Teenagers using cellphones

Being ‘Left Out’ Hurts — Let’s Stop “Social Engineering” Now

This article “Being Left Out Hurts — Stop Social Engineering Now” by Lisa Barr was reprinted from GIRLilla Warfare – www.girlillawarfare.com.

I heard a disturbing story recently from a friend, and I can’t seem to get it out of my head. It went something like this … the camp buses were leaving for an overnight camp in the Midwest, and one Mom somehow had access to get on one of the buses before departure. She literally managed to rope off (save) an entire section for eight 11-year-old girls. She stayed on the bus while the “Chosen 8″ boarded and sat in their “designated” seats. Another girl, a new camper, got on the bus, who was the same age, and asked if she could join “those” girls. The Mom responded: “I’m sorry, but it’s reserved” and then she got off.

The clique had been formed and there was no room for “intruders.” (I’ll get to that Mom a little later…)

The new girl, let’s call her Sarah, had been given three simultaneous messages: 1. You are not invited. 2. You are not good enough. 3. This is “The Group” — and you are not part of it, so don’t even try. 

One of the main reasons I started this blog was because of the overabundance of Middle School war stories that I had been hearing from so many moms. Same story, different players. And I hate to say this, but the root of this particular social evil, is usually (sadly) initiated by a group of Moms. One of our GW writers pointed out in another blog, that those Moms decide who is IN and who is OUT. It is political, and it is what we at GIRLilla Warfare call “Suburban Social Engineering” which ends up causing many children deep, unnecessary pain.

Don’t get me wrong. Many kids choose to be with whom they feel most comfortable, and that’s totally acceptable. It’s the piece in which the Moms not only helicopter but also patrol kids’ potential friendships that I’m focusing on here.

One Mom shared a story about how her daughter is best friends with a particular girl in her overnight camp, where they spend eight weeks together, inseparable, but when school comes around that girl “drops her daughter” because she is considered on the fringes of “The Group”  — not an insider. The message that girl is getting is similar to Sarah’s, just the next step up: You are good enough for the summer, but not during school. See ya, in July.

What does a 12 year old girl do with that? What does her Mom do with that, who happens to be friends with the other girl’s mother?

Does she tell her?

I’m sorry to break the news, but that Mom already knows. In fact she called the “dropped” girl’s Mom to say (and I paraphrase): My daughter is having a party next week, and I just want to give you the heads-up that your daughter is not invited because she is not close friends with the other girls. You understand, right?

Another scenario that I personally witnessed a few years ago was a close friend’s Middle-School daughter had organized a group to go “Trick or Treating” and was very excited about it. Two weeks before Halloween, however, another girl in her class (with whom she has no problems) decided to have a party and invited every girl in that group but THAT particular girl. In short, the girl who organized the “T or T” was left alone, with no plans for Halloween. Her friends, however, all went to the party, and not a single mother of those girls said, “Hey, my daughter has plans with X, can she come too?”

The problem I told my friend (whose daughter was dumped) is that all those moms were just so happy (relieved) that their own daughter was included that they were “afraid” to go to bat for another kid. I know many of you might not agree with me … but I believe in scenarios such as this one, as a Mom, you can and should “stick up” for another child, and make that call on his or her behalf. The actual Mom of the kid (in the Invisible Book of Middle School Protocol), unfortunately, cannot do it, but YOU can do it for her.

I know we all wrestle with the same question at various points: Do I call? What will be the consequences for my kid if I do?

Two years ago, my eldest daughter was graduating from eighth grade. I was literally so sick of hearing these stories of kids around town being left out in a “brutal” way. Let me just interrupt myself here and say that these actions are not exclusive to my community. Not by a stretch. It occurs nationwide, suburban-wide. So if you live in my town, please note, I’m not singling you out. Anyway, I decided to take a drastic step. I contacted a friend and said, “I know this is crazy but let’s invite the whole damn class for a graduation party. We can have it in my backyard. Why not?”

And so we did. We sent out flyers and passed them around in the lunchroom. We hired a high school deejay and set up a movie in the backyard, and nearly every mom in the class sent something to my house — four full tables filled with desserts (the local Fire Department LOVED the leftovers). And there it was: the “popular” kids, the theater kids, the goth kids, the athletes, the mathletes — every type of “group” was united in my backyard and it was a mingling like I’d never seen before, and probably will never see again. I received at least 10 calls from various parents, saying, “Thank you, my son/daughter has not been invited to a single party his/her entire junior high experience. (That made me cry inside — imagining those children scrolling through all the social events they were NOT invited to, courtesy of Facebook).

But here’s what really came out of what I call an “umbrella” party. It had a Domino Reaction. A friend called and said, “You know, I heard about your crazy party. You’re nuts. But … I had actually invited six boys to my son’s birthday party in a few weeks. And after hearing that you included everyone and how great it was, I made calls and invited the other five boys in his class that I had initially left out.”

There were at least three other parties that “inclusion” became the theme. Not everyone can throw a bash for 150 kids. It wasn’t the party; it was the message — TEACH YOUR KID BY EXAMPLE TO INCLUDE. I can’t even begin to tell you what that does for a shy kid to get an “unexpected” invitation. The impact is a game changer for that child.

There’s another crucial piece I believe that falls somewhere in the Being Left Out category — much further down the line, and truly serious. Teen Suicide. There have been a spate of young suicides in the Chicagoland area in the past several months. Some causes have been attributed to too much pressure, bullying, homosexuality, girlfriend/boyfriend problems, and eating disorders.

Middle School and High Schoolers have to deal with a lot of pain — rejection, particularly — as they try to forge their own identities. We as parents need to help give them the necessary tools when life feels so dark. We need to be on the lookout if we see kids we know drastically changing — going from happy to morose. We need to listen hard, if we hear (as I recently did) from our own child that a friend of hers/his is cutting themselves. Be on the look out, and don’t be afraid to make That Call to a parent or a close friend of that parent expressing your concern, even if you feel it’s not your place.

This is, in my opinion, the true “Neighborhood Watch.”

I learned from a very young age that making The Call makes all the difference. I was in 7th grade and my younger brother told me that his friend was being abused by his Dad, but made me swear not to tell our parents because they knew the father. So I honored my brother, but I did call the school anonymously and told the principal what was happening. The principal took care of the situation, and that father was later arrested for child abuse.

My point: Make the damn call. If you see a child being left out, bullied, or worse, and you know about it — don’t be afraid to stand up for someone else’s kid. You can always use anonymity and call the principal to get the ball rolling.

I don’t mean for any of us to become “Gladys Kravitz”  — and I know sometimes not minding our own business backfires, but my personal philosophy is Better the Call Than the Consequences.

That Mom on the bus with the social “rope” should be ashamed of herself. Sadly, the only time she will ever really know how “it”  feels is when her own kid is left out. And don’t be misled, even the most popular of girls and boys get “dissed.” No one gets by in life scot-free.

I am not a shrink, and my advice is only opinion and personal experience. But perhaps the most important lesson to teach and show by example to our children is the oldest and goldest one of all:  Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” 

And then, my friends, let’s see how the cards fall …


via: http://girlillawarfare.com

109 thoughts on “Being ‘Left Out’ Hurts — Let’s Stop “Social Engineering” Now”

  1. As my 13 year old sat home alone on Halloween and saw all the pictures of the girls she thought were friends (thanks Facebook and Instagram) my heart broke…She said she was ok and is still so nice to all these girls….SHAMEFUL on the girls behalf and their mothers..SHAME ON YOU, Ladies-as the article says STOP SOCIAL ENGINEERING and focus on your own life and how to model kind behavior to your children

    And I fully agree with this… The most important lesson to teach and show by example to our children is the oldest and goldest one of all: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”

    1. I’m right there with you–all the invites to trick–or-treat were met with “I’ve got plans”; the lunch table all went to the beach together–mine was the only one not invited. The usual “I wanted to but my mom said we had to cut it off.” No one believes that. Ever.

      I’ve seen this for years–the popular parents try to keep up and pass along their social status and exclusivity from high school to their offspring and practice this kind of intentional exclusion. Some of the others are more subtle–they are just thankful their kid isn’t the target of the bullying and shunning like mine, and band together and congratulate themselves they aren’t us.

      This is very serious stuff. We’ve battled depression, self-harm, raging anxiety–you name it. Girls in particular are so horribly mean.

      So many of these parents are straight up crazy. More than one father was so manipulated by their mean- girl daughters they actually called my daughter to scare her, texted us to prohibit contact or threaten us, or call other girls to encourage them to stay away. Mind you: My child was just trying to be friends. She just picked the wrong people to engage with–being friendly was an invitation to abuse.

      We tried toughing it out, calling the school, calling the police (yes, it gets that bad)

      Now I do call the parents–if I know them–when their child has been overtly mean or engaging in the rumors. It worked with one–but she was a reasonable person. She had 3 older children and knows how badly words and shunning hurt. She viewed it for what it was: one parent trying to help another parent raise a decent kid and make a course correction, not me being critical of her failure as a parent.

      1. Heartbreaking that you went through this.
        Just had a very minor incident that falls under this type of exclusion.
        It’s so easily fixed … “don’t be afraid to stand up for someone else’s kid.”
        Include everyone!

