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Bringing Along Junior

Before I get started this is not an anti-child issue, it’s respecting the wish of a host and allowing other guests to enjoy themselves as advertised on an invitation.  As you will see, it’s a parental rudeness problem.

A few years ago we had a party.  The invitations were clear – the party would be from 7 p.m. to  12 a.m., there would be adult beverages served, and cigars would be available for those who liked to smoke. The invitation also stated this was an adult party and not appropriate for children. I don’t think that late nights, alcohol, tobacco and strangers is a great venue for kids and I exclude them for that reason. On top of this we don’t have a child-proof house, from the art glass to the ungated pool.  Kids require direct supervision here even when it’s appropriate to be here. The guests were great, they respected this and got babysitters for their kids.  There was one notable exception, and I will get to that in a second.

The party was in full swing, everyone was having a great time having cocktails, smoking cigars and conversing both outside and inside the house. Around nine p.m. a friend of my husband’s and his wife show up.. .with their three year old…and all his toys.  They had received the same invitation as everyone else had, which again was very clear about children.  The sat the child down in our living room, dumped his toys on the floor and proceeded to join the party, leaving the other guests to entertain him (unfortunately he was not a child who could entertain himself.)  No explanation as to why they brought him, no “couldn’t find a babysitter” excuse, nothing. The parents disappeared into the party, stayed as far away from dealing with their child as possible and “got their drink on.” Other guests were upset because several had booked babysitters, some felt uncomfortable having a child there that late with people drinking, and quite frankly no one came there to group babysit a three year old – which is exactly what happened. The parents enjoyed the party greatly.  They didn’t seem to notice that people were disappearing from the party and going home.  We were in such shock we had no idea what to do at the time. Guests did complain to me, both at the time and later. They felt the parents had disregarded our wishes , completely changed the tone of the party, and imposed on us – and they had.

We didn’t invite them to several parties after that. Later I had a conversation with the mother and it didn’t happen again.   0803-10

I’ve known parents who had a firm conviction that it was “Love me, love my child” and “Where I go, he/she goes”.   I had an equally firm conviction that I would not allow my party guest lists to be commandeered by people intent on inviting their own guests.  So, many of these folks missed out on adult -oriented parties until their kids were considerably older.

{ 40 comments… add one }
  • Kimberly August 4, 2010, 7:11 am

    As hosts of this party, when you or your dh opened the door to these people,
    you should have stopped it right than and there. I’m so sorry, but didn’t you
    see the invite? No children are allowed. This is an adult party. And not
    let them in the door. Or after seeing them dump their child, other guests
    having to babysit their child that arranged their own childare for the evening
    and having other guests complain to you at your party, you should have asked
    this couple to leave with their child. Not only this couple, but your inaction
    ruined the party for everyone involved.

  • kate August 4, 2010, 7:15 am

    What kept the OP from addressing this right at the party? Obviously a large number of other guests were bothered by the kid’s presence and the parents’ lack of supervision. I would have explained to the parents then and there that this was a childfree event, and offered to help pack little Bobby’s toys so they can go home… and put him to bed, where he belongs at that time!

    I get that hiring babystitters is difficult and expensive and that every parent deserves adult time. But this is not the way to handle that issue.

  • Tracey August 4, 2010, 7:35 am

    Wow, that is truly a case of selfishness! Why people think they are different and the invite doesn’t possibly include THEIR child (or whatever the exception is) is so self centered! I can see how having a child there (unsupervised, no less!) with drinking and smoking would change the whole tone of the party. I feel for the host who had people leaving early because the vibe had certainly chilled when the guests were placed back into parent mode. What a shame! Wonder what the mother said when that conversation was finally had with her???

  • Gena August 4, 2010, 8:08 am

    Well, my first thought is that his parents are “getting their drink on”, and then driving home with a 3 YO? I hope this wasn’t the case.

    In this case, the host should have asked them to leave, explaining that this was not a kid-friendly venue, and it’s really not appropriate for them to be partying in one room while their child was unattended in another room.

