Importance of Dating Your Daughter (Or Son)
Rachel Johnson

We like to think of ourselves as devoted and caring parents who make it a point to spend quality time with our children; however, we often find ourselves focusing on other things while attempting to play. Kids unknowingly crave alone time with parents where they are the only focus. By beginning a regular habit of dating our kids, we have improved not only our children’s mental state and general behavior, but have also been able to improve our general feelings about ourselves as parents.

We’ve been able to cut down on feelings of guilt and are not as stressed about the time we don’t spend with them. Now that Arthur is almost two, he requires more and more of our focus and Lillian is not blind to that fact. We’ve noticed a decrease in her willingness to cooperate and listen. Just last week we received an email from her teacher informing us that she was not listening to instruction.

We instantly knew that her feelings of neglect were the likely culprit. (Not that she was being neglected in any way! She just wasn’t getting as much one-on-one time as she needed.) So we made a plan to begin a weekly Mommy/Daddy date. This way, she would get a whole night, once a week, where she received 100% of our attention. The added benefit is that the parent who stays home gets to spend alone time with our son and he gets that parent’s focus for the night. We decided to give her a double dose for the first week and we both took her on a date. For our first date, I took her for hot chocolate and a chat at Starbucks. We talked about her day and I made sure to devote all of my attention to her. Taking special care to leave my phone in my purse except for a few fun selfies.

While enjoying our drinks, I talked with her about her misbehavior at school and made sure she understood that it was not ok. Once we were done with the heavy stuff we were able to have fun for the rest of the night. We went to the mall and rode a motorized animal thing that they have, it’s only $6 for 15 minutes and is pretty freakin’ cool. (It’s like a motor powered car but is shaped like an animal and the adult can ride it too. You can ride through the whole mall but cannot enter the stores.) Then, I let her pick out and stuff a bear at build-a-bear, (She won’t get a toy every date night. That would be ridiculous.)

We ended the evening by letting her choose the dinner venue. She opted for fried rice and veggies at our favorite Asian restaurant. We stayed out later than usual and had a discussion about what would happen when we got home in regards to getting ready and going to bed. She was very cooperative and went to bed without any problem. My husband, Derek, and Arthur got to spend time together playing and he said while they played with pretend dinosaurs in the floor, every so often Arthur would just gaze up at him with a grin from ear to ear that simply said, “I love you, Dad.” It was pretty heartwarming. The next morning she got up and came downstairs fully dressed and ready to go without any prompting.

We also received an e-mail from her teacher letting us know that her behavior had dramatically improved and there was no longer an issue. My husband went ahead and took her for another date that night. They went to the college library and read numerous books together in the children’s section. Then they ate burgers at Five Guys. Arthur and I basically cuddled the whole time they were out. He had a fever and wasn’t feeling well. I’m not going to complain though, cuddling him will be something that I am going to miss the older he gets.

We decided to give her a double dose for the first week and we both took her on a date. For our first date, I took her for hot chocolate and a chat at Starbucks. We talked about her day and I made sure to devote all of my attention to her. Taking special care to leave my phone in my purse except for a few fun selfies. While enjoying our drinks, I talked with her about her misbehavior at school and made sure she understood that it was not ok.

Once we were done with the heavy stuff we were able to have fun for the rest of the night. We went to the mall and rode a motorized animal thing that they have, it’s only $6 for 15 minutes and is pretty freakin’ cool. (It’s like a motor powered car but is shaped like an animal and the adult can ride it too. You can ride through the whole mall but cannot enter the stores.) Then, I let her pick out and stuff a bear at build-a-bear, (She won’t get a toy every date night. That would be ridiculous.) We ended the evening by letting her choose the dinner venue. She opted for fried rice and veggies at our favorite Asian restaurant.

We stayed out later than usual and had a discussion about what would happen when we got home in regards to getting ready and going to bed. She was very cooperative and went to bed without any problem. My husband, Derek, and Arthur got to spend time together playing and he said while they played with pretend dinosaurs in the floor, every so often Arthur would just gaze up at him with a grin from ear to ear that simply said, “I love you, Dad.” It was pretty heartwarming.

The next morning she got up and came downstairs fully dressed and ready to go without any prompting. We also received an e-mail from her teacher letting us know that her behavior had dramatically improved and there was no longer an issue. My husband went ahead and took her for another date that night. They went to the college library and read numerous books together in the children’s section. Then they ate burgers at Five Guys. Arthur and I basically cuddled the whole time they were out. He had a fever and wasn’t feeling well. I’m not going to complain though, cuddling him will be something that I am going to miss the older he gets.

