Dear friend, here's the card for a babysitter. The party's on Saturday night.
August 9, 2011 11:11 AM   Subscribe

Miss Manners Filter: How can I diplomatically mention to friends that their infants are not welcome at my upcoming birthday celebration?

I'm reaching the age where more and more of my friends have children, and many of them insist on their children accompanying them to every social function they attend. While I am glad that I still get to see my friends, I often wish I could see them AND have their whole attention. It can be distracting to have to pause conversation while at a nice dinner, so that Baby can reattach to an uncovered breast. True story. I have yet to behave in any way other than supportive and friendly, although it does mean that the tone of my social life with these friends has changed drastically.

How do I express to these parents that their children are not welcome at my upcoming milestone birthday celebration? The event will be a smallish group, about 10 people, for a dinner party and then a larger group for drinks and dancing (and before you say, surely they won't, it's not a barbecue!, trust me, they will). Miss Manners only has advice for hostesses who are asked if children may attend, despite not including them on the invitation. But I doubt the parents will ask, and will instead just show up with children in tow.

I know I need to talk to my friends, but I'm having trouble with the wording. In general these are people who believe everyone thinks as highly of their special little snowflake as they do, and I fear they will be crushed to hear otherwise. I should note that if it comes down to it, I am equally amenable to their attendance sans children, or to their lack of attendance entirely if they are either offended or choose not to hire a babysitter for a few hours (neither set of parents have yet to engage the services of a sitter).

Advice, please? One idea was to have a separate brunch for the parents and myself, but I don't want to exclude the parents from the larger celebration.

Please don't tell me what an ignorant so-and-so I'm being, because I have no idea the hell these parents are going through in the first year of their child's life. I know that I don't. But they're not my children, and therefore I don't have to include them in everything.
posted by stellaluna to Human Relations (96 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
Could you just ask them if they think they'll be able to get a sitter for the night? I guess the problem would be if they said "No, I'll just bring the small human along" - then what do you say? I'd probably just be a bit more honest/blunt and say that you are keeping this a grown-up only party.

If you really wanted to be sneaky (and the friends don't know each other that well) - you could say that one of them had a miscarriage recently and does not want to be around children (and you are sworn to secrecy)...but I couldn't handle a lie that well.
posted by quodlibet at 11:16 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Will the drinks and dancing be at a bar? If so, that automatically means that children can't attend. Presumably, then, the parents will get a babysitter if they want to attend your party.

As for the dinner party, I'm not really sure how to phrase it politely, but maybe something along the lines of: "Please take this party as an opportunity to take a small break from the stress of being a parent" or something. Basically, if you can somehow word it so that they think of leaving their kids at home as a gift to themselves rather than an inconvenience that you're forcing upon them, that would probably be the most tactful.

You could also simply note that, because the party will be moving to a bar afterwards (or so I'm assuming) parents are best to get a babysitter for the night.
posted by asnider at 11:18 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


The only thing I can really think of is for you to provide some sort of babysitter to watch the rug rats. You're right that many parents will just assume that their bundles of joy are as interesting to you as they are to them and will show up with them in tow without ever asking.
posted by Maisie at 11:18 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


How about putting "Grown-Ups Only" on the invitation?

You are certainly allowed to invite whoever you want to your party, and they're allowed to not attend if they can't work out the logistics or choose to be put out by the omission of the kids.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 11:19 AM on August 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


Oh my, I completely understand, but unfortunately I don't think there is a great solution, especially if they think there kids are just as special in everyone else's eyes as theirs. I see a couple of work arounds, first have you considered allowing the babies at dinner but not for drinking and dancing? Most drinking places don't allow anyone under 18, so this lets them participate on one level, while also providing adult only time. Alternatively, find a dinner place that is extraordinarily unwelcoming to children. Blame it on the establishment, not your preference, or schedule the activities rather late so it would be most imprudent to bring a small child.

As a parting thought, this is going to be more and more of an issue for you. I advise you to just let it go, people become parents its how a lot of society operates, if you still want to hang with them, you are going to have accept they are part of a unit now.
posted by stormygrey at 11:20 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Please note: This is an adults only party. Please leave the little ones at home."

Parents will either:

a) Understand, find a sitter and be glad for the night out without the kids.
b) Understand, but will not be able to find a sitter. This happens. They're used to it or they need to get used to it.
c) Resent you because you don't see their kids as miniature adults (only cuter) the way they do.

Nothing you can do about B and you're better off not having the Cs around because they're only going to annoy everyone at the party.

(I have a kid, I love him, he's awesome, but goddam if he can't ruin a good time sometimes. That's what sitters are for.)
posted by bondcliff at 11:22 AM on August 9, 2011 [83 favorites]


Could you ask a mutual friend to do the dirty work? Would you mind knowing a small amount of trash talking about you might happen in order to achieve your goal of a child-free evening? I think if I were in your situation, I'd ask my BFF to contact the parents and say "hey, coupdefoudre mentioned she'd like this to be a grownup party, think you can accommodate that?" The offending parents might say "God, she's being so annoying about this, doesn't she know I can't leave my precious alone for an evening?" but BFF could hopefully just say "yeah, but it is her milestone bday and it'd be cool if you could do this for her. If you can't, maybe you guys can go to brunch a different time or something."

Totally feel your pain on this, btw, and don't think you're horrible for wanting to have an adult evening on your birthday
posted by coupdefoudre at 11:23 AM on August 9, 2011


"Join me for a raucous, raunchy and rocking birthday party! 21+ only!" Or something to that effect, poking fun at yourself but also conveying a message. Then write or call individually the parents in question and say, "I just wanted to let you know that in case you can't make it without the kids, I want to catch up with you later. If you can't get a babysitter, call me and we'll schedule a time to hang out later in the week/month/year." The issue with newborns and infants is a mixed one: true or not most new parents feel they can't go anywhere without the child, and for many (breastfeeding, moms) they may not be logistically able to even if they do want to.
posted by cocoagirl at 11:23 AM on August 9, 2011 [22 favorites]


As a parting thought, this is going to be more and more of an issue for you.

Based on my experience (I'm old) it will be, and then it won't be. As they start having more than one, and as the babies turn into toddlers and then kids, people get more comfortable leaving them and then simultaneously really begin to value their precious kid-free time.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 11:23 AM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Please join me to celebrate my XXth birthday in style! We will begin with a small (adults only) dinner party, followed by drinks and dancing. RSVP."

As someone with small children, I am always worried about whether or not it will be acceptable to bring my youngest (an infant) to things, since it's nearly impossible for us to find a babysitter for that age. For the older ones, it's not too bad, but for the infant it's really tricky. My feelings would not be hurt by an invitation that is adults-only. But I might have to decline, simply because of the logistics of the thing.

You should keep in mind that people who have an infant and who have never left said infant with a babysitter will generally be reluctant to do so. Also keep in mind that a babysitter is not often free and can easily double the cost of an evening out.

