There was a day—it doesn’t seem that long ago—when this dating stuff was the furthest thing from her mind, back when her only plans for Saturday night were for us to run barefoot together in the mowed grass, playing freeze tag and catching fireflies.
But it turns out I wasn’t the only one who would discover how much fun she is to be around.
This little girl I took to magical places in bedtime stories and amazed with tooth fairy notes now has other male voices telling her things a girl likes to hear. This is when a dad who’s never met a monster he couldn’t slay suddenly feels weak and alone.
She’s about to go out on a date ... with a boy. Just the two of them.
Should I back off? Avoid the subject? Let my wife handle it? Hope I’ve done enough? No. My little girl needs me now more than ever.
Dads, I’m calling you to give your daughter the same strength that once kept you treading water at the base of a diving board. The same sense of protection that kept your hand on the back of her bicycle seat. The same love that pulled her toward you when her friends were mean, when her hopes were dashed, when life was big ... but to her, you were bigger.
For most girls your daughter’s age, the dating years will lead to heartbreak and confusion, if not utter devastation. Peer pressure and the self-focused nature of needing boyfriends will lead many to lose all sense of perspective and make some of the worst decisions of their young lives. That’s because most of these girls will be left to fend for themselves by fathers who are too busy, too uneasy, or too afraid to get involved—too quick to assume that everything will be all right. He may know more about the quarterback of his favorite football team than he does about the young man who’s driving away with his daughter tonight.
So I’m glad you’re reading this book. I’m proud of you for stepping up and out of the herd of men who say nothing and do nothing. It means—at least I hope it means—that your daughter won’t have to be one of those girls harmed by relationships that get out of balance and ultimately out of hand. It means you are dead-set determined to bring your best effort to this season of your daughter’s life—a time that no dad truly feels ready for.
And it means there’s at least one more young man out there who’s going to have your help building trust, someone who’ll be a true gentleman with your daughter, who’ll treat her with dignity, the way you want her to be treated.
But first, it’s going to take you being a man ... because she’s still your little girl. And you’re still her dad.
This book is fairly short. On purpose. It won’t take long for me to say what I need to say, and I don’t want you having to stop and start over for days on end. Chances are, you can finish this before you go to bed tonight, or certainly before the week’s out.
In the next few pages, I’m going to walk you through a brief, but vitally important, interview process that will make you a little girl’s hero and a young man’s coach.
At a time when many parents—perhaps even most—are pulling back from their teenage children, becoming less and less involved in what their sons and daughters are doing, you will find yourself—as I have—growing closer to your daughter, deepening your relationship with her, just when she needs you the most.
She may not admit it, but, Dad, your daughter needs you. And so do those guys who think she’s cute, who may have every intention of being honorable and above board with her, but who also have truckloads of male hormones surging through their bodies. You can be their protector—both hers and his—keeping them on course toward a life of few regrets.
As a dad I want to assure you that I did not do everything perfectly. I struggled with balancing work and family. There were times when my patience evaporated and I was angry with disobedient children. I battled my own inconsistency. Like nearly all dads, I have my own list of regrets. Yet one of my happiest moments came in the summer of 2005 when I had the privilege of being the father of the bride, giving my daughter Rebecca to Jacob William Mutz. On that day, Rebecca had some things she wanted to say to her mom and me. I want you to feel some of what I felt as she spoke these words of tribute. Note especially what she said at the end concerning how she felt about me interviewing her dates.