Dad showers gaining fans; men take on more responsibility for children

Reply Sun 22 Apr, 2012 10:39 am
Dad showers gaining fans
By Amanda Schoenberg
Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer on Sun, Apr 22, 2012

A few months before his 17-month-old daughter, Iris, was born, Howie Kaibel sent a Facebook message to his dad friends.

If they brought diapers to his dad-only baby shower, he would provide the beer and brauts. That was enough to start a party.

“It doesn’t take much,” says Kaibel, also adoptive dad to Aura, 13. “Then, all of a sudden, there was this huge pile of diapers.”

In fact, Kaibel and his wife, Laura, received enough diapers and wipes to last through at least Iris’ first year.

Also called dadchelor, man showers or Pamper parties, showers for dads-to-be are growing in popularity, according to TheBump.com, a pregnancy and baby-themed online community. A poll on the site found that one in five men had attended or planned to host one.

Instead of the classic baby shower, dadchelor parties tend to be a hybrid – a chance for men to celebrate their last days of pre-baby life and maybe score a few diapers at the same time.

One explanation for the trend is that, as people have children later in life, they are more aware of what they are giving up, says Shannon Guyton, site director for TheBump.com. As men take on more responsibility for children they, too, anticipate dramatic changes ahead.

“Guys are just as overwhelmed as women about how much their life is going to change,” she says.

And, she says, more information than ever is available on the challenges of parenting. Men want that “last night of freedom.”

Of course, the number of man showers doesn’t compare to baby showers held for moms-to-be. In a 2010 study by TheBump.com, about 80 percent of women said they will have at least one baby shower. About 39 percent opted for co-ed showers.

Unlike traditional showers for women that may involve games like “How many baby items can you name?,” local dads say their showers are a lot like other parties, except for the pile of diapers in the middle of the living room.

The trend seems to have emerged in recent years from the similar concept of wedding showers for men, often held at the same time as bridal showers, and babymoons, last-hurrah vacations taken by couples during pregnancy, Guyton says.

Some celebrities have driven the trend, such as the babymoon taken by singers Jennifer Lopez and ex-husband Marc Anthony and the “man-shower” that Scott Disick, boyfriend of reality star Kourtney Kardashian, threw in Miami, Guyton says.

Non-celebrity dadchelor parties range from bar nights to fishing trips and poker parties, she says. Some add “diaper kegs,” when diapers are exchanged for beer.

Darrell Brown, evening supervisor at ABC Cake Shop & Bakery in Albuquerque, says diaper parties for men aren’t a new trend.

“They’ve been doing diaper parties for years,” says Brown.

Brown himself has been to three or four parties.

And what do men do at the parties?

“Drink,” he says.

He also notices more men ordering baby shower cakes themselves. One of the most popular is a half-sheet with tiny buttercream booties. Dads-to-be, he says, are “very adamant about the colors.”

Hitting the town

On TheBump.com, women’s reactions are mixed on dadchelor parties. Some women say it is misguided and immature to hit the town while they are home with swollen ankles. Others applaud the idea of men celebrating a baby’s imminent arrival with friends, Guyton says.

In the Kaibels’ case, it was Laura Kaibel who suggested her husband have a party after their friend, a dad named Casey Mraz, had a similar event.

The party was hosted by Laura Kaibel’s father and was an opportunity for him to be more involved in the pregnancy, the Kaibels say.

At his Pamper party, Kaibel also asked other dads for advice. He remembers one valuable tip – a friend told him to read the instruction booklets for every new baby gadget. Figuring out a carseat while rushing out the door with a screaming baby is not ideal, Kaibel explains.

His friends and family had a good time, Kaibel says.

“They really liked it,” he says. “Obviously, men don’t take enough initiative to get together as dads. They really enjoy being in that space.”

Mraz, who had his party seven years ago, just before his son, Max, was born, said it was a good excuse to get together with friends and celebrate. A friend showed up at work and took him to a surprise shower.

At the time, Mraz was 24, unmarried, didn’t have a stable career and was the first in his group of friends to have children, he says.

“Particularly in that situation we experience a dramatic shift,” says Mraz, now an elementary school teacher in Albuquerque. “You can never be prepared, no matter how prepared you think you are.”

It helps to talk to other dads, says Mraz.

Now he is on the other side of the dad divide. He recently reconnected with a friend who just had a child and wants to meet for “dad advice.”

Dad meetups

Howie Kaibel says dads often need ways to get together but there aren’t many opportunities. He started a Meetup group in December after he met a few new dad friends at the library who were looking for work and trying to get through a rough economy.

Now, he even has cards for the group that read “Man-Moms, unite!”

When the group meets for outings to the park or the zoo, conversations are uniquely male, ranging from messy diapers to who will win the Super Bowl, he says.

Joseph Parker, who lives in the East Mountains and cares for his son during the day, says the group gives him a chance to connect with other adults. When the dads meet up they don’t only talk about their kids, he adds.

“We talk about everything,” Parker says, as he watches his son, Quintin, on the tire swing during a recent playground visit with other dads.

“What’s really special about it is we’re with our kids,” Kaibel says. “It’s really something else to be in a public space like Explora and hear four or five dads giving each other advice on nap schedules or what teething is like or what they’re dealing with in their marriages.”
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