Child birthday, am I too strict or cheap


#1

So, my nephew's birthday is coming up (I have a total of 14 nieces and nephews between my husband's family and mine, and then there are cousins' children too in which I only attend 1 birthday parties for). I was discussing with my mom if my nephew was having a party (his is at some kid-themed place but we have not received the word about date and times yet). I don't know how I made the comment but I stated that I will not be having any family parties for our childrens' birthdays and instead will only have parties for baptism, communion, confirmation, graduation, etc. My mom seemed upset, but I told her that what we will be doing instead is allowing the birthday child to control all the activities and foods on their birthday (or the soonest weekend day around their birthday), kind of like they'll be queen or king for the day. She seemed upset and had the look of sorrow for my daughter. I basically said that I don't want nor need so much of the stuff that comes as birthday gifts (my husband and I are both from large families).

Do I sound too strict or cheap? Frankly, I always find myself torn between a "normal" American lifestyle and St. Francis (where I'd love to give everything away and only have very basics. I also find myself frustrated with all the family parties when every child has way too many toys, gadgets, etc. Maybe I've just had my fill and am sick of the unnecessary materialism.


#2

I understand where you are coming from. Would you be willing to do dinner and cake with the grandparents. That way they can be there for the special day, but you won’t have all the chaos or tons of gifts.


#3

[quote="happymommy, post:2, topic:200345"]
I understand where you are coming from. Would you be willing to do dinner and cake with the grandparents. That way they can be there for the special day, but you won't have all the chaos or tons of gifts.

[/quote]

That's where it gets tough, would siblings be insulted (we're each one of 8 and many siblings have children who would have to come too)? Also, my mom is an hour away, my mil is an hour-and-a-half away and days away for four months per year, and my dad is a day drive away, so really, it would only be my mom for all children, my mil for children whose birthdays are during warmer months, and my dad if he's in town for work. I guess I want to avoid the looks of favoritism, though I know that's not the case. And my husband has some siblings who don't attend if they don't want to because of the drive (hour and a half). I have siblings who are involved with their own lives and the few who could/would come our relationship is strained and they would probably feel better if there were more people for them to talk to besides me and hubby (not my sil, but my brother for sure who I think has some issue with me or my husband or both).


#4

[quote="gmarie21, post:3, topic:200345"]
That's where it gets tough, would siblings be insulted (we're each one of 8 and many siblings have children who would have to come too)? Also, my mom is an hour away, my mil is an hour-and-a-half away and days away for four months per year, and my dad is a day drive away, so really, it would only be my mom for all children, my mil for children whose birthdays are during warmer months, and my dad if he's in town for work. I guess I want to avoid the looks of favoritism, though I know that's not the case. And my husband has some siblings who don't attend if they don't want to because of the drive (hour and a half). I have siblings who are involved with their own lives and the few who could/would come our relationship is strained and they would probably feel better if there were more people for them to talk to besides me and hubby (not my sil, but my brother for sure who I think has some issue with me or my husband or both).

[/quote]

We don't invite my siblings to any of our kids birthdays. I'm not super close to them and we don't get invited to their kids things. We invite DH's sister and her family because we are close with them and our girls are the same age and great friends. Other than that, it's my mil and fil, my dad and my DH's aunt and uncle ( they live across the street and were never able to have children, so our kids are like their grandchildren) We sometimes will invite good friends. Yesterday was our sons birthday and we invited the people I mentioned above and some friends from church. I always tell friends no gifts. If they do get them something it's little, like candy or a puzzle from the dollar tree. Our one friend had our son come over and she took 26 pictures of him doing or holding something for every letter of the alphabet, then made him a scrapbook. Took some time, but she had all the materials. What a great gift!


#5

No, that sounds like a wonderful idea! Keeping gifts on Church holidays is a subtle way to show your kids what's really important :)


#6

We let our kids go to their friends’ parties, but our family birthday observances are a) a cake b) the child’s favorite dinner at home, and c) a few very local relatives who happen to be able to come by, but no one else. We put some nice flowers on the table, that kind of thing. The same goes for adult birthdays, though. Our kids like it this way.

One thing, though: lots of balloons. That is because I’ll go for any excuse for lots of balloons.


#7

[quote="gmarie21, post:1, topic:200345"]
...what we will be doing instead is allowing the birthday child to control all the activities and foods on their birthday (or the soonest weekend day around their birthday), kind of like they'll be queen or king for the day.

[/quote]

That's what I started doing with my children after my husband passed--I worked full-time and didn't get to spend as much time with them as I wanted. I took their birthdays off of work; both are summer babies, so they were always out of school and available. Within financial reason, they got to pick the restaurant and the activities of the day (museum, aquarium, movies, swimming), plus dictate the menu at home. Although we never had "parties" where we invited friends and family over, they were usually allowed to bring a friend or two, depending on the cost of the activity (hey, I'm not made of money).

