Why don't my kids get invited to play?

Jakki - posted on 03/24/2011 ( 18 moms have responded )

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I'm feeling really sad for my kids (aged 10, 8 and 6)... they just don't seem to get invited to other people's houses to play. They're not awful kids, they're polite to adults and fun to hang out with. We live near the school and we know a lot of people. I think we're doing all the right things - I invite friends over to play here, and those kids all appear to have a great time.

But then nothing happens and we don't get return invites! Arrrk!

I'm getting paranoid about it, and my kids are sad, and I don't know what to tell them.

Has this happened to any of you, what do you do about it?

How can people say yes to an invitation but then not return the invite? Would you do that?

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Lisa - posted on 03/25/2011

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You know, I think we now live in a day and age where people are just so busy with there lives that they don't take the time to involve their kids socially with others as much as when we were kids. I have gone through different scenarios with my three boys, 20, 13, and 7.My 20 year old went through the same thing. We ALWAYS invited other kids over and he was never invited to go to other kids houses. With my 13 year old, it started off the same way, until I learned that the only way, and as he grew older, he would more or less "invite himself", meaning if he wanted to go to a friends house, he would just go, and ask to play. At first, I thought this was rude, but realized that as time went on, those friends, whose houses he would just show up at, would call more, and even started to come over and ask him to "come out and play". He is now a very popular 8th grader who has a wide circle of friends and is invited to the movies, pizza, etc. So, now I am doing things different with my 7 year old. We still invite classmates of his over and to birthday parties, but I now make it a point to get to know the parents of those kids ( not really close friends with the parents, just acquaintances ) and when inviting one to play at our house, I suggest to the other parent things like, "Lets get the kids together this weekend, would it be easier to do it at your house or mine" or "I thought it would be fun to take Justin and Caleb to play mini golf on Saturday, maybe next weekend, you could take them somewhere." Again, I thought this a little direct at first, but it worked. The parent would then (unbeknown to my son or theirs) commit to having my son spend some time with them. Believe me, I am not a "aggressive"person and not usually this forward, but like, you, hated that my son was sad, it breaks your heart. Actually, I would much rather be rejected myself than to see my kids go through that. But that's where I would start if I were you, get phone numbers of other parents, go to their school and get to know other parents, and then start discussing getting the kids together to play, or even come straight out and say, "my kids love to go over and play at their friends house, but don't really get invited" you will be surprised how many parents have exactly the same problem and will come back with, "my kids too" and then the dialogue has been started. Good luck!

Maria - posted on 02/04/2013

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I have a 7 yo son. We are not "routine" family, different things and people are welcomed in our lives. We just find that "go to school-do your homework-have dinner-go to bed" is very boring so we try to make every day at least a little bit special. Many families enjoy their routine and that's just fine, whatever works for them, but we don't fit the mold.
That being said, I tried to get to know other parents, to have playdates, even if it's in my home only, or go to the park, zoo, museums, aquariums etc. and it did not work. I found that some are working very long hours and, being small business owner myself, I get that they are too tired to do any kind of activities with kids. Others are just plain lazy or rude, and here's why I say this. Now don't bash me for this, these are just my experiences.
One mom told me that my son is welcomed to play for one hour with her son as long as he doesn't ask for anything like snack, or even water,she actually told me that he should bring his own bottle of water (they are very well off, so empty fridge is not an issue). I asked her, in case he comes to their home,if he could use their bathroom or go behind the bush? Needless to say, we don't keep in touch.
With one mom we had regular playdates and our sons became best friends. After a year she cut off every contact without explanation. They go together in school and I see her husband and her mom from time to time and they are great with me, always stopping for a chit chat, but she would not even say "hi". My son was crushed. My heart was breaking for him. I tried talking to her, but she says that I'm imagining and that she's busy. Fine. Goodbuy. Never again.
Once I wanted to take my son and his friend to watch stars from the local football field, since we have this big telescope and my son and her son love science, and she was welcome to come. They agreed, so I took several hours out of work to prepare everything, dust off telescope, ready the constellation charts, prepare snacks, flashlights, and I even prepared goody bag for her son. She cancelled 45 minutes before we were to pick them up, saying she is tired. That night my son cried himself to sleep...
There are plenty of examples like this, so finally I gave up. I told my son that he will make close friends once he grows up, when he and his peers are able to make choices by themselves, instead of their parents doing it for them. In the meantime, he'll play with the kids from sports that he's attending outside of school, couple of kids from our neighborhood, and that's it. We all made peace with it. And we still have fun!:)

Emily - posted on 01/15/2013

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I (and my kids) are in the same boat of hosting playdates that don't get reciprocated in any fashion (house, park, movie, etc invites). I really enjoyed reading this post and the discussion forum.