You should also keep in mind that you should not, under any circumstances, explain to these people why it is that you don't want them to bring their infant to dinner. They will be offended and pissed off at your reason. Make absolutely clear in your invitation that this is "adults only, please" and specifically ask for an RSVP that asks if one or both of the couple will be attending. Then, if someone breaches etiquette by bringing the child, you need to be gracious about it anyway. If you're not prepared to do that, then just don't invite people with kids.

c) Resent you because you don't see their kids as miniature adults (only cuter) the way they do.

This baffles me. Does someone with an infant really actually think of the infant as a miniature adult? I think of my infant as a tiny, helpless human whose needs trump my own and also trump the quirks and preferences of adults who, for whatever reason, are bothered by the presence of tiny, helpless humans. That's why he doesn't get left at home when my wife and I go out.
posted by The World Famous at 11:24 AM on August 9, 2011 [50 favorites]


Sweetie Darling has it exactly right. This is not a big deal. People know that some parties are for familes, and some are for kids, and some are for grown-ups. I've often made a "grown-ups only" stipulation. If you want to go one step further, you could even say something like "I love and adore babies and children, especially the children of my friends, but this party is for us grown-ups. Thanks!"
posted by The Deej at 11:24 AM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Honestly, just put adults only. People will react however they will react.

I am a parent, btw. My reaction might be: "Great! I'll get a sitter." Or: "I can't afford/don't have access to a sitter, too bad for me." My reaction would never be: "She's a horrible bitch for only wanting adults at her party."
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:24 AM on August 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Just have the thing at a 21+ venue. Problem solved.
posted by valkyryn at 11:24 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ah yes, Sweetie Darling, as I approach mid 30s, my friends are more and more ready to ditch the kids and get back into the adult set of activities. I have very few friends who are reluctant to get babysitters after about year two.
posted by stormygrey at 11:25 AM on August 9, 2011


"How do I express to these parents that their children are not welcome at my upcoming milestone birthday celebration? "

"This is a no-kids event." You can't beat around the bush. I said something about a cocktail party I threw where I said, "I'll be serving adult beverages only" and I even hired a sitter for my own kid so I could focus on the party, and literally everyone who came brought their kids. It turned out to be a wonderful party and the kids were great fun, mostly because all the dads ended up on kid duty so the moms got to relax while the dads ran around, but still. If you want it to be no-kids, you're going to have to just SAY no kids.

(I sometimes get annoyed at "no kids" invitations, but only when they are to events where kids are generally allowed by the norms of local culture (weddings) or where it's a clear inconvenience for guests without any reason behind it for the host. I wouldn't be annoyed if a bar birthday party invitation said "no kids." However, parents of infants may still assume that doesn't include them, since infants are tote-able.)

"Will the drinks and dancing be at a bar? If so, that automatically means that children can't attend."

Yeah, no. I have actually been to parent-child meetups at bars. In my state, my understanding is children can be in any bar that serves food, which is basically all of them. I toted my toddler along to an evening business networking sort of meeting at a bar when I had to be there for a brief period (at the request of the organizers, not because I wanted to network) but my childcare fell through. He sat way up high on a barstool and ate french fries. And he was not the only under-five child there!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:25 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Does someone with an infant really actually think of the infant as a miniature adult?

Sorry, I guess that part was geared towards slightly older kids. I personally know parents who feel kids should never be excluded from anything, ever. While I love to include my kid in things, I also feel it's ok to have adults-only time now and then.
posted by bondcliff at 11:30 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


It can be distracting to have to pause conversation while at a nice dinner, so that Baby can reattach to an uncovered breast.

Yes; it's disconcerting to be reminded of the mammalian part of oneself. There you are all cultured and civilised and poof! A reminder that you're an animal. I have a friend who fantasizes about being turned into a robot, and I can't say I don't understand that...

Anyway. The ones whose offspring are of nursing-at-dinner age can't help that. For a while after birth, the separation between mother and offspring is sometimes not that much more than it was pre-birth. This is just part of being a mammal.

Personally, I feel babes-in-arms do not belong in "no kids" policies; they are different animals. Excluding young babies is closer to excluding pregnant women than it is to excluding rambunctious seven-year-olds. Wee nursing babies are not easily hired out to sitters; this isn't necessarily a 'choice.'

Mine is not a minority view and I have seen a good collection of tiny babies sleeping in slings at 19+ events. The polite thing to do is understand that they need to nurse frequently and to treat Mom as though she is still pregnant as far as invitations go. How would you, as a very new mother, wish to be treated apropos of a similar event...?

Excluding the older children via whatever polite method is totally kosher.
posted by kmennie at 11:30 AM on August 9, 2011 [43 favorites]


I go to quite a few of these types of events (kid-friendly, and not), and it's par for the course to mention it's an adults-only party if that's the situation. If you don't specify that, assume that you will have kids present if your guests have kids.

Either of these situations are perfectly okay when the event is appropriate. I think 99% of the people with kids understand this, and the 1% that don't,....never will.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 11:30 AM on August 9, 2011


In my state, my understanding is children can be in any bar that serves food, which is basically all of them.

Interesting. Licensing issues are weird like that sometimes. Around my parts no one under 18 is allowed in a bar or pub. But restaurants (i.e., all ages) are allowed to serve liquor and run a full-bar, so I guess it all depends on the licensing and the jurisdiction in which you live.

I've never heard of a straight-up bar, as opposed to a restaurant that serves alcohol (i.e., almost all of them), that allows kids. But, then, we're kind of puritanical about liquor in Canada.
posted by asnider at 11:30 AM on August 9, 2011


If you can afford it, hire a trusted babysitter (or two, depending on how many of the attendees have kids) yourself to look after your friends' children. I think this would be very much appreciated by the parents in the group. It sounds like you will be a lot more comfortable writing "Your children will be under the loving care of Sarah Babysitter for the night so we can enjoy an adults-only bash!" rather than just "No children please."
posted by kitty teeth at 11:31 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just say "Adults-Only" on the invitation, but be prepared to find that some of your friends won't be able to attend.

As others have pointed out, little mammals need their mamas and sometimes bottles & sitters aren't an option.
posted by alms at 11:33 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Father of a 3 year old, here.

Step 1 - you need to schedule your celebration in a place/time that makes it undeniably clear that kids shouldn't be there.

Step 2 - put together some words, in a personal invitation (ie. not a facebook blast) that acknowledges the difficulties your friends need to take on to attend. As in: "Realize it'll be tough for you guys to swing this, but if you manage to find a sitter, I'd love for you guys to be there. Love, stellaluna."

Don't be a wuss about what you want. State your expectations up front, and allow your parent friends to make their own decision. If your birthday will be poorly attended because all your friends are now parents and aren't willing to go through the hassle for your birthday, then that's just something you need to get over.

