to feel sad DS is not invited because we're 'different'

(91 Posts)
notsodifferent Tue 05-Mar-13 09:31:06

I've namechanged because I am very identifiable from my chat history. I am also prepared to be told IABU but sadly think that's not the case. DS is 4.5, in reception and is really enjoying it there, making lots of friends, always chatting about his day and if he's on holiday (eg last half term) asking when he's going to go back to school! His teacher and TA are lovely too. We are muslim and south asian, I wear a headscarf but dress 'fashionably' and both DH and I were born here and have professional jobs.

Since he started, he has only ever had one invitation to a party and that is probably because the whole class has been invited (it's in a hall). He is never invited to anyone's house. I know there have been lots of parties that he has not been invited to.

There are only 2 or 3 mums in his class who I have ever had a conversation with, some of them won't even make eye contact which I find incredibly rude. I always make an effort to smile and say hello. I am not naturally an outgoing person but will always chat to someone if they look approachable. I have even had a mum move away to join another group when I approached to talk to the person she was chatting to! I recently had a baby, most people have completely ignored that I was pregnant and then had the baby. I don't expect anyone to make a fuss of the baby but find it odd that people don't acknowledge it at all.

So AIBU to feel that people are excluding us as we're different? DS was at nursery before this where he was one of very few Asian children (although it was quite international, lots of Europeans). He was always invited, but we moved to a different area and the school is quite 'middle class'. Is he not being invited because people are worried about their children being invited back? What can I do to help him? Because my baby is only 6w old I don't feel ready to have lots of playdates (and I'm worried about being knocked back) but will try and invite some children if this is the way forward.

Hawkmoon269 Tue 05-Mar-13 10:37:22

When my dsd was in reception I found that parents were generally nervous about their (still very small) dc going to play at other people's houses if they didn't know the other parents very well or had been to their home. How about asking one or two other parents if they'd like to all come home with you for tea while the children play? Or all go to the park together after school? Might that help?

A couple of times I arranged play dates and the parent(s) came too - much to my surprise, but I realised it happened a lot in reception.

Hawkmoon269 Tue 05-Mar-13 10:38:08

hadn't been to their home!!

hope baby group is fun for you today. smile

It is tricky when you move to a new area, but you will get there, Im sure.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

flatbread Tue 05-Mar-13 10:40:44

Have you tried MumsNet local to make friends for yourself?

Think OP has said that she has enough friends and doesn't need more.

Leaving aside the playdates stuff, I do think it is very odd and rude of the other mums to avoid eye contact and not even acknowledge a new baby. If it were me, I would be really annoyed.

squiddle Tue 05-Mar-13 10:42:26

I think this is a normal experience when your eldest dc is in reception - I could have written most of your post when dd1 went to school, and there are so many threads on mn about the school gate.

It does get easier but if you want people to talk to you, then you have to talk to them. If you want to start the whole playdate thing, then you have to invite other dc to yours. But I don't think you really need to worry about the social side just yet - your ds sounds like he is having a lovely time as it is. My dd is in Y1 and still prefers playdates with kids she knew from nursery. They are very young and don't necessarily want to go to other people's houses unless they know them well.

VenusRising Tue 05-Mar-13 10:45:57

Congratulations first and foremost!

I think that the advice to invite some of the children to the park, or for a play date at your home is good.

We had a similar experience in our school - my dd was friendly with a little girl who happened to be Muslim. Her mum also wore a hijab. I was amazed at how shy she was, even though she was doing a post grad degree in the local university. She had been brought up to be reticent, and not to speak out, but it didn't translate well, as other mums thought her standoffish.

It took a while of inviting her dd to our house for her to come, and when she'd come to collect, she'd never come in in case my DH was there.
This mum wouldn't shake hands or speak to a man not in her family, and while I understood this, having worked in the Far East, it was off putting for other parents. I was quite shocked at the reaction of some mums to her hijab, and not shaking hands with a man not in her family, but I suppose you'll meet that everywhere.

In some ways it was easier to have my dd go to her house, as she could control the environment to suit herself and her beliefs, and we had lovely times, chatting, and drinking tea, when id go to pick up my dd. I played it by ear with her, and we spent a lot of time, sitting, chatting on a rug on the grass in a local park, while the kids played.

