It seems that Cranston has once again become the epicenter for acting out a drama that is likely being repeated, on a much smaller scale, in communities all across the country. This time the hot now-in-the-national-news debate is about father-daughter dances and how we are now calling them family dances.
Sometimes I feel like we have a special talent here in Cranston for making an issue out of things that would make common sense for us all to agree on. I wish we all could have agreed to just take the “Heavenly Father” off the prayer banner and call it a school pledge. I wish we could agree to let this family dance be our clarion call of respect for our different ways of raising children in the community. Sometimes I wonder if we were having this conversation in the presence of the children whose fathers are not available for the dance, how many of us would make the right decision and say to the children, “This is a family dance, and all are welcome. You can bring anyone you want.” But as Bob Plain points out, we are still feeling the pain from out last go-around with the ACLU, which may be driving a certain amount of the posturing and outcry.
I can sympathize with people who want this name to go away. While the pictures could line our walls of my husband and our ever-growing daughters posed side by side for the father-daughter dance photos, it’s not right for children to feel excluded. I know from my practice of social work, these issues are particularly hard on children in other family constellations, such as being raised by grandparents, foster parents, single parents, or in families with two moms. Our school changed to from the Father-Daughter dance to the Family Dance last year, and reports from our parent-teacher organization were that it was a successful event and we raised money for the school.
Carolyn Mark, who is the president of the National Organization for Women in Rhode Island, and who is running for school committee in East Greenwich, co-authored the letter that prompted the change in nomenclature. Click through to read more about the issue, including the letter she wrote.