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I know a mum-to-be who is planning a gender reveal party. I've never been to one and thought this might be something only Americans do to create content for their Instagram accounts. Gender reveals should be only for the parents to be during sonograms, right?. Anyways. I have this invite. Must I go? If so, must I give a gift? And if I give a gift at this gender reveal party, must I also gift at the baby shower and when the baby arrives?
Or am I being a bit Judgey McJudgerson? Should brush the chip off my shoulder and share in the mum-to-be's surprise and joy?
Oh baby, it's too much.
Dear Oh Baby,
Put simply, no, of course you don’t have to go. There are many reasons to feel skeptical about gender reveal parties starting with the fact they’re a little tacky and ending with legitimate concerns about how they reinforce the gender binary and gendered expectations (“trucks or tiaras”, “guns or glitter” - yuck). While a sonogram result doesn’t need to be a closely guarded secret, expectant parents should probably keep the news in perspective. A handful of family members and close friends will be excited to know, but an entire party isn’t really necessary.
This style of intensive parenting which demands not one but two parties before the child is even born is exhausting, and I think it’s fine to gracefully bow out of participating in rituals which have no real cultural significance or importance - as you say, gender reveals seem to have mainly taken off because the visual stunts look cool on social media. The spectacle of living our lives online seems to demand an increasing amount of performance (and time, and money), and I think it’s necessary to push back against this - we don’t actually have to give legitimacy to what is essentially a party celebrating an unborn baby’s genitals, which is a bit weird.
It’s possible to turn down the invitation without judging (or at least without making your judgment known). Simply RSVP no to her invite but say you can’t wait for the baby shower, and bring a thoughtful gift along with you to that event. You’ll still be sharing in the mum-to-be’s excitement about creating a new precious little life, which is what’s actually important here. Whether or not you give a gift again when the baby is born probably depends on how close you are with the parents. One considerate gift for acquaintances is surely enough.
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