TL;DR – Every birthday party is a good birthday party.
Celebrating birthdays in school used to be nothing more than just an excuse to bring snacks and take time off lessons.
But things have changed a little since then.
Parents are now willing to spend over $400 to $800 on each birthday party and some more than $1,500 to celebrate their child’s birthday. Some schools have since issued guidelines on birthday celebrations in schools, saying they should be kept to “no-frills” celebrations.
Some such as Oasis Primary in Punggol even tell parents not to organise birthday celebrations within the school.
This is to prevent concerns about food allergies and the consumption of junk food as well as preventing students from making comparisons between the haves and have-nots.
ST Forum contributor also says that birthday parties should not continue in primary school as this may promote elitism among young minds.
But does this really help to stop the comparisons?
It is always easy to set rules and regulations to put something in place but isn’t prevention better than cure? Shouldn’t we be spending more time and effort to instil the right values in our children instead of just having some stopgap measure.
Because, what next?
Are we going to start standardising school bags, pencil cases and water bottles to further prevent comparisons between the have and have-nots because of the difference in brands?
Are we going to standardise what brands of cars parents can drive to pick up and drop off their kids?
(Though the last I checked, we are in Singapore and not North Korea.)
We can only prevent children from not knowing difference by that much. Comparison is never all bad, but what is bad is what the kids take away from it at the end of the day. It shouldn’t be about what we have or don’t have but instead we should be thinking about how we can teach our children to channel this understanding and take the differences positively as a form of motivation to work towards what we want. We shouldn’t always look to the authorities to solve parenting issues for us. As parents, we are supposed to be there to instil such values to them.
Like my mom used to tell me when I was a kid, “It doesn’t mean that you have to flaunt it just because you have it, and if you don’t, it doesn’t mean you have to beg for it either.”
We are all dealt with different cards in life. But it is about understanding the differences and how we can make the best out of it, and for ourselves – not about avoiding issues altogether.
After all, life wouldn’t always be about rainbows and butterflies either, right?