Feeling a Little Guilty... - Richmond,VA

Updated on October 12, 2011
R.D. asks from Richmond, VA
30 answers

My sweet baby girl turns 8 on Thursday!! I can't believe it!! I'm so excited, I love the kids birthdays :)

The thing is (and I blame my mother for making me feel guilty about this), I feel bad that my kids have never had a 'real' birthday party, with their school friends. They never play with any of the kids from school, but they have lots of little friends through MY friends and family. They don't know birthday parties!! They've been invited and gone to a few, but never had one of their own... and no, they're not asking for it either!

They think a birthday party is our family and closest friends with kids getting together, going out to dinner, then coming back to the house for cake and presents. This is all we've ever done! And they seem totally FINE with it!! So why do I feel like they're missing out? The main reason behind doing it this way, is money's always been tight. I can't afford to take 5 kids out somewhere fun... and then when I could afford it, well, it's it's not broken, don't fix it, right?

Last year, they had asked about birthday parties... not because they wanted one for themselves, they just wanted to know what the heck the kids at school were talking about. I told them everyone does it differently. They never mentioned it again. I am pretty sure I told them that if they wanted to, they could have a party when they turned 10.

Am I awful? I do feel slightly guilty, and I do kind of feel like they're missing out (although they don't know it)... my MOM is the one who keeps telling me that they NEED to have parties with their friends (but they never ask to play with their school friends anyway!)

Is that bad? What do you do for your kids birthdays, and how old are they?

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

As a kid, I had pretty large parties, but we also had smaller class sizes, so it wasn't a big deal to have 10 kids go ice skating or play putt putt or whatever. My mom mostly had our parties at the house; scavenger hunts, sleep overs, murder mysteries, dress up parties... BUT, I remember my mom stressing to the max during the days before, and my dad complaining about the cost ;)

I also broke my ankle at putt putt, and threw up at another one of my birthdays... they weren't all fun (but I appreciate that my parents did that for me!)

I guess that's why I never had big parties for my kids, I just cut the stress out ;) I feel so much better, THANK YOU LADIES!! Glad to know I'm not the only one who does this!! Now, when their sweet 16's roll around, THEN I'll splurge :)

Featured Answers


answers from Detroit on

My oldest daughter had a birthday party just abut every year, her last one from me was her sweet sixteen, she had every type of party you can think of skating, hotel sleep over, chuck e cheese ect.... I am thinking much differently now because it does not take all of that and I spent money I did not have most times. My Mother gave me a party every year so it was what I was used to. What we do now is simply take cup cakes & ice cream(sometimes a $5 pizza) to the school to celebrate with the class and do the family thing at home. Continue to keep it simple it is all about the Love they feel on that day.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsfield on

I am sooo glad you posted because I was beginning to feel like I was the only mom in the free world to not have a birthday party for my kids with their classmates. We too celebrate with family and friends.

I especially felt guilty because I had a few parties when I was a kid, but I barely remember them. I know I had one when I was 6, but without the pics I wouldn't remember it at all. I know people who feel guilty if their kids have never gone to Disney World, but I've never been and never cared, so maybe not every kid cares about a big party either? I hope :0)

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answers from Providence on

Do not feel bad, at all. My son has always had family birthday parties. My son will be 8 in December, and will be having a family party. We have the whole family at my home and everyone brings food, and my mother in law makes the cake ( she's a cake decorator by trade so it works for us) in whatever the theme is for that year. I just can't afford, nor fit his school friends in my home, and cannot afford to take them anywhere like McDonald's or whatever else. I also can't just invite one or two of his school friends without any other kid or parent feeling left out. So, we make it easy with family parties. No, they are not missing out. I think when my son gets older he will want to spend more time with friends, so I will worry about that later. If they aren't asking, I wouldn't worry. You are a great mom! :)

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answers from Chicago on

Nope, they are not missing out on anything and you are not doing anything wrong. You're celebrating your birthday in the way that you feel will be the most special. Why spend big $$$ to invite a bunch of kids that your kids don't play with to a party. My two oldest kids each had a big party with their class when they turned 5. And believe me, it was chaotic and expensive. Otherwise, we have the family over to celebrate and some years I let the kids pick 2-3 friends we go out to lunch and roller skating, or mini golfing, or bowling...The kids have just as much fun (probably more since a smaller group is easier to socialize with) and it's much less expensive and stressful. So many kids at their school have huge parties every single year and I think that's ridiculous. Keep doing what you're doing!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

Stick to your way, it's fine. I had one birthday party for my oldest son and I hated having all those parents there that I really didnt know. I think it's way better to do local friend and family getogethers for birthdays.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

Don't feel guilty. Tell your mother that if she thinks that is the kind of party YOUR child should have, she can throw the party next year. But you and your hubby/kids do birthdays as a family.

