A friend of mine recently told me her daughter hadn't received an invitation to a neighborhood child's birthday party, and the girl was pretty upset about it. What made it more confusing was that the kids had played together for years, had attended each other's parties in the past, and the parents were good friends, as well.
Granted, due to schedules, activities and other events, the girls had slightly drifted apart in the time leading up to the Big Day. But there hadn't been any outright bad blood between them. They spoke fondly of each other, and were friendly when the families got together. The birthday girl had simply chosen to invite other people, and her mother apparently didn't question the guest list.
So the snub got me thinking: Should you automatically invite your friend's kids to your own children's birthday parties, just because? Call me crazy, but the answer is yes. Here's why:
It teaches your kids about diplomacy - When I was growing up, my mom made me play with her friends' kids. Did I like all of them? Not really. But when birthday party time rolled around, I was expected to invite them. Why? It was the right thing to do. Like it or not, those kids were in my social circle. Sending an invite kept everybody happy, and taught me to get along with people I didn't completely enjoy - kind of like life now.
It will save your friendship - If you think your friend isn't irritated about the birthday party snub, you're wrong. Long after the party ends, the hurt feelings will remain. So, like it or not, send the invitation. Or, if you don't, at least approach the subject with your friend. "Jamie didn't invite Ashley this year because she is closer to other friends at school, and we had a limited guest list." Giving any explanation is better than avoiding the topic altogether.
It shows you are able to 'rise above' - I will admit that I'm not exactly fond of all of my friends' children. They can be loud. Some have questionable language choices. Others haven't exactly been respectful to me. But nobody is perfect, and that includes my own kids. As an adult, it's important to overlook, or at least forgive, some of those behaviors in order to keep the peace. Could I live without some of these kids at our parties? Sure. But would I exclude a friend's child because of my own feelings? Never.
It's true - your child may not be best buds with your friends' children, now or ever. Send a birthday party invitation, anyway. Teaching your kids how to be gracious and diplomatic is a skill that will help them now, and later in life - in situations far more important than birthday parties.