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Dads, Daughters, and Dating

I remember the day when a few years ago my 8-year-old daughter told my wife a boy asked her out at school. The good thing is my daughter told him she would have to ask her parents first – YES! When my wife told me about this I was taken back. My little girl was on the verge of growing up. I quickly said no. My daughter asked me later about it and I still said no. We talked for about thirty minutes about being too young, womanhood, and a host of other things I thought were important given this situation. I asked her if this boy loves Jesus and goes to church. I asked her what kind of kid he was: was he respectful, did he have good grades, did he cuss or talk bad, etc. Still I said no boyfriend, even after her cute puppy dog eyes and a few tears. She asked me, “Why don’t you want me to grow up?” I replied, “I do, just not too fast.” That night I thought about several things concerning my girls after they went to bed – how quickly they grow up, their purity, and my role as a dad. I also got lost in the moment that night while playing the piano and singing the song “Cinderella” by Steven Curtis Chapman. Interestingly enough, that song is in the same key as the “Bridal Chorus”. That’s when I lost it. My wife heard me from the bedroom and left me to my dad moment.

What is the responsibility of a dad when it comes to his daughter? As a dad, I have to have more than the “loading my shotgun” approach when boys come calling. I just can’t tell my daughters no in any areas of their lives without giving them Biblical foundations to help them grow spiritually. Scripture is clear that I am to train my kids in the way they should go so they will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6) and that I must use every means and opportunity to teach my kids God’s Word (Deuteronomy 6:1-9). I believe it is the God-given responsibility of fathers to shape their children spiritually, protect their purity, see that they marry well and become Christ-like husbands and wives. This must start at a young age. Fathers must model and teach true Biblical manhood and approve, based on Christ-like character, who their children date and are close friends with.

I don’t like to think about my girls growing up but they will – with or without my leadership and guidance. Left only up to my selfish human wisdom, I would lock my girls in a closet until they are 22 and reinstate the chastity belt. I must help them discern what relationships are appropriate and prepare them for Biblical womanhood and marriage. I will one day interview my daughter’s dates. Not to scare them (although I’m not opposed to that 😂) but to challenge them. I’ll look into the boy’s eyes that like to look at my daughters and ask him some tough questions. “Do you love Jesus? Tell me about that relationship. What are your plans tonight? Where are you going? What is your cell phone number? Do you like prison?“ (😁 dad jokes). Any guy who wants to spend time with my daughters must first spend some time with me. I will call them (both) to a high standard and hold them (both) accountable. I have taken my girls on dates and shown them how a man of God treats his wife (and women in general) and a boy that wants to date them must meet those standards. He must be a guy who loves and serves the Lord. Call me overprotective and old-fashioned, but that’s OK by me.

I want to teach my kids (both girls and my son) to beware of dating traps like having tons of boyfriends/girlfriends and breaking up over trivial issues all the time and how that is a pattern for divorce. They need to see what a Godly man and woman look like and steer clear of any lesser loser. I plan to play an active role in the lives of my kids in all areas: sports, school, hobbies, etc. Why should I not have an active role in their social and dating lives? I pray three things for my kids every day – that they would be saved and serve Jesus, that they would be called into full-time ministry, and that they would marry those who do the same. They both are starting to make some really good decisions in this area of life. I’m a proud dad. If I don’t prepare my kids for life, dating, womanhood, manhood, marriage, and a host of many other things, who will? Answer: the evil and fallen world we live in.

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Stephen and his wife Haley have called Arkansas home all of their lives. Stephen has served in several ministry roles over the last 25 years and as a lead pastor for the last 8 years. Stephen attended Williams Baptist College and earned a BA in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University, an MA, MDiv, and DMin in Christian Leadership and Pastoral Ministries from Liberty University. When not pastoring, Stephen enjoys running, cycling, reading, writing, camping, fishing, and spending time with his family.

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