“Mommy-son dates” sexualize kids — especially kids with single moms



This evening Helena is going on her first sleepover. After she is handed off to my friend — the mom — at Grand Central Station, my son and I plan to go out for a special mommy-Lucas dinner in Manhattan.

Kind of like a date.

Except that I am very careful not to call it a date. A date is an outing between two people who are potentially sexually interested in each other.  Not a parent and child.

I see this parent/kid “date” all the time. Someone recently posted to her Facebook page that at her local diner she saw a dad and his 4-year-old daughter all dressed up for their “daddy-daughter date.”  “Adorbs!” she wrote. Schools and community centers often host mother-son and father-daughter dances, and fast-food chain Chick-Fil-A even held a “Daddy Daughter Date Night” promotion a couple years ago in which participants were encouraged to RSVP through the URL DaddyDaughterDate.com. Needless to say, that link is now defunct and the promotion was short-lived. But that this major corporation even temporarily sanctioned the event says a lot about out culture.

I’m not totally innocent of of it myself.

When Lucas was a baby we had a routine in which his sister would spend Sundays with her dad and he and I would go for long walks and wind up at a local cafe. He sat in the high chair and we’d share a blueberry yogurt muffin and the gay waiter gave us the stink eye as crumbs flew everywhere.

I cherished those long afternoons for many reasons, including that it afforded us precious one-on-one time that often eludes single parents — not to mention parents of second (and third …) children. True confession: once or twice I found myself referring to it as a “Mommy-Lucas date.”

That is so wrong.

After all, there are plenty of times Helena and I make special appointments to do things — just the two of us. I have never referred to our lunches or mani-pedi appointments as dates.

This is especially tricky territory for a single parent. For one, if you do not have a romantic partner — as I do not — it can be very easy to unconsciously (and innocently) put your kids in the role of partner, as I wrote about in “I hug my kids too much because I’m lonely.” This is particularly dangerous territory if you have a son who is very sweet and huggy. As I do.

Further, because my kids, ages 4 and 6, have a mom who goes on dates — they know exactly what a date is. To tell my opposite-sex son that he is spending the evening in the same capacity as someone I met on OKCupid is just rife with wrongness, creepiness and ewwww.


One thought on ““Mommy-son dates” sexualize kids — especially kids with single moms

  1. Hmmm. I initially started this blog thinking “date” is just a word.. No big deal. I was thinking this was gonna be some rant about a new PC use of terminology. However, you make a good point that the kiddos understand a “date” from their parents cavorting about on OKCupid, Match, etc., so using the term could confuse things for the kids. If I had kids I would quit using the term “date” regarding an appointed time for one-on-one interaction with them immediately! Of course, I don’t have any need to do so, but you made your point well. :)

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