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When your child is invited to their first party, it is completely normal to face the decision, should you stay with your child or should you allow them to remain at the party alone. Your decision depends on a number of factors.

First, you know your child, their personality and their behaviour. If your child has experience with family gatherings and participation in other group activities, your presence may not be required, However, if your child is shy, over-active, or has no experience in large groups, it may be best for you to stay, at least until you know how your child is going to behave. A very young child may ask you to stay or exhibit behaviour, such as hanging on to you or crying if you start to leave, that tells you staying is best.

Additionally, it depends on the age of your child. It is probably more likely that you will need to stay with a very young child than with one that is older. When your child is seven or eight, they may actually ask you to stay or leave, and you should consider their request. You should also check to make sure your pre-teen or teen’s party will be supervised by adults. Offering to assist with supervision is a subtle way to make this determination and can provide you an opportunity for supervising your child.

Use some logic as you make your decision to stay at the party or leave. If you know the parents, the location for the party is small, or the invitation indicates an activity is for children only, leaving your child at the party is probably fine. However, if you do not know the family or have any other reason for feeling unsure about leaving your child unsupervised at the party, you should stay. If you are uncomfortable leaving or staying with them, present the gift, wish the child a happy birthday, then leave with your child. Your child’s safety is too important to take the risk of staying in a situation you feel may be threatening.

If you wish to stay at the party, make sure you ask the parent who is hosting the party if it all right for you to stay. It is best to do this in advance, so that if the parent says, “No” you can decide if your child will attend the party without you. If you do stay with your child, make sure your presence does not create extra work or inconvenience for the host. Remember that it is a party for children, not for the parents. Offer to help and stay out of the way as much as possible.

Remembering the dilemma, this question has posed for you, remember to include on invitations to your own parties whether you expect parents to stay or leave. If you include an RSVP, when parents respond, you can ask if they plan to stay or request them to do so, if that is your preference.

Talking to the parent having the party, asking your child if they want you to stay or go, and following your instincts about the safety of the situation can help you resolve the question – should I stay, or should I go?

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