Thursday, January 18, 2007

Kid Birthday Parties are Out of Control?

Kid Birthday parties are out of control? What do you think? Well I, personally, happen to agree! With three children in my own family, we could easily wind up attending one, or more, birthday parties each and every weekend of the calendar year.  And this when weekends seem to be the only non-rushed, non-scheduled time we happen to have together, as family, during the entire week these days. I really hate to give a 'decline' response for attending birthday parties, but I want (and need!) to have a life and some downtime for my own family.

With the above in mind: our new rule is that if a birthday party is not for a special friend, or someone the kids actually play with at school on a regular basis, then we won't be going to the party. And I've set boundaries with respect my own kids' birthday parties too. They won't be getting a huge blow-out birthday party each and every year for themselves either. Family parties are just fine, in my book.  They're lower stress, and in the long run are probably much more memorable than the big kid-centered blowout parties.

Up until now, I thought I was alone in my feelings with regards to the endless and outrageous stream of kid birthday parties, but I caught a brief segment on the "Today Show" early this morning which happened to be about other parents who feel the exact same way as I do: namely that kid birthday parties are getting out of control. I sincerely hope this new way of forward and down-to-earth thinking finally gets a serious discussion going among parents with school-aged children, because up until now --for me-- bringing this topic up for discussion with other parents has just drawn blank looks from the other parents.

Here's the link:

Read for yourself and see what you think.

I did check out the site and there are a lot of good ideas for toned down kid birthday parties.

I especially liked the story on the site from the father who said they rented a limo for their daughters birthday, etc. And as a result of their daughter's eye-opening response to all of this attention and lavishness: they are now volunteering as a family every week -- in order to serve others -- and are rethinking the whole birthday party thing.

Also saw a lot of angry parents on the above site who are basically saying "Who are you pushy people to be telling us how to spend our money?!"

Think these angry parents are missing the point entirely.  The point being that we all live a society where our children are privileged to interact with people from all sorts of different backgrounds, many who cannot afford to throw such outrageous parties.  Moreover, I think showering this much lavish, and often excessive, attention on just the 'privileged' few year after year might just  be contributing to the creation of a an unruly and ungrateful generation of children who will in all likelihood grow-up to see themselves as adults with a misguided sense of entitlement.

It's hard enough to raise decent kids in this materialistic world ... kids who are grateful, hardworking, respectful of others and others' feelings, kids who are truly appreciative and genuinely grateful for everything they are so fortunate as to have, without them being bombarded with the false messages these wildly over-the-top, 3-ring circus birthday parties present, on almost every or every other weekend of the entire calendar year.

Wanting to have this discussion isn't telling other parents HOW they should spend their money.  Rather it is just concerned adults interested in raising well-adjusted, considerate and grateful children by opening up a meaningful dialogue with other parents as to how best to begin to effect meaningful change not only in our children, but also in the communities in which we all live, work and play.

As a busy mom, I will admit that our family has done the big birthday thing a couple times for each of our children. But, we quickly realized how these large parties could easily get out hand.  Once we realized the latter, we told our kids that the big blowout birthday party thing wasn't going to be happening each and every single year.  As a young mother, with three small children, I will admit  it was so much easier for me to have a party outside of my home, and the school my children attended pretty much dictated that must you invite everyone or no one.  So often the sheer size of the party dictated it be held somewhere other than my home.  So if the latter applies to you as well, I know from firsthand experience that you really have your work cut out for you if you want to buck this crazy birthday party trend!

The hardest part for me, now that we've committed to breaking the outrageous birthday party trend for our own children is the fear of missing a party invite for another child's birthday party, and then not giving an R.S.V.P. -- even if we don't plan to attend-- at all or in a timely fashion.  I mean we get a new birthday party invite at least once a week and there are even many weeks where we get 3 or more party invites.  It's Crazy?! But this crazy has nothing on the social-pariah crazy of forgetting to or failing to R.S.V.P. to a birthday party invite.  Oh, well one step ... one party ... a time.  Somehow, we'll find our way and hopefully we will raise better kids in the process.  That's my hope anyway.  Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas if you'd like.


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