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I Lie to My Son about When His Birthday Is!

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Momlogic's Jayne: In a meeting today, I finally admitted THE most shameful thing I have ever done as a mother -- I lied to my son about when his 4th birthday was so I wouldn't have to throw him a party. There, I said it! Let the judgment begin!

birthday boy

Some of you might wonder how it's even possible to lie to a child about his or her birthday, because all year long GOOD parents are celebrating their child's arrival on earth with parties that my son is invited to. Well, it is ... and I did!

In February, my son started asking when his May birthday was, and like a good mommy I told him, "It's coming up honey, don't worry." Then when May arrived and he continued to ask, I started to say that his birthday had already passed and that he had to wait a while for it to come around. (Please make note: I did tell him though that since his b-day was far off we we could have a fun week with a present every day to tide him over -- and we did.) So this year, there was no birthday cake, no singing "happy birthday," just an uneventful turning from 3 to 4. Looking back, I can not believe that I did that and I really feel guilty.

In addition to being horrified that I did this, I am sure some of you are mad and think that I take advantage of other parents' generosity by taking my kid to other kids' birthday parties without ever reciprocating. Well, don't be mad, I occasionally (don't get your panties in a bunch, ONLY occasionally) lie to my son and don't tell him that he's been invited to a party, so we don't have to go.

You must be wondering to yourself, "What the hell is wrong with this woman? I have never heard of anything so mean, selfish, and cruel!" To tell you the truth, I have no idea what the problem is, all I know is that the thought of throwing a party (and occasionally attending them) gives me anxiety that I can't really describe. I sometimes think that maybe I could drink a lot to get through the party -- but come on, even I know that kids and the mother of the birthday boy staggering around drunk don't mix!

Those who see me at work probably think that I come off as relatively social and confident. I have a big mouth, I'm pretty loud and I'm not afraid to speak my mind -- as ridiculous as it is at times. But when I leave the office and close the door of my car, I can finally be my real self, someone who is VERY shy and does not feel completely comfortable talking to other people that much (a few very close friends excluded -- but even then it's a struggle to chat on the phone or meet up often).

On weekends, I like to spend time with my husband and son and very rarely do I do things with other people. It's so bad that my husband regularly (and sometimes angrily) accuses me of being a "recluse" and a "hermit."

Because of all this, you can imagine that the idea of throwing a party and inviting 15 kids and THEIR PARENTS (who I would have to talk to) to my home completely freaks me out. So much so that I would rather lie to my beloved son and deprive him of his natural birthright.

I still don't think that I've answered the question of why I actually did this. Well, other than not wanting to talk to people who I don't know (the kids' parents) I have a HUGE fear of people not showing up and the party being a failure. I could actually start crying right now just imagining my son's face on his big day surrounded by balloons and a bouncy castle and no one showing up. What is wrong with me? It's so sad .... and I am ashamed.

I feel so bad about this that I actually turned to momlogic expert Shannon Fox to see what she had to say, and if she had any advice from me. Click here for what Shannon Fox had to say.

44 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous October 27, 2008, 9:20 AM

Yeah, you obviously have a social anxiety disorder of sorts. Now, get on some Paxil or Prozac and quit punishing your kid for your problems!! At the very least can’t dad take son to the parties instead of lying and not going?

Kate October 27, 2008, 9:24 AM

I think Dr. Fox had some great advice. I don’t think that it’s necessary to throw a big party for a kid every year. I only had 2-3 big birthday parties growing up (and they were not HUGE parties either). What’s wrong with just celebrating as a family? Who cares if your kid was invited to other parties and you don’t reciprocate? Parents should not invite children to parties with the expectation that you will invite their child to a party. You bought a gift for that child for his party - that was the only obligation that you had to that family.

Don’t worry so much about what other people are going to think about you if you don’t throw a party or even if you do throw one. All that matters is that your little boy gets a chance to celebrate his life in a way that makes everyone comfortable. To tell you the truth, my favorite way to spend my birthday was with my family at McDonald’s. No fanfare there!

