I recently read this article “Extreme birthday parties: How much is too much?” and then I remembered a conversation I had with some moms about the cost of birthday parties for kids. You have to invite the whole class or your child might face bullying from classmates (and you might face bullying from parents). And then each party needs to be something fun and extravegant…rent out a pool, rent out a movie theatre, rent out a Build-a-Bear room, have bouncy castles, ponies and live entertainment, etc. The swag bag can’t just contain gummy candies and dollar store pencils…they need to have a Barbie doll or Transformers action figure each. These parents are TAKING OUT LOANS to give their kids the “party of the year”….every year.
I raise eye brows, I balk, I face palm. Wow. First I can’t believe parents feel so pressured to please the whims of other parental peers they don’t really know and probably don’t want to know….to the point of going into additional DEBT to be approved of or liked by them. Second, why are parents so pressured to please their child? Now he/she’ll associate “love” with how much money is spent on them. (Mind you I grew up where “You have clothes, good food, and your own room, of course we love you” was the norm.) Third, these kids end up further taking for granted the LUXURIES (truly luxuries and nothing “normal”) they’re surrounded by and expect life to just get better and fancier with age. Not to mention if you’re a kid/parent invited to one of these parties you feel like you need to get a big present for the kid (and maybe a thank you gift for the parents for hosting) as to not look like the cheap/poor one of the group. So if every kid in your child’s class invites him/her, you almost need to take out a second loan for all the gifts you need to buy them through the year as well. It just creates one massive expenditure (and stress case) that most parents can do without.
Makes me want to family plan so that all my children will be born outside the school year. Hey…that’s actually my case. August birthday…and I only remember having one birthday party with friends over….at age twelve. (No wonder my younger sister had so many more birthday party events…her birthday is during the school year!)
I confess I wish I had more birthday parties with friends growing up. We always celebrated with family. There was always cake and sometimes we went out to eat. Just not a party with friends. Skywalker grew up with more birthday parties. He’d invite his best buds from school and from church. There’d be a delicious homemade cake, games and good food. Simple….but it looks like everyone had a great time from the photos.
Skywalker and I talked about this…unlike my experience, we’d like our future kids to enjoy birthday parties with friends. Though not until they’re old enough to remember them…and not every year. We don’t want other parents to have a reason for stress. We hope we’ll be able to teach our kids to value relationships over gifts…and see that the $20 worth of of a present they might get from someone can do so much more for another child in a much less fortunate part of the world. We also hope to show that love isn’t demonstrated in how much money is spent on a person, but in knowing their friendship and acceptance is secure. We’re going to buck the trend. Try to.