Girls Only Birthday Party...? - Mothering Forums
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The Childhood Years > Girls Only Birthday Party...?
boatbaby's Avatar boatbaby 01:39 AM 12-22-2008
Two of DS's friends have recently had birthday parties (both turning 4 years old) that were "Girls Only" (both tea party theme as well). DS KNEW that these girls had birthdays and they first thing he asks all excited is "Am I invited to the party?"

The first party was back in November and he had a playdate with the girl a day or two after her party, and he saw all of the decorations and such still up. He asked what they were from and the mom said "oh they were from X's birthday". DS left it at that. Then later that night in the shower out of the blue DS says, "mama, why wasn't I invited to X's birthday party at her house?"

I really didn't know what to say other than the truth, which was they decided no boys allowed. Which I think sucks.

Now today he chatted with a friend on the phone and she said "I went to M's birthday party today" Again he wondered why he wasn't invited.

The thing is, he would LOVE to go to a tea party.

So are one gender only parties just the norm at a certain age? Am I in the dark? DS's feeling are so hurt and I don't know how to explain it to him.

MusicianDad's Avatar MusicianDad 01:48 AM 12-22-2008
Was the second one also a tea party theme?

It could be the parents decided on girls only because they honestly didn't think boys would enjoy a pink, girly, tea partish theme and would feel completely out of place at such a thing. The idea that boys don't do girl themes is still pretty common.

Thats just my guess though.
sunflowers's Avatar sunflowers 01:48 AM 12-22-2008
It does suck and I'm sorry your DS is hurt

I'm not sure what I would do if dd wanted a girls only party. On one hand, it's her party, OTOH, it's an opportunity to teach her about inclusion and friendship.

I hope I do a good job in teaching those values so this situation won't happen for us(at least not until she's old enough to have sleepovers! I don't know if I'd feel so inclined to preach inclusion of boys at that point!). But I really don't know what I'd tell her if she did express she wanted only girls or only boys at one of her parties...
TefferTWH's Avatar TefferTWH 02:18 AM 12-22-2008
I think you can't get too upset about silly parenting ideas others have (even if they are as hurtful as not including a child because of gender), but I certainly would make sure to explain that to my son. Personally, I'm NOT having any of that nonsense for either of my kids. Friends are friends and excluding them is just mean.
LuckyMommaToo's Avatar LuckyMommaToo 02:22 AM 12-22-2008
This is starting to be pretty common for the 5 y.o. parties around us. I guess it doesn't bother me. There are two pre-K classes at DS's school -- they are together a lot. 28 kids total. Too many for most parties. So the easiest, obvious division is by gender.

I agree it isn't perfect, but I do understand it, I guess. We'll probably be doing it next year. Sorry your DS had his feelings hurt, though.
1littlebit's Avatar 1littlebit 02:22 AM 12-22-2008
i think it sucks! i always had boy girl parties .. until i was in like 4th grade and wanted a sleep over.

they were wild and crazy kids themed ... lol... my parents were great about that. plus it was an invite the whole class thing. i don't get why you would have play dates with boys but not invite them to birthday parties

i do agree with MD that maybe it was the tea party thing.
boatbaby's Avatar boatbaby 02:23 AM 12-22-2008
I have no idea if it was the parents or the kids who decided about the girls only idea. I suspect it was the parents, but who knows really.

I am not sure WHAT to say to my son. I sort of fumbled around it really. Would you say, "it was a girls only party" and if he says "WHY" then what?

Ruthla's Avatar Ruthla 02:27 AM 12-22-2008
A lot of people around here have single-gender parties as a fairly simple way to limit the guest list. Some kids really do better with small parties, and if they have more friends they want to invite than they can really handle having together all at once, limiting it to one gender keeps the party small and enjoyable.

I don't think it has much to do with "boys wouldn't like this kind of party" but rather "OK, we've cut down the guest list to girls only, why not pick a girly theme for the party while we're at it."

I would tell a little boy "it was a girls' only party because she has so many friends that she just couldn't invite all of them, and they decided that just inviting the girls seemed the most fair."
stik's Avatar stik 02:27 AM 12-22-2008
It makes sense to me that parents would select who to invite to a party from among their child's friends and classmates, because it does quickly become cost-prohibitive to invite everyone. Gender is as easy a way to select as anything else, and it avoids long and agonizing discussions about who your child's best friends are, and which ones are closest (which can change on an hourly basis at age 5).

I do think it was rude for a child's parents to leave party decorations up so that a child visiting two days later would know that he had been left out.
boatbaby's Avatar boatbaby 02:31 AM 12-22-2008
FWIW this isn't about inviting the whole class or not because none of these kids go to school together and many are home schooled. They know each other from LLL and just having grown up together thus far really. But DS does not go to school with either girl...

