GFK045: Connect with your kids’ hearts by dating them
Listen to CONNECT WITH YOUR KIDS BY DATING THEM here
HOSTS: Carey & Mindi Green
Transcript follows (not corrected)
We are glad that you are here and hope your day is going well so far.
We were wondering if you had ever thought of dating your children, no matter what age really.
Is that something that you have thought to do in terms of being able to stay connected with them, knowing what’s going on in their life?
Let me just insert here real quickly. When we married and this idea came up, I had never heard of such a thing.
I grew up in a family where that sort of thing didn’t happen.
We hardly talked in our home at all, it seems, in some ways.
I mean, of course, we talked about things, but not important, deep things.
So dating my kids sounded very foreign to me. Yeah, and that’s something that I grew up with.
My sister and I both would have dates with my dad ever since I could remember.
And those were always special times, things that we’d look forward to.
And so Carrie and I carried that tradition on into our family with our kids.
Yeah, and in your case, the idea really came from your mom, didn’t it? I think so.
Yeah, she encouraged your dad to take you girls on dates.
Well, actually, it could have come from my dad and mom both.
They might have heard about it from a parenting conference or something like that.
Okay, and so I’m gonna let you kind of take the lead on this because you’re the one who grew up with this.
What were those dates like from your perspective as a young girl?
The meaningful conversations during dates with young girls
[2:13] Either we would go out to eat. We would go get ice cream. I’m sure there’s other activities we did.
I remember the dates when I was a teenager, mostly just sitting at a restaurant eating, and my dad purposely asking me these questions. And I loved it as a girl because I loved for him to show interest in me and to share my heart about things that were going on. And not until I left to the home, and I think after you and I got married, did I realize it was my mom who gave my dad those questions to ask.
Because my dad would ask, you know, what things does Mindy need to talk about, what’s going on in her life? And she would update him on things with school and friends.
And so then he would gain knowledge of the kind of questions he needed to ask me a lot because of what my mom told him.
And so when you say he would ask you these questions, not talking about specific questions, he would just ask meaningful questions, things relating to your life and your situations.
[3:19] Really caring for your heart. Right, right. He was purposeful about it. It wasn’t just, let’s go to a movie, or let’s go out to eat, and whatever conversation came up, came up. It wasn’t that at all. I mean, of course, we had normal, just comfortable back and forth conversation, but he was also very purposeful. And I do remember the last date I had with him before I went off to college, he had some verses to give me, and I really appreciated that. And that was definitely a tradition that you and I talked about that we wanted to carry on with our kids.
That’s right. And we did carry it on even with the same gender kids, meaning I would take our sons on dates too. We decided we were going to do that. So you would take the kids on dates, I would take the kids on dates, and we kind of alternate who took who on dates. And we had five kids, so we had to juggle this quite vociferously at times.
Dates with kids can be with same gender, not romantic
[4:10] Yeah. But is that the right word, vociferously? I don’t know if that fits.
Get out your dictionaries. Yeah, so the point I’m making though is that it doesn’t have to be only the opposite sex sort of a date.
Because it’s not a romantic date obviously, it’s a taking your kid out to have fun with them individually so that you can have a meaningful connection with them.
Now you mentioned when you were a teenager you were excited about it, it was a fun thing for you. How did it get to that point? Because I could see some parents hearing this and going, oh my team would never go for that.
They wouldn’t wanna have me praying into their life. So how did it get to that?
[4:47] I’d say it got to that because my dad was taking us out on dates ever since we were in grade school.
So as a little girl, you love that your dad is wanting to spend time with just you.
And you love that he is asking you personal questions and tell me about your friend Julie down the street and being excited about things and your dolls and whatever.
And then as you grow older, he shows interest about the things in your life then, you know, and guys you like, and to be able to comfortably talk to your dad about guys you like is huge for a teenage girl, for her to feel comfortable in that.
And of course, I know my dad was very intentional about that because he was wanting me to find the right guy and have good relationships and not mess things up in those years.
So we know that now, being parents, that that was a very good move on their part.
