Dear Carolyn: Two of my closest friends have a son, 6, who is a year younger than ours. This is the second year in a row that my son has not been invited to their son’s birthday party. Every year we invite their son to our boy’s birthday and he comes and has a good time.
I’ll be the first to admit my son is not the easiest kid in the world. He has ADHD and is full of energy and also extremely sensitive.
We see our friends a few times a year. They live about 30 miles from us, not too far for a birthday party.
I don’t know if I’m being overly sensitive or if my friends are being insensitive. I’m feeling kind of angry and don’t know what to do about it. – Party Pooper
It is the nature of special-needs parenthood (or just parenthood – discuss) to live and die by each chance to ease your child’s pain. I get it.
But he needs you to (with apologies, if you’re already doing these things and I’m overreaching):
• Take the longest possible view, versus overthinking one party;
• Promote independent sources of confidence – art, puzzles, reading – to counteract the bruising by peers;
• Give him alternative ways to develop social skills. That could mean a hobby or sport he’s good at (that aids acceptance), a therapist-run social skills group, or just some extra parental fanning of friendship sparks.
• Focus on the physical. ADHD + high energy + sensitivity = a kid who can benefit greatly from a physical outlet, be it sports, martial arts, scouting, dance, a climbing-gym membership.
These efforts will help your son and help you brush off the birthday snub, which I strongly advise – along with assuming it’s not really a snub. Little-kid birthdays tend to be about convenience. Just neighbors, say.
You can also exercise “closest friend” privilege, and explain your kid needs the social practice … as long as you can mean it when you assure them “no” is a fine answer with no hard feelings attached.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.