Not the question your asking, but my friends in your position go out of their way to remove barriers keeping us from attending things when they want us to be there. In turn, we go out of our way to make sure our son doesn't ruin their events.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 11:35 AM on August 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


When my kids were that age I liked seeing 21+ on the invite. It tool all the stress out of choosing to leave the baby home, which is something most new parents have trouble doing. Just be prepared for many to choose stay home. Sitters get $10 a hour or more these days. It can easily cost more than the night out.
posted by COD at 11:36 AM on August 9, 2011


It's pretty easy. You send an individual invitation, and tell them you would love for them to come if they can find a babysitter, just like NoRelationToLea says.
posted by grouse at 11:39 AM on August 9, 2011


A lot of my friends have kids. I include something to the effect of "grown-ups only night". Putting your expectations up front is extremely important. Don't hint. Some friends can't come. Most can. It's never been a touchy issue for me as my grown up friends are adults.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:41 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks, all, for the responses. Many of these are excellent, and good food for thought in this and other situations that I am likely to encounter. I am hosting the party, and will therefore go with the individual invitation approach that NoRelationToLea suggested.

This is the first time in my life I've had to deal with situations like this, and it's just been a difficult transition to navigate. I certainly hope my friends don't think I seethe with resentment and disrespect; I just grew up in an environment where, as The Deej says, most people know when some parties are for families, some parties are for kids, and some parties are for adults. I don't know how to accommodate, politely, people that don't recognize that distinction. I really have never been exposed to the societal norms where I live now, where everything is very family-centric and children are invited to everything (yes, even the bars).

Thanks again for the insights!
posted by stellaluna at 11:48 AM on August 9, 2011


Step 1 - you need to schedule your celebration in a place/time that makes it undeniably clear that kids shouldn't be there.

Keep in mind that scheduling something really late at night can also make it undeniably clear that people who need babysitters shouldn't be there. It's hard to find a babysitter who can stay until all hours of the night. I regularly have things I want or need to go to that last until long after midnight, and that just means that my wife can't come with me because it's hard to find a 14-year-old with parents are cool with them staying at our place until 3am.
posted by The World Famous at 11:51 AM on August 9, 2011


Agreed that you have to be explicit in saying adults-only. Don't fall for the trap of trying to be polite by fuzzying the language. Otherwise, you get the kiddies anyway, with their parents saying that they'll just be upstairs in your bed and won't bother anyone but then they totally do.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:52 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


While I am glad that I still get to see my friends, I often wish I could see them AND have their whole attention.

It's perhaps worth pointing out that depending on your friends and how old the kids are they might not be that much less distracted, the distractions will just be different. "We have to make sure to leave at 10 o'clock to get home to send the babysitter home." "Hope Johnny isn't burning down the house." "Wonder if the babysitter will manage to get them to bed on time so they're not exhausted and cranky tomorrow."
posted by Jahaza at 12:01 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Put together some words, in a personal invitation (ie. not a facebook blast) that acknowledges the difficulties your friends need to take on to attend. As in: "Realize it'll be tough for you guys to swing this, but if you manage to find a sitter, I'd love for you guys to be there. Love, stellaluna."

I think this is the most polite way to do things. Adding "Adults Only!" or something similar to the invite for everyone is crass, and it's certainly not your job to provide babysitting for your friends (plus they might not like your choice of sitter).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:02 PM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


[if you can't give useful advice without namecalling, seriously just don't. OP is not anon, just MeMail them. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:04 PM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Adding "Adults Only!" or something similar to the invite for everyone is crass

That's ridiculous. There's no reason not to specify an event in a straightforward way.
posted by nanojath at 12:05 PM on August 9, 2011 [11 favorites]


Since we're talking "Miss Manners Filter", I have to impart her wisdom, which is to send invites to the people you want to invite and not mention those you do not wish to invite.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:08 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just want to mention that breast feeding babies are a whole different class of kids. I have no option to leave the baby for longer than 3 hours tops as many breast feeders just won't take a bottle, including my own. So unless the event is important, like a wedding, I have to leave after dinner. For an upcoming wedding we are attending at a hotel we have booked a room and hired a sitter to stay in the hotel and message me when baby's hungry. Its not like I want to drag a baby everywhere with me. Its not an option not to.
posted by saradarlin at 12:08 PM on August 9, 2011 [23 favorites]


[question is also not a referendum on bad parents you have known. thanks.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:13 PM on August 9, 2011


As a parent, something a simple as, "No kids" or "Adults only" is fine by me.

But also as a parent, unless you give me like, seriously, two months notice, I probably won't be able to attend. Finding a sitter, getting up the money to pay for the sitter, then having the sitter fall through two weeks before, etc., etc., etc. I would need a lot of notice.

And if the baby is under three months? I probably wouldn't attend.

So, while you wish to arrange what sounds like a totally awesome party for yourself, be aware that some of your friends whose attention you want to have you may not get because they may not be able to make it without their kids. It's totally understandable that you want to have a party without kids. I like attending things without Toddler Zizzle in tow, believe me. I do. A lot of your friends who are parents probably wish to as well, but many of those friends may not be able to attend if their kids can't --- so just be prepared for that.

I'm not offended when someone sends me an invitation to something that Toddler Zizzle isn't invited to. I totally get it. But I'd be upset if the person who invited me didn't get why I couldn't attend because of my status as a parent. So, just be understanding if some of your parent friends whose attention you want without their kids decline the invitation.
posted by zizzle at 12:14 PM on August 9, 2011 [11 favorites]


The only way this is going to work is to be very explicit about it being adults only. I am also in the nursing mom subset, and if the baby can't come then neither can I. It's fine and I wouldn't care, as I knew that having a baby was going to put a crimp in my social life, but if it's important to have those folks attend your party, you may need to reevaluate your expectations.
posted by chiababe at 12:16 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just mention 'Adults only' in the invitation. But also keep in mind some of your friends might choose not to attend.
posted by WizKid at 12:21 PM on August 9, 2011


I should note that if it comes down to it, I am equally amenable to their attendance sans children, or to their lack of attendance entirely if they are either offended or choose not to hire a babysitter for a few hours (neither set of parents have yet to engage the services of a sitter).

(From the original post.) The OP is ok with lack of attendance of the parents if they are unable or unwilling to attend without the child(ren).
posted by aabbbiee at 12:24 PM on August 9, 2011


In my experience, putting "Adults Only" on an invite doesn't work. People will see it and think, "It's for adults only, but MY little darling is so well-behaved that I can bring her along." You'll end up with just as many kids as you would have anyway (minus the 1 or 2 whose parents were offended and decided not to come out of spite).
posted by coolguymichael at 12:25 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The more I think about this and read your responses, I think it's less the children themselves and more about how care and feeding happens when they're around. What I'm mostly trying to avoid at this dinner party is the six to eight co-ed non-parents (myself included!) being horrified when a baby gets changed on the booth seat next to mom, or when a baby nurses for the entire meal without any sort of cover or blanket. I don't think my boyfriend has yet been able to get the changing incident out of his mind.

Thank you again for all of your responses!
posted by stellaluna at 12:25 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


What I'm mostly trying to avoid at this dinner party is the six to eight co-ed non-parents (myself included!) being horrified when a baby gets changed on the booth seat next to mom, or when a baby nurses for the entire meal without any sort of cover or blanket.

Obviously you can't control that (some parents just have tunnel vision on this), so it might be a matter of picking and choosing certain parents or having a blatant "No kids" notice up front.

