Do your kids do this? I hope not

So today when I picked up my daughter from school, she jumped into the car the way she always does and I asked her how school was. “Fine.” This is the same exact answer I get every day. So like always, I strapped on my dorky headband flashlight and start spelunking for some real answers. 

For the most part it sounded like a regular school day, until she told me there was one thing that bothered her. Apparently, there was a big party this weekend and like half the grade was invited and the party favor was a sweatshirt with the party girl’s initial on it, and every single person who went to the party was wearing it to school today. I mean seriously, I just reread that sentence and I’m like where the F do we live? A crappy 1980’s movie in Beverly Hills? WTF is this?

If there was one rule my mom taught me when I was a kid, it was “you don’t talk about a party at school because you don’t want to hurt people’s feelings who weren’t invited.” Think about that versus what happens now: “Here’s something to wear to school on Monday morning so you can broadcast that you went to a party that everyone in the grade wasn’t invited to.” I meannnnn. Who acts like that?

That is literally like walking up to all the kids at school who weren’t invited and rubbing it in their face. Would you go to a party on a Saturday night and then wear a sign on Monday that says “I went to so-and-so’s party?” Because that is literally what these kids are doing.

And basically, they’re doing it for two reasons. A. To prove they were invited to something, and/or B. To make other people feel bad they weren’t invited to something.

And here’s the thing. My kid can handle it. Does it hurt her a little? Of course. Duh. But she’s not in a fragile place. She’s self-confident, comes home happy as a clam most days, gets great grades, and she gets invited to SOME of the parties. But even she felt bothered by this.

Which means there are kids who aren’t very self-confident who had to walk around school all day staring at those sweatshirts. And kids who don’t have many friends who had to walk around school all day staring at those sweatshirts. And kids who never get invited to parties who had to walk around school all day staring at those sweatshirts. How do you think that made them feel? I’m gonna guess left out, sad, alone, anxious, different, and all kinds of other bad things.

But I’m guessing the parents who let their kids walk out of the house in those sweatshirts this morning didn’t even consider those other kids. Which is pretty sad. Or they did consider it but didn’t want their own kid to feel left out by not wearing the sweatshirt. They didn’t want their kid to feel left out. Hilariously ironic.

I feel like this generation is being taught to brag about everything they get invited to. They go on TikTok and broadcast the parties they’re at. They broadcast their slumber party pictures on Instagram. They broadcast their Saturday night plans at school on Monday morning by wearing the party favors. It’s like they can’t just feel good about being invited to something and having a blast. They have this selfish need to show it off. And so many parents are just standing by watching it all happen and not teaching their tweens and teens to think about other people. They’re shrugging their shoulders and saying that’s just the way it is these days. Which just seems like a total cop out.

I mean, it’s pretty easy. The next time your kiddo is lucky enough to get invited to a big party or a sleepover or really anything, maybe remind them that everyone wasn’t invited. And if they’re walking out the door Monday morning wearing the party favor, maybe say, “Hey, don’t you think that’s a little mean to the kids who weren’t invited?” I said that to my kid after one, and she went upstairs immediately and changed. She hadn’t thought about it that way. And if she didn’t go change, well, then it might have been time for a little lesson in kindness.

Because yes, the times they are a changin’, but kindness is the same as it’s always been. And being kind means thinking about everyone, especially the people who weren’t invited. 

If you liked this, please don’t forget to like and share it! Thank you so much!!!

And this seems like the perfect post to plug my latest book. Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to be A-Holes (I’m an Amazon Affiliate so I can earn from qualifying purchases). Because seriously, we don’t want to raise a-holes. At least I don’t. Maybe you do. But I kinda doubt it. 


There are 26 comments for this article
  1. Michelle Jackson at 10:30 am

    Who are these a-hole parents allowing this to happen?! In 2022, have we not learned anything yet?! Ugh. I’m sorry this happened.

  2. Linda Weeks at 10:39 am

    Sometimes I think the parents are living through their kids, so that they can be those PTA moms that stand together to “show off” how popular their own children are.

