General Etiquette > Family and Children

Can I turn down an invite after I've accepted? Update post 39

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Lady Snowdon:
Last week, we had dinner with DH's family and one sister in law mentioned to me that she's gotten in the habit of having a "Girl's Night" every month or so, where my mother in law and both sisters in law get together, hang out, and talk/watch a movie after the kids have gone to sleep.  She asked if I'd be interested in the next Girl's Night sometime in February.  I said sure, thinking it would be nice to have some time to talk with them when there's not two little kids occupying everyone's time and attention. 

I got an email this week, telling me the date for the next Girl's Night and saying it would involve pizza, play time with the kids, and a movie.  Was I interested?  I said yes, based on the info I'd previously gotten, and asked if she'd decided what movie we would watch.  I got an email back saying that the kids usually picked the movie, as movie watching was a special treat for them.  Also, normally the movies were shortened by fast forwarding through parts of them, so it wouldn't be a normal "sit down and watch the movie" type of thing. 

So now everything will revolve around the kids, which I'm not really excited about.  If I'd known, I probably would have declined to begin with.  I'm not comfortable with the way everyone acts towards the kids and how it's impossible to talk about anything but the kids while they're around.  I'm not sure if there's a polite way for me to pull out of this now that I've already accepted, or if I should just suck it up and go and pretend to have fun while we watch half a kid's movie and don't talk unless it's to praise one of the kids. 

I don't think you can. But you don't ever need to go back again.

Look at the night as a way to build your relationship with your SIL, or at least to not damage it.

And then say, sort of wistfully, "well, it was just too kid-oriented for me. I was really looking for a night with grownups. I'll pass on the next ones, sorry."

Or, maybe email back, "Oh. I thought it was a Girls' Night." and see what she says.

But I think it would be tough to cancel.

Yeah, that does not sound like an evening I'd enjoy either.  But I don't think you can decline now without hurting feelings.  I'd just never go again after this one.

Well I don't think you can turn it down now without some intervening emergency to be honest - "So sorry, I got assigned a huge project at work and I just won't be fit company for anyone after that" or some such thing.  Could you email her back and ask for clarification - "Oh I thought you said this was a girl's night for after the kids were asleep.  Is this more of a kid's playdate/family gathering then?"  I don't think it will change what actually happens, but it might help point out to her that you thought you were being invited for something else. 

I think you have to suck it up and go. It's a shame the dynamics are different than you had expected. I don't know if all of your SIL's have kids but maybe during the movie you and they can venture into the kitchen or breakfast room to chat while the movie is being shown.


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