In part to teach philanthropy and altruism, and in part as a defense against swarms of random plastic objects destined to clutter every square foot of their living space, a number of families are experimenting with gift-free birthday parties, suggesting that guests donate money or specified items to the charity of the child’s choice instead....I was wondering if they were ever going to get around to mentioning "Mommie Dearest." It seems to be only the grandparents who remember the time when we delighted in loathing the mother who would give a birthday party and then whisk away all the presents to be sent to less fortunate children.
Bill Doherty, who helped create Birthdays Without Pressure, a Web site opposed to expensive, competitive parties in the Nickelodeon set, said the no-gift notion was “great, especially if the child is involved in choosing the charity,” but cautioned that “it could become another source of competition.”
In Randolph, N.J., Jack Knapp’s family has a five-year tradition of redirecting birthday benefits: They have collected dress-up clothes for a girl with cancer, items for the pediatric emergency room at Morristown Memorial Hospital and groceries for the Interfaith Food Pantry.
After seeing her two older siblings treated like heroes when they dropped off their haul, the youngest, Emily, recently told her mother, Mindy Knapp, that she wants gifts for her 4th birthday next month to go to the neonatal unit. Not that she can define neonatal.
“She said, ‘Could we give stuff to the babies at the hospital?’ Mrs. Knapp said. “Now they wouldn’t think of doing it any other way.”
Mrs. Knapp said her children’s grandparents “always support whatever cause the kids are into,” but also insist on giving them gifts, noting, “Otherwise it would be like a scene from ‘Mommie Dearest.’ ”
Now, parents are proud of their resemblance to that crazed vision of parenthood!
I eagerly await a NYT article about the way the superparents of today are schooling their kids in the rigors of housework.