For parties, her dd would arrive after all the food had been eaten, or she asked the hosting mums not to feed her dd, that she had just had lunch etc. I was quite used to dietary restrictions and observances, having kosher relatives on my DHs side, and allergies on mine, though some mums thought it quite rude to refuse hospitality.... It can be difficult, can't it, not to step on toes?

I think the thing is to be persistent, and maybe start off with a local park to have the play dates - maybe ask the other mum along too so you get to make friends, (and that way she can admire your baby!). And see where that leads you. If your DS isn't unhappy, you're obviously doing a lovely job, and sometimes school and some after school activity, like music (an orchestra) or sport ( a team) can fulfil the social aspects of a child's life, without having to have play dates.

WorraLiberty Tue 05-Mar-13 10:47:57

Oh right I missed that flatbread

In that case OP, just let the kids get on with it and the invites will come when they're ready and probably when you can be more proactive yourself.

As for the playground, just treat it for what it is - somewhere to pick up and drop off.

FantasticDay Tue 05-Mar-13 10:53:24

Hi. I know there is an element of the stereotype that 'girls whose mums wear headscarves aren't allowed to go to parties' in my daughter's school. I know this is not always true, by any means (headscarf-wearing friend and daughter coming to tea tonight, and my Muslim sil is a party animal). But I do know that some Muslim friends of my daughter never do respond to party invitations, go to school discos etc. (which I know could be for a whole host of reasons - language being one), and she then doesn't want to invite them to things as 'they won't be able to go'. If there is similar stereotyping at your ds' school, then you might be able to overcome it by asking a couple of ds's sons for a playdate. (The ones with the more approachable mums - if someone is rudely avoiding eye contact, don't start with them!) You could also suggest a playdate at the local park, if you don't feel up for hosting (which with a 6wk old would be entirely understandable!). Good luck!

I think people vary quite a lot in how open they are to diversity and difference ....

See if you can find the ones who are more prepared to be friendly to everyone as they'll be the nicest and most interesting anyway !

And ignore any narrow-minded boring racists !

I agree with others that if you can find a friend or two to invite over you'll soon get the ball rolling for you and your son smile

Congratulations on new baby thanks

tallulah Tue 05-Mar-13 11:05:07

My DD is in Y1. Towards the end of Reception I became aware that all the other mums knew each other by name and were meeting up regularly. There were lots of playdates I'd been unaware of.

One or 2 mums speak to me regularly. Some ignore me. It's a school in a WC area and some have clearly been here for generations. We moved here 2 years ago and I work every day.

I find it hard because I am the same age as the grannies. Most of the mums are my DD1's age, so we are different too.

IMHO I think you've more chance of making friends with other people who identify as slightly "different" than with a clique of people who all see themselves as having a lot in common.

That is I often find people more friendly who are from other cultures and like me have moved to this city from other places, than those who've lived here for generations. Even though I'm WBri as it says on the forms.

Basically some people will only let those like themselves into their friendship group. IMHO that's their loss !

mum382013 Tue 05-Mar-13 11:28:41

i have this with my youngest. she is disabled and has never been to anyones for tea ever. only very occanional parties. she always has a party and invites around 50 kids, and i have had kids for tea here. no invites back. not one. ever. and she is 10 this year. mainstream school with friends at school but for some reason she doesn't get invited.

mum382013 Tue 05-Mar-13 11:29:18

congrats on the baby smile how lovelysmile

Kiriwawa Tue 05-Mar-13 11:34:31

Hi notsodifferent. Just wanted to share my experience in case it helps: I'm white, similar age/background to many of the mums at my DS's school but moved here just before he started reception. I really, really struggled last year with feeling excluded as there appeared to be loads of well established groups.

DS is now in year 1 and he (and I) are finally being accepted into the community - he's been invited to lots of kids' homes, they're talking to me more etc.

I think it takes a long time for established groups of people to welcome in someone new into the fold in an active way. The fact that you are 'different' isn't going to help admittedly but I've found that you have to be a bit pushy - be really smiley, hideously over friendly and absolutely invite someone to a playdate. That really is the way in.

Good luck

fromparistoberlin Tue 05-Mar-13 11:34:38

aww notso

wish you were at my school, its like United Nations and so diverse there is no minority or majority!

but we are in London, and I am guessing you are not

first of all we really dont do play dates, kids tend to see each other in the park or at parties. FYI only... I dont think reception age playdates are the "norm"

From reading your post, I am a bit hmm that noone commented on your new baby, and I can see why you have a busy life you are concerned for your DS

HOWEVER, he is happy at school and I think he will develop his own friends in time.

