sleepover.

    Finally, try to gauge her comfort level with the birthday girl since the snub. She might feel sad or angry or intimidated. Remind her that she’s still teammates with the girls who went to the party. Maybe the coach can help with that too,

    Good luck. I bet she bounces back quickly.

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