Spinning the event as "Let's relax and make it just us adults" might help. Most parents wouldn't mind having a couple of hours off. Try asking one or two parents who seem most amendable to help plan things or just run the wording by. You're probably going to offend some people (some parent just have tunnel vision), but there's not need to offend more than you have to.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:31 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are these people really your friends (especially the new moms?)? If so, then you might want to think about making some social accommodations for them if you plan to keep them in your life, or maybe just phasing them out. Because there is going to be no polite way for you to ask a new mom to "cover up" while nursing, if she's the kind of mom who is into that. Better to just cut your losses and not invite them. I agree with those who have pointed out that for infants, you can't really invite the mom and not the baby. Maybe be a little generous during this demanding time of their lives and tolerate a little discomfort?
posted by yarly at 12:33 PM on August 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


Be blunt. I have kids, I can be clueless, and I wouldn't be offended if you said they weren't invited to a party -- hell, I wish I could have a party without them -- and I'd be mortified if I brought them to someone's house when they didn't want them there.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:35 PM on August 9, 2011


Both incidents are gross to non-parents, sorry.

You have permission to want a regular party without exposed nursing breasts and diapers. I would definitely call your friends with infants and tell them it's an adults only party and you would love to see them at another time if they can't get a sitter. Since your friends don't seem aware of the impact of their children's presence at social events you will need to be very firm and specific - "adults only" won't do it as others have said.

It's OK if they can't get a sitter or don't want one and they can't show up, and it's OK for you to want a peaceful birthday without babies.

The great news is that kids are much easier to deal with after five years old - there is a light at the end of the tunnel for your friendships!
posted by rainydayfilms at 12:35 PM on August 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Changing a diaper in a place where others are eating is disgusting and feel free to say "hey, there's probably a changing table in the restroom, please don't do that at the table."

But nursing babies under a cover? Mine never would, and trying to keep a cover over their heads while nursing always resulted in flashing a lot more than just calmly nursing. If it bothers you, don't watch.

I did have a social occasion where I had to invited someone who ALWAYS brought their kids, and did the diaper-changing-in-inappropriate-places thing and other undesirable behaviors. I had to invite him ( he was my boss) but I knew telling him it was adults-only would mean he would not come. So that's what I did. But I was fine with the four-month-old baby, because he slept most of the time and his parents weren't idiots.
posted by ambrosia at 12:39 PM on August 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


[I know the OP sort of opened the door on this one, but this is also not a referendum on breastfeeding in public. OP, you're going to have this question go better if you just maybe listen for a bit....]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:48 PM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


The more I think about this and read your responses, I think it's less the children themselves and more about how care and feeding happens when they're around.

I would recommend against expressing this in your invitation. It is much safer to just say "Adults Only" or "Sorry, no kids please" than it is to say something about breastfeeding and diaper changing. The latter is likely to open a big can of worms.
posted by alms at 12:53 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


[metatalk is now where you have to go if you are not answering the question. I can not be more clear about this

- don't call people names
- email the OP if you have an off-topic response to her
- be DECENT

I know parenting is touchy and if this question pushes your buttons you need to move on, go to metatalk, email the OP or do something that is not making snarky sarcastic replies here.]

posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:07 PM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think it's totally cool to say "Adults only party!" - I think it's not cool to have hangups about people feeding their babies in the garden-variety way.

I guess you and your boyfriend can be offended by whatever you want to be offended by, but don't bring The Breastfeeding Problem up. It's unnecessary and it's going to cause drama. Many new parents are clinging to sanity as it is, and they made a heroic effort to leave the house and come have dinner with you. A lecture about immodesty and boobs causing offense isn't going to go over well.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 1:09 PM on August 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


You don't want to start explaining things. It's your darn party and you can have any kind of party you want for whatever reason you want. I agree with the be polite but clear advice.
posted by Blisterlips at 1:09 PM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just make it clear that you do not want any infants or children at your party. You've gotten several good suggestions above for how to do so; choose the one you feel suits you the best, or take them as cues to come up with your own phrasing.

I know the trend often is to be overly concerned about offending people, and to try to find a way to say something unpleasant without, well, saying something unpleasant. But sometimes the only thing you can do is to say what you mean, as clearly and honestly as possible, without antagonisation, and then allow people to react to it in whatever way they will. They have no grounds to be offended at your desire to celebrate your birthday without children around you, and if they choose to be offended that's their problem, not yours. Ditto for their attendance: if they can't, or don't want to, attend an event that excludes their children, then that is something you have to be prepared to deal with.

The only thing you can control is your behaviour, and if these invitees (or whomever you end up dealing with in similar situations in the future) choose to take it badly, then that tells you something about them, and is a piece of information you can use during subsequent interactions.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 1:19 PM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Be polite and clear - leave no room for ambiguity. I don't blame you, btw.... I love my friends, and their children (mostly), but I didn't choose the parenting lifestyle - they did.
posted by brand-gnu at 1:33 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, it's certain people who are doing the inappropriate changing-at-the-table behavior, rather than everybody with a baby? Er...maybe just don't invite those specific people to things, then?

I mostly agree with the folks here, but I suspect you really can't get a parent's attention until the youngest kid is in preschool, though. At least, my parent friends have gone poof once a baby has come, or I haven't made friends with parents until the kid was in school. 0-5 takes over your entire life and isn't easy to get a babysitter for, as others have said.

Related NPR link I just saw, btw.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:34 PM on August 9, 2011


If there are people who are deadset on bringing their little bundle of joy, and you're not opposed to the baby per se, then clearly designate a room as the feeding/changing room, with a big sign and everything. If someone starts to feed their kid, point them in the right direction with a polite "oh we set up this area so everyone can have their privacy... oh, really, I insist." If your friends don't take the hint at that point, they're kind of jerks.
posted by desjardins at 1:36 PM on August 9, 2011


I think the luke parker fiasco has it right.

> […] sometimes the only thing you can do is to say what you mean, as clearly and honestly as possible, without antagonisation, and then allow people to react to it in whatever way they will. […] The only thing you can control is your behaviour, and if these invitees (or whomever you end up dealing with in similar situations in the future) choose to take it badly, then that tells you something about them, and is a piece of information you can use during subsequent interactions.

This is probably the best answer to so, so any questions about how to interact with reasonable people. And I think it's definitely the approach to take here, unless you've already determined that these particular people are not reasonable.

posted by duien at 1:41 PM on August 9, 2011


If I were to receive an invitation to an "Adults Only" party when my kids were still in the diaper-changing and breastfeeding ages, I would have heard the message loud and clear, but I would not have been able to go at all.

I would also take it as a sign that that person probably wasn't particularly interested in continuing to be friends with me now that I had a family, and would handle future interactions with that in mind.
posted by Andrhia at 2:17 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I did this last month. I had a birthday party in a restaurant in the evening. Everyone got babysitters and enjoyed their time without their kids. It was abundantly clear it was a grown up occasion. I'm not sure I even had to tell them.
posted by rhymer at 2:23 PM on August 9, 2011


A friend of mine (who already had kids) threw a party like this recently. I can't remember precisely how she phrased the invite -- I believe it was "adults only, please" -- because, not having kids, I paid no mind.

