Single Mom Challenges The Father-Daughter Dance Tradition, And I Think It’s About Time

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mother-daughter-danceWhen 8-year-old Meghan Steeves invited her single mom, Shawna Steeves, to be her date at her school’s father-daughter dance, she had no idea the commotion it would cause. The desire to invite her mom led to a “No Moms Allowed” ruling by her Missouri elementary school’s PTO, as well as widespread media coverage of the group’s decision. According to ABC News, the school principal gave Shawna the okay to attend the dance, but was overruled by the PTO, who told Shawna they could “find a male substitute” to take her daughter to the dance, but Shawna was not to attend under any circumstances, even as a chaperone. In a statement released to the media, PTO President Kacey Collier said:

Our PTO works very hard at creating events that give ample opportunity for all families to [participate] in throughout the year. Regarding the situation with this event there were several options given to this family and all families so that all Southwest elementary school aged girls are welcome to attend regardless of their family situation. Our goal is to keep this special event authentic. We offer many other events that are family oriented. Examples would be muffins with mom and donuts with dad, the family 5 k walk/run, pancakes with Santa, Trunk or treat and our mother son challenge. We are very proud of our organization and what we do for the students and our community.

A local community service organization saw Meghan and Shawna on the news and are now organizing a special dance in Meghan’s honor, one that is open to all students and any adult role model they wish to bring. I applaud that decision, and I have to ask why schools aren’t already doing this?

A word stuck out to me in the PTO President’s statement: she said it was her desire to keep the father-daughter dance “authentic.” What does that mean, really? Traditional? Like her family? I was raised by a single mom, and I remember feeling left out of not just the father-daughter dance, but also many of the other parent-specific events the president mentioned. I imagine other kids being raised by single parents, same sex couples, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. feel the same sense of exclusion, and why should they? Are these events really so important that we can’t open them up to more people?

Whatever “authentic” means to that PTO lady, it’s certainly not what authentic means to many other families in this country. It’s time we put these outdated traditions to rest and create new opportunities for families of all kinds to bond and make memories. There is no reason why a father-daughter dance is more sacred than a child getting the opportunity to spend a special evening with anyone they deem a role model in their lives, and denying certain children that opportunity because they have the “wrong” kind of family is hurtful and unnecessary. I hope Meghan and Shawna have an awesome time at their all-inclusive dance and that we see many more of those dances in the future.

(Image via Shutterstock)