How do you invite the parents without the kid?

Mrs. - posted on 12/01/2010 ( 22 moms have responded )

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So, I've had to make a very hard decision about a good family friend lately...

This person's child has a developmental disorder and is now getting to the age that the child can do some physical damage.

Now, my own brother had a lot of similar challenges growing up and my parents always met his issues with structure, positive feedback and discipline. There were no excuses made when his behaviour was violent or out of line because of his learning problems. To this day, I think this is why he was able to move past them and become the productive man he is today.

Our friend tends to just let the child run free to do what they want without any punishment or supervision. This was bearable when the child was too small to hurt anyone but now it is not the case.

I love my friends, I love the child, I've tried to invite the parents to events and hoped they might get a babysitter but it never happens. The child destroyed my baby shower (hitting people, knocking things over, pouring water on the floor, people left), another family event and (the last straw) jumped on a new born baby in its car seat during my child's first birthday party.

Now, I'm planning my wedding for next year and my fiance has made me promise to make a point of not including the child but inviting the parents (who we deeply care about). I know in my heart, it would be a disaster if the child came but I'm having a lot of difficulty trying to figure out how you can do that without hurting the parents.

So, what do you think? Do children who have developmental delays, learning disorders, behavioural problems get a free pass on discipline? Is there a nice way to say, I'd love you to come but don't bring your kid? Is it wrong to not include the child? If the parents do not take responsibility for their child, do you have to if they are at your home (if they are harming others)?

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[deleted account]

You could say that only children of family will be there. That's not a lie.

Then, of course, you could show her tough love. Take her out to lunch (leave the kid with the dad) and explain what people have been saying. Make it clear that you care about her and her child, but that the behavior is greatly affecting other people. Someone should tell her.

Mary - posted on 12/02/2010

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I agree with some others on here...you have clearly reached a juncture where you MUST speak frankly with your friend about her child's behavior if you are truly interested in maintaining the friendship.

I realize that it will be extremely difficult for both of you, but I don't see where you have any other choice. Your friend is in a very hard situation, but it doesn't sound like she or her husband are handling well; in fact, it seems as if they are not handling it at all. I guess that's her choice, albeit a rather dysfunctional one.

I don't think it would accomplish anything to criticze her parenting skills. I'd skirt around that one, but I would tell her that in light of recent social events where his behavior either directly harmed or placed other children at risk, you simply cannot have him at an event where there are going to be others present who are not quite so understanding or forgiving. Trust me, if this was a friend of mine, and her child harmed say, my nephew, not only would my sister come down on her, but she'd not be very forgiving of me knowingly allowing that situation to arise. Quite frankly, I doubt I'd be able to forgive myself.

You may lose this friendship, and that is unfortunate, but at what point do you draw the line? What if the child harmed next time is yours?

I don't think you are doing your friend, or her child, an favors by continually allowing him to act destructively in your presence. By not saying anything to your friend about it, you are in essence both giving him permission to act this way, as well as telling your friend that her INaction is an acceptable response. Your post indicates that you don't feel this way at all - you've just shied away from being honest with her to avoid hurting her feelings.

Johnny - posted on 12/01/2010

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Personally, I think that if your friend knows that there is a good possibility that her son may indeed ruin your wedding, then she should demonstrate enough concern about you to be willing to leave him with a babysitter. It is one night, and one that should be very memorable and special in the right way. Personally, I don't think you are being selfish at all, everyone wants their wedding to go smoothly. You have clearly tried to accommodate her family as best you could, now is the time for her to return your kindness and think of how important that day is to you.

Kerry - posted on 12/01/2010

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Sorry to sound harsh but I think your only thinking about how this all affects you. If your really a good friend to these people then you would try to help them and maybe understand the tough times they are going through, The LAST thing they need at the moment is for a friend to exclude them or their child. I suggest when they do visit you offer to watch over him for a while, they would probably really appreciate some help rather than exclusion.

Mrs. - posted on 12/01/2010

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I respect you might have gathered that from my post Nikki. I suppose I should elaborate. During my shower, the child stomped on all of the presents and broke many of them, stole food of the table in full view of his mother and began smearing the walls with it, hit the dog with a very hard object, kicked and hurt several adults and more. At that point, I hadn't had the opportunity to see the child since they were very young and not able to do the damage. My friend just says that they can't do anything about it cause he's challenged and doesn't seem to notice much.