When a certain set of problematic parents took offense and decided that an invite to one event that didn't include kids meant that they weren't ever going to feel comfortable in the group again, other parents -- those who had been doing it longer -- were able to calm them down and use it as a teachable moment, and the group has never had the problem again. Sometimes the setting of boundaries is good for everyone, even if doing it first can be a little painful.

Good luck.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:32 PM on August 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


I have a few friends with kids, and they'd never think of bringing their kids along to a party, especially one at night, without at least asking first. So I think some of the thread reactions are a little odd, but maybe you do run the risk of alienating some of your friends if you say "Adults Only." Although, if I had friends who changed their baby at a restaurant table, I don't think I'd really want them to be my friends anymore anyway. The breastfeeding one is a bit different.

Since you do have friends who would change their baby while people are eating, I'd say do the "adults only." Because that has nothing to do with accepting or not accepting people with a family, it's just plain disgusting, and probably unsanitary.
posted by sweetkid at 2:33 PM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I would also take it as a sign that that person probably wasn't particularly interested in continuing to be friends with me now that I had a family, and would handle future interactions with that in mind.

I'm just curious as to why this would be the case, if it were clear that this specific invitation was different from most others in its "adults only" approach, and you weren't singled out with it? This is the kind of response that I think would lead one to be concerned about how best to ask the question to begin with.
posted by bizzyb at 2:43 PM on August 9, 2011 [20 favorites]


I think "adult only" handles it pretty well. I also agree that having a party late or at a bar helps discourage parents from bringing kids. One of my good friends has some parties which are adult only and others at which Little Epps is welcome and that helps me go to some parties and stay friends with her. I have other friends who only have parties starting at 10pm (kids may or may not have been welcome) that I haven't seen in several years because I can never stay up late enough to go to their parties (even if I could get a babysitter). It sounds like you've done plenty of get-togethers with kids welcome. Enjoy your adult only evening.
posted by Margalo Epps at 2:59 PM on August 9, 2011


Oh for goodness sake...just say it's Adults Only. If someone gets offended, can't come, or otherwise takes your preference for no kids on your special night as some kind of sign that you don't want to be friends with them anymore, so be it--be rid of them.

Toddler Murrey is a gem of a kid but I can't even fathom being offended if I couldn't take him along.
posted by murrey at 3:06 PM on August 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


Just as a side note, I only ever throw adults-only parties and I usually make a little joke about how it's adults-only in order to preserve the innocence and promise of future generations.
posted by mckenney at 3:46 PM on August 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


I remember my parents frequently leaving me and my brothers home with a sitter to go to the parties of friends. I can only assume that they or the friend decided the occasion would be inappropriate for us. I'm surprised people would take offence to an "Adults Only" request--I thought everyone had been left with a sitter so their parents could have a night to themselves at least once in a while.
posted by schroedinger at 4:13 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


'm surprised people would take offence to an "Adults Only" request...

The OP is in a bit of a touchy situation, as she detailed in a previous comment (emphasis mine):
...I just grew up in an environment where, as The Deej says, most people know when some parties are for families, some parties are for kids, and some parties are for adults. I don't know how to accommodate, politely, people that don't recognize that distinction. I really have never been exposed to the societal norms where I live now, where everything is very family-centric and children are invited to everything (yes, even the bars).
So the OP grew up in an environment where Adults Only parties were natural, while she currently lives in a environment that is the exact opposite. Hence the request for help and the desire not to be offensive.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:29 PM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hi, nursing mom here. It is perfectly appropriate and fine to ask that children not attend your parties, or even to suggest an age limit, particularly because you understand that parents of very young or nursing babies might not be able to leave them behind. I will say though that if I and my baby were both invited to an event, but then I was shunted off into a back bedroom to nurse while the party continued without me and I got hungrier and hungrier and hungrier. . . that would tick me off pretty roundly.

The diaper changing thing is abhorrent though. Excretion takes place in a separate room for a reason.
posted by KathrynT at 6:38 PM on August 9, 2011 [12 favorites]


How are you inviting people? phone? "Chris, this isn't really a child-friendly location. I'll miss you terribly if you feel you can't come without Toddler" "Terry, will you be able to get a sitter? We love Baby, but we've decided to make it a just adults event"
Invitations? Hand-write "Adults only, please. Thanks for understanding." on the invites.

And, maybe have a lunch at a family-friendly restaurant for those friends who have to bring kids. They're your close friends, and surely you'd like them to be part of your milestone event.
posted by theora55 at 6:49 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would also take it as a sign that that person probably wasn't particularly interested in continuing to be friends with me now that I had a family, and would handle future interactions with that in mind.

Sentiments like this make me almost terrified of people with children. If one simple "adults only" invite is enough to make a parent want to stop being friends with a childless person, I wonder how thin the ice is under my feet when I don't join in the cooing and fawning over my pregnant coworker, or when I don't want to kiss a friend's toddler because the last three times I have endured the toddler's sloppy open-mouth kisses I have come away with a raging cold that has kept me out of work for at least a couple of days per cold.

And then I remember that if someone is going to get this bent out of shape over being asked one time to find a sitter so they can join in your milestone birthday celebration, an event that is about YOU and not about Precious Widdle Ickums, then they're probably not a friend worth having.
posted by palomar at 7:04 PM on August 9, 2011 [49 favorites]


How many people are changing their babies on restaurant benches in front of everyone? Can you just not invite that friend? I would personally just not invite that person and if they say anything, just say you don't want people getting staph infections at your birthday from his/her poop hands.
posted by sweetkid at 7:05 PM on August 9, 2011


> the desire not to be offensive.

I see the desire not to be offensive to her friends, but frankly I don't see it here, quite the opposite.

So, is there a MetaTalk thread? Jessamyn seemed to be saying there was, but I don't see one.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 7:46 PM on August 9, 2011


Nope, there is no Metatalk.
posted by sweetkid at 7:47 PM on August 9, 2011


Jessamyn was recommending that people go to MetaTalk if they can't comment in this thread without calling the OP rude or a terrible person because she wants to have a party without children present.

If you can't post in this thread without doing those things, take it to MetaTalk. Thanks!
posted by palomar at 7:50 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Sentiments like this make me almost terrified of people with children. If one simple "adults only" invite is enough to make a parent want to stop being friends with a childless person"

Well, here's the thing. I have an almost-six-week-old right now. It's next to impossible to leave the house without him. Even leaving him with my husband is a hassle. Grocery shopping has to be timed to be right after a feeding, but only at certain times of day when I'm fairly certain he'll sleep for a while after. Etc.

There are three kinds of "adults only" invitations for women with infants under (let's say) three months.

1) "Adults only" but infants allowed, which is most of the invitations I get. My toddler stays at home, I get a sitter for him, but I bring the babe-in-arms. We're probably only out for two hours tops anyway because I'm exhausted, but I appreciate being able to leave the house and see other adult humans. If the baby gets fussy, we leave.

2) "Adults only" courtesy invite to an event that is truly infant incompatible -- there's an amusement park outing for the whole office, and while they know I can't come, they want to make sure I know I'm wanted.

