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Our family has just combined and moved to a new town a month ago. We have three children, a 13 year old boy and 10 and 9 year old girls. The 9 year old is my daughter and the 13 and 10 year olds are my girlfriend's. The kids have been pretty quick to make friends in the new neighborhood.

Before we moved, we lived in separate apartment complexes and our children went to different schools and had different pools of friends. Our 9-year old was invited to many of her friends birthdays -- 2 or 3 each month. Our 10-year old was invited to 3 in the last year. Each time the younger was invited to a party, the older would feel crushed, but we would explain that they both have different groups of friends.

Today, one of their new friends delivered a birthday slumber party invitation which was addressed to only the 9-year old. This is a friend that both girls play equally with.

As a parents what should we do? We're not certain if it was simply an oversight, but that doesn't seem likely.

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    My first thought would be to talk to the other parents, but we have only had a few short meetings with their mom. Frankly, I'm not sure how to start such a conversation. – psaxton Sep 16 '15 at 4:11
  • Hi, and welcome to the site. These situations are tough all around; you have my sympathy. A few questions: How old is the playmate? Are both of your girls in the same class in school? Is the playmate in the same class as the 9 year old? Is there another possible reason for the 10 year old's exclusion from things? – anongoodnurse Sep 16 '15 at 4:22
  • @anongoodnurse our girls are in 4th and 5th grades, so seperate classes. Their playmate is turning 10 and is homeschooled. Other than being different children with different personalities, I see to reason for the exclusion. When I monitor this trio playing, it seems to me that the friend and 10-year-old play more closely. – psaxton Sep 16 '15 at 4:30
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    We've had similar situations, but we turned the birthday events into personal play time with the excluded one. So one gets to go to the birthday and the other chooses something like a movie, trampoline park, etc. And they've seemed to be pretty happy with that so far – Kai Qing Jun 5 '17 at 23:48
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At a slumber party, the number of attendees is usually more restricted than otherwise — there is a bit less space, a longer time commitment for the hosts, and the amount of noise generated by guests seems to increases exponentially instead of arithmetically... especially at 2am.

It's possible that the age difference played some part in the decision; perhaps the parents only considered inviting 4th graders and didn't consider the older friend.

And of course, it's possible that it was an oversight — or even that the mother assumed that by inviting [NineYearOld] you'd know [TenYearOld] was implicitly invited as well.

As parents of the girls, you have three choices:

  1. Let the younger daughter attend and deal with the emotional fallout.

  2. Decide that the party isn't worth it. (There may already be hurt feelings at not being invited, but less than if one daughter goes and the other doesn't.)

    Politely decline the invitation without extensive explanation:

    Unfortunately, [NineYearOld] won't be able to attend [Friend]'s party.

  3. Make an effort to have both your daughters included. While you could simply show up with both, that's not really polite (and risks [TenYearOld] being turned away at the door of the party, a bigger hurt than not going in the first place). The best approach is to discuss it with the other parent(s) beforehand.

    [NineYearOld] is excited about [Friend]'s slumber party. We wanted to check whether [TenYearOld] was also invited?

    And then you get an explanation: of course, it was an oversight! or of course she can come too! or sorry but we had to limit it to N guests!

    At that point you've either got both girls attending, or you're back to choosing between 1 and 2. (Probably best to have in mind which approach you'll take before initiating the conversation.)

Anecdote: I actually did get asked once whether a slightly-older sibling could come along to a slumber party. In that case it wasn't a girl that my daughter knew as well as the invited guest, but we didn't mind. (I was a bit surprised, but not really offended.)

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    Thank you Erica and @Anongoodnurse. Your answers helped me to get the courage I needed to go talk to the friends mom. She was very understanding, and explained that her daughter sees our 10-year old as much older than her because of her "development," and thought that she might not enjoy a "little" girls party. She said she would talk to her child and let her know that both my daughters would probably have just as much fun and that they're all about the same age. Hopefully, she'll want to invite both and not feel forced into it. Forcing invitation is worse than not being invited at all. – psaxton Sep 16 '15 at 22:56
  • Forcing invitation is worse than not being invited at all. -- this too was my primary concern in option #3 – MrDuk Sep 17 '15 at 17:41
  • If the number of guests is limited, maybe the host precisely didn't invite both because she considers them too similar. – Ángel May 5 '16 at 21:37
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If you do end up in the situation where one child goes to the party and the other doesn't, I would do two things.

First, talk to the older child about her feelings, and help her process them. You now know the reason only one child was invited; you can let her know that, and you can also help her come to terms with the fact that over time her friend-group may well differentiate from her sister's, even though they are of a similar age.

She is older, and will have at least a year or two of very 'different' interests when puberty hits. She's also a different person, with a different personality - at least a little - and thus may well end up forming different attachments, even if only slightly different. Some - perhaps most - of the time she and her sister will hang out together and have fun, but sometimes they will make different choices and/or their friends will make different choices. This is a good time to talk about that, and to start working out how she can process that in a positive way.

Second, I would help her make this a positive. Host a "party" of her own, perhaps. Can she invite a couple of other non-invited-to-the-other-party friends over for a movie night? Or maybe have a mommy or daddy alone night where you do something fun. This is only something that should really go along with the first discussion - it's really cheating to just do this, without talking about the issue, and won't help her in the long run - but it can help her see that there are ways to turn the situation into a positive.

  • I agree. Your girls are siblings, but they are different personalities. They are different in many aspects and the host (and any other people) may see them as such. They can have more in common with any of them and there is no crime in it. Of course you can politely ask the parents if the older one can go too. Anyway I think it's very rude to limit your 9-year old because of it and will hurt her feelings. It's her relationships and you'll ruin them. You can't "force" their common friends treat them equally. Let the girl visit her friend and talk to the older one. – Amberta May 30 '17 at 13:55
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I would lean strongly toward declining the invitation. With our kids, we have put a lot of emphasis on teaching them that they are each other's best friends. When we move, or their friends move, still they have each other. If this is a common friend, inviting only the younger sibling naturally creates difficult emotions for the older one. I would consider this a time to teach the younger sibling (and thereby teach all your children), that deference to her sister's feelings is more important than attending a friend's party.

I would not consider trying to talk to the other parents to get the older child invited as well. That can create an even worse situation where your older child gets there and is treated poorly, being made to feel unwelcome.

I would plan an alternate event. Have your 9 and 10 year olds do their own thing that night, and include the rest of the family - a family camp-out in the living room, or a back-to-the-future family movie marathon, or any family aimed event that helps the 9 year old put away the sadness of not getting to go to her friend's sleep-over, and helps all your kids grow in their love of spending time with each other and with you.

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