I had ONE party when I was growing up...I was 13. The rest were with family and close friends. I wouldn't have it any other way.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

The only birthday party I had...I ended up overnight in the hospital, with my forearm in the shape of a Z...and leaving my party-goers with the image of me walking through the house petting the dressers and puking everywhere. SCREW birthday parties!!! Oh god, the flashbacks.

I think your girls will be fine. They are happy with your set-up, and would probably ask if they weren't. I think OUR moms don't have enough mom guilt in their lives, now that we're grown. Their always stirring us up!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

We have bday parties in with family and close friends...not the invite school friends type. Just because we have a huge family that we can't just do the "friendship" parties. My daughter is extremely lucky...there are four girls born with days of eachother in our family. She has built in best friends...and with those four (includes daughter) she can't decide on picking school friends too. So we just have a family/close friend party.

I don't see anything wrong with it. When she turned 6 in the spring we did go mini-golfing mostly with family...but she did invite her BFF and he was able to come along. But we just couldn't invite all the friends. So she chose one and her cousins.

I don't think you should feel bad at all. Your kids seem very happy and well and loved.

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answers from Norfolk on

We did home family parties for 1 - 3, parties at Chuck E Cheese or bowling for school friends for 4 - 7, and then we were back to home family parties 8 - 12.
When all his friends were doing parties we went every where (some times 2 parties per weekend) at parks, laser tag, swimming pools, a skating rink, a few homes (they rented a bounce house and got a magician), lots of Chuck E Cheese, a paint your own pottery place, taekwondo, the movies, build a bear, etc.
It was a whirl and fun for awhile, but it gets to be too much.
If you are attending - you're always buying gifts, cards and wrapping paper.
If you are throwing the party - you are sending the invites, checking rsvp's (so many do not give you a clue if they are attending or not), there's cake, food, beverages, cups, paper plates, balloons/decorations, assembling goody bags, clean up and thank you cards.
I almost felt I should buy stock in Oriental Trading or the Dollar Store.
Throw a few parties for each kid (before they are teens), but don't go over board with it.

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answers from Washington DC on

If it works for your family, just keep doing what you're doing. Why feel guilty because your kids are happy with how you celebrate?

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answers from Washington DC on

I spend a fortune because of feeling guilty..and now my kids are conditioned to have parties. This year we are going to let them each pick a destination and one friend to bring, and we'll go on a mini-vacation instead. The same cost, but great memories. Or something like that. Kids don't NEED parties. Sure they are fun, but they are a lot too!! Your girls are getting the best for them -and be proud you're doing that!

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answers from San Francisco on

I agree -- don't feel guilty about happy kids.
And, on the other side of the coin, I would love nothing more than to have a big family party with cousins in every corner. Unfortunately, all my cousins live on the east coast (I'm on the west coast) and my siblings live everywhere between here and England. We don't often get a family party, I envy you!
Enjoy the 8th birthday! My son is on the verge of 9 and I can't believe it. We'll do a laser tag adventure for him and his school friends, as none of our family will be in town for this one.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Lansing on

My oldest daughter is 6 and we've yet to have a friend party. And she's already been invited to 7. I don't do them mainly because of two reasons, A: Her birthday is in September, which is usually the first week of school. Unless I wanted to have her party way later, its nearly impossible to send out invites in advance notice. And B: she has 6 cousins all around the same age as her. And that doesn't even include our friends children.....so yah we have a party full of kids already anyway.
I actually combine parties, because my girls are 2 years and 2 days apart. We invite family and friends. Their usually ends up being around 15 kids at the party. My girls LOVE their party and get spoiled rotten by family and friends! They don't seem to miss the "friend" party at all.

When they get older, I imagine I'll allow sleepover parties. But I'm guessing we'll still have quite some years to wait for that one. :)

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answers from Dallas on

I always wanted to do smaller parties, but after the first couple I caved in to hubby - his family is BIG into birthdays and they have so much fun with it I decided to try it their way. One warning, once you go 'big' it's hard to go back, lol.

