Men get in on baby showers with 'dadchelor party' trend

Baby showers have traditionally been a rite of passage for many women when they're pregnant, with friends and family gathering to celebrate new life. But increasingly, men are celebrating fatherhood in their own way — with so-called 'dadchelor parties.'

Expert argues 'dadchelor' term doesn't fit, calls for more maturity in approach to fatherhood

An Instagram user's post from a so-called 'dadchelor' party. Baby showers focused specifically on fathers-to-be are a growing trend. (o.newlove/Instagram)

Baby showers have traditionally been a rite of passage for many women when they're pregnant, with friends and family gathering to celebrate new life.

But increasingly, men are celebrating fatherhood in their own way — with so-called "dadchelor parties."

In one 2012 video highlighting a "dadchelor" party, for example, a group of men surprise a friend who's about to become a father for the third time, arriving at his home with beer, diapers, a six-foot-long sandwich — and a funnel.

What looks more like a frat party than a traditional baby shower ensues.

"Baby showers for a long time, up until recently, have always been sort of geared towards the women," said  Kenny Bodanis. He's the Montreal-based author of What Do I Do While You're Pregnant?

He supports the idea of men becoming more engaged with their changing family status.

"Parenthood is something fathers-to-be especially need to stand up and embrace with the support from their wives, and vice versa. So I thought anything that's going to help celebrate fatherhood in any way can only be a good thing."

'Dadchelor party' name disrespectful

According to the website Pinterest, posts on the site about "man showers" or "dadchelor parties" are up almost 150 per cent since 2015.

But while Bodanis likes the idea of celebrating fatherhood, he's not a huge fan of the term "dadchelor party" because of its connotation and comparison to a bachelor party.

"There's more of a mature aspect to becoming a father than there is going out and getting married for the first time," he said.

"I think the name itself — by drawing on the inferences from 'bachelor party' — is a little disrespectful, smacks a little bit of immaturity. And it comes across as stealing away and leaving your pregnant wife, rather than celebrating your fatherhood."

Nora Spinks is the CEO of the Vanier Institute of the Family. She says men are now embracing fatherhood more than any generation before. (CBC)
Fatherhood is something men are embracing more than any generation before, according to Nora Spinks, the CEO of the Vanier Institute of the Family in Ottawa.

She said "dadchelor parties" are the logical extension of that new reality.

"This is the first generation where dads are actively involved in labour, delivery and childbirth," she said. 

"And in the early days of child rearing, there aren't a lot of role models, so they tend to reach out to each other, to other dads in the same situation, or other new and expectant fathers. And as a result, they're coming together."

Spinks pointed to a 2010 survey of 1,000 Canadian fathers from the magazine Today's Parent, in which 75 per cent of men said they're more involved with their children than their fathers were with them.

And according to Statistics Canada, the percentage of stay-at-home dads has increased from two per cent to 11 per cent in the last 40 years.

Perception of fatherhood changing

But Spinks said more importantly, the perception of men and fatherhood has changed. For example, she cites movies from the past such as 1983's Mr. Mom, in which Michael Keaton's character is portrayed as a buffoon when he tries to stay at home with the kids, or the 1987 movie Three Men and a Baby, starring Ted Danson, Tom Selleck and Steve Guttenburg as three men who can't figure out how to change a diaper.

Author Kenny Bodanis thinks it's important for the tone of 'dadchelor' parties to evolve into something a bit more mature. (
That notion may sound ridiculous now, but at the time it seems to have reflected commonly held views on the roles of men and women when it comes to raising children.

Author Kenny Bodanis said the concept of a "dadchelor party" would have been scoffed at back then.

And while he said he doesn't want to be a naysayer when it comes to the trend, he does think it's important for the tone of the parties to evolve into something a bit more mature — pointing to online suggestions for how to celebrate fatherhood.

"If you look at the list of things, it's always pub hopping and a weekend in Vegas, which still has a bit of that 'Sin City' tinge to it," he said.

"So is that something you would do anyway? Or is it a getaway for you and a last gasp, and 'we're not going to ask questions about what happens?' I think the 'don't ask, don't tell' shading to it needs to be removed."


Jason Osler is the national 'trends' columnist for CBC Radio.


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