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Dad Refuses To Let Tween Daughter Exclude Only Three Of Her Classmates From Birthday Party

Girl with a birthday cake
Svetlana Glazkova/Getty Images

When children reach the age when they want to start having birthday parties, most schools have rules about the distribution of the invitations: if not all students in the class are invited, then the invitations cannot be shared at school.

But it still becomes obvious to the excluded students pretty quickly who was invited and who was not, cringed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor MangoFlat5137 was concerned when his daughter wanted to have a big birthday party but wanted to exclude just three of her peers from class.

Because the exclusion list was so small, the Original Poster (OP) was worried about how his daughter could hurt her peers’ feelings during what should have been a happy occasion.

He asked the sub:

“AITA for telling my daughter that either everybody comes to her birthday party or no one comes at all?”

The OP and his wife were planning their daughter’s twelfth birthday party.

“My daughter is eleven, going on twelve, and her birthday is coming up in a few weeks.”

“For her birthday, she wants to go swimming, so we rented the local community center that has a pool and a giant activity room where we’ll have lots of treats and stuff.”

“We asked her to make us a list of invitees so we can get everything coordinated.”

“She asked if she could just invite her whole class of 20 or so kids. It’s a big activity center with lots of room so we said that was fine.”

The OP was concerned by his daughter’s invitation choices.

“So she went to the kitchen and about ten minutes later came back with her classmate ‘directory.’ Her school puts together a small binder that lists the names of the students by each class, the names of the parent(s), and a phone number and/or email address.”

“She handed it to me and I quickly noticed that three names had been crossed out. I asked why, and she said those are the ones she doesn’t want to invite.”

“I started asking her other questions, like if they had an argument, or if they were mean, bullies, etc., and she maintained that no, she just thought they were strange and didn’t really like them.”

“I told her that she couldn’t just invite the whole class with just three exclusions.”

“She just kind of looked at me and said it was her birthday.”

“I explained that this could be hurtful to them and that if she was so staunchly against them attending, then it would be better to have a smaller party and invite just a handful of her closest friends.”

“She said she didn’t want a small party, she wanted a big party, and I told her then everyone in the class would get an invitation.”

“She said no, they aren’t, and I told her okay, then no one is, and she ran out of the room crying.”

The OP and his wife did not agree about the arrangement.

“She has started crying and running away whenever she has seen me since and I’m starting to feel guilty.”

“My wife was frustrated with me and said that she gets where I’m coming from, but it IS our daughter’s birthday and she should only have the people she wants there.”

“I tried to explain that I don’t want our daughter to be a reason these three kids have a crappy time in school. I can’t in good conscience let her exclude other kids like this.”

“Am I the a**hole here? My wife says all we need to worry about is our daughter having a fun birthday and I’m already ruining it by picking a fight over something no one will remember years down the road.”

“I don’t agree at all. If they were bullies, that would be one thing. But they aren’t, so to me, it’s cruelty. And cruelty sticks with people.”


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 thought it was an important lesson for the kids to start learning. 

“It is a tough situation. I don’t think anyone is an AH here, though, whichever way it goes.”

“From one side, yes, it’s not nice to exclude a few people in the class. But on the other hand, that’s life. Sometimes people don’t like each other… and 11 is kind of a good age to learn that.”

“Just because someone doesn’t want you around, doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you. Not every person gets along, so those people should stay away from each other instead of being forced to be polite and include them. It’s more fun for everyone like that. I wouldn’t want to be invited to something out of obligation at least…” – Pandorsbox1987

“This one’s hard. As a teacher, I personally do believe kids should be able to pick who they want and not be forced to invite the whole class. This is a special day for them, and in the real world, you DONT include everyone, as much as it sucks.”

“However, inviting such a large percentage and then leaving out just three is really rough. Any way to edit things a bit, does she mostly have girlfriends, and the three are guys so maybe leave out all of the guys and make it an all-girl party?”

“I feel like in a class of 20, maybe leaving seven-ish off is okay, but when you start getting down to the smaller numbers, it’ll hit those kids hard.”

“Whatever you do, send the invites outside of school if not everyone is invited.”

“Ultimately, I’d suggest you talk to the teacher. Your daughter may not want to share the real issue.”


“Also, my assumption when she asked about inviting most of the class was that she meant ‘Can it be a big party.'”

“Another way of wording this post is, ‘AITA for not allowing my daughter to invite who she wants to her birthday?'”

“As I said, it’s rough that it’s only three people, but my god guys, not everyone gets invited to everything! That’s the way of life and it is what it is. I would suggest trying some alternatives, like I mentioned, but ultimately why should she have to celebrate her day with children she doesn’t like?”

“NAH.” – Final-Negotiation530

“I would also recommend OP talking to the teacher(s) and getting more to the root of the issue either that way or through more conversation with his daughter.”

“I think his wife is right, though. There are valid reasons that she might not want those guests to attend and even if they aren’t ‘valid,’ it is ultimately her party and her day. They can decide together as parents if it needs to be all or nothing but in my perspective, I’m also a teacher, and I don’t think everybody NEEDS to be invited.”

“If everybody’s not invited, though, OP PLEASE do the invites outside of school also if everybody isn’t invited, it’s important to do it in a kind, positive, and not personal way. In other words, kids should feel lucky they got invited instead of unlucky that they got disinvited. (Not inviting only three will definitely feel like the latter.)”

