Q: For my son’s fourth birthday party, I made verbal requests to parents not to bring gifts. I explained that my son still had Christmas presents he hadn’t opened and that his grandparents would do enough spoiling. I further explained that we were having a party for the fun experience with all his friends. Remarkably, every parent brought a present. My son didn’t even notice the gifts with all the activity. How can I make sure that this doesn’t happen next year? I want my son to have a party but not to have a toy store in his playroom!
A: You really can’t. It is presumed that when your son attends a party for another child you send him with a gift. These children then reciprocate with a gift for your son. Part of the experience of growing up is also knowing how to open and acknowledge gifts – to say thank you, to handle a situation when you receive a duplicate gift, to express thanks for something you really don’t like. These are all things your son needs to know how to do, too. I understand your feelings, but you tried this once and it didn’t work, so it is best to let it go and help him learn this new skill during his parties in the future.