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Monday question: Invitation obligation

Posted by Robin Abrahams  March 3, 2014 07:26 AM

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Happy March, everyone! I'm choosing to take this as the first day of spring, and don't you even think about arguing with me, you hear?

Here's a question for my readers, especially those with kids:

Because my work schedule doesn't allow me to get out in time, the mother of a child in my daughter's gymnastics class picks my daughter up once a week from her after school program and brings her to gymnastics. I drive the girls home. The girls are not really friends, merely acquaintances in the same class. I met the mother as we waited for our girls at various classes around town and we get along well, though our interactions are limited to drop offs and pick ups. 
My daughter and I are now planning her birthday party and my daughter adamantly doesn't want to invite this child saying that they aren't friends and she shouldn't have to invite someone she doesn't want there. I think that is valid, however I think it would be kind to invite her and I also worry that if she finds out, it would hurt her feelings, maybe even jeopardize the mother's helpfulness. They go to the same school, but are not in the same class and my daughter is civil to her, but has no interest in play dates with this girl. Should I insist, or respect my daughter's wishes for her birthday celebration?

I think the mother should insist. Sometimes you invite people because of obligation, that's just how it is. It's not going to spoil the kid's birthday party to have a mere acquaintance there.

But I'm interested in hearing from readers, particularly those with children. How do you manage invite lists for your kids' parties? And should this mother include the gymnastics acquaintance or not?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at

Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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