You all know that I love when we have a daddy daughter date night.
Most recently, we had a memorable daddy daughter date night at the theatre. As we were sitting and waiting for Paddington to start, I started to think about how important the night was for us. Not only were we creating memories together, but it also gave me a chance to teach my daughter something unexpected. And, I have to say, it was a light bulb moment…
As the lights dimmed in the movie theatre, I started thinking…
What I’ve been reading lately is that Dads role model how our daughters will want to be treated by their future partner (although, I’d argue anyone close to my little girl is teaching her about relationships – her mom, grandparents, close friends, you get the idea…).
But, it struck a chord with me – I wondered how I was effecting my daughter’s future relationship choices in that very moment.
Nowadays, it’s unlikely that someone will open the car door for her or ask permission to take her on a date (although, if you want to take my daughter out, you better be doing that…but, I digress…).
I realized that I not only wanted to role model the basics of being polite and caring, but I wanted to role model something more significant.
Then it hit me.
What I can teach her — and teach to her brother when I’m with him — is that great, long-lasting, can’t live without them relationships come down to some pretty important nuts and bolts. One of those being attentiveness.
This doesn’t mean that our kids should look for a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner that waits on them hand and foot, but a partner that cares about what they say, do, and like. In other words, he or she truly cares about who they are.
So, that night, I tried to be as attentive as possible. And, as I sat there with my little girl by my side, I thought of three things that I could do in that moment to show her I was present and attentive:
1) Put away the cell phone.
Now, like a lot of people, I like to have my cell phone on me as a clock and to check in with my wife. But, it’s an easy way to get to distracted when you’re with the kids. So, I kept it in my pocket and if I needed to use it, I told her why. (“Let me just check how long it is until the movie starts.” or “I’m going to check to see how your brother is doing.”)
2) Ask her questions about her day.
I ask my kids questions every evening when I come home from work, but during a one-on-one evening, you can really build a conversation (isn’t that one of the building blocks to a solid relationship anyway?!). During the brief time before the movie started, my daughter and I discussed an activity that she did at school for 10 or 12 minutes (that’s long for my little four-year-old). I kept asking her how she did certain steps and what she enjoyed about the process. It was amazing to watch her excitement and passion as she spoke. Details I’d want her future partner to admire too…
3) Remember the details.
Not only am I talking about the details in the conversations of the evening, but the details of previous conversations and outings. I always remember that my daughter likes me to comment on the bow/flower/pin/object in her hair–it’s her favorite accessory. So, when I came home from work to pick her up for our date, that was the first thing I noticed.
Friendship and love is expressed in many different ways, but I think attentiveness should always be there.
I know I’m going to make sure that this comes through during my daddy daughter dates, my father son dates, and, most importantly, every moment in between.
What are some ways that your family shows attentiveness to one another? Head on over to our Facebook page and tell us your best tips for building family relationships!