Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Attention, with kids, not always undivided

Kathy Mitchell

Dear Annie: My husband and I have chosen not to have children. His family asks repeatedly if we’ve “changed our minds” about it, so obviously they do not approve of our choice.

My husband recently gave me a 30th birthday party, and invited his child-oriented family. The entire party, I noticed his siblings and parents fussing with the young children (about ages 4 and up), not paying attention to anyone but the kids. I found this rude, and thought they could at least pretend to be interested in my celebration. When I asked one of my sisters-in-law if she saw me open her gift, she retorted, “Sorry, watching my daughter was a little more important than a 30-year-old opening presents.”

My husband and I are generous with all of their children. Am I wrong to think their behavior was rude? They seemed to believe showing up was good enough. My family and friends with children seem capable of tending to their kids while still being able to interact with other adults. How should I handle this? – Not-So- Happy-Birthday Girl

Dear Birthday Girl: This depends on the kids. Children, especially young ones, require constant supervision. Surely you are grateful the parents watched to be sure their kids didn’t crash into your glass table, empty the tissue box or whine about the food.

We think you were kind to invite these children to your party. But if you have kids around, you cannot expect to have the parents’ undivided attention. You are assuming it was somehow a criticism of your not having children, but we don’t think it was intentionally rude. Had those kids been running wild, you would have written us to complain about the parents’ inadequate supervision. If you want an adult party next time, it’s perfectly OK to exclude the children. Otherwise, this is how it’s going to be for the next several years. Please don’t let it bother you so much.