This is Life, Based on a True Story  

Don't be a super parent

Super-parents wreck it for all of us

I tend to write my best pieces that revolve around some sort of drama, usually stemming from my own life. But I’m struggling this week because, darn it, everything is just smooth and easy.

To my rescue came boot camp – my gym.

I bullied in on a couple of conversations with fellow gym parents who were talking about their kids.

The gist of the conversations was how super-parents set our own kids up for disappointment when we can’t be or won’t be as super.

Here’s what I’m talking about. One mom was telling us how her child lost a tooth and so she did the classic tiptoe into the bedroom at night to leave a loonie under her child’s pillow.  

Child wakes up in the morning and is thrilled with her newfound riches, but she also wanted to know why the tooth fairy who visited her classmate not long before also left the cash in a little sparkly bag of liquid that shimmered and sparkled and did some sort of magical trick.

My dear, fellow parents – stop that.

Just stop trying to be the super-parent who creates a fairy tale life for your child because you’re making the rest of look like asses to our own children.

Most of us are quite fine with our kids ever only receiving tooth fairy money under the pillow without any special adornments. 

We’re already giving our kids money for losing a tooth, a natural occurrence of nature and growing up. There’s no special talent required.

It’s supposed to be a sweet, simple tradition carried over from generation to generation.

With my mission now in front of me, I set off to learn more about this super-parent syndrome. With barely any effort, the stories came fast and furious.

Leading the pack of complaints was the Valentine's Day/Halloween/Christmas/Hooray-it's-Tuesday goodie bags that have become the norm to send with your child to school to give to each of their classmates.

These little cellophane sacks are stuffed with stickers and candies, useless little toys and cute little erasers that clutter up your junk drawer, clog your vacuum and never, ever get used. 

The average parent spends the amount equivalent to a monthly mortgage payment and countless hours of counting and re-counting to make sure every single bag has an equal amount of crap stuffed inside.

To the parents who are doing this – you’re not original any more. Everyone else has caught on and pretty soon, the ante will be upped. 

If you want to be original, send your kid to school with just a mittful of cards. One for each kid in your child’s class. Resist the urge to tape a lollipop to them. 

Now, that's original.

Basically, super-parents, there are pleas from others just like you to stop turning every single occasion into a gift exchange. 

It’s not meant to be that way. We’re setting our kids up for disappointment when they realize their boss at their first job not only expects them to work on these days, but also that there’s no gift bags.

Next up, the birthday party loot bags (there seems to be a theme here with bags). Now, this one can also go hand in hand with the birthday cakes/cupcakes coming to school. 

But let’s start with the loot bags.

When I was a kid, just a few years ago, if I were invited to go to a birthday party, my mom would buy a small present and card for the birthday kid. 

I’d take that beautifully wrapped present and head off to an afternoon of fun, games and sugar overload at another parent’s monetary and emotional expense.

To signal it was time for the birthday guests to leave, each kid would receive a small loot bag — usually decorated with an un-scary clown – that contained a few knick knacks that were treasures because that was the only time we’d get this kind of stuff.

I remember getting pink popcorn in some of my loot bags, marbles, a yo-yo or two, and maybe some Popeye cigarette candies or Double Bubble gum – and that was it. 

But, man, did I love those little loot bags ... and so did all of the guests; aka – you.

So why, if we all have such fond memories of our childhood loot bags, do we feel the need to completely go overboard and send our kids’ birthday guests off with loot bags that rival the presents the birthday child just received?

A parent told me how she bought the birthday kid a gift in the $20-25 range and her child was so excited to give this gift to their little friend. 

A few hours later, the mom was mortified when her child came home with a loot bag that had more value stuffed inside it than the gift she’d bought. 

There were a couple of $5 gift cards in it along with the typical stuff like stickers and gum and candies. But there were also key chains and toys and a host of other stuff.

She wondered how much these loot bags cost? She figured there had to have been about 15 kids at that party.

Throw in the cost of cake and food and entertainment combined with the loot bags, and this birthday party had to have cost the parents the equivalent of their kid's first year of college.

People, we’re the ones creating monsters here; not society or social media - us. To top it off, my bet is on the fact that not one kid today will have fond memories of the birthday loot bags like we did because it’s so common to give our kids everything possible in an effort to be a super-parent.

Another outcry is about the expectation to bring a cake or cupcakes or cookies or a magician and pony to your child’s school on their birthday for their whole class. 

No one made this a rule, but it kind of became one when that first child received it. Trends like that go insta-viral because every classroom has a kid who has a parent who feels they must keep up with that super-parent – or even to try and overtake that super-parent.

Yet, there seems to be a vast quantity of parents who want to opt out of this craziness, but feel they can’t due to parental peer pressure … oh, and the thought of their child’s eyes welling up with tears. 

But if there’s enough of you who just stop doing this, then this craziness too shall pass.

Being a super-parent can be fun on occasion. It’s just that not everything has to be an occasion.  

Here’s a thought: why not be a super-parent in a way that doesn’t involve one-upping the parent before you or spending truckloads of money. 

How about putting your phone down or laptop away and colouring with your kid. Or go for a walk. Or make some popcorn and build a blanket fort.

Those are the super-parent things our kids and their friends will remember – not some $50 birthday party loot bag. 

Put more emphasis on quality and less on quantity because it’s quality that created our own childhood memories. And if you ask me – our kids deserve the same.

Thanks for reading.


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About the Author

Tanya Gunderson has been writing for the heck of it for many years. Her inspiration comes from her kids, their friends and the craziness of life. She takes great pleasure in exposing life for what it really is and has an open-book approach to her writing.

Her formal education and background include a blink-and-you miss-it stint in the radio and television industry, but it gave her an opportunity to write professionally on a few different occasions.

Email: [email protected]



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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