Is this a parenting lie?
Parents seem to be slipping up, and teaching their kids bad habits.
Image: via Shutterstock

I have three kids. That has meant (so far) a total of 25 birthday parties. One thing I’ve learned from all of those fling-and-fizzer extravaganzas is that an RSVP doesn’t seem to mean anything these days.

R.S.V.P. stands for "répondez, s'il vous plaît," or “please respond”. After the plans have been made, and the invitations carefully printed or made and addressed, your child will take them to school and hand them out. Your name is at the bottom of the invitation with a request to RSVP and a contact number.

There are five typical responses to the RSVP
  • Yes, my child would love to be there (and he actually turns up on the day).
  • Yes, my child will come (but is sick at the last minute).
  • No, my child won’t be able to make it.
  • Yes, he’ll see you on the day (but then he doesn’t pitch).
  • No response at all!

RSVP rudeness can be costly

Now my children’s parties have been quite modest, most of them at their home, but many parents go to great lengths (and expense) to celebrate their child’s special day. There is catering to work out, sometimes party bags to fill, and some parents even go to restaurants or other activity centres where a minimum quantity of guests is needed to make a booking. Unless your child is terribly ill, it strikes me as rude that you’d not honour your commitment. Rather say no in the first place.

My youngest son’s party this year consisted of him and two friends. The others never arrived. It can be tricky to organise to take your child to a party on a Saturday (especially if you have two children going to two different parties), and presents can become costly, but there are ways of organising your life to cope with those issues, such as better communication and planning (a present budget, for example).

My children have sometimes been sad when their friends don’t pitch, but then the excitement of the party takes over. The only good thing about it is that I get to eat some of the party food.The thing is, when I attend grownup functions, I also see lots of empty seats and unclaimed goodie bags, and it seems that an RSVP is considered the same thing as “let’s see on the day/It’ll depend on the weather/my mood/whether or not something better comes along or just so I don’t make the organiser feel like I don’t care”. And that is precisely the lesson we’re teaching our kids...

Do you agree that parents don’t take RSVPs seriously?

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