Parenting

The Perfect First Date

My daughter’s first date should be kind, smart, respectful, well-mannered and complimentary. Just like her dad.

In fact, he’ll be the most important date she ever has.

My daughter gets her dad’s undivided attention on their date. It gives her the opportunity to have conversations with her dad that she might not have in the presence of other kids in the family. And along the way, she’ll learn the how-to’s of dating from the man who loves her most.

So if your daughter isn’t yet dating, perhaps she should be. Same for your son.

You, after all, are the ultimate date. No one loves your son more or cherishes your daughter more. And no one is better suited to teach your child how to behave and how to expect to be treated while on a date. Your child will experience first-hand what happens on a date: how they should speak and conduct themselves.

The best part is that you can set the bar high for your children. When a girl learns dating practices from an adult who adores her, she will learn that she deserves to be treated well. If a young man takes her on a date and is less-than-respectful, she’ll know to move on quickly. Her dates may blunder and make mistakes, but she’ll know the difference between a nervous date and a disrespectful one. When a young man learns from those he loves most, he’ll learn to be respectful and thoughtful, and he’ll expect the same from his dates.

The date can be elaborate or simple. An elegant dinner or a trip for ice cream. With an older child, the “dating” parent can even leave the house and return to pick up his “date.” Your son may be encouraged to bring flowers to his “date.” If you can’t leave the house, do it at home. But make it special. The point is that whatever your family deems important on a date will be conveyed to your kids. Whatever the deal-breakers are (the things that are unacceptable), your kids will know them.

At the end of the day, just as with dating your spouse, your relationship with your child will benefit from the time spent together. You can alternate among all your kids so that each, regardless of gender, gets time with each parent. No child is too old or too young. Do what works for your family.

And just to add a little fun, as your child leaves the house for a “parent date,” be sure to ask loudly, and in an incredulous voice: “You’re going where? To do what? Well what are we supposed to do? You’re just gonna leave us here??”

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12 thoughts on “The Perfect First Date

  1. Wendy P says:

    Shannon, this is such an amazing thing to do with your kids. I never thought of this! I plan to share this with Jason, so he can start “dating” Gabrielle. Thank you for the idea!

    • It’s not an original idea of mine, but one that I have seen many great families use. Across-the-board, it seems to be an amazing tool. Can’t wait to hear what they come up with! 🙂

  2. I am encouraged by your message however, it is not the expectations of the boy I would hope you have instilled in your little girl, it is the responsibility to raise your child not the other child. Have faith in her background enough that you did such a terrific job that she makes solid choices in her selection since there will probably be many suitors for your little girl’s affections.

    A great woman is desired by many but will only love a rare few. That makes a lady something special and in this world of terrible teen decisions, we need parents to own their childrens mistakes when they have become negligent in part of the process to teach them the correcct and proper way to enjoy life at the appropriate time and age. (I’m not in any way, shape of form criticisizing your abiltities as a parent, I’m simply stating it’s about how to raise your child with the expectations of a quality life made by decisions that come from the values you teach them.)

    I have 3 children of my own…The 2 boys are saints, the girl…well umm…karma must be coming back to bite me since she is 3 times the hellion I thought I could ever be… i love her sure, but my rules are so tough and somehow she still gets caught in terrible fibs… and decisions…i pray you don’t face this…

    T.

    • I appreciate your response. I agree that this isn’t about expectations of a boy where my daughter is concerned. It is about teaching her what it looks like when you are respected by a member of the opposite sex. Helping her recognize what is, and what is not, a healthy relationship. I will never be able to control the other children who are out there. Frankly, as they get older, I cannot control my children, as they are away from me for larger periods of time. I don’t believe controlling them is the best option anyway. My intention is to teach them so that they have the integrity to choose wisely when they are not with me. I want them to make mistakes while they are in the safety of our home… while my husband and I are here to pick them up and dust them off. I don’t want them to be “on their own” for the first time at 18.
      If, perhaps, my response isn’t exactly on-point, then I may have misunderstood yours. Thank you so much for writing…

  3. Kim says:

    What an awesome idea…am sharing with my sister immeeejiately! 🙂 I can hear her son screaming the last line as I type this…lol 🙂
    Kim

  4. Maureen Griffin says:

    The first time I saw this in action was when we were at Ft. Stewart and our friend took his daughter out on a “date.” I thought it was awesome then and I still do! Young women especially need to realize they have inherent value – not just as eye candy or a trophy on some guy’s arm. My hope is for B to stay as strong and confident as she’s always been, so if any yahoo tries to do a number on her, she can walk away knowing she’s better off and he’s a loser.

  5. Marsha Bonifant says:

    Again, Shannon, you have given others “food for thought”. Excellent idea and love the last lines for the ones to say who are staying behind.. Made me laugh. You and Eric make me proud as you both are such wonderful parents and my grandchildren are a blessing to me.

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