Dear Amy: In the nine out of 10 birthday parties that my 5-year-old daughter attended last year, presents were not opened at the party. Often at a party facility, there was a large bin at the entrance for us to deposit the present in. At some point during the party, the bin quietly was wheeled to the car, and the trunk was loaded with the gifts.
Sometimes the gift was acknowledged; other times we were forever left to wonder if our gift ever made it to the trunk. After the party my daughter would ask me if her friend liked the gift we gave. I would tell her we hope so and maybe we would find out.
As an elementary-school teacher I think opening gifts at the party is a wonderful learning opportunity. It encourages a child to make eye contact with the gift giver as they thank them for the gift. It also helps children learn how to deal with moments such as receiving two of the same or similar gifts with grace.
My husband's co-worker recently attended a bridal shower in which the guests nibbled on finger sandwiches for three hours while the gifts sat untouched in the corner of the room. The guests were thanked for attending and sent home.
I used to feel strongly that it was always better to give than receive. Now, I'm wondering.
Amy says: I see this trend, too — and have the same reaction. I wish all of these events could be kept smaller and more scaled in human proportions, partly because today's over-gifted 5-year-old becomes tomorrow's demanding, entitled and ungrateful Bridezilla/Frankengroom.
Let's start a new trend: proportional partying.
Friend is over-gamed
Dear Amy: I am the mother of a 10-year-old boy. My best friend "Mary's" son is the same age and the boys enjoy each other.
Mary gave her son "Peter" a large flat-screen TV for his room. Peter plays "Call of Duty," "Black Ops II," "Halo" and other violent "mature" rated games constantly. No kidding, this kid played these games for hours every day this summer.
When Peter doesn't have a gaming console in front of him, he cries and says he's bored within just a couple of minutes. I have mentioned to Mary that she should not allow so much time with violent games, but she doesn't listen. I have suggested other activities, and she says she's too lazy.
I love the whole family, but cannot allow my son to continue to be exposed to that interactive violence. My son is starting to complain because he doesn't have a TV in his bedroom.
Apart from not going to her house anymore because I do not want my child playing these games (and her son will not stop playing them), what can I do?
What can I say without causing a rift?
Amy says: Your words or actions will not cause a rift with your friend unless you judge her and tell her how to be a parent.
She could definitely use some instruction, mind you — but a mother who declares herself to be "too lazy" to do the right thing is not going to be receptive to you.
All you have to do is say, "You know I don't let 'Walker' play violent video games, so if the boys want to do something else together, I'd be happy to host."
Concentrate on your son. You are doing the right thing. Do not apologize to him or anyone else about your commitment to restrict his diet of interactive violence. And keep the television out of his room!
Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.