Most of us know by now that the most effective way of teaching anything is by example. When it comes to educating our children on the topic of “dating” it’s no different. I know, you probably think we’re crazy… after all our kids are only 3 and 5 why on earth would we even bring up dating? Well, for a couple of reasons. Like most parents, right now we’re
not too concerned about avoiding the thought of the day that they will one day be ready to date. We are however, trying to establish some solid foundations with each individual child. That’s why we’ve decided to take them out on “dates.”
This is actually a great concept for multiple reasons. One is to get to truly know your child. Often we think we know our children, but do you really? If you have more than one child especially, how often have you taken the time to sit down and listen to what each child had to say and see how their little mind works?
We spend a lot of family time together, but it’s not often that each child gets some undivided attention from each parent. I often hear parents complain why one child is so different than the other child even though they were both raised the same way and given the same opportunities… well, why are we so surprised that the children don’t turn out the same? They’re not the same person! They have different love languages, different talents, different interests, different incentives… no two children, even in the same exact environment are the same.
Comparing siblings is ultimately a lose/lose for both siblings. The sibling being compared feels like they aren’t good enough and ends up resenting their other sibling and consequently the other sibling is always under the scrutiny and pressure to perform a certain way and do what is “expected” of them. Ultimately, as parents our subconscious actions can be inhibiting our children.
The conscious effort to make time for each individual child is invaluable. It gives us as parents the opportunity to get to know our children in an intimate level, where we could ultimately
1. find out if there are any issues that need to be addressed & address them
2. make our children feel that they are important & make memories
3. set an example, plant a seed of what they should look for in dates in their future
That being said, we’re a family that enjoys date-nights. We switch it up with mom & dad going on dates one week, dad & son with mom & daughter night-out another week, dad & daughter with mom & son night-out another week, and of course we still have family night! Some dates are bigger than others. While some may consist of staying-in and watching movies, baking, doing arts & crafts, or simply going to the library… others are bigger events such as going to the museum, a fancy restaurant, or even a BALL!
Recently our youngest had the opportunity to attend her first ball ever. Balls are pretty common in a military lifestyle, but it’s not often that our little ones get to participate in an extravagant event. To be honest, we didn’t even think she’d be too excited about it after her first initial reaction to it. Our daughter isn’t a tomboy per say, but if she’s playing house, her baby is usually the Hulk and when role playing “Tangled” she prefers to be Flynn Rider than Rapunzel simply because she enjoys a good adventure, she doesn’t like skirts or dresses, and she definitely doesn’t need any rescuing.
So when dad approached his little princess and invited her to join him as his date to the “Princess and her Hero Ball” she shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly and said, “sure.” It took some flowy tulle and the right pair of sparkly shoes to convince her to wear a dress to the ball, but wouldn’t you know it that underneath that tough girl there really was a dainty little lady after all.
On the other hand, you could see it on my son’s eyes that he was a bit distraught that he wasn’t going to be dressing up for a ball. So clearly we were going to go out on an equally grand date. He even insisted on picking out my dress. I kid you not; he was serious about making sure that our date would be special. Here’s dad helping him knot his tie for our big night out:
My son and I spent an entire evening at Barnes & Nobles where I discovered that I really underestimated his passion for learning. I couldn’t have been any happier to see how excited he was about learning. Afterwards we went to Brio where he had the most impeccable manners and kept asking me if I was having the best date ever – I was!
When we came home we heard all about the ball from our princess and our hero. The highlight of their evening consisted of some crazy dancing and sharing cake. She even wore a tiara! It’s amazing how much we learn from our kids when they are on their own!!!
Setting examples for our children to follow is vital to their development and “date” nights are a great way to prepare our children for future relationship building events that will inevitably come no matter how much we’d rather avoid them. When you are one-on-one with your child it is the perfect time to set the standard by teaching them proper manners at the table, conversational development, and good behavior in public. Most importantly though, you will both grow closer together making memories that will last forever.