3) "Adults only" invite that's really a "fuck you," which is the one that the post you're responding to is complaining about. If it's an event where the baby really isn't any trouble -- at a casual restaurant, say -- inviting me but making a point to forbid me from bringing the infant is really a way of saying, "Don't come." Because you know that if I can't bring the infant, I can't come. So the purpose of the invite is apparently to make me feel excluded, or to play some head game, so you can both invite me AND uninvite me at once. Awesome. It's like junior high.

So the tricky bit, and where people's feelings get hurt, is the line between what's infant-allowed and what's infant-incompatible. This varies by culture, region, social group, etc. If you're in a family-friendly area, as the OP is, most things are going to be assumed to be #1. So you're going to have to be very careful not to issue a "fuck you" invitation where you're both inviting someone AND forbidding them to come, rather than a courtesy invitation where you're inviting someone that can't come because you want them to feel wanted.

This is generally trickiest to navigate for people without children, because they aren't aware of stages of baby development and how portable and ignorable infants are, and they may be uncomfortable with breastfeeding. (Although it's 2011, you're sort-of obligated to pretend not to be even if you are.) People with kids who aren't totally socially clueless will be aware of the social norms of their area and social group. The difficulty is really when someone violates those local social norms and creates hurt feelings. Not because it's like "OMG MY BABY MUST BE INCLUDED BECAUSE SHE IS A SNOWFLAKE!" but because it comes across as "You're invited -- ha, kidding, you're uninvited!" and even when you're 30, that's hurtful.

Thus endeth the dissertation
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:23 PM on August 9, 2011 [22 favorites]


Because you know that if I can't bring the infant, I can't come.

This is something you know, but your host doesn't know. I have friends who started leaving their baby with a trusted sitter at five weeks. I have other friends with a two-year-old who has always been with one parent or the other since birth. I consider these to be extremes, but the point is that no one can know whether you consider it acceptable to leave your children home without asking.

So, again, asking is probably the best policy, rather than just sending out a mass invitation with "Adults only" on it.
posted by grouse at 9:49 PM on August 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


3) "Adults only" invite that's really a "fuck you," which is the one that the post you're responding to is complaining about. If it's an event where the baby really isn't any trouble -- at a casual restaurant, say -- inviting me but making a point to forbid me from bringing the infant is really a way of saying, "Don't come." Because you know that if I can't bring the infant, I can't come. So the purpose of the invite is apparently to make me feel excluded, or to play some head game, so you can both invite me AND uninvite me at once. Awesome. It's like junior high.

Wow.

Okay, so the thing is, this complaint about being issued a "fuck you" invite is really weird and off-base in this situation. The OP outlined her plans for her birthday party right up there at the top -- a dinner party followed by drinks and dancing. How is asking that people not bring their children to this a "fuck you"? Really, I don't get it. Why would you want to take your child out to an evening of a special fancy dinner, drinks, and dancing?

The example you're presenting here, of being invited to a casual restaurant but being asked not to bring your baby -- it's so specific and it's something you're obviously quite upset about, so I have to assume this is something that has happened to you. If so, that really sucks and I'm sorry that it happened, but without knowing more about the situation, and not coming from a position of being new mother to a tiny infant and having none the emotions and stresses that go along with that, it seems more likely to me that your #2 and #3 up there are really two sides of the same coin -- the polite "we know you can't come but we want you to know that you're wanted", smoothly delivered faux-invite that is interpreted with the best of intentions, and the same invite delivered in a bumbling fashion and interpreted in the least charitable way possible.

In any case, since the OP is clearly working hard to find a solution that DOESN'T come off as a "fuck you" to her parent-friends, I think it's kind of crappy to keep circling back around to the "you're a horrible person for not wanting children at your party" thing.
posted by palomar at 10:22 PM on August 9, 2011 [34 favorites]


"Why would you want to take your child out to an evening of a special fancy dinner, drinks, and dancing? "

Hypothetical new mom,might or might not want to, but otherwise hypothetical new mom couldn't go and may badly want to go.

"it's so specific and it's something you're obviously quite upset about, so I have to assume this is something that has happened to you."

LOL, it hasn't happened to me ... I was trying to think of a really banal example ... and it isn't the kind of thing I'm likely to get upset over anyway since I assume misunderstanding rather than malice. Also possibly I have an unexciting social life. But I once saw a.whole volunteer group go up in flames over a similar issue and some people.still aren't speaking over it! (Before I had kids, and I was just an observer.) Some people do.get very hurt feelings.

"it seems more likely to me that your #2 and #3 up there are really two sides of the same coin"

That's exactly my point, and I was trying to show how a #2 can be misinterpreted as a #3 and result in unnecessary drama.

Sorry for typos ... using phone to type.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:54 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think what a lot of people are trying to address here, and to try to clarify to the OP, is that infants and children are not the same when it comes to all sorts of parenting practicalities.

If I can find and pay for a sitter, I can happily leave Toddler Zizzle behind for events we do not wish to bring him to or to which he is not invited.

But when the baby baking right now makes his/her appearance in a few weeks, we won't be able to leave that baby with a sitter for any true length of time. Maybe at most an hour with a really trusted friend or a grandparent.

I have friends who are currently in a somewhat analogous situation to the OP's. They are getting married in October. The ceremony is going to be later in the evening and is going to be a bit fancy schmancy pants. The new baby will be anywhere between two and six weeks old at the time of the wedding. It has been made clear that, short of those belonging to the bride and groom's family, kids shouldn't attend. We knew this before I was even pregnant. We made arrangements for TZ to stay with my parents for the weekends. Awesome!

Then, whoa. Here is baby number two. This couple was one of the first of our friends to find out about the pregnancy because I had to ask if I could bring baby number two with me. Toddler Zizzle is still going to go to the grandparents'. We don't know if we can even make the wedding right now, anyway, depending on how birth and recovery go and how we're feeling, etc. But we do know it wouldn't be possible to go at all without the newborn. Though we're more than happy to ship Toddler Zizzle off to the grandparents' still. He'll have more fun there, anyway.

The answer I got was that of course I could bring the new baby, though they did check to see what the plans now were for TZ. So if we go, we intend on sitting in the back in case the baby gets fussy, and if I can convince my husband to dance with me, we would probably do so with the baby wrapped in a sling between us. Whether we can go is still up in the air, but the bride and groom are being really gracious about us possibly being late responders to the wedding. They know the situation, and they're really, really good friends that missing the wedding at all would be devastating to us, but missing the wedding because we were told we couldn't bring the newborn.....that's an entirely different kettle of fish I'm so glad I don't have to worry about.
posted by zizzle at 3:10 AM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think what a lot of people are trying to address here, and to try to clarify to the OP, is that infants and children are not the same when it comes to all sorts of parenting practicalities.