Yeah, and so it was not only an intentional sense of connection with your heart, but an intentional desire to guide you as well.
Yeah, exactly. In this informal kind of a setting, could hear what’s going on and steer you or direct you or nudge you in directions that he felt you should go.
Now, as we did this with our kids, I remember when they were younger.
[6:08] It was a lot more, I don’t want to say lighthearted, but it wasn’t those deep, deep meaningful conversations all the time because the kids were small and they had a limited capacity for that sort of stuff. So we might take them to the play place at McDonald’s and they would play while we watch them. And then when they get out and we have their happy meal, we would talk about what’s happening in their homeschooling or what’s happening with their friends down the street and just let them talk, just let them get things out. And I think you’re you’re right, that built a platform upon which, later more important conversations could happen.
Right, and for you parents who are liking this idea and would like to implement it in your home, we even started this when our kids were really little, like, I don’t know exactly, it was probably around two, three years old, because we wanted them to know that we, you know, me as the mom, I purposely wanted to have alone time with my first child, let’s just say.
And so I would tell Aaron, I wanna spend some time with you.
So let just you and me, mommy and you, we’re gonna go and we’re gonna play with your blocks.
[7:13] For 15 minutes, you know, or, you know, something like that.
And we would try to be creative with our kids with whatever stage that they were in.
So when they were little, we had a lot of home dates, you know, and I remember the other kids asking me, where’s daddy? Oh, he’s with Caleb playing with Legos in this room.
And the kids would know, oh, that’s daddy’s date with Caleb.
And as they got older, we would just do things that we knew that they would enjoy.
But we always were purposeful as the parent.
There were two things. We wanted to build them up and encourage them in things that we see about them and their character.
[7:51] And their likes and hobbies and whatever. We wanna help draw them out and show them the good that we see in them.
And then the other purpose that we had in those dates was to ask questions to help draw out what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling, so that we could know best how to encourage them in the Lord.
Well, many times we would give them verses to encourage them in, and we would pray with them.
So it’s that kind of a habit that we had with our children kept our connection at a good level, and it helped us to be able to know their heart and to get to their heart from young age all the way in life. Yeah, that’s very good. I remember as our kids got close to adolescent age, we became very mindful of this season that they’re about to go into, both biologically and socially and and all kinds of things is gonna have a lot of transition and a lot of changes come to their life.
And so we became intentional about proactively having conversations with them about adolescence and about the changes that were gonna happen in their bodies.
And yes, I’m talking about the birds and the bees talk. We intentionally took those things on because we knew that if we didn’t talk about it in a caring, loving way that put it in the right context, one of their friends would talk about it in an immature, centralized way that would put it in a bad context.
So we wanted to be proactive in that.
Parents, consider this: How many times have you been dealing with your child and realize you don't really know what's going on in their heart? You don't know what they're thinking about a certain subject? You just don't know. Why has that happened? It's happened because you haven't stayed in touch with their heart all along..
Establishing open and comfortable conversations with children
[9:15] And that proved to be so helpful. Not just for the sake of them having the right information and moving forward with a mature attitude about that, but also toward having additional conversations in the future when they’re older and they’re struggling with sexual things or they’re being tempted or whatever, the door was already open and the conversation and the topic was already comfortable.
Right, and it’s such a great platform if you have parents who have young kids.
If you start that when they’re young, they’re gonna love it.
They’re gonna look forward to that because children want to be close to their parents and their parents’ encouragement and instruction, they value.
And so it’s a great platform when you and your husband start having concerns about your children or what they could be moving into.
It’s like, oh, okay, I’ll talk to him on our next date about that situation.
And it’s a beautiful thing. For us, Carrie and I felt like We did not want our kids to date when they’re in high school, because we just know the heartache that can come from that.
We encouraged them to have guy friends or girl friends, but we didn’t want them to have a boyfriend.
And because of the relationship we had with our children starting from birth, they understood where we’re coming from and they obeyed it without rebellion.
