Setting Standards by Example
My palms were sweating. My toes scrunched up in my shoes. My thoughts were racing. “How does my hair look? Is my tie straight? Do I have any lint on my sport coat?” I hadn’t been on a date since before I was married, and I didn’t want to mess it up. I wanted things to be just right.
As I got out of my car and walked to the door, I was fighting the urge of picturing how she was going to look. I knew that no matter what I pictured in my mind’s eye, it wouldn’t even come close. Once I stepped up on the porch, I opened the screen door and knocked on the front door. Quickly, I looked at my reflection in the glass one more time to make sure that I looked up to par.
The door opened and standing there was not what I had expected at all. A young boy, 4 years old with a backwards hat and sunglasses, met my gaze. He fought back giggles as he said, “What do you want, punk?” I thought to myself, “I like this kid a lot.”
His mother let me in and I stood in the living room waiting. She called for my date. I began to hear shoes clunking across the hardwood floor, making their way towards the room. I looked up and saw the most beautiful young lady.
Her blonde hair was laying gently just above her shoulders with some curls and a white bow in the back. Her purple dress was nicely accented by a little black sweater. And her smile… While it was missing some teeth at the time, I melted. (What do you expect? She was 7.) I put a flower corsage on her wrist and asked if she was ready for our date. We posed for some pictures and off we went.
The Importance of Intentional Time with our Kids
When I became a dad, I knew that I wanted my kids to be as ready as possible for life. I think every parent wants to make sure that their kids grow up and marry someone who is respectable, loving, responsible and has shared values. The best way I know to accomplish this is to teach them how to date. I wish I could take credit for this idea, but, alas, I can’t. However, I decided to make it my own and run with it.
When my oldest daughter turned 7, I felt she was ready. So, on her birthday, I took her on our first daddy-daughter date. I treated her like a princess. We got all dressed up. I let her pick the restaurant. I paid. I opened doors for her. I pulled chairs out and pushed them in when she sat down. I gave her a wrist corsage. I complimented her. I made sure she saw, experienced, and understood what a date should be like. I made sure she knew what it was like to be respected by someone who was trying to win her heart.
After dinner, we took an aimless drive around town. I used that time to ask her things like, “What kind of dad am I? If you could change anything about me, what would it be? What’s your favorite part about being a big sister?”
We had an amazing night. And you know what? I did it again this year when she turned 8. In fact, as her birthday neared, she must have asked me 100 times if we were going on another date. So, you better believe we did. And I’m going to continue to do it every single year until she gets married…when she’s 40. And I’m going to do it with her baby sister, too, when she’s old enough. And my wife is going to take our son on dates when he is old enough, as well.
There’s an ancient Jewish proverb that says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” There’s a reason that proverb has survived for thousands of years.
The importance of good examples for our kids
My advice – take it or leave it – Dads, date your daughters. Moms, date your sons. Set that bar so high that only the right person will ever stand a chance with them. If there’s an absent male parental figure in your daughter’s life, find one to date her. An uncle, a grandfather, a close friend. Get a trusted, positive male role model to make this important tradition happen. If there’s an absent female parental figure in your son’s life, find one to date him. An aunt, a grandmother, a close friend. Get a trusted, positive female role model to make this important tradition happen. Train up your children in the way they should go. Teach them early and often. Engrain it. Instill it. Have fun with it. They won’t forget it, and they won’t depart from it.
About the Author: Chris Scheufele is one of the most sought-after youth speakers in the United States. He’s a comedian with a license to teach. With more than a decade in the classroom, Chris has developed clever interventions that resolve conflicts instantly and promote a culture of resilience. He makes social emotional learning fun! His entertaining and educational programs have been recognized by educators nationwide, and have earned him several awards including “Teacher Of The Year”.