happy family expecting child opening parcel box

Baby showers have become a pretty controversial topic in the world of parenting over the last few years. Who deserves one, who doesn’t, whether people love them or hate them, if registries are crass or if someone who strays from one is basically the world’s biggest jerk. There is also the myriad etiquette issues raised by these occasions that some say are stupid rules we shouldn’t go by in modern times and that some people look to as the gospel truth of appropriate party behavior. Columnist Carolyn Hax had a reader send in a question about her own baby shower and who she wants invited. In my opinion, when someone throws you a baby shower, you need to go with the flow and let them plan it. It’s incredibly rude to make demands.

A mom wrote in to Hax asking if it’s fair of her to demand her mother, who is the one throwing her shower, invite men along with women:

Q: 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).

Gender Battler

Is it just me or does this mom sound like a selfish brat? Including men might sound like a perfectly logical request to her but if these are couples, that doubles the guest list right off the bat. Since her mom is presumably footing the bill, it’s completely out-of-line for her to try to increase the total attending by that much. I would say this as well if she wanted to add another 20 or 30 people regardless of their gender — this is about money and etiquette.

And might I add — no one is “owed” a baby shower. Yes, they are nice to have and I do think all babies should be celebrated but when someone is generous enough to throw you one the right thing to do is make a few small suggestions (if you must) and then sit back and let them go to it. Short of protesting if they plan something truly offensive, you should not be demanding your host invite several extra guests or change the menu to the tune of more money per head or ask for pricey decor or venue. Unless a woman is about to open her wallet and offer to help pay for it, she has no right whatsoever to add to the tab and bottom line, this woman insisting on the menfolk coming means more money for her mom to shell out.

Of course, a baby shower is a momentous occasion for a pregnant woman lucky enough to get one and of course it is reasonable that she make a few small suggestions for how it will go, but what this mom is asking for is ridiculous. Dictating the amount of money spent is not just a breach of baby shower etiquette, it’s flat-out rude. If she doesn’t like the way her mom wants to throw her shower, maybe it’s best she decline the offer and throw her own or not have one at all.

(Image: GettyImages)