When I became a father, God blessed me with a daughter and a son. We have prayed for each of our children since the day they were born. One of the great joys of being a father was to do special things with each of my children that would be specific to them as a boy and girl.
As my daughter approached her Junior High School years, I wanted to make sure she knew what it meant for a man to love and respect her as a woman. For her first decade of life, Anna was able to watch me interact with her mother. She saw my successes and failures as a husband. I wanted the developing young woman inside my daughter to emerge with a healthy perspective when it came to relating to men.
At the time, we lived in Newport, Oregon, a small coastal town. Our town was a destination spot for tourists and was filled with wonderful restaurants. I knew the time had come for our first Daddy Date and selected a quaint little Italian restaurant in the Nye Beach area and made reservations.
For all her life, I had watched Anna grow into a wonderfully grace-filled person. What her mother had modeled for her in her developing womanhood was exercised later as an adult resulting in wise decisions when it came to dating.
I remember, as a teenager, when Anna was going on one of her first dates. We were going to have a talk about the right time to come home. I was about to have the talk when Anna said to me, “Dad, I think I want to be home by 10 – I have something I need to do for school tomorrow and don’t want to be out late.” It is a tremendous blessing when kids make decisions like this. To be honest, I was ready to say, “Be home by 11.”
When the day arrived for our Daddy Date, I made sure to dress up a bit. I washed and cleaned the car. I wanted Anna to see that I anticipated my special time with her and that I was investing in that time before it arrived.
When Anna came out of her bedroom she looked beautiful. I took her by the arm and walked her out to the car and opened her door. She was smiling, as was her mom who stood in the doorway of our home waving goodbye.
Once we arrived at the restaurant we were led to our table and ordered dinner. As our dinner was being prepared, I asked Anna questions about her life. I complimented her. I focused my attention on her. This was an occasion to love and appreciate my daughter, but it was also a form of mentoring to make sure my daughter could see the kind of man God wanted to send her way – a man who was interested in her, loved her and appreciated her. This is what fathers should instill in their girls so that when men enter their lives later on they will know the real from the fake.
Fathers create strong images in the minds of their daughters. Some of these images can be good and others not so good. Our daughters will leave our home carrying these images into their dating and married life. It is so important that a father send his girl forward in life with images of what a healthy dating life and marriage looks like.
A Daddy Date will eventually lead to real dates when fathers are not present. Our girls will date young men who have yet to make the transition to manhood. It is in these places where a young man is not fully developed in his godliness that the gift of honor and love a father sends with his daughter becomes a protective barrier against harm and abuse.
When Anna and I finished our main course, we ordered dessert. The evening was coming to a close. On the way home I felt good about our date. When we arrived home, Jan could see by the smiles on our faces that we had a wonderful time.
In the years that have followed that first date, Anna and I have had other Daddy Dates. Some of these took place in between dating seasons with men who were not her father. I always felt like the investment Anna and I made in her life would help her navigate her future romantic interests. These investments also helped this father live with the peace that comes from knowing that his daughter was ultimately in God’s hands.