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Mom who refuses to stay and watch her kid at birthday parties sparks debate on TikTok

Mom not staying at child birthday parties
jaii.bee/TikTok

Ah, child birthday parties. Sometimes they’re magical, and sometimes they’re just…not. For many reasons. But they’re part of parenting, and that’s that. Or is it? One mom who says she refuses to stay and watch her own kid at another kid’s birthday party has parents on TikTok divided in their opinions.

JB, a mom of three, titled her video on this particular stance “Hard pass.” Lol. Listen, we’ve all felt that way about child birthday parties at one time or another—even the ones we throw for our own kids. (The planning alone is enough to make me throw in the metaphorical towel). But is it the responsibility of other parents to make sure your child is safe at the party when you’re not there?

Related: Can we bring back old school birthday parties, please?

“I made some moms mad when I said I won’t stay at your kid’s f____ birthday party,” she begins. “Your kids having a birthday party is already a major inconvenience to me.” She brings up some fair points, despite the arguably harsh (and self-focused) opinion—gift-buying, remembering to RSVP, rearranging your weekend to taxi your child to and from the party, etc.

(Warning: humorous language with the occasional expletive thrown in for good measure.)

“My time is valuable,” she explains. “Then you have some of you who are like, ‘I’m not trying to watch X amount of kids. I have a party to plan.’ That’s a party, babes. You are inviting a bunch of kids to run around… that you are going to watch because that’s a benefit for you, for your child to have a good time.”

She’s not wrong, really, when you think about it. Though for me personally, it all depends on the age of the child(ren) in question and the type of party it is. Last year, we threw a birthday party for my 7-year-old at a horse farm. And while the horses in question were very slow, with a delightful Eeyore-esque mosey, parents still had to sign a release form before allowing their kids to ride them. And if some parents wanted to stay and watch or hang out, that was 100% fine with me. (We had enough adult hands on deck via my family and friends to help, however, if a mom would want to, say, go shopping solo at Target during the two-hour party duration.)

But also, there are some parties where I’d be fine leaving my child and picking them up when it was over—it’s a very situational thing. And sometimes other parents are OK with it, and sometimes they’re not. The hardest part for me is making the right decision not just for me, but for my child too.

JB continues, “I don’t need to be miserable watching my child having a good time. I don’t need to make small talk with a bunch of parents.”

Related: Sorry, but I don’t miss the birthday party insanity from my kids’ early childhood

“I’m assuming that if you’re gonna go out of your way to spend the amount of money that it cost to have a birthday party you’re probably somewhat of a decent parent and my kid is gonna be fine for like two hours with 15 other kids. I think those of you who are like, ‘you better stay,’ I’m not coming.”

Fellow parents of course weighed in on the subject in the comments:

I preferred when the moms would leave! I don’t want to have to entertain the kids AND the parents! Just leave me the kids

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I’m super shy. I planned my son’s birthday and all the parents stayed!!! . I’m not here to entertain you as well Linda!

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If your kid is a runner, you are at a minimum on perimeter duty.

Unwritten rule. Leave me your kids and go do something….or nothing….see ya in a few hrs. I’ll do the same. $20 in a card. Boom. Done.

Oh hell to the no, I’m not leaving my little chaos starters with some random person I’ve never met before in the hopes that they watch my kids.

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I’m the mom that won’t send my kid to a party if I can’t come. But I don’t have the same expectation for other parents at our parties.

For me it depends on the kids age, where the party is at and how friendly I am with the parents, but I understand what you are saying!

These are all very good points! Would I leave my three-year-old anywhere without me? Absolutely not. She’s a “runner” and she’s too little, in my opinion. My 7-year-old could probably negotiate world peace, so that’s an entirely different situation.

Basically, do what’s best for you. Not going to kids birthday parties is what’s right for this mom. Either way is OK.

A version of this story was originally published on April 13, 2023. It has been updated.