I think the key element to the idea of dating your children is that you spend time alone with each other. Not only does this give the child focused attention but it can also be very cathartic for the parent as well. You don’t have to do it every week and you can choose the day and time. This allows for you as a parent to live in the moment with your child. Don’t worry about things that need to be done, stop checking your phone, and simply exist in the moment with your child.

Recent research has turned the idea of how much time we need to spend with our children on its head by stating that the amount of time has nothing to do with their happiness. It is the quality that is important. Children are not dumb and can tell when you are unhappy, stressed, and/or feeling guilty. They benefit from quality time where you are present both mentally and physically. This can also help during times when you are feeling guilty about the amount of time you are spending with your children because you know that you give them quality time on those dates so it’s ok that you need to do laundry and dishes some of the other time.

We’ve seen a noticeable change in her behavior, willingness to share, and cooperation at home and the teacher hasn’t had to contact us again about misbehavior. I’ve also felt less stressed and guilty when I need to do things around the house or just need a break to read a book. I feel more confident that the time I spend with my children is valuable and that relieves a lot of my own underlying stress. We’re making a point to continue a weekly date night, taking turns spending one-on-one time with our children.
This week, Derek will take her and I’ll stay with Arthur, next week we’ll switch. There are many things you can take your child to do, but the most important thing is to simply spend time with them. Make them the focus and you will not only have a happier child, but you will be creating memories that will last forever not to mention strengthening your bond as parent and child. I’ve listed some more ideas for date nights with your child below and I encourage you to make a point to take them on a date every once in a while. You won’t regret it!

Dating your Children: Date Ideas

Go Somewhere: 
– see a movie
– do an activity such as mini golf, bowling, pottery painting or skating
– visit a library or bookstore and read together
– go on a hike/nature walk
– mani/pedis
– many nail salons nowadays have children’s pedicure chairs
– fancy dinner
– get dressed up in fancy clothes and have a meal
– gym class
– a lot of places have regular mommy/daddy and me classes for yoga and more especially larger cities
– craft classes
– similarly, home depot, and some craft stores host free craft classes for parents and children
– window shopping at the mall
– dessert date – skip the dinner and just get a fancy dessert together
– coffee date – get a coffee/hot chocolate together and chat
– visit a museum
– go on a scavenger hunt – there are plenty of ideas online for an easy and fun scavenger hunt
– have a photo shoot – you can head out or just hit the backyard and be sure to let your child pick their outfit and grab a few fun props. To make it extra fun, be sure to make it comical by directing them like a real photographer. “Make a fish face! Magnificent Dahling!”
volunteer together
– makeovers at the mall – the make-up counters in department stores will give you a free makeover. Take advantage (Just be nice and let them know you don’t intend on buying anything upfront so they can give attention to the people who do. They work on commission.)
Stay at Home:
– bake together
– have a tea party – Be sure to dress appropriately! Tiaras are a must!
– rent a movie and eat popcorn – We like to dump a bag of peanut m&m’s in our popcorn. It’s delicious! – spa night – Skip the expensive salon and turn your bathroom into a spa. Light a candle, play some music and make a bubbly foot bath. Fancy treats like homemade chocolate covered strawberries and faux bubbly make it extra special. – game night – camp out – spend a night under the stars in your own backyard – bike ride and picnic – pack your lunch/dinner and ride somewhere nearby for a lovely picnic – dance and karaoke party – make your living room come alive with music and dance! – craft something at home – visit
– spa night – Skip the expensive salon and turn your bathroom into a spa. Light a candle, play some music and make a bubbly foot bath. Fancy treats like homemade chocolate covered strawberries and faux bubbly make it extra special.
– game night
– camp out – spend a night under the stars in your own backyard
– bike ride and picnic – pack your lunch/dinner and ride somewhere nearby for a lovely picnic
– dance and karaoke party – make your living room come alive with music and dance!
– craft something at home – visit Pinterest or buy a craft in a box kit
– science experiment – you can also find plenty of ideas online or buy a kit
– plant a mini garden – grab a pot and let your child start their own mini garden
– build a fort and read books – cook dinner together – learn something – Hit the internet and learn about something of their choosing.

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Rachel is a mother of two, high school Spanish teacher and part-time blogger who loves crafting, creating fun and engaging activities for her children and students and hanging with her friends and family. She blogs about what she's doing and her interests at any given time which vary. She's a little OCD and always looking for her next project. Her husband calls it, "focusing her crazy", but she just calls it fun.