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What do you think about ‘Muffins with Mom’ and ‘Donuts with Dad’ events?

April 6, 2017

In 2011, when I began teaching in Central Illinois (after teaching in the Chicago area for 4 years), I began hearing buzz of two upcoming events in our district: Muffins with Mom and Donuts with Dad. What was this event? The titles threw up some red flags for me, but I wanted to learn more about them (and experience them). Essentially, they are two different events, both occurring in the morning. One is for students to bring in their mothers and have muffins and the other one is for students to bring in their dads to have donuts. Apparently these events happen all over the United States in different regions.  Overall, the events were nice, but something was not right in my mind.

I became a single parent at a young age and I wondered, what would my son do for Donuts with Dad events? (My dad would go, but not everyone has that advantage).

I began to ask myself and discussing with some fellow colleagues:

What do single parents do? What do children do who have lost a parent? What do children do who have an incarcerated parent? What do same-sexed parents do? Regardless of the event someone, some child, some family is going to be left out. And more often than not the question will be, from well-intentioned individuals, “Hey, why didn’t you come this morning?”

“My dad is in prison.” “My mom is in prison.”

“I don’t have a dad, I have two moms.” “I don’t have a mom, I have two dads.”

“My mom works and couldn’t make it. She is gone a lot.”

“My dad is very sick and can’t leave the house.”

“My mom and dad are getting divorced so my dad didn’t know about it.”

The responses could go on and on… and all of them put the child in a place of explanation, awkwardness, and/or shame.

While well intended peers and teachers might ask the question of “Why didn’t I see you this morning at Donuts with Dad,” the question is intrusive and can be prevented.

How to prevent these questions? Stop having the events that marginalize the ever diversifying family dynamics of the American society. Have a Fruit with Families event or an Eggs with Everyone event or even a Biscuits with Big People event. (In my research I learned from a participant many years ago that the way she addresses the family dynamics of students is to call the adults in the child’s life their “big people.” Big people could be older siblings, the neighbor, an aunt or uncle, or even mom’s boyfriend’s best friend’s girlfriend. Whoever is there to greet you at night and send you off to school in the morning is a child’s big person.)

This year I missed Muffins with Mom because my son and I were flying to be in a wedding of one of my dear friends and her wife. So, when Donuts with Dad came around my son asked me if I wanted to come too. Sure, why not? I was curious. I like donuts. I like spending time with my son and husband. And, I wanted to see what was different than the muffins with mom events I have been to in the past.

First, the attendance was less. My husband told me this was normal for Donuts with Dads events. (Which makes the points of children missing the event because of working, absent, or busy fathers). Second, I got the question from people in my life, “Why are you going? You aren’t his dad.” True. But, my son asked me to go and there is no reason why I shouldn’t. But then I started to think of this response/line of questioning more. I felt self-conscious and I am a heterosexual, married, confident woman/mother. But what would single mothers think or lesbian couples or mothers who have traveling husbands think to these questions? Not only are children marginalized by questions, but whole families can be also.

Recently in the news I saw a story of a single mother who tried to take her daughter to a Daddy Daughter event. She thought it would be fun to dress up like a man (drawn on beard and all) to take her and help her daughter feel included in an event that was not meant for her. They were refused entrance. What does that tell you about a welcoming environment?

There are plenty of ways to engage parents and families. However, events that marginalize children or families are not worth the emotional strife in our ever-changing family dynamics. Times are changing, therefore mindsets and the “we have always done it” events need to be redesigned to include all families.

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From → Education

One Comment
  1. Doug R. permalink

    Good blog post. I would rather do “Breakfast with Bigs” than “Muffins with Mom” or “Donuts with Dad” anyway. I don’t like to limit my food options or want kiddos to feel left out because their family dynamic doesn’t fit into those two categories. Thanks for writing- you seem nice.

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