Follow parentsjourney on TwitterThe topic about children's birthday celebration came up over the weekend as my daughter and her cousin had an instant joint birthday celebration. It's actually an advanced celebration as her cousin had to leave for Australia tomorrow. Her family spent part of the holidays with us in time for a family reunion and a wedding early this month. All these family activities also explains the lull in this part of the blogosphere in the past few weeks

Children's birthday celebrations are big events for every family. Remembering the arrival of each bundle of joy always delights parents; and for kids, this is the time to enjoy being the center of attention and more often than not having their wishes granted. Every family may have varying ways of commemorating a member’s birthday, but for certain, the foremost objective is to bring happiness to the celebrant and to show gratefulness for the gift of life and good health.

Family circumstances like financial status, location, work and other commitments as well as cultural tradition may have played a role in how we celebrate our children’s big day. But in general, celebrating their birthdays has continuously evolved as they grow because we make it a point to consider their view of what a happy celebration should be. It is their day anyway, right?

It has been a practice in our community (probably in many others, too) that the first and seventh birthdays of a child should be celebrated. I asked why, but the explanations given to me when I was younger did not seem to suffice. It was only when I already have a child of my own did it sink that infancy is the most vulnerable stage in the life of a child. The family has to go through a lot of anxieties regarding the baby’s health and well-being such that having reached her first birthday indeed calls for a celebration. The seventh birthday is celebrated for the milestones in the child’s development. This is the time when a child already engages in serious education in the academics, social skills development and practical life. It is also the stage when a child is developing friendships with kids of similar ages in school and in the neighborhood, whom he/she can celebrate the day with.

Below are some basic guidelines we follow in celebrating our children’s birthday. It may or may not apply directly to others but certainly, some aspects are worth considering.
  • Try to be consistent in handling each child’s birthday celebration. It doesn’t have to be the same in everything but there are key points that should not be ignored. For our three kids who had celebrated their first birthday, all of them had banners printed on cloth or tarp, a cake with lighted candle to blow and a theme corresponding to their interests at that time. When they are older and would like to review what happened on their 365th day on earth outside Mama’s womb, they can tell from the photos how important each one is and how they are equally loved by their parents.
  • Consult the celebrant. A child’s concept of celebration is largely influenced by that of the parents'. But as they grow older and seek individuality, their concept of enjoyment and happiness would eventually differ from them. For the seventh birthday of our older kids, we felt the time was right to solicit their ideas on how they want the celebration to happen. Considering all limitations, we made do of what was feasible. If you are afraid that the child might ask something unaffordable, I have to say it is not always the case. You’ll be surprised to hear their simple wishes. Besides, if what they want is not feasible, compromises can be made.
    For their seventh birthday, a bubble show school party for my daughter whose birthday falls on a school day and a family gathering for my son whose birthday falls on a summer school break were memorable events for them that did not cost us much. My daughter wished for a school party with lots of games to play. I can’t be a party host so I seek professional help that led me to a bubble show package. Because I paid for a party host, I had to cut cost somewhere. I decided to cook the food myself instead of having it catered and I didn’t buy her a new dress for the occasion. She was too willing to give up a new dress because she got too excited with the bubble show concept. My son wished for a school party as well but it was not possible because his birthday falls on summer break. Fortunately, we came up with the idea of making him "King for a day" and for the rest of the family to grant the King’s wishes. With a cheap crown and an old cape, the King decided what movie to watch on DVD, what food to eat and what game to play. Who wouldn’t be so elated?
    • When the child is older, let her/him plan for the event. As we train our children to become independent, we encourage them to be vocal with what they want and let them take part in making it happen. The ninth birthday of my daughter became a milestone for her because she got the chance to plan every detail of the event. She informed me of her plans and asked for approval and assistance in the execution. She chose her closest friends to be with her on what she called a “girls night out”. Days before the event, she held meetings with her friends to chart out their night out. Together with her friends, she decided in which restaurant to eat, what food to order and then pay the bill herself using her savings. My husband and I were seated on a separate table and had to pay for our own meal…funny eh. They did a lot of other girl stuff together and enjoyed so much that their giggles linger in the air throughout the night. Their uncontainable excitement as I picked them up from school and the joyful singing inside the car as we drove each of them home assured me that the event was really a success. Our involvement was limited to asking permission from the parents, shuttling them from school to the mall and then to each girl’s house, and of course to chaperon and run some errands for them.

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    About Us (circa 2009)

    Our journey led us to this place. A little more than 10 years ago we began our journey as husband and wife. Three years later, we found ourselves with two bundles of joy- a daughter and then a son. They're the children we've dreamed of having.

    About five years since the birth of our son, an unexpected gift came- a younger brother to our school-age kids. And soon enough, a baby girl arrived to round the family membership.

    Brave was a term used by a friend to describe us. Challenging... and loving it -- yeah, this journey is not for the faint of heart.