Here is why children have a right to invite only select classmates to their birthday party and should not be forced to invite the whole class.


  • Planning for your child’s birthday party?
  • Have you told them they should invite their entire class?
  • Dang! Would YOU invite all your COWORKERS to YOUR birthday party?

Should children invite every classmate to their birthday party?

“No, no, no! This is the same misguided advice that says that every kid should get a trophy in a competition,” says Dr. John Mayer, a practicing clinical psychologist specializing in teens/families/children/young adults, and author of “Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life.”

Dr. Mayer continues, “It does not teach children/teens the REAL WORLD and does not teach appropriate relationship building.

“That’s why we have so many people walking around with no social skills. Forcing a child to invite everyone — you are modeling inappropriate social skills and hindering the child’s social development.”

And what should parents do if their kid’s classmate invites just about everyone to a birthday party except their child?

I once read a letter to “Dear Amy” concerning parents perplexed by this common problem with kids’ birthday parties. The parents were distressed over how to handle this.

In a perfect world, everyone in the whole class is invited to every kid’s birthday party.

But it doesn’t work that way, and parents should educate their “rejected” kids why. It’s part of learning about life.

“It is a good, normal and beneficial experience to be rejected and it prepares you for losses and transitions later in life,” says Dr. Mayer. 

Anyone — parents or childfree adults — can relate to this birthday-invite phenomenon, because the exact same thing happens to adults in the workplace.

Just about every person who works in an office has experienced “rejection” when a coworker invited practically the entire office to a birthday party, barbeque, baby shower or some other event.

If parents believe kids should invite their entire class to a birthday party, in the name of not letting any child feel left out, does this mean that the parents, themselves, would invite every single one of their coworkers to their own birthday party, housewarming party, dinner party, college kid’s graduation party, summer barbecue, Christmas party, etc. ?

How many parents include every coworker on their own party list?

It’s not an issue of limited seating. There may be only eight coworkers. Yet two or three will not be invited to your birthday party or other event.

Adults indeed have a right to invite whomever they please. Why shouldn’t this same right extend to kids?

Children are capable of liking some classmates, while disliking others. They have just as much right to this as their parents do with office coworkers.

If you disagree, then what’s the cut-off age to where kids are finally old enough to invite only a select group to a birthday party? 12? 14? 16?

Are children supposed to magically  like everyone their age?

  • Maybe Emily can’t stand Billy because Billy often talks about unpleasant things.
  • Perhaps McCayla is always bragging about herself.
  • Maybe Kelsi hardly talks.
  • Perhaps Tommy never bathes.
  • Maybe your little angel is actually a bully at school.

Don’t harangue your child for not inviting everyone to their birthday party any more than you’d appreciate being given the third-degree over why you excluded some coworkers from your summer barbecue.

Children need to learn that they will sometimes be excluded from birthday parties and that not everyone owes them an invite.

If they don’t learn this, how will they handle not being invited to a coworker’s baby shower or dinner party years later? How will they deal with any kind of rejection in life?

How parents react when their kids are excluded from a party is extremely important — kids learn values and coping methods from parents.

Explain to your child that some personalities go together as well as peanut butter and jelly, while others don’t quite match up.

Don’t make a big deal out of the “rejection,” and your child won’t, either.

Dr. Mayer is a practicing clinical psychologist who treats adolescents, children, families, violent and acting-out patients, substance abusers and disorders of young adults.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  


Top image: ©Lorra Garrick