To those who feel it’s ok to accept invitations, but never make any attempt to reciprocate, I’d like you to know the following:

My house is a mess and I hate cleaning it to have kids over.

It’s tough dealing with other people’s kids and the problems and situations which occur.

I hate straightening my house only to see it destroyed by a playdate.

I’m busy working part-time and going to grad school part-time. Time is an issue.

So, I get all of the arguments of the non-reciprocator. Here’s the difference:

I believe my house is my kids house too and they deserve to have their friends over.

I want my kids to be happy and I believe it’s okay to put my kids needs above my own desires sometimes.

I want my kids to develop healthy relationships with people outside of my immediate family.

I believe you don’t just take from people without trying to give something…anything back.

A dirty house, busy schedule, inconveniences will always be there, but one day your kids will be grown and out of the house.

Jakki - posted on 02/05/2013

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Hey I discovered this post that was started by me nearly 2 years ago... I'd forgotten all about it!

Maria that situation that you described really breaks my heart. You sound like you have so much creativity - you must be a lovely mum and your son is lucky. Don't give up - he might find another "sciency" friend - maybe don't put so much effort into the playdate so if it doesn't happen, there won't be too much disappointment.

And Emily I really agreed with everything you said. It is just RUDE to take people's hospitality and not reciprocate. RUDE RUDE RUDE. Sounds like you meet the same kind of people as we meet!

Anyway - my eldest has just started high school. I see that from now on, things will be more in her hands - she can invite friends over or organise to meet each other somewhere (eg coffee shop), but I do not need to get so involved. This is a good feeling! I'm looking forward to everyone being in high school!

Nicola - posted on 04/09/2011

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Maybe your house is so fun all the kids want to go there there parents like you and feel comfortable with you looking after there kids. its possible the friends just never ask there parents to have your friends at theres because they love your house so much they are begging to go play at yours.

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18 Comments

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Vanessa - posted on 04/26/2013

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To me it is lazy parents that do not want your child over. It is not my fault they work all day and do not want to put in the extra effort to let a friend come over to play eith their child. It has happened to me. The kids come to my house and never get invited over to the friends house. You chose to have a child and it is not my fault you chose to keep your job. I feel parents are lazy and use working all week as an excuse. I am a SAHM and I also get tired but it is ;not fair to my child for me to say no they may not have a friend over. Also, it is not cheap to feed these children and the least you can do is offer me money if you cannot reciprocate the play date. I have also started saying no to friends coming over and have my child look for new friends. It is also EXTREMELY RUDE TO ask another parent if their child can come over! I can not believe your parents did not teach you that! You wait to be invited. I AM NOT YOUR BABYSITTER JUST BECAUSE I STAY HOME. I am sure some of you are the guilty party and you need to check your manners. And I indirectly let the parents know that no more "babysetting" dates would be happening by telling them "no."

Debra - posted on 01/27/2013

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Yes. My 8 year old daughter had a play date at a local place by us. The girls had a lot of fun and I thought they really hit it off(and the mother and I really got along).
They both didn't want to leave. During the play date, the other mom said three times that she was so glad that the girls really got along. At lunch she took out her phone and said let's plan another play date because they had to leave in 30 minutes to pick up her other child at a playdate. We planed another playdate and said goodbye.
The next day I sent her a nice email saying it was nice to meet her and we had fun etc. never heard back from her- its been one week. My daughter and I are confused?????

Alisha - posted on 04/07/2011

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I would say it is probably better anyways for them to play with each other, you never know what other people's parents are like, what random people will be coming in and out of their house, and what language they use. I am extremlely careful whose house I let my daughter go over to because I have heard many horror stories of abuse etc by teenagers friends or uncles that came to visit and no one will watch your kids as good as you! I would stick to inviting kids over since they do come over and tell your kids that is a very special day!

Blair - posted on 04/07/2011

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i think making plans to have a playdate one week at your house and then the next week at theres. You wont know until you ask even if it just for an hour so you can pop to the shops to pick up a few things or something like that my daughter has a very full week with playdates and the odd sleepover every second weekend it didnt start like that all the kids normally came to my house and i think was more worried about who was looking after my child but once i met both mum & dad and even invited them to a few bbqs i became familiar with them both that i can trust them both even if it just for the few hours they will eventually be invited everywere and then thats when you want them to stay home so kinda enjoy that the kids and there friends want to be seen around you LOL hope you know what i mean

Xiomara - posted on 04/06/2011

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to be honest i rather have the kids play at my house because i can keep an eye on them but ofcourse mine are little still but for your situation your kids are ol enough to know how to behave in someone else house. I would try personally inviting the kids and their parentsover your house for a play date that way they get comfortable with who you are and how your kids behave. I would also try to do a sleepover at your house and see which kids are allowed to come over and go from there. personally i can see where your concerns are from your kids point of view but if you try to do activities at your house maybe the other kids will go home and tell their parents how much fun they had at the sleep over or the play date and convince their parents to try the same thing. if it doesnt work out you can always tell your kids their friends have so much fun at your house that they always want to come over your house instead.

