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We have a large group of friends who are parents of other kids in my son’s grade. We all met in Kindergarten and have spent lots of time together because of our children’s love for each other. Over time, we, the parents, have become close as well. As the kids get older, though, certain kids are getting cut out of birthday parties and other events because the kids are growing apart. The problem is, we are still friends with the parents and it’s awkward when their kid isn’t invited to our son’s birthday which makes me want to just go ahead and invite the kid. But my son has very specific guest lists and so I need to respect that as well. It’s a conundrum that I dread every year. Any thoughts?
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Yes, so tricky! When we have had kid parties with limited guest numbers due to the venue, we have had to select a certain number and then as mentioned above, have a separate large play 'date' as a get together. The families and kids that didn't come to the party haven't seemed to mind as they still all get to go out and play together which is all the kids seemed to care about!!
As our kids get older, I think that it is important to respect their wishes when it comes to things like birthday celebrations. This can be difficult if you have a good relationship with many other parents whose kids may no longer appear on your child's list of close friends.
Although inviting these kids might seem like the kind thing to do, there is a good chance that they will find themselves excluded or on the fringes of the core group of friends. If this happens, there is a good chance that you will spend your time running around trying to ensure that everyone is included and no one feels left out.
If you have the means to do so, why not have a family BBQ or get-together for your broader friend group where you can include all the parents and kids you have a long time relationship with? It doesn't have to specifically be a birthday celebration, but you can always include cake for dessert. Your child can then have his birthday party with his core group of friends without you feeling guilty about any exclusions.
This might also be a good time to remind your son that sometimes he will be the one excluded from party guest lists. You can chat to him about how this will make him feel, and about what he will do to cope when he experiences these disappointments.
We have a pretty solid group of parent friends and some of our kids are really close and others aren't (they also have age ranges). We've just come to adapt and respect that our kids will not be invited to everything just because their mom is one of my best friends. Birthdays can be expensive and a lot of work on the parents. I personally find it less stressful to have one less thing to worry about and it makes it one less kid for that parent to worry about. If my kids ask, I simply say that X's parents only wanted a certain amount of kids at the party.
I have one kid who has requested one-person parties for the past few years (so easy!) and my younger son wanted to invite the whole town (so it seemed!). To cater to my son who wanted higher numbers, we kept the party outside (a sledding party) and there was less stress about having a bunch of people around. Playground parties are another great idea.
As they get older, I'm sure it gets much harder, but for now they are pretty resilient. If they are sad about not being invited somewhere we work through the feelings and move on to something else.
Honestly, since the families are friends, I would really try to include the other children. They can then choose not to come. It is kind of like cousins who are not friendly but live nearby. You invite them because it is the right thing to do.
We would include the next-door neighbor's kids for birthday parties since many children in the neighborhood were invited. It is a similar situation and prevents hard feelings.
If the party is super small or you need to limit kids due to the party being at a venue, it is understandable to stick with the few "best" friends.
Unless your child is dire enemies with the kids on the "no" list and can still have all of their "besties", then I don't see where he would mind. It is a good lesson on extending kindness and inclusion.