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My Child Did Not Get Invited

As a parent, nanny, or babysitter, your heart aches when a child’s heart breaks.  In this blog, we will consider one particular heartbreaking experience and how it can be handled.  Consider this: your child’s classmates are all invited to a party hosted by one of the children in the class.  However, your child did not get an invitation.  It appears that he was singled out in not receiving an invitation.  Your child is understandably feeling hurt and confused.  He may even feel angry.  What can you do?

  • If you have a good relationship with the host family, you may speak with them to determine if an invitation was mailed but not received. Or perhaps it was left on your child’s desk at school but managed to get misplaced in the shuffle of his school papers before he even noticed that he had it.
  • If your child has a good relationship with the host child, he may speak with the host child to determine if an invitation was lost; if the relationship was damaged, resulting in no invitation being intended for him; or if there is some other situation at hand.
  • If the invitation is simply missing, overlooked, or otherwise intended but not received, console your child by letting him know that he was invited after all. Everything is ok. He was not slighted. It may take him a moment or two to decompress after the hurt, confusion, and anger he was feeling when he thought he was excluded, so hug him and let him know that misunderstandings and mishaps happen. Unfortunately, they just do. Learning to “roll with” them is sometimes difficult but always healthy. (Side note: if your child acted out in front of others while he was operating under the assumption that he was intentionally excluded, there may be issues that you need to address to help him recover from that. He may need to apologize to others for his outburst. He may have feelings of guilt or discomfort for redirecting the behaviors of others . . people who were not guilty of the behaviors with which he charged them. Learning to face these difficulties with courage and intact self-esteem is necessary for a healthy adulthood.)
  • If the invitation was not intended . . . if your child was intentionally excluded from the party . . . then you must decide whether to push the issue (i.e., attempt to force an invitation so that your child is not excluded) or find an alternative for your child. Forcing the issue is seldom the best approach. Alternatives include a family evening in which your child gets his favorite meal and a DVD movie of his choice or the opportunity to have some of his friends over for a slumber party (note that this latter alternative will likely take some attendees away from the party to which your child was not invited . . . this is acceptable as long as the goal is companionship for your child and not retribution for the original host child). Other alternatives exist as well, and the alternative chosen should be what best meets your child’s needs. Specifically, he needs to know that he is likable, that people want to be around him, and that he is a worthwhile person. The original host child may not value him, as no one is liked by everyone, but that should not negate that he is still liked by many. But helping your child with this lesson, he will (hopefully) grow to learn resiliency. Also, he may learn not to be dependent on any one person’s approval. These are healthy lessons to take into adulthood.

From these painful experiences, powerful life lessons spring.  Resiliency.  Courage.  Self-confidence.  Forgiveness.  Independence.  As a parent, nanny, or babysitter, it may be difficult to watch your child endure these painful experiences, but once they are past, the powerful life lessons may embolden you and your child.

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