In early September as kids jumped back onto school buses around the country, the online teacher community Simply Kinder recently shared a Facebook post that soared in popularity, with credit to the Pennsylvania Dept. of Education, about popular school events like “donuts with dad” and “muffins with mom.”

The illustration suggested labeling these events in ways that promote a more inclusive school culture, by using phrases like:

  • Donuts with Grownups
  • Muffins in the Morning
  • Breakfast with Buddies
  • Pancakes with Pals
  • Coffee with Cardinals* (*insert school mascot)

Each image featured visuals, and even a place for schools to insert their own mascot to personalize the images. With 15,000 reshares and over 41,000 likes, the post has parents and educators talking about intentional inclusion for all types of families.

According to the U.S. Census bureau and Pew Research Center, the U.S. has the highest rate of children living in single parent households of 130 countries. In addition, almost a quarter of U.S. kids live with one parent and no other adults. This can make announcements about “Donuts with Dads” or “Muffins with Mom” and similar events fraught with anxiety, stress, and feelings of being excluded for kids and their families. 

These types of events can also feel exclusionary to the 1.2 million same-sex couple households. An additional 10-20% of kids have stepparents, whom they might not call mom or dad. Some are adopted and don’t use the same terminology for their non-biological parents, and others are in foster care. Finally, 1.3 million grandparents are responsible for raising and providing the basic needs for grandchildren in the U.S. Kids in each of these households might feel less included by outdated terminology around these events as well.

Parents responded to the post with additional suggestions their own kids’ schools are using, including:

  • Lunch with a Loved One
  • Donuts with Dudes
  • Pastries with Peeps
  • Goodies with Grownups
  • VIP day
  • Breakfast with Beloveds
  • VIP Tea

And parents weighed in with heartbreaking stories that could have been prevented with a simple awareness of more inclusive language. One parent wrote, “I absolutely love this idea. I know how bad my son felt when they had donuts with dads. Luckily my boyfriend heard after the fact and took him out for donuts right after. That made his day.”

Another chimed in, “As a single mom who went to many doughnuts with dad, this makes me so happy!”

One wrote, “I have a client that had an emotional breakdown over a ‘donuts with dads’ flier because her father has passed away. It’s a lot for little kids.”

Many others pointed to a change that has been a long time coming, and a little late — “Finally!” they wrote. It’s so important to see people embrace a more inclusive school culture, and this is an easy way to accomplish that.