I understand about big parties being too much. I have already started my campaign to convince DS to have a birthday camping trip (with DH and I and one other family) rather than a party. But I would have never thought of using gender to make the party smaller. I guess I am naive, but I think that's really messed up at THIS age.
EviesMom's Avatar EviesMom 02:58 AM 12-22-2008
We had a weaning tea party recently and the guest list was 3 girls plus DD, and their mothers. They're all close friends, all knew DD nursed until recently, the 1 girl DD wanted to invite from school I knew the mom would flip about it being related to extended nursing so I talked her out of that one.

I wouldn't have talked her out of inviting any boys except for non-nursing-friendly-family reasons, but her best friends right now are girls. Last year she had 2 boys and 1 girl as her "bestest friends," but even though 1 of those boys is still in preschool with her, and they play together, and the other is in her dance class, she's girl focused this year. I would have just told her boy friends if they asked that she had had a very very small party just for 2-3 friends.

She expressly did not want little brothers there, both hers and her best friend's. I think there can be an age where they're trying to figure out what it means specifically to be a girl in their culture, and it may require some space to do so.

I think you can tell your son that his friend decided to have a girl's only party, and why you can just say you don't know, some people like to do that. Even that some of his friends will probably decide to have boy's only parties, and some invite just a friend or two for small parties, and some invite lots for big big parties.
amcal's Avatar amcal 03:33 AM 12-22-2008
I really see nothing wrong with have a girly themed party and inviting your girl friends nor do I see it as problematic to have a boy themed party and invite only boys.

I think it's ok for our kids to learn that we don't always get invited to all the parties. That sometimes, for whatever reason, people decide to only have girls or only a few very close friends or whatever.

My kids don't get invited to all the birthday parties and if their feelings are hurt, I just explain to them that sometimes that happens. It does't mean the person doesn't like them or doesn't want to be their friend, just sometimes only certain people are invited. Not a big deal.
TCMoulton's Avatar TCMoulton 04:18 AM 12-22-2008
Originally Posted by boatbaby View Post
Do I say "because they are narrow minded" :
I definitely would not tell my child this - in all honesty you have no idea why the guest list was limited to just girls, may have been they had to limit the number of guests due to cost issues, maybe their daughter just wanted to have her girl friends over for a tea party. Just because they had a girls only partry does not mean that they are narrow minded.
Jessy1019's Avatar Jessy1019 04:48 AM 12-22-2008
I think it's pretty common, although not something I like at all. However, it does seem weird for a little girl who has male friends to want a party without them . . . I could see if he was just in her class or something, but not if they actively have playdates and are friends.

I don't think there's really anything you can say to him to make it better . . . just give him hugs and tell him you're sorry he's hurting.
Dandelionkid's Avatar Dandelionkid 04:55 AM 12-22-2008
My dd keeps insisting she wants girls and boys at her parties. I guess I need to leave it at that! I have suggested girls-only before because it would be calmer for me- she only has 4-5 little girl friends and I would love to have a less chaotic party but I guess I need to get over this. Good thread.
Justmee's Avatar Justmee 07:02 AM 12-22-2008
Originally Posted by Ruthla View Post
A lot of people around here have single-gender parties as a fairly simple way to limit the guest list. Some kids really do better with small parties, and if they have more friends they want to invite than they can really handle having together all at once, limiting it to one gender keeps the party small and enjoyable.

I don't think it has much to do with "boys wouldn't like this kind of party" but rather "OK, we've cut down the guest list to girls only, why not pick a girly theme for the party while we're at it."

I would tell a little boy "it was a girls' only party because she has so many friends that she just couldn't invite all of them, and they decided that just inviting the girls seemed the most fair."

I think also people are trying to be more sensitive (ie: not invite 10 out of 15 kids) so an easier way to not hurt feelings is just to say we are inviting girls / boys only.
mommy68's Avatar mommy68 09:21 AM 12-22-2008
This is something that all of my children have gone through. It's really hard when your child isn't invited to someone's birthday party - at any age. It's happened to my children at various times over the years.

The worst for mine was when my DD was 4 and her 'old' church friend was turning 6 and had a party and didn't invite our DD. We went to church the day after her party and everyone was talking about how wonderful her b-day party was and I felt like crying for my DD because she had no idea. Thank goodness, she was young enough not to notice at the time what they were talking about. I never approached the mother on this and wish I would have. This is a woman I had known for years because we both had older children that knew one another a long time and we all attended the same church forever it seemed. Not to mention our DDs were in the same sunday class for over two years together and she invited all the other kids but my DD.

