Baby Wants This

by admin on October 3, 2012

Yeesh! Please help! My brother and his wife are having a baby soon enough and my sister is hosting a baby shower for her. My SIL told me that she only wants bigger items, like furniture, stroller, etc. (Basically she wants everyone else to purchase the expensive stuff so that her and my brother don’t have to.) She said that if people don’t want to pool together for bigger items, then they’re asking for gift cards. Um, help? She wants to put the registry information in the invite too. I’m just concerned because when people go to showers, they usually gift the expecting parents with clothes, diapers, smaller items like that. VERY few people are going to pool together for large items. My SIL is one to make comments out loud too if she is gifted with something she doesn’t want. Any way to diffuse this all before it gets so worthy of E Hell that I have to make another entry after the shower? 0925-12

Whenever I hear such stories, I never understand why the family just doesn’t step up and provide the necessary big items for the new parents.  When my daughter became pregnant with the first grandchild on both sides of the family, she and I went to a huge children’s consignment sale and I bought her many of those large items at a reduced price.  Her MIL provided the nice but used bassinet and crib.  At her shower, friends gave her lovely outfits and diapers and other small items.   I view it as shameful to pass off to outsiders the burden of providing the large items such as cribs, high chairs, car seats, swing and strollers.   Are we as a family so poor we cannot take care of our own and have to expect that others will be more generous?   Hmmmm….

I don’t see where you have much say in this matter seeing that you are not the hostess of the shower but rather your sister is.   But your sister taking on the role of shower hostess is merely window dressing while your sister-in-law basically is running the show behind the scenes.  That is why family hosted showers are considered tacky or at best questionable because the temptation is quite strong for the recipient/guest of honor to manipulate the shower dynamics to get exactly what they want out of it while the hostess is nothing more than a willing puppet.

It is common and acceptable to put registry information on a shower invitation but the fact that the mother-to-be is the one insisting it be there does reveal that she has invested far too much interest in making sure shower guests get her exactly what she wants.

Your best action is to excuse yourself from any further hostessing duties associated with the shower, personally decline to pass on Mom’s wishes to others and get her what you feel the baby needs, not what Mom wants.

{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

WrenskiBaby October 3, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Marketeer, your comment made me smile. My son slept in a dresser drawer (that we pulled out and placed on the floor) and when his sister came along, she slept in a laundry basket. Somehow, they didn’t mind!

Reply

Sara October 3, 2012 at 1:12 pm

I agree with many of the posters (and admin) that it is absolutely appropriate (and standard practice in my area of the US) to include registry information for showers, but never ok for wedding invitations. As Shoegal said though, of course the registry information is just informational, not prescriptive.

Reply

Zilla October 3, 2012 at 1:28 pm

I agree with Admin that registry information on a Baby Shower invitation is fine. But I don’t agree that it’s up to the parents/family members to provide the large items for the new parents. Nice but not required nor to be expected. And the sister should mention that most people rather choose their own gift and not go in on with others. To pick a few smaller items or else the sister might be bombarded with alot of smaller items in the wrong color or “style”.

Good luck OP, sounds like you will need it.

Reply

Hemi October 3, 2012 at 1:32 pm

I haven’t read all the comments yet, so forgive me if repeat what others have said.

As for the necessary “big items”- if parents cannot afford to provide the necessary “big items” for their child, they probably cannot really afford to be having children now. I’m all for families helping each other out, but the responsibility to provide for your child is yours. In most families I know, the grandparents and aunts/uncles usually buy one or two “big items” to help because they *want* to, not because the PTB don’t want to buy the expensive itmes *themselves*. That make SIL & brother seem like greedy, grubby gimmie pigs.

OP- I would just stay away from any hosting duties, buy SIL what *you want* to give her and if she’s rude about it, decline to buy anything for her in the future. SIL & brother’s failure to plan/save appropriately for having a child does not mean everyone else has to provide for said child.

Admin, I think what you & MIL did for your daughter was great. I found an wonderful antique crib with brass accents for my children by shopping/buying at consignment shops, yard sales, etc. I also passed on my “big items” to my sister and my SIL when they had children and they were happy to get them and use them.

