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20-40-60 Etiquette: Party politics left out my child

My child wasn't invited to her friend's birthday party going on next door. What should I have done? 20-40-60 Etiquette weighs in, with Devonne Carter as guest.
BY CALLIE GORDON, LILLIE-BETH BRINKMAN, HELEN FORD WALLACE Modified: September 7, 2012 at 4:25 pm •  Published: September 7, 2012

GUEST'S ANSWER: Devonne Carter, licensed clinical social worker and etiquette class teacher at Oklahoma Christian University: In this situation, modeling a positive attitude for your child will help the most. If you are upset and have a negative attitude, your child will learn from you. If you show your child that you can be positive, even in times when your feelings are hurt, you will be setting a good example for her.

Situations are going to happen that hurts our feelings. We are going to be left out at times we think we should be included. This is an opportunity to teach your daughter how to manage her feelings when she isn't included.

If you shelter your child and never let them experience anything negative, they are not going to be prepared for life when you are not with them. With that in mind, I wouldn't try to hide the situation (like taking your daughter to McDonald's during the party). I would use this opportunity to explain that sometimes we are not able to do everything with everyone and that was your neighbor's choice.

If your daughter acted hurt about not being invited, I would have asked her how she felt. I would have validated her feelings, by saying something like, “Wow. I can see how that would make you sad,” while keeping your chin up about the situation.

Callie Gordon, a college junior, is 20-something; Lillie-Beth Brinkman, assistant features editor is in her 40s; and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. At times, you'll also find a guest answer. Callie and Lillie-Beth were both debutantes; Helen has served on local ball committees.


To ask an etiquette question, email For more 20-40-60 etiquette, go to


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