I was recently at home for the holidays when one of my close cousins announced her baby shower. My dad had made a comment during our Christmas Eve dinner that triggered a lengthy controversy about whether or not men should attend baby showers. Almost everyone had an opinion on the matter.
My own stance was pretty ambivalent. My dad and I are two of the few males in the family, aside from a few uncles and just two out of the eleven total cousins. I was tempted to side with my dad at first, since my understanding was that men aren’t expected to go to baby showers. My mom wasn’t too pleased with that, so I eventually decided that I will go to my cousin’s baby shower as a social experiment.
Having returned to campus, I’ve had a chance to discuss the topic with friends. Most think I’m pretty bold to be going. Did I make the wrong choice?
The history of baby showers here in the US was chronicled briefly by writers at the Huffington Post. Despite what you’d have likely imagined, the cultural practice only emerged in the 1900s. While it’s true that men haven’t traditionally been invited or expected to make an appearance, those seemingly perennial notions are now coming under considerable scrutiny. The controversy has outspoken partisans on both sides of the aisle.
Some question the fundamental message being conveyed to future fathers when they aren’t expected to participate in something as mundane as a baby shower. One ardent blogger wrote: “when men are excluded from the exchanges that occur within these networks of support and anticipation, it sends the message that their role as a father is less noteworthy…” Others reject the notion that excluding men from baby showers undermines the nature fatherhood. Perhaps as expected, men tend to be the ones most aggressive about preserving their absence.
Regardless of your stance on the subject, you should be aware that social norms and cultural taboos inevitably change. Certain aspects of a society take longer than others to transition. What’s important in this particular case is to remain open-minded when it comes to the experience itself. There are few things to remember aside from basic social etiquette, which shouldn’t be too difficult to exercise.
One final suggestion is proposing that your cousin establish an Amazon Baby Registry in lieu of some of the alternatives–many of which simply don’t compare, according to veteran moms. Nobody will expect you to contribute much, since it sounds like you’ve been positioned as more of a passive observer. Arrive with few assumptions, and plan to pose meaningful questions to the group. Your objective should be to learn as much as possible.
Before the day of the event, you should also consider inviting your dad to join you. While he might have been resistant at first, knowing his only son has taken a sincere interest in the topic could be enough to persuade a change of heart. In a worst-case scenario, you make an appearance without him and simply share your observations retroactively.
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” — Albert Einstein