Family Matters

Children's Birthday Parties

My DH has a very close family with a lot of young children.  Birthday parties (for adults and children) are a big deal.  Would it be rude if I decided not to attend the children's birthday parties that are held at places like Bounce-house type places, city parks, etc.?  Of course, I would send a nice gift via my DH or another family member. 

FM Moms - Am I being rude for not wanting to attend parties like this that are geared more for children and their parents?  I'm childless and find myself dreading these events.  I realize each family has their own "unspoken rules" and obligations, so this family in question may think I'm rude.  But, I guess my question is, am I off base for wanting to avoid these family functions? 

Re: Children's Birthday Parties

  • Why don't you want to attend?

    I can sort of understand not wanting to go to Chuck E. Cheese or something like that for every single party, if there's really no place where an adult who doesn't have any children could sit down and chat with other adults. I can also understand not wanting to go if they always expected you to play the babysitter and watch their kids while they go off and do something else.

    But if it's at a park, or someone's home, and there just happens to be a lot of children there ... then I think you should just suck it up and attend. They're children. The kids want to do something fun for their birthday ... the family isn't going to throw a quiet party just to accommodate people who don't want to be around children. My husband's family has a lot of children, and while I sometimes leave with a headache because of all the screaming and loud video games, they're a nice family and I like spending time with them. It's part of being a family.

    And if you BOTH declined the occasional party because of a prior commitment, I wouldn't find that to be a big deal. But if your husband kept showing up without you just because you didn't feel like being there, then I would find that awfully rude of you.

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  • I understand you're childless, and find children's parties tedious. But so do most childed people.

    These kids are your family too, right? You're part of their family, they're part of yours. All kids need and want to be connected to family members; and you don't know who these kids will turn out to be as adults, or what they'll need or want; and it's not like you'll magically get to be friends with them when they're adults, which they will be eventually. You'll have a family of strangers who have no interest in you and who you know nothing about. Yahoo.

    Go. Get to know these kids; love them, which in kid language is being present and interested; and enjoy watching them grow.  I would be really put off by a family member, which is what you are, wanted to exclude herself from all or substantially all family events involving other less convenient family members.

     

    SO SINGS MY SOUL *WHAM!* MY SAVIOR GOD TO THEE *WHAM!* HOW GREAT THOU ART *WHAM!* HOW GREAT THOU ART *WHAM!*
  • image EffDat:

    My DH has a very close family with a lot of young children.  Birthday parties (for adults and children) are a big deal.  Would it be rude if I decided not to attend the children's birthday parties that are held at places like Bounce-house type places, city parks, etc.?  Of course, I would send a nice gift via my DH or another family member. 

    FM Moms - Am I being rude for not wanting to attend parties like this that are geared more for children and their parents?  I'm childless and find myself dreading these events.  I realize each family has their own "unspoken rules" and obligations, so this family in question may think I'm rude.  But, I guess my question is, am I off base for wanting to avoid these family functions? 

    FTR - My in-laws get together for every birthday (over 20 relatives), every holiday, every weather change, random weekends, etc.  I don't consider myself a bad relative because I want to attend 40 events instead of 200 a year.  I'm sure I can connect with my nieces/nephews at those events that I do attend. 

    Please see the bolded part of my original post.  I don't want to attend the Chuck-E-Cheese, Pump-It-Up, outdoor parks/swim places, etc. I have no problem going to a backyard birthday party at a relative's home for the kids.  It's the kid places I don't want to attend.  And I don't expect anyone to revolve their party plans around me.   

  • Sorry. It's the kid parties that mean most to the kids. Seeing  you on the fly at yet another thanksgiving does not have the same meaning to the child as you at their tenth (or whatever) bday.

    If all you want is permission to avoid the kid parties, you have it. Don't go. But you asked for opinions from moms, and you got mine.

    I get that kids' parties are boring/obnoxious/loud/etc. I've thrown a gazillion of them, for my kids. at fifteen and seventeen, they still remember who came to their parties, who got them what, who celebrated their special day with them. By all means, stay home, and enjoy yourself.

    SO SINGS MY SOUL *WHAM!* MY SAVIOR GOD TO THEE *WHAM!* HOW GREAT THOU ART *WHAM!* HOW GREAT THOU ART *WHAM!*
  • Actually, the parties at the bounce house are the most fun - the kids are occupied with the party leader (an employee of the establishment), and the adults hang out and talk among themselves.  The gifts aren't opened until the family goes home after the party.