  • dee August 4, 2010, 9:05 am

    Why did you let them in? Your opportunity was at the door–“Hi x and y. It is nice to see you and little jr. However, the party invite stated adults only. There really isn’t anywhere for little jr to safely play at this party. So, unfortunately, it would be best for you not to stay. We will get together soon.” Then shut the door, walk them to their car, etc.

    They were rude to come with a child and just dump him–you also could have gotten them to leave when that happened, one of you picking up the toys and the other getting the parents to the door; but it would have been easier to not let them in. They did change the tone of the party and I don’t blame the other guests for leaving.

  • QueenofAllThings August 4, 2010, 9:30 am

    How unfortunate (and misguided).

    I do think that, if your other guests are uncomfortable or imposed upon, that you as hosts should address the issue. That is, of course, difficult to do – particularly if the offending guests “got their drink on”, but with such a young child it really is a safety issue.

    I think your soluktion of not inviting them to such parties in the future – perhaps until Junior goes to college – is the right one!

  • DGS August 4, 2010, 9:34 am

    Sounds like the OP was very gracious and appropriate in handling the party crashers by not causing a scene and asking them to leave while addressing the issue with the mother later. I wonder if it might have been more effective, though to quietly pull the Mom aside at the time of the party and ask her if she would kindly take the three-year-old home, as this party, as was made clear, was not child-appropriate.
    I personally, happen to love children and hope that we get to have some of our own some day soon, but I do not believe that children are appropriate for every adult social setting, and it is vital to respect the rules of whichever house one is invited to – if the hosts said ‘no kids’, then no kids it is. If there is any doubt, it’s appropriate to ask to clarify, but never in a million years is it appropriate to barge in with any uninvited guest and that includes kids, pets, aging grandparents, secondary guests, etc.

  • bmyster August 4, 2010, 9:43 am

    Personally, I think the parents who brought their children were extremely rude. The OP made it very clear that this was an adults-only function. Therefore, the parents were very rude in assuming their child was exempt from the clearly spelled-out boundary.

    In addition, it’s also probably boring as heck for the child. In my opinion, if the parents couldn’t find a sitter for their child, then they shouldn’t go to a party which is clearly labelled adults only.

    I believe politeness means “I act in a way that respects the wishes of the host/group, and honor any boundaries set.” While mistakes are inevitable, this is a pretty serious one in my opinion.

  • Shannon August 4, 2010, 10:27 am

    I don’t know why it’s so hard for some people to understand that there are some things meant purely for children, and others for adults. Do you go jump on the bouncy castle at kids’ birthday parties? No? Then what’s a three-year-old doing in the middle of an evening cocktail party? And won’t we all like each other just a little more if we don’t spend every waking moment together? I’ve had to stop patronizing my favorite coffee place because there’s some woman who spends every afternoon there with her two toddlers, neither of whom a) really belong there in the first place, and b) can be controlled. One of them wanders around poking people with straws and spilling chocolate milk all over the floor, while Mommy just blathers away on her cell phone. Why would you put your kid in a situation where it’s bored out of its mind and has to make its own fun by disrupting the other patrons?

    The original poster acted admirably by saving her comments for later and not kicking the errant parents out of the party right there and then. I’m not sure I would have been able to control myself. A lot of work goes into a party and to see it torpedoed by some selfish jerks couldn’t have been easy.

  • Melissa August 4, 2010, 10:36 am

    I always think it is interesting that the people who claim that their child won’t be any trouble at all at an adult party frequently are not the people who end up looking after that child.

    For the record: I like children and I hope to have several of my own one day. I also think it is unfair and unkind to both children and adults when children are taken to places or events that are not child-friendly.

  • Sensible Shopper August 4, 2010, 10:39 am

    Sometimes, you just have to put your foot down, right in the doorway, and refuse entry.

  • Mechtilde August 4, 2010, 10:50 am

    If Little Johnny isn’t listed on the invitation, Little Johnny isn’t invited.

    Bringing uninvited guests is rude.

    That includes children.

    How hard can it be? Clearly too hard for some.

  • Lizajane August 4, 2010, 10:56 am

    I just don’t get this, first of all, it’s obviously rude to disregard the “terms” of the invitation. Second, they expected others to look after their child. Third, they “got their drink on” when they knew they’d be transporting their child home. Fourth, and really the biggest mystery to me: why oh why don’t some people seem to be able to enjoy, nay anticipate and revel in, some time away from thier kids?

