Dads: Date Your Daughter!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Today I have the privilege of introducing you to my best friend, Brad. Oh and he also happens to be my husband, and dad to our three little girls! I told him when I started this blog a couple of months ago that I'd be recruiting him to write some posts just for dads, man to man, dad to dad. And so, today he is talking about how he "dates" our daughters. It's pretty amazingly cool (as is he;) ) here we go!

Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Cor 16:13-14

I once heard a wise man from our church talk about dating his daughter. He had got the idea from a website called All Pro Dad.  Another man I know and respect, a youth pastor and father of eight children, takes each one on a date every month. He goes on their birthday date each month and just spends an hour or so of uninterrupted dad time. His kids love it! Recently, our pastor challenged us with our goals as the new year started, and I thought, I need to take my daughters on dates. A wonderful movie entitled Courageous (my personal favorite--I watch it every Father's Day!) also encourages dads to date their daughters so that daughters can see what it’s like to be respected, honored and cherished; to encourage her to prayerfully wait for a man who is a servant loving leader; A man she can trust and respect because of the Christ-like example he is to her through his actions and words.  

I’ve got to be honest: It’s taken me two years to actually put this idea into practice. I roll ideas around in my head but really struggle with actually completing them; I often make excuses and rarely find the time to start. Why do I need to? Ephesians 1:1-2 says:

"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
We are a direct representation of God himself to our children and others.

1 Timothy 3:1-5 says:

"The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?"
And Deuteronomy 6:5-9 says:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Here's my story:
I screwed up big time on my middle daughters last birthday. I committed to something at school (I'm a teacher) that I couldn't get out of--on the night of her 4th birthday. A friend recently told me that he saw his dad pour into ministry but not pour into his kids. God forbid that our first priority and responsibility of raising our children as they should go so they won’t depart from it takes the back burner. I don’t want to miss it. I don’t want God to judge me because I neglected my family--the family that he gave me to love and to lead.
So I took a half day off from work to try to fix things and I took my daughter out for burritos for lunch and then to the carousel. It saved the day--and made her birthday so special, more than I even thought it would. She still talks about it as if it was yesterday. She loved and hung on to every second.
I’ll admit that going in, I didn't have a clue what to talk about for two hours with my four-year-old daughter, but it was fine. Fellas, we just have to start somewhere. Start small. I opened doors for her and told her how beautiful she was, and then listened as I asked her questions about what she likes about life, what her day was like, what does she enjoy most, her favorite food, or whatever… I listened and she talked. She just enjoyed having one-on-one daddy time.
Maybe you're already doing this, but if not, I want to share some encouragement and tips for you to be successful:

1.      GET STARTED AND DO WHAT THEY LIKE. I made a list for each of my three daughters of what interests them and what I knew they would they enjoy. For example, my oldest is super active and loves parks, so we went to a park in the dead of winter with snow blowing in our faces. She loved every minute. My middle daughter loves the carousel, so we went around multiple times. It’s her favorite and she still talks about going back. My youngest (who just turned 2), well, I took her to get a cookie and a snack and she must have spent 30 minutes eating and I just enjoyed her smile with a mouthful.
2.       KEEP IT SMALL. It doesn’t have to be extravagant--be creative to keep the budget lower. I took both daughters to a local candy store on different days after school and we sat at the soda fountain counter and shared a milkshake and candy as we talked about all the decorations around the room. One time we sat next to a dad and his older daughter and I realized other guys are doing this to. It is so valuable!
3.     CONSIDER BRINGING SOMETHING BACK for the others. My second daughter is always thinking of others and she was like, "Can we bring something back for our sisters and mommy?" and I said sure. So now they’re thinking of what their siblings would like. It's beautiful.
4.       GIVE YOURSELF SOME GRACE, BUT TRY NOT TO MAKE IT A HABIT OF MISSING. I told my middle daughter that we would go on a date the next day and then I spaced it. She reminded me as I was tucking her into bed that night that I had forgotten. A man who doesn't keep his word is not a man (I screw up too often with this--my yes is not always yes). I don’t want my daughter to fall for a flakey guy. We’re all imperfect but we have to try and make these commitments. (I took her on a date the next day) The girls wait for and anticipate these all month. Someone once told me, don’t start something you can’t finish. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. This choice to start these dates will become a tradition they look forward to.
Our daughters are always watching how we treat them and their moms, and we don’t want our daughters future to be hindered by our examples if we men neglect the responsibility to lead and direct the next generation. If we set the example for them, then prayerfully, hopefully, by God’s grace, they will not settle for anything less. Be strong and courageous-He’s with us wherever we go. His power is perfected in our weakness. May He strengthen us and build our houses.

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