Fathers And Daughters Dance In The Spotlight: The Sequel

Two years ago, the Westport Weston Family YMCA sponsored a “Father Daughter Dance.”

I was surprised. I wrote:

This is 2017! How could they single out fathers? What about girls whose dads were away on business? Girls with divorced fathers, living far away? How about girls whose dads had died — or those with 2 moms?

They’re all “families” — as the “Family YMCA” should know.

The Y responded that the name of the dance “does not stem from a desire to be traditional, nor was it meant to exclude other family types.”

Instead, it was “intended to honor and strengthen the relationship our community of fathers has with their daughters, and for the Y to provide a space for them to share time together.”

In fact, the Y’s flyer noted (at the very bottom): “If dad is not available, substitutes are welcome. Preferably grandfathers, uncles, older brothers, close family friend etc.”

Malia Daniels (2nd from left) attended the 2017 Y’s Father-Daughter dance with her uncle.

Okay. Good info. Important, for sure.

So why cling to the outmoded name? I ended my piece:

“Now — as a way to make all girls feel comfortable, welcome and accepted — maybe they can come up with a more inclusive dance name.”


This year’s “Father Daughter Dance” is this Friday (November 15, 7 p.m.).

The tagline says: “Her fingers are small but she has her dad wrapped around them.”

Yep — dad.

Dabbing at the 2017 Westport YMCA’s Father-Daughter dance.

At the bottom of the flyer, there’s this: “Enjoy a great night of fun with your little girl, complete with music, dancing, snacks, pictures, and a best dressed contest!

“If dad is not available, substitutes are welcome including grandfathers, uncles, older brothers, close family friends, etc.”

If dad is not available? 

Dad may be traveling on business, sure.  But he also may have walked out on the family. Or died. Or been an anonymous sperm donor.

I’ll say it again (updated): This is 2019. Families come in all shapes and sizes.

All of them are members of the Westport Weston “Family” YMCA.

This is not a question of being PC.

It’s about being realistic.

And really caring about all members.

Come on, Y: Walk the talk.

And then dance the night away.


28 responses to “Fathers And Daughters Dance In The Spotlight: The Sequel

  1. Dan – thank you!!!

  2. Jennifer Galvin

    Hi Dan-
    I agree 100% with your blog about the father-daughter dance. This is 2019. Many of us would like it to be a parent-child dance so it isn’t so binary with pairing moms/sons and dads/daughters.

  3. “Not intended to be traditional (or exclusionary or whatever, fill in the blank”. Like my mother “not meaning to be nosy”.

  4. And-Why… would there be a need for best dressed Contest—at a dance…..?? WTF, YMCA!!

  5. Stephen O'Shea

    Hi Dan,
    Great post as usual. My take is different though. It’s 2019 and all the more reason to promote Father and Daughter events/dances. Celebrating and highlighting this relationship does not take away from any other special relationships – encouraging Dad’s to spend a special night with their Daughter and Daughters to spend a night with their Dad’s is a beautiful thing and should not be diluted by calling it something else. Having the event open beyond Dad’s is wonderful too. Good for the Y to execute this event! While I am not a member of the Y, I would like to make a $10,000 donation to them to help neighboring Y’s within CT to execute other Father Daughter Dances free of charge. It’s a good thing.
    Stephen O’Shea

  6. Although I understand where you’re coming from, I applaud the Y for still promoting this. I see it as pushing young girls to spend time with the meaningful men in their life…whether it be a dad, uncle, or friend. A “fatherly” role model is critical for these young women, who often only see professional athletes on sunday’s and the other “male” in the oval office.

    • I don’t disagree. My issue is with calling it a “Father Daughter Dance.” Another name could be more inclusive of all important males in a girl’s life.

  7. One day a father will tell his daughter…years ago before the PC movement, there was a time when a father looked forward to holding the hand of his daughter. There was a time when there was a dance and father would ask his daughter to attend, and the night was special. They danced and laughed. And he held her hand. And forever memories made. There was a time.

    Bart Shuldman

    • I agree completely, Bart. But what about a girl without a father? She should have memories too of an important male in her life, without worrying that — because of what the dance is called — she is “different.”

      • Dan-in no way is a daughter different should her father not be in her life. She is still a daughter and someone can substitute as her father.

        But please don’t take away my decision to be a father and to be thankful enough that my daughter would want to attend a dance with me.

        What we once had is all going away. What a real shame.