Believe me, your children will later treasure the time you spent with them more than anything. I still do this for my girls, although they'll be 22 and 19 this summer, and they still look forward to it!

Miz


#8

I do know that my nephew took years to overcome hurt about not having proper birthdays.
Every year I see the disappointment that my husband causes his sister and the burden it causes our grown children that their father blocks gifts. It creates a hurtful conflict within them. There is the matter of others' freedom.
I didn't have school parties or theme parties, but the relatives were free to show my children their love and appreciation of them, and if it helped them to do so, with gifts as one of the expressions of their trying to give the child a special day.


#9

After I turned nine, I stopped having parties........

Seriously......I think acknowledging and celebrating each birthday with something smaller is better. First, it allows gigantic celebrations for milestones (like graduation, First Communion, etc). Second, it allows for more quality time with the family (and maybe a best friend or two). Third, the expectations for birthday parties are somewhat ridiculous.....

Now that I'm an adult, I just go out with my friends. My parents want to do something big for my twenty-first (I'll be home around then, for a few graduations in the family) and I just said, "Mom, Dad, just take me to a restaurant and I can order a glass of wine!" :D


#10

I think that how each family celebrates birthdays should be up to that family. Every family is different. I've met up with people (including my work supervisor) who believe that birthdays are sacred and must be celebrated with complete abandon. Others barely acknowledge the day. Our family is somewhere in-between. I say, do what is best for your family.


#11

OP: I think it’s a great idea, as I personally find parties to be over-rated. I can only remember one or two small parties for my own birthday, and only my friends and cousins my age, etc. were invited. Otherwise, my mom gave us the “special day” similar to what you described. I got to have my favorite meal for dinner, or sometimes we’d go out to whatever restaurant I chose; I got a cake (got to pick the kind) and usually just *one *main gift. :eek: Also my mom would sometimes bring balloons home from work for me. I loved my birthdays.

The way you’re describing the parties, it sounds like an awful lot of family politics and more of an expensive hassle than a good time.


#12

[quote="gmarie21, post:1, topic:200345"]
So, my nephew's birthday is coming up (I have a total of 14 nieces and nephews between my husband's family and mine, and then there are cousins' children too in which I only attend 1 birthday parties for). I was discussing with my mom if my nephew was having a party (his is at some kid-themed place but we have not received the word about date and times yet). I don't know how I made the comment but I stated that I will not be having any family parties for our childrens' birthdays and instead will only have parties for baptism, communion, confirmation, graduation, etc. My mom seemed upset, but I told her that what we will be doing instead is allowing the birthday child to control all the activities and foods on their birthday (or the soonest weekend day around their birthday), kind of like they'll be queen or king for the day. She seemed upset and had the look of sorrow for my daughter. I basically said that I don't want nor need so much of the stuff that comes as birthday gifts (my husband and I are both from large families).

Do I sound too strict or cheap? Frankly, I always find myself torn between a "normal" American lifestyle and St. Francis (where I'd love to give everything away and only have very basics. I also find myself frustrated with all the family parties when every child has way too many toys, gadgets, etc. Maybe I've just had my fill and am sick of the unnecessary materialism.

[/quote]

If your mom is truly upset, you can always tell her to have a party if that is what she truly desires for your children.

But I'm with ya on birthday parties. Its not like you are planning on not acknowledging your children's special day, just that you would like to keep it more intimate. I think there is something truly special about that, and genuine. It seems like any more the big birthday parties seem to become more and more about the people invited and less and less about the actual person celebrating their birthday.


#13

here’s what i wrote on another thread about how we do birthdays:

the few times we tried to do a shindig for any of our kids under age 4 (we have 10 kids, age 3- 30.) they were small disasters. parents overwhelmed, Kid in meltdown, guests stand-in as hosts. oye vey. shoot me.

over time, we came up with these general guides:
***family parties are always small.
*i don’t invite my extended family to my kids’ birthday parties (nor do i attend theirs. i’d spend all my time at family birthdays if i did.) we only invite grandparents.
*i NEVER get mad if somebody doesn’t show. invitations are NOT summons. even if you just spent the last week in las vegas, if you don’t come to my house, that’s OK. (assure them that if they can’t make it, they’ll see a little youtube clip or FB pics of Baby smooshing cupcake on his face.)
*my kids can only expect friend parties on ODD numbered years, and that’s only if we can afford it. (and only for a few friends.)

that’s it.**

except for this: birthdays, not Christmas, are the times my kids can expect bigger gifts like a bike or a bedroom makeover (curtains, paint, bedding). still, my one year old babies get a rubber duck or something.



#14

You sound more strict and more cheap than your family members. I don’t know why it matters what people on the internet (or your family members) think. What should matter is what your children will think about the kinds of parties you will throw for them.