It saddened me at the time and hardened me up to this type of thing as well. People are inconsiderate and mean, even parents. But my kids have gone to some awesome parties over the years when invited by real friends and classmates.

mommy68's Avatar mommy68 09:24 AM 12-22-2008
But yeah, to answer your original question, I have seen more same sex birthday parties than I have mixed parties since my kids all hit 4/5 years old. My DD hasn't been to a boy/girl b-day party since she was 4. I also think the same sex parties are a lot more common with girls.
boatbaby's Avatar boatbaby 11:21 AM 12-22-2008
Originally Posted by TCMoulton View Post
I definitely would not tell my child this - in all honesty you have no idea why the guest list was limited to just girls, may have been they had to limit the number of guests due to cost issues, maybe their daughter just wanted to have her girl friends over for a tea party. Just because they had a girls only partry does not mean that they are narrow minded.
I was being snarky, I wouldn't really say this.

Thanks for all of the responses. I guess I have never heard of a same sex only party before except when kids are MUCH older. So this hit me as a surprise and I found it kind of stupid. But it seems from the responses here I guess it's normal.

who knew?
mamazee's Avatar mamazee 11:34 AM 12-22-2008
We've never done girl-only parties, although most parties here are gender-specific, for either only boys or only girls, and that started at 4. It's mostly done to keep the list shorter. I'm actually considering it this time because my daughter has a ton of friends and the economy is bad and we're having a new baby and I need to cut corners. 10 girls or 20 kids. I can afford 10 girls better. There is no other good way to cut back on the list - she has lots of friends of both genders she plays with regularly.

Many of her close friends have had boy-only parties and she's never been bothered by it, even at 4. She'd tell me, "He's having a boy-only party so I'm not going" and she'd seem to be fine with that as an explanation. Maybe just because it's so normal here that it doesn't strike her as odd.

I guess overall I do think it's too bad but I understand the reason well enough that I'm considering it.
beanma's Avatar beanma 11:56 AM 12-22-2008
We've done both boy-girl and just girl parties. Often it is to keep the party smaller (to save my sanity), but also my dd1 has just wanted girls the past few years. Now, her closest friends at this point in time are girls so it makes sense. In past years she has had some boy friends (we would go to playdates at each others houses), but right now it's just girls. (Those boys go to different schools, etc.) There are even only girls her age in our neighborhood.

My dd2 just had her party and she did invite one boy. She invited 6 girls, but just 4 came. I was glad of that. I just can't mentally handle a party much bigger than that, plus in winter we need to have it indoors and my girls want to have them at our house so far. Basically she had all kids who she has playdates with outside of school, etc, except for the boy. She just likes him and sees him only at school.

So if we had been friends with your boy we would have invited him, but gender segregated parties are a _very_ common thing from about 4 on up, really. That's the age you really start to see self segregation on the playground at school with girls playing with girls and boys with boys. There are often a few crossovers, but it's a pretty obvious split. We've been to many girls only parties.

As far as what to tell him I guess I would tell him they probably wanted to keep the party small and/or they weren't sure he would like tea party stuff, but I would emphasize that they do like him as evidenced by the play dates, etc.
gingerstar's Avatar gingerstar 12:30 PM 12-22-2008
I have to honestly say I have never thought about it like this.

I have three girls, and I do our parties at home - so I do limit the guest list. Usually I say they can invite as many people as the age they are turning - that makes it manageable (usually... my eldest's 9th was not!) And my daughters have never, not once, put a boy on the list. So we have always had girl-only parties, and I never stopped and wondered how the little boys might have felt. If they were hurt, I am sorry.
Now, I did make an exception to the rule last spring, when my middle daughter turned 7, since to invite 7 girls would have meant two girls in her class being left out, so I let her invite all the girls (although not all came) but again, I never thought about boys feeling left out, and to be honest, I am just not capable of throwing a party at home for 20 1st grade children, and I cannot afford to go to like Chuck E Cheese (and not sure I would do it if I could!).

And my eldest has been invited to two boys b-day parties, both invited the whole class - she went to one but not the other. My middle DD was invited to one boy's party, in preschool, again the whole class.

So please don't judge this other mother harshly - perhaps she is as clueless about your son's feeling left out as I seem to be.

ETA: I think mamazee is right - it must be common here. When I remember growing up, my parties were girls only in grade school, and I mostly went to girls' parties, unless it was the whole class.
boatbaby's Avatar boatbaby 12:33 PM 12-22-2008
I guess part of the reason this hit me as a surprise is because MOST of DS's friends are girls. He has 2 good boy friends and 7 or so girlfriends.

I also find it ironic how people like to preach about gender equality and then do things like have boy only/ girl only parties. I think that sends mixed message to kids.

