Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Hi, Carolyn: My husband and I are expecting our first child. My mother insists on hosting a baby shower (despite my discomfort at having a family member host). I told mom that I wanted it to be co-ed — I don’t see why men should be excluded from the celebration of new life.
My mom and dad are appalled, have gone behind my back to get my husband to lobby me (he refuses), and now are just proceeding as if I never even mentioned this.
I have trouble picking battles, in that I tend to pick all battles. Is this one to insist upon, or should I just go with the flow? I may be bringing some baggage from our wedding (which they similarly steamrolled).
“Mom, Dad: Men come or I don’t.”
Picking battles becomes a lot easier when you realize that many are battles only if you allow them to be. You’re the guest of honor and you’re fine with no shower at all, right? So you can skip fighting and jump straight to victory. Recognize when you’re the boss, then be the boss.
As I always say in this context because I can’t help myself, this is the best possible skill for a new parent to develop.
Re: Shower: The mom might just go ahead and plan the single-sex shower. Then when the guest of honor doesn’t show up, the majority will think she was being a drama queen about the co-ed shower and won’t help with the new baby.
To be clear, I’m with the letter-writer. I’ve just upset a lot of my extended family by insisting on being “difficult.”
The couple can follow up with the men on their guest list to be sure they’ve been included — or just call off the shower pre-emptively, though particularly stubborn parents might then organize a surprise shower.
Isn’t it nuts to be parsing various power moves over, essentially, buying a couple some onesies?
Anyway, I wouldn’t be sorting such minutiae were it not for the parents’ meddlesome history. That says it’s worth setting a no-more-steamrolling precedent.
Re: Shower: It’s rare that I disagree with you, but I do here. Parents are throwing the shower, they get to decide who they are comfortable inviting. I don’t think you would have given the same answer if, say, the mom-to-be wanted to invite twice as many people as her parents could host.
Then the parents can opt not to host the shower. That satisfies their right to decide.
They don’t get to overrule the guest of honor on what she’d want and throw the party they want to throw. The parents aren’t celebrating themselves.
And, your longer-guest-list argument is apples and oranges. The hosts determine a head count, and the couple choose the heads.
Again, if there’s disagreement, then the host can choose not to host.
Carolyn: My parents are kind people, but have VERY fixed ideas: wedding = x, shower = y. I think gendered showers help reinforce the idea that baby care is the lot of women. New life should be celebrated by both people who helped create it, and an entire community, not just women.
So well said.
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