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Friday, December 30, 2016

Dating? Not What You're Thinking

Play dates, Mommy and son dates, Daddy and daughter dates, cousin dates . . . . They’re events. They’re all planned out and marked on the calendar.

Maybe I’m crazy, but it strikes me as odd that one parent would take a preschooler out—the two of them alone—for a purposeful time together instead of getting the whole family together for the same special time. Why not the whole family go to the local zoo? Why not the family go out for ice cream—or eating it at home? Why not the whole family dressing up for a special occasion, all together?

Am I missing something?

Toddler has a play date or cousin date with another toddler. Seriously? Maybe it’s just the terminology, but I’m not getting it. Why can’t we just get the kids together? My siblings and I basically grew up with our cousins, but we never called it a date. It was just cousins playing with cousins.

The dad gets all spiffed up, and the little daughter’s wearing a beautiful party dress. The dad goes to his own door—how funny is that?—extends flowers to the little lady, and takes his six-year-old out. Nothing wrong with it. I’m not criticizing. I am questioning, though. Wouldn’t it be better if he got all spiffed up for Mom, confirming his love for her? Isn’t it more important that sons and daughters see Dad and Mom going out—and also that the whole family does things together as a unit?

I get it, that schedules clash, and it’s not always possible to do things with both Mom and Dad present. I understand. But, I wouldn’t call it a date when Dad happens to do something with his own child. To me, the parent-child relationship isn’t a date. It’s day in, day out unconditional love. It’s training, guiding, nurturing, and loving those little ones entrusted to us.

Let’s think about fifteen to twenty years ahead. The little girl who got all dressed up for Daddy now has a real date. But she’s been "dating" all her life???

The man who’s used to mother-son dates has to do this thing himself—actually date. He, too, has been dating all his life: play dates, pool dates, cousin dates, Mom dates . . . . Is he confused? You bet!

Maybe it’s just the word “date” that trips me up. But, I think it’s more than that. I believe maybe that we are manufacturing quality time with our kids by naming it. And, in the process it becomes bigger than real life. This is what I mean:
  • It involves a planned occasion.
  • Money is spent on a very special snack or dinner, and maybe flowers, clothes, an activity . . . .
  • It is exclusive. Other siblings are left at home while the chosen one gets time with Mom or Dad . . . and either Mom or Dad is left at home, too.

I really, truly think we need to get back to families being families. I think it’s fine for a dad or mother to have one-on-one time with a child, but I don’t think it should be called a “date.” It should be natural instead of made up. I believe that most of the time, if at all possible, it’s best to do things as a family. It’s also very good for dads and moms to go out once in awhile, just the two of them. It’s healthy for marriage, and it’s great for the kids to see their parents dating.

As I write this, one of our grandchildren is home sick with his dad. It’s a natural time for care, love, and nurturing. It’s of course not a date, but it’s good quality time between father and son.

I don’t think there’s any biblical light to be shed on the word “dating,” but there’s a lot in the Bible about husband-wife relationships and about children being obedient and brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4b).

What do you think? Should we date our kids? (It’s quite okay if you differ with me, but please use courtesy when presenting an opposing point of view. I'd love to hear your thoughts.)


  1. The way I've heard it, it's not always, or even usually, a dress-up occasion or even a special activity or destination, and doesn't edge out family times or parents dating each other. It's just a way for a parent and child to carve out some one on one time in the midst of all the other family togetherness. I think it is important to do things together as a family, but it is also important to spend some time alone with each child to connect and see how they are doing spiritually, relationally, etc. For some of us that's in quiet moments in everyday life - sitting in a child's bedroom at bedtime or working on a project together, etc. For some it's going out on a "date."

    1. Thank you, Barbara. I agree that it is very important for parents to connect one-on-one with each child! I think it's the word "date" that gives me pause. God bless your New Year!


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