Compassion & Invitations

By: Neil Mufson
Due to quite a few recent situations, and not just one, I wanted to repeat this piece related to The Country School value compassion that I first wrote in 1997:

A simple message this week …  Please think carefully as you help your children decide the “invitation list” for out of school activities.  While, yes, it is probably a fact of life that no one will be invited to everything, leaving a few out of an event to which most are invited is unnecessarily hurtful and inconsiderate.  When planning parties or the like, children learn the best social lessons when events are designed to be either totally inclusive or very small. Children need the benefit of parental guidance, discussion, and modeling in these matters.

The Country School’s position on this is very clear.  In the Parent’s Directory and Handbook we state:

Unless the entire class or all the boys or all the girls are invited, please do not send your child to school with invitations to parties.  It is particularly hurtful when only a few children are excluded.  It is good for children to learn that exclusion of a few is inappropriate and insensitive.  Although we would like all children to be included in individual parties, when this is not possible, please be sensitive to everyone’s feelings when issuing invitations.  If all the boys or all the girls are not included in a party, you may not depart for the party from the school.

Some may say that children need to learn they won’t be invited to everything.  They do, but they need to learn this gently.  Given our small community, we could make this learning as humane as possible for our children if all parents would follow these guidelines and never plan on leaving out just a few.  Parents firmly need to be the decision makers in these situations, not the children who are hosting the parties.  In the case of very small parties, being left out may still hurt, but it’s easier for children to understand if they are not among a small handful that has been excluded.

Unfortunately, this is an issue that seems to need attention every year.  But if parents banded together, we could indeed change our children’s world — albeit simply here at The Country School.

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