    • Julie18davis at 11:18 am

      I feel like this kind of thing is happening for those kids at our school who don’t have snap-chat…my youngest keeps begging me to allow her to get it because there are plans made on snap chat, to wear certain things on a particular day, and if you’re not on it (and/or by extension, not connected to the “popular people”) you don’t find out about it. It’s like an unofficial dress up day, for only select people. So it’s visually painful to see that a huge number of people are all wearing plaid pj pants and a school hoodie – or whatever the “plan” is….it’s exactly the feeling you are talking about, minus the party. It’s purposely making people feel left out. 💔

      • J at 9:11 pm

        Just like in Mean Girls…
        “On Wednesdays we wear pink”

  3. Joanie at 10:44 am

    YES!!!! This drives me so crazy because my daughter is constantly feeling left out because everything is posted on tik tok. And we had the exact same thing happen this past October where a parent rented a party bus and every one of her friends was invited to the haunted house adventure but not her. And they made them all t-shirts like listening to all her friends talk about how much fun it was going to be wasn’t bad enough. Lets promote it. So….I bought her a hamster. Probably not the best mom move but it made her smile when she was feeling pretty crappy and I was going to get the hamster anyway. I always tell my kids of all the things I want you to be kind is the most important.

  4. bagle78 at 10:49 am

    Love this article – such true advice that your Mum gave you, I totally feel this whenever we’ve had parties for our kids. I over worry about the kids we couldn’t invite so try and instill that message of your mum’s to my kids. I have never heard of this trend for party favours after a teenage party! Not here in the UK anyway, I hope it doesn’t reach here. Sounds awful and unnecessary. Well done on raising this issue. Love your columns. Keep it up. x

  5. Karen at 11:02 am

    This is clearly the parents driving this behavior because they are the ones buying the party favors for their kids! If the parents just said, sorry no party favors that kids can show off at school, that would at least be one small step in the right direction. Also, kids see their parents post on social media pictures of their own fun get togethers and vacations so the parents are modeling this kind of behavior of posting everything online. Thanks for raising this issue and my heart really goes out to those kids who had to go to school yesterday and see all those shirts. Times are tough for so many kids right now and this is the last thing they need to feel crappy about.

  6. Stacey P Friedlander at 11:42 am

    Thanks for writing this Karen. I struggle with these types of things as well, and believe social media plays a big role in the mental health of our children and how they feel and respond to seeing things they are not included in posted. As for the “gear,” this is common with Mitzvahs, Sweet 16s etc. where of course, not everyone is invited, BUT it would be good for us to talk to our children about choosing when to wear these party favors and how it would make others feel. Thank you for giving us all something to think about.

    • Judy D at 12:13 pm

      Stacey, I’m so glad you pointed out that this is common for events like Mitzvahs, sweet 16’s and Quinceañeras. That can be very true, particularly within certain cultural groups. I agree with you and others that more thought should be put into other kids’ reactions and how some people might feel if they were not included.

      I also think we have to be cautious not to forget to teach kids that no matter how hard they try, they will not always get invited to every ‘event.’ We need to teach them not to base their self-esteem on things like popularity, clothing, attending certain social events, etc. There is a generation of young adults who were raised in the culture of “everybody gets a trophy.” I think this has created a lot of entitlement that is becoming a problem for them as adults.

      • Anna at 5:34 pm

        This doesn’t have anything to do with participation trophies, and/or rewarding kids for trying instead of just winning. This has to do with kindness and inclusion, and there’s no excuse for this kind of behavior by the parents of the kids who are so blatantly and loudly excluding others.

        • KP at 9:58 am

          participation trophies are about kindness and inclusion.
          instead of highlighting/celebrating the one team/person that day who won or excelled above others, you are celebrating everyone’s (inclusion) effort. participation trophies are all about being kind by not just recognizing winner(s). in little league, we don’t keep score nor talk about the scores after the games so it doesn’t make others feel bad that they didn’t score. while that action is being perceived as being kind (and i agree it is kind to not brag about/have to listen excessively/watch others excessively celebrate in front of you=sportsmanship), we are missing opportunities to teach kids other things.

      • Karen at 7:18 pm

        This is so true and a great point you make about teaching kids that they won’t always get invited to things (because that’s reality!) AND I tell my kids that it’s not a reflection on who they are as people, which is a life long mindset we all need to have both as kids and adults.