Reply

Anonymous October 3, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Further to my suggestion about guests collaborating on a library of books for the baby (in order to fulfill the “big item” request, while still having some personal input), I agree that people who can’t afford to provide for their children, probably shouldn’t have them. I mean, nursery furniture, etc., is just the first step–once the baby is born, he or she is presumably going to eat food, wear clothes, outgrow said clothes, incur various medical expenses (even in Canada, specialized things like braces aren’t free), participate in extra-curricular activities, and eventually, go to college or university. Are the parents-to-be planning to throw a “shower” for themselves (or, have a family member do it for them) every time something like that comes up?

Reply

Catrunning October 3, 2012 at 2:37 pm

To Hakayama – you are so right! Showers in the US have been morphing into something really ugly. It’s as if people think they should have babies “for free”. I’ve been to showers where the traditional gifts of diapers and onesies are no longer acceptable – only big ticket items will do. And these people tend to have multiple showers – family, friends, work, etc.

I also disagree with the Admin – it is not the extended family’s responsibility to purchase the expensive baby accessories. Many parents and in-laws simply cannot afford to do so, especially in an economy where older people are being laid off in droves. They have already financially supported one generation of children – to expect them to support a second generation is ridiculous. I will admit that I am in that “older” generation, and I see many of my peers being hit up by their children for all sorts of childcare costs. It’s as if their children simply cannot stomach the financial sacrifices necessary to raise children – they want and expect their parents to make up the “shortfall”.

Reply

LC October 3, 2012 at 2:46 pm

The family should provide the larger items? Huh?!?

While I think its nice IF family WANTS and CHOOSES to buy big ticket items for an expectant couple, it is in no way their responsibility or obligation. The mother-to-be in this story is an atrocious gimmie-pig and if I were her family, I would bow out of hosting a shower for someone so ungrateful and boorish enough to express her dissapointment in the gifts given to her!

If the new couple can’t afford to furnish and provide for their own offspring, they shouldn’t be having any.

Reply

wowsers October 3, 2012 at 2:59 pm

When my first was born, we were poor (by the world’s standards) I don’t think I even realized it at the time. :-)

My family did not buy any big ticket items, nor did I even think they would. We did not buy any big ticket items either–I asked my aunt for the loan of a crib she no longer needed, and we did without the stroller or any of those other common baby items. We did have to get a car seat, but by scrimping and using layaway, we were able to finally buy it.

The group we ran around with were poor college students who did throw me a shower after the baby was born. It was great! It was a “used” shower and everyone was suppose to go into their closets and pull out gently used baby items they no longer needed or used that they thought I would like. I got a front pack and a back pack (not sure what you call them that the baby sits in?) A baby swing, a baby jumper, andlots and lots of nice clothes that had only been worn a time or two. Not a dime was spent on the shower other than everyone bringing potluck. It was nice.

Reply

AS October 3, 2012 at 3:11 pm

I agree with lot of the posters too . Just like you don’t expect your parents to fund your wedding, you should not expect the extended family to give the big items to the baby. Of course, if someone does it out of love and excitement, like the admin did for her little man, they are welcome to do so. But new parents should not expect their parents or siblings to provide for the child. Also unfortunately I don’t think all new grandparents are monetarily capable of providing the big-budget items, no matter how much they would really like to. The only thing that can be expected from extended family and eveyone else is lots of love for the new member of our species and a safe haven for him/her; but one should not expect anything that comes with a price tag!

Reply

Tanz October 3, 2012 at 3:21 pm

I’m sort of appalled at the idea that the extended family should buy the large items for parents-to-be. Where I live buying this sort of thing new, even at outlet stores, would run to a very large amount of money (near $1000). I would be mortified if my family spent so much money on me and a decision my partner and I have made about our lives! If we’re adult enough to have children then I think we’re adult enough to fund it. And it doesn’t have to be expensive – don’t most families pass this stuff around (that’s usual where I come from) plus there are second hand stores and the like.

And as for the OP… I’d be taking a big step back from the gimmie pigs. It looks bad now but it’s only going to get worse as Junior grows…

Reply

Charlotte Vera October 3, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Ouch, that’s difficult. When I had my first baby my sister hosted my baby shower. However, we’re both strong anti-registry-in-the-invitation people, and I actually didn’t register for the shower at all. I like surprises, and, having been somewhat poor myself most of my life, I certainly don’t expect people to break the bank on me. I’d much rather receive a well-thought out, even handmade, gift than something large I demanded or something boring like a gift card (as appreciated as those are).