    2. Whatever happened to having made a commitment? If my children have already told someone they would trick or treat with them, that’s what they are going to do! I am regularly shocked by how lightly children and their parents take their commitments to others and to organizations. Such an important lesson! If you have already committed to one social engagement, you honor that commitment. My children will fight me on it but I stand my ground (probably because I can STILL hear my own mother saying, “You made a commitment.”) Parents have so many opportunities to teach valuable, lifelong lessons on kindness, inclusion, and commitment – we just need to be open to seeing those chances and standing our ground when they crop up.

      1. My thoughts exactly. I am 99.9% in agreement with everything said in this post — EXCEPT I’d say that rather than ask the parent(s) of the girl who planned the party to include another kid,* a far better solution would be for the parents of the kids who got invited to the party to encourage them to honor their original commitment to go trick or treating. Because IMO, the child who wasn’t invited would still know she wasn’t originally invited, and that someone’s parent had to intervene to score her an invite — which is still likely to make her feel excluded, especially if she winds up being excluded AT the party.

        Overall, although I know parents are certainly capable of encouraging cliqueishness (is that a word?) in their children, and I think that sucks, I’d say the parents to blame in this particular situation are the ones who let their kids ditch a previous engagement with a friend in favor of a “better offer.”

        *As a parent (my son is 7) who sometimes practices party exclusivity for (a) my own sanity (too many kids and I start to get twirly) and (b) the ability to host a more elaborate affair (10 kids get a cool venue and good party SWAG — 30 kids get day-old cake in the backyard), I have to say, I would probably never ask another parent to include my child or any other in an event to which s/he was not invited.

    3. My daughter also was left out Saturday night. All week long a “friend” claimed she was also not invited to the popular party and made plans with my daughter to hang out together. Saturday comes and my daughter calls the “friend” to see what time they are going to hook up, the “friend” replies, cant go, got other plans. Then she post on facebook how excited she is about going to the party. So not only was my child left out, she was lied to and ditched by someone she thought was her friend. By Sunday, after seeing I posted something about lies being unacceptable ( did not post names or incident) , inexcusable and unjustifiable, she called my daughter and said I was rude and hurtful to post that and to take it off, I did not,I stand by my beliefs that lies are not okay. She apologized and excused herself for lieing. My daughter said the lie hurt worse than being left out. My daughter said most days she sits alone at lunch. As a parent, how do you teach your kid to survive in those circumstances?

      1. Please know that every time my child – in high school – it has been a blessing. A lot happens in the in crowd to stay “in”. By the time your child is invited, they are trying to bring in new blood – misery loves company. Stay the course – I agree with another commenter that you should put out what you want – soon connections will be made & your child will be with the people she belongs with.

        1. It breaks my heart, I see it everyday. So- called friends that my daughter has known since pre- k, are now by their own estimation, too good to remember the oldie but goody’s. What I try to express to my daughter is that 1. She is good enough and 2. As you watch the behaviors of some of these kids now, do you really want to associate yourself with that kind of person? There is a scene from the Breakfast Club when the Geek asks if they will all still be friends on Monday when they return to school? The geek says yes, the jock and princess say no, and the basket case says

          “the kind of friends that I’d have , wouldn’t mind” speaking of the differences between the groups. Very wise words.

      2. No child should be left out at lunch. Someone at that school ought to notice this. And they ought to create something special for any child like that to do. I mean something really special. Something every other child and their of noxious parents would want. And then post lots of Facebook pics.

        1. Our school does do this- counsellors have a ‘lunch bunch’ and each kid gets to invite someone they know but is not good friends with. It’s always a fun lunch so kids want to be invited. Afterward, the kids often start sitting together.

          1. I that is great. When I was a kid in the 70s and 80s, nobody at the school really cared if kids sat along at lunch, weren’t picked for teams during recess, or were bullied. It was considered our own fault and our own problem if we weren’t accepted. I still resent that. Although I don’t think kids should always be forced to socialize with kids they don’t like, I also think they should learn its not going to kill them to sit for a few minutes with a kid who isn’t in their social circle.

    4. And much of the time it is not the girl who is being left out but the parents. Social cliques in school are now an offshoot of parent cliques.

    5. I think this is hard. My daughter was invited to go trick or treat with two friends. Not a big group, just two. Mom didn’t have room in her car for more. Sometimes that happens. It wasn’t social engineering.
      Last year, my daughter had a Halloween party. About 20 girls came, from various areas of her life- family, school friends, scouts, camps. I’m sure there were girls who would have liked to come but weren’t invited. I could not host all 200 girls from her grade at school. She is friendly with a lot of girls. As one of her classmates, unsolicited, said to me, “she is the good kind of popular”. She would not intentionally leave someone out to be mean, nor would I tell her who to invite. But it is a big lunch table and she is not close to everyone. It’s possible that someone felt left out, and neither she nor I are aware of it. It’s not willful ignorance, and I’m not ashamed. It’s not always so black and white. There have been kids she hung out with a couple of times and then realized she didn’t have anything in common with them, and she’d prefer to hang out with other girls. I think it’s important to note that social engineering can happen in lots of ways- like trying to force kids together on the basis of a tenuous connection.
      And she has felt left out at times too. I tell her that everyone feels that way sometimes (true) and she is careful about Instagramming certain activities to avoid hurting feelings.
      So my question is, how do we make it ok for our girls not to feel bad about themselves for liking who they like. Isn’t it ok *not* to include people you don’t want to hang out with, or because you have a limited number of seats in a car, or because my kid has four best friends that do everything together? They’re not clique-y on purpose- they just do a lot of the same activities and like to be together in a group. I struggle with this because I don’t want other kids to feel bad but I don’t want my kid to feel bad either, when she’s just hanging out with the people who love her and make her happy. I don’t engineer it and she isn’t shunning anyone.
      Sorry for the ramble- I’m on mobile and editing is proving difficult.

      1. That said, if she was invited somewhere and accepted, she would sure as hell be going to that event. Bailing on plans because you got a better offer is just a crappy way to behave.

      2. It’s perfectly fine to hang out with the kids you like and choose those kids when space is limited. It seems that you are teaching your daughter to be kind and accepting. That’s great! If kids are honest and upfront then feelings are spared. A simple “space is limited and I can only fit 4. I feel bad I can’t have you this time but maybe we can go to the movies next week” would be honest and upfront. The hurt comes when kids/adults lie or take a better offer, then post pics online. Also, if there is only one kid being left off the list, finding a way to make room shouldn’t be a problem. As a parent, if your daughter has 4 friends and starts leaving one out, you should ask why. Kids these days need to be taught to be more tolerant of other kids. My daughter will say “we don’t want to hang out with ‘Mary’ right now cuz she’s annoying” and I have to warn her that karma happens when you treat someone poorly. We all have times when we “annoy” our friends. No one wants to feel left out. Your daughter seems to be considerate of others and that is a great way yo be.

    6. My bff always invites me to her birthday parties but today she told me I couldn’t come cuz I don’t know any of her school friends and no matter what I always invite her over and when she told me this I feel so hurt and sad and I feel that she … doesn’t like me anymore and I have known her since kindergarten and just cuz we go to different schools I just don’t know what to do I want to tell my parents but I don’t want to start something can u please help me I just feel like my world is falling apart at the seams and I just feel left out 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

      1. Emma- this will not be the last time something like this happens to you, unfortunately. Kids can be mean & include someone one day, not the next. Focus on finding a true friend who will accept you all of the time for who you are. Don’t put all of your focus on this one friend. Jr High/HS is a hard time for relationships! But in the future, you will look back and realize that all of that didn’t really matter. Join in things at your school and find people with similar interests. Join clubs outside of school & meet new people, expand your horizons. Keep friendly with your “BFF” if you want, but your world will not fall apart if she doesn’t invite or include you. Let her know it hurt you that you weren’t invited. Put your energy into positive things and people. Work on yourself. Avoid the drama. You will be better for it down the road! Tell your parents or a counselor what you are going through, just tell your parents you want them to listen & not to do anything to intervene in the situation if you’re worried they will embarrass you. Good luck you will do great!

  2. Great article! I have preschoolers so haven’t seen this in my own kids yet, but I’m experiencing it on the suburban mom scene big time. I’m embarassed to admit that my heart was hurting the morning after Halloween when I scrolled through my news feed and saw all the groups of families who got together to have pizza and trick-or-treating together while my husband and I took our two out ourselves. Why weren’t we “cool” enough to come to the party? Is it one of our kids, or one of us?

    We can all have fun together on the playground or at the occassional mom’s night out event, but when it comes to individual invite lists, think about those faces on the fringes. You never know where a new true friend is hiding, too timid to really stand out until someone widens the circle and invites them in. This goes for mom friends and kid friends, and people everywhere.

    1. “Mean moms” are the ones raising “mean girls” it’s hurtful no matter who’s being mean. I’m sorry that happened to you. They should be ashamed. We lived in a neighborhood with moms like that and as our daughters got older I realized the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. We moved 2 years ago, I “unfriended” every one from there and we are all much happier. Especially my daughters.

    2. Yes!!! My feelings exactly. Virtual hugs from another of the “left out” families. I just asked m6 hubby the other day….is it us? Me? One of our kids? What? These moms seems so nice. But we never get invited anywhere with anyone. Frustrating! We are fun people to hang with!!!