    But - if you have a lot of nieces and nephews, I would decline the invites.  Unless you have kids the same age who will attend, there is no need for you to be there.  My parents don't go to my kids parties.  We invite them to my house afterwards for pizza and cake, so it's more of a family gtg.  If they don't make it - no big deal.

    image "Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.
  • What does your DH think?  Does he go to all the parties?  Does he get upset at the fact that you don't want to go and he goes by himself?  My H has a large family too, and they have parties every year up until the kids turn 16 then after that it's milestones only.  I make it a point to go with him to all of them, unless I have something prior planned, such as a bridal shower or something I'm hosting (most recently a Tastefully Simple party the day of nephew's 15th birthday party).

    Personally, for family I'd make it a point to go.  Friends, eh, you can take that or leave it, IMO.  Some of my friends I won't go; other friends' kids are like nieces & nephews to me so I treat them like family.  A lot of times my good friends' kids would always ask if I was coming to their birthday parties.  Thing is, like Sue Sue said, kids remember this kind of stuff.  Even before I became a SM I would go and talk to the adults at bounce house parties, etc. because the kids always seemed to pay special attention to the fact that "auntie" was there.  There have been a few parties I was unable to attend due to working a 2nd job/garage sale plans/etc. in the past and I would just go spend the day with them and give the kids their present then. 


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  • I have a kid and yet I HATE kid parties. I find them to be painful. I still go because it means a lot to those who throw them.
    The poster formally known as Irish Photobucket Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
  • I think you're justified in wanting to pull back on how many events you attend.  However- I think it's up to you and your husband to decide which events are the ones you could best skip.  For me, I'd make the big effort to show up at the kids birthday parties- even the ones that are geared towards children and are tedious for adults- but I'd feel free to skip the random "just-because" gatherings or non-milestone adult birthdays.  If the issue is that you're attending a bazillion events and need to cut back on how many of your weekends are spoken for- then decide with your husband what the events are that are most important that the family be present for.  If the issue is that you don't like children's parties- that I would take a longer view and balance how much you enjoy the actual activities vs. how much it would mean to others to have you there.  I am also childless and attend a fair number of children's birthday parties.  I don't go because I like bounce houses or playgrounds, I go because it means so much to the kids, and that makes it completely worth it to me.    


  • image EffDat:

    My DH has a very close family with a lot of young children. 

    Are these children your neices and nephews or are these extended family members (like cousins) children?  I think if they are your n/n that you could miss the party at children locations but if you do, you should make a point to bring the gift to them and see them.  If they are extended family dont worry about it at all. 

    Favorite Flower

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  • we have a niece and a nephew that live close to us.  last weekend was her party.  this coming weekend is his.  we're going to/went to both.  it's 2-3 hours out of a saturday two times a year.  we go because they like to see us there, and hey, free food.  besides that, once they hit the teen years, i'm sure it won't be so cool to invite us to their birthday parties.

    actually, as the kids have gotten older (she just turned 3, he's turning 7), their parties are getting more fun.  i spent a lot of time on the new trampoline last weekend and had a blast jumping with my nephew.  this weekend, the party is at a place that has bowling, skeeball, billards, arcade games, and a rock climbing wall.  i am especially looking forward to glow golf and laser tag.  (reminder to self: don't wear a white shirt.  a co-worker did this at rock n' bowl one night, and the black lights caused her bra to glow right through her shirt.)

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  • image MrsGinger:

    If the issue is that you're attending a bazillion events and need to cut back on how many of your weekends are spoken for- then decide with your husband what the events are that are most important that the family be present for.  If the issue is that you don't like children's parties- that I would take a longer view and balance how much you enjoy the actual activities vs. how much it would mean to others to have you there.

    This. 
    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

    Lilypie Third Birthday tickers
    DS dx with celiac disease 5/28/10

  • I have similar issues with my ILs. There are 10 small children in our immediate family (mostly cousins' kids) and they are all under the age of 7. While I love all of the children, I find it extremely annoying to have to go to 10 children's birthday parties a year. How many times can you watch "pin the tail on the donkey" without wanting to pull your hair out? Especially if you are child-less.

