Friday, February 19, 2016

To the Fatherless Daughters

Being normal is overrated. I mean what is normal anyway? While I imagine a lot of us want to liked, fit in, be popular (even as adults and even if we don't admit it). I'm happy that our society has begun to embrace nonconformity. I think we should be celebrating what makes our children (and us) different. Celebrate intelligence, creativity, quirkiness, passion and kindness in whatever ways they manifest themselves. Take the traits we have and highlight them. We're all our own awesome.

While I think it's critical to celebrate the personality differences that make us who we are, I think it's another thing to feature societal differences created outside the control of the child. For the second year in a row I've been severely irritated by the myriad daddy/daughter dance posts on Facebook, and I've decided I can't keep it in any longer.

I think the posts are lovely. I love seeing my friends' lovely daughters dress up with their dads and go to a dance. It's a precious celebration of the father/daughter relationship. I get it from that standpoint. But in a world where we're constantly working to make children feel secure, holding an event that points out a very significant difference to a child without a father seems antiquated and in some respects rather cruel.

If you have a "traditional" family (although WTF does that mean anymore?) where mom and dad are married or even if dad still plays an active role in the child's life, the daddy/daughter dance is probably a lovely evening. If you're a child whose father is not involved in her life, whose father has passed away or who has two moms, it's essentially telling her that her family construct, a situation completely out of her control and not her fault, isn't worth celebrating.

I'm sure I'll get lots of push back about this view. But if you're a woman whose dad plays an active role in her daughter's life and posted these lovely pictures on Facebook and disagree with what I'm saying, then you don't get it. It's not something your daughter has to deal with. But for those little girls who may be traumatized by having a brother or an uncle take them to the dance or to not go at all, it seems ridiculous. Have a fun dance that is for everyone not just those girls who can bring their dads (or a dad stand in). 

I grew up in a family where mom and dad were married for nearly 35 years. My dad could have escorted me to a daddy/daughter dance if we'd had them (although let's be honest - he would've hated that kind of event). I would not have stood out at this dance except for being dressed so fabulously. Obviously. But I see these posts now and immediately think of those girls whose family isn't comprised of mom, dad, 2.3 kids, dog, picket fence. Maybe it's only one girl, but would we do something to egregiously point out her social differences in another day? What if she were poor? Would we have a dance for only kids whose families make so much money? Of course not. But for those daughters without dads it would be like the same thing.

Again please celebrate awesome dads. My son has one, and it's amazing. Celebrate those father figures in our children's lives. But maybe we should think twice about hosting events that seemed to make sense in 1965, but it's an tradition that should be made obsolete. Childhood is challenging enough without this kind of tradition making it worse. Let's celebrate differences not publicly point the figure at them.   


  1. Thanking you for verbalizing something I've thought for quite a long time.

    1. I'm waiting for the negative responses. I'm surprised they haven't arrived yet! :)

  2. Here's hoping the folks who read your blog are more civilized than that. :-D

  3. I agree with you completely. One of my best friends is raising her little girl without a father (he passed away when she was 2) and i always think of her when I see these posts. Why can't it be a bring your parents along dance? Thanks for saying it!