  7. Diana at 12:13 pm

    for my son since Kindergarten, i’ve always invited all the boys in his class, and then would privately invite the girls thru talking to their parent b/c I couldnt invite a class of 20+ kids. and my son wasnt friends with all the girls. As they get older it gets more selective as friendships solidify. The past few years b/c I could not invite everyone I do it privately to the parents and I’ve asked the kids not to discuss at school. I dont even post my own pics of the party on my own social media b/c I dont want s**t from other parents asking why they werent invited. Eventually a kid does open their mouth about the party and parents have contacted me asking why their kid wasnt invited. Same people who never invite my son to anything. ever.
    But I absolutely agree this is a shitty thing to do to kids. IT ALL STARTS AT HOME. Most of the time this is for the parents validation. has nothing to do with kids.

  8. Giselle at 12:13 pm

    I think a lot of parents don’t even take the time to see what their kid is wearing forget comment on it. I personally would hate wearing someone else’s initials on my clothes and am surprised that the kids were fine with that. (I also think buying name brands with their logos splashed across clothing would be like me paying to advertise for them). That said, I have homeschooled my 18yo since first grade and have not had to deal with stuff like this.

  9. Meg at 1:22 pm

    I hold less blame on the kids parents that let their kid wear the sweatshirt and more on the mom that handed these out as party favors knowing exactly what would happen. My daughter is having a small 8th Birthday party. She knows, don’t discuss it at school, we can’t invite everyone, so those not invited will feel bad. We don’t talk about it.

  10. Angie at 2:21 pm

    I don’t feel we’re giving everyone the benefit of the doubt here. Maybe their invitations didnt’ make it out to them. What if parent’s who let their kids walk out the door didn’t know that not everyone was invited. Yes it was a crappy thing that happened to those kids, but give me a break that’s life. Not getting invited to a party is a small easy way to learn disapointment in life. I would never expect to get invited to every kids birthday party. Asking a kid to not talk about the most exciting thing about the weekend, it asking alot! Before you make any assumptions, I am not an “***hole” just a parent who is trying her best and assumes most are trying to do the same.

    • Anna at 5:38 pm

      Um, that’s different than buying everyone sweatshirts to wear at school broadcsting that they went to the party and others didn’t. I’m sorry, but that’s just a d!$& move by the parents, and there’s absolutely no excuse for it.

    • Anna at 5:40 pm

      You don’t get to act like an a-hole, and just be like, “well, that’s life!”.

      Just, no. That doesn’t excuse that kind of behavior. 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️

  11. Ada at 3:02 pm

    Totally resonated with me.
    I am 40yo, happy + confident mama & this s**t still was happening to me 1 year ago.
    Teaching my kiddos kindness + awareness for all is my mission.

  12. Beth at 5:42 pm

    My son, now in his 30s went to private school in 8th grade. I didn’t know till later that he was not invited to one party the entire time he went to that school. He was teased and bullied mercilessly. He said that to this day, kids he knew back then call him to apologize. He came thru his nerdy kid years and is a successful nerd now and says that those years taught him a lot about how it feels to be left out. He said it made him more considerate and kinder. Middle Schoolers can really be horrible.

  13. Nancy at 9:23 pm

    Ohhhhh, perfect timing. My daughter told me today that she didn’t want to invite everyone to her birthday party. She makes a solid point. There’s one kid in her class who regularly says nasty things to the others. A classic “mean girl.” And I don’t blame her for not wanting to invite her to her party. However, I have to teach my kid to be the bigger person. And I have to teach her to be a good person, confident in herself and to spread love. We’ve decided to invite the entire class. I explained to her that excluding her would hurt her feelings. And she’s already an insecure person who has to put others down to feel good. Whereas my daughter is a much stronger kid and can “kill ‘‘em with kindness.” We’ll see how it goes 🤷🏽‍♀️

  14. Amily at 3:56 am

    Girl, You should send those parents copy of your book, and highlight the parts to teach them a lesson. 😆

  15. Jennifer Smart at 5:20 am

    We’re you inside my car this week listening to my conversation with my son? We had “the party” invitation talk just this week.

  16. Kate at 10:04 am

    Sadly I this experience as a 42 year old last week–a group of women I am in a larger group with went on a trip together and kept it very secret from everyone else…until they got to their destination and proceeded to post 100 social media photos and videos of the weekend. To me it feels similar–obviously not everyone can go to every event. But maybe we don’t have to post a billion photos to the world about it? It was a very odd, rub-it-in-your-face sort of feeling, and hard to swallow as an adult. How are KIDS handling this sort of thing???

  17. Amanda at 8:18 am

    Parents should know better but are weak and still working through their own teenage PTSD. I know a middle school in New York bans all of this swag and that’s a pretty good idea in my opinion.