      1. You aren’t alone. It happens to the kids as well as the adults. My kids often get left out by the same kids whose parents leave us out. They are all nice to our faces, are happy to come to events at our home but they do not invite us. My husband and I are ok with it. Our lives are full without all the petty stuff that is included in the group. But for the kids it is more difficult. It is hard to always have to be strong and stand alone but I think it has given them some compassion for all the others that are excluded. They are learning to treat others as they would like to be treated. They are learning that those kids that are afraid of not being included will behave deplorably just to fit in and they grow up to be the same adults. We even have “friends” that have treated like family. we raised are children together and early on we saw them encourage their kids to invite friends over and exclude our kids. We would go to family parties and there would be lots of whispers because they were panicking that we may not leave before the friends showed up for a sleepover. They live up the street. I think it would be obvious without words but the parents encouraged this behavior. We continued to have our kids include them in on birthdays but it got to the point that their one child would be so miserable at our kid’s party that we wondered why we did this to our children. We have since let it up to them. My one child even went to a mutua friends sleepover and our friends child nastily said what are you doing here? I get that kids will naturally gravitate to different groups of peers but our kids shared the se peers but these so called close friends that we shared family gatherings and family holidays with couldn’t be strong enough to include our kids within the children’s social circles. I think their lesson to their children has been wrong but I don’t think they were strong enough individualy as teens to include others despite any outcome and they continue to fear not fitting in. Therefore they taught their children the same game plan. I guess as hurtful as it has been, I guess I am thankful that my children are learning early that even adults that you care for May be so weak that they can’t stand up to the social games and do the right thing- the kinder thing. They teach their kids the same. My kids are learning that although sometimes painful, that you are strong enough to live despite them and to know there are layers to friendships. Some people are incapable of standing up to the social crap but they have a great family who will always be supportive and that they are in control of crumbling from these events or standing strong they are going to learn to look around and find the awesomeness that lies in all the kids around them. It will be difficult to place themselves in an uncertain position but to spread kindness to all and bring out the good in others can defeat the social mean game. I know that just as an adult I make mistakes with this at times, they will make them too but we always have the chance to reassess if we are being the kind of person God wants us to be and we can always improve. If their kind words/actions change the day for one kid or adult then it will be a great day. I truly believe it can be contagious but we the parents need to help each other figure out ways to combat negativity in our lives and in our children’s lives. Negativity will always exist but what tools we give them to battle it is key. I worry for all the kids who don’t have the tools because we as parents, teachers,etc don’t have all the tools. So I hope I continue to find out good ideas to help all of us not just survive it but thrive on making others fell empowered to be kind and gracious to others. The idea that kindness is weakness is far from the truth. It takes far greater strength to remain kind then to turn to the dark side so to speak. And I am not including the fake FB kindnesses that the bullying type use to pretend they are good friends to others.
        So let’s keep learning to we can help each other

    3. I think we all realize that we aren’t going to be invited to everyone’s parties/impromptu gatherings etc.. but when it’s flaunted via social media, it hurts. Plain and simple. I make a rule to never post pictures of my son with a friend or birthday parties or any social setting. Do unto others… pretty much sums it up.

    4. Bingo! You hit the nail on the head. Take pride in the fact that you are likely not a brown-noser and have a mind of your own. You probably make these people feel uncomfortable because they would feel guilty being petty and gossipy in front of you.

  3. I am stunned by how spot on you are. I am amazed how mothers are looking the other way because their own daughters are included– even if close friends aren’t.

  4. While there were a couple references to boys it was mostly about girls. I just do not understand this whole bossy/mean girl/woman/mom mentality & it makes me so glad we have boys. They are just not this mean to each other. altho my boys have been on the receiving end of this mean girl crap. Specifically my older son as he went to a small k-8 Catholic school w/classes that were girl heavy. I recall supervising a field trip & my son & I were talking about the display our group was looking at when a girl in our group turned around & told him to shut up. I was floored she said this period but w/me right there! Told her he didn’t need to shut up cuz he was talking to me when I really wanted to tell her to shut up! I found at his school the moms of girls were living vicariously thru their daughter’s ‘popularity.’ I find this so sad as well as pathetic. Those mins are setting a horrible example….

    1. It’s not just girls. There’s a boy that has a crush on my daughter. When he found out she “liked” someone else, he began spreading rumors about her and trying to turn everyone against her that he could. She feels like a lot of her friends are on his side now, and that there are only two or three she can trust anymore.

    2. I’m glad your son isn’t experiencing this, I agree it is more common for girls than boys. However, my nephew is in the 8th grade and is having a similar issue. Boys don’t flaunt it the way girls do, but when my nephew is left out with only his female cousins I see the pain in his eyes. He is fortunate that he and my youngest daughter are only 2 months apart in age and they will go to the same high school next year. Right now, his social calendar is when he joins my daughters.

  5. I went to one birthday party in my entire childhood and no parties at all in junior high and high school. I never questioned why. It was just a fact that that was the way it would be. Looking back now, I realize that I self-injured in a way that no one could see. My parents never noticed that I was totally left out. My sister was a debutante and our other sister was on the homecoming court. I am still on the fringe of anything social. The damage has lasted over 60 years.

    1. Elle, it is stories like yours that make me steadfast in continuing to homeschool my daughter. Being ostracized is not a right of passage! The damage has lasted a lifetime for you. I’m so sorry.

    2. Elle, it is stories like yours that make me steadfast in continuing to homeschool my daughter. Being ostracized is not a right of passage! The damage has lasted a lifetime for you. I’m so sorry.

  6. We have experienced shunning and being excluded from many things in our neighborhood. Our son has AdHd and over the years certain kids and their patents have purposefully excluded us from their group that we used to be part of. It is true that mothers can cause a child and his parents to be made to feel like an outsider. It is hurtful and heartbreaking to see your child being treated like an piriah by kids that they have known since they were little because they are different and deemed “uncool”. It has caused us a lot of heartache and feeling bad for a number of years now.

  7. Oh, I know this all too well. Two special needs girls (twins) – one verbal and mainstreamed, one in an inclusive classroom, but both are very social. Every year we would invite all of the girls from school and neighborhood. Only once have my girls been invited to a birthday party. Now, we are all very busy and parents may have thought that my girls may need extra attention, and they did somewhat early on, but they certainly could have asked. I would have provided our care provider to attend the party, as I did in the one party that they were invited to, which was a bonus for that mom as she was a big help in general in that party. In particular, though, one neighbor, who has two great girls, would have these great birthday parties and invite all of the neighbors’ girls, but she would never invite my girls. We took her girls horseback riding, skating, had a magician come to our house, invited them to all of our parties. I even invited the mom over to try to get to know her a bit, but not one invitation for my girls. At the point that they moved, they had a big party with bouncy houses and balloons and all kinds of festivities. All of the neighborhood girls and their families were invited. Sadly, we were not. My husband and I made sure to drive to our house the long way so our girls would not see what was going on. Whenever we saw the balloons out, we would drive the other way hoping and praying that our girls would not see what was going on. My girls are now in middle school – so we march on protecting and guiding and advocating.

  8. Wonderful article! You covered everything that really and truly happens and you are spot on that the moms know exactly what is going on and might even be encouraging their kids!!! As a retired elementary school teacher I witnessed that all the time. What are parents thinking when they invite all the boys or girls in a particular class except for one or two? What a mean thing to do to a six year old! Shameful. Our only hope is that there are more moms like you who are around to set a good example to our children. Thank you for this article!

  9. Great article and truly sad that it needs to be said. IMO, so much kindness was taught with the simple adage “Do unto others as you would have done to you.”
    That ideal was ingrained in my childhood at home and in school. I don’t understand parents who are teaching their children exclusive behavior. I hope I taught my kids to be kind.
    I hope your message reaches far and wide!

  10. As the mother of a fifth-grade boy who was left out of an all-grade party last Friday, this really hits home. I’m sure that the mother who allowed him to be left out didn’t mean to hurt my son, but that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t hurt.

    I tried to assume the best–that maybe the invitation was lost, or mislaid–but we didn’t hear about the party until the day OF the party when one of my son’s friends asked us for a ride to the party. The invitations were mailed, which is usually the tool employed when certain children are being left out.

    The kicker is that the mother and I are friendly–we don’t socialize, but there is no animosity when we see one another. There is no reason that I’m aware of that my son was left out. If he had been invited, I imagine that she might have said “Hey, we haven’t heard from you…will he be joining us?”

    I am going to have to say something to her, but can’t get past how angry I am that she hurt my son’s feelings. Until I get over that, there’s really nothing to say that won’t make a bigger problem.

  11. I very rarely leave comments but this article hit home!
    I am a mother of four: 21 yr old twin girls, 15 yr old boy and 10 yr old girl. I have seen it with ALL of them (being excluded) at one time or another. Even my social, athletic and smart girls, whom had plenty of friends, experienced it at some point. The mothers and fathers play a huge roll in it all.
    I do have some sage advice though. Do not let your child have Facebook, Instagram or any other social media!!! My twins didn’t get smart phones or Facebook until senior year when they were mature enough to handle it. They were also taught that you don’t text anything you wouldn’t say to someone’s face and you never talk about anyone. This is difficult and parenting is suppose to be if you want to raise a socially aware, compassionate and intelligent being. My daughters hated it, of course. But then, suddenly at 18 yrs old they were thanking us! According to them we had saved them from so much drama!
    Smart phones aren’t so smart. I watch teens and pre-teens walk around in huge groups, hardly speaking to one another bc they are so attached to their phone. It goes for parents, too. Put down the phones and communicate.
    It is our responsibility to teach our children and to stick up for all children. Over the years I certainly have dictated who would come to parties; inviting all the kids or the neighbor they play with after school or the kid who stays in at recess to be with them. We should orchestrate, to include not exclude.
    Peace & Light

    1. My kids don’t have phones (many if not most of their friends do). We have been discussing some kind of basic phone for our 13 yr old. No one is on any type of social media and I am leaning towards keeping it that way for awhile. Your comment is making me see that it’s been a smart decision on our part. Thank you!

