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Family Values

This is not a rant on elaborate versus frugal nor a discussion on the escalation of birthday party prominence. I will not disclose my birthday ideas or list my pocket-full of tips. This is a "Family Declaration of Independence for Birthday Celebrations."

It seems moms and dads are under ever-increasing pressure to produce lavish birthday events. This is your permission to cease or engage such activity, based on whatever is healthiest for your family. There is no law declaring good parenting includes a moderate to lavish birthday party for each child, every year. Your child's emotional health does not rest on your birthday ingenuity.

Feel free to celebrate in whatever way you decide. Give yourself permission to disregard peer pressures, blog entries, Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram photos, which make you feel you must "measure-up" or plan anything other than what you wish. The tricky part here is deciding what is really important to your family. Here are a few suggestions to help you define and frame your family birth observances.

Remember: Birthdays are a remembrance and honoring of the day a person was born. It is reminiscing a miraculous day in a family's life: the addition of a new life. It is the one day each year that a person should feel special. So, yes, in someway, family merrymaking should commence, yet, not determined by social coercion.

Consider: What is unique about the honoree? What makes this child feel special? The events would mean the most if the child's individuality is considered. Does she like breakfast in bed? Does he thrive on friend time? Would choosing the dinner menu please? Do experiences speak to their personality? Let the "birthday child" plan the family event? Lots of birthday decisions are built on parents' expectations, placing unneeded stress on the day. Design the day to reflect the child.

Determine: Make a family plan for birthdays. Will we have birthday parties every year, every other, every third? Depending on the size of your family, this will provide fiscal responsibility. Will birthdays be a family only event? What will the budget be? Overspending the family budget ruins the specialness. There are a million websites, ideas and DIY options to help keep the day simple and inexpensive; utilize resources.

Birthdays are indeed a time to celebrate. Be a birthday independent; feel free, do it your way.

Elaine Stone, mother of three, lives in Spotsylvania.

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