Grandma Showers: A New Rite of Passage

There’s growing attention on a new grandma rite of passage: grandma showers! And there’s lots of disagreement between the generations on whether it’s a good idea.

I can see both sides of the argument.

From the expectant mom’s perspective, I can see why a grandma shower might not be welcome. It takes away from the mom’s spotlight. But the only way to find out is to ask your daughter or daughter-in-law how she feels about a grandma shower. By asking her feelings, you’re getting off to a great start by empathizing with her. It’s a good way to test the waters.

I personally have not experienced a grandma shower, but I love the idea of a grandma-to-be sitting in a circle of wise, supportive grandmas who want to help her celebrate her exciting new status. What I envision for this “shower” would be for the seasoned grandmas to shower the grandma-to-be with words of wisdom. They could each write down a bit of advice they’ve learned as grandmas and share it in the group.

New grandmas can always use words of wisdom. They are often so infatuated with their new grandchild they forget the most important people in this new relationship: the grandchild’s parents. Newbie grandmas are thinking “I can’t wait to get my hands on that baby and smother him with kisses.” What they should also be thinking is: “How can I best support my adult children in their new parenting roles so that we can all feel like a cohesive team?”

Instead of a grandma shower, another option for new grandparents would be to create a rite of passage to celebrate their new status. Dr. Lillian Carson, author of The Essential Grandparent: A Guide to Making a Difference, describes a meaningful way to celebrate your own experience. It doesn’t matter if it’s simple or elaborate or if your grandchildren have already been here for a while.

Any ritual is an opportunity for transformation. What matters is that it has meaning for you. It is a way, not only to honor yourself, but to honor the value of family. Dr. Carson shares a few examples from her friends.

Examples of Grandma Rites of Passage

  • One couple planned a picnic in a lovely park to talk about their feelings about grandparenthood. They reminisced about their own grandparents and how they both envisioned their own role as grandparents now. Together, they planned how to become the grandparents they hoped to be.
  • Another couple hosted a tree-planting ceremony when they became grandparents. Watching their growing tree reminded them of their growing family.
  • One grandma paid a visit to a beautiful church and lit candles for herself and her grandchild then spent a contemplative hour there.
  • Another grandma wrote a poem about her passage and shared it at a special family dinner.

You can write in your journal about your thoughts, hopes and dreams of grandparenthood. You can write a letter to your newborn grandchild describing your values and philosophy of life. Whatever you decide to do, you will no doubt feel a deeper awareness of your purpose and your connection to the past and future through your family.

Dr. Carson offers some thought-provoking questions to consider when planning your ritual. Consider both your positive and negative feelings.

Questions to Consider

  • What meaning does grandparenthood have for you?
  • What are your feelings?
  • What rituals have had meaning for you in the past? Religious? Family? Personal?
  • Would you like to adapt any part of them into your grandparent ritual?
  • Do you prefer a private ritual or one with your spouse or with others?
  • What activities hold meaning for you?
  • What are the new tasks of grandparenthood?

How do you feel about grandma showers?

6 thoughts on “Grandma Showers: A New Rite of Passage”

  1. Like Debby, 31 years ago when I was expecting my parents’ first grandchildren (twin girls) their friends threw a grandparents shower for my folks. We, too, lived at a distance so in some ways this made them more a part of the excitement of grandchildren. (Many of their friends were already grandparents so they had wonderful advice…heh!) I honestly only remember one of the gifts and it was for my dad: a large apron that fit around his neck and tied behind his back. Attached to this apron were necessities of grandparenthood…a burp cloth for over his shoulders, 2 pacifiers, and 2 diapers. Probably bottles, but I don’t remember. There were also brightly-written notes painted onto the apron from their friends…helpful tips for his new role! He loved showing off that apron when we came to visit…the girls were two months old when they met their Poppy and all items were put to good use!!

    1. Marianna – I love your story, especially Poppy’s apron! Did you ever get a photo of it? What a great memory and such a clever gift for a grandpa who often gets overlooked in all the fun and festivities that women usually enjoy.
      I love hearing these “retro” stories. It makes me laugh that everyone’s thinking Grandma Showers are something new 🙂
      Thanks for sharing.

      1. Yes, there IS a photo somewhere. I will have to look for it next time I’m with my mom, hopefully even next month! (I’m living in Ukraine and she’s in Ohio so meetings are not too frequent!)

  2. When I was pregnant with my first child, I lived several hundred miles away from my parents. Several of my mother’s friends threw a grandmother shower for her – actually for both of us. I was unable to be there, but they called me during the shower and took a lot of pictures for me to see later. I didn’t mind at all not being there. It was her night! A fun and festive welcome to grandmotherhood! Most of the gifts were for the baby, but they also had gifts for my mother; things for her to keep at her house and to use when we came for a visit. When she came at the baby’s birth she brought the gifts for the baby and the pictures from the shower. We enjoyed the shower all over again! This was not recent…it is not a new idea…this shower was 33 years ago! I thought it was a wonderful idea then, and still do today! It was so much fun for her and has been the topic of conversation many times and the jump-start to other grandmother showers since then.

    1. Thank you for sharing that wonderful story, Debbie. Your mom and her friends were ahead of their time! It sounds like you and your mother had a wonderful relationship and turned the shower into a win-win situation. Are you a grandma now? I’d love to hear more stories. Please write and share some more.

      1. Yes! I am a Grammy now! We have a beautiful, lively, happy little 3 year old granddaughter and an equally beautiful and precious 8-month old grandson. She looks like her mother, but acts like her daddy (our son). It tickles me good. I told him he should have named her “Payback”! I thoroughly loved every stage of my children’s lives, watching them grow and develop and it is just as fun with the grandbabies.

        Our daughter is a full-time missionary in Africa and is not married. She has fallen in love with the children there and, who knows…I may have some adopted grandbabies from Africa one of these days! I can guarantee you they would be loved just as much as our son’s babies!

        I’m so glad I found you!

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