Could you p0ssibly explain your concerns to your sister? Then either go in with some other family members to purchase a large item or select something small and personal and add a gift card as well? If you SIL starts throwing her weight around the day of the shower you could possibly just leave with a note to explain that you don’t like being in situations where the guest of honour hurts other guests feelings. It’s brutal, but honest.

Oh, and for those who comment about parents not being ready for children if they’re not able to afford the big items, that’s not necessarily true. My husband and I got pregnant with our first at a time when it was quite inopportune. I’d been struggling to find a good job and my husband was doing his Master’s degree. Still, there it was. We were pregnant. The solution? Craigslist, second hand stores, you name it. You can buy really nice “big ticket items” for really good prices if you’re willing to look and don’t mind if everything doesn’t match. Our main requirement was that stuff be clean and not smell like smoke. In the situation the OP posted the parents are probably registering for all-new items, possibly ones that fit a theme (since they’re the popular kind).

Reply

Allison October 3, 2012 at 6:38 pm

I love baby showers, and I love giving gifts at baby showers, I put a lot of thought and consideration into what I buy for the mother to be, generally always books, as I have noticed that they are a gift not often given and are something every child should have lots of (IMO).
My baby shower is coming up in a few weeks, being hosted by my amazing best friend, who is putting on a fabulous party. She really wanted me to do a registry, just so things would be easier for me, and to add it in the invite, I was uncomfortable with both ideas, but I did see her point. She never put it ON the invite though, instead she made a cute little card to go with all the other bits she included that merely said “Psst a little birdy told me Allison is registered @-“, I thought it was very tasteful. She also put a cute little card in their asking that in lieu of a card, the guest brings a book to add to babies library, little kids book can cost about the same as a card, I thought that was an adorable idea.
When I went and did the registry, I was painfully embarassed and awkward, I hated writing down the things I wanted, I felt like such a gimme pig, and I just wanted to call everyone invited and tell them that I really didnt expect them to get me anything off of the registry, its merely an idea if they were stuck for what to buy, but at the same time, I really dont expect to get anything. Ugh, etiquette is so painful sometimes. But i did make sure to spread the cost of items, and the majority of things on there cost about 10 dollars.
As far as big ticket items, my partners parents have tried to buy everything for us, but i have had to push back on a fwe things, its going to be a struggle, but I want to buy these things for myself, I fell pregnant before we were financially ready, so I should bear the burden of paying for these items, no one else, but I have let them buy the car seat and some secondhand furniture for the room, as they all but insisted it was happening and I had no choice, but crib and pram are mine to buy. A friend suggested I should get my mom to buy the crib, but my mother doesnt have a lot of money, and I know she is getting so much stuff for baby already, I would never even dream of asking her to buy something, mom will buy whatever she wants and can buy. I am always astounded when people just assume their parents will buy the crib, or pay for their wedding or whatever, its absurd. I am an adult and the only person that should bear the financial burden of my decisions, is me and my partner.

Reply

Cat Whisperer October 3, 2012 at 7:12 pm

A shower is supposed to be a social event that celebrates the impending event: a marriage or a baby. It’s a chance to have fun, to talk about the exciting future, to enjoy the company of friends and family. Gifts are what the guests feel is suitable, and the only appropriate response to receiving a gift that is sincerely meant is to give thanks to the giver and to experience joy that there are people in your life who care for you enough to spend money on you.

SIL is clearly intent on a gimme-fest. Since she clearly is centered on the gift-grab and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks, guests have two possible options:

1. Politely decline to attend, and wish her the best;
2. Politely decline to attend, but send her a gift with the baby in mind. This is the option if you are feeling generous, since it’s pretty clear that unless the gift is what SIL craves, she’s not going to express real gratitude or proper thanks for getting it. So you select this option only if you can do it without expecting either joy or thanks.

FWIW, SIL is an idiot. Every gift that someone gives her that she can use for the baby saves her money, which she can then use to buy the big stuff she wants. By behaving the way she’s behaving, she’s inviting herself to receive a whole big lot of nothing. Which is what she deserves.

I understand that OP feels that since SIL is married to her brother, she has an obligation to attend the shower to keep family peace and show unity with her brother, but if were OP, I’d get SIL whatever I felt was appropriate as a gift and make darn sure I had an important appointment that would allow me to cut my attendance at the shower short.

Reply

barbarian October 3, 2012 at 7:39 pm

If I were the OP’s relative hosting the shower, I would try to back out of doing it so I would not be associated with such a greedy person. I would be embarrassed to host an event for someone like that.

