One dad recently took to Reddit to poll users regarding their thoughts on the ethics of father-daughter dances for school-aged kids, as he sees the “creepy” tradition as one that can “sexualize the relationship between daughter and father.” Though the man refused to back down from questioning why the “weird archaic" pastime is still popular today, some commenters called out the author’s controversial view, while others supported his disdain for the “gross” tradition.
The trouble began when the author saw an ad for a Valentine’s Day daddy-daughter dance, which he has been mulling over ever since. Though the couple’s daughter is only 2 years old and the situation is theoretical, the man told his wife he disapproved of the practice in general.
“My reasons were this: They are creepy and sexualize the relationship between daughter and father. It's on Valentine’s Day. The dad and daughter are dressed like they are going to prom together. It's oddly ‘date-like,’” the father began. “Not to mention it these dances have their roots [in] purity balls where fathers claim sexual ownership of daughters until marriage.”
“The whole thing just grosses me out and makes my skin crawl. I love my daughter with all my heart, but I don't want to date her. I also don't want to reinforce weird gender and patriarchal stereotypes in my daughter's young mind,” pfunnk14 continued — though his partner soon “lost it.”
“She was shaking and crying. I don't think I've ever seen her look at me with such disdain,” pfunnk14 said of his wife. “She thinks I would be denying my daughter a special bonding experience. She was worried my daughter would feel so hurt and left out by this.”
The author admitted that even though he would attend a father-daughter dance one day if his young daughter “really wanted” to, he doesn’t “see the big deal in not wanting to participate in a weird archaic pastime that sexualizes my relationship with my daughter.”
“I can kind of see my wife's point, but she was so mad I literally didn't understand it,” pfunnk14 said.
In an edited note, the dad revealed that his wife has had a fraught relationship with her own father, which likely contributed to her “sensitivity about this issue.” He also acknowledged that while father-daughter dances gained popularity in a past era, when some fathers didn’t have close bonds with their daughters, he is fortunate to already share a close relationship with his 2-year-old tot, as he stays home while his wife works full-time.
“These dances are from a time when a dad went to work and the mom stayed home and raised the kids. Dads were distant and didn't raise their kids. So these dances were a way for a dad to actually spend time with their daughters,” pfunnk14 mused. “I promise you that's not the case here. I spend every single day with my daughter. We do fun stuff all the time. No worries there.”
Commenters erupted to share their take on the tale, in a post that has since won over 2,000 upvotes and sparked more than 700 comments. Some supported pfunnk14’s stance, while others bashed his perspective.
“They are disgusting. That's a 100 [percent] hard no for me,” one critic clapped. “All these dumb things are rooted in puritanical religious beliefs that a dad owns his daughter and her sexuality, and decides when to give it to another man.”
“You’re absolutely justified in thinking they are creepy and refusing to attend,” another agreed. “[But] I see the value in teaching your daughter how someone who loves them (whether friend, romantic partner, family, etc.) will behave during a night out. If she ever wants to go to a father-daughter dance, maybe consider if you could make it about something positive. If not, explain your objections in an age-appropriate manner, take her to a science or history museum to learn about strong women, then take her out for dinner.”
Others, meanwhile, blasted pfunnk14 for slamming what they believed to be an innocent, wholesome tradition.
“Valentines is kind of creepy, but I remember going to a Luau themed one with my dad and it is a great memory,” one said.
"I disagree, the roots might be bad but the idea of it is different now,” another offered. “I loved daddy-daughter dances with my dad. They were special times to bond and dance with other kids my age and him. It never had anything to do with my sexuality and we aren’t religious. You’re not [wrong] for not wanting to do it, but maybe think about how many people actually think of it that way.”
Another, too, chimed in that at her own father-daughter dances of days past, “it wasn't like we were even dancing WITH our dads most of the time, usually the girls were all dancing and the dads were all sitting at the snack table and hanging out.”
One sage commenter, meanwhile, eased the tension with some more balanced advice.
“I don't think your wife is coming at this from a place of inappropriate boundaries. She sounds like she just wants you to dance with your daughter occasionally, which can be great memories,” the Redditor said. “I'd drop this for now; the kid is TWO. Come back a few years later and have a real discussion about it.”
“Maybe there's a non-creepy version of this. There's got to be, because a daughter and a dad dancing usually invokes tenderness and joy. But I'd leave it for now, seriously,” they added.
Pfunnk14 said that was the “best advice” he’d gotten on the matter and revealed that he had personally moved on.
“I haven't brought it up again because it's an argument for a future date. Maybe I'll change my mind by then, I can't be sure,” he concluded. “I'm all about genderless parent/child dances for that reason.”
As for matters of the heart, he’s still embarrassed and ashamed that he made his wife so upset.
“She really looked at me like I loved my daughter less than she had thought. It was not a good feeling.”