In Defense of Gender-Reveal Parties


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Lately couples are doing everything from making elaborate Rube Goldberg machines to filming their own movie trailers all in the name of announcing to the world the sex of the child they're expecting. But not everyone thinks the trend of celebrating whether you're having a boy or a girl is a good one. Embedded within the "Congratulations!" on these social media posts is a steady stream of backlash from naysayers who believe throwing a gender reveal is putting pressure on babies to conform to traditional gender norms before they've even drawn their first breath. But I say there's a ton of great reasons to have a gender reveal, and not just because it's an excuse to eat cake.

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Back in the day when our moms went in for an ultrasound, they'd see a grainy blob that looked like a gummy bear. But now technology is so good that you can tell the baby has daddy's nose before your kid has even been born. And even without a medical degree, it's just as easy to spot what is (or isn't) between the baby's legs. Even if you want to be surprised by the gender, let's be honest -- it's hard not to know what you're having from your ultrasounds. I'm not a doctor, but I was easily able to look at the ultrasound machine and clearly see that I was carrying twin boys.

It's easier to spill the beans.

Once you know what you're having, keeping pronouns neutral around friends and family for months on end is a ton of work, especially with foggy pregnancy brain working against you. Rather than deal with your MIL's giving you the cold shoulder when she finds out you told your own mom the news first, or debating whether or not it's rude to send an "It's a boy!" text to all your besties at the same time, just have a gender reveal. Everyone learns the sex of the baby at the same time, no one feels left out. Win.


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It's better than a baby shower.

Gender-reveal parties have advantages over a traditional baby shower (although if you get one of those too, bonus!). First of all, you get to plan it yourself, which means building a menu tailored to feed your pregnancy cravings (mmm, fried pickles) and picking decor you like instead of that boring ducky shower theme your mom is insisting on. And unlike a shower, there's no pressure on people to bring gifts, because no one knows what you're having! If this is your second, third, or fourth child, a gender reveal is a way to celebrate your pregnancy without putting the expectation on someone else in your family to throw you a baby sprinkle.


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Gender reveals are a family celebration.

Obviously becoming a parent is a big deal, but it's important to remember that a baby brings joy to the entire family. Unlike a shower, which is totally focused on the mom-to-be, having a gender reveal is a way for your entire extended crew to celebrate together the fact that they're getting a new addition.

Cousins can talk about which side will have the new advantage in future games of backyard tag; grandparents can discuss what traditions they're excited to start with the new baby. Your friends with kids can tell you all about being a "boy mom" or having a "mini-me" -- and how they can't wait to be aunties. A gender reveal lets all folks reflect upon and get excited for their own relationship with a new baby boy or girl in a way that's so different from how it is with a baby shower.


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It can distract you from the tough task ahead.

Childbirth is amazing, but there are also a lot of unknowns and unexpected things that could happen. If this is your first birth, or if you've had a traumatic birthing experience in the past, sharing your baby's gender with loved ones can help you replace some of your anxiety with excitement. Plus, party planning gives you a ton of things to do! Having to make a guest list, figure out a location and food, and -- of course -- decide how you're going to do the big reveal for everyone may help you stay positive and get more excited for the birth instead of letting nerves get the best of you.

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It's true that sex and gender are two different things. And, yes, it's possible that the babies being celebrated may one day decide that their gender expression isn't best represented by stereotypical pink or blue. They might not be into things that are traditionally associated with their gender, like dance and makeup for girls or sports and hunting for boys. And that's fine. Having a gender reveal doesn't mean you're declaring that the only way you'll love your children is if they conform to rigid gender norms. You're celebrating a new life with those that you love, which is never a bad thing. And the writing on that cake is in frosting, not stone.

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