Dear Family Whisperer,
My sister and I are a year and a day apart; I’m the older one. Until I was 13 years old (and went away to boarding school), my mother planned our birthday parties together, so she would only have to deal with one event. I hated it. I guess it was the practical thing to do, but it wasn’t like celebrating MY birthday. I never felt special on that day. We had only one cake with both names on it. Sometimes, our friends gave us only one present that we had to share. We’re now in our fifties–it’s taken us almost that long to get past our differences. Maybe having our own birthday parties might have helped me (I can’t speak for her) be less resentful–or maybe not. I don’t have children, only nephews and nieces. But if I did, I’d never force them to share a birthday celebration. What would you do?
–Cheated Adult Child
Dear Cheated Adult Child
Having children born 3½ years apart (now grown and therefore throwing their own birthday parties!), I never had to deal with this problem. But based on a quick search of the Internet, apparently many parents weigh the pros and cons of joint birthday parties for kids.
Their decisions are often colored by their own childhood memories, which run the gamut from sweet (“The most memorable birthday parties were the ones my parents threw for us together”) to bitter. One, in fact, sounds a lot like you: “My parents made the incorrect assumption that we wouldn’t mind sharing parties from age one to twelve. Starting at age five, we did mind. A lot.” Others remark casually, “It’s all I knew. That’s how it was in our family.”
Today’s parents plan joint birthdays for the same reason your mother did: it’s convenient, cheaper, and theoretically easier than throwing two parties. But their online ruminations suggest that they worry about making the right choice. Continue reading article