Co-Ed Birthday Parties for Kids Don't Always Work Out So Well


For the record, I'm all for co-ed birthday parties. In theory. But when it comes to real life, I have to admit: I think going with all boys or all girls may just be easier.

My 10-year-old son is friends with girls and boys, so it only makes sense that he would invite both to his birthday parties. And that's always sounded great to me. I was always proud that he included girls in his invitations. But over the years, I've noticed some things.


First, the boys always outnumber the girls -- by a lot! Usually we'll have one or two girls to eight or nine boys. It wouldn't be a big deal if everyone socialized with each other. But year after year, I watch the two girls pull away from the guys to do their own thing.

And because boys outnumber the girls, that tends to determine the activities for the birthday party. When you have little kids, you can organize structured games that involve everyone. But as kids get older, they want less-structured parties. Send AWAY the clowns! And that makes it harder to force everyone together into group activities.

That brings me to the second observation: The girls always get bored. Now, no child has ever died of boredom. I'll usually pull out a deck of Uno cards or something else fun for the girls when I see that glazed look fall over their eyes. But this happens because the boys are playing a video game or doing something else that the girls find totally snoozeworthy.

So that's the situation. There are a few things the PERFECT MOM would do about this. First, she'd probably invite her son's entire class to the birthday party. Which is a great idea if you have a large home, a summer birthday (so you can celebrate in the park), or loads of moolah to spend on a venue. I have a teeny apartment, my son's birthday is in the dead of winter, and I have zero moolah for an exciting off-site party.

The other PERFECT MOM solution is to force my son to be a good host and be more inclusive of the girls he insists on inviting every year. This is a super-duper idea and I really should give it a try. Except geez, it's his birthday. Can't I just let him enjoy it and have fun without pestering him about responsibilities and Learning An Important Lesson?!?

I'm already going to make him hand-write thank-you notes for every single birthday present he receives. There is only so much arm-twisting a parent can do, especially at birthday time.

But I can at least make my son more aware of the bored-girl-party-problem. For this next birthday, I'll give him a choice: Go ahead and invite girls, but make a concerted effort to include them, which means having some activities that they'll genuinely find interesting. OR! Just don't invite any girls.

Do you have single-gender birthday parties or do you try to mix it up?


Image via edenpictures/Flickr

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