Making cakes, buying and wrapping presents, making lists, having friends over... the last month or so has been a mammoth time in my family for birthdays. I certainly feel as though I’ve been through a marathon. Despite all this activity if one can step back and be objective about birthdays and children, you can see quite clearly how it changes. From the early first years where parties were mainly about family gathering and perhaps friends from a play group, siblings invited. To the kindy – daycare years which involved a handful of friends over for a play and cake or party at the local park, again siblings are invited. Then there’s the school years where class parties are the norm. Suddenly a birthday involves twenty to thirty children, no wonder playlands and organized themes are popular, and no siblings. Then as the primary years roll on our children prefer to invite a handful or more of select friends to help them to celebrate.
The one constant decision through all these years is ‘who to invite’, ‘which friends should i have’ is much thought over. As always, there is need for a parent to guide their children. If your child is inviting a select group, encourage them to only invite their closest friends, those they get on the best with. Not the group who they think they would like to belong to. But those who currently share their lunchtime or you hear them talk about. If your child is inviting the whole class, please make sure it is the whole class, not the class minus one or two children. Exclusion has no place in birthday parties. Children can ask to invite everyone except ..... As a parent you need to step in quite firmly here and say clearly – a whole class party is just that, the whole class or else you invite a handful of friends there is no middle option of the whole class minus one or two.
Difficult as it is, there will also be times when your child isn’t invited to a friend’s birthday, usually if they are having the handful of friends or their sibling is invited and the invitation doesn’t extend to the whole family. These situations tend to happen as you move beyond the early kindy years. It certainly is difficult for a couple of years when your child watches other siblings attend a party on their own with a parent. One rule we always had in our family was if there was a party bag the invited child shared this with their siblings and selected a lolly/toy to give them. This helped ease the situation enormously. But learning to cope with this is certainly part of life and there is always next year!