Registries are good for baby showers, because some guests don’t have children, so it would make their gift buying easier.

Every year, I get baby shower or gift requests from expecting coworkers. If their registry has too many expensive items, I buy what I can afford elsewhere or send the lowest denomination gift card available for the store. This year produced a bumper crop of babies and gift requests. I was able to get an inexpensive baby picture frame from a wholesale craft store for under $20 for one person I did not know that well. I’m in management, and a HR website said if you give a gift to one coworker, you have to give to all coworkers who ask for gifts. I got stuck doing that this year, but next year I turn over a new leaf with a zero coworker gift policy.

I get more satisfaction collecting baby clothes and items at sales during the year for the annual baby shower our church hosts for the women at the unwed mothers’ home. They show more gratitude than overprivileged friends and coworkers.

Reply

Cat Whisperer October 3, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Just wanted to mention, since several people mentioned the option of buying strollers, cribs, etc. secondhand, or accepting used items from family members:

This can pose a problem, what with product recall issues. I know there are web pages where you can check to see if items have been the subject of a recall, but I’ve also heard that it’s hard to know if the information on those pages is up-to-date; also that those webpages are basically for current or recent recalls of products, and items that are more than a couple of years old may have been recalled, but the recall information isn’t on the website anymore.

Also, many family heirloom cribs, strollers, etc., if they really are old enough to be heirlooms, were manufactured before most of the current safety standards for infant and child furniture and equipment were put into place. This can cause problems.

One of my friends is an engineer. When she became pregnant, she was very conscientious (almost to the point of obsession) with learning the safety standards for cribs, strollers, car-seats, carriers and other items. She was absolutely horrified when her mother-in-law presented her with the crib that had been used for her husband when he was a baby more than 35 years ago, because the bars in the sides were too far apart, were constructed wrong, and had other issues that made the crib (in her eyes) a potential death-trap.

She had a real dilemma, because MIL was likely to be offended by refusal of the crib on the grounds that it was unsafe. I don’t remember how she got around it, but she and her husband didn’t use the crib.

Reply

Sugaryfun October 4, 2012 at 5:19 am

Maybe it’s a difference between countries but I definately don’t think parents should expect the grandparents to provide the big items. I certainly would not have expected my parents to do that, and nor would my friends who have kids. Admin, it sounds like you are maybe unaware of the priveleged position you are in in being able to afford to do that for your children. Not everybody has the same resources available to them.

In response to other posters, while having children is expensive eventually, babies aren’t. Very little of what people say is “essential” for a baby actually is. I have two kids (a toddler and a baby) but we don’t have a cot or bassinett and we don’t use a pram. If we had wanted those things we could have gotten them secondhand. Baby clothes don’t get worn for long so there are so many nearly new outfits available secondhand if you look. As for food, if you breastfeed babies can eat for free for at least six months and even once they’re on solids it need not be expensive. You don’t have to buy baby food. You can make it yourself or just feed your baby some of what you are eating yourself.

Reply

The Elf October 4, 2012 at 6:27 am

Tanz: “It looks bad now but it’s only going to get worse as Junior grows…”

I didn’t think about it until you said it! “Big stuff” only gets bigger as the kid grows! Big kid bed & furniture, bikes, summer camp….. Will they want their friends to club together to buy Junior a car for his high school graduation?

Reply

fountainof October 4, 2012 at 10:01 am

What really bugs me is that the people I have known IRL like the OP’s SIL have blown tons of money on things like baby photo sessions, extra 3d ultrasounds set to music (not medical ones, medical ones are covered in my province), pregnancy photo sessions, a $100 coming home outfit, etc. and then cry poor for something like a crib. Babies don’t need anywhere near as much as people think. No wipe warmer your kid will survive, mine did and I could actually afford one but thought it a waste of money, no change table – change your baby on the bed or the floor like most of us do anyway. There is no need for 5 types of strollers or 15 things to sit your baby in. The esentials list is much less expensive when you really evaluate a baby’s true needs. As well, there is no need to have everything match. People get obsessed with things like strollers matching their diaper bags or pack n’ plays matching their swing.

Reply

Enna October 5, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Sometimes children are happy accidents when they come along – there is never a “perfect” time to have a baby. However, expecting people to buy big items brand new is unreasonable if they are to buy them individually. A firned of mine who has had children and her cousin were saying how they would pass clothes on to other people’s children. Never expect hand me downs either.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: