Full article from the Term 3 No 2 2006 Newsletter
Recently The Age newspaper contacted me to discuss the issue of children’s birthday parties. I was shocked to hear that there are companies that provide birthday parties for children as young as 3 years of age. These can include ‘entertainers’ such as clowns, modelling parties, magicians, music parties, and a range of topics and themes.
The cost of these parties can range from $100-$60,000. This price factor shocked me!!
There is still a message or attitude out in the community that to give children the best, to provide them with every opportunity and for it to be worthwhile and quality, we must spend money as parents, (lots of money) and outsource everything because providing ordinary things at home is not good enough.
We need to be careful with these types of messages.
Young children in the early childhood and primary years require lots of our time as family, opportunities to mix with others, and lots of time to learn that many really valuable things in life do not and should not require a lot of money being spent on them.
We need to value being at home, having a party in the backyard or local park. Children don’t require 20 or 30 children at their party when they are 6 years of age. Nor do they need to be ‘entertained’!!!
Children often enjoy the ordinary, simple and fun things that they can do alongside their friends by entertaining themselves.
Many parents feel guilty if they are not spending lots of money on entertainers, outsourcing parties and birthdays. Give yourselves a break!!
Chidden require us to provide the opportunity to learn to value the ordinary, the simple.
We have become so over sophisticated that we are not valuing just hanging out together anymore. Everything seems to have to be extra special or it isn’t good enough.
We also need to be careful we don’t place an adult’s view of the world or impression of what a good party should look like upon our young children.
If they start having adult like, expensive, sophisticated parties now, what on earth will we be giving them or will they be expecting when they turn 12 or 16 or 18 years of age?
I guess the message here is that it’s perfectly okay, in fact highly desirable just to let young children be little children. We don’t have to spend lots, entertain and outsource to wiz bang companies that are sophisticated, for our children to have a happy birthday and to spend time with their friends or family.
Remember the old but true story about the fact that most young children like the wrapping on the present more than what is actually inside the wrapping. Feel free to just let your children have low key parties and celebrations. They will surprise you with how much they actually can entertain themselves and how simple and lovely it is to just let them share some special time with their friends.
Life isn’t about being entertained by others, and children certainly need times to learn to entertain themselves.
Copyright © Kathy Walker 2006