Uly October 27, 2008, 9:45 AM

“You bought a gift for that child for his party - that was the only obligation that you had to that family.”

Whatever people think, you do not have an obligation to bring gifts to birthday parties.

In this time of financial troubles, I’m always careful to tell people that when inviting them to my nieces’ parties - we can get them presents. Our not-so-wealthy friends are welcome to come empty handed - their company is what we want, not their loot.

(That said, everybody shows up with a present anyway, but I’m not keeping a running tally of who bought what when.)

Anonymous October 27, 2008, 10:21 AM

I think it’s brave you shared this. I hope you find a way to feel better for you and your family.

Jill October 27, 2008, 10:53 AM

Wow- get some help woman!!!

Jenny October 27, 2008, 11:15 AM

My gosh people, lay off the lady. Yeah it wasnt the greatest parenting moment and she realizes this. Seems like there is some sort of underlying issue but its not like she is proud of it.

Next year tell the kid when his birthday is and have a birthday with just you , his dad (if he is in the picture,not being rude, just some dads arent) and possibly grandparents.

Personally I cant stand childrens birthday parties with 15 kids running around hyped up on artificial ingredients.There is no rule saying you must have a child filled birthday. Family, cake and presents will thrill your child just as much (until they are older anyway lol)

birdsfly October 27, 2008, 11:17 AM

As someone with a social anxiety disorder I can understand where you are coming from. Not only do I not have any social life (seriously, I only go out once a month, maybe, with an alumni group and if I don’t recognize them in the public meeting area I have a major anxiety attack) but I’m also a SAHM because it makes no financial sense for me to work once you factor out childcare costs.
My three year old doesn’t have any friends. He goes to the park and the play yard at the mall and his Little Gym classes, but he doesn’t have any playdate friends. There is a mom group in the area that I have tried to hook up with before but when I couldn’t find them at the designated spots I again had axiety attacks. I doing the best I can for him, I just have no idea how to relate to people.
And to the Anon pushing pills: sometimes medication helps but sometimes it makes things worse. When I take anxiety meds I feel so foggy and tired that I’m useless to my child and afraid to try to drive anywhere. Not exactly an improvement.

What? October 27, 2008, 11:36 AM

Are you serious? I’m not generally someone to judge but I can’t imagine lying to your child and depriving him of the opportunity to have a birthday! I understand how it feels to have social anxiety…I myself have been blessed with it. No matter what though my kids come first. They may not always get a big party or even the present that they really want, but they always know they come first and at the very least get to feel special on their day!

geen October 27, 2008, 1:04 PM

Wow, that’s brave of you for coming out. Just use this as a life lesson for yourself and ask him what he would like to do next year for his birthday. Some kids have a calender in their rooms and like to X out each day until their birthday, that would help him know when it’s coming up. As for parties, you do not have to have them until he is a bit older, just close family and something fun for now.

Me October 27, 2008, 1:32 PM

birdsfly: Have you talked to your doctor about trying a different medication? I don’t know what one would make you foggy and tired, but, speaking as someone on an anti-anxiety med, I believe they certainly don’t all have that side effect. I suggest getting a second opinion if your current doctor’s recommendations aren’t working.

I believe all moms (and dads) owe it to their children to do what it takes to be mentally/emotionally healthy. These are the years that shape who these little ones will become.

Alicia October 27, 2008, 1:38 PM

Since you feel guilty about this, and as your child gets older and wiser, you should find another solution to lying to him. There is nothing wrong with small family gatherings for birthdays. Buy a pre-made cake from the grocery store and have a special dinner that night. You don’t always have to have a big blow out for a birthday. Another option is to allow your son to pick two or three friends to have over for a small party. Noone ever said you have to invite everyone. Good luck on birthday number 5.

birdsfly October 27, 2008, 2:53 PM

To “Me”: It was only for seasonal use and my doctor determined that I didn’t need it anymore since I was no longer having daily or weekly attacks. The majority of the time I have it under control, it’s just in certain social situations involving a lot of interaction with strangers where I don’t know anyone that I have trouble. I can’t be on anything right now anyway since I’m 6mo pregnant.

romi October 27, 2008, 4:06 PM

I skated by without a bday for my 8 year old this year — although with two kids born on the same day — it’s impossible to hide the actual day from him! I completely sympathize with you and applaud you for your honesty. Weekly on - moms are fessing up to doing almost exactly what you did — or at least thinking about it.

