My children, now young adults, are going through a phase (sorry, they never stop having “phases”) of wanting to hear stories of when they were young – perhaps they are trying to hang on to elements of childhood as they face the challenges of adult responsibility..?
A recent recollection was Daniel’s first invitation to a birthday party from a child at playgroup where I didn’t already know the parents and wasn’t invited to stay. I didn’t have any anxiety about whether he would cope without me – Daniel only ever cried when I picked him up, never when I left him! But I was concerned about him forgetting his manners in all the excitement, so we had a “remember to” session en route. I focused particularly on the matter of party bags as there had been a recent incident where a child had returned their take-home gift to the host saying it wasn’t good enough!
I arrived with the throng of other parents at the allotted collection time, to see the Mum of the birthday child handing out small colouring books and a piece of cake to each guest. She stated that she thought the whole party bag thing had got out of hand and that she hoped the rest of us parents would support her stand to change matters.
We moved out of the area shortly after that, so I’m unaware if a party bag revolution took place or whether her child was ostracized as a result of her actions!
It always takes courage to stand out from the crowd, but the decision becomes far more complicated when it is our children that might receive any backlash. Most parents feel pressurized into spending more on the birthday party experience than they can really afford.
Perhaps trying to gain agreement amongst a child’s close circle of friends to limit spending is the way forward rather than taking a unilateral stand – one piece of bravery may bring you the gratitude of many!
How do you tackle the party bag problem? Share your insights at [email protected] or on Twitter @MyFamilyClub.
Liz Dunscombe, from the money education charity Credit Action, is mum to a pair of rather tall, adult (well in age anyway!) boys. Her passion is helping people to manage their money well, and watching the transformation that a well-constructed budget can bring to a family.