This is where the pushback is coming from, I think. OP, you specifically said "infants" in your question and cited breastfeeding as an activity that made you uncomfortable. Sending a big kid (over 1 or 2) off with a babysitter for a few hours, is not a big deal, depending on the child of course, but a breastfeeding infant is not so easy to leave behind. As someone said upthread, some breastfed babies don't take bottles and at most you'd probably get 2 hours away, if you're lucky. My 10 month old can go a little longer because he can be held over with solids, but under 6 months, we couldn't be apart for more than an hour and a half to two hours. And nighttime away is still a no-go because he has to nurse at bedtime.
posted by chiababe at 5:38 AM on August 10, 2011


To build on what Eyebrows McGee has already been saying: Yeah, it's like that, getting an invitation that is simultaneously disinviting you.

If I were invited to a dinner, drinks, and dancing when one of my kids was very small and *hadn't* received an "Adults-Only" invitation, I would've attended for dinner and then gone home for the night because it was getting to bedtime. And I would have been thrilled to be invited and go for that small bit of the party. (And if the kiddo got fussy, we would've taken her out of the restaurant until we could get her settled... but alas not too many parents will do that.)

For a good friend's major life celebration, if they're arranging the celebration's parameters with the net result that I couldn't be there, I would think with some sadness, "Gosh, I guess Friend isn't willing to be a little flexible with the plans so I can attend even though I'm a parent now. It's too bad." And I'd anticipate future events to probably hold to a similar pattern. Because what kind of party you have is in fact a choice, and if it's all adults-only, the friend has effectively chosen not to include me.

Of course, this is going to depend very heavily on exactly what "friend" means, here. I'm thinking of it as "good and close friends," and these would be people I talk to all the time and by virtue of closeness and prior hanging out should have some idea of what's going on in my life. They would therefore have some idea regarding my child-related limitations... because they care about me and have been listening when I talk about, say, how rough it is that I can't get Baby to take a bottle, or that I dearly wish I could get away for two hours to get my hair fixed, but I can't leave Baby with someone else for that long.

I wouldn't feel that way over a casual acquaintance who happens to be dating my husband's ex-roommate or someone I knew from work; but then, I'd be surprised to be invited to such a person's milestone celebration at all.
posted by Andrhia at 5:53 AM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


So I guess my question would be which option would be more hurtful: being asked (in whatever tactful way) not to bring your children with you to the party, or not being asked at all?

I'm not trying to be contentious, just trying to understand the options for the OP. If people would be more hurt at not being asked even if they can't attend, then people should get invitations that indicate (in some way) that it is not a plus-child event. If it would be more hurtful to be asked in a way that indicates that it is not a plus-child event, then those people should not be included in the invitations.

I'd personally rather be asked, but I don't have kids so I don't know.
posted by winna at 7:29 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess I just don't quite get why the OP is supposed to rearrange her entire celebration to accommodate one or two people who MIGHT have freshly born infants. (Everyone is getting worked up imagining the OP snubbing friends who have just given birth, but we don't even know the age of the children who are not being invited, so this seems a little overwrought to me.) This seems to fit into the idea that I'm seeing crop up a lot -- that single people, or people without children, always need to be accommodating those with children. We're not allowed to want child-free events or spaces, and if we do want a child-free event or space, suddenly we're horrible people who don't care about you and secretly hate you and your kid. I'm so, so tired of that. You're the one that chose the parenting lifestyle, accept the changes that lifestyle brings and quit expecting everyone around you to disregard their own wants and needs in favor of yours and your child's at all times. Sometimes you don't get to attend special events when you have a little one at home, it's sucky and not fair but that's life sometimes. It's sucky and not fair that I always end up picking up the slack from coworkers running off to attend their kids' sporting events and plays and daycare needs and et cetera, but that's life, isn't it.

There have been PLENTY of times that I've been invited to an event, and the person inviting me knew very well I wouldn't be able to attend for whatever reason but invited me anyway. Recently I had to miss a very close friend's bachelorette party because she scheduled it on a night that I had to attend a work event that my friend had known about for a while. If you want to look at a mandatory work function as being similar to an infant you cannot leave even for a couple of hours, which I feel is a fair comparison here because of that whole "mandatory" thing and how I like having a job and getting paid, then yes, I've been in this situation. Did I get all bent out of shape because my friend knew scheduling her party on that date meant I couldn't come? No, because here's the thing: It's not about me. It's HER party. Yes, it was a bit of a bummer that I couldn't go. Yes, she felt bad when she realized the scheduling issue, but was it possible to rearrange the event so that I could attend? Not without inconveniencing a hell of a lot of other people and losing some deposit money for some stuff, and honestly my need to be catered to was just not that fierce.

OP, have the party you want to have. If you have friends with tiny babies or friends with kids who won't tolerate a sitter and they can't come to your party, try to set up a separate time to hang out with them, and enjoy your party. If that is not good enough for them, and they feel that you need to rearrange the milestone birthday celebration that you have planned for yourself so that they can attend in exactly the manner they feel they're entitled to, then you've done yourself the favor of identifying a high-maintenance person that you may or may not decide to remain friends with. Win-win.
posted by palomar at 7:34 AM on August 10, 2011 [43 favorites]


people are getting insanely touchy about this. OP, as the mom of a 10-month-old, please just make it clear in some way on the invitations that this is a party for Adults Only. i get these invitations all the time. sometimes i am able to get a sitter, sometimes i'm not. i don't find it rude or insulting or a "fuck you" invitation.

however, please be aware that a nursing infant is generally hungry, and your alternative to a baby nursing in a place where children are permitted is a screaming infant. if a breast being used for its intended purpose really ruins your evening, you may want to examine your reasons for that. there's nothing sexual about a breast with a baby attached, and i can't imagine another reason you would be uncomfortable.
posted by woodvine at 8:05 AM on August 10, 2011 [10 favorites]


[the OP has an email address and if you'd like to tell her why she is annoying you should be using that and not commenting in this thread. This thread is for helping her solve her problem and if you need to gently challenge assumptions that is fine but it's not going to be a referendum on parenting which I have made crystal clear. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:33 AM on August 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


Like the OP's boyfriend, I can't seem to get over this and move on with my life, so I have gone Meta with this.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 2:56 PM on August 10, 2011


My husband and I (no kids and no plans for any) used to throw our gang's New Year's Eve party at our old (1920s) house full of antiques and breakables. The party started at 9 PM, formal wear was encouraged, especially as many friends were party-hopping to several events, some of which were formal job-related events, and there was lots of drinking including the champagne toast. This was generally the same 50 people every year for 5+ years and every year, we had to explain to somebody that no, in fact, our house was not suitable for or equipped to handle toddlers and small children. We also got asked every year in October whether we were throwing the party that year, so people could plan 3 months ahead for a sitter.

We did learn to cope with small infants who were in car seats and weren't crawling; they were sleeping by their parents most of the time anyway. Their parents also tended to take them home if they started crying.

Moral: yes, tell friends with the invitation that this is a grown-up venue and party with drinking and dancing and formal fun. Do this well in advance so people can get a sitter, and be aware that folks with children, particularly little babies, may not make it. This is not because they hate you or can't deal without their special snowflakes, but because the kids are too young or the parents cannot leave them for some other reason, often health-related. If you really need to see those folks, either have another kind of event (sometimes necessary) or celebrate separately with them and their kids.

