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Why would it be wrong for a fortysomething woman using a surrogate to throw her own baby shower?

This letter writer sees a shower thrown by the mother-to-be as a gift grab.

My sister was invited to a shower for a 40-plus woman employing a surrogate (who will not be at the shower, so no awkward moments). She is hosting the event herself in her hometown, requesting presents to be sent to her house in another state. A self-induced baby shower with no pregnant lady and no presents! My sister can’t attend due to a family event, which did not seem to faze the mother-to-be. This seems to hit a new high (or low) for a gift grab. The mother-to-be couldn’t care less about seeing people, only about the baby loot waiting for her at home. Is that just as wrong as the self-induced invitation?

Anonymous / Boston


You’ve said a lot of ugly things here.

I assume you’re proud of one of the ugliest ones, the “self-induced” baby shower, since you wrote it twice. You shouldn’t be. Is it some kind of faux pas for people to host their own showers? Yeah, maybe. Let’s say it is. Fun fact: It’s also technically wrong for the prospective parent’s relatives to host the shower, too, but dang near every shower question I’ve gotten in the long years I’ve been writing this column has been exactly that. The formal practices of etiquette evolve over time, and getting overly worked up about a person hosting her own shower in 2023 indicates a real lack of perspective about what constitutes a social problem and what does not. Who the heck is supposed to host a shower for a 40-plus woman (a detail you clearly intended to be damning but which frankly provides some mitigating context) anyway? Her nana?

Etiquette rules change over time, but the principles of kindness don’t. Using medical terminology, especially terminology associated with politically charged and, for some individuals, traumatic topics, in a sarcastic manner to describe hosting choices you disagree with is not kind.


Moreover, Scarlett O’Showah’s behavior indicates the exact opposite of being interested solely in gifts. Why would she have a party in her hometown, if not to see old friends and family and visit old haunts? There are far more convenient ways to hustle a stroller fund. A person who only wants gifts from out-of-towners will throw a shower for a few local friends, and send out invitations indiscriminately, with a registry prominently featured. Or they’ll do a GoFundMe.

Hosts are also not generally taken aback when learning a guest cannot attend, that being the very purpose of the RSVP to begin with. Also, I can’t help but note that having the surrogate at the shower would be “awkward,” but not having a visible pregnancy at the shower is also an offense in your mind.

Look: Scarlett could be 100 percent in the wrong here. I don’t know her or how she lives her life. But I know what you wrote. Whatever she did, you need to take a good look at yourself.

Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.