    2. My eldest daughter, now 27, was bullied and excluded throughout grade school, junior high, and high school. She has always been exceptionally sensitive and intelligent. I can state with no reservations that the internet was her salvation. Via social media, chat boards and the like, she made the kind of friends denied her in our small-minded small town. Many of these relationships transitioned into real-world friendships that persist to this day.

  12. Thank you for a wonderfully written peace describing the unfortunately, “harsh” realities of middle school and it extends into high school as well! It is hard enough to grow up during these school years but the advances in technology and social media have only inflamed an already bad situation. I think the use of technology somehow makes these kids more brazen and less emotionally connected to those around them and how they are affected by these actions. Hopefully more parents will get their heads out of the sand and become more aware to exactly what’s going on in their child’s life.

  13. This doesn’t just go on in the suburbs! I live in NYC and have been through this as the father of a girl who has been left out many times. Thanks for writing about this!

  14. This should also include special needs kids! they have the same desires as other kids. I remember a few years ago I invited a special needs boy to my son’s birthday party and with a big eyed look on his face he said to me, “I’ve never been invited to a party before!” That really broke my heart. I would never leave kids out of a party or event. He was 10 years old. He is mildly autistic. He’s a great kid! No one no matter what deserves to be treated like this. Maybe we would have less school shootings and aggresion if kids learned kindness!

  15. It happens in adulthood, too, but you learn to ignore it. When you’re a kid , you don’t know how to deal with it, and insecurities take over. That’s one of the things I dislike most about social media, because people will post, and they won’t care if they’re hurting someone. They just want to portray “how cool” their life is. I feel like people don’t even care about values/morals anymore and that life has turned into one big popularity contest. It’s all about how many likes you get on Facebook!

  16. I agree with the sentiment of “inclusion,” but I think we need to counterbalance it with teaching our children that not everybody is going to be included all the time. It’s an important life lesson and it needs to be taught early or kids are going to wonder and be particularly hurt when they realize that not everyone is going to Harvard, not everyone is going to make the Varsity baseball team, not everyone is going to get the job at Facebook they wanted. It’s a tough reality. It’s really crushing, but it’s a fact of life. What we do when children are young sets expectations for the future. I’ve worked with younger people who think just because it’s review time at work and others are promoted, they should be too. I see patterns like this all the time in the work world.

    I teach my young daughter to be inclusive and empathetic all the time. I encourage her and she reaches out to the new kids at school, to kids who look like they might be eating alone at lunch. BUT I definitely counterbalance that when she laments to me that she didn’t get included in a play date or invited to a party. I tell her that while it’s so disappointing, it is life. Mommy and Daddy sometimes don’t get invited to parties or aren’t included in everything. It allows us to turn inside and appreciate who and what mean the most to us.

    1. Thank you for pointing this out, BK. I work with children on a regular basis, am a mom myself, and have nieces and nephews. The work I do leads me to a lot of reading on current trends that show greater rates of mental health issues, decreased physical skills, and decreased life skills/independence in the college aged population and younger. If you analyze societal trends, we see that these generations have experienced a lot more “parenting”, yet these stats are still as they are–and many feel it’s because of the extent we go to to make safety a priority and how much facilitating we do for our children. I’m concerned about “over-parenting” because sometimes it doesn’t leave children room to learn by doing for themselves, through experience. We want so badly to protect our children from harsh reality (which is not a bad impulse) that we leave them unprepared for it (which is an unintentional consequence). Of course I don’t want a child to be left out–I spend my work week helping children develop skills to “fit in”. But there is a reality beyond middle school and high school that children have to be prepared for, when parents are no longer involved to the same extent, as is developmentally appropriate. The world is not a forgiving place, but I think there are measures we can take as parents to teach these life lessons in a way that helps children cope and adapt, and if we are struggling to do this individually, there are countless professionals ready and willing to help! I have to admit, I was initially appalled when a family I know came to me in distress because their daughter’s teacher said that she either had to invite everyone in the class to her birthday, all of the boys, all of the girls, or not invite anyone. This family does not have the resources to have such a party, and the family was in confused, trying to figure out how to provide a social experience for their daughter that was within their budget without leaving anyone out. Yikes! What a crummy feeling! That is pressure, too. So it’s either everyone or no one? What if this girl had a deep bond with 1-2 kids and that would be the best party for her? The overt bullying as is pointed out with the moms roping off sections of the bus for the clique–well, that’s BS, and maybe the folks running the event have some responsibility for putting those moms in their places? I don’t know the answers, just food for thought. 🙂

    2. I agree. My kids do get left out & it is hurtful. However, there are times when we can’t invite everyone to our own parties. My son had his birthday party & I had to limit the guest list to 4 friends & 4 family members because we couldn’t really afford a large party this year. I felt terrible leaving some out & would not post pictures on Facebook because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

    3. I totally agree! I think instead of teaching your child to feel victimized (about this or anything else), EMPOWER THEM! Along with teaching them truth and strength (that this happens to everyone and all through life), teach them action (to assertively speak up), teach them alternatives (they invite friends over, and no that does NOT mean the whole school so no one feels left out), and teach them coping skills (how to find TRUE friends and not seek popularity with those exclusive types!). The quest for popularity is like greed and even though I know parents hurt for their child’s aching heart, I wonder if they are on that same quest for their kids when they complain about them being excluded.

    4. BK, I disagree. A child does not have to be left out to understand at 18 she might not get into Harvard. My experience is that parents of popular children or grandparents and other empty-nesters usually are the ones that hold your opinion.

  17. When did we as women stop being one another’s greatest ally? It starts young but doesn’t fully go away. I watched my wonder loving, accepting daughter struggle with the cliques and in-groups thru college…always an outsider. Seeing the camp story, my daughter went to a camp that became increasingly popular in elementary school. She had “found” it before the “in” group did. She loved going and meeting new friends from different parts of the state & country who accepted her for who she was. When her school friends would all start talking about which weeks they were attending, she’d listen intently and intentionally pick different weeks to not have to deal with the pettiness and harassment that would follow that group. Consequently, her time at camp was life changing making her more outgoing and gregarious and she developed real friendships with new people.,

    Even in my 50s, this female meanness still rears its head, mostly professionally now, but it does. I’ve had many professional conversations, read multiple studies and have lived the stress of females who attain positions of power being harder on fellow females than males. We beat down instead of lift up. Why? Does it go back to the grade school roots of eliminating the competition so ensure our (popularity) or now corporate strength & position? As educated, professional women we still struggle to be recognized as equals to our male counterparts but often fellow females do us more harm than good. I keep that in mind every day as I try to help female coworkers rise to their potential and rise above the glass ceiling issues. We have to stop turning on one another but so long as there are these meddling, malicious mothers who teach their daughters such demeaning behavior is not only acceptable but admirable, we’ll never break the cycle completely. I, for one, am proud of my 20-something daughter who rose above this and is leaving a beautiful, loving, compassionate mark on this world!

    1. I think we stopped when, collectively, we started reliving our childhoods through our kids. All too often I see moms trying to turn their daughters into the girls they wanted to be… they weren’t cool or popular and they want their kids to be. Unfortunately, I think it’s the very reason that girl bullying is harder to catch than when boys bully… and now boys are doi g it because they are noticing how it works. The bullying of this generation is far more a social thing than ever before. It’s so disturbing when you see it…

  18. One day in 7th grade my daughter had three best friends, the next day she had been replaced. Two of the moms called to talk and tried to figure out what happened. We agreed that friendships change, but that kindness should always be there. The third mom? She told me her daughter’s compulsive lying about excluding my daughter was an attempt to not hurt feelings. She then suggested that the new chapter in our lives was for the girls to move on but the moms to remain tight. I politely said no thank you.

  19. I was a new student in my sixth-grade class. There were seven other girls in the class, and they were all good friends with each other and had been since kindergarten, for the most part. At first, they talked to me and tried to get to know me, but then they decided that I wasn’t “cool enough” for them, so they started leaving me out of their recess social circles and lunch tables. I joined their Girl Scout troop so that I could try to get to know them better. One of the highlights of the year for Girl Scouts was a lock-in at a mall where we all brought our sleeping bags and spread them out on the mall floor to sleep after an evening of shopping and movies. They tolerated me for most of the evening, but when it came to the giggly, girly slumber party that ensued when it was bedtime, they made their sleeping bag circle just small enough so that I wouldn’t be able to fit in it. Terrified of rejection, I meekly asked if I could sleep in their circle, and, wouldn’t you know it, they banished me to the outskirts. I ended up finding two girls from another Girl Scout troop and sleeping beside them. I thought things would get better in seventh grade, when we all went to a bigger junior high, and there were a lot more potential friends. My birthday was near the beginning of the year, so I thought having a birthday party and inviting some of the new friends I had made would be a good idea. I made invitations and decorations and planned the whole thing myself, hoping to have a fun evening getting to know who I thought were nice girls. One girl came. One, out of about 15 I invited. We ended up going to see a movie instead. I had fun, but I got the message: I wasn’t cool enough. I don’t know if it’s because our parents weren’t friends with each other, if their parents did not “choose” me as their daughters’ friend, or just because the girls themselves were mean, but I wanted so badly to feel wanted and accepted in times like this, and I needed help. How do you help someone make friends? I have had parents of my middle school students try to use me to orchestrate friendships with other students by asking me to seat their child next to a certain group, or ask a certain group of students to walk around at recess with their child. Such situations have never worked, and they have always been kind of awkward for everyone involved. Instead, I think the best thing we can do as parents is to model kindness to our kids, so they will know how to treat other people decently and with respect. Teach them about Jesus and how he treated people who were rejected by their society – tax collectors, prostitutes, and people who were handicapped or sick. I hope the parents of my daughter’s future friends also encourage their children to be kind and accepting of their classmates, even though they may be different.

