Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Who deserves a baby shower?

Today I found myself at The Shades of Pink, a new blog for me.  I think I clicked through a link on someone's Facebook page to get there.  The topic is intriguing:  When a church gives a baby shower for an unwed mother, are they celebrating sin?

Apparently a young unwed mother was not given a baby shower at her church, and some ugly things were said to her regarding her sinfulness. The blogger asked the question:
Was throwing her a shower "celebrating her sin" or do you believe that everyone has to be embraced and shown the love of God?
The blogger and most of the commenters were appalled at the idea of refusing to give a shower for the baby of an unwed mother.   So far in the comments I'm the only one who thinks this is not necessarily the wrong attitude.  There's a lot of talk about grace, and about people who seem to think they don't sin, and how people are too ready to judge and condemn.  Those are my general impressions; you can click over and read the original post and the exact comments, including mine.

After leaving my comments I discovered I have more to say on the topic.  But I think I used up my comment space there, so here it is.

First of all, no one should be saying ugly things to anyone else.  Obviously.  But how does showing the love of God translate into a baby shower?

My church gave a shower to an unwed teen mother last year.  I didn't go because I was busy that night, not because I was boycotting it, though I admit I found the idea a bit unsettling.  Another woman, a mother of teen girls, confided in me that she was bothered by the upcoming shower too. She felt that the celebration was sending the wrong message to other young girls in the congregation.  She felt we were saying "go ahead, have a baby, we'll celebrate you, we'll give you a party" and that immature young women might not see beyond that.  

Maybe young girls saw it that way; maybe they didn't.  Mine didn't, because I talked to her about it.   Though we didn't go to the shower we gave a small gift and helped in other small ways.  We didn't exactly celebrate, but we didn't shun mother and baby either.  Many women in the church did as we did.  That young woman got a lot of quiet help; she was not judged or condemned. But her pregnancy was not celebrated by all.

People talk a lot about nuance and I think that's what's missing here.  People are seeing "no shower" as "judging and condemnation."  It's not, necessarily.   We can love people and help them and try to give the baby the best possible start.  But we don't have to have a party for it.

Once the shower is over, does anyone still feel like helping?   Who is taking more diapers over when the gift cards run out?  Who is bringing meals long after the party leftovers are gone?

It might surprise you to know that often it's the women who objected to the shower. 

It warms the heart to see a church rallying around a young person in trouble.  That doesn't have to include giving them a party.  No one deserves a baby shower.  It's a gift.  I don't give my kids gifts when they mess up.  I give them love and forgiveness and help if they need it.  I guess that's a gift in itself. That's the gift God gives me when I mess up. But do we throw a party?

You know what would warm my heart even more?  If a  young unwed mother was offered a shower and she turned it down.  If she said "thanks, but you know, I don't think it's really appropriate."   That would be a wonderful thing to see.

Either way, I'd buy diapers and cook dinner for her.  And I think most of you would do the same. And so, believe it or not, would most of the women who objected to the party.



SmallWorld at Home said...

What an interesting topic! I have to admit to having baby-shower, um, irritation sometimes. I am irritated when women come to church a few weeks before the baby is due, the church throws a shower, and then they stop coming. This has happened several times at our church. What--you only come to church so you'll get a shower? It's very weird. This happens particularly with members who have stopped coming for a long time but then show up again when a baby is due.

Maria said...

I like the distinction between a party and helping with diapers, etc. An unwed mother can't be any more comfortable with a shower than a married mother returning to church pregnant just to have a shower!

At our church we throw showers for unwed mothers and babies that are part of "A Baby's Breath" which is an organization that supports mothers and families. It's not a party, it's a voluntary collection of needed items that are given to this organization to give to women who need said items. So, it's a shower without the party. And we don't shower a mother individually with a party.

I'd like to believe that the intentions of these showers are not to celebrate sin but just the opposite;celebrating Christ's mercy and forgiveness.

Playing the other side of the fence...Does a sinner "deserve" a party? Does Christ not prepare a banquet for returning home? Of course, I'm not Christ and cannot see what is in a person's heart, which is why I really appreciate the distinction between a shower party and a support and help to someone who is in need.

Marbel said...

Sarah, that is bizarre. I've never encountered that!

Maria, I have only one experience with a baby shower for an unwed mom and she was apparently very comfortable with it. To the point, perhaps, of feeling entitled to it.

The more I think about this the more the I see that the question sets up a false dilemma. It's not: no shower = no love. There are many ways to show love and to help. Maria, you've described some fine ways.

Jen said...

I am getting ready to throw a baby shower for my teen (the father doesn't want to be involved). Her birth mother wants her to give it up for adoption but she wants to keep it. Her father and I are going to help her raise/raise it until she is done with school and able to do so on her own. I believe every child is a blessing and God has a purpose for them no matter how old their parents are or their parents marital status. That baby will also have needs that need to be met and a baby shower is a good way to meet some of those needs. I am worried right now about how to go about the party. I want to get what we need, show her support, and celebrate the birth of my grandson but I don't want to show my 8 year old that we are celebrating/giving extra attention to her sister for becoming pregnant as a teen. One thought was I can open the gifts from my family and friends while she does so from her friends and her moms family. Anyways, all babies are miracles and have needs no matter what the mother has done, and sometimes the gift of a child has the ability to turn her life around.