Man showers are the new rite of passage for some expectant Minnesota fathers. Expect a lot of fun, and diaper gifts.
Vera Becker, six months pregnant, is starting to picture her husband drinking beer, playing yard games and smoking cigars in the back yard with his friends. But she's not mad about it -- she's all for it.
The Minneapolis father of one, with another on the way, is making plans to have a "diaper party," a male version of a baby shower, where guys get together for one last hurrah before the new baby arrives. In this version of the celebration, each guy brings a package of diapers for the dad-to-be.
"With our first baby, he took time off from work and did nothing but deal with me and our new baby," Becker said. "He did everything that I did -- short of nursing -- so he deserves a celebration, too."
Sometimes called a dadchelor party, man shower or daddymoon, diaper parties are the latest way to acknowledge a baby's arrival.
Some guys choose bachelor-type weekend getaways to Las Vegas, while others take a more subdued approach, exchanging parenting advice over burgers and beer.
"I got a closet-full of diapers -- more than a thousand," said Kevin McManamon, a Shakopee father to a 9-month-old boy. "We didn't have to buy diapers for three months."
Today's modern dads
The rising popularity of such celebrations reflects the bigger role that dads now play at home, parenting experts say. Fathers today are more actively involved in day-to-day child care -- including diapering, feeding and bathing. And more men are staying home, while women go to work.
In fact, Minnesota has the highest rate in the country (72 percent) of mothers with children under age 6 who are employed outside the home, according to the Department of Labor.
Marti Erickson, co-host of "Mom Enough," a weekly talk show on momenough.com, is pleased to see men celebrating and acknowledging fatherhood as a passage in a man's life.
"And maybe to mourn a bit the loss of freedom that comes with it," Erickson said. "That's a reality for both moms and dads, and such an occasion warrants dads coming together, just as women do when they become mothers."
Guys feel left out
Admittedly a little jealous of the fun the girls were having at the office with their bridal and baby showers, Matt Kucharski, a senior vice president at Minneapolis PR firm Padilla Speer Beardsley, decided to throw a "man shower" for two of his co-workers, one who was getting married and one who was expecting his first child. They checked out of work early one afternoon and headed to the lake.
There were no gifts, no diapers and no keg. There was plenty of baby talk, however. The veteran fathers shared stories about what the baby's first six months are like as well as crucial information -- the stuff guys usually don't know -- like, "The due date is never the due date."
"It's hard for guys to go out and ask for advice -- it's like asking for directions -- but when it's offered to him, he listens," Kucharski said. "For guys, having a baby is certainly not the same physically, but it's definitely a significant life change, and we ought to celebrate that."
Aimée Tjader • 612-673-1715