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“Your daughter needs her Dad.”
My friend paused, making sure she had my full attention before going on.
“If she doesn’t get that kind of attention from him, she will get it from someone else.”
Our daughter had come home from youth group the day before asking, “How would a girl know if they were trying to get a boy’s attention for the wrong reasons?”
It was a theoretical question. But my friend’s words reminded me that, at fourteen, it could move from theoretical to practical in the flash of a smile; the click of a text. If our daughter was going to know what to look for in the boys who came looking for her, someone would have to teach her. More importantly, it would have to be someone with a straight line.
I tried to give her some kind of wisdom, but felt like I left her hanging, with a ‘Don’t try to fill a God-shaped hole with a 15-year- old boy’ kind of answer.
The specific goal behind the idea of a Dad dating his daughter is to transfer the feeling that she is cherished, captivating, and worthy of being pursued, in a safe way. And, Mom, facts from us don’t transfer feelings. This is a job for Dad.
But how does Dad actually put this into practice? He does this by making his daughter feel cherished, captivating, beautiful, and worthy of his attention. All with No payment required!
SEE ALSO: What I Won't Say In Front of My Daughter
Dad, those are your key words.
And, while Dads planning actual dates with their daughters is important - do take her out and treat her like the princess that she is - more of life happens in the little moments.
Dating your daughter is an everyday mindset, not just an activity.
Moms, think of what makes you feel truly cherished. I’ll bet it’s nothing related to your sexual relationship with your husband. It’s surprise flowers, a word of praise, an intimate, but not sexual, touch.
Your daughter needs to feel her femininity that same way. She needs to experience it completely separate from her sexuality. And she needs to practice on her Dad, knowing that he will not reject her, shame her or take advantage of her.
This looks just like it did when she was six. Picture your six-year-old daughter beaming at her Dad, twirling around in her new dress, showing off how beautiful she is. Only now she’s 14 and Dad’s job is to react exactly the same way he did almost a decade earlier.
So, Dad, step out of your protective, shotgun-wielding mode. (We know you fantasize about fending the boys off with artillery.) Take a moment to truly think about how you want your daughter to be treated on a date and, later, in her marriage.
1. You want the young man who takes your daughter out to think so highly of her intelligence and be so captivated by her beauty that no sound from his phone would distract him.
2. You want him to be so focused on protecting her heart that no thought of extracting payment from her for his attention would ever enter his mind.
When she smiles her brilliant smile and laughs in the musical way that melts your heart, how do you really want the man across the table from her to react?
That is what you need to show her. Get a really good picture of the man you want your daughter to be in relationship with, and be him.
Be that man when you take your daughter out to a special place of her choosing, and be that man when you haul your stubbly face out of bed early to make her heart-shaped pancakes.
You’d have to be living under a rock to not know that promiscuity is pretty much the environment this generation of teens lives in. If you think that your daughter can figure out her own desire for men without her Dad’s direct input and without falling into some kind of risky behavior, you’re kidding yourself.
Young women need to learn the feeling of being safely cherished by a man. If their father is absent or unable, that’s a hurdle, but Moms, you still can’t do it. Find a suitable stand in. No joke. This is urgent.
Maybe you need to call on another man in your family; her uncle, perhaps, or even yours. Age is unimportant. It’s the ability to transfer the feeling that she is cherished, just for being her, that matters.
Another option is someone from your church. It may only take a word from you for a godly man you know to give your daughter the gift of reflecting her own captivating nature back to her.
Just be sure to choose prayerfully. A man you trust not to take advantage of her does not necessarily make him suitable. He needs to be able to affirm and refrain from shaming her.
This is an important - no, an urgent - job that, if done well, will influence our daughters’ perceptions of themselves and raise their standards for the relationships with men that are just around the corner.
And to think, Dad, your little girl gets all that benefit for the low, low price of a date with her hero. Don’t wait. She’s not getting any younger.
Colleen Richardson is wife to Lenny, homeschool mom of three, and founder of UpGradual Blog where she shares stories from her life, knowing that the toughest parts of her journey are where God's grace shows up the best. You can connect with Colleen at UpGradual or on Facebook.