So my son’s elementary school, God bless them, wanted to throw a little Super Bowl-themed father-son event. But of course they didn’t want to leave out kids without fathers, so they changed it to be an event for you and “that special man in your life.” And of course, they wouldn’t want to leave out girls who enjoyed football too! So pretty soon the whole event was a kind of amorphous get together for any kid and any adult to come and do something vaguely football snack related.
I’m not trying to blame the school for being inclusive. In a world of blended and broken and re-blended families, they are trying to make everyone feel welcome. But in the process, a well-defined event turned into a mush. Imagine for a minute what would happen if you took the same attitude toward every school event. You couldn’t have mother-daughter event either, because what about all those girls who lived with their fathers or their grandparents? What about that girl with the transgender mother? What about that girl who identified as a boy? What about that girl who didn’t like “girly” things? What about that girl with a twin brother who would feel left out? It gets messy pretty fast.
In our rush to be inclusive, we’ve kind of forgotten what the point of these events was in the first place. Witness the mess that various exclusive holidays have turned into: Mother’s Day is touchy, because no one wants to offend those with dead mothers, or mothers who hurt them; and Valentine’s Day–well, I just got an ad on my phone encouraging me to listen to songs about “exes and revenge.” The message is that, if a particular event or day doesn’t apply to you, don’t just ignore it; make it into something that fits you in particular. And if we’re so worried about all the people who are left out, we forget about the one group of people who were supposed to be celebrated in the first place.
So if you can’t stop thinking about everyone who’s been left out by a father-son event, by all means go ahead and make a separate parent-child event, or a guardian-minor event, or an event where everyone’s welcome. But for those families who happen to have a plain old father and son, don’t ruin it for them; let them have their own day, too.