Father-Daughter Dance Gets a Makeover in ‘Modern Family’ Era

At Crocker/Riverside Elementary School in Sacramento, the event is now known as a “family dance,” with students able to bring adults of their choosing. School officials made the decision shortly before the annual dance last fall, when a handful of parents complained. “We have a lot of single parents, two moms, two dads,” said Patrick Kuske, president, at the time, of the parent-teacher association. “A father-daughter dance doesn’t represent who our parents are anymore.”


Left, Emily DiPietro and her father, Phil, at a father-daughter dance more than 20 years ago.

The principal, Daniel McCord, said the school community supported the change. But outsiders voiced other thoughts when the switch made headlines. “Some expressed concern,” Mr. McCord said, asking, “‘Are we downgrading the role of the father?’ A student at this school needs to feel comfortable being able to go to any event that is offered.”

Proponents of father-daughter dances say the evening gives a boost to a relationship that might not be as natural as a mother’s and daughter’s. Yet even today’s enthusiastic attendees concede that is no longer the norm, and dynamics vary by family.

Eric Herrera says he is close with his daughter, Solae, 10, who attends Benito Martinez Elementary in El Paso. Still, he said, he appreciates the chance to spend time with her “on a special night out.”

“Once she hits high school,” Mr. Herrera, 48, said, “we may not have as many chances.”

Brandy Black, a mother of three who lives in Los Angeles, said, “The whole father-daughter dance concept is so antiquated.” Ms. Black and her wife take turns escorting their 9-year-old daughter to her elementary school’s “daughters’ dance.” When Ms. Black, 44, first attended the function a few years ago, she said, “I definitely could feel a little bit of the awkwardness from some old-school…

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