Better Than Real Life Advice: Plus… Parents?

Dear Lauren,

Two of my married friends recently had one of their parents move in with them.  At a recent dinner, it was noted that the parent expressed sadness at not being invited.  Did I inadvertently commit a social faux-pas by not inviting them to our couple-get-together event?  And, more importantly…would it be impolite to not invite them to our upcoming Christmas party, now that the ruffled sad feathers have been expressed?  I have no reason to dislike them, but I also don’t make it a habit to invite my friends’ various roommates to all of my events for the same reason: we just aren’t friends!

Is inviting them to the party going to set a weird precedent?  Or should I just roll with it?  Again, I don’t dislike them!  It just wasn’t a desire I expected would be expressed.  I am super anti-drama so either way is sort of whatever…I CAN roll with it, but I want a second opinion!

Sincerely,
Wanting to be polite and inviting, I swear.

**Note: I was supposed to get to this last week and I didn’t. I’m pretty sure that this Christmas Party has already transpired and I am very sorry for completely dropping the ball. But! In the spirit of the holidays I thought it would be pertinent to run it anyway. Perhaps the poster can share in comments what ended up happening if the party did in fact take place already.

Dear Wanting to be Polite,

Eeeshh…. parents crashing the party. This is an odd situation. It is an odd situation even if they weren’t parents of friends. It is weird for a friend of a friend or an acquaintance of a friend or anyone associated with one of your friends who are not one of your friends to express displeasure at being “left out.”

First, I must say it is not impolite to not invite them to your Christmas party. They are not your people. On the other hand, I find it incredibly impolite for them to guilt you into an invite.

That being said, maybe they are in a bad place? Maybe they are lonely? It is the holidays after all? The holidays are a hard time for people, especially parents who are having to move in with their grown children. I have the empathy.

My advice is to ask your friends kindly, but directly about the situation. Mention that you’ve been thinking about it and you aren’t sure what to do. Were they expecting to have their parent invited? You would offer, but worry it might be awkward and you don’t want to necessarily invite them to all the things … ha… ha… right, friends? Right?! But, in the spirit of the holidays, if they would like, their parent is more than welcome.

If your friends say, “No! They are just overstepping! Don’t let it keep you up at night!” Proceed as usual and let it be their needy parent problem.

If they say, “That would be fantastic, we don’t know what to do with them and would so appreciate having a social activity for them to participate in during this bumpy moment in time.” Then roll roll roll along with it. Hand them a drink when they walk in the door and a friendly, “Merrrrrrry Christmas!” And then feel absolutely NO obligation for any future hang outs. When you go over to their house you’ll have plenty of moments for friendly small talk with the parent. Nothing else is necessary and let your friends invite them to group things on their own turf from now on. Boom.

Please let me know how this turned out!! And if anyone else has had a similar situation pop up with room mates or friends of friends please comment your story/solution. Social things are hard.

Love,
Lauren

6 thoughts on “Better Than Real Life Advice: Plus… Parents?”

  1. This is such good advice. My initial reaction was “HELL NO THAT’S SO RUDE WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT”… but your approach is the much more empathetic one 😉

  2. I echo Lauren! That is excellent advice! It is super weird for them to mention being left out, as they are not your people, but it is not your responsibility to field this on your own – and is totally the right next step to ask your friends (whose parents did the guilting) for some advice on how to go forward. That’s definitely what I would do. And of course, your kindness in the process will make everyone feel better – regardless of whether they come to the party or not.

  3. This happened to me this year. A roommate of our friends (who is not a terribly close friend of mine) invited herself to our friends-christmas-gathering by facebook messaging me personally asking to come. Absolutely no way to say no without looking like a total bitch. It wasn’t a big deal that she was there, in the end, but at first I really didn’t want her there since I don’t really consider her a good friend, and had gifts for everyone else there.

  4. Interesting, I wonder if the parent was just saying that (privately to the couple) or actually intended for the host friend to hear it? I could see it having been expressed in a range of ways, some of which may be interpreted as “sad I wasn’t invited” when it was more of a “I’m sure you’ll have a good time but that doesn’t mean I actually want to go”.

    In any case, we had a similar but different situation. We had a friend whose parent lived with them. We only got to know that parent on visits to their home, so before that, invitations were always only extended to the friend+spouse.

    Once we got to know the parent, we included her as well. Most of the time, though, she very graciously declined, as she didn’t want to intrude on goodfriends-times. Of course, that parent also would never have angled for an invitation so I’m inclined to think more generously of a possible misinterpretation.

    Asking the friends would be your best bet, in any case!

  5. I’m wondering if you couldn’t just send a sincere holiday card and call to make separate dinner plans with the friends + parent some other time?

    The tone of the request makes me think that the OP knows the parent through a long standing association with the family or some other circumstance. I agree that the parent seriously overstepped in asking for an invite but the holidays can be lonely so sometimes people’s barometer gets thrown out the window. (That being said, my dad gives me a hard time every year for not inviting him to my own Christmas party. Pretty sure it’s only 60% a joke.)

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