Birthdays are such a joyous occasion.
Party and big celebration, quiet moment of enjoyment, close family sharing a special meal, however you honor this day, it’s so good you’re here. We’re so glad you were born. What a wonderful day that was, the day I became a dad, the day I became a big sister, the day our family was complete.
As a child grows, honoring their birth grows in tandem.
Families choose to celebrate in many different ways.
For a young child, just starting to be aware of birthdays, perhaps turning three involves a cupcake and a special dinner with grandparents. Children love routine, and having all the attention, a big hullabaloo, and a party that impedes nap time can be overwhelming. A very social child or a younger sibling who has been looking forward to birthdays for as long as they can remember might enjoy a party, but it will probably be a different type of celebration for this three-year-old than it was for their six-year-old brother.
As a child ages, she might attend a birthday party or two, and come home every time saying, I want a Frozen birthday, or a gymnastics party, or a ninja birthday. They might ask about their birthday, wondering time and again, when’s my birthday?
Though a birthday is a particularly momentous occasion, and a lovely opportunity for sharing stories and fond memories, each time this comes up in conversation can bring tales of how much I loved you, how tiny you were, how you were so much work to get here but the best work I’ve ever done, how you were almost born in a car on the bridge in a traffic jam, how I heard the phone ring in the middle of the night telling me you were finally here, and I flew across the country to meet you and I knew you were mine.
Children love to hear about themselves, to hear about where they came from, to hear about a part of their lives they can’t remember, yet know to be true.
When a party is part of the birthday equation, lots of questions emerge. Do we invite friends? Do we have to invite the whole class? How do we celebrate at school? It can become a bit stressful.
The most important part of a party, is that it is something you’re comfortable with. Some families do choose to have a big celebration and invite the whole class, and siblings are welcome. If that’s how you want to celebrate, great! Sometimes families who choose this route decide to have the party outside their home, such as at the local gymnastics studio, at a park, or at the zoo.
Other families choose to invite the number of children as the age their child is turning. For instance, their child can invite five friends to their fifth birthday party. This can help prevent a party from being overwhelming to a young child.
At some schools, parents are invited in to celebrate a child’s birthday in class. Some families choose to come in, other families are unable to, or choose not to. Some families choose to bring treats, other families don’t.
Every question — should I throw a party for my child? Should we have cake? Do I say no presents? Do we bring something to school? — is a genuine question for yourself. When you figure out what is comfortable for you, you can present this option to your child. Try not to feel pressure to do “what everyone else is doing,” or what you perceive to be the community expectation. A birthday is a celebration of your child, and feeling loved is all that matters.
We love birthdays, and we also recorded a podcast on this subject. Take a listen here!
Written by:Charlotte Wood