Good luck and enjoy your party, either way.
posted by immlass at 3:47 PM on August 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Like it or not, your friends are now parents and their lives revolve around their kids. It's fine if you don't want kids at the party, and you should just be up front about it. I don't think many parents would get all exercised about it, especially if it's not every party you throw.

That said, if you make a habit of asking your friends to leave their kids at home, then you should expect them not to stay close friends with you for long, just for practical reasons, whether they are offended or not.
posted by empath at 4:00 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just one more opinion here: it's perfectly fine to just put a simple "adults only" or one of the other short, excellent wording suggestions you've gotten here. Many/most of my friends with kids are thrilled to go out without them, and not offended by receiving "adults only" invitations. However, that may be because our group of friends regularly schedules "kids welcome" events, too.

But as a fellow childless person who has many friends with young children, I'll gently suggest that I think you could be a little more accepting of the breastfeeding issue. Changing diapers at the table is totally gross, but (as you've probably heard ad infinitum in this thread) Babies Gotta Eat. I find it a little strange that, from my reading of your comments, you've got breastfeeding in the same general grossness category as diapers-at-the-table.

I know what you're saying, it's a little weird to get an accidental flash of your friend's breast. It's happened to me. And I thought "weird, I just saw so-and-so's nipple!" But there's no way around it with newborns, and I kind of wish in general that U.S. society was a little more "no biggie" about breastfeeding.
posted by lillygog at 6:20 PM on August 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


If it's an event where the baby really isn't any trouble -- at a casual restaurant, say -- inviting me but making a point to forbid me from bringing the infant is really a way of saying, "Don't come." Because you know that if I can't bring the infant, I can't come. So the purpose of the invite is apparently to make me feel excluded,

They don't know you can't come. And if it's not your event, then you how can you say the child doesn't cause any trouble? Just because it's a causal dining venue, it doesn't mean I want to hear wailing and screaming. What if someone just doesn't like kids? Some times adults want to be with adults- especially adults that don't have kids. You don't owe them your attendance, sure, but they don't owe you your child's attendance, either.

This is what is freaking out the OP- they just want a fun party without having to worry about kids, and someone like you is going to assume it's a coded "fuck you".

OP, as seen above, you can't avoid causing offense if someone is dead set on taking it. Just put "Adults Only" and hope for the best.
posted by spaltavian at 6:33 PM on August 10, 2011


[metatalk is where metadiscussion is going on, not here, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:30 PM on August 10, 2011


"They don't know you can't come."

Then we have a different definition of "friend," since my friends know what's up in my life. Maybe that's at the root of the problem.

"This is what is freaking out the OP- they just want a fun party without having to worry about kids, and someone like you is going to assume it's a coded "fuck you"."

Seriously, NOT ME. My social life is not nearly exciting enough for it to be a big issue, my friends don't suck, and I'm not that wound up a person; I mostly assume people are NOT out to give offense. I was just giving examples of what I've seen happen to other people to help the OP try to understand. I am not that wound up about this issue, but I watched an entire volunteer group absolutely implode over it so I'm aware of how contentious it can get even when nobody was intending to give offense to start with. As evidenced by the length of the thread, it's a touchy issue, on both sides, for a lot of people.

posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:07 PM on August 10, 2011


Has anyone suggested a group babysitter? Arrange for a sitter or two (depending on the number of kids) to go to a friend's house where all the kids will be dropped off and offer to cover expenses yourself. Your friends with kids will be blown away when you tell them you are buying yourself the best present you can think of: their company. Or suggest to split the costs if that's a lot for you to swallow, as a non-parent I'd be glad to chip in on a special occasion so that close friends can have a night out together.

It's not the best idea for friends with infants, but it might work. A friend of mine was married this last weekend and did something similar. There was a room at the venue that was stocked up with games, crafts, and kid stuff and parents volunteered to cover some time at the wedding so everyone could be included. It worked great.
posted by peeedro at 9:10 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm late to this ruckus, and for that I apologize. I want to ask what seems to me an obvious question. For a party with only 10 or so guests, might you prefer to discuss your desires for a child-free celebration with your invitees?

Here's how I envision it. You send out an invitation that says "I'm hosting a night of drinks, dinner, and dancing to celebrate my milestone birthday. We're having it at Chez Malaise on October 23. Hope you can make it!"

Then, observing a decent interval (a few days at most), you contact those recipients who have kids and say something like "hey, hope you got my invitation. Is there anything I can do to help you arrange childcare and whatnot because I'm really looking forward to a raucous time ..."

If I'm reading you right, you're only having 5-ish couples to your party. It wouldn't be too much effort to make 5 phone calls, just to make sure you've done your due diligence in ensuring a kidless event, would it?

I raised three kids and never experienced the "fuck-you" invitation. I did see some pretty crazy behavior from non-parents who thought they had to twist themselves around to accommodate me and my breastfeeding schedule. It led to some hard feelings, and it didn't need to do.
posted by S'Tella Fabula at 8:09 AM on August 11, 2011


Because my friends all live everywhere but here, I handle wanting to have Adults Only events much in the way that peeedro suggests - I make babysitter arrangements so my friends can come in to town, have a great night out with everyone, and not worry about their kiddos.

Super new parents are often uncomfortable with the idea of leaving their kiddo with someone - it's not because they think their precious is a fascinating snowflake, it's because leaving this tiny thing with someone else is terrifying and makes them feel like a bad parent. If your friends are super new parents, please do talk to them and try to set them at ease.

There is nothing wrong with specifying that the event is Adults Only. If your enkidded friends can't make it or are too nervous (or too broke) to use a sitter, don't take it personally.
posted by MissySedai at 5:42 PM on August 11, 2011


Very late to the party. But as a parent with three small kids (1, 3 and 7), I just wanted to say "Adults only, please" is more than appropriate. I have used it on many an invitation and received it as well.

If a parent has an issue with it, it is their problem. They can either get a sitter, one of them stay home (not cool for Dad to go alone if Mom is nursing) or not go. And if the baby is still in that breastfeeding/needs feeding every three hours stage, maybe the parents' priority should not be going to every single party their friend has.

I find this whole "adults only" = fuck you disturbing. But I suspect most of the new parents saying this will, one day, relish the opportunity to have some quality adult time.
posted by cjets at 7:08 PM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Adults only" is fine and acceptable. If they get insulted, they don't have to come. I'm a parent of a 2 year old. I get it. But others also have to understand that if I can't find a sitter, invite will be only to spouse or myself while the other watches the kid.

DH's best friend's bday party was in the afternoon--right during nap time. Our original plan was for me to meet up there (long drive too) after our son napped. Well mechanic caused us to have only one car, so I never made it. She was so insulted that for our son's bday party, she refused to come.

The moral is, if people want to be petty assholes, they'll find a shitload of excuses and tie it to their kid being invited/not invited, coming or not coming. Don't worry about it. It's them, not you.

And by the way, I just did this gently to a best friend. Milestone bday vacation. I put in there we would NOT bring our son but we wanted to offer the free spare room to them. I have a feeling that either they'll bring their son (which is a problem) or not come because she can't live without DH and the child. So her loss.
posted by stormpooper at 9:17 AM on August 16, 2011


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