Then, the birthday party, the baby in the car seat was not unattended. The child just really wanted to sit in the baby's chair. The baby's dad was sitting next to the baby on the couch and the child jumped over the baby's dad, on to the baby. This was something that the child's mother seemed again not to think was a big deal. However, the mother of the baby a couple week old was in tears.

I have for 2 years, tried very hard to put myself in her shoes and that's why I keep trying to include the child. However, its getting to the point that people are asking me, is this child going to be there and if they are they won't bring their kid because they are afraid of their children getting hurt.

A no child wedding is out of the question, I want my baby to be a part of the wedding and the same is to be said about our nieces and nephews. It is a very small wedding but we want our close family and friends there.

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Morgan - posted on 12/02/2010

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I did not want any children at my Ceramony, but I was ok having them at the reception, I had a cousin of mine who was about 16 at the time take all the kids into the bridal room during the ceramony and pictures then let them lose for the party, do you think he'll be a problem at the party?

Caitlin - posted on 12/02/2010

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My husband has a close friend since high school that is no longer welcome in my house if she brings her children. They are hellions, they have no diagnosed problems, just a 100% lack of discipline. They came to my daughters first birthday, broke 2 of her new toys and knocked her over several times, yelled, screamed and cried. I told my huband point blank this was not going to happen ever again.

Sure - he has a behavioural problem, but honestly they don't seem to be doing much to try to come up with a discipline strategy that works. I used to work with kids with disabilities and what I remember is that they THRIVED on a routine, a predictable routine, predictable consquences and objects that were comforting to them that were what kept them on track. If they aren't doing this with their son, I would have NO problem saying, "Sorry, but this day is very important to me and I'd like it to be a good memory and not have to worry about things". I don't think it's wrong to ask them this for a special day, and if they don't understand, then I feel they may not be the best of friends to begin with...

Sure, it's no fun to be the parent of a kid with disabilities, but it doesn't mean you have to ruin YOUR wedding to make THEM happy..

Doreen - posted on 12/02/2010

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That is terrible! Every family under the sun have similar situations and even though it is tricky you have to deal with it - with love and patience. Tell them what you want and except that they might feel offended... BECAUSE they will feel less loved by you - just do your bit to assure them that it isn't a lack of love! Ask them to help you figure out what else to do with the other kids. Sometimes people are just great and they will understand that. Sometimes they don't - for your wedding I think it is ok to want to please everyone but try and stay focused on the moment. You are uniting in a public celebration with the person you love - and it is a celebration! We can hardly keep everyone happy on a tea date. Sit down and figure out the boundaries, be clear and honest. You could also just ask if they can bring a sitter with to keep an eye on him so they can share the moment. Ask kindly in your invitation that all kids please be kept well managed else, please contact xxx for babysitting. Yes, be strong in YOU, be clear on your ideas and communicate it, and then just remember to have fun. Ask your friends to help each other. If you do things in love it is just different!

Sal - posted on 12/01/2010

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it is very tricky but unless you are going to not invite any kids you are going to have to just tell them, i have been to a number of weddings where kids go to the service but not the reception, and it is just there on the invite, kids welcome at service, or this is going to be child free, right there with the dress code and venue, go for honesty, it is always going to hurt to hear your child isn't welcome some where, but i know if it was me i'd love the chance to go out alone........we made our wedding kid freindly as there was no way around it, we had about 7 little ones at ours (and only 35 guests),i had i tduring the day, out door and our service was on the beach with a play ground, worked for us..or get a kids room and sitter.

Stifler's - posted on 12/01/2010

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I would think of myself too on my wedding day. Your wedding day is supposed to be happy and fun and it isn't when people you don't want to come are coming.

[deleted account]

Kerry, it affects more than just Rebecca and her baby shower, birthday party and wedding. It's affecting other people and children. This family apparently needs help dealing with their child. I don't think Rebecca is wanting to exclude them, but people are getting physically hurt, and she's stuck between a rock and a hard place. The parents of the child, even more so. I really thinking that opening up with the family and helping them see what their child's behavior is doing is the best way to go. It's the hard way to go, but the one that will *hopefully* cause a change in the way the parents handle their child...whether by discipline, seeking professional help, or whatever. It would be a disservice to the child to allow him to become an adult with such destructive behavior.

