Embarrassing Gifts for New Parents: Share your Horror Stories

Photos of the Big Daddy shirt, diaper changing bumper sticker and Daddy Tags.

Do all new parents receive gifts they would be embarrassed to use, or just me?

For my first father’s day, two weeks after my daughter was born, my mixed-up wife gave me a bumper sticker that read, “Men who change diapers change the world.”

The message makes a nice sentiment for a greeting card, but driving around town with that sticker on my car is excruciatingly self-congratulatory. It doesn’t matter that I’m proud to be a dad. It doesn’t matter that the sticker was given to me. Publicly displaying that message implies that I’m saying, “Look at me! Look at how good I am! I’m full of myself!”

My wife thought it would send a message to other dads that they should be more involved. Umm, no.

I still have the sticker, in pristine condition, in a box in the bottom of our closet.

For my second Father’s Day, my mother gave us matching father-daughter T-shirts. The child shirt reads, “Daddy’s Little Girl,” and the father’s shirt reads, “Big Daddy.”

[Update: those two preceding links have since gone bad. Sorry, I don't know where you can buy those T-shirts now. No, wait, I'm not sorry.]

On a day I desperately needed to do laundry, a friend I’ve known since kindergarten caught me in public wearing the shirt. The first thing he said to me was, “Did you buy that?” while pointing at my chest. I had to explain why I was exuding self-congratulatory schmaltzy charm.

I do regularly wear the shirt though… to bed. My daughter wears her shirt too… on days Mom is taking care of her.

To my discredit, I did buy my daughter a plain red pocket T-shirt because I wear one, and my daughter loved matching her dad.

I got to thinking about these gifts when I ran across a product called Daddy Tags. It’s two silver military-style dog tags. One contains an engraved letter of your choice. The second tag contains the names of up to three children and their birth dates.

Let’s remember that dog tags are worn for the purpose of identifying dead and wounded soldiers. I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a Daddy Tag, or maybe that’s the only situation in which I would.

Feel free to be disgusted at my atrocious comments, especially if your car has bumper stickers promoting your diaper-changing savvy.

Or, feel free to share your own horror stories about new parent clothing and gifts you simply couldn’t bring yourself to use.


6 Responses to “Embarrassing Gifts for New Parents: Share your Horror Stories”

  1. Robert says:

    For Father’s Day this year I received the “Have you been a Dad today?” shirt from the NFI http://www.thingamababy.com/baby/2007/02/have_you_been_a.html and I have to say I am proud to wear it. My wife just gave birth to our first child on 7/2/07 and I could not be more proud to be a Dad. I wore it at the birth of our child and I will wear it regularly. I feel lucky to be given a chance to have a child and am going to make the most of it. I don’t care what people think, I am a Dad and I love it!

    July 12th, 2007 at 10:06 am

  2. AJ says:

    Well, maybe it is just me.

    July 12th, 2007 at 10:41 am

  3. Cathy says:

    Oops. For Father’s Day last month, I put my toddler in a T-shirt that said “My dad is the man” – BUT I was with them all day. (P.S. Guilt about soldiers aside, I love my Mommy Tags necklace.)

    July 12th, 2007 at 9:20 pm

  4. Dawn says:

    My mother-in-law bought our 17 month old a t-shirt that says “My dad’s the best.” – My husband’s comment. ” There is no way my son is wearing that!” My husband loves being a dad, but for him it seems to self-congratulating to have his own son walking around in a shirt like that.

    July 13th, 2007 at 1:13 pm

  5. Mark says:

    A co-worker bought my son a shirt that says “Lock up your daughters.” I figure that if I had a daughter, I wouldn’t put her in a shirt that says “All the boys want me” or something similar, so why would I put my son in something that sends a similarly sexualized message, even if it is relatively mild and playful?

    That said…he DOES have a pair of pajamas (given as a gift) that say “If you think I’m handsome, you should see my daddy.” It’s not something I would have picked up myself, but him wearing it around the house to go to bed is cute. Oh, and I do have a tshirt (also a gift) saying “World’s Greatest Dad” that doesn’t get worn except as a nightshirt. I’m sure there must be a shirt that references my dad-dom that I wouldn’t mind wearing in public, but I haven’t seen it yet.

    July 13th, 2007 at 4:55 pm

  6. Jessica G says:

    Gads. I did buy a shirt that says “My momma drinks because I cry” for my firstborn. I think it was a moment of weakness — she was colicky and I had ppd. Humor seemed my only outlet at the time! Unfortunately, dad is a minister and it is not something we can whip out at church. Although I am a fan of her “Question Authority” shirt. It just makes me laugh. I want a bumper sticker for my minivan. We sold out in a BIG way. “No really sweetie, mommy used to have a waist and cool hair and go to indie band concerts …”

    July 17th, 2007 at 2:28 pm