Culture of baby showers

Lee's Summit JournalMarch 26, 2014 

Let me make it very clear right away, I am not against baby showers.

Remember, I am from another culture. I am always astounded when people “throw baby showers” to celebrate babies who are not here yet. In order to clear my mind on that issue, I asked women (and men) why they find it necessary to celebrate an unborn child. Here are a few of the many responses that I received:

“It is the tradition, especially for the first baby;” “As an expecting mother, I had a lot on my plate and did not have the time to shop for my baby;” “We just got married and could not afford to have everything our baby needed;” “So many people wanted to help me and kept asking when I was going to throw a baby shower, so I did it;” “I did not want gifts; I just wanted everyone there to share the moment with me being pregnant, but people brought gifts;” “Some people do it for gifts but I only wanted diapers; I did one baby registry at one store.”

One of the most interesting responses was, “I am having my first baby in my late 30s; over the years I have given so many baby gifts that it is time for me to get some of them back. I opened four registries at four stores. If people bring gifts with receipts, I will return some of them.” The most common answer I got was, “I did not ask for it, (someone else) threw the baby shower on me as a surprise.”

My profession as cultural educator makes me a constant cultural detective. So, I usually observe a lot, and ask a lot of questions to understand cultural insights. This is my question to you. Why would you bring gifts to a baby who is not even here yet, and nobody knows what she/he will look like?

I am not saying that the baby might not show up, but what if she/he doesn’t get here? It is like holding a graduation party before taking the exam. What if you fail? Ok, one might argue that it is better to party before failure, than not partying at all.

One would wonder why people plan parties for a baby who is not invited knowing for certain she/he will not be present. How selfish is that? They know that once babies are here, they aren’t going anywhere for a long time. So, why rush?

We preach to our children to live a life of character. Character should start at birth; we should give the children the opportunity to say their first “thank you” (even with a look) to the people who welcome them on earth with gifts. Raise your hand if after your child is born, you gather the people who offered baby shower gifts and told the child who gave what so he/she can thank them. I bet most people don’t, acting like if you had bought everything themselves.

Can’t people remember that even Jesus himself got his gift days after he was born? Not before. Joseph and Mary were patient and prayerful about the coming of their son. On their part, the Wise Men were in not rushing to bring gifts to Mary and Joseph; they waited and brought them to Jesus himself. I can imagine Him in His manger with eyes wide open admiring His gifts.

In the culture where I grew up, the whole village celebrates the birth of a child. Again, I’m not against baby showers, I just know that in many cultures around the world bringing an unborn child presents is considered bad luck.

My next cultural detective question to those who get married and divorce multiple times is to find out how much gifts all those wedding registries have allowed them to accumulate over the years.


Emmanuel Ngomsi, President of All World Languages and Cultures, Inc. He educates and coaches on issues of cultures and diversity. He can be reached at info@universalhighways.

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