When one child is invited but their siblings aren’t

Family life

A couple of weekends ago, Little Miss E went to a birthday party of one of the children in her class at school.

Her brother, Little Man O, was so upset that he wasn’t going that he cried full-on tears. He’d seemingly forgotten that a couple of weeks previously, he had been to a birthday party of one his pre-school friends, and Miss E had been the one upset at not being invited.

It was the same last week when Little Man went on a trip to Barry Island with his cylch meithrin (Welsh playgroup), accompanied by me and Baby Boy I. Little Miss E was upset because she had to go to school instead. Next week, he will be the disappointed one when she goes off on her end-of-term trip to the park with Rainbows, and he doesn’t.

I hope that doesn’t make them sound spoiled. They’re certainly not! It’s just that with the three of them being so close in age – 21 months between Miss E and Little Man, and then another 2.5 years between him and Baby I – they have spent so much of their lives so far together doing the same things, it’s understandably a big adjustment for them to suddenly be doing things separately.

Until Little Miss E started full-time school last September, the three of them went to the same pre-school classes/soft plays/parks/play-dates – and birthday parties – together. Now, with Little Miss E nearing the end of her reception year at school, and Little Man O well into his pre-school days, the separate invites are becoming more common.

I’m not for a minute suggesting that the children inviting one of my kids to their parties should be inviting their siblings too. That’s just ridiculous. If they had to do that for all the guests, there could end up being 60+ children in the room. Not to mention the fact that often the birthday child doesn’t know the siblings in any case.

I think it’s good for my children to do separate things. Having the three of them in just over four years, I’m conscious that they have had limited opportunity to do things on their own. I want them to make their own friends and have the confidence to go to events on their own without the security of their siblings standing next to them.

If I know Cardiff Daddy is available to split childcare resources, then I love taking one of them to a party on their own. Sometimes, only one of us is about, so I’ll either check with the party host whether there is room for siblings, or ask if I can pay for them myself. It doesn’t always work out though and sometimes we end up missing out. Birthday party politics is a whole other post though.

I think it’s a good lesson in life to learn that sometimes other people get to do fun things that we don’t. I also want them to know that when it is them doing the fun thing, they need to be mindful of the feelings of those missing out because they know how it feels.

It’s also good for the child not going to the party to have quality time with the other parent. Although again, with three children that’s not always so easy.

I’m interested to see how other parents manage disappointment. A small part of me wants to console the uninvited child with a treat to make up for them missing out – but in the long-run, that’s not going to do anyone any favours. Sometimes we need to accept that we have to miss out.

I’ve talked a lot to my mum friends about this, and my children are certainly not the only ones to get upset when one gets to do something and the others don’t.

One of my friends, whose children are older than mine, tells me that hers still get upset now. However, there have been instances where one child has been invited to a party with the host parent saying to bring the other one along too – and my friend has declined the sibling’s invite saying she wants her children to get the chance to do things on their own, without their sibling tagging along. Especially now they are getting older.

I love that my children are close to each other as friends as well as in age, but I also love to see them growing in confidence and making their own way in life. No one likes being left out, but I think it’s an important lesson to learn as a child, rather than suddenly getting a shock when you get older and not knowing how to deal with it.

We’re still very early on in our school journey and so I’m sure there will be more instances of one child getting to do something, when the other doesn’t. I hope I’m handling it correctly. I’d love to know what other parents do in this situation.

Do let me know in the comments section below, on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page or by tweeting me @cardiffmummy

If you live in or around Cardiff, you might like this article on 14 ideas for children’s birthday parties – with some great discounts for Cardiff Mummy Says readers. 


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15 Comments to When one child is invited but their siblings aren’t

  1. I’m one of four, and when I was little I don’t remember much disappointment at not being allowed to go to one of my sibling’s friends parties. I think we just easily accepted it as the way it was. Although I do remember going along to quite a few of my older brother’s friend’s parties when I was really small, as we were only 16 months apart so did most things together.

    Now I have the problem that my other half is away most weekends so I usually have to do the awkward asking if my younger son can tag along, or just forgoing the parties completely if it’s not going to work to take both of them.

    • Yep, it’s awkward, isn’t it, not wanting them to miss out on parties but accepting that sometimes you can’t always take the other child/children along. Ah, these children and their busy social lives!

  2. internationalelfservice

    Oooh yes this is so tough for them :(. We had the same as our eldest two are just 18 months apart and the very best of friends. It does get better but I think it’s always hard watching people heading off to a party without you!

    • Yes, it must be very hard for them. I want them to be independent and learn that sometimes other people get to do things we don’t – but it’s an important lesson to learn and it’s good for them to accept this from a young age. x

  3. Oooh interesting point! Not something I’ve experienced yet and will very be a cause for consternation with my stroppy two! But I agree. I think they do need to learn to do things separately and that sometimes they will miss out. It’s tough but i think it’s fair. 🙂

  4. I agree with you. At such close age they should both been invited. Although at the same time they have to learn to do things their own as this’ll happen all through their childhood. x

    • I don’t think they should have both been invited – I think it’s just a difficult thing to learn that sometimes you have to miss out. Although it’s important for them to learn this from a young age, as that’s just life! x

  5. I remember as a child that at one party, one sibling though such a fit at not being invited, that the parents of the child said he could join.

    Learning to do things separately as siblings as well as together is a great lesson. Like you said, they are so close that for a while, it will probably feel strange!

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Oh nooo, that must have been one horrendous tantrum! I guess it as the easiest thing to do in the short-term but doesn’t really get the message across long-term!

  6. This was an interesting one! I’m on the other side of the fence with one daughter and have always wondered whether we have done the right thing with inviting and not inviting siblings. Can’t do one without the other dilemma. I’ve also had to have the conversation with my daughter where she hasn’t received an invite and others have which is also a tough one. Luckily she is very resilient and is fine with that. As you rightly say, it’s an important but hard lesson to have to learn at a young age that you ‘are not going’. Great read. Nicky

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Aw, it’s not nice for them when they don’t get invited. We’ve had a couple where my daughter hasn’t had an invite, where it has been parties of children she is not especially friends with. Lots of life lessons for them to learn, bless. x

  7. I know all about this one! Noah often feels left out because his sister is at school and has more opportunities to go to parties than he does with his friends from preschool. I struggle with how to handle this because, yes, he does need to learn how to handle disappointment, but on the other hand, I worry about it denting his self-esteem. I think it’s one of those things where you have to go with your gut and do what feels right to do. Sometimes I’ll take him along, occasionally b/c it’s a party he can join in with and other times it will be because his Dad’s not around to watch him. It’s becoming less of an issue now though b/c a lot of Charlie’s parties are more a ‘drop & run’ scenario xxx

  8. It is soooo difficult. And in some ways you do just have to get on with it. We have a few families at school where siblings are the same age and all three of mine might be invited, and that’s great. A few times there’s been extra goody bags so the parent gives ours one for their sibling, which is fantastic- until your child is at another party asking for an extra goody bag!
    More difficult now is the realisation as they get older friends select a limited number of people to their party, and that’s been really difficult when it’s your child who’s not invited… and I’m really not looking forward to this with twins where one may be invited and the other not…. the complexities of parenting which suddenly make weaning decisions a walk in the park! xx

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Yes, that is difficult when the parties become more selective and they get upset at being left out. Even harder with twins, I can imagine. Each parenting stage brings along more challenges, doesn’t it?

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