DD is 8 today (happy birthday P!). Her party is this saturday at a local gymnastics place, we invited her whole class and her soccer team (34 kids) - I expect to get 10 kids attending but since no one RSVPs anymore who knows. We've had both big and small parties, usually at the child's choice. Sleepovers are limited to 3 guests. We did Sea World one year as a family. Gymnastics/jump places/parks we invite the whole class & all other friends. At home spa party was limited to her soccer team. Last year I offered my 9 yo $100 and one friend sleeping over instead of a party and he took it, that one has been my favorite so far, lol.

If it works for you and your kids are happy just ignore your mom. But know there is a lot you can do without spending a ton just in case the kids decide they do want a party and you want to give it to them. We usually opt for location based parties because I work full time and don't want the hastle of planning/cleaning up; but we've done at home parties inexpensively too.

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answers from Dallas on

I love to over indulge m kids and guilt rules a lot of my decisions. But seriously, our kids are not being deprived of anything. They are happy healthy and thriving. Celebrating means close family in your book. Nothing wrong with that in the world! It's a good thing. Maybe let them invite one bestie to go or maybe skip the dinner and just have hot dogs at the house and they can have a slumber party. You can switch it up a bit without changing the whole dynamic. Do it becaue you are trying to please your daughter, not your mom. I'm curious, did your mom throw you big class parties? How did you feel about it? If not, is she trying to correct hwat she didn't do for you by making sure your daughter gets it?

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answers from Washington DC on


STOP FEELING GUILTY!!! You are giving your children happy memories and you explained it - everyone does it differently!

If we had family close enough - I would do what you are doing - however, my family is on the opposite side of the States and Bob's family? well, really they don't "do" birthday's.

Em and Maddy get to attend other kids parties. So what are this missing out on? Nothing. So let it go.

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answers from Augusta on

My kids have never had a birthday party with friends and my oldest turns 10 in December.
I don't do birthday parties. I don't like having all those other kids around.
We take our kids out for their birthday where ever they want to go. Bowling, dinner, movie , where ever, take them for ice cream. The day is theirs.
And at our school they have a rule that says you MUST invite the whole class or all the boys or all the girls. Well not all these kids get along and I don't want the drama. I can't afford to pay for stuff for all those kids.

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answers from Burlington on

I gave my children "big" birthday parties when they turned 5. It did not involve taking them somewhere. Each party had a theme. One was SpongeBob Squarepants. We held it at my parents' cottage. There was swimming in the lake, fishing games - magnetic games I picked up at the dollar store using kiddie wading pools to fish from. I made "jellyfish" by wrapping fruit leather (jelly) in tissue paper with ribbons coming down to be the tentacles. Those were held high from the porch while the children were on the ground with nets trying to catch them. We had lunch which included "Krabby patties" which were fish patties, etc. It didn't cost a fortune.

The other party had a pirate theme. I bought scarves for the guests from Walmart, tiny plastic treasure chests, compasses, seashell leis, and pirate rubber bracelets from Oriental Trading catalog, and toy boats from the grocery store. We started with a boat race across a large wading pool. I made a treasure hunt by putting clues in the little treasure chests. The person who won the boat race read the first clue for the treasure hunt. I used the compasses to help them find the clues. At the end of the treasure hunt I had a trunk hidden under one of our evergreen trees. In it were the seashell leis, pirate bracelets, and maybe some other trinkets. They were all very excited and my son yelled, "This is the best birthday party ever!"

I'm not a big thow-a-party type person. So I don't often throw parties with lots of children. Having a family party is much more comfortable for me.

I think it is easier to plan things for younger children. I don't know what to do for older children.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

mornin' R.!
I think you are doing fine. When I was coming up, we had parties but let's be clear on what they were: Homemade English muffin pizzas, party favors included a pack of gum, cool pencil and pad of paper and maybe a sleepover. Oh yeah, homemade birthday cake too. I never knew my parents didn't have money like other people did. All I know is the memories of how special I felt. When we turned 13, the rule changed to no more parties but selecting one friend to go somewhere of our choice for dinner. Doing great Momma! refuse to wear the guilt jacket!!!!

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answers from Austin on

I understand the guilt (we always question ourselves), but you are doing a great job. When I was growing up, celebrating birthdays was against our religion - don't even get me started. You, on the other hand, are honoring your kids and fostering family and friendships. Kids don't NEED a big party. It just sets the stage for expecting more and appreciating things less. My daughter is turning 4 this year and I will confess that we are renting a bouncy house again as we did last year. I know I am compensating for my own childhood; I am also profoundly lazy. I have been feeling that I should be handling birthdays more like you. If you want to do a big party (and only if you want to), I would save it for milestone birthdays.