     That being said, I remember being extremely dissapointed when my aunts and uncles could not come to my birthday parties as a child. So, keeping that in mind I make a real effort to make it to every birthday party and if I cant make it due to another commitment or because I really really dont want to be at Chuck-E-Cheese for 4 hours on a Saturday, I will try to see the child soon afterward so they know they are important to me. Also, chances are a 2 or 3 year old wont notice your absence, but a 6 year old will and will be dissapointed that you are not there.

  • Thanks everyone for your feedback.  You have helped me realize what the real issue is and how I will approach it.

    To answer a few questions, my DH understands that his family has a lot of gatherings and that I'm not always in the mood to to dedicate a week night, weekend day, weekend night, weekend night(s) with his family.  He has given me "permission" to not attend and he has pulled back on attendance as well.  For example: These children have BOTH family gatherings and the Chuck-E-Cheese events for each of their birthdays (ex: Family dinner on Friday / Fun party on Saturday).  I was hoping to get away with only attending the family party, but it appears to me by reading the feedback here that the Chuck-E-Cheese parties are the ones that count for them.  Having my weekend monopolized by two gatherings for the same kid doesn't seem fair to me. It gets to be too much. 

    I get along very well with my in-laws. As a matter of fact, I would bet big money that my nieces/nephews consider me a favorite aunt.  My DH and I make a big effort to spend quality one-on-one time with each of them and remind them how special they are to us. We shower them with their favorite toys, we take them to fun events, and we love them as if they were our own children.

    After reading your posts, I'm now taking the approach of "picking my battles/parties" and will keep in mind how much it would mean to these children to have our attendance at their fun parties. I'll skip out on the family dinner and will suck it up and go for an hour or so to their fun parties to ensure that they will feel special.

  • image EffDat:

    These children have BOTH family gatherings and the Chuck-E-Cheese events for each of their birthdays (ex: Family dinner on Friday / Fun party on Saturday).  I was hoping to get away with only attending the family party, but it appears to me by reading the feedback here that the Chuck-E-Cheese parties are the ones that count for them.  Having my weekend monopolized by two gatherings for the same kid doesn't seem fair to me. It gets to be too much. 

    Ah, this kind of changes things.  Everyone is saying Chuck-E-Cheese is a big deal because we think that's the only party.  The fact that there is another party too, I actually wouldn't assume that.  Honestly- I would think that between the two, the pizza/bounce party, the kids are going to be focused on their friends more so than their family.

    You know the family.  We don't.  What do YOU think is the more important party? 

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

    Lilypie Third Birthday tickers
    DS dx with celiac disease 5/28/10

  • image EffDat:

    These children have BOTH family gatherings and the Chuck-E-Cheese events for each of their birthdays (ex: Family dinner on Friday / Fun party on Saturday).  I was hoping to get away with only attending the family party, but it appears to me by reading the feedback here that the Chuck-E-Cheese parties are the ones that count for them.  

    In this case, I personally think it's fine to skip the Chuck-E-Cheese type event and just attend the family dinner.  In fact, this is how I usually do my kids' party (I combine the family party as their birthdays are only 5 weeks apart and our family has to travel out of state to attend...this way they only need to come once).  I have a "kid oriented" party in the afternoon, for DDs friends, followed by a family dinner at our house.  While I invite the entire family to both parts those without young kids don't come to the first event and I absolutely do not expect them to.  Does that part "mean more" to my kids?  Probably...it's the most fun and where they get to party with their friends.  But for that same reason they don't *care* if my aunts and uncles, or even *their* aunts and uncles, for that matter, are present.  They're hanging out with their friends.  Heck, I could leave and they probably wouldn't notice! 

  • image EastCoastBride:
    image EffDat:

    These children have BOTH family gatherings and the Chuck-E-Cheese events for each of their birthdays (ex: Family dinner on Friday / Fun party on Saturday).  I was hoping to get away with only attending the family party, but it appears to me by reading the feedback here that the Chuck-E-Cheese parties are the ones that count for them.  Having my weekend monopolized by two gatherings for the same kid doesn't seem fair to me. It gets to be too much. 

    Ah, this kind of changes things.  Everyone is saying Chuck-E-Cheese is a big deal because we think that's the only party.  The fact that there is another party too, I actually wouldn't assume that.  Honestly- I would think that between the two, the pizza/bounce party, the kids are going to be focused on their friends more so than their family.

