Baby Wants This, Part Two…Or Why A Family Hosted Shower Is A Bad Idea

by admin on October 4, 2012

Based on some of the comments, some clarification is in order.  The “Baby Wants This” post two days ago included this paragraph by me:

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….

Some commentators to the post were up in arms at the thought that family had an obligation to provide the larger tickets for a family member.

If someone is pregnant, there is a looming due date that will result in another human joining the family.  Short of abortion, there is nothing stopping that day of reckoning.   While it is good to have the perspective that parents are responsible to provide for their own children,  once there is a baby baking in the oven philosophizing has to take a back seat to the practical reality.

I believe the mom-to-be in the story is a gimme pig.   Whether her piggishness is the result of mere greed or a true need that has morphed into an expectation that others owe her,  her family’s response has been to plan and host a shower for her.   Either they recognize that she has a need that the soon-to-be parents and they cannot or will not fill or they are complicit in helping her acquire the best baby equipment she can at someone else’s expense.   Either way it is an abdication of their familial responsibilities to take care of their own.   Here’s the part that was assumed and lead to my comments:  If a grandmom or aunt-to-be takes on the responsibility of planning and hosting a shower for a daughter or sister in order to acquire from friends, neighbors and co-workers the necessary baby furniture and accessories, it is a statement that they recognize in some way a duty to another family member to somehow arrange the acquisition of this stuff or else they would not be hosting a shower.   If you didn’t feel this sense of obligation you wouldn’t be hosting a shower in the first place.

If your daughter(or -in-law) or sister is so poor that she cannot afford to purchase a crib, a stroller, a car seat, you have a choice before you.   You can either leave her to her own devices to figure out how to outfit a basic nursery, 2) step up to the plate and buy them, used if necessary, for her, or 3) you can host a shower for all her friends and co-workers thus passing onto them the responsibility to provide what you will not.   The latter is shameful, imo.    If the family can pool their resources to host a shower, they most certainly can pool their resources to get the needed basics.

So,while I agree that the extended family does not bear the primary responsibility to outfit a family member’s nursery for them, once the family stepped onto the slippery slope of hosting a baby shower they made that statement that they feel responsible in some degree to make sure a  future family member has the needed items in time for their arrival.   Family hosting a shower is just passing the buck to others who probably have less of a relational connection to the future baby than they do.

To conclude, if you host a baby shower for your daughter, daughter-in-law or sister, you are making the following unspoken but nonetheless declarative statements that 1) I recognize a need or want, 2)   I’m not going to fill that need or want so,  3) I’ll pass on the responsibility for meeting that need or want to other people.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Missy November 14, 2012 at 4:17 am

When my daughter was pregnant, I asked her “Do you need a pram, baby carseat, crib, etc” (the big items that young family usually needs). ‘No, mum, we’ve got all that sorted, we’ve bought everything”.
And with cash, not credit card, too, I might add.
I was impressed, as they both work quite mid range pay jobs, but they saved money and bought the things they truly needed.


Sarah November 18, 2012 at 12:25 am

I have an interesting story to add to this. I am currently 36 weeks pregnant, though admittedly it was an “unexpected blessing”, as I have decided to euphemistically phrase it. The father and I aren’t as financially sound as we’d like to be…I’m still in college and he works offshore and has supported me since I had to quit my job this summer. My mother hosted my baby shower last week by herself, and she did an amazing job with organizing the whole affair. However, I am lucky enough that even though it seems that she would do that to get extended family to pay for the big ticket items we needed but could not afford ourselves, she actually purchased about half of those items herself: the stroller, the crib, the car seat, the bassinet- and she helped hunt down bargain deals on the rest of the large items that were left for us to purchase ourselves. Most of the gifts I got at my shower were mainly clothes, toys, and basic baby supplies, which I have to say, I absolutely loved. I know not everyone’s mother can afford to do this for their children; I just wanted to say how extremely lucky and loved I feel everyday from her, even though I know it hasn’t been easy for her to do all she has.


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