    We defintely scaled back our social life when we had children. Didn’t even take them everywhere we could have because frankly, I was exhausted by the time we got anywhere. But on those occasions where we had the chance for an adult evening out and could make it happen, we were on it!!!

  • lkb August 4, 2010, 11:20 am

    That was indeed rude of the parents. You as the host were between a rock and a hard place — what could you say at the time.

    Since you mentioned it, I’m wondering what the later conversation with the mother was like. Did she offer any explanation or an apology or anything? Does your husband still consider himself friends with the dad and his wife?

  • RP August 4, 2010, 11:34 am

    Later I had a conversation with the mother and it didn’t happen again.
    What got said in the conversation that wasn’t clear on the invite? Did they not read the thing or did they feel like the rules didn’t apply to them? I’d love to know what would have happened had you said something at the party but at least they listened to you when you talked to them later.

    The sat the child down in our living room, dumped his toys on the floor and proceeded to join the party
    I also don’t understand people who think it’s OK to turn any and every space into a playground for their child. You see people doing this in movie theaters and restaurants and it’s ridiculous. It’s one thing to let a child carry a doll or other small toy while you run errands but it’s rude and tacky to just dump a bunch of toys all over the floor everywhere you go. Why do people think this is OK?

  • kingsrings August 4, 2010, 11:46 am

    ITA w/EHell Dame. Unfortunately, there are parents out there with that mindset. Nothing too wrong with not wanting to go to any social event w/out your children, but it is wrong when you force that mindset onto others by bringing them along to non-kid friendly events. But in this case, the hosts and other guests also get dinged because they apparently didn’t alert the parents to just how disruptive junior was becoming, or how their evening was being ruined by him. They could of easily alerted the parents to this problem, and asked them to intervene. Rather, rinse, repeat, and stand their ground until they get it, and remove themselves and their kid from the party.

    Some years ago at my then-job, we had our annual conference, complete with events. One participant brought his wife along, which was expected, but they also brought along their 3 year-old daughter to EVERY event, including the night time soiree! All the other parents who brought their kids arranged child care or babysitters, duh. Not only was it totally inappropriate, but costly on our end as she was an extra meal that wasn’t paid for. After that, we started stating on the reg forms that if you wanted to bring your kids, you had to pay for them, and it would be at the adult price. Problem solved.

  • Shannon August 4, 2010, 12:16 pm

    I’m a frequent hostess, and I generally don’t mind if people bring infants who are going to stay in one place and nap while everyone mingles. But toddlers get into EVERYTHING, and my place is a toddler deathtrap (hardwood floors, glass bottles, low railings, etc).

    Fortunately, most of my friends are attentive parents, but there have been a couple occasions where I’ve had to say, “Excuse me, can you do me a favor? I need for you to attend to your child. Little Madison seems to be having some difficulty.” (“Difficulty” was code for an impending tantrum.)

    One issue I had when I was in a small studio were parents who would bring the ginormous SUV stroller, fifteen bags of baby stuff, and a bunch of toys. There just wasn’t any room for it! I eventually had to include language in invites that my apartment wasn’t stroller-friendly, and to please bring the child in a Snugli or carseat.

  • Giles August 4, 2010, 12:40 pm

    This reminds me of a coktail party I just went to. It was a pretty formal event held by some very close friends of ours whose daughter was also very good friends with our oldest daughter. Their daughter asked her parents if she could invite our daughter and they agreed (they’re both twenty, and legal drinking age here is nineteen). I heard people complaining at the party about how children shouldn’t be at the event? Children? They’re legally adults and were on better behaviour than some of the “adults”. I wish I could have directed them here so they could see the difference.

  • Enna August 4, 2010, 2:53 pm

    My firend “Katie” has had children very young, she would socailise by having firends round her house where her children would be in bed. As her and her boyfirend were always present they could share childcare and socailise with mates at the same time. “Katie” as a firend who also has a child lets say “Kathie”. Katie is fine with Kathie bringing the child over for one of these parties/bbq even allows her to borrow the travel cot: so long as she brings things like her own nappies etc. Katie babysat for Kathie one day, but Kathie didn’t comfirm the time or feed her own child and turned up at dinner time!

    Even when people accomadate children some people are rude/selfish have to say “Kathie” is more ignoratant/naive. Katie should mention before Kathie comes round with baby that she must provide nappies for her own child. This could be a case of simple ignorance or forgetfulness and just needs a gentle reminder. This story is competely different though. If a party is unsuitable for a child then children don’t go and if parents can’t find a babysitter then too bad. Are you sure they weren’t being just plane cheap or left it too late they couldn’t pay an excess?

    I think it is shocking the parents were drinking – did they drive own? Drink driving is very dangerous and criminal that a parent is prepared is drive after drinking with their own child in the car!

  • Margaret August 4, 2010, 3:15 pm

    I’m pretty much “love me/love my child”, but that just means that generally, I won’t go to things where I can’t bring my kids. When I first had kids, I wouldn’t want to leave them. Now, I wouldn’t mind so much, but it is very difficult for me to arrange babysitting. I have ONE free babysitter — my mom — and ONE paid babysitter (actually two paid babysitters, but the second one lives over 100 km away, so besides paying him, I have to drive 400+ km to pick him up and take him home later) — and often they are not available, and even if they are available, I think twice before I shell out ten bucks an hour for the event plus the one hour travel it will take me to get to town and back. I prefer to save my babysitting for when I really need it (e.g. if I have to have a medical procedure or my child has an appointment where other siblings are absolutely not allowed). Having said that, there is a big difference between thinking “love me/love my child” and “invite me/invite my child”. I would not do what the rude parent guests did. I suppose I might call (though not for a party with drinking & smoking) and say, “gee, I’d love to come, but I’d have to bring my kids”, and if there wasn’t a “No problem, bring them along!” in response, then it would be my regrets.

    I don’t know if I would have actually done this, but if I were at that party, I’d have been darn tempted to haul that kid to the parents every time he made a squeak or did anything. “Here, Bobby’s crying. This is an adult only party and you can’t leave him unsupervised.” “Here, Bobby’s wandering around. This is an adult only party and you can’t leave him unsupervised.” “Here’s Bobby. This is an adult only party and you can’t leave him unsupervised.”

    Speaking of adult only situations — just wondering what the take is on bringing kids to meetings? I used to have to bring my kids to every meeting. Just in the last year and a bit, my husband has started to mostly watch them when I have a meeting, but it used to be that he would simply manage to not be at home when I had to leave. I’m talking about club meetings, playschool meetings, parish council meetings. Basically, where you are a member (and there is a constant problem getting enough parents to attend to make quorum) or a volunteer. I am on several executives, and after one meeting last year where I did have to bring the kids, I heard that someone had complained about it. Unfortunately, she complained to someone who knew that I was spending hours every week on volunteer stuff for that club, so apparently she got an earful. Ha ha. Actually, I don’t mind being told that I can’t bring my kids to meetings (which happened with another group where I was roped into being on the executive). Because I’ll be darned if I’m paying $20 or $30 for a babysitter so I can go to a meeting for something where I am a volunteer, so if it’s no kids, then it’s no volunteering from me, and I’m busy enough for that to be a reward, not a sanction.

  • Redneck Gravy August 4, 2010, 4:51 pm

    I have said this before – I have stood in the doorway and refused admittance to children at my adult only parties.

    I simply tell the parents that children are not allowed this time and they should make other arrangements for the child(ren). Some people are just clueless and/or illiterate.

    I love children and have some of my own but ocassionally I throw cocktail/poker parties where children are not appropriate and I clearly state this on the invitation.

  • kero August 4, 2010, 5:26 pm

    Incredibly rude of them!! To ignore your requests, transform your room into a playpen, and assume that other people will take care of their kid. On top of that, an unsafe environment!!

    Sometimes it’s hard to stop them at the door in parties. I have been to events with an open door policy in which people can casually welcome themselves in (because the hosts are busy entertaining everybody, etc). It was gracious of you to speak with them afterwards instead of at the party…who knows, they might have made a scene and killed the party much quicker.

