DEAR AMY: I have a handful of mommy friends that have come into my life within the past few years. I have one 3-year-old son. We get invited to many birthday parties. I had a birthday party for my son last month. One mom and her son were sick so they could not attend. Last week they came over for a play date at our house. I thought she would bring a belated card and gift, but she did not. But then, she invited us to her son’s birthday at the end of the month. Do we bring a gift? Discuss exchanging gifts? My hubby says people just don’t talk about this kind of stuff. I don’t want to hurt or offend her, but I also don’t want to end up feeling used. Also, we have many friends who have two or more kids. How do we celebrate all of their birthdays without feeling that we are expending much more money on them than they do for us? Is it wrong to want things to be even between friends? My fear is that if I don’t keep things fairly even then over time I may have resentment and regret. I already do nice little extras for my friends. I put together Valentine treat bags for my mommy friends as a surprise and delivered them at a mommy night out. I would just like to feel like my kindness will be occasionally reciprocated.
DEAR MOMMY: First this: As long as you refer to yourself and your friends as “Mommies,” you will stay stuck in this juvenile place where grown women don’t have first names, and where you and your friends primarily relate to one another based on your role playing second fiddle to 3-year-olds.
Please, grow up!
No, a child who wasn’t at your son’s birthday party should not have to follow up by giving a gift later, unless this is a close and special relationship.
Yes, if you attend a child’s birthday party, you should bring a gift for the child.
If you are invited to multiple parties over the course of the year for siblings in one family and you don’t want to give gifts to them, you should attend the party for the child closest to your son and skip the other gatherings.
Of course your kindness will be reciprocated by your friends. If it is not, then you should dial down your generosity, and also rethink the difference between a Mommy and a friend.
Quit keeping score. I assure you, life has a way of evening things out.
DEAR AMY: The other day I was texting my girlfriend while shopping for presents for my sister’s birthday party. My girlfriend asked if it would be OK for her brother to come to the family party (we both have siblings in grade school who are around the same age). I told her that my parents were throwing the party, not me, and that the decision on who can or can’t come to the party is not mine to make. She took offense. Later that day, we had a spat over this. I repeatedly told her that as a guest I can’t decide if someone can or can’t come. My girlfriend insisted that she was just trying to “unite our families” by bringing her brother to the event. After she brought it up multiple times, we agreed to disagree. Did I do something wrong? I feel like I did the right thing. The last thing I want to do is be rude and inconsiderate to my parents and strain our close relationship, but I also don’t want my girlfriend thinking that I don’t care about her family. Was there a better way that I could’ve or should’ve handled this?
DEAR CONFUSED: I fail to see how including your girlfriend’s grade school-age brother in this family birthday party would help unite your families. Your girlfriend seems to have wanted you to take this request to your parents. You declined, and that should have been the end of it.
DEAR AMY: “Baffled and Angry” was upset with her mother’s response to her 10-year-old son’s rudeness. Wow. I was baffled by a parent who would permit her son to be rude to his grandmother, and then blame the grandmother for being upset.
DEAR UPSET: I agree that this mother seemed to be excusing her son’s behavior, but not her mother’s. I assume this parenting dynamic indirectly enabled the rudeness.