Monday night, I took our dog to a vet in Farmville, VA. Farmville is about a 75-minute drive from our house. The evening before I asked our 5-year-old daughter (Amelia) if she wanted to go with me and have a date after we dropped Annie off. Since Amelia was 2, we have periodically gone on dates. Any time I ask if she wants to go on dates, she, with much excitement shouts, “YES DADDY!” I realize at some point that excitement will probably change, so I’m going to take full advantage of it now.
As parents, it’s so important to take one-on-one time with each of them as they grow up. Most parents have 18 years to disciple their child before they are thrown into the world. Take advantage of every opportunity to spend with each child. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Here are 5 reasons I believe dating your kids should continue until they get married:
- We’re called to shepherd their heart. Proverbs 22:6 is not a suggestion, but a calling as parents. I pray daily that my kids would be trained in such a way that when they leave my house they reflect the glory of God. It starts with me shepherding and leading them to the cross. We even see a specific responsibility for fathers to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). Part of shepherding their heart is giving them time alone to give them instruction.
- Give your kids freedom to talk about life. My kids are 5, 3, and 1 so my conversations with them are different than that of teenage parents. My desire is to begin now cultivating a space for my daughters (and son) to feel comfortable talking to me about what’s going on in life. My wife and I are in this together, so as both of us “date” our kids, we’re giving them space to open up about their feelings. This is healthy and biblical as we desire to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal 6:2). If we build the trust now, hopefully it’s easier during the teenage years.
- Model who your kids should date. My marriage isn’t perfect, but I want to set an example and expectation for what my daughters are looking for in the guy they’re going to marry. I want to hold doors for them as we go into restaurants and pay for dinner (duh!). I want to hear what they’re learning about the Lord and treat their soul with much care and compassion. And the same way with my son, I want Liam to look for a wife who is God-fearing just like his mother and is beautiful from the inside out. This is part of wanting your kids to grow up and live the words of the Apostle Paul “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ. Jesus.”
- We’re the discipleship program for our kids. The Children’s Pastor and/or Student Pastor are not the main people called to disciple your kids. As Christian parents, we’re called to teach our kids the Lord’s commands: “teach them diligently to your children, and talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deut 6:7). If we’re serious about the discipleship process of our kids it starts together as a family, but it also has to be personal with each child. If we’re not going to disciple and train our children, the world will. Dating your children gives you an opportunity to more intentionally disciple each kid as you shepherd their heart (as mentioned above).
- It gives both of you memories that will last a lifetime. Practically speaking, I want my kids to feel like they have a daddy who loves them and has cherished his time with them. I remember the first official date I took Amelia on; we went to Chili’s when they were having a father/daughter night. It’s hard for me to even think that was over 3 years ago. Time flies by, and that day I walk my daughters down the isle, I want to be thinking back over the memories we have created and thanking God from whom all blessings flow.
You may have kids that are preschool age, teenagers, or even college students. No matter the age of your kids, please consider dating them until they get married. God will give you opportunities to take your relationship with them deeper, and will give you an opportunity to hear what they’re dealing with in their spiritual journey. Keep (or start) dating your kids.
For His Glory,