Last night I took my 16 year old daughter Ruby to a daddy / daughter dance. This is something we have been doing for about 8-9 years together.
When Ruby was in elementary school these dances were a HUGE deal. There would be weeks of squeals as she anticipated the big evening. There would be multiple party outfits carefully arranged and accessorized on the floor of her room for days. She would try on these collections multiple times trying to be sure she looked just like a princess. At the dance she would quickly locate her friends, leaving me and the other dads to watch with wet eyes as our girls jumped, twirled, laughed and screamed. They would sing along with every song the DJ played at the top of their little, but powerful lungs. Ruby would also come close and hold my hand for the one or two slow dances the DJ threw out to the dads as a reward for our endurance of the high pitched evening.
I remember nearly a decade ago at our first dance. Ruby was in 3rd grade, and after she had poured all her excitement out for 90 minutes, she was exhausted. It was roughly 9pm, and I expected we would say goodbye to her friends and head home. But when we got in the car and I announced we were headed home Ruby said, “No, how about we go do Denny’s, Dad!”
To my knowledge we had never been to Denny’s before as a family. But it’s a diner that’s open late and from that moment Denny’s became our thing.
Denny’s has been in our DNA after every
daddy / daughter dance.
I guess what fascinates, excites and honors me now is that Ruby still wants to go to dances with me – even at 16 years old.
When I was dancing with Ruby last night I began to realize that we only have a couple of these dances left before she heads off to college. I began to think about things I still need to teach her, specifically about boys and dancing with them in life.
So when we sat down at Denny’s last night … I went through a short list with her!
Here are 9 things I am trying to teach Ruby about dating and relationships with boys:
1. Seek a boy who already knows God.
There is a big difference between a boy who knows God and a boy who is willing to know God! There are plenty of boys, who after meeting Ruby, will be willing to get to know God in order to get to know her! My prayer for my daughter is that she would find a boy who is already chasing after God even harder than she is. I pray that she would find a boy who leads her to greater understanding, intimacy and dependence upon God.
2. Seek a boy with passion.
My daughter is full of life and laughter and whimsy. I know that the older we get all that passion has a tendency to leak out of us. And without a fresh supply of passion and fun and mischief a passionate teenager can become a depressed young adult. I pray my daughter doesn’t settle for a passionless boy. I pray she finds a boy who will lead and pull and push her when necessary to new adventures and experiences.
3. Seek a boy who was correctly & consistently disciplined as a boy.
There is no better way for a young man to understand the importance of discipline and guardrails than to have experienced them while he was a boy. I pray there are some parents out there who have made the tough decisions to discipline their boy. I pray they are now moving in the teenage years from discipline and rules into relationship. And I pray this well disciplined boy finds my daughter!
4. Seek a boy who is willing to listen.
One of the greatest things I can do for my wife Rene … is listen to her. She does not need me to solve her problems on most days. She just needs me to listen to her problems, assure her that she is strong and that she can make it through. She needs me to hold her hand for awhile and listen. I pray that a boy who is a great listener will find Ruby one day and be content to sit quietly with her as she pours out her hopes, her fears and her dreams.
5. Seek a boy who loves little kids.
My daughter lights up when she is around little kids. She has served in classrooms with little kids at church for years and she just got her first job working at a pre-school this past week! I don’t really want to think about this, but one day my little girl is going to want to have a little girl or boy of her own. And I pray that she finds a boy who truly loves little kids.
6. Seek a boy who believes in her abilities.
Ruby is a gifted and bold young lady, but she needs me to believe in her. My belief gives her the confidence she needs to shine. I pray that Ruby finds a boy who recognizes her unique abilities. I pray this boy is not intimidated by her talents but is committed to helping her grow, take risks and be brave.
7. Seek a boy who tells the truth.
I am not by any means a perfect father to Ruby or husband to Rene, but I am truthful. Truth breeds trust. And trust is the ground floor of great relationships. I pray that Ruby finds a boy that speaks the truth with love and never attempts to deceive or trick her.
8. Seek a boy who knows when and how to work hard.
With adolescence now extending into the mid to late twenties, far too many boys are not becoming men. Part of becoming a man is learning how and when to work. Work is important, but it should not be constant. Work is a great gift, but it makes a bad god. I pray that Ruby finds a boy who understands the balance between work and play.
9. Seek a boy who is willing to wait for physical intimacy.
Rene and I gave Ruby this promise ring last year. It is the ring that I gave Rene when we were first engaged. I reminded Ruby that this ring is a pledge to save herself for her future husband on their wedding night. I pray there is a boy out there somewhere right now who is also being brave, guarding his eyes, monitoring his hands and putting a gatekeeper at the entrance to his mind. I pray Ruby and this boy will one day meet.
These are my prayers for my daughter who is now dating.