The Daddy-Daughter Date

A Fool-Proof Planning Guide

by Greg Wright

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, men across the country are starting to sweat over how to impress the special lady in their lives. If you think this sounds like a challenge, try having four special ladies to impress. In my house, I make sure to set aside time on Valentine’s Day to show each of my four teenage daughters how much they mean to me.
My girls and I have an understanding: no dating until college. I think a lot of girls can get wrapped up in the idea that Valentine’s Day is all about having a boyfriend. I try to show my daughters that it isn’t just about boyfriends; Valentine’s Day is about love, and showing the family and friends you love that you care about them.
If you’re a dad looking for a way to connect with your daughter, my advice is to seize the opportunity of this Valentine’s Day to remind her how special she is to you. If you’re feeling clueless as to how to pull off an awesome “date with Dad” that she’ll remember forever, here are a few tips to help make your outing a success. By the way: Don’t neglect to give her flowers.

Get to Know Her

Spend a little time doing homework in the time leading up to your date. Bear in mind your daughter’s interests. What does she like to do? When she goes out with friends, try to find out not only what activities she’s engaged in (this should be a no-brainer) but why she likes those activities. Then, plan a date that caters to her interests. It’s important that you plan something that she actually wants to do!

Make it formal

Call your daughter, and ask if she’d like to be your valentine and accompany you on a special night out. Dress up for your date, pick her up on time and knock on your own front door, even if that’s a little cheesy. Bring her a rose, and open the car door for her. All of these seemingly small gestures teach your daughter that this is what they should expect from other boys down the road. If you set the standard high, she’ll be more likely to stay away from the losers who show up late and honk the horn from the street.

Get Crafty

Nothing can replace the time you spend with your daughter, but you can definitely score some extra points by giving her a thoughtful, homemade card. Don’t be afraid to let out your inner artist (even if it’s just a simple drawing). Show her that you put some effort into making the card and include a nice note describing what you admire about her and how proud of her you are. She might tease you for being dorky, but chances are she’ll hold on to it and remember those words in the future. If nothing else, the time and effort you put into making the card will show her that you truly care.

Be a Man with a Plan

If you’re planning on going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day, definitely make a reservation. The last thing you want is for your daughter to think this was some last-minute, thrown-together shindig. Have a plan; let your daughter know where you’re going and what you’ll be doing so she’ll know what to wear. I always bring along a sweater in the car for my girls too, just in case. Young women feel special when effort has been made on their behalf.

Connect

While on your date, give your daughter your undivided attention. This means a date with no cellphone use for either of you. Focus on her face and soak up every word. During your date, strive for your daughter to do about 80 percent of the talking. You should ask open-ended, non-confrontational questions. Make sure that she doesn’t feel like you’re probing or overstepping your boundaries; just let her know that you have a genuine, vested interest in finding out what makes her tick.

The important thing to remember on a daddy-daughter Valentine’s Day date is that the goal is to show your girl what it feels like when a fella truly has her best interests at heart. You, as a Dad, can set the standard for how your daughter will expect men to treat her later on down the road. Special, quality time spent with your daughter on days like this will help her grow into a strong, confident woman, one that will demand the respect she deserves for the rest of her life.