I’m brought to tears when I read about children having no friends or classmates show up to celebrate their special days. How absolutely lonely and heartbreaking the joyous day turned for these kids.

I get it. We’re in the digital age where e-vites, Facebook events, and text messages sometimes replace paper invitations. But when you think about it, it’s easier than ever to respond “Can’t go” or “No” to festivities with this technology. So I must tell you if you’ve received an invitation and not responded, you were being disrespectful.

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When a parent takes the time to get their child’s birthday theme selected and party planned, the very least a recipient to the invite can do is respond one way or the other. Truck printed invitations, Dr. Seuss customized family shirts, dinosaur balloons, princess gift bags, food to fit the particular setting.

This is all absolutely pointless if no one shows up.

I’ve attended parties that have clearly cost upwards of a thousand dollars with professional balloon arches, gorgeous cookies, and food to feed an army. My stomach drops because I know the family budgeted and planned for this for months. They wanted their pride and joy child to have a big party and for everyone to have a blast of a good time. Meanwhile, there are two kids and one adult sharing in the occasion with the hosting family.

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How do I know? I’ve been there. I’ve rented a bounce house only for one kid to show up on the day of the party. I’ve prepaid $600 on nugget trays, gift bags, sandwiches, and cookies only for each day leading up to the party to lose more and more attendees than planned. Party planning has to be done in advance. These things take time and thought.

So that RSVP date? It means something.

It means from that day on a family is financially preparing for x number of mouths to feed and people to entertain and thank. Also, don’t make people text message or call and ask for your RSVPthey are busy enough and this was your ONE job.

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Parents spend hard-earned money to give their kid a day they’ll never forget; meanwhile, they are deep-down saddened and faking a smile in front of a handful of guests doing their best to make sure they, and they alone, can give their kid an awesome party.

Can’t afford a gift? No problem, please come and have a good time. My 2-year-old just wants company and lasting memories. A photo of him wearing a birthday hat blowing out candles with half the party not there irritates me beyond belief.

I understand life happens, truly. I’m a parent.

But it’s in poor taste to 1) Not RSVP at all, 2) RSVP as a no and then show up, 3) RSVP yes and then not attend, and 4) RSVP yes and then decide it’s too much work to attend the party.

Communicate with the party hosts. Because when you don’t, you’re actually communicating to the child too. The older they get, the more they see who didn’t come, who chose not to, or who we never heard back from but anxiously hoped on the morning of the party would show up.

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My son’s birthday went from 15 to 35 to 19 to 30 and ended with 20, in a matter of the week leading up to the party. I cannot express how stressed this made me. We, especially as family members and parents ourselves, have to do better.

These viral posts about kids having empty birthday parties have to stop. Sending cards to kids who got no cards? Why? Why can’t people take 30 seconds to send a card, simply a text message, and say they are unable to attend?

Times are changing and we are going digital. However, birthday parties for kids are not tech-focusedthey are people-focused and fun driven. So please, I beg of you. RSVP to that party. Show your dependability and respect one way or the other because kids deserve respect, too.

Jennifer Bailey

Stay at home mom enjoying one little boy and navigating parenting one trip to Target at a time.