This Saturday I will once again be spending the day with my five-year old son at one of his classmates’ birthday parties. Every weekend there is another party. Every week the party is bigger than the one before – or it’s an exact replica which is worse. Every Saturday I am getting my son hopped up on sugar and spending time often, with people I barely know. I don’t really know how to work around this without hurting people’s feelings or making my son feel left out. Should I say something to the other parents and try to get everyone back on a saner track? Help!

Oh honey there is only one way out of this and it’s to grow a pair. Seriously, just say, ‘no thank you.’  You don’t’ need to say anything more than that (it’s my job to tell people what to do, not yours).  Let the crazies wander down their crazy trail happily oblivious but,  for the love of all that is holy, don’t follow them!

Let’s give this one the death-bed test. When you are laying on your death-bed are you going to be worried that you didn’t bring your son to enough children’s birthday parties? I didn’t think so.  But you might regret not taking him skating or swimming or sledding more. And you might regret that you didn’t set up a wonderful family birthday tradition of your own that he will carry on with your grandchildren. So show your son that the alternative to ‘not attending’ isn’t ‘not having fun.’ Stop making a big deal about these silly parties and start making a big deal about your life.  Have some real friends over to dinner, get tickets to a family show, plan a visit to a children’s museum and put it on the calendar and count the days until the ‘big event’ arrives.

And yes, AKA thinks these parties are silly – sue her. Raising children to think they are entitled to twenty gifts and a lavish party just for reaching the age of 5? How about when they make it to 40!?!  My favorite is when the parents take the wrapped gifts and put them in the car to bring home so the kids can ‘open them later.’ Listen sweetums’, if Johnny can’t sit through opening 20 gifts – never mind writing the thank you notes! – then he shouldn’t be on the receiving end of 20 gifts.

So don’t bring it up – the silly parties I mean. Unless it’s one of his best friends, skip it.  If he hears about a party at school, tell him you have other plans for your family that day. Share the plans with him. Get excited about the plans. He’ll forget all about the other kids’ parties because he’ll be having fun with the people he should be spending time with - his family!

You don’t need a reason, and you don’t’ need an excuse and neither does he.   Just think about the finite number of Saturdays you have with your young son and say ‘no thank you’ to the party track.