  20. Adults are just as bad and if you are a single, divorced woman you might as well forget being included by many in social settings.

  21. I also had a horrified reaction to the camp bus story- and it does sound familiar. This sort of thing goes on all the time these days and I think it’s terrible. I think it stinks that people sign up for camp on groups of 11…isn’t the point to get out of your comfort zone and meet some new people? I just think the flip side can also be bad and out of control. While I like the idea of you inviting everyone to your party, I think that all or nothing idea creates its own monster…and still leaves people out. The fact is, there are still kids left behind or excluded when “everyone” is invited. Plus, a lot of people can’t afford to have a party or celebrate if they are expected to invite the whole class…then what about those not in their class…not on their team…not on their block…girls not boys…ect. I think kids do need to learn that they will not be invited to everything. I also think that kids (and ADULTS) need to learn to be kind to everyone and accepting of differences. When kids feel loved and learn ways to maneuver through social challenges and disappointments, they can be open to more possibilities and I think they will have such better relationships and experiences as a result.

  22. Unfortunately, this is just the beginning of “engineering”. One would think that this behavior would lose steam as your children enter high school. I am shocked to see how these moms graduate to promoting under age drinking & providing opportunities for young teens to drink. It seems appalling but, this happens. They also pay for uber rides to any party or destination. You would expect this control to end when terms get their licenses but, these kids would never turn down free alcohol & easy access.
    Sad but, true that the “engineers” are mothers & they are able to manipulate the social scene. The real loser is the child because at some point, the mother will be replaced by someone better & the child will ultimately be left out!

  23. Social Engineering happens to boys too. I remember one last day of school as my son watched all of his friends pile into a van to celebrate the beginning of summer. “Where are all of my friends going, why can’t I go? They are my friends too” The mother rushed to pile all the boys in the van and kept her head low to avoid eye contact. I responded by telling him not to read too much into it- it was probably an event organized by parents and it is not a reflection on his friendships. But it still hurt. And fortunately he did not have a Facebook account to see the photos posted – but I did, and it hurt. It took me right back to those days when I was not included.

    On the flip side. My kids don’t do well in large group settings. We all love the idea of including everyone- but the reality is that for introverts- the event becomes overwhelming and not fun. My kids are older now and both claim to have lots of friends in different groups. They choose not to have parties because they don’t want to leave anyone out. It leaves me wondering- What now?

  24. All three years in middle school, on Valentine’s Day, my son took four or five bags of valentine suckers and passed them out to every girl he saw. Wishing them a Happy Valentine’s Day. I asked him if he saw any girl eat her sucker; I already knew the answer. He answered that none had eaten their suckers and was puzzled. I said they carried them around all day to show they had gotten a valentine from a boy. How many girls did he make happy that day!

  25. Where do I even begin. THANK you for posting this. I have an expression. “Moms…stop playing in the sandbox with your kids!” Seriously. And my favorite line is, “Well, I don’t really get involved…the kids need to work it out themselves.” If I hear that one more time, I’m going to scream. And the mom who often says that is the mother of the kid doing the hurting, not being hurt! Kids need adult guidance and can’t always work it out themselves. Here’s a preview of coming attractions. I have a 9th grade daughter. She’s been banging her head against the wall trying to be part of the popular crowd forever. (Don’t worry, we’re coaching her on that). Last week was homecoming. About 30 kids talked about going to dinner before hoco. As my daughter asked kids which restaurant they planned to go to, she noticed kids kept switching their answers. She then found out ALL of the girls had sleepover plans for after hoco in small groups …and she had no sleepover plans. It gets even better. While at the hoco pre picture party, my husband and i were trying to find our daughter a carpool ride from the pic party to the restaurant or a ride to the restaurant to the hoco dance. (b/c many others had pre-arranged carpools without thinking about my daughter) We were definitely willing to be a carpool too. We discovered a few other moms/kids who didn’t have rides so we started to identify a handful for carpooling. All of a sudden a mom comes barreling over saying, “Oh no….we made our carpool plans weeks ago. I’m taking A, B, C and D. we are not changing our plans.” I wish I had a video of her saying this b/c I swear i would have posted it online and it would have gone viral. Shame on her. My last hoco story is about the gaggle of kids who went to dinner…4 girls sat closest to my daughter. Of course kids were on and off of their phones….at one point the 3 of the 4 girls looked at one another and one by one said, “I”…”I”…”I” and the 4th girl i guess was not paying attention so one girl poked her and said, look at your text….she did and then said, “I” and the 4 girls laughed with my daughter sitting next to no one else but these girls. I am not perfect…neither is my child but when i hear a mom suggest that her child feels left out or doesn’t have someone to trick or treat with I instantly offer to help whether it’s by offering up my kids or something else. Of course there is so much more to share…I’m sure all of us have tons of stories. One more thing. I am not mean. I’m the most welcoming person I know. And there was a time my daughter was considered “mean.” So please, please do not say, “Mean moms raise mean girls.” It’s not true. I was never sitting at home encouraging my daughter to be mean. I teach my kids the golden rule and many other positive traits but at the end of the day our kids are going to say/do what they want. I know other moms in my child’s grade thought, “Well if her daughter is mean, she must be too.” There were moms who literally forbade their child to play with mine. How about when a child is mean, it’s a cry for help? I tell my kids that when a kid is mean, they actually need a friend even more. How about when a child is mean, you invite the “mean” child over so your kid can get to know him/her 1 on 1? How about when your child refers to another kid as “mean” you say, “sweetie, let’s not label. Tell me what happened today that made you so upset. Let’s see if we can figure out what happened and why your classmate said something hurtful.” Let’s give kids and parents the benefit of the doubt. I wish we all lived near each other. I wish we could start a movement without ostracizing ourselves and our kids. To those moms with younger kids….please, please demand that your school/teachers mix up the lunch tables at least weekly. Stop letting the queen bees sit together day in and day out. Force the queen bees to get to know ALL of the kids in their grade.

  26. We have experienced being left out and it was miserable. Luckily, we were fortunate enough to be able to move and it was life changing. I do have to tell you moms if your child is being left out you need to really look at them. Watch how they interact with others and how people respond to them. Sometimes they truly aren’t doing anything wrong or offensive but sometimes they are. Sometimes they pick up our behaviors we don’t even realize are annoying! Our family tries so hard to be inclusive but we have run into some issues that can make it difficult. My daughter can put up with a lot from her friends one-on-one but when she has a group over there are certain girls she might not want to invite because they make everyone miserable. She has one friend that is so much work! She expects to be entertained and wants everything done her way. I have watched my daughter bend over backwards to accommodate her. The minute the other girls want to do something else she wants to go home and then tells her mom a big dramatic story. Her mother always sides with her and chews out the girls or parents or both. Another girl is so bossy and such a know-it-all every one just wants to get away from her. In both of these cases the parents are oblivious to their flaws and can’t understand why no one likes them. It’s not possible for a parent to tell another what is wrong with their child so it is up to you, for your child’s sake, to figure it out. I never want to hurt any child but at the same time I don’t want to force an unbearable child on others or an inappropriate child like another little girl my daughter was very good friends with. We loved her! As she has entered puberty she has become boy crazy and is obsessed with getting a boyfriend. All she talks about is boys! I heard her bragging to my daughter about how many boys she has kissed! (She is 11 years old!) Girls are so difficult. We all think we know our babies but we would be surprised to find out what they are like when we are not around. I have tried to drill the value of integrity into my daughter and to teach her to be positive and fun and not overly sensitive. I tell her she can’t get her feelings hurt over every little thing, don’t blow things out of proportion, and know that it’s okay for her friends to do things with other people. I also tell her that God uses hurtful experiences to make her stronger and empathetic towards others. The blessing is that usually these kids that are left out end up having a very strong relationship with their parents!

  27. Great article and I sure hope some of the parents who are so insensitive and so very clueless to just how their actions affect other children and how their children treat others wake up and start parenting instead of trying to be their kids best friend. I have a great kid who was on the receiving end of the “mean girl treatment” from her so called best friend in 6th grade. The so called friend moved away but it changed things for my daughter and she does not trust people and she does not put up with b.s. (much like her mama) and while that is a good thing- it has made her too guarded. She is at a new school for her freshman year in high school by choice and is involved in a sport outside of school that keeps her active and she does have friends but is not part of any real group which in many ways is blessing. I just worry about her and I still hold a grudge and I feel my friends think I need to get over it (it is going on 3 years) but I know how it affected my child and basically set the tone for Jr. High. All because one child decided to be a bitch one day and her Mom knew and did nothing. Again- great article. Thanks to all who commented -it is good to know we are not alone.

