I have a question for you readers: how many birthday parties do your kids get? I ask this because the birthday-a-thon is soon coming to the Mentor Mom household. Thing One and Thing Two's birthdays are about two weeks apart and coming up quickly, thus, discussions have begun about birthday parties. To make matters worse, the birthday party season amongst classmates is going full force and my kids are riding the wave of momentum.
But how many birthday parties should a kid get? Let me give a little background as to why I pose this question. When we had our son, we had the obligatory huge first birthday bash, followed by a huge 2nd birthday bash. As we approached his third birthday, I got to thinking "This is crazy! Are we going to continue spending all this money on special paper plates, invitations and party favors? Are we going to do this every year for the rest of his life? Is this going to be his expectation?"
I then thought back to my own childhood. I recalled getting one BIG birthday party when I was in second grade. You know, the party where all your classmates are invited and you play silly games like the where you have to try to pop balloons tied on your friend's feet before they pop yours? All the rest of my birthdays were spent with my immediate family and grandparents. No aunts and uncles. No neighbor kids. Just immediate family. Did having only one BIG party scar me for life? I don't think so. Will it scar my kids? I hope not.
I've been keeping a silent tally over the years of all those birthday party invites. I've noticed that there seems to be a mix amongst my kids classmates. I would estimate that about 80% of the children have received only one party and about 20% who have one every year. Are those parents who give a party every year wrong? Absolutely not. It is a choice and they are entitled to it. No judgments here.
Let me be honest, outside of all the work in planning these events, I certainly am tempted to give the kids big parties every year just because I love them so much and love seeing the excitement on their faces. We have made the choice to only give one big party with classmates. Why? There are a couple of reasons, e.g., they don't need any "stuff," etc.
Perhaps the biggest reason, however, is we worry about their expectations and feelings of entitlement. Will they be expecting their birthdays to be celebrated in a big way as adults? If so, they will be in for a rude awakening. When is the last time someone threw you a birthday party where you were lavished with gifts? For most of us, those are few but far between if they occur at all -- and that's okay. It's just a part of growing up, right?
Are we setting kids up to feel entitled by these things if we do it every year? I really want to hear from you guys on this one. What are your thoughts on this topic? Please post your comments!