And again, this had nothing to do with inviting "the class" -- these kids are either not in school or had a mix of kids - some from preschool and some from neighborhood and some from just being friends... you get the idea.
amcal's Avatar amcal 12:48 PM 12-22-2008
Having a same sex party has absolutely nothing to do with gender equality.

I'm sorry your son was hurt but seriously, it's the parent and the birthday child's right to have the kind of party they want to have.

A really good friend of my DD's is a boy. They've been together since preschool - moved to two different schools together so they know each other well. They play on the playground every day. He choose to have a karate party at the place where he takes karate classes. DD wasn't invited and was thrilled. It was not something she would have wanted to do.

I get that your son would have wanted to go to the tea party but, I think it's a pretty safe assumption that most boys would not. So, having a tea party birthday theme and inviting only girls is not really all that "out there". Nor is it "stupid" as you had said. It happens and will most likely continue to happen throughout his life and it has absolutely nothing to do with sexism or equality.

Honestly, I'm shocked that you are so overtly angry about this child's birthday party. She's a little girl who wanted a tea party. That is her right. It's also her right to just invite her girlfriends. Maybe rather than be so angry at them, you could use it as a teaching experience for your child. Unfortunately, that's life. We are not always invited to everything. It's not a reflection of our self worth, it just happens that way sometimes.
ZanZansMommy's Avatar ZanZansMommy 12:53 PM 12-22-2008
My DD just turned 5 & we had a tea party for her that ended up being only girls. I didn't plan on specifically eliminating boys ( I have a DS too) but as I planned the things we were going to do at the party (make a garden hat, look for pearls, a purse, lace gloves) it became obvious that these were things I knew girls would love; boys not so much. I personally wasn't going to rearrange or do something specifically for boys (it would've involved even more work than I was already putting in. Your son may have enjoyed these activities but most of ours wouldn't have). So it turned out to be a girls tea party.

Did this mother preach gender equality to you & then dis your son to the party or is it the overall sentiment of preaching gender equality that bothers you?

I'm sorry your sons feelings were hurt. As a parent who recently had just such party, it wasn't mean spirited to leave out boys or even intended at first. It evolved that way, due to limits on party size, cost & overall plans.
We did what my DD wanted & to me that was most important.
4evermom's Avatar 4evermom 12:55 PM 12-22-2008
The "girls only" thing really makes my ds sad, too. Fortunately we haven't run into it for things like parties, just kids being exclusionary at playgrounds. I do think age 4 and 5 are a particularly bad time to introduce the concept. I don't think my ds would be as upset now, at age 7. He did go to an all boys party for the first time recently. And he was the only boy at a girl's party recently.
OakBerry's Avatar OakBerry 01:03 PM 12-22-2008
My ds is friends with the girl down the street, she is 2 years older. They are not very close, they play occasionally, and sometimes I get her on the bus in the morning as a favor to her mom.

We have never been invited to any of her parties. I don't know whether they are girl only, or that the mom only invites her close friends or what.
Ds is a bit offended by it, but I explained to him that some people have just family or just best friends only, or girls only.

My ds would enjoy a "girly" party, he's been to a horseback riding party with a princess theme and loved it, but I know for a fact that many of his friends would not, nor would his cousins. His cousin actively encourages him to dislike girls

Anyway, I'm rambling, I think it's their right but I'm sorry your ds was sad. We always do boy and girl parties for ds.
boatbaby's Avatar boatbaby 01:07 PM 12-22-2008
FWIW I don don't mind if he's not invited to a party in general. That happens. I just find it weird that people make invite lists based on gender rather than who the person is friends with. It seems like a weird line to draw.
laura163's Avatar laura163 01:10 PM 12-22-2008
When my DS turned 5 we only invited the boys in the class. There were 11
. I couldn't have invited the girls and kept my sanity. As it was, 11 school friend boys + 5 family friend (3 girls/2 boys) was about 5 kids too many.
zeldamomma's Avatar zeldamomma 01:15 PM 12-22-2008
Well, we just had our first "girls only" party. The theme ended up being pretty girly, and the guest list was too big, so I was looking for the easiest way to leave somebody out. We are very fond of the little boy who wasn't invited, and had him over to play shortly after the party (but the party decorations weren't out, and my dds know never to talk about a party in front of someone who wasn't invited). : (for my little guy)

Other years we have had co-ed parties, and it is sometimes more work to come up with alternatives to the girl-oriented crafts and favors for the boys, and trying to ensure that there would be more than one little boy at the party. Maybe you and your little boy wouldn't be uncomfortable with his attending a party where he was the only boy and the activities were all very feminine, but many people would feel differently.

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