If they will be happy with what you do, that’s great. But if they end up resentful and unhappy and perceive you as too strict or cheap that would obviously harm your relationship with them.


#15

[quote="flyingfish, post:14, topic:200345"]
You sound more strict and more cheap than your family members. I don't know why it matters what people on the internet (or your family members) think. What should matter is what your children will think about the kinds of parties you will throw for them.

If they will be happy with what you do, that's great. But if they end up resentful and unhappy and perceive you as too strict or cheap that would obviously harm your relationship with them.

[/quote]

I get what you're saying and I hope that never happens. We're working on trying to raise them to never compare (a very difficult thing that I've had to overcome in my life) themselves and what they have with others. I grew up with getting anything I asked for (though I never asked for much because I had a Catholic education and many things that I knew the poor didn't). My husband grew up poor. My family members have enough money to throw big bashes for every birthday either at home or somewhere else, we don't. My husband's family members barely have enough money to throw a party but make due. The cousins of my children on my side will always have bigger houses, more vacations, more toys, more lessons, more gadgets, video games and tv reception, more "things" but less family time (my husband and I have it set up where one of us is with them at all times). But during the "selfish" times in a child's life the time isn't always valued as much as the stuff. That is what I worry about, the stuff taking priority in their minds over the time.


#16

I don't much like birthday parties either. The people who come are usually my parents, my sister and her family, the godparents who live in the area and a handful of friends. It's seeing the people that I like, but I hate the cost and who likes the clean up? :)

The kids always have a blast, though.

DH and I have toyed with the idea of doing birthday "open houses" during which, at any point of the day, people can stop by to visit the birthday kid and have some cake. No invites needed. Then we'll have the rest of the day to have quiet family time and take the birthday kiddo out to their restaurant of choice for dinner, to close the day.

That's pretty much what we did growing up - if people could stop by, they did. And sometime later in the day Gpa and Gma would pop in for cake and a visit.

Very low key. I like low key in my life. :)


#17

Do have some sort of celebration, even if it is small and extremely frugal, and definitely invite the grandparents. I know the hurt I would feel if not allowed to at least see my grandchildren and give them something small.
What I did was throw really fun $25 parties. I made a cake, the birthday boy/girl would get a few small toys (mostly from yard sales or homemade), and that was it. But of course I let the grandparents give them stuff, just not too much.
Then, save the really big celebrations for religious occasions and go all out!:thumbsup:


#18

Birthdays are special also. Especially to children. They mark what a precious gift life is.
No need to go overboard. But every child needs a special day for them. Does not need to be the King for a day kind of thing, but enough to tell the child that his individuality is special to mom and dad and God's gift of life is wonderful.

Perhaps the child can have 1 friend over for the afternoon or such like that.

The day is also special for Grandparents so include them in.


#19

[quote="jrabs, post:18, topic:200345"]

The day is also special for Grandparents so include them in.

[/quote]

jrabs, I wish that were true. My mom and step-dad are the only ones who do celebrate them no matter what. My dad and step-mom will only come out to celebrate if it's a major party (with extended family all there) otherwise it isn't worth the trip for them. My mil heads south for cold months so any birthdays within those months she misses. I guess it's the balance between doing something as an immediate family or having the children disappointed that some in their family do not celebrate their birthdays with them (my dd's first birthday was a big bash and not a single person from my husband's family showed up because it was "too far" of a drive, all 45 minutes of a drive at the time). Needless to say, my husband and I recognize that our families have other priorities but we do see how it can be disappointing to our children when they are ignored by the adults in their lives most of the time, and especially for a birthday. Needless to say, there are very few we can depend on.


#20

[quote="gmarie21, post:15, topic:200345"]
I get what you're saying and I hope that never happens. We're working on trying to raise them to never compare (a very difficult thing that I've had to overcome in my life) themselves and what they have with others. I grew up with getting anything I asked for (though I never asked for much because I had a Catholic education and many things that I knew the poor didn't). My husband grew up poor. My family members have enough money to throw big bashes for every birthday either at home or somewhere else, we don't. My husband's family members barely have enough money to throw a party but make due. The cousins of my children on my side will always have bigger houses, more vacations, more toys, more lessons, more gadgets, video games and tv reception, more "things" but less family time (my husband and I have it set up where one of us is with them at all times). ** But during the "selfish" times in a child's life the time isn't always valued as much as the stuff. That is what I worry about, the stuff taking priority in their minds over the time**.

[/quote]

Well, I think if you're genuinely poor your children will understand your inability to provide them with fun things and vacations. But if you have the resources, but force your bare necessities ideology on them out of principle, they might resent you.

It's interesting how you want to do the opposite of how you were raised however. When I was growing up we didn't have much, and I regret that my quality of life during childhood was not very good as a result of not having things like video games and other entertainments.

If I am to have children, they will have the best of everything.


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