  28. This article hit home. we were on the receiving end of being left out with both our kids. My daughter was close friends with someone. Very close friends. Her friend wanted to be popular. So she had a choice…be friends with the “popular” kids or be friends with my daughter. She chose the popular kids (this was 3rd grade mind you). What we discovered as our daughter got older and got through the horrors of middle school (I HATE middle schoo….God bless all who work with that age group), that these “popular” kids stabbed one another in the back…so while they were best friends, they were also worst enemies. The icing on our cake in 7th grade was when our daughter’s bat mitzvah was on the same day and same time as the most popular girl in the grade. Yeah that was really rough on my kid. Talk about an eye opener. Another thing we discovered about “popular” kids (who says they are popular? Is there a vote or something?) these have been the kids who start drinking, experimenting with drugs and sex much earlier than their “non popular” counterparts. The fact that my kids attended a HUGE high school was helpful. There were really too many people to be “popular”. By the time the kids got to college, the playing field was levled. My son was in an integrated kindergarten class. He and 2 other boys had their own teacher within the class room. Well, that was enough to draw the line in the sand. I don’t think he was invited to any parties that year at all. He only had a few friends and he was a very happy boy. He never got upset about not being invited anywhere. He played baseball starting at age 6. We were on a team one year where the kids and the parents would get together after games and have dinner together. They always stopped talking about it when we were near by. What made matters worse was the moms would sit in front of me and talk about plans they made with one another where I was NOT included. Seriously? These women brought back all MY insecurities from when I was in high school. Geez..,Iciing on the cake was when we were at my son’s “best friend’s” bar mitzvah. My son was given an honor to come up to the “stage” for a prayer. He was with 3 other boys and were all considered the bar mitzvah boy’s “best friends”. But at the end of the bar mitzvah, as we were getting ready to leave, we noticed a bunch of boys still hanging around with sleeping bags! There was a group of them invited to stay over at the hotel and swim and have dinner and sleep over. His other “best friends” were there. But nothing…NOTHING was said to my son. And I was FRIENDS with the parents. I can’t begin to tell you how pissed and upset I was. I actually confronted the mom and told her it was really crappy to exclude my kid. She said “well we know that Matt doesn’t like to sleep out”. Really? You could have invited him. You still could have asked him. Hell you could have said “we know you don’t like to sleep out so if you want to leave early have your mom or dad come get you at 11 or 12”. We totally would have done that and these parents KNEW that since their own kids had troubles sleeping out. This was done purposely. It was disrespectful to us as a family, as friends of theirs (like good friends since the boys were 3 years old) and to my son who was good enough to be honored as a best friend at the service, but not considered a good enough friend to be invited to sleep over with the other “best friends”. Needless to say that was the beginning of the end of my son’s close friendship with his “best friends” (there were 2 boys he considered friends). My son being the nice kid that he is still wanted to be their friends. I encouraged him, strongly, to pursue other people and to eat at a different lunch table, which he did. He got a new best friend who invited him places (imagine that!). He was in a wonderful friend group which lasted pretty much until high school ended. And his buddy who dissed him in 7th grade was part of that “popular group” that began smoking pot and drinking earlier than the non “popular” kids. Thankfully we are all past that now. My kids have healed and moved on. I still remember how mean other kids and parents are. All I have to say is KARMA…sometimes if you are lucky God lets you watch when it happens…Hugs to all!

    1. Wow, you just wrote my story… My son is now 22 and he’s doing great. I’m still socially awkward at 50 lol.. I can’t believe how many people are in the same boat…

  29. I’ve seen this already with my daughter in 3rd grade. She’s invited “friends” over for playdates, but never been invited to one herself. What the hell? We’re willing to watch your kid for an afternoon, taking them to the movies, etc., and you can’t bother to return the favor? How am I supposed to explain to my daughter why she’s not being invited?

  30. Yeah, try dealing with infertility. Let me tell you how much women suck. Women with children shun women without children like the plague. I would love to be included in social activities but well, we don’t have kids so I guess my husband and I dont “fit in”. Don’t preach it if you don’t live it.

  31. THANK YOU for writing this. Your assessment is 100% true. I wrote a similar blog a few years ago about the roots of bullying often being attributable to the behavior of Moms. I was floored how many women wholeheartedly agreed. We need to talk about this, and we must address the serious problem of shunning and purposeful lack of inclusion that goes on in our children’s lives, all too often abetted by Moms. Again, thank you!

  32. Only in New Jersey …..

    The High School girl’s soccer coach sent out an email saying that there weren’t many spots available on the team so the girls he was going to take on “his team” would be based on whose personality he liked best. This was pointed out to the school administration and they said “he can train who he wants or how he wants, it doesn’t have to be fair”.

    My son had been on a hockey team with “Matt” for several years. When Matt’s Bar Mitzvah came around my son was the only one on the team not invited (out of 28 boys!). Shame on the mom and dad.

    I can’t wait to get out of this town, one more year and that for sale sign will be on my front lawn before her diploma ink is dry….been one indignity after another in this town made up of Me Mes.

  33. A few moms and I just had a conversation about this over the weekend. We were shocked at how many moms let their kids dress in matching Halloween outfits. It resulted in someone’s feelings being hurt because they felt left out. The moms were definitely behind it because they had coordinated purchasing the matching costumes. At times as moms we make a quick decision by saying “great, you want to be a panda with your friends! Perfect! Done!” (Thinking, super, that’s easy). And we move on, and it’s not until the day of the event, that we realize that we made a mistake and feelings were hurt. Another mom in the conversation said that’s our job to think ahead and to guide our children into making the right decision. I completely agree, and I just hope I take the time to think ahead with each decision regardless of how insignificant it may seem at the time.

  34. I was in the same situation as these stories, but when I reached out to the mothers of these girls my daughter was banned from the group. All of the moms must have gotten together and talked about the situation in their homes with their daughters because now my daughter has not been included in a single event since I spoke up to them. Although I’m thrilled that my daughter is not associated with these girls and their moms it is very painful to watch your daughter be an outcast. It has forced my daughter to make new friends, but it has not been easy. Some of the girls are still nice to her, but she’s never included in the “Group” events. At one point they blocked her from social media sites, but that has changed over time. I thought I was doing the right thing to speak up and I thought these moms were my friends, but I learned a hard and valuable lesson. I’ve only been working through it with my daughter because the mentality that if my kid is all set then I’m all set is prominent in the mom world. And lets be honest it’s the moms who control every situation until kids are old enough to drive and make more friend choices on their own. You just pray that the kids grow up to be good people and don’t follow in the social exclusion their mothers have taught them. Most of the moms I refer to are stay-at-home moms who don’t have a clue what it is to function in the real world.

  35. Sorry to say that dressing in like costumes continue in high school – images are paraded on social media.
    I say this not to be negative but, this behavior continues & manifests in high school.
    I am not saying this is the right approach – if you accept that you cannot control other families’ moral compasses & you can only reach your own, you will be less disappointed.
    I have encountered sociopathic mothers that do have meetings to fix social dynamics, decide who is in & who is out. If you approach or engage with these type of mothers, you will lose. Rather, teach you child how to advocate for themselves & make good decisions.
    In a few years – if you’re lucky – the mother in charge & engineering will be revealed to all & other casualties will follow. You will gain credibility through keeping your mouth shut.
    It’s a slow process – painful at times – but, it will work out just as it should if you focus on your own family.

  36. Thank you!! I’m a mental health Therapist so I see the effects of this oh so “unsubtle” social engineering & its heart breaking. Even more tough is mothering my own three children in this age of technology trying to keep their values & kindness intact. It’s an uphill battle. With words like this we can advocate for kindness & love. Everyone should feel they belong!! Keep it coming.

  37. It’s so much easier to be a “sure, the more the merrier” person. yes, sometimes people don’t have the money, i get that. but there are too many people who invite the whole class and leave out one or two. jerks. then their kids become jerks. very sad. i have control of the microphone in the cafeteria during my lunch duty (who gave me control of the mic! lol) and every single day i say “invite someone new to play today.”

  38. These poor children who don’t get to be selected as part of an elite social group in their cushy suburban social circles are forced into riding in their parents’ SUV back to their $300k+ quasi-mansions to snack on something organic and sink their sorrows into the latest iPad app all on their own. It’s so tragic.

    1. Well, first of all, its usually the kids from lower socioeconomic groups that are excluded. But even so, having lots of money isn’t going to make a child feel better if they are ostracized. You clearly lack empathy for other people.

  39. Moms and Dads need to ensure that other children are not excluded. Look out for the loner who may not get a seat or an invitation, and work to include them.

    I see far too many parents who only care about the well being of their own child, and don’t care if someone else’s child is hurt, ostracized or abandoned by a group.

  40. This is so well written and totally spot on! It seems my whole life I have been the one left out. The most recent was a party this past spring that I was very specifically left off the invite list. I thought that the host and I were friends but I was wrong. When I confronted her the day of the party about not being invited she waited 4 days to contact me and then blamed it on her husband capping the invite list. There were over 200 people invited, they have a huge house, and we were invited the previous year. It hurt so much to see the pics on Facebook the next day and to hear everyone talking about it. Just when I think I’m making headway with meeting and making mom friends something like this scenario happens again. Even at the age of 40, mean girls and social engineering exist!

