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Public vs. Private School

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I am a young widowed mother to a beautiful 3yr old girl. In a year and a half she will begin Kindergarten and though I still have time to decide which school to enroll her in, one thing really hits home with me when deciding. Where we live in Rhode Island, most public schools no longer have “Father/Daughter Dances”, now they have “Ladies Choice” Dances because of the family dynamics in today’s world. And though I was leaning towards sending her to a private school, the private schools in our area still host “Father/Daughter” Dances.  I know I should not take this into account as I decide which school  is best for my daughter, however, I am so fearful that a Father/Daughter Dance may trigger her and bring up a great deal of sadness. She was 19 months old when my husband/her father passed away from Kidney Cancer and though she only knows him only through photos and videos, I don’t want her to feel that pain knowing she doesn’t have her father here to go with. Anyone have any advice? I feel like it really will take me the entire year and a half to decide on this. 🤦‍♀️

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I attended a few "Mother - Son" teas when my boys were in grade school. I'm a guy btw :). It really was no big deal. I wasn't the only non Mom in there and everyone was very nice to all of the attendees. I wouldn't let this influence your decision as to where to send your daughter. 


Having said that, there is no protecting your daughter from comments and questions from the world at large. Sometimes they will come out of spite but most often it will just be in the normal flow of conversation. The best thing you can do is to equip her with what to say when that happens.


As an example - (my boys were 8 and 9 when their mother passed) - when J was 16 he needed a passport. During the application process the clerk said that both parents would need to sign. J told the clerk, my Mom died when I was little. Simple as that. Both the clerk and my son handled it without a problem.


The point is, things will come up but try not to worry to much about it. Your daughter will take her cues from you on how to deal with this tragic turn of events.


Good luck,





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I agree with Mike.   By the time any such event rolls around, I am sure you'll have figured out how to manage it.  My daughter went to one of those things with a friend's Dad and it was fine - she was probably 6 or 7 at the time and has, I'm certain, zero recollection of it now.  In the grand scheme of things, it was a blip on her radar (she's 12 now).  Don't let something like those events factor into your decision making  - choose the school you think is the best fit for her and deal with those kinds of things as they arise.  Good luck!      

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To add to the good responses here - don't let this issue affect the school choice.  I was irritated when those Father/Daughter dances came around, it bothered me a lot more than it bothered my high school aged daughter.  She chose not to attend these events, although she had some options that included going with one of her uncles.  There's a good chance, once these events come along, that your daughter won't be the only one there without a bio father in attendance.   Sorry that you have to think of this along with everything else that widowhood brings -

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Hi Ben1437 - sorry you had to join us here. (BTW - I'm your "neighbor" over in MA : ). My son was 9 months old when his Dad died suddenly (so he doesn't remember him either) and I understand the void when there are father related events. Luckily most schools are very sensitive to these issues. I have also stepped in as the "father" role at these types of events - including taking on a Den leader role in his Scout troop! And my son has been happy about my involvement. What I have found is that my son (who is now 7) mourns that his life doesn't look like other families and he misses having a father figure but I have raised him for 6+ years so this life with just a mom (and other extended family) is all he knows and he is a very happy child. A child therapist told me when a child loses their parent so young the mourning happens over a longer period of time (but less intense in the short term) as there are many firsts and events where the loss of parent is really felt. What I have found is that certain events (even things I don't think of) will trigger sadness in my son but we talk about it and then he quickly moves on from the sadness. The sadness trigger doesn't last for long and I don't try and shield my son from triggers anymore as I think its ok for him to feel sad (of course he should) and then we move on. Earlier on in my widowdom I tried to shelter my son a lot but over time I saw how resilient kids are in dealing with grief so I moved away from this. I completely understand where you are coming from although I don't think id choose a school based on this one criteria - its best to choose a school that has the best education and services for your daughter (for example, public school or charter school probably have better services but the classroom education and size is likely better at a private school). There could also be options around it (for example, could an uncle go with her?). I can also imagine other families wont have the typical father/daughter at the dance so maybe you could go with other mothers who are filling that role? Its so sad we have to deal with this....and not fair......

Edited by Captains wife

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I don't know. These dances have been very, very hard for my daughter, whose father died when she was three months old. She is six now,  and what is very difficult for her is not having ANY memories or experiences with her father. None. She adores my boyfriend and her uncle but they still make her weepy. To me, if a school offers Ladies Choice as opposed to Daddy/Daughter there's a good chance it's reflective of greater sensitivity to different types of family circumstances and the emotional well being of kids in general. 

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