Saturday, December 14, 2013
It's okay not to throw your kid a birthday party.
Let's explore the party aspect first. What do I mean by over-the-top parties? This, to me, means parties that require color-coordinating, ultra-planning, formal invitations, and costs more than half your week's pay.
This is a small ongoing debate between myself and my husband. He wants to give them things he never had when he was a kid. My husband and I have different ways of thinking, though. I can agree with that sentiment to a certain degree, but I didn't have birthday parties growing up either. Don't feel bad for me. I certainly wasn't sad about it at the time. I do remember some bad birthdays as a child but it had nothing to do with not getting a party. A birthday was good if my family got together to eat cake (since we moved around a lot, and wasn't close to other family, it was usually just my mom, dad, and sisters). I don't even remember the presents.
So sure, I want my kids to have parties sometimes but the message of "we should go broke just to get you everything you want" isn't something I'm eager to instill in my children. So here's what we do for birthdays: On the big birthdays, we reserve or rent a place to hold a party. We invite other children and we do the whole elaborate sha-bang. Last year, we held it at a pizza place, giving the kids free tokens to play in the arcade. Other times, like today on my youngest son's birthday, we invite a few close friends and family members (via text) over for cake and ice cream, presents not expected or required because honestly, presents don't make a birthday special. It's the people who come and give you a kiss and hug as they tell you happy birthday. Think my son cares? Nope. He's more interested in Momma wearing a party hat all day.
As far as getting both kids a present because one kid is having a birthday so he doesn't feel left out... meh, not my cup o' tea either (unless they are all super-young and they don't understand what birthdays are to begin with). That was never an issue when I was a kid because my parents never had much money and there were four of us. 'Nuff said.
Sometimes the hubs sneaks and buys the other kid something despite my protests but in general, I don't do it. The biggest obstacle in this is the word "fair". In my opinion, it is not "unfair" to get a child a present on their birthday and not get anything for the other child(ren). Birthdays are special days and as such, the child should feel special. Getting everyone something lessens the significance of the day for them. And so what if the other child complains that he didn't get something, too. You know what? Life isn't always going to deal cards fairly and evenly for everyone. You deal with it and move on. It seems harsh but when we cater to everything the kids want, then we're not teaching them how to deal with the unevenness in life itself. If my older son wants to complain that he didn't get anything today (which I expect him to), I will explain in a loving voice that it is his brother's birthday, not his. When his birthday rolls around, it will be his turn to have a special day and we will get him a gift and a cake and celebrate the day the same way.
Maybe my husband feels guilty about not renting out the pool at Body Vision for what I'm sure would be a fun party. But having just had a big party last year, I think that can wait another couple of years. (My vote might be overrode next year, though, who knows.)
So what do you think about parties? Do you have a big one every year for your children? Do you think they are necessary? What about presents? Do you get every kid a present just so you don't have to listen to the fallout? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Peace, love, and happy birthday to my son,