“As far as handling the politics of the invites goes, another option might be to invite more kids from other classes, maybe go up to 30 kids. And then instead of looking/feeling like, ‘There are 20 kids in my class and I didn’t invite three of them,0 it changes to feeling/looking more like, ‘There are 60 kids in my grade level, and I had to pick the 30 that I’m closest to.’ (Obviously, the numbers could be changed to match the school setting.)” – b1m1w1

“Why all or nothing? Why do we force kids to invite people they don’t want to their parties? Like adults aren’t forced nor required to invite people they don’t want to a gathering they are having? Why do it to children?” – Thick-Journalist-168

But others pointed out that the lesson could be far more lasting than people expected.

“NTA. Kudos for teaching her right vs. wrong. Maybe turn it around and ask her how she would feel if she was one of three excluded from a classmate’s birthday party.” – Apprehensive-Skin150

“OP’s wife is so wrong about the remembering part… those kids will absolutely remember this many years down the road. That stuff sticks with you.”

“Not a bullying thing but a left-out thing… I had a friend in middle school who wasn’t picked to be in the accelerated group for eighh grade. It was really only the one year but it meant you got an extra year of Spanish and could skip ninth-grade math and start with algebra.”

“She remembered that for decades and it affected how she felt throughout high school and beyond. So yes, these things stick with kids.” – rainyhawk

“OP, tell your wife I’m 32 and still remember how one of the girls in my class got singled out when we were 10. Unfortunately, she and I didn’t share interests and I had my own issues going on. She did share interests with a few other girls in the class, but those girls always cut her off as they were the ‘popular girls.'”

“It got so bad that by the end of the year, she had shut down and wouldn’t talk to anyone. No one has heard from her since we were 13 and went to high school. I tried when I got Facebook, but she disappeared. Sandra, if you’re still out there, I’m sorry I couldn’t do more.”

“OP, please stand your ground, it’s fair to say, a small party selected guests only or a big party with full class.” – Environmental_Art591

“He probed and she maintained that they were ‘just strange and she didn’t like them.'”

“This is about teaching our children that other people’s feelings matter too. We spent so long teaching them that they should stand up for themselves, that they are important, that they need to be heard, that we need to remember to teach them that they aren’t the center of the universe, other people have feelings, and we need to consider those feelings appropriately too so we don’t have a culture of self-absorbed adults.”

“This age is when children can start really truly perspective taking and inviting 20 kids and singling out the strange kids is hurtful to those ‘strange’ kids no matter how you spin it.” – Apprehensive-Dot7718

“They aren’t teenagers, they’re 11 and 12, young enough to be crushed by this sort of stuff.”

“While OP should dig a little into why she doesn’t want to invite them, kids exclude others for all sorts of reasons. Some of the most common ones are neurodivergence, physical handicaps, and being poor or queer. I think we can all agree it’s not okay to single people out for these reasons.”

“Yes, we’re just managing to teach girls their boundaries should be respected, but this doesn’t mean they can just skip kindness. I don’t expect my daughter to date every boy that ever asks her out, but I will absolutely protest if she does something like publically humiliate him for funzies.”

“We shouldn’t make our kids responsible for fixing anyone’s life, but we can ask they don’t contribute to their misery.”

“Her party will be huge, she won’t even have to interact with these people. Inviting them costs her nothing.” – ladidah_whoopa

“It really bothers me that OP’s wife thinks none of the kids will remember being excluded. Makes me wonder how much exclusion she participated in herself as a kid.”

“It never leaves you. Even if you manage to find peace later, being that kid leaves behind a permanent, unanswerable, ‘Why didn’t they like me? What did I do wrong?'”

“I always think of the quote, ‘The axe forgets, but the tree remembers.’ OP’s daughter may feel slightly better about her social status leaving these kids out of her party, but these kids will always wonder what they did to her to deserve being othered.”

“My only hope is that if OP gives in to the guilt trip, that none of these kids end up with lasting damage for the sake of an 11-year-old social climber.” – Ok-Sink-6000

After receiving feedback, the OP shared an update.

“We talked again this morning morning, and I asked her more specifically about her feelings towards the three and it’s really nothing even potentially problematic like people were suggesting, but I thought it was important to make sure just in case.”

“I asked her to put herself in their shoes: what if one of her classmates was having a party and invited everybody except her? How would she feel?”

“This is the approach I admit I should have tried in the first place, and it worked. She gets it.”

“I explained that’s why she can’t invite the whole class except for just three people because, at that point, it’s a class affair.”

“I reiterated that she could still have a small party with just her close friends, but she said she wanted to still have a big party, so now everybody is invited.”

The subReddit could understand the frustrations and potential hurt for the three students who potentially were not being invited to the OP’s daughter’s birthday party.

But they were more torn over whether or not the OP should be required to include all of her peers at the birthday party. Some pointed out that this was the right age for kids to learn that they will not be invited to every event under the sun, but others pointed out that if the daughter wasn’t going to invite the three, she should at least make it less obvious that a few of her peers were being singled out, to at least avoid being mean to them.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan has been a part of the George Takei family since 2019 when she wrote some of her favorite early pieces: Sesame Street introducing its first character who lived in foster care and Bruce Willis delivering a not-so-Die-Hard opening pitch at a Phillies game. She's gone on to write nearly 3,000 viral and trending stories for George Takei, Comic Sands, Percolately, and ÜberFacts. With an unstoppable love for the written word, she's also an avid reader, poet, and indie novelist.