When I have a child and my family and friends decide to throw a baby shower to celebrate my little one and the new phase in my life, I will insist that my baby’s father be celebrated with me.
I say this because fatherhood is just as important as motherhood, and both parents who are committed to their soon-to-be-born should be celebrated and supported as a unit.
Baby showers have for a long time been the rite of passage for expectant mothers who are showered with plenty of useful gifts, love, support and advice on how to best navigate their way through this new phase of their lives.
Going through my twenties and attending many of my friends’ baby showers, I realized that this is a celebration that is exclusive to women and motherhood. I’ve attended one baby shower that was for a dad in the last 10 years of baby shower events, only because my colleagues and I planned the baby shower for the expectant dad because he was our colleague.
Although there’s a growing trend of dadchelor parties, which are essentially baby showers for men done by men, this trend hasn’t seemed to catch on in Africa. But more than that, co-ed baby showers are very rare, and this is problematic.
Fatherhood needs to be celebrated as much as motherhood because it is just as important to a child’s overall well-being. According to psychologists, fathers are central to a child’s emotional well-being and have a great influence over a child’s relationships from birth to death, including those with friends, lovers, and spouses. Being a father contribute greatly to a child’s cognitive, language, and social development, as well as academic achievement, sense of well-being and good self-esteem.
Unfortunately, patriarchy has long had an impact on fatherhood, creating a norm that men must be distanced from the care and nurture of their child and only be financial contributor. And more than that, fatherhood has been about increasing a man’s wealth and status quo, not about nurturing and raising human being.
This has been detrimental to children and society, resulting in men abandoning their children out of fear of responsibility of what it means to be a father, as well as in emotional abuse from being emotionally absent and physical abuse.
Baby showers are also a platform for offering support to a new parent, both financially through gift-giving and emotionally through reassuring them that they have your support. Fathers need this as much as moms do because they too are entering into a new phase of their lives. They also have fears about whether or not they’ll be able to raise a child well and how they’ll manage in their new roles. They too desire to be celebrated out of love in preparation for this new phase of their lives.
Also, becoming a parent is a big deal, and often times, soon-to-be-parents feel excited, nervous and overwhelmed all at once. Having a co-ed baby shower is a way for them to be reassured that they have a support system to turn to and to be offered advice and gifts jointly as a family.
It’s a shift away from patriarchal norms of parenting that places the sole responsibility of child rearing on the mother while distancing the father and reducing him to merely a financial contributor to his child.
It takes a village to celebrate the coming of a child and to support new parents, so let’s not exclude fathers from baby showers, but rather celebrate and support new parents as the family unit that they are.
*image from Business Insider.