This is a something that as a parent I felt connected too and want all parents to read and understand. When a birthday celebration is taken as a social status, there is need for introspection because your child can be the next victim.
“I am a psychiatrist and few days back I had this six year old child as my patient. His parents indicated no obvious cause for his depression.
To assess the problem I started a conversation with him, asking all kinds of general questions. Intermittently I asked if somebody said anything to him, which he refused everytime. In the same flow I asked when is your birthday and suddenly he started crying. I knew I hit the right chord.
He had his birthday one and half month back and a birthday for a child is a big occasion. It’s the day when he/she gets all the limelight, specially nowadays when birthdays are celebrated like big occasions in school where you have to give all kinds of gifts to the whole class, cake cutting, sweets and many times even a party.
Seeing and expecting what his classmates do, he too craved for a pomp and glitter kind of birthday celebration so that he could also feel importance among his friends. The school even invite parents on the child’s birthday for cake cutting in the class.
This child’s parents are a middle class family and haven’t done anything like this in past, so they avoided going for the cake cutting, instead gave him a packet of toffees to distribute. Now isn’t it obvious when everyone else is distributing gifts on birthday, how low and odd you will feel while distributing toffees. You start feeling outclass. This is exactly what happened to this child.
Over the years, it seems that this birthday tradition has changed. The fancy celebrations are on the rise, putting a dowry like pressure on the child leading to depression.
I can understand the pressure for parents as well to meet or exceed the standards of celebrating a birthday. For many families, budget may be tight, and spending money on treats for the whole class is not a priority.
Celebrating a birthday at school is a special occasion for any child, but it can be celebrated by having some fun or a small treat from the school side, which should be same for every child. School officials should avoid promoting such celebrations and also explain to headstrong parents, that there is an important lesson here that kids need to understand: Birthday fun does not require cake and gifts.
Parents, schools and society at large must oppose it because celebration has no limit and tomorrow even our child can feel the same. It is easier to cut out the birthday celebrations entirely than to have children with sad feelings on their birthdays.
Give them a happy reason to celebrate occasions, not gifts and fancy parties. Well off parents has a special responsibility here- you can make your child feel special at your home, but at school let them be what they are- school going children.
As a psychiatrist, I request my doctor friends, teachers and others to share it because your words can create more impact on the psychology of the parents and the school administration.”
Credit – Doctors for ethical care( detcare) and thanks to them for allowing me to share this post as a blog because I feel it is important to convey.