Public school officials in Cranston, Rhode Island, have banned all “father-daughter” and “mother-son” activities, citing a threat from the American Civil Liberties Union, according to published reports.
The ACLU had filed a complaint on behalf of a single mother who argued such events were unfair to her daughter, who is unable to participate. A school attorney suggested that Rhode Island law banning gender discrimination makes gender specific activities illegal.
My heart breaks for every child forced to grow up without two parents. My sympathy on this issue runs deep because I’m keenly familiar with the reality of the pain associated with a broken home. My own dad walked out on us when I was 5, and my mom died when I was 9. My childhood was anything but traditional. There were many times when I wished I was like the other kids, each of whom from afar seemed to be living a wonderful life.
I always faced this “loss” during high school football with “Dad’s Night.” But I would never have wanted to deprive my teammates and friends of that special moment even if I couldn’t share it with my own father. How self-centered!
It’s unfortunate when positive and affirming traditions like father-daughter dances are gutted or cancelled simply to address a specific though unfortunate situation. At a time when nuclear families are struggling more than ever, it’s a very good thing to celebrate and affirm the special bond between parent and child.
Of course we need to be considerate of the child who doesn’t have a father to escort her to a dance. But banning the event strikes me as an overreaction. There are better ways to address these challenges and accommodate an affected child short of cancelling the event altogether.
Tough things happen in life but to make others suffer because of our own loss is unhealthy.
Do you agree?
Where is the balance? Where is the thoughtful and measured leadership?
There are times when I wonder if the most uncommon thing is common sense.