    You know the family.  We don't.  What do YOU think is the more important party? 

    I didn't word my OP correctly.  I guess I was considering the parent's feelings and not the children's feelings.  Last thing I want to do is make the parents feel as if I was snubbing their parties (fun parties) for their children.  After reading the responses here, I realized that the children's feelings were a bigger factor that I was over-looking.

    I think I'm going to have to have a conversation with the parents to find out what their opinion in our attendance is.  Whether the expectation is for us to attend both or just one.  I think this family is used to being together so often that it's just the norm to attend both parties.  My attitude is that I would rather go to the family function (beer/wine involved) and skip the fun-place party.  After reading the responses here, I'm sure that will be considered selfish and missing the point.  So, that is why I've come to the conclusion of just attending the fun parties for an hour or so.

    Another layer to this is that I see the same friends at these birthday functions (friends of my SIL/BIL(s)) and we don't have too much in common.  Like another poster said, kids are running around and having fun, meanwhile I'm trying to make small-talk with their parents.  It's hard.  The conversations are kid-centric and I don't have much to contribute.  My DH is extremely shy and leaves the socializing to me.  With this crowd I would rather meet perfect strangers than go through the same uncomfortable dance over and over again.  I guess I can suck it up for an hour for the sake of the birthday boys/girls.

  • image EffDat:

    I think I'm going to have to have a conversation with the parents to find out what their opinion in our attendance is.  Whether the expectation is for us to attend both or just one. 

    Two things:

    1 - the above?  don't do it. Don't ask if their expectation is you attend both or not. What happens if they say "Yes. Of course.  Why wouldnt you come to both? I can't believe you'd even think of not coming!".  Painted yourself into a corner on that one.

    At MOST, what I would say is "We have a lot going on that weekend, but it's flexible.  We can't attend both parties but we can move things around to come to one.  Which party do you feel is more important that we come to?". 

    2- Past that, I agree w/ the PP - as long as your going to ONE of the parties, I really doubt the kids are going to care all that much.  I still contend that the pizza/bounce place parties, the kids aren't going to be paying attention to aunts and uncles.  they are going to be more focused on their friends.   As for memories, creating bonds, etc, I think as long as you're going to ONE of the two parties, it's really, really not going to matter which one.  And I'd actually argue that going to the family one is the one that is going to give you more interaction w/ the kid anyhow.

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

    Lilypie Third Birthday tickers
    DS dx with celiac disease 5/28/10

  • image EastCoastBride:
    image EffDat:

    I think I'm going to have to have a conversation with the parents to find out what their opinion in our attendance is.  Whether the expectation is for us to attend both or just one. 

    Two things:

    1 - the above?  don't do it. Don't ask if their expectation is you attend both or not. What happens if they say "Yes. Of course.  Why wouldnt you come to both? I can't believe you'd even think of not coming!".  Painted yourself into a corner on that one.

    At MOST, what I would say is "We have a lot going on that weekend, but it's flexible.  We can't attend both parties but we can move things around to come to one.  Which party do you feel is more important that we come to?". 

    2- Past that, I agree w/ the PP - as long as your going to ONE of the parties, I really doubt the kids are going to care all that much.  I still contend that the pizza/bounce place parties, the kids aren't going to be paying attention to aunts and uncles.  they are going to be more focused on their friends.   As for memories, creating bonds, etc, I think as long as you're going to ONE of the two parties, it's really, really not going to matter which one.  And I'd actually argue that going to the family one is the one that is going to give you more interaction w/ the kid anyhow.

    Thank you!  I was wondering how to approach the situation without giving up my control over the outcome.  I'll certainly take your approach (#1).  I agree with you too on the interaction being more intimate in the family party setting.  Aside from my selfish reasons of wanting to avoid the fun-party, I can see how the one-on-one interaction will be greater at the family dinner.  Again, I'll follow your advice and go from there.

  • I must have missed something.  They do a family dinner AND a bounce-house party for the kids???  OK then I take it back - go to the family dinner and skip the bounce house.  I didn't see the part where they have 2 parties per kid.  Yeah - that is a little much.  As long as you're there for one of their parties I'm srue they'll be happy to have you there & will remember your attendance.


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