There was actually a father who spent 10 million dollars on his 13-year-old daughter’s birthday party.  That is an extreme case, but it does seem as though parents today are under pressure to outdo each other on birthday celebrations for their kids, or to at least succumb to some unrealistic standard of birthday celebration set by others.  These types of parties can create stress on the family budget as well as time stress.

I recently learned of a website that seeks to bring awareness to this problem.  I’ve added “Birthdays Without Pressure” to my favorite links on this blog.  The site is maintained by a group of parents and professionals in the St. Paul, Minnesota area.  Their desire is to get people discussing the problem and then, hopefully, bringing about change by offering alternatives to expensive and time consuming birthday parties.  Parents allowing birthdays to be out of control is really only a symptom of a much bigger problem, that of overindulgent parents and the sense of entitlement it develops in their children.  With entitlement, children may begin to believe that money and the things it can buy mean happiness and love and that it is the responsibility of the parents to provide bigger and splashier parties or gifts.  It is a problem that needs to be addressed on many levels, but providing sensible birthday parties can certainly be a start.

The “Birthdays Without Pressure” website asks the questions:  What is out of control?  Why have birthday parties gotten out of control?  What are the consequences?  And what can parents do?  The site also shares real life examples of overindulgent birthday parties.  There is a place on the site where others can share stories about out of control birthday parties they have witnessed.  More importantly, there are ideas listed to help people create their own sensible birthday celebrations.  There are also ideas on how to keep gifts from getting out of control and still other ideas for family birthday rituals.  Though I’ve never heard of a 10 million dollar birthday party happening in my area, I have been aware of some parents who felt frustrated and even a little angry when some of their young guests expressed dissatisfaction at the type of party being offered.  I think it is a topic well worth exploring.

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