Are Graduation Parties Always Necessary?

One mom took to Reddit to ask fellow parents their opinion on throwing multiple grad parties. Hers? Absolutely not.

Graduation Ceremony Caps and Gowns
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May 24, 2019

From preschool all the way on up to college, parents often see their kiddos' various academic milestones as cause for celebration. But is it necessary for them to have multiple graduation parties along the way? That's the question one mom posed to the Parenting subreddit on Thursday, May 23.

Titled, "Can we stop with the graduation parties every time a kid moves to a new school? Had to resist the urge to not laugh at my 14 year old for wanting an 8th grade graduating party next month and wondering if I'm the asshole," the mom, writing under the handle USsee, went on to describe her conundrum to her fellow Redditors.

"Seriously guys. Preschool graduation, kindergarten graduation, 5th or 6th grade graduation, 8th grade graduation, high school graduation, college graduation," she wrote. "I have accepted that these ceremonies are a cute and fun way for kids to feel special but do we really have to have parties every time a kid moves to a new school?"

She explained that her 8th grader "got another invitation to an 8th grade graduation party this week, and we are expecting our nieces invitation to arrive in the mail any day now." In the midst of all these upcoming festivities, the woman's son "mentioned that he would like a graduation party and I honestly had to hide my laughter."

The Redditor elaborated, "I'm proud of my son and everything he does, but is moving on to the next grade an accomplishment just because you are starting at a new school? I feel like all these parties create a sense of entitlement in kids. But yet, they are so common. Am I the asshole?"

The mom's question prompted parents to share a variety of insight on the subject.

One parent Mannings4head stated that parents have no obligation to throw graduation parties—"not even high school or college if you don't want to." The Redditor went on to share, "I never had one and survived. Your son will too. We came to a compromise with my son, who has his 8th grade promotion tomorrow. He wanted a party and we told him that we aren't going to be throwing one. He asked if he could throw one for himself instead. I couldn't think of any reason to say no. He biked up to the store over the weekend with friends and stocked up on chips and goodies he got with his own money from his dog walking job. Tomorrow they have a half day before the ceremony and he plans on having a couple of friends come over after school to help him bake the cake for the party. He'll have the rest come over after the graduation later in the day and his closest friends will sleepover. He handled the invitations, which at 13 is texting/snapchating people and announcing it in class or as he walked by his friends lockers telling them to let others know. I didn't have to plan anything, I didn't have to buy anything, and my son gets to have his a bunch of friends over to celebrate finishing up middle school."

Another Redditor named fartist14 explained that throwing her own 8th grade party was a rewarding experience, writing, "We planned our own little celebration and pooled our money to pay for it, and it remains one of my favorite memories of that time. That little group all went to different high schools and saw much less of each other after that, but we did have that nice last bit of fun together."

One commenter named shuddupmeg explained that in some cases, an 8th grade graduation has more significance to a child, if they spent all of elementary with their friends who will soon be going off to a variety of high schools. "Eighth grade graduation was a bigger deal to me than high school but that's because the (private Catholic) school I went to was all one building that held Kindergarten through 8th," the Redditor wrote. "I spent 9 years with those kids so we had a big graduation ceremony and a bunch of parties that summer because of the 80 kids I graduated with we were spread out over 10+ area high schools."

Dijos seemed to get the original poster's point, assuring her that she's not in the wrong, writing: "Man, I strongly disagree that you're an asshole. It's keeping up with the Joneses bullshit that's making us all end up in debt to our eyeballs. I remember when we went to Dave and Buster's for my kids birthday, because his friend had one there, and Chuck E Cheese was out of fashion. 245 bucks later, the party sucked. Our homemade parties were far better."

A parent named SmolBean07 agreed that there's nothing wrong with the original poster not wanting to throw a party—but there is an issue with "judging" others for doing so: "What difference does it make how other people celebrate a milestone for their kids in your own life? I don't think celebrating a change in circumstance creates 'entitlement'—that sounds like a reach to be honest."

ParticleTek expressed a pro-party opinion, noting, "I can agree that the preschool and kindergarten crap is pretty extra, but finishing elementary, middle, high school. They are only a couple moments out of very few accomplishments in a kid's life. You could not celebrate that accomplishment, sure, but these movements from one school to the next are something of a rite of passage."

Many comments later, the original poster came to the conclusion that judging from the comments, the "general consensus is that I am the asshole. Not for not throwing the party but for judging those who do." She wrote, "I can see that reading back the comments and getting judged myself. It's not fun to be called a bad parent or have people insinuate that your kids aren't good people, so thanks for that. It showed me what I was doing to others and I am sorry if anyone is offended. I'll keep this up because I think it's important to own up to your mistakes in life, but I can let everyone know that my kids are okay. Not having a party for 8th grade graduation will not ruin their lives."

While there may have been a consensus on not judging others, there ultimately wasn't much agreement around how many graduation parties are appropriate. Like so many decisions, concluding whether or not to throw graduation parties at various points in your child's academic career depends on your parenting style, your child, and your budget. To each family—and each graduate—their own.

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