Planning a child’s birthday party can be stressful. Many moms feel pressure to create elaborately themed parties that will entertain the kids (as well as the adults) while leaving the birthday girl or boy grinning ear-to-ear until next year’s celebration. With all of the preparation (and expense) behind these pint-sized shindigs, why would anyone take on planning a half-birthday party? Is this parenting trend justified — or just plain excessive?
Plenty of mothers feel daily pressure to create storybook childhoods full of scrapbooks, memorable holidays and deep-rooted traditions. While these are worthy goals, it can be overwhelming (and unhealthy) to attempt to keep up with the other parents who seem to constantly pour out resources on their children. It can be easy to get swept away in the maelstrom of parental peer pressure, but to some, celebrating half-birthdays is a sign of misdirected love. "I understand wanting to celebrate your child, but there this is a case of too-much-of-a-good-thing," says Sarah, a mom of two from Arizona. "Of course I love my kids, but I don’t need to throw them a party every six months to prove myself or make them feel special."
Entitlement is a word with which we are all too familiar. Plenty of children feel like they deserve to be treated a certain way simply by virtue of being. Our consumer culture eagerly approves while we buy our kids new toys, send them on trips or outfit them with the latest electronic gadgets. Meanwhile, they are often slacking in school or failing to pull their weight on the chore-front at home. While this behavior rightfully appalls our grandparents’ generation, it has all too often become a way of life. Half-birthday celebrations seem to feed the entitlement mentality. "Half birthdays just don’t seem celebration-worthy to me," says Emily, a mom from British Columbia. "I can see how this trend would inflate a child’s ego a bit. It’s sort of like a participation trophy, which really bugs me too."
Even the staunchest opponent of this trend has to admit that there are some circumstances in which a party is justified. "A half-birthday party is a great idea if it’s in lieu of — but not in addition to — an actual birthday party," suggests Taylor, a mom from Florida. "For example, summer and holiday birthdays often get skimmed over, and there are always cases of illness or major scheduling conflicts. My son’s birthday is right in the middle of summer, so his guest list tends to be a bit meager. A February party may be the solution!" In such cases, celebrate with abandon without the risk of spoiling your child.
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