No More Birthday Parties?

Read about being a mother of 12 as our resident 'Supermom' shares her wise parenting advice.

Birthday parties are a bit of work, and adding to my workload is something less than thrilling, so while I'm happy to make a party for my kids, birthdays involve at least a thimbleful of dread. As the mother of many children (12 to be exact), I find that such mixed feelings are a very natural part of raising kids. In fact, when my kids find themselves too old to host yet another home-based birthday bash, I find my relief at being off the hook as hostess tempered with sorrow that my child is nearing the end of a carefree stage of his life.

The last party

It happens when they turn nine. Little kids plan their birthday parties all year, but nine year olds seem hesitant to approach the idea that a birthday party is looming. At last they broach the idea with you, letting you know that this is going to be the last party.

It's inevitable, and it's painful. Both of you have to let go. It's a rite of passage that children find themselves too old to continue to host birthday parties at home. They are navigating the rocky road to young adulthood, and part of that road involves finding the landmarks of societal norms. It's a hard road to travel, but you can help.

Costing more than a small country's GNP

Your nine year old is going to want to mark this last birthday party in a different manner. For my child who turned nine in December, this meant a longer party, more guests, refreshments on a more sophisticated scale than our usual fare, and cooler prizes for winning games. Even though this party ended up costing more than a small country's GNP, I gave him the leeway he needed to make this party different, and in his eyes, acceptable to his peers. During the planning, I reassured my son that starting next year, we would provide the funds for him to host a few friends at the local pizza parlor or burger place. His relief was palpable.

There is a way for your child to feel special on his birthday without any loss of face. Taking his friends to a fast food eatery is always appropriate. The venue is one that is an acceptable hangout for older kids and teens and as long as he limits the guest list to no more than five friends, he won't be seen as making a big deal out of his special day.

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