A mother of five's unusual approach to birthday party invitations is sparking a decate over children's party ettqiuette.
Jeena Wilder, who is from South Carolina, shared her stance in a video on TikTok and Instagram. In the short clip, Wilder appeared to excitedly read an invitation to a birthday party before turning around to dance in a straight line through her house.
Soon after, four of her children followed, then her husband, Drue, who carried their 4-month-old son.
“POV when you invite one of my children to a birthday party,” a text overlay on the video read. “You invite one child you get all of us… Don’t worry we bring awesome gifts.”
On TikTok, Wilder accompanied the video with a caption that explained more of her position.
“Are you team just the invited child goes or team the whole family?!" she asked. "My husband works a lot and most days it’s just me and the kids! I always RSVP or ask the parents first.”
In her Instagram caption, she expanded on the topic, posing a question to her audience: “If one of your children is invited to a birthday party does that mean all of your kids can go?”
Personally, Wilder said she’s “team the whole family goes.” However, she understands that not everyone will agree with her.
“I know that not everyone feels that way so I always make sure I spend a little bit more on the birthday gift than the average person would to make up for it," she added on Instagram.
Across both of her social media platforms, parents sounded off in the comments on both sides of the issue to share their opinions about her decision.
One user on TikTok said they would have appreciated the extra guests, writing, “you’re now invited to all my birthday parties. nobody ever comes so it would be nice to have all of y’all.”
“I don’t do drop offs at parties. I always stay and hang around!” another fellow parent wrote in the comments on Instagram. “And If the party is at a park or somewhere that doesn’t require a cost per head we definitely all go. I always anticipate to have entire families when we throw parties.”
Another Instagram user, who said their family also comes as a package deal, wrote, “I would never invite a kid and not expect siblings haha. And if I did, I would definitely specifically say so.”
Not everyone was happy with the idea of so many guests. Across both posts, people left comments that disagreed with the idea of all children coming when only one was invited and criticized Wilder’s position on the topic.
“As a mom who invited my kids class and half came with their families just please don’t,” one TikTok user wrote. “We aren’t planning to feed that many people.”
Another parent added, “As a mom to an introvert child with anxiety, having other kids she didn't invite would have ruined it for her.”
“No. I don’t think so,” an Instagram user wrote in the comments. “It’s a special time for ‘that child’ to enjoy. It’s also a lesson to be learned… Teach them to be excited for the child going to be the party. Money doesn’t make up for extra’ at a party.”
Regardless of the difference in opinions, one Instagram user hoped both sides could find common ground in one thing, writing, “Whatever team we’re on, can we all agree to be team RSVP?”
Wilder replied, “yes I agree! Whatever team you’re on EVERYONE MUST RSVP!”
The 32-year-old mother told TODAY in a phone interview that she didn’t expect the controversial response on social media because this is something that she and her friends do in their friend group.
“It's a small group of friends where we all have multiple kids, but all of our kids are under certain age,” she explained. “So we're all like, ‘Hey, don't you find it weird where your kid might get invited to a friend's party that you don't know the parents and how all the parents just dip and run?’ And I'm just like, ‘Yes!’ I always find that weird. Whenever I send out party invites, it’s always the whole family.”
Wilder, who runs an Instagram about motherhood and adoption, said because her husband works Monday through Saturday, she’s the one who will need to stay at the parties and watch their children those days.
She also acknowledged that her Haitian roots and upbringing may affect her parenting style culturally, explaining that growing up, whole families were always invited to parties.
“I grew up like a Haitian household. All the rules that we had were extremely about child safety,” she explained, even sharing that her father did not allow sleepovers.
Wilder doesn’t plan on making it a family affair forever, explaining, “As they get older, they will have more freedom because I’ve been there to show them how to act.”
Wilder is hoping that parents can learn how to respect parental boundaries from other families.
“Different families do different things, but it all comes down to respecting other people how they do it because I never pushed myself on other people,” she said. “I’m totally fine with if people say no. I’m like, ‘OK, I get it. I'm sorry… No hard feelings...'"
"How how I do things is not how you do things, and that's okay," Wilder continued. "We're all different people. It'd be extremely boring if everyone did everything exactly the same.”
Wilder was not exaggerating when she said her family brought great presents. One of the most lavish gifts she remembered giving was a miniature bounce house.