[deleted account]

My niece has asperger's and she can be quite the handful but we don't not invite her we just speak our minds. She has hurt the other children and thrown ridiculous tantrums and done quite a bit. When I speak up she listens very well, it took time for her mom to get use to me butting in but she did and she has mellowed out a lot, at least around me.

Mrs. - posted on 12/01/2010

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Thanks Teresa. That makes a lot of sense. It is hard to even think of doing it because of the affection I have for them. You know, I'm gonna talk it over with my fiance and tell him what you said. It makes a difference to know that if we did it, they might make changes.

His mother says that he has Asperger's as well. I hate that his struggles seem to be worse and not better even with a diagnosis and help at school. I do love the kid too...it's a hard dilemma. Thank you for your story.

[deleted account]

I will also add that we had a LOT of issues w/ my best friend's son when the kids were 2-3. Not so much w/ my kids, but he was quite aggressive to the other kids in our group and the parents never did anything. We basically cut off all contact (hard to do since we still attended the same church, had same friends, etc..., but we did it) w/ them for about 6 months. During that time.... they actually began disciplining him BECAUSE they were 'losing' friends and many people were having issue w/ their son.

We are still best friends and the kids will be 9 this month. :) Their son was diagnosed w/ Asperger's Syndrome a couple of years ago and still has multiple issues, but I love that boy almost as much as one of my own... despite his difficulties and sometimes even becasue of them.

Mrs. - posted on 12/01/2010

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Sara, you are probably right. I don't think anyone has had the balls to actually talk to her because they see how hard the whole situation is or as Teresa has said, they just let them go as friends.

I, however, can't do that. The father was like a foster brother in my home growing up.

[deleted account]

You can have a no kid wedding.

For the bigger picture though.... I think you either need to accept the whole family the way it is or let them all go.

Nikki - posted on 12/01/2010

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I would be honest then and discuss your concerns, she is most likely stressed about the situation too, it can't be easy having a child with severe behaviour problems. Could you look into some outside help for her for dealing with his behaviours, your friend might be caught up in everything and not able to actively seek help by herself? Maybe suggest some counselling? Is it something you feel you can discuss with her? She may need someone to talk to but might be too embarrassed because of his past behaviours.
Can I ask how old he is? if he is at school, is anything being done to help with the behaviours?

Mrs. - posted on 12/01/2010

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Yeah Sarah, I've been thinking of that. Do you think it is still an insult to have to offer it if other kids will be there?

Stifler's - posted on 12/01/2010

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I didn't invite ANYONE's kid to my wedding. No one brought their kid either, if it's a sit down dinner they have no right to.

Nikki - posted on 12/01/2010

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I wouldn't invite children to my wedding personally.

On the other part of the question...um I am trying to find a way to write this without sounding like a judgemental bitch.....
I think you are wrong to not wan't to include the child if his parents mean a lot to you. I think that if his behaviours are hurting your children then you need to step up and monitor your children better in the situation. Why was a newborn left lying in a car seat where he could access them? that's just irresponsible if you are aware that his behaviour could pose a risk. I really think you are looking at this backward. To compare this child with your brother is unfair, every child has different needs and children with disabilities have different levels of needs too.

He destroyed your baby shower by knocking some things over and spilling water? I don't mean to sound rude but I think you are being insensitive, normal children without delays or conditions muck around and break things at times, it's all part of growing up, part of our job as responsible adults is to prepare our environments so that they are safe and suitable for children.

The other side of this is, do you have any idea how difficult it might be for for friends? if you were in their situation how would you feel, behaviours of children with disabilities can be so much more complex and sometimes impossible to control, how would you feel if your good friends felt this way about you.

I understand it's your wedding day but I think it would be very unfair to have one rule for some children and then another for him.

I realise I probably sound horrible with what I have said, I don't mean to offend you, just my honest opinion.

Jaime - posted on 12/01/2010

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You would be best to have a child-free wedding altogether. Just let people know that it's adults only and they will have to decide if they can attend or not. Either that, or tell this specific couple that you would be honoured to have them present at your wedding but because of safety issues, you would request that they not bring their child. They might not be happy about it, but it is your wedding and they need to respect your wishes.

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