Last month, my 8-year-old's elementary school held a "daughter dance." When she asked me to be her "date," I was thrilled. Yes, she has a father who would have been happy to go with her, but as a mom of three, I don't get to spend a lot of one-on-one time with my eldest child either.
When we showed up at the dance, I was one of two moms in attendance. Every other girl brought her father. I glanced over at my daughter, though, and quickly realized she couldn't care less. We proceeded to have a great time, although I'll admit I got a few inquisitive looks from other kids and dads. And the next day, a few of my daughter's peers asked her why her dad didn't come. (It wasn't a father-daughter dance, but most people clearly assumed that the girls would ask their fathers along as their dates.)
Our experience left me thinking about other girls who may not have their fathers in their lives, and how a dance like this would make them feel. Take Atlanta-based single mom Amy Peterson for instance. She recently decided to dress up like a dad to accompany her 6-year-old daughter Grace to her school's annual father-daughter dance, faux beard and all. Except Locust Grove Elementary denied her entrance, saying she wasn't a man. Say what?! The mama was left furious, understandably.
There are plenty of situations like Peterson's, in which one parent is the sole support system for their child, and excluding them from these activities just seems wrong. And even if a child's dad is a great guy who would be ready, willing, and able to take his daughter to a dance, isn't just the idea of father-daughter dances kinda BS? Why is it that schools and organizations across the country have decided to emphasize this relationship above others? Is a mom's connection with her daughter somehow less important?
The same can be said for mom-and-son events; my daughter's school also holds an activity night for this "selected" pairing. Silly, right? Because now it's being suggested that moms and their sons need special time more than sons and their dads.
Some people even think it's creepy to call child/parent events "dates," and creates an oddly sexual vibe around what should be just quality time together.
So I hereby submit that, instead of singling out genders in this way, we should have school dances and events that invite kids to simply bring along an adult who is special to them. Because that's what is truly important: that children know their parents or grandparents or guardians or aunts/uncles (or whoever!) want to be with and support them.
What's your take?
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and soon-to-be mom of 4. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of yoga.