  41. I am concerned about my 14 yr old daughter who is experiencing this “bullying” right now. She has always been on the peripheral of this group but recently they have done things like remove her from group texts and today one of them sent in a group text that everyone “should get away from my daughter that means not talking to her or hanging out with her.” One of the girls in the group forwarded this text to my daughter. Unfortunately, for some reason my daughter wants to be part of this group but obviously some of the girls are just not nice. I have encouraged her to focus on the individual friendships she has and not on the group but she is a teenage girl and being part of the “group” is important to her.

    Any advice?? Do I say anything to this girls mom or just focus on my daughter and how to respond in these situations?

  42. Spot on.
    We had this where we used to live. I alwsys figured it was because I was divorced. I used to joke they must have thought it was contagius!
    My daughter had this happen at a church event with her cousin. “She ditched me, mom” later at the father daughter dance her pap was her “date” they had a blast dancing, photo booth etc I guess my bil ditched his daughter to “network” she said “what’s that saying about the Apple that pap always says?” Luckily we are independant and like spending time together!

  43. your description of what is STILL going on among Moms and their Children in middle school makes me very sad. This kind of behavior was going on when my now 27yr old daughter was 11-13. Social Engineering is a perfect term for it. From being told she wasn’t invited somewhere an hour before a party, being shunned at a school bowling event or being left on the curb of a temple at 10pm without a ride she was promised–she was bullied by both girls and their mothers. Some therapy, voice lessons to give her something to feel good about, volunteer work at our church and a deliberate mission to change friends helped her succeed and grow to be a strong smart women with empathy for others. Oh and the Mean girls? One who was the biggest bully, the Queen Bee , apologized to my daughter when she unexpectedly saw her in a restaurant a few years ago. So there is hope that the cycle will not necessarily be repeated!

  44. When my son was in Kindergarten, a girl in his class invited everyone in the class to an end-of-year party at her house. EVERY child in the class was invited — except my son. Other moms kept saying, “I’m sure it was a mistake”, etc. The invitations were put in the class folders — there was no way she would have skipped over one of the folders. The girl did not like my son. It was not a mistake. My son kept asking, over and over, are we going to Gianna’s party? I kept trying to avoid answering. He had a doctor’s appt that day, but we did have time to go to the party for an hour before the appt. I decided that Gianna’s mom was just a b*tch, and I was not going to let my son find out he was the one single child that was not invited to the party. So, we went to the party. When we got there, I marched right up to the mother, as her daughter came running over yelling, “Christopher is here! Christopher is here!! You said he wasn’t invited!! Get him out of my bouncy house!!” I said, “I am SURE that Christopher’s invitation was misplaced. Thank you so much for having this fun party for the kids!” and I walked away. She had such a look of shock on her face, but I knew there was no way she would kick me out in front of all of the other parents!! We stayed for around 45 minutes, my son had a great time and was never the wiser about this nasty mother and her nasty daughter. Going to that party was one of the best things I ever did. That mother was furious that we showed up, but she would never have made a scene. I called her bluff, and she was too much of a chicken to be nasty to my face.

  45. I’ve never seen this in the homeschool community.

    Looks like this- kid alone, a mom (other than that kid’s mother) walks over & talks to the them. Oh you are 12 and like art…did you meet —– yet? Here I will introduce you.

    BUT even better than that scenario is when other kids notice that one kid off by themselves. WHY because they are being raised by mothers who do it & influence them to see and seek out those who are alone.

  46. One of my worst middle school memories was from 8th grade. The previous year, a classmate at my tiny school (our class had 40 kids) had given a speech about what a bat mitzvah was and how we’d all be invited to hers. When the time came only a small handful weren’t invited, including me. What killed me is that one of the new girls in the class, someone 100% new to the city and school, was invited and talked about the party a lot. I reminded her that a few of us were not invited, so maybe she should be nice and stop talking about it.

    Those two years were rough. High school improved because I went to a very diverse and high achieving school, so I had my people.

    My second grader experiences mean girl behavior at school already! She invited only boys to her birthday party because she said girls would just team up and leave her out. I almost cried when she said that.

  47. I am a mother somewhat on the other side. My daughter “belongs” to a group of friends that certain parents want to label as a clique excluding their kids. This is far from true. This group of kids are genuinely friends. They all get along and when together at social functions there is no drama that often times comes with kid’s that age. These kids actually enjoy each other’s company and spend time together in varying numbers of the “group”. Most of the kids come from families that have interacted through various activities for years. Now that they are 14 there have been several parties this fall. Now our kids are being labeled as mean and clique-y. I’m sorry but it is part of life to form bonds and friendships on different levels. My kids have been taught to be nice to everyone and to be a friend to everyone…..but that doesn’t mean we can invite the entire 8th grade class of 100 plus to a wiener roast. Frankly it doesn’t mean she doesn’t like someone simply because they haven’t connected on a level as close as she has wit her closer friends. Why are these other parents gossiping, complaining, and also taking to social media to shame our kids instead of just planning their own functions with other kids. Why do they get so wrapped up in what our kids are doing instead of forming their own friendships. The mom who causes the biggest stir doesn’t realize that the kids went out of their way to include her daughter for 3 school years, but she has been raised in a negative environment and has frankly become mean. She can come off sweet and the victim to adults but then tells the kids that she hates them and hopes they die. Sorry, but I am not forcing my daughter to include her to her non-school social functions. Parents need to quit being so hung up on their child being friends with who the parent wants them to be friend’s with and let them form friendships on their own. If you aren’t getting invited to parties…..throw your own.

    1. I can tell you that the reason some of these kids don’t form their own “groups” is because they may not have any friends to form groups with. Sometimes, kids who are new to our neighborhood throw birthday parties, and nobody goes. This is very hurtful to the child and also the parents. You should teach your child that it won’t kill her to go to a birthday party of another child she doesn’t know well. Kids need to learn how to relate to people outside of their own clique. You also shouldn’t give your child the idea that others are just dying to get accepted into her clique, because that may not always be the case. You should not have to invite an entire 8th grade class to a party, but during the elementary school years, most have like 20 kids in their child’s classroom and they should invite ALL, and not leave anyone out. I heard one mom of a kid in kindergarten say that she was going to invite everyone in her daughter’s class except for two boys, because her daughter thought they were “boring”. I could not believe this. She is teaching her daughter to be hyper critical of other people, but also, its not going to kill her child to have these two boys come to her party for one hour, two hours at the most. She could spend time with other kids at her party, if she isn’t interested in these two boys, but excluding two kids from an entire class is insanely mean and dead wrong.

  48. Thanks for writing this post. I was the teenager who had the power to include or not include and I went out of my way to include and encourage others. My parents did something right! Thanks mom and dad. As a parent, I have a daughter who suffers from “the group” liking her when it works for them. Without this read, I might find myself wanting not to include the others in retaliation — and that does not help anyone.

  49. It’s inevitable that this will happen if children are involved. People lose perspective when their child is on either side.
    We have four children with very different personalities and approaches to life. With that, my children have been left out and the leaver-outer. Both situations are opprtunities for character building.
    If my child is the one left out we discuss that we can’t put all our hope in humans dictating our identity. Our identity comes from who God made us to be and how He sees us. Also, I don’t want to reinforce victim mentality so we talk about alternatives to his situation as opposed to dwelling on it.
    On the other hand, if my child has been the bully (and that has happened more than once) we talk about what’s underlying that she would be so threatened to act out that way. Most of the time jealousy and fear of being replaced are catalysts.
    My goal is that my kids will be equipped to handle thes difficult situations without me.

  50. I had the sweetest little boy in my preschool class. I swear he was the kindest, most tender-hearted boy I ever taught but he had ADD so he struggled with sitting still at circle time, talked out of turn, and minor stuff like that but his parents and doctors were trying to work with him.

    Fast forward to first grade. One of the moms in of another boy in his class invited every boy in the class to her son’s birthday party but didn’t invite him because she felt he was a “bad kid”. She actually told me that after the party and my jaw actually dropped opened because I was so shocked that a grown woman would actually do something so disgusting. I told her that he was the sweetest boy in the world and her son missed out by not having him at her party. It still gets me fired up just thinking about it and this was 10 years ago.

  51. I moved into a new neighborhood about a year ago and I was the one excluded when I stood up for my kids. Now those parents act like I have the plague. Name calling was one of the “nicer things” some of these kids did to each other. We had been invited to all the parties and adult parties in our new neighborhood. I did notice a lot of adults that were not willing to address the exclusion issue or bullying issue for fear of being left out themselves from the group. I think most of the adults have their kids hang out because it is convenient for them. They get to play tennis go shopping etc. while one parent watches the kids. I addressed it with the parents, thinking that was the normal thing to do, and then the rumors and hateful words began. I think if the fruit is rotten then why be around the tree. I tell my kids that there are some people you don’t want to include you if they can’t ever say anything nice to you. My kids have many friends and most are not in our neighborhood and I’m fine with that. I was in a sorority and I don’t feel the need to fit in my neighborhood sorority just so my 3 kids will “fit in”. I have 2 girls and a boy and it happens with all of them. Do unto other is the truth!

