Q. My daughter, Katie, is planning her 13th birthday party and wants to invite the girls she sat with during school lunch last year. One of them is always rude to her, but Katie claims that if she's not included, the others won't come. Is there any way around this?
A. The worst option is what your daughter probably would choose: Exclude the mean girl without saying anything, then just hope it doesn't all blow sky high. But that will make Katie look like the bad one—and the others will gang up on her anyway. So your daughter has to talk to this girl.
She could say, "I'm not inviting you, and here are the reasons why..." Once Katie's on the record, the rest of the kids may show up, although there are no guarantees. Or Katie could say, "I'd really like to invite you to my party, but I'm worried you're going to make little inside jokes and roll your eyes at me like you do at lunch. So can you agree to be civil during the party?" Just know that there's no way to control what ends up happening, so be on-call to help Katie handle herself with dignity. And if the mean girl comes and stirs up drama, you'll have to intervene. Just don't bully the bully.
Originally published in the July 2010 issue of Family Circle magazine.