The dating age is probably the least anticipated time in a father’s life. Every dad, who has a daughter, will reach this point someday. And I’m pretty certain it is one of the first things a dad thinks of when he hears the words, “it’s a GIRL!” Well, it was for me.
The dating age seems to be the point where you are no longer number one in your daughter’s heart. That can be heartbreaking for a dad! And it can lead to competing for her heart to protect her from potentially bad and hurtful situations.
Whose hands will hold her heart?
If all of her relationships in the future will be perfect for her, and all the boys will have her best interest in mind, then being number two (or lower) would not be a concern. But we know that may not be the case, primarily from our experience of being “that guy.”
So, if your daughter’s heart was won by someone who does not have her best interest in mind, that can lead to a very hurtful and crucial competition.
Your daughter’s first dates (plural), not first date (singular)
Taking your daughter out on her first date is probably not a new idea. However, it should not end with the first date. Daddy-daughter dates should be a regular event.
The intent is to not just show her the “how-to” of dating, but to provide another avenue to build your daddy-daughter relationship. A great way to do this is through dating your daughter early, and consistently. Doing so will grow your relationship, and lessen the need to compete later.
5 Reasons Why You Should Date Your Daughter, Early and Consistently:
Show her she is special to you. We have three children and the times when any one of them have our complete undivided attention is very rare. Someone always needs something or is talking when the other is talking. When you make it a point to get away with your daughter, on a regular basis, she understands she is special to you. If there comes a point in a future relationship where she realizes she is not special to them, it may not be as demoralizing because you have already shown that she is special to you.
Create memory “pegs.” If you are like me, then you may not remember everything from your childhood years. There may be some things that stick out to you more than everything else. Consistent time spent and dating will create moments that stand out for years to come. These “pegs” can serve as a reference point when she interacts with other people, in the near or distant future. Those memory pegs serve as your voice when you are not there.
Time flies. Without fail every parent I know with older children says the time with your children goes by way too fast. When your children are younger they have more “free” time. As they grow into the tween and teen ages this time is quickly gobbled up by activities, time with friends, and other various interests. At some point there may not be a lot of time for dad. You definitely want to take advantage and spend as much time as possible. If you have not spent the time early on, and want it later, there may be no desire for your daughter to do so as she is consumed with other things.
Build your relationship. Time spent and time communicating is “relationship building 101.” You cannot build a relationship without them. If you want to still have a place in your daughter’s heart and influence in her life as she grows older, the best way is to make sure you have a solid foundation for your relationship. Without it, your chances of building it later may be more challenging. When you have that foundation everything else can be torn down, broken around, and broken on top of it, but the foundation remains.
To protect her. My daughter is our first born child, and only daughter. She has a VERY special place in my heart. I have hurt her feelings before, and when it happened I was probably hurt more than she was. I know she may have future relationships that hurt her heart. When this happens I want her to know there is always a place she can come and feel loved and protected. When she knows there is a safe place with you then you lessen the need to compete.
Don’t miss your opportunity
We are now reaching the point where our daughter has friends, activities, and interests that don’t always require or involve us. I have dated and spent one-on-one time with her, but not as consistently as I wanted to.
For those dads that have never dated your daughters, or haven’t dated them consistently, like me, there is still time, no matter her age. That inconsistency may have made it a little more challenging, but you can start today and still strengthen the relationship with your daughter.
Sift and protect her from the bad ones, prepare her for the good one
At some point all dads should want to give their daughter away to someone who will treat her just as special, protect, love them, and create a special relationship. Until that person comes along, there may be some who will not treat her that way.
Maybe I am being selfish, but I hope to have an upper hand on them, and lessen the need to compete for my daughter’s heart. A helpful, and fun way to do so is dating her early, and consistently.
BMWK dads: How are you preparing for your daddy-daughter relationship when she reaches the dating age? Please share in the comment section.
BMWK daughters: What would you have liked your dad to do, or not do, to build your relationship and help you be best prepared for future relationships? Please share in the comment section.
About the author
Jackie Bledsoe, Jr. is a husband, father, writer, blogger, and entrepreneur. He shares his experiences at JackieBledsoe.com, writing about Family Leadership in his quest to GET better and help you GET better in leading your family. Read more articles like this on his blog, ‘Follow’ him on Twitter, and ‘Like’ him on Facebook.