  52. My soon to be 10 year old daughter is having a party in a few weeks. She invited all the girls in her school class as well as all the kids in her Sunday school class. She went to give out the invites in her Sunday school class only to be told that no one would come because another girl in the class was being given a surprise party that all the kids were already invited to. Apparently the mom is friendly with other moms through a playgroup that the kids attend but we are not part of that group…. So my daughter wa left out ( we are talking about a class of about 15 kids). Now my daughter changed the date and we had to call all the other kids who we had already invited. Why leave out just one or two kids from a class? My daughter was very upset especially since the girl had been to my daughters other parties in the past. This mom should have included my daughter and we would have planned the party on a different day from the beginning. People are inconsiderate and mean! We changed the date, and yes we are still inviting the other girl to the party because it is the right thing to do. We don’t leave anyone out when inviting the entire class… We know how hurtful that can be.

  53. This article really hits home. My daughter is a sophomore in a new school, in a new city, and my heart breaks for her. She is the only new girl in her grade this year. No one is overtly mean, but no one brings her in. Aside from a few parent-arranged invitations, to date no girl from her class has invited her to a single social event. Even for one parent-arranged study meeting, when the appointed time came to meet the girls were inexplicably absent, leaving her to wonder if they forgot? they didn’t get the message? they an emergency? Or worse, this was some sort of game constructed to affirm the superior ranking of the other girls, an experiment designed to observe her reaction? I hate to think that the dark side drove their behavior, and sincerely hope that something caused a misunderstanding.
    I fear mentioning her isolation to the moms, whom I don’t know well either, as it likely feeds the gossip mill. The more she is labeled as an outsider, the more others feel comfortable treating her so. She sits at the lunch table in silence with a half-smile on her face with other girls who are very talkative – with each other. It seems so far there’s not much interest in her, while she tries to demonstrate interest in others.
    At home she cries, and spends all weekend online with her friends from her former community. She studies endlessly, putting more academic pressure on herself that I could ever lay on her. I am afraid of where this will take her, and what this will teach her regarding her place in our society. Will she find her own spot, or will her isolation grow?

    1. She absolutely will find a place. Early sophomore year is still a time of transition. After the holiday break, many girls will be looking to break away or form new relationships.

    2. I agree with the other comment. However, in the mean time, are there clubs outside of high school she could possibly try? Hiking, biking etc.? Or a class? My son has only a few friends at his grade school and I feel like its good to show him there is also life outside his small grade school world….
      In fact, when I feel myself getting sucked into the drama of the cliquey moms in our area, I turn to work or try to find a class of some sort.

  54. I have lived this article. My daughter began being bullied the end of her 3rd grade year. We ended up switching private schools to give her a new environment, new friends, etc… She is in middle school now and just when we thought she was back on track with her confidence, self-esteem and her former “happy go lucky self”, we experienced something far worse. She came home recently and mentioned to me that in one of her friend’s parent/teacher conferences, the teacher told the girls’ parents that our daughter was a “bad influence” and she needed to distance herself from our daughter. Yes, my child is social, loves to talk and according to her homeroom teacher, “very well liked”. We addressed in her conference her problem with talking and are working on that. My first impression of the other teacher calling her a bad influence painted an awful picture in my mind. I thought…”Is she talking back to her teachers, being disrespectful to peers, saying inappropriate things??” All this and more constitute in my opinion: bad (behavior) influence. Did my husband and I miss something in the conference? This was never mentioned.
    After hearing this, my daughter asked her friend, “Does your Mom hate me?” And the girl replied, “Oh, no, she loves you” Yet, they can no longer communicate outside of school. They can only be social at school. My paranoid self now after what we went through at her former school is wondering: what other parents were told this that we have not been informed of?
    I reached out via email to all my daughter’s teachers and explained to them our concern that she was called a “bad influence” to one of her friend’s parents and are we missing something that was not covered in our parent/teacher conference? I copied the principal on the communication. I heard back from two out of six teachers . No word at all from the teacher who called her a bad influence, nor the principal.
    We have never caused any problems, nor my daughter at her new school in the three years we have been there. And the teacher who made the comment is very familiar with what happened to our daughter at her former school.
    This has bothered my daughter so much that she told my husband and I that it would be better if she committed suicide. That it is too much pressure at school to be perfect! Granite, she is a honor roll student and a friend to all. We are so very worried that the years it has taken her to build her confidence and start to feel good about herself again, “One negative comment” has destroyed it. It has upset my husband and I so much that we have immediately reached out to a counselor in hopes that she can help our daughter with the negative social issues that she is facing in her pre-teen years.
    I am not surprised that parents would say something like this…we have already been there, but for her teacher to say it and not offer ANY explanation is to us, cruel. I know I have strayed off the main topic here, but yet it is relatable.
    As a parent, I feel helpless! Any advice and/or feedback would be most helpful.

    1. Teachers aren’t supposed to discuss other students during parent/teacher conferences. This is an example of how many schools are purposely constructed to be social engineering machines. They actually want/encourage some students to be left out, ostracized, etc. When I look back at my old photographs, my old high school class picture (the picture of the entire class), they purposely put the homecoming queen in the middle, bottom row front and center. Then the entire front row of the photograph was made up of the popular girls sitting on either side of her. The rest of us were relegated to the back of the photograph. Can barely see some of their faces. This was how the school told our photographer to do all this. Only the pretty, rich and popular girls counted. The rest of us weren’t even worth being in the photograph, apparently.

  55. It’s not just “mean girls”. It happens to boys, too. But I’m sorry to say that the author is correct in pinning the blame on the Helicopter Moms. My oldest son is now 34, but I still remember how hurt and disappointed he was when NO ONE he invited to his 11th birthday party showed up. NO ONE. We were new in town, city transplants in what we soon learned was a very insular suburban town. A few of the mothers had already tried to “place” me by asking me if I knew this person or another, and how strange since they must have graduated from Perfect Suburban High (PSH) around the same year as I had. Some were more direct, asking me what year I graduated from PSH, and when I said I’d gone to school in NYC, one woman asked “Why?” The rest just wrote me off. I wasn’t bothered & it never occurred to me it would carry over to my son. He was (and is) a very social, outgoing person & seemed to be making a circle of friends. Then he asked if he could have a pizza party on his birthday, and we agreed. All the boys in his class were invited, and a few from the town football team he’d joined. 22 in all. Not one kid showed up. My son was crushed. He was smart enough to realize that this “no show” was deliberately planned. All 22 invitees don’t decide to bail unless there’s collusion. Later that week as I was waiting (alone, as usual) to pick him up from school, the mother of one of the kids who’d been invited called out to me from her little coven of friends “So, how was John’s birthday party?” Eyes rolled, nasty snickers followed. They made a point of carrying on their discussion loud enough for me to hear. They expressed astonishment that my son thought anyone would come to his party! He’s nobody, one of them said. One of them suggested that next time, we should invite some of “those people” from the city if we wanted to have a party, because people in THIS town don’t “go ghetto”. And of course, they were just protecting their own kids, right? Who knew what kind of terrible habits they might pick up from my 11 year old?
    As an adult, I had never been so close to inflicting violence on anyone. It took every ounce of self control I had to ignore them & their toxic cackling. It still makes me sick, all these years later, that a group of adults would orchestrate this kind of emotional gang warfare against a child. As hurt as my son was, I think their behavior was more damaging to their own kids. What a terrible example they set for them! I think being raised by such unkind, insecure, petty people is a difficult hurdle to overcome. Luckily, my son bounced back. But he had a few very lonely months and the isolation was painful. We moved away after about a year, partly because of the inbred social climate, but other factors as well. We moved to a bigger town close to a state university, so there was less of the “old school tie” atmosphere. Everyone was from somewhere else, so we fit right in.

    1. I am so sorry you had that experience. Its true that boys go through the same things. I have a daughter, but had a similar experience with a woman whose child we invited to our birthday party, but she didn’t show up. This did not really bother me at first, but later on, this mom was asking other people who had shown up at our party. I thought it was very appropriate for her to ask about a party that her child had not attended. If she didn’t show up, she didn’t need to be asking questions about it.

  56. This makes me glad my daughter goes to school at a very small school in a rural area. My husband teaches there so she knows most all the staff and it’s like a family. Most of the kids are familiar, only 2 classes of 17 in her grade. However she’s only in Kindergarten and already I have heard “I wanted to sit by ____ today at lunch but she said no she wanted someone else to sit by her” or that certain friends didn’t want to play with her but with someone else at recess. Weird how they do that at such a young age instead of just all playing together. And on the other hand that she had told some boy not to sit by her. Both make me equally sad and have been discussed. She does not really like boys & is scared of them & men sometimes, but I teach her that she must always be kind even if she doesn’t care for someone or is nervous etc. And I am not naive to think my child could never be the “bully” at times.

    She has gotten several “mass” invites for bday parties (they are only allowed to give out invites at school if ALL in the class are invited) and have never taken her to one, not because I wanted to dis the kid or parent but because I don’t know them, and as an introvert, the thought of showing up & not knowing anyone or not having anyone to really talk to & trying to make small talk terrifies me! Also I never know if at this age the parents are supposed to stay or leave. At this age we still just do family for bdays.

  57. I was one of those kids who was excluded do I know exactly what you are saying. I thank you for being the kJ d of Mom you are and standing up and out.
    The fact if the matter is I still live in that same small town and I am 71 years old and that snobiness has carried in all these years. That same clique of kids grew into that same group of adults. They missed out on a lot because I grew into a very responsible adult who makes a great friend. I don’t need those type if people for friends. The surprise is theirs yet to come cause there are mo cliques in Heaven 😊

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *