Toddler etiquette: guys vs. girls edition

Is it okay to take a two-year-old to a baby shower? To a wedding? To visit a friend in the hospital?

These are questions to which my beloved husband and I had differing opinions, so we took it to Facebook this week for a little friendly crowdsourcing. He posed the question first on his FB page, and I followed suit by posting it on my own. The answers were pretty interesting.

For the most part, women were more likely to check with hostesses before bringing a child to a shower or wedding. Some wouldn’t even check, and would just assume it’s NOT okay to bring a child to a wedding unless they were specificially mentioned on the invitation envelope.

Likewise, most women would NOT bring a toddler to a hospital for a visit unless it was for extremely special circumstances – like to say goodbye to a grandparent one last time, or for the birth of a sibling.

Granted, we had fewer male respondents to our amateur polls, but for the most part the guys were all for bringing toddlers to any of the above – weddings, shower or hospital visit. The general gist from the guys is that kids are fun and should always be welcome at such events. This made me really curious about the gender discrepancy. I wondered why this is the case?

So, I sat down in my thinking chair and now have a theory, and I’m going to put it out there even though it’s definitely based on generalizations and some may cry foul.

Basically, I think that for a lot of guys, having a toddler along at any of those life situations would be fun and not much more work, whereas for a lot of moms, having their toddler there would mean their focus would have to stay firmly on the toddler and not on the bride, new mom or hospitalized friend or family member.

Even though we women are great at multi-tasking, and generally like doing the “work” involved in parenting, when it comes to being a mom with a toddler in a public/social/semi-fancy setting, it really does take all our energy and focus.

We’re often the ones most invested in keeping our toddlers from becoming terrors at a party or gathering; we’re the ones who do the heavy lifting when it comes to comforting a fussy, tired or upset toddler; and quite frankly we’re the ones less able to have a good time if the toddler is there.

We certainly are less likely to be able to focus on the bride or new mom, which is something we women like to do at weddings and showers. We are far more likely to have to find a discreet place to whip out a boob and nurse said toddler (made exceedingly more difficult by wearing our fancy duds which may or may not be breastfeeding friendly).

So, there it is – I don’t think guys have a problem with toddlers being at events because I don’t think guys are as likely to deal with the repercussions of a toddler outing gone wrong.

YES, of course there are exceptions to this. My beloved husband dealt with a thermonuclear diaper explosion at the last wedding we attended together, and he also spent a huge amount of time entertaining our daughter out on the dance floor. As I’ve noted many times, he’s super daddy. But I still stand by my hypothesis, for the most part.

What do you think? Should toddlers be able to attend any and all social functions, and is there a reason for a faint trend toward more men answering yes to that question and more women answering with a bit more reluctance?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Natural born writer. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.


  1. I actually specifically noted on my wedding website that children were not permitted. At every wedding that I’ve been to, there’s always a screaming child during the vows. And, for some reason, the parent stays to watch the vows and the kid screams through the entire thing.

    I’ve really not been around children much (I’ve never even held a baby and have no desire to do so!), so I think that has made my tolerance for them much lower. A screaming baby grates on my nerves because I’ve never been around it. So, I decided to be up front about it so people wouldn’t even have to ask.

    I think people who are more family-oriented don’t seem to mind as much. It really depends. I have a friend who was fine with lots of kids being at her wedding. But, my goal is to have my wedding stress free for me and my guests. I want them to kick back and have a night of child-free fun on the beach!

    Strangely, as a non-child person, I still love reading your blog, Lara!!

    1. Thanks, Rachel! That means a lot! And remember… I was a self-avowed non child person too for most of my adult life, and now look at me. Let this be a warning! Heh heh. 😉

      1. I know! That’s the only reason I was able to leave that comment and know it wouldn’t offend you. At this point in my life, I’m happy with my growing career and adorable dog. I don’t see myself as a parent in the future, but I know it could happen. I have several mentors who waited until later in their careers to have their kids. I think that’s a great option, even though I know it can be harder sometimes.

        1. Definitely. Don’t be afraid to wait – look how long I waited. I don’t regret it one bit. We had our fun as a couple and now we’re having our fun as a family. It’s like a new lease on life – and even sweeter because I almost didn’t do it at all.

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