Save the Last Dance

Save the Last Dance





But Apparently Not for Daughters

Sometimes we are so worried about teaching our children about equality and warning them against the evils of discrimination that we forget about common sense. We not only put on kid-friendly gloves, but we sanitize the surroundings and color everything the same shades so that we don’t risk hurting feelings or making anyone feel “different” about themselves. And common sense is lost.

School Bans Father-Daughter Dance and Mother-Son Baseball

Recent reports have been unfolding about a Rhode Island school’s decision last May to ban traditional father-daughter dances after one single mother complained to the school board that her daughter was feeling left out of the event because her child did not have a father or male role model with whom to attend the dance. The school had long held the traditional father-daughter dance (which didn’t mandate that the accompanying “date” was actually a father) and a traditional mother-son baseball game (which is now also banned). The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) even got on board, issuing a statement.

“The school district recognized that in the 21st century, public schools have no business fostering the notion that girls prefer to go to formal dances while boys prefer baseball games. This type of gender stereotyping only perpetuates outdated notions of ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ activities and is contrary to federal law.”

The ACLU, unfortunately, isn’t recognizing the fact that schools have the business of fostering healthy children. According to research, healthy children have positive relationships with adult role models of both genders. Whether they are dances, baseball games, or a picnic lunch at the school, these specific opportunities for children to be encouraged to recognize and build strong relationships with adult role models are needed in schools.

The Cranston Superintendent, Judith Lundsten, said that, “…this is a public school system, and under no circumstances should we be isolating any child from full participation in school activities and events based on gender.”

This is the reasoning that demonstrates the loss of common sense. Boys and girls are different. Biologically, emotionally, and psychologically. Different does not mean better or worse. Apples and bananas are both fruit, but they are not the same. Why do we keep trying to only allow for one type of something to exist? But alas, this still does not address the real issue of this matter. The dance was banned under the guise that it treats girls and boys differently, but the real context is that the dance was banned because family dynamics are changing and political correctness colors the waters a muddy brown.

Why Dads (and Father Figures) Should Dance with Daughters

The ingredients of modern families are changing, but that doesn’t mean that the needs of children are drastically changing as well. Research shows that children who have strong adult role models, particularly of both genders, will grow up to be healthier adults. These facts don’t make single parents less effective, loving, or caring. These facts mean that as community members we need to make sure that our boys and our girls have positive influences from adults of both genders.

We need to make sure children have opportunities to develop and nurture these types of relationships, especially if they don’t have them available in the setting of the home. Dismissing the importance that opposite-gender relationships have for our kids because it is uncomfortable to acknowledge that kids need both men and women in their lives, even when there are not both moms and dads in the homes, does a disservice to our kids.

Girls and boys who develop strong and healthy relationships with parental role models of both genders tend to do better in school, have fewer behavior problems, and are less likely to develop depression. They are also less likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol. This begs the questions:

Why would we want to ban events that support these relationships, when these types of relationships are so vital to raising healthy children?

What can we do to encourage positive, nurturing relationships between our daughters and their adult male role models, and our sons and their adult female role models, especially when kids are living without both Mom and Dad in the home?

What can be done that doesn’t require dances to be cancelled and kids to be raised in a world we paint grey?

  • Call it a Daughter Dance – girls could take fathers, step-dads, neighbors, uncles, or even a friend from church.
  • Provide mentoring programs in schools and communities that pair children with adult role models of the opposite gender.
  • Work with parents who don’t feel their kids have access to adult role models, beginning with educating parents on the values of these types of relationships.

We can’t ignore and sweep away the facts that girls and boys are different, and that kids need adult role models of both genders. Let’s stop banning things that celebrate differences and start encouraging families to provide kids with as many opportunities for engaged, nurturing relationships.

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