  • mommaknowsbest August 5, 2010, 8:21 am

    It’s obvious to me that the invitation wasn’t clear about kids. It says early in OP’s post that it was “inapporpriate” for children, but that doesn’t disinvite them. Many parents will say, ok, I understand, but I will watch them, or take care of them, etc. Unless you say NO CHILDREN or ADULTS ONLY, you will get kids there.

  • Amazed August 5, 2010, 8:52 am

    Here’s the part that jumps out at me: “We were in such shock we had no idea what to do at the time.”

    In other words, the child ruined the party for the other guests (“that people were disappearing from the party and going home”) and for the hosts. Other guests had to tend to the child, or just leave early.

    I am amazed at the lack of backbone on the part of the OP and her husband. Why could she not put a stop to it at the doorway? “I’m sorry, but Junior was not invited. He cannot come in. You need to take him home.” Period. End.

    By admitting Junior through the door and doing nothing (“we were in shock”), the hosts were rude to the other guests who had to tend the child, who went to the trouble of getting their own sitters for their own children and who were disappointed after expecting a fun party.

    Sure, Junior’s parents are guilty of an Etiquette Felony. So were the party hosts who lost control of their party. I was a guest at a similar party. I tried to have a good time, but wondered the entire time why the hosts couldn’t just toss out the couple who arrived with their THREE toddlers.

  • Mechtilde August 5, 2010, 1:15 pm

    @ Amazed: Sometimes it is very easy to be wise after the event. Yes, the OP probably ought to have refused entry to the child, but it can be very difficult to do that when confronted by the parents and child on the doorstep. The one time it has happened to me I let the child in, not even thinking that refusal was an option. (That was seven years ago- I know better now!)

  • Jane August 5, 2010, 9:54 pm

    Hi all –

    Welcome to my world 🙂

    I agree with refusing to allow the people in. The rub here was the man was not only a friend of my husbands – but also his boss. Talk about awkward.

  • Me August 5, 2010, 10:54 pm

    mommaknowsbest, the invitation actually said that it was an adult party and not appropriate for children. To me, adult party means exactly that – adults only. However, I don’t have children, maybe I’ll think differently when I do.

    What’s the rule on putting ‘no children’ on an invite? I was always under the impression that it was bad form, but maybe I’m wrong.

  • Asharah August 6, 2010, 7:40 am

    In this day and age, I think some parents won’t get the message any other way than the invite saying “NO CHILDREN!” in big bold letters. Even if it is bad form.

  • RP August 6, 2010, 2:12 pm

    The rub here was the man was not only a friend of my husbands – but also his boss.

    …Wow. Yeah, I think awkward is an understatement.

  • Mechtilde August 6, 2010, 5:31 pm

    Putting “No children” on an invitation is bad form. Unfortunately I am beginning to think that it is a necessary evil beause of the poor behaviour of people who turn up with uninvited underage guests, exactly as the couple did in the OP. Whilst “No children” does not seem to have worked with the couple here, it can (in my opinion) have an effect on some of the slightly less clueless members of society, who might understand “No children” rather better than understanding that only those actually named on the invitation are invted.

  • May Destroyer August 6, 2010, 8:00 pm

    Okay. The OP allowed parents to essentially abandon their child to “get their drink on” in a self-admitted dangerous place for him to be, and allowed their other guests to be temporary guardians of the child. I’m seeing some responsibility to the hosts. If your guests act irresponsibly, putting others in danger, and annoying others, you as the host have a responsibility to intervene or risk having your party ruined. What if the uninvited guest had been a rude jerk who was very “touchy feely” to the female guests? If I had been a guest, I would have second thoughts about attending another function hosted by the OP.

  • May Destroyer August 6, 2010, 8:02 pm

    Oh, I didn’t see that this was the husband’s boss. Oh well. You’re screwed either way.

  • Jillybean August 6, 2010, 9:45 pm

    LOL – @ May Destroyer…nice follow up!

    Yes, definitely throws a curve into it when it’s the husband’s boss. Yikes!

