Why separate birthday parties for a child can confuse them

On Behalf of | Jan 8, 2022 | Child Custody |

If you’re divorcing and will be sharing custody of a young child, it’s wise to determine how you will share or alternate holidays with them. As you work out holiday schedules, don’t forget to include your child’s birthday and how you’ll celebrate it. For many kids, their birthday is a holiday – and perhaps one of the most important days of the year.

If the two of you aren’t in a place yet where you can imagine throwing a backyard birthday party together or even sharing an afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese, you may decide to each celebrate their birthday separately with them – even if it means that one of these celebrations is a day early or late. What child isn’t going to mind two birthday parties?

Birthday parties and aging

Here’s the problem – potentially. Research has shown that some children in the toddler and preschool years who have just recently begun understanding the concept of birthdays link their birthday party with turning a year older. If they have two birthday parties, they think they’ve turned two years older.

That doesn’t seem to be the case for most young children. However, in one study, 20% to 25% of 3- to 5-year-old children, when told stories involving children’s birthday parties (or lack thereof), expressed the belief that a child aged according to how many parties they had.

That certainly doesn’t mean that you and your co-parent have to grit your teeth and throw a joint party so that your little one isn’t confused about their age. However, you’ll want to make sure they understand that their age is based on a date and not on a celebration. If they don’t, this will be a good opportunity to teach them.

As you work out holiday custody schedules, be sure to include all the days that are special to your child (like Halloween, Easter, Mother’s and Father’s Day), even if they’re not a big deal to you. This will help minimize conflicts and confusion later.