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“A” is for Advice – Birthday Blues

Advice Birthday Blues
Q: Due to religious beliefs, my daughter’s best friend can’t celebrate birthdays. Help!

Advice Birthday BluesQ: My daughter’s tenth birthday is coming up soon, and I’ve promised her that she can have a birthday party. The problem is that her best friend practices a religion that doesn’t celebrate birthdays. I don’t want to exclude the little girl from the festivities, but I don’t want to offend her family by sending an invitation. My daughter really wants her to be a part of her big day. What should I do?

A: Whereas some aspects of life are open for negotiation (like bedtime or chores) others are not. Religion is one of those non-negotiable areas. While you see birthdays as a time meant for fun celebration, your daughter’s friend sees them differently. It’s not your place to decide whether that outlook is right or wrong, but it is your place to demonstrate tolerance and respect by not placing your daughter’s best friend in an awkward position. No matter how much your daughter wants her friend to come to the party, you cannot ask her to forgo her beliefs for the sake of your daughter.

You can, however, talk to the friend’s parent about the situation. Many people are hesitant to ask others about their religious beliefs, but an open dialogue can go a long way toward dispelling misunderstandings and prejudices. In fact, the girl’s parents will probably appreciate your thoughtfulness. Assure mom or dad that you don’t want to make them uncomfortable, but let them know that your daughter would like to do something special with her friend. Ask how you can accomplish this in a way that won’t infringe upon their religious beliefs. While the little girl will probably not be able to attend the party or give a gift, she may be able to spend the night or go to a movie as long as it’s for the sake of friendship and not for the sake of a birthday celebration.

If the parents are unwilling to allow the girl to participate in any activity that may be contrived to be a birthday celebration, drop it. Pushing the issue may result in the loss of the friendship.

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About the author

Crystal Plante

Crystal Plante

Crystal is a teacher, reading specialist, freelance writer, author, and married mother of four. In her spare time—or whatever spare time a mother of four has—she enjoys reading, cooking, watching television, and volunteering in her community. Crystal is an unabashed chocoholic and a long-suffering (but recently redeemed) fan of the Kansas City Chiefs. You can visit her website at

  • Katie

    Definitely approach the parent. Even though they may not celebrate birthdays for themselves, many times they are tolerant of other peoples celebrations and will attend. If not, settle on a special sleepover “just because” a few weeks down the road. That way the kids get time together without the worries of stepping on religious toes. Great thoughts!

  • Krystle Kouture

    Wow I’ve never heard of a religion that doesn’t believe in birthdays. Thought provoking. Good advice!

  • Tatanisha Worthey

    This can be tough. I’ve seen this happen many times. If I know it’s against their religious beliefs, I would not even bring up the subject. They may be offended that you asked, especially if you already know what they believe. Birthdays is special, but it’s celebrated differently in every culture, religion, etc. If you and your daughter value the friendship more- then let it go. Don’t bring it up. Plan to have your daughter and her friend celebrate in a different way.

  • Sadie

    I would ask the parents if the kid could come. If not, I’d ask if a sleepover for the two of them was okay.

    • Taylor Speikers

      I agree with Sadie! That way they could still spend time together.

  • I haven’t had to think about this yet. I think asking the parents if the girls can do something else as friends is a great idea!

  • Christine T

    I would probably approach the parents as well. This is such a sensitive subject, but if you at least make an attempt to reach the parents about it, the little girl will at least know you didn’t just forget about her. It will be her parent’s job to explain why she can’t go at that point.

  • I have to agree with Krystle – I’ve never heard of a religion that doesn’t celebrate birthdays. It definitely makes you think about what you would do if your child’s friend had the same religion!

  • notageek4u

    I definitely agree with what’s been said. I would go straight to her parents to start a dialogue, and if anything…then have a separate sleep over. Now, if the sleepover just happens to involve left over Cake…I see no harm 🙂

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