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DEAR JANE: My six-year-old son is being bullied by his entire class – and all because I made a stupid birthday party faux pas

Dear Jane,

I feel like I ruined my son’s life. At least his social life.

And it’s all because of a stupid birthday party.

This whole story started when my six-year-old son was invited to a classmate’s sixth birthday party at our local park in March. The invitation was emailed to all the parents in the class and when I received it I have to admit I was quite shocked.

Because in addition to mentioning all the standard details of the birthday party (time, location, dress code), the invitation also contained a link to a gift list filled with items the little boy was hoping for, as well as a request from his parents to inform them which option we would like. planned to choose so that they could avoid ‘double ups’.

Dear Jane, My son is absolutely miserable because I have chosen to take a foolish stand against the tradition of a birthday party and I don't know how to solve this

Dear Jane, My son is absolutely miserable because I have chosen to take a foolish stand against the tradition of a birthday party and I don’t know how to solve this

Personally, I can’t bear the thought of wasting money on silly things like plastic toys and brain-rotting junk, especially when kids are so young, and especially when I don’t really know the kid or his parents. Plus, none of the gifts on the list were under $40, which I think is just crazy!

So I emailed back, thanking them for the invitation, but explaining that – if a gift was required – I would prefer to have a gift of my own choice.

They responded that they had “carefully” chosen the selection of items for their son, and that if I was unwilling to “stick to the list,” they would prefer I not bring a gift at all. So I didn’t.

I took my son to the birthday party, thinking everything would be fine, but as soon as I got there and saw the overflowing table with presents, I knew I was in trouble.

And you know, part of the party proceedings involved a ridiculously over-the-top opening session where all the kids had to sit in a circle around the birthday boy and his presents so he could open them and give them. thank you personally to each of them.

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Obviously, when he got to my son, there was nothing to open, and his parents simply said – loud enough for everyone to hear – “well, he didn’t want to bring a gift,” and the birthday boy burst into tears. .

From then on the party was a nightmare. None of the other kids wanted to talk to my son, and I got him out of there as quickly as I could. Before they even cut the cake.

International bestselling author Jane Green offers sage advice on DailyMail.com readers' most burning issues in her column Dear Jane agony aunt

International bestselling author Jane Green offers sage advice on DailyMail.com readers' most burning issues in her column Dear Jane agony aunt

International bestselling author Jane Green offers sage advice on DailyMail.com readers’ most burning issues in her column Dear Jane agony aunt

Since then, he has been basically shunned by everyone in his class, and left out of every other birthday party.

I have no idea what to do here. My six year old is miserable and all because I decided to take a stupid stand against something so small and insignificant. I hate it, but I have no idea how to fix it.

I’m tempted to throw an over-the-top party for all the kids in his class, just to show them how awesome my son really is… but I don’t know if that will solve the problem?

What would you do?

By,

Party pooper

Dear party pooper,

What a terrible situation to be in. I’m honestly a little baffled that this happened to you, and furthermore that a group of six-year-olds would unilaterally decide to avoid your son because he didn’t bring a gift. .

The whole thing sounds both miserable and childish. Plus, having a gift registry for a six-year-old might be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. But you’re in trouble and now we have to figure out how to fix it.

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It’s not easy.

I hate the idea of ​​throwing a party, especially when your values ​​don’t align with the rest of the class.

I think instead of trying to regain your son’s popularity at school, find activities for him outside of school where he can form a circle of friends whose friendships are not based on money or gifts.

And I would have ongoing conversations with your son about this. About how important it is to have friends who appreciate us, not because of the gifts we give or how much money we have, but because we are good people.

This is an important, valuable but painful lesson for him, but one that will serve him throughout his life.

Dear Jane,

I am a 26 year old teacher living in Dallas and I am in a very difficult situation with my close friends.

I’m lucky to have gotten to live in a city with so many of my high school friends. The five of us have known each other since we were fourteen and we do pretty much everything together, which may sound strange, but it’s just the way we’ve always been.

The thing is, my friends have all had pretty high-paying jobs in recent years – and it’s clear that being a teacher doesn’t exactly pay me a high salary. I love my job, I really do, but I’m starting to feel like I’m completely out of step with my friends, who understandably want to enjoy the luxuries their money can buy.

Where we once spent a weekend away in an Airbnb, they now want to take group holidays to Europe. Dinners that we used to organize at home with cheap bottles of wine have now been replaced by meals in nice restaurants.

I’ve been trying so hard to keep up with them, but despite cutting back on almost every other aspect of my life, I’m now faced with some pretty insane credit card bills that I just can’t afford.

I don’t want to stop them from enjoying everything they’ve earned, but I also hate the idea of ​​them living a life of luxury without me there.

How can I find a middle ground?

By,

Destitute friend

Dear poverty-stricken friend,

If these are indeed good friends, they will understand your predicament.

You need to sit down with them and have an honest conversation, tell them you love them, but you just can’t afford to keep up with the current social situation.

Ask them if they would consider having dinner at home again so that you can join in, and arrange the events so that you can join in too.

I wouldn’t expect them to change everything, but it’s a fair request to ask that at least some of their social interactions be organized with you in mind. If they are true friends, they will understand and probably make some changes.

If their life is really that luxurious, they may all do their part to allow you to attend the meeting too, knowing that this is beyond your means.

If changes aren’t made, I’m afraid they were never very good friends in the first place, and it’s time to go out and make some new ones.

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