And we told them, when you graduate from high school, moving into an age where you can actually, find the person you would date and it could move to marriage, the Transcribed by https://otter.ai.
Establishing Boundaries and Open Communication on Dating
[10:42] That’s when we are okay with you dating because you could do something about it.
Instead of just this up and down, oh, he broke up with me and I’m only 14 years old.
We just didn’t want them to have to deal with that and the added temptation of the physical area that happens.
So that was our decision as parents and our kids were fine with it.
And the dating enabled us to talk about that openly as we went through those years.
So we were able to check in with them. How are you doing with this?
Are there any guys that you’re liking? Well, remember, we’re not dating in high school because of these reasons, reminders, you know, that sort of thing.
And I’m also laughing in my mind as I’m thinking about this.
Though a lot of what we’ve described is very scripted, so to speak, you know, it’s planned and very intentional.
There are also things that come up in the midst of a date that you didn’t plan.
[11:31] But that gives your kids an opportunity to see you handle a situation in a godly or ungodly way, and you need to be ready for that.
I’m remembering a time that Aaron and I went to the church where I was a pastor on a Saturday, and we set up a bunch of army men.
He had an army on one side of the room, I had an army on the other side of the room, and we had rubber bands that we were shooting at each other’s armies.
And I had this great big one that I had found somewhere, and we were taking turns using it because it knocked down lots of men when you shot it.
And I was aiming at his men and pulled it back and was sighting down the rubber band toward his men and it came off my finger and hit me in the eye.
I remember that. Yeah, it was the most painful thing and I don’t remember what I said, I don’t remember what I did, but Aaron still to this day talks about.
[12:18] The way I jumped around the room and all that.
And just an example of how things can happen where your true character might show and your kids get to see how you’re gonna handle difficult situation. Yeah, that’s really good. That’s so true. So let’s talk for a moment about parents whose kids are further along age-wise.
Approaching Dating with Older Children in a Gentle Manner
[12:40] They’ve not done dates to this point. Let’s just, for sake of discussion, say it’s a 13-year-old girl that they have. We can just say a teen years, junior high, high school. Yeah. How would a mom or a dad approach that subject in a way that would have a good chance of that child responding favorably? That, yeah, that sounds like something I’d like to do. Well, I would encourage those parents to approach their child in a way where they’re saying, I really, I just love who you are. I love watching your life and hearing about what is going on with your friends and your school and sports or whatever. And I just feel like sometimes I don’t get to hear enough of it because both of us are so busy. So I was just wondering, can we plan a date? I’d love to take you out for dinner at your favorite place. And maybe we can talk about some of those things I’d love to hear.
[13:32] And just maybe start slow. Or you could even start with your child is in their room doing doing their homework, and you can just come in there and say, when you’re done with your homework, do you have time to talk?
I wanted to hear about how your day was, or just getting them used to the one-on-one conversation with you.
And then also thinking about things that they would enjoy. You know, those kind of ideas, a movie they might wanna see.
Then after that, let’s go out and do this. And don’t try to be sneaky, hoping to ask them all these questions because you think they won’t want you to ask questions.
Tell them, you know, I also, I’d love to ask you some questions.
I’ve been thinking of things.
I’d like to know what you’ve been thinking about it. Is that okay?
Because if it’s something that you think your child would be uncomfortable with, gradually get them used to the idea.
And if they say, no, I don’t really feel good about talking, but I would want to go to the movie, then do that, start out with that.
I think also, obviously, the earlier in your child’s life you can start this, the easier it’s going to be.
But I also think that.
[14:35] You should be approaching it with maybe language that’s more like, I remember when I was your age and I experienced A, B, and C, and there were times when I didn’t know how to handle it or I didn’t understand.
I’m just making this up, so I don’t know exactly what you’d say, but you understand the point. You’re putting yourself in their shoes and you’re reminding them, I’ve been where you are.
I had struggles. I want you to have an asset, a resource in me to help you in those times of struggle if you have them.
And so you’re just putting it in a context of care and a context of helping them through the circumstances that they’