Don’t be so hard on yourself!

Pat October 28, 2008, 7:34 AM

How can a person lie to a child? How can you not even acknowledge your child’s birthday because of your own personal phobias? A simple “we can’t have a party because mommy doesn’t feel comfortable having them, but we will do something special as a family” would’ve been a better solution. I really hope you get the help you need. This way your child doesnt have to continue missing out on some of the best times of his childhood. Also, you can always hire a party planner or ask a family member to have the party while you hide in a closet somewhere.

Janet October 28, 2008, 7:52 AM

I feel like I’m talking to my sister in law. Not a party in years. Graduation, confirmation,bdays too, etc, etc, etc. Part of that problem is her house is a mess.
I came from a family who shared bdays with a total of 4. I tried to at least have something for each of my 2 kids.
Depressions and phobias take it not only on yourself, but everyone around you. Get help, seek friends, church, and even meds if needed.
Best wishes to you and your feelings. Hugs to you too!

renee October 28, 2008, 8:11 AM

he’ll live its a party and u r not required as a parent to give him one.we rarely have/had them for my kids and really they dont care as long as we do cake for them.

Gina October 28, 2008, 8:44 AM

Listen. You need to stop punishing your child for your fears. Don’t you think that the other kids ask him where he was and/or why he wasn’t at the party? Don’t you think he feels bad when he hears the other children talking about how much fun they had at Little Johnny’s party and he thinks he wasn’t invited. What do you think this is going to do to his psyche later on in life? He will go through life thinking the neighborhood kids don’t like him, all because his mother didn’t want to have to talk to other parents. Send him to the parties with dad or let him go by himself and you pick him up later. A 30 second conversation with another mother is not going to kill you. I can’t believe your husband lets you get away with this.


Amber October 28, 2008, 9:05 AM

I don’t understand why you are so afraid to tell your son “no.” A birthday party is a privilege not a right to each child every year. You should have celebrated your child’s birthday with your immediate family if you did not want to throw a kid’s party. If your child wanted a kid’s party, tell him no. It is just going to get harder to say “no” the older he gets, especially if he has never heard it before. In our house, we have decided to have a b-day party once in awhile for our kids and instead, a special family day on the non-party years. By lying to your son, you just teach him it’s ok to lie and you missed out on showing him how special he is by celebrating his life in a big way, once a year. Birthday memories are precious to those of us lucky enough to born into a loving & mostly healthy home. Get over your SELF and put more effort into parenting than you do in your blog!

Amanda October 28, 2008, 9:11 AM

Yeah, this woman definitely needs to be on medication immediately!! Lying to a poor child about his b-day? That’s just cruel. People with disorders like this have NO business having children. I mean who makes the childs doctors appointments and stuff? Whats the point in even having a kid if she’s just gonna shelter him from life like this? He is gonna have severe mental problems when he gets older.

Sheilah  October 28, 2008, 10:04 AM

Okay, there are a couple of things going on here. I personally don’t think you are a terrible parent based on this alone. However, it’s just an unecessary measure to take just to avoid throwing a huge birthday party. My son is five and he has had three big parties with all my husband’s side and my side of the family, a couple neighbors, but no other random kids from day care/preschool that he will never see again. I think that’s foolish. I have only taken my son to one birthday party of someone who was in his day care class at age 4. The other two years when we did not throw a big party we did something else special for him. This past birthday when he turned five we took him (just my husband, myself and his little sister, age 1) to a big Animal Land park for a special day and went for ice cream and gave him his gifts at home. He was thrilled! No big party, no 16 children and their parents whom we’ve never met. Don’t be obligated to do things someone else’s way!! It’s your chance to be the parent and do it YOUR way! Enjoy being a mom!!

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