When you receive that anticipated invitation… whether it be a wedding, baby shower, or another special event… do you also automatically think about getting a sitter? I have noticed so much variety now in these types of events in terms of whether or not small children are included, or even allowed! Instead of a “Plus One” on the invitation, are we now beginning to see a “Minus One?”
Perhaps it is due to the desire for brides and moms-to-be to put more of themselves into an event. What I mean is, instead of cookie-cutter events in which certain things are expected, we now have some room to personalize. Aside from certain religious practices required by a priest, pastor, minister, or rabbi, a wedding now may look very different than one 25 or 35 years ago in a lot of ways. In this vein, some brides are stating on invitations that children are not allowed at the ceremony or that childcare will be provided in a location separate from the service. I heard of a mom-to-be who did the same. She preferred her shower to include only her women friends so that she could enjoy a last get-together before baby came. Whatever the reason, I suspect we will see more of this, in addition to more unconventional services. Many are choosing to eschew tradition for something new, different, unique, or unusual. Men and women alike are personalizing the spaces around them and valuing uniqueness and freedom of expression over following the norms. We see this increasingly in raising our children as well. Children are encouraged to verbalize their thoughts and feelings and are taught by parents how to recognize these. We have moved away from the belief that “children should be seen and not heard,” and toward the notion that children should develop independence rather than blindly follow certain rules and expectations.
Does this shift coincide with the “no children allowed” stipulation at some wedding services or showers? We know the bride does not dislike children per se, but only their potential for distraction or loud behavior during the ceremony. Have children become more rambunctious, free-thinking, and less likely to follow the expectation of remaining quiet or still during a ceremony? I have thought about this a few times, noticing my daughter talking, moving, and chatting with others often, whereas children in my generation tended more often to sit still and quietly beside parents who talked with the other adults. Perhaps it is. Is this good, bad, or neither? I myself am unsure. Right now, I try to see it as… different.