I am not sure where you are, but yes maybe (if all white) their is some racism

I think right now, you need to almlost do nothing. Let him settle in, and get used to new baby. And sound out these people to see if they are just standoffish, or something else.

dont assume all bitches, and put a smile on your face and give it time

I do feel sad reading this, fucking hate people sometimes!

123oap Tue 05-Mar-13 11:37:15

I'm sorry to hear you've been treated like this. Some mothers do have stupid reasons for not inviting other children back, so please don't assume it's because of your race. I agree that maybe you could suggest it to the nicer mums, and encourage playdates that way. Or could you have a chat with the sympathetic teacher, and see what she thinks.

pigletmania Tue 05-Mar-13 12:30:58

Yanbu tat sounds awful, ignorant people can be very narrow minded, and probably have stereotypes that they have read in the DM. Invite a couple of his friends to play or if not meet in the park. You do sound lovely btw

DeafLeopard Tue 05-Mar-13 13:10:36

I agree that you really have to put yourself out there.

When DS started school I was working f/t so wasn't invited to the coffee mornings / reading in school etc, so it was down to me to really make the effort to help his social life.

We invited one friend over for tea a week - it was a good way of getting to know his friends, their parents and generated some reciprocal invitations too. The party thing could be down to the fact that children are only inviting small numbers and your DS friends aren't the ones having parties.

When we moved (DD was in Y2) I had to start all over again by inviting every girl in the class. Some reciprocated, some didn't.

I think a lot of people don't really think about other people in the playground, they only think of themselves, so gravitate to the people that they know and stand round in little groups.

Iseeall Tue 05-Mar-13 13:11:05

Another one here who thinks you need to be more proactive. It is not your headscarf or religion it is very likely the fact that you are new. Nothing more. You said you were shy, you have just has a baby,
you and your dh are professionals, I guess you are on maternity leave perhaps?
You child is happy and has friends, ask his favourite home for tea/play. Directly from school for two hours max. This is doable with a new baby.
Other mums will be just as shy, you are not the only one.....do try for your ds sake.

notsodifferent Tue 05-Mar-13 13:30:24

Just got back from baby group and lunch, had a lovely time chatting to 4 or 5 other mums. Everyone was friendly and approachable, so different from the playground! I think on reflection, I was being a bit unreasonable and it is more to do with being new, not already in a group etc, although I do find the mums quite unfriendly.

I will be making more of an effort and will try not to feel sorry for myself or DS smile This morning children were being given party invites and that's what set me off thinking about it.

worraliberty think you are right about not being too worried about the whole thing, it IS just a place to drop off and pick up and anything else is a bonus. I feel a bit more positive knowing I can do something about the situation anyway.

AIBU isn't always the bearpit it's made out to be smile

notsodifferent Tue 05-Mar-13 13:31:03

should say, not all the mums are unfriendly, some of them are fine

EuroShaggleton Tue 05-Mar-13 13:37:49

I've just finished reading the thread and my conclusion was that it was to do with being new rather than your race/religion. I've seens a lot of posts on here about unfriendly cliques at the school gate.

There might also be an element of uncertainty if it is not a very multicultural area, for example, being unsure what to feed your son, whether your family celebrates birthdays, etc. (Not racism in the sense of excluding him because of his race, but rather as a consequence of it, due to a lack of knowledge which just makes it seem easier to avoid the issue by not inviting your son.) You could perhaps try to overcome this by being the one to initate and see if they reciprocate with playdates.

currentbuns Tue 05-Mar-13 13:45:49

My dd has had a couple of Muslim friends at school and has been keen to invite them on a playdate at various times. In each case the mothers made their excuses - repeatedly. It was all rather awkward because I got along well with the mothers and one of these little girls was a particularly close friend to dd. Every day, the two of them would emerge after school chiming, "Can we have a playdate?"
Dd has always had a succession of other friends around to play, so it was difficult to explain to a four year old why this little girl's mother would always refuse.

Kiriwawa Tue 05-Mar-13 13:52:04

I can understand being a bit hurt if you saw invites being handed out - I would be too.

Again though, last year, DS wasn't invited to any parties. I'm not sure if other children didn't have them or if they just invited the children they 'knew'. This year, we have had 3 in the last 10 days. Be careful what you wish for grin

You do sound like you have a lovely, positive attitude so I'm sure you'll be accepted into the bosom of the classroom very soon

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