You’ve Got to Be Kidding! These Parents’ Requests Will Leave You Shaking Your Head

Online inspiration platforms like Pinterest give us lots of fantastic ideas, but they can also add pressure to already overwhelmed parents who feel they have to keep up with the current “picture-perfect” trends.

Something we’ve probably all done as parents is to go online and search for birthday party ideas for our kids – something super unique and special to celebrate our amazing child.

But all those ideas and influences can have a big downside, and it’s led some moms to make their child’s birthday party a big headache for other parents.

Birthdays are a special time for a child – a time to celebrate them and all their unique qualities, and to have family and friends gather to show just how special they are.

At one time, birthday parties were simple affairs.  A little cake, a game or two in the living room, five or six kids and a couple of family members.

Fast-forward a few decades, and kids’ birthday parties have turned into extravagant, expensive events with some moms feeling they have to create something worthy of what they see online or to keep up with other families.

Guest lists are growing.  We don’t want anyone to feel left out, so we invite our child’s entire class.  We don’t have room in the house for all the people, so we rent a venue or have the party at a themed store or restaurant.

And the cost can be astronomical – which is fine if you can afford it.  After all, it’s only once a year, right?

The problem is, there’s a new trend emerging, one that the parents of children invited to a birthday party are having a hard time taking in.

One anonymous woman wrote to an advice columnist at the Boston Globe, asking for help on how to respond to another mom who was asking for a “cover charge” for her child’s upcoming birthday party.

The same woman apparently had a party a previous year in which she left a basket in her home asking for “donations” to cover the cost of the party.

Readers were stunned… and angry.  Is this for real?

There has always been an unspoken understanding when inviting guests to your home or a local hangout to celebrate a child’s birthday party – the cost of your child’s participation is paid by the host.

That’s just common courtesy.

But now, partly due to social media, partly due to a sense of entitlement and materialism that seems to be encroaching into our culture, kids’ birthday parties have gotten bigger and more lavish.

Parents are spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars on one event – sometimes more.  Do their kids expect it?  If they do, we only have ourselves to blame.

Or is our own need to feel like we’re being “good” parents because we are stretched so thin with the stress of the work-family balancing act?

Whatever the reason, it’s a big business, and it seems that a quiet party at home with a couple of kids playing together will no longer cut it.

But if charging the parents of kids who are invited upwards of $20 or $30 per party, we’ve got to ask, what are we thinking?

And if your child is invited to multiple birthday parties a year, it really adds up – and this isn’t even including the mandatory gift.

Café Mom recently reported on another of these incidents in which a mom invited several children to a local Build-A-Bear to celebrate her daughter’s birthday.

Recognizing that this was an expensive venture, some parents gave their kids some money to help offset the cost.

But the real shocker came after the party when the mom asked everyone to hand their animal creations over to the birthday girl.

Of course, the kids were upset.  Parents were disgusted. The invitation said every child would be able to make their own animal at the store.  What it didn’t say is that they were to be gifts for the birthday girl.

Who needs 20 animals from Build-A-Bear?!! The kids who were invited also brought gifts for the birthday girl, in addition to giving up the animal they made.

Other parents have posted comments that their children were invited to places like Build-A-Bear and were not asked to send money for their child thinking it was included as part of the party – leaving little party guests feeling left out and hurt when they came home empty-handed.

There is more of this type of thing going on every day – and it’s getting absurd.

First things first – kids do not need these extravagant parties.  They are happy with a small celebration, and many kids would be more happy playing games in the backyard than going to an expensive, pre-packaged event at the mall.

It seems like kids’ birthday parties are becoming more about the parents trying to prove something than celebrating the child.

Next, if parents truly cannot afford to throw a party like the ones other parents have, there should be no pressure to do so – especially not self-created guilt to keep up with the Joneses.

And if you do throw a party at a place like Chuck E. Cheese’s or Build-A-Bear where there is a cost to participate, either include the cost of each child in your party budget or choose another place that is more affordable.

There are so many ways to create special celebrations and memories without breaking the bank – or asking others to chip in because we get in over our heads.

The only way we can keep this type of thing from getting out of hand – and really making our kids feel entitled – is to focus on what matters.  And a $500 birthday party is not it.

Make each child feel special by involving them in the party plans.  They can choose a theme, make their own decorations, and think up activities their friends would like.   It will be a lot less pressure, a whole lot cheaper, and it will mean much more to them.

Asking guests to pay when you host an event is a big “no-no.”  It’s happening with kids’ parties, but also weddings.  It’s time to stop the madness and bring things down a notch.

Looking online for ideas doesn’t mean you have to follow a plan that’s unrealistic for your family.  Take their inspiration and make it your own!

Would you feel offended if a parent asked you to help offset the cost of their child’s birthday party – or would you even attend if you knew ahead of time?  What do you think about parents who don’t even make this known in the original invitation?  Leave us your thoughts.

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