        • Thanks, Bart. But we’ll agree to disagree. Why should a girl without a father feel more different than she already does, when simply changing the name of the event can be more inclusive? That’s my point.

  8. Adding a liberal female voice to give kudos to the Y for holding this event. Having a strong bond with one’s father has a profound impact on a daughter’s development. As a daughter, being able to have your dad to yourself for a night, removed from the pressures of the usual demands of life, is priceless. Does the event exclude some people? Sure, but so does every other “affinity” event geared toward building relationships within a particular group. Could the Y have picked a less “old fashioned” event? Of course, but having attended and chaperoned similar events, I don’t think I’ve ever seen more father-daughter joy/laughter/love than I’ve seen during the “chicken dance.” While I understand the issues Dan raised, I think we need to be careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

  9. As a self-described raging liberal, even this response is overly pedantic and cringe worthy. There a ton of “mom” events in this town, and hardly any dad events. You can choose to be outraged by a wonderful and special event that doesn’t take anything away from anyone else, or channel your energy towards actual injustice.

  10. It’s stuff like this that makes me cringe… and why liberalism has become a dirty word or looked upon as overreacting….

  11. I was going to suggest that the event be renamed “Girls and Twirls” but I googled the term and learned that it applies to pole dancing…

    I wish there were a more inclusive “label” for this event, so that everyone could be happy and leave the event unchanged. Personally speaking, I will never forget going to a Dads and Daughters event with my father in 1970. I would rank it as one of my happiest childhood memories.

  12. Catherine Walker

    As someone whose kids were raised at the Y (and are on Y teams) I will share the people there go way out of the way every day to be as inclusive as possible. I know the Y leaders will hear Dan’s message and take it to heart but I also know that it will drown out the zillions of amazing things they do for every member of our community. I realize Father/Daughter and Mom/Son (its Spring event) dances may feel outdated to some but I will share they are also a celebration for many families who struggle to find these special moments in their lives. I know whatever change this blog inspires will be done with an open heart and deep consideration for the many people it serves.

  13. Ngassam Ngnoumen

    Dan, thanks for keeping our Y top of mind given what they do for our community. As a member, I know our Westport Weston Y supports and celebrates all. In this case, a particular relationship is celebrated and this hopefully should never go out of style. Celebrating this however should not be construed as not celebrating other relationships including the Mother and Son dance also had. In both cases, all are welcomed to honor these relationships. Supporting all is a mission for the Y and I expect programs to continue to reflect this and will incorporate feedback but let’s also recognize their efforts in highlighting all these special relationships that strengthen our community.  Thanks again for the highlight and for bringing another perspective for consideration.

  14. There’s third world problems, first world problems…and then there’s Westport problems.

  15. The idea of promoting the bond between the child and caregiver is a valuable one, and accordingly, the event should be open to families of all types – not just fathers and daughters. The Y’s father/daughter dance is completely outdated and exclusionary.

  16. Emphatically agree. ❤️❤️❤️

  17. My children, now 29 & 33 y/o, went to an elementary school in Fairfield CT that had an annual event called Grandparent’s Day. Naturally some children attending the school didn’t have grandparents close by so they were encouraged to invite an aunt, uncle, a family friend, etc. One year a notice was sent home with every student letting everyone know the name of the event was being changed to Special Person’s Day. I’m sure this removed stress from many parents, students and teachers. A few years after my kids had moved on to middle school I was invited by my nextdoor neighbor to go as his special person – what an honor 🙂

  18. Shame on the Y for including a “best dressed contest” at an event “intended to honor and strengthen the relationship our community of fathers has with their daughters.” There is no place for promoting competition – and the added pressure – of appearances, especially when the stated goal is to build relationships.

  19. Hey Dan-congrats on the big win against Glastonbury. Wow!!

    Bart Shuldman

    • Thanks, Bart! (For those who don’t know: The Staples boys soccer team that I coach beat #1, 2-time defending state champion Glastonbury 3-2 in the state tournament second round.) Much appreciated! – Dan

  20. Midge Herz Kosner Deverin

    Dan, I have always admired you, your writings and your acute observations but never did I think you were one of those ‘politically correct’ persons!!! You say we are living in 2019 and things have changed…like what? Dads have walked out on families for hundreds of years, divorces have been around for the same time also and families have been dis-functional FOREVER. so what? Sometimes it feels good to be ‘old fashioned’ and acknowledge the fact that there will always be fathers and daughters and let’s celebrate that fact. By the way…what do you think about the ‘Mommy and Me’ classes??? Just sayin…