Single Mom Barred From Father-Daughter Dance

by Maria Guido

A single mom was notified an hour before the dance that she would not be welcome

When single mom Amy Peterson learned her six-year-old child would be having a father-daughter dance at her Georgia elementary school, she decided she wasn’t going to let her miss out. So a month before the dance date, she filled out paperwork explaining she would be attending with her daughter.

When the day arrived, she watched some tutorials to learn how to paint a beard on her face, dressed up like a “dad” in new clothes she had bought, and even wore cologne.

How adorable is this woman?

Then an hour before she and her daughter Gracie were set to leave, Peterson received a call from the principal of Locust Grove Elementary School.

“She said, ‘No. I forbid you to come and if you show up we will turn you away,’” Peterson told WSB-TV. “How do you explain that to a 6-year-old? You can’t go to a dance because you don’t have a male role model in your life,” she said. “I think they handled it poorly. They shouldn’t have turned any parent away.”

The Henry County School District released a statement explaining that the mom was notified in advance of the dance (by an hour!) and issued a refund for dance tickets. They also explained that other moms had inquired about coming and were told the same thing — that they could not attend. “It was explained that the dance announcement indicated that in lieu of a dad being available to attend, any family or friend father-figure could attend,” the district’s statement said. “There are three different dance events the school hosts throughout the year to include everyone. There is a mother-son dance, a father-daughter dance, and sweetheart dance that includes students and anyone they wish to bring.”

When will schools realize that these dynamics just don’t fit all families anymore? Why insist on making students feel left out by hosting father and mother themed events? A child who does not have both of their parents — whether it’s because they’ve grown up in a single parent household or because they’ve had a parent die shouldn’t have to be made to feel that there is a void — or something that is keeping them from experiencing the fun with everyone else. There’s always comments on stories like this that say things like, “Well, kids need to learn life isn’t fair.” Really? You think a child who’s lost a parent or grown up without one hasn’t already learned that lesson? Adults can be such assholes.

These events are archaic, and they can be downright cruel. My child’s elementary school hosts family-inclusive nights; everyone is welcome. If the point is to give children a celebration and raise some money for the school at the same time, there is literally no reason to specify which parent can come. But schools are still insisting that these events exist, as are some parents. If one child is made to feel awful over an event that is supposed to bring joy, we’re really missing the mark. A little empathy here — from schools and parents alike — would go a long way.

“If you don’t want things like this happening, put parent-child dance. Don’t put a stipulation on it’s a mom or a dad,” Peterson said.