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answers from Denver on

Don't feel guilty -it's what you do in your family - and that is fine.

We have birthday parties every year for my kids - without fail - because it was a very important part of my growing up and I also love to see them having fun with all their friends.

That said - we don't really do the school friends thing (lots of my personal friends have kiddos the same age as mine) but last year my son did invite a few of his school friends - it was all good.

Do what feels right... :-)

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I would start including a few close friends from school if they want to. Not the whole class unless you want the whole class at your house.

And no, I don't do goody bags, I think they are silly. Why give a gift to kids for coming to a party....

And no, I only do cake and sometimes ice cream. Feeding people at a birthday party is silly. They are coming to play and eat cake and ice cream NOT eat a meal. Half of them won't even eat anyway and you'll just be spending tons of money and worrying day and night about how much you are going to spend...

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answers from Boston on

How about having a few friends over to your house for a couple of hours of activities? Birthday parties needn't be expensive or large. When my oldest turned 7, he wanted an "old fashioned" birthday party at home. Our house was tiny (<900 sq ft) and we weren't guaranteed good weather but we did it anyway and they had fun. Maybe you feel that they are missing out because you know that in a sense, they are. Our birthday parties are never elaborate (except for the cakes I make for them but that's my thing, not theirs) but it's their day to celebrate with their friends. My SD's mother didn't host birthday parties for her so I started to do one when she turned 9 and she looks forward to it every year. It's always small - just a few girlfriends sleeping over - but it's hers. She has fun planning a menu, making invitations, planning activities, etc.

So...we do parties for each of the 4 kids every year (they are ages 5-13). When the boys were 5 and under (before they started real school) the guests were usually my friends and their children, plus some family, and maybe one or two kids from pre-school or daycare who we knew well. Once they were school age, we switched to school friends parties. As the kids got older (ages 10+), they invited fewer and fewer people but the parties last longer - usually a sleepover party, usually 6 - 8 kids here for dinner/movies/games/dessert and a few of those kids would stay the night. For younger ages, sometimes we have a simple party at home (we celebrate my January boy's birthday in July and sometimes roll one of the March boys into that party), sometimes we've done modest outings to places like the local children's museum, the Y, an indoor pool, ice skating etc. We avoid the really expensive places.

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answers from Austin on

Birthday parties can be held in the park.. Cake and punch.
Limit the amount of kids to 3 or 4..

Games, and letting them just run around..

Parties do no to equal money.

We always do a family dinner.. it is like pot luck. I make the main dish and provide the cake and the rest of the family bring the sides. The same could be done but allow your kids to invite 3 friends.

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answers from Washington DC on

The best thing you can do is make sure they feel special on their day! There are certain milestone b-days that I think you can make a big deal. People take the celebration out of the celebration (if you know what I mean) If every b-day needs to be bigger better it's takes the meaning away (IMO). Sharing special days with your closest friends and family is the best! Your children will have those memories forever.

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answers from Houston on

You are giving them memories of being with their family and close friends for their special occasions. That's something money can't buy. You have no reason to feel guilty. That's something to celebrate. Not everyone has that.

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answers from Atlanta on

Honestly, starting at age 8 they are getting too big for large, invite the whole class, b-day parties. Starting @ 8 we told both our kids they can invite 3 or 4 friends and do something special (movies, bowling, min-golfing, arcade, etc.), to include a sleepover.

Now that they are 11 and 13 they really only want to invite 1 or 2 friends and do something a little bigger, i.e. pro sports game, play, hibachi restaurant, etc.

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answers from Hartford on

Don't feel guilty. My eldest daughter just turned 11 years old and while we've included some of her school/Girl Scout friends at her parties in the past, I had to cancel her "friend party" this year. She had some behavior and attitude and ongoing school/homework issues. Serious issues. It was the only thing that made an impression on her.

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answers from Norfolk on

Hi, R.:

It sounds like your mom misses giving birthday parties.
It sounds like it isn't about you but about her.

A birthday party is a moment in time. I never had one myself.
In fact, my birth date was never even acknowledged when I was
growing up.

Just a thought.



answers from San Antonio on

I do parties for my kids at McDonalds, Chuck E Cheese, or Malibu, because our house had been under construction for three years now. We don't have family that will host for us and it has been easier for me with health issues in the past year.

We usually have about 10 kids and it costs about $100 - $125 including cake.

Your kids aren't missing anything...it will just make their parties even more special at 10 or 16.

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