Jakki - posted on 04/06/2011

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Tina - I am shocked by what you said about how you don't want your boy to play at anyone else's house (or are you only talking about a playdate with complete strangers?) Sounds like you live in a very dangerous and suspicious place. Don't you have friends who have kids who have grown up at the same time as your son? I imagine that if you hang out with friends together with their kids for long enough, eventually you'll trust them enough for you to leave your child with them.

Doesn't it work like that where you live?

Mary - posted on 04/06/2011

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In the past I have had friends who, when we hung out, we just always met at their house. It wan't that I didn't want to meet at my place (well, unless it was messy that day), it was just the routine to go somewhere else. You may be a great hostess. I am not, and it just doesn't occur to ask people to come to my house. I wouldn't take it personally, but maybe get confortable enough with the friends that are in the picture that you are able to take a direct approach, like Lisa suggested.

Twania - posted on 04/05/2011

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Our weekday is too full and I really don't trust leaving my 7 year old daughter to be at people houses without me except for some family members. Sometimes you don't know who else comes over to the "play date's" house that is questionable.

Tina - posted on 04/05/2011

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I'm actually dreading the day when my son is asked to have a playdate. He was asked once and spent a few times together along with myself meeting the parents. It didn't turn out with them, but once again, I'm dreading the day when it does. I feel alright as long as I'm with or the chld coming here would be fine, but who do you trust anymore and that is what I've taught my son; just because they look and act nice in front of other's, doesn't mean they are. I have only a 5 year old son and I intend to keep it that way. Oh my gosh, if anything ever happened, I would never forgive myelf or the person/s involved. I guess you could say I am a bit paranoid about these situations. It makes me more so, when you read about stories on FB, tv, newspapers, etc. of child abuse and sexual predators. The thought just makes me ill.

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I think you have to make the first move, call the parents and organise a playtime giving the option at either there place or yours, if it is at yours then when they pick up, organise another date at which they could swap over and go to their place. Some people just dont like having the responsibility of having other children at their place.

Jakki - posted on 04/01/2011

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Thanks for your helpful comments - I'm interested in hearing your angle on this.

The funny thing is - we do all the right things like joining sports groups and we know a lot of families with kids the right age. In fact just a couple of weeks ago we went away for the weekend with 7 families and stayed in some little cabins by a lovely lake. My problem is that I feel like I always invite people but don't get so many invites back. I'm starting to feel paranoid that there is something wrong with me and/or my kids. You know the old joke - just because you're paranoid it doesn't mean that people don't like you!

Anyway - this afternoon we just had a lovely time with 3 kids invited back to our place after school (one friend for each of my kids), It was very noisy and fun, so even if they don't get invited back, at least we are enjoying ourselves!

Heather - posted on 03/27/2011

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Jakki, When I was in my late 20s a friend took me aside and said, we need three kinds of friends -- friends to help, friends to be peers with, and friends who can mentor us. (I had the first and the last at the time, but not the peers!!) Since that time I have made a serious, conscious effort to cultivate my peer relationships. We actually make appointments to go out once a month or whatever. And now I have so many good friends it's almost unbelievable!! :)

My advice to you would be to find another family or two with whom you all enjoy spending time. Go on an outing with them or invite them over. See if you enjoyed it. If you did, invite them to do something else in another month. If the fun keeps going, have a serious talk with the mom and let her know why you'd like to make it an ongoing family friendship.
Enroll your kids in a couple of activities -- they're all old enough to partake in swimming or martial arts, for example. If they seem to make a friend there, invite them for a playdate or pizza after the lesson once in a while.

In other words, make an intentional effort to make and keep these friends. And let the other moms know you're making an INTENTIONAL effort. As many of the other moms have said, everyone's busy!! They may not know you feel the way you do -- they may be assuming you're as busy and full-up as they are. But friendships are really important, so be intentional about it. :)

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I agree with Lisa. We just don't have the time for play dates. School weeks are routine & we don't break that (unless we want to pay the price with crabby kiddos) And my kids are gone every other weekend so when they are home I want to do things with them as a family. Then in the summer if the children don't live in our neighborhood, we don't really see them. That's not on purpose though, I just don't know their parents well enough to call them up or even know their number. Also at my son's school, the parents seem to have clicks. I have a really hard time getting into to know any of them when they don't kindly to strangers. It stinks for my kids, because I am not going to let them go to some one's house I don't know. I wish I had a better answer for you, but just know it's not your kids. Maybe in the summer you can find them some play groups or sports to play. It's a good way to make new friends for you & them.

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