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by Abigail Van Buren

One Way Party Invitations Cause Hurt Feelings in Kids

DEAR ABBY: My son, "Brad," is in first grade in a small private school. When birthday time rolls around, I always invite all the kids. They all show up, but when it comes to returning the invitation, some do -- but most don't. Brad is very hurt when he is excluded from their parties. It seems to me that when you accept an invitation, you should reciprocate.

It's not a matter of money, Abby; the parents can afford to invite all the children. One parent told me she lets her son decide whom to invite and she stays out of it. Isn't this teaching a child that bad manners are acceptable and getting along with each other is not important? My child has also wanted to exclude a particular child. I always say, "No one likes being left out."

I know I can't control what other people do, but I hope this letter reminds parents what it was like to be a child. Life isn't always fair, but at least we can teach our kids proper etiquette. -- PERPLEXED IN VIRGINIA

DEAR PERPLEXED: Even more important than teaching children proper etiquette is teaching them empathy for other people. Unless young people are taught respect for the feelings of others, all the etiquette lessons in the world are wasted.