Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Why You Need to Stop Dating Your Children
We're taking a break today from our regular Whatcha Got Wednesday Q&A to address a popular concept: dating your children.
I am, of course, referring to the ever-popular Daddy-Daughter dates and Mother-Son dates. Scroll though Pinterest or any Google search, and you'll find articles such as "15 Daddy Daughter Dates" . . . "20 Daddy Daughter Date Ideas" . . . "88 Daddy Daughter Dates" (!!!) Honestly, I think this is absurd.
Please don't misunderstand: I wholeheartedly agree with spending one-on-one time with your children and being an influence, a role model, and an loving leader. But like most popular ideas these days, we have to take a wonderful basic idea and then label it, completely overdo it, and throw off the basic order of a solid family unit.
I believe I may have mentioned that using words incorrectly just gets my knickers in a twist! When we label this one-on-one time with our children--especially our opposite sex children--as a "date," we upset the balance. To date is to suggest equal compatibility and contribution--qualities that are not appropriate in the parent-child dynamic. Yes, I get that you're not dating your child, but remember that raising an adult starts today. Part of your influence is to teach and encourage your children how to approach dating when it is time. In our home, we teach that dating is for the purpose of preparing for marriage, not just to have a "good time." Purity . . . ingrain it early! Your children will thank you later, and so will their spouses. Using the word date when it comes to one-on-one time muddies the water. And, really, why do we have to label these moments anyway? For Pete's sake, just spend time with your children naturally. Every moment doesn't require great proclamation and approval from those you choose to compare yourself to.
These "dates" also take away greatly from the marital relationship, which should be THE relationship in the home. When you use the same words to describe time with your spouse that you do with your child . . . muddy! Sadly, I have also known families that really struggle with issues of jealousy in this area. It is primarily because one or the other parent has entered into a relationship with their children and exited the one they are in with their spouse. As John Rosemond says, "You didn't vow "'Til Children Do Us Part.'" It happens time and time again. These popular notions creep in and make so much sense, make you believe you're being a good parent, and before you know it, you're two perfectly frustrated strangers raising your children and you don't know where it all went wrong.
Stop putting your children in places where your spouse belongs.
I want my children to look forward to and desire a loving marriage that compares to no other relationship they've ever experienced. Even in the little things. If I choose to date my son or if my husband dates our daughter, we take away a bit of excitement when they finally go on the first real date. I know, I know--it's not the same thing, blah blah blah. But think about it: keeping even the small things sacred and old-fashioned is HUGE. How many times do you reflect on something small that meant the world to you?
You may hear--even in strongly conservative, Christian circles--that a father should take his daughter on a date to show her how a proper date is supposed to go. We have a better idea: let your daughter have a front-row seat in the home to how you and your spouse treat each other--daily--not just during one dressy, picture-taking evening. If your children see a loving marriage right in front of their eyes every day, then you won't have any worries about how those dating years will go.
Another thought: fast-forward to your children's future relationships with their in-laws. Do you want your daughter's husband to be a little too into his mother? Do you want THAT for her?
"Date" is just a word, but it carries a lot of weight.