  • Maryann August 10, 2010, 2:14 am

    Ooh. Jane. You have my sympathy. His boss? I wouldn’t quite know what to do, either. Sounds like the guy thought he could impose however he and his wife so chose.

  • Deborah August 13, 2010, 5:44 pm

    I was stunned by this post. Who the heck takes their kid to a cocktail party, especially if there are cigars?
    Events like this are clearly adult-only, unless it’s specifically stated otherwise.
    This couple was either incredibly rude, totally clueless and classless, or all three.

  • Angie September 13, 2010, 9:50 pm

    It’s amazing how there’s always someone who thinks their child should be an exception. My cousin and his wife specified no children on their wedding invitation. One of the bridesmaids brought her two-year-old son and proceeded to party the night away and leave the rest of the guests to look after her child. The reception was held in a tent on the couple’s acreage, and the boy was running around playing in dirt, eating flowers, etc. I myself grabbed him once when he wandered onto the road, and other people did the same thing.

  • Michelle September 20, 2010, 2:21 am

    I have a child, and wouldn’t be caught dead bringing her anywhere that wasn’t kid appropriate, especially after being told not to! I don’t get parents who take their kids everywhere. Errands are necessary of course, but I LOVE adults only functions when I can attend them! It gives me a break! I can understand why the OP was flustered and didn’t do anything at first, but definitely put a stop to it as it progressed.

  • Jane October 31, 2010, 8:38 am

    Just to follow up: It was awkward, especially with several of my husbands work colleagues who were also the fathers direct reports. It was rude and an incredible abuse of power. I agree with some of the posters, I should have asked them to leave, but honestly I was totally at a loss on how to go about dealing with it at the time. It was like having a cold bucket of water dumped over my head.

    Since this incident with them there have been more really bad child experiences with them – one example being 10:30 PM, in a 5 star hotel in Paris, in the bar, with the kid running around the bar screaming and throwing animal crackers on the floor. You can imagine how the French (and everyone else) felt about that, and since I was the only French speaker I got to hear all about it.

    The parents didn’t care.

    Things like this and some serious non-child related incidents ended it with us and this couple. We no longer speak to them professionally or otherwise.

    I tried to find the evite to copy out what was in it, but it seems to be gone.

    We received an invite to a Halloween party the other day who made it clearer than we must have done -“NO CHILDREN. This is an adult party” Rude? Probably. But for some reason in modern life subtlety doesn’t work.

  • Allison December 2, 2010, 9:06 pm

    When we were planning our wedding, my husband and I decided that the wedding and reception would be an adult event. We were extremely careful in the wording of invitations, inviting named guests and not “and family” (e.g. Jane and Jim Smith, not The Smith family). Sure enough, a reply came stating that the 12-year old daughter was coming ALSO. I had to stop it because others’ children were not attending in respect of the invitation. AND, my dad’s cousin was leaving her three children home, 300 miles away, the youngest of which was battling CANCER. Yes, if they weren’t coming, I couldn’t let this couple push their child in the door.

    Because these guests were friends of my soon-to-be father-in-law, I asked him to intervene. He spoke to them, explained that it was an evening, adult event and that children were not attending, including family members’ children. They responded saying that because the reception was being held at a very attractive country club, they really wanted their daughter to attend and experience the event. My soon-to-be father-in law (admittedly) withdrew, coming to me and offering to pay for the extra meal. Now, I’m angry with soon-to-be father-in-law and I explain to him that this isn’t about the meal price (he was embarassed); I again and firmly stated that this wouldn’t be happening, apologized for putting him in the middle of his friends and offered to make the phone call myself. My soon-to-be father-in-law said he’d take care of it and he did.

    The couple came anyway – they didn’t seem agry at all. People will push, but only if you let them.

  • Ash Kilday May 11, 2012, 12:02 pm

    I think if you need to put some kind of sanction on your invitations, spinning it to the positive “Adults Only” instead of “No Children” will help ease any tensions.

    Alternatively, if the hosts have older children of babysitting age, that kid/those kids could rake in some serious money by offering childcare at the party site–perhaps upstairs over the party if that kind of space or similar space is available. Just an idea!

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