Planning a birthday party can be so much more than making decisions about a birthday cake and music, especially for elementary school families.
Schools often encourage inviting a student’s entire class to their birthday party to avoid anyone feeling left out, even if the student only has one real friend in the group.
But that has to change the whole vibe of the birthday party, especially for the guest of honor, cringed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor BrokemomThrowaway was planning on having a special day for her introverted daughter and her four closest friends, who happened to go to school with her.
But when other parents found out that the five were getting together and demanded their children be invited, too, the Original Poster (OP) wasn’t sure what to do next.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for excluding kids from coming to my daughter’s birthday?”
The OP’s daughter had four very close friends who were important to her.
“I (38 Female) have a daughter (8 Female) who is a shy, bookish introvert. She isn’t popular and would prefer to read at the library than go to a big giant social event.”
“She has four really very good friends in her class of roughly 30 kids.”
“I’ll add that some of her classmates are not very nice to her.”
The OP wanted to do something special for the five of them for her daughter’s birthday.
“So her birthday is coming up, and she specifically asked me if we could do something, she and her four friends.”
“This is what has been going on since she was young. We’ve never thrown an actual giant Instagram birthday party.”
“We’re not poor by any means, but we’re not rich, and we live in a small apartment, so what we’d normally do is me, her, and her four friends go out for ice cream and a paint-your-own ceramic activity, or something like that.”
But rumors ruined the quiet birthday plans.
“However, word got out that my daughter is ‘having a party,’ and I got an email from her teacher where she essentially called me out for my ‘lack of inclusivity.'”
“She said that she had gotten complaints from other kids in her class that my daughter was being a bully for only inviting certain people (re: her close friends) and the teacher told me that now I had to invite the whole class.”
“I cannot afford to host a party for 30 kids or bring 30 kids to an activity. I also was afraid of my daughter getting bullied at her own party and wanted this to be a safe space for her.”
“So I politely told the teacher this and explained that it wasn’t even a party but a get-together for her closest friends.”
The OP didn’t know what to do when the situation escalated.
“Now I’m getting loads of angry emails from parents of kids who weren’t invited, asking me why not and pressuring me to invite their kids.”
“One even accused me of discriminating against their son because he has asthma.”
“I’ve had 10 angry emails, and I’m starting to think maybe I should invite all the kids in the spirit of inclusivity and have it in a park or something.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some Redditors pointed out that this didn’t count as “exclusivity.”
“If you invited 28 kids out of that class, you would be excluding two children. But inviting four friends is totally fine. No kid in that class has the impression that ‘everyone is invited but me.'”
“This is ridiculous.” – CakeEatingRabbit
“My K-8 school growing up (I’m 38 now) had a ‘policy’ that if more than half of a class was invited, parents needed to invite the entire class (~20 kids), to avoid the situation of just one or two kids being excluded.”
“I’d heard there was a class some years ahead of me that had some MAJOR clique issues (ultimately half of the girls of that year left the school in 8th grade).”
“But that’s way different from having four friends over and calling that exclusionary. This teacher is way out of line.” – oliviamroe
“It makes sense to not have invitations handed out in class if the whole class isn’t invited. That’s the only rule of this type I can get behind because if you exclude anyone, it’s obvious to everyone there.”
“This isn’t even close to that. Regardless of the number of kids involved, they organized this get-together away from the school. It’s none of this teacher’s godd**n business.” – tyren22
“My older son is in first grade. We have a class list of one parent for every student in the class, their phone numbers, and their email addresses. Every student’s parents receive them during the first month of class. So, yes, the teacher gave it out, but it could be just a thing they do and not maliciously due to this one event.”
“But OP’s daughter is not having a party, just a small gathering with her friends. If OP takes her kid to Disney World and the kid brought one friend along, does the rest of the class warrant an invite? Sheesh!”
“I get it, it would be mean to exclude one or two kids due to reasons other than that kid is a bully or the likes, but this is not it.” – Hopeful-Dream700
“NTA. This is what happens when everyone expects a participation trophy. If you get invited, YAY! you have someone who thinks you are worthy of spending time with. You don’t get invited? Suck it up. You might not have the qualities they are looking for in a friend. No slight to you. People (shockingly even kids) form opinions of others, be it positive or negative.”
“Tell the parents their participation trophies are not invited. Maybe they should try to be better people and parents. Never happen. It’s going to be your fault no matter what. People don’t like owning up to their faults. Easier to assign blame to others.”
“I hope your daughter and her 4 friends have an amazing time. Happy Birthday to daughter.” – Shuruga36
Others took issue with the teacher’s involvement.
“This is not the first post I’m seeing of a teacher forcing a parent to invite the entire class, and I find it so strange. In the ’90s, our teachers didn’t give two hoots about what we did at home with our friends.” – Greedy_Information96
“The thing is, even though I agree that kids shouldn’t be excluded, the school has no legal right to tell parents what to do with their kids after school hours. The only thing they can do is say that kids can’t distribute invitations during school hours.” – HomelyHobbit
“She should tell the teacher that more kids would have been invited had she taken steps to stop the bullying against your daughter. And that teacher is just reinforcing bullying now.” – ImaginaryStandard293
“It’s so weird. Every time I hear about a policy that requires the whole class to be invited to a party, it confuses the heck out of me.”
“I get having a rule that if, say, you bring birthday cupcakes to class, you have to bring enough for everyone, but where does any teacher or school get the right to dictate to parents what they must do with their time and money outside of school hours and off school property? Or who their child must socialize with or include in their recreation activities. So bizarre!”
“NTA.” – ShepCantDance
“I don’t know when it changed, but from like… 2010 onwards, when my relatives had young kids, it was very common that when you had a birthday, you invited your whole class/kindergarten group. Basically, you needed to have a birthday party with all of them if you wanted to invite any of them.”
“It was bizarre to them then and is to this day because when I was a kid, it was natural that the only kids that got invited were those that you were actually close friends with.”
“I guess the idea is that no kid is left feeling alone? Like if there are kids that may be less financially well off or from a minority group, they may not get invited so it might be to avoid that?”
“I have heard of a rule that if you do only invite some kids from a larger group, then invites should not be dispersed in school/kindergarten, but privately so that other kids wouldn’t know.” – NightSalut
“How did all the other parents get OP’s contact info to send her harassing messages in the first place? My bet is the teacher.” – PotatoLover-3000
After receiving feedback, the OP shared a quick update.
“Thank you all for your wonderful comments. I have sent an email to the principal asking for an explanation, with a threat to take this to the school board.”
“I will not give in, and I’m going to make sure my daughter and her friends have the lovely day they deserve, in peace and alone.”
While the subReddit had heard of the inclusion requirements of inviting whole classes to birthday parties, they were still surprised that a group of five girls getting together was enough to cause a ruckus.
As some pointed out, it would have been a problem if all but two or three classmates were invited, but with it only being the daughter’s closest friends, it would make sense for her birthday wishes to be preserved.