General Etiquette > Family and Children

Feeling like our events are less important than others....

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The subject came up recently with my MIL about birthday parties.  I haven't had "formal" birthday parties for my 3 kids (meaning inviting everyone over to my house or another location for a meal, dessert and present opening) for about 2 years.  It always seems to go awry somehow and I come away feeling like our time would be better spent doing something the kids really would enjoy for their birthdays (movie, skating etc).

This is the event that made me realize I didn't want to invite several people over for a party:

2 years ago my daughter turned 14.  That same year, we bought a lot in a Lake community near our home specifically for the purpose of fishing, swimming and generally enjoying the 3 lakes they have.  We saw this as the perfect opportunity to hold DD's bday at the pavilion on the beach.  Her birthday is in July but we had to reserve the pavilion in early April in order to guarantee we'd have it.  Due to that, we issued invites to all family members and later, my daughter's friends.  Family members that could come told us and we started planning for the party arranging food, activities, etc.   We reminded everyone about a month before the party also.

About 3 weeks before the party, my DH's aunt decided to plan a anniversary party for herself and her husband (50 years), and also for her daughter (DH's cousin) and her husband (25 years).   Its probably worth saying that my IL's live about 45 min away from us, and that is also where my DH's aunt, uncle and cousins live.  We learned about a week before my DD's party that all my IL's were only going to come to DD's party for about an hour, then leave to spend the majority of the day at the Anniversary get together.  >:(  I took it all as graciously as I could but I was kind of irritated.  Here we were planning a party for DD and most of the attendees were going to leave shortly after arriving because something better came along!

After that party, we never had another party like that for the kids. Not only was I disappointed, but I felt the kids saw all my IL's leave and felt less important.  I'd like to say, also, that this was an isolated incident, but there have been other examples of the IL's doing similar things in past year, this example was just the worst and last straw.  My family (less people) has been guilty of some rude activity too so I just got tired of it.

So this year MIL asks if we're planning a party for DS who will be 10, and I simply stated that we didn't do big parties anymore, and just let the birthday child pick out what he or she wants to do for that entire weekend instead. 

Am I wrong to just feel like this? I just feel like when we invite family members to our house, they only agree to come unless something else more fun comes up, or only "drop by" for a few minutes after we've planned an afternoon of entertainment.  I just feel like our time is better spent elsewhere.   I think my MIL is disappointed, and I've told her she can call and come by anytime.  Thoughts? Were the actions of my IL's rude?

No you are not rude. You are no longer setting yourself up for disappointment and I bet your kids probably prefer a weekend doing what they want and not having a family party.

Even if their entire family showed up with bells on and stayed till you were shoving then out the door, you are still not obligated to host a family bday party. Let your kids celebrate as they prefer.

Celebrate how you and your kids best enjoy.

It did strike me though that the inlaws did in fact come to the party for an hour. To me that seems kinda normal length for a birthday party. Perhaps the inlaws didn't see your event as "less important" just thought they had celebrated all of the events that day. Did you ask them to stay longer?

No, you're not being rude.  You are under no obligation to give a party that your inlaws dismiss as less important than some other event whose invitation arrived later (after they accepted yours).  You went to considerable expense and it went unappreciated.

Take your children skating, to the movies, or whatever they ask for and feel better.


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