One man wonders if it’s okay to let his son exclude another child from his birthday party because that child is misbehaving.
The parent, who we will refer to as Mose, has a son who is turning nine years old. Mose’s son invited about 10 of his closest friends to his birthday party, but one notable exclusion is a kid in this friend group whom Mose’s son has complained about fairly consistently for about a year. Let’s call him Jack (not his real name). Mose’s son complains that Jack is “always mean to him,” and Mose has seen firsthand that Jack has developed a routine of belittling others.
Mose has had many conversations with Jack to let him know that these comments are not taken well and that he should try to be kind to people. Earlier this year, there was a more serious incident at a fellow parent’s house where the kids were playing downstairs while the parents were watching football and talking upstairs. One of the other kids came upstairs and told his mom that Jack had just said the N-word.
The Usage of the N-word
It wasn’t Mose’s house, nor Mose’s kid, so it didn’t feel right for Mose to get involved, especially as Jack’s mom overheard this and immediately went downstairs. Fortunately, the night was wrapping up shortly afterward, so they left. The next day, Mose spoke with one of the other parents, who said the situation got worse after they left. At least two other kids corroborated the fact that Jack used the N-word, and when Jack’s mom went downstairs to confront her son, she took him into the bathroom and screamed at him.
Apparently Jack insisted that he didn’t say it, so his mom came out of the bathroom, yelled at the other children in the basement who had accused Jack, and forced them to hug her son. This incident was a red flag for Mose and made him decide he was done with Jack and his family.
Excluding Jack from the Party
As recently as the end of last week, Mose saw an e-mail his son sent to one of his friends in the class asking why Jack was pleasant to the friend but not to him. The morning after, Mose’s wife was feeling uneasy about the fact that pretty much every other kid in this friend group was getting invited to the house the following weekend except Jack. She is worried that excluding Jack from the party might cause things to come to a head and create a more significant issue in their parent community.
The situation that Mose and his wife are facing is uncommon. As parents, we want our children to be kind and inclusive, but what do we do when one child is consistently causing problems and making others unhappy? The decision to exclude a child from a party is not easy, but it is crucial to consider the child’s behavior’s impact on others.
Others Weigh In
Mose’s decision to exclude Jack from the birthday party received support from other parents who have faced similar situations. One parent responded, “Honestly, if another kid was bullying my kid and was disrespectful like that, I wouldn’t let him in my house. It doesn’t matter if he’s in the friend group or not. If your son is uncomfortable around him because he’s mean, that’s just showing him that you need to close your mouth when someone is mean to you and take it.”
Another parent shared a similar sentiment: “Never in my life will I force my kids to hang out with someone that’s making a habit of bullying them. I’d be happy to have a talk with the parents too. Sure, the kid is probably going to be upset, but he’s at a good age to learn this lesson.”
What would you do in this situation?