So You Want to Date My Daughter, Do You?

September 2, 2015 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

Seriously, this isn't illegal?

Seriously, this isn't illegal?

I have what some would say are old-fashioned ideas about when and whom my daughter can date.  Others would say that they are not old-fashioned, they are just plain weird and they’ve never heard of anything like it before.

The assumption people have is that since I have only daughters, and that I have weird rules for my daughters dating, that my goal is to intimidate boys–that I somehow am the guy who cleans his shotgun on the front porch when the boy comes to the front door and makes menacing statements about holes in the backyard as he is walking up.  Allow me to put that myth to rest.  First, I do not own a shotgun.  Second, what people describe seems highly unsafe and might could be characterized as terroristic threatening, which is, in fact, a felony.  Finally my goal is not to intimidate anyone.  Allow me to explain “the rules.”

First, you cannot date or say that you have a boyfriend until it makes sense.  What does that mean?  I’ll give you an example.  A second grader having a boyfriend doesn’t make sense.  A 6th grader saying they are “going out” with another 6th grader doesn’t make sense.  “You’re going out, huh.  Where do you go?”  “Nowhere.” “Do you sit next to each other during lunch?”  “No.”  “So what does it mean that you’re going out?”  “…” Doesn’t make sense.

Charlie it doesn’t have to make sense.  It’s cute.  Nope.  Not cute.  Confusing.  Kids imitating grown up behavior without the emotional and mental maturity to back it up is confusing and potentially dangerous.

You see, the river of relationships flows one direction. Every relationship you are in needs to get deeper and progress and every new relationship needs to be deeper and go further than the one before. That often gets defined as verbal, emotional and physical commitment–things that kids aren’t ready for.  Best remedy for that is to keep them out of the river as best you can for as long as you can.

“Wait, wait, wait.  You are supposed to tell me when they can start dating! Give me a number! 15? 16? 32?”  To me, this is not some rite of passage that is determined by your age.  You can’t date when you are 15, but suddenly you go to sleep one day 15 and wake up the next day 16 and you can date.  It depends on the girl’s maturity, the culture of where we live, the potential boy we are talking about.  It’s not a number. It’s when it makes sense…for that particular girl.

Second, when it starts to potentially make sense that my daughters could start dating, the boy has to come meet with me.  He has to ask for my permission to take her out, even if it is in a group context and even if it is just as friends.  “Whoa! That seems intense.  Not many boys would be willing to do that.”  Correct. Similarly, there are not many boys that I would trust to go on a date with one of my daughters.  This is, in part, a simple process to weed out ones that lack the maturity to be on a date with a girl.  If you lack the maturity to have one face to face conversation with an adult, you lack the maturity to be trusted to be with my daughters.

If you were asking to borrow anything else that was mine, you would ask.  This is one of the most precious things that is mine.  You most certainly will ask.

Ok, so you meet with them, and this is where you intimidate them, right? Nope.  The situation is intimidating enough without me trying to make it worse.  My goal is not to intimidate them.  My goal is to influence and lead someone who clearly has a measure of influence on my daughter.  His influence could theoretically grow.  I need to build a relationship of influence with this guy.

“Have you done this before? What do you say?”  Yes I have.  Twice now. Both times were when I didn’t think it was appropriate for the girls to be dating someone, i.e. have a boyfriend/relationship.  However, I was willing to let them go on a group date to a function of some kind.  I communicated 2 things primarily to them during these meetings.

First is that perhaps the greatest role that I play in my life, pastor included, is the protector and guardian of my daughters’ honor and purity.  It is my responsibility until what I call “the handoff” to guard and protect them.  On that day I will literally and figuratively give her hand to a man.  Until then, it is my job.  I need him to understand that what he is asking me to do is to entrust him for a brief window of time with guarding her the way that I would.  That may sound deep and more than a boy could grasp.  You are partially right.  A boy that would have the courage to ask out my daughter and meet with me, can handle it.  We are 2 for 2 so far.

Secondly, I make sure that he and I both understand what dating as friends mean.  We could use the same words and mean different things.  What I mean primarily is we are friends in how we talk and touch.  We don’t say that we are in love with her, that we need her, that she is the most important person in the world…those kinds of things.  We also don’t make out, kiss, play grabby grabby, etc.  This is definitely uncomfortable but it is our unwillingness to have uncomfortable conversations with kids that gets those kids in trouble later.

As serious as I can be, I am not trying to intimidate, I am trying to call them up.  Just like my teenagers are in an awkward position transitioning from girls to women, the boys are struggling as well.  I can help.  I was one of them once.  I really do want the boy to win.

But more than anything, I want you to know and my girls definitely know that this is birthed completely out of a love and care for them.  They know that I am their guardian and protector and they want that and are comforted by it.  A loving protector is what they need and it is my great privilege to be called by God to do it.

(Bonus tease: As some of you know, one boy passed that gauntlet, dated my oldest as “friends” for a year and now they are “boyfriend/girlfriend.”  In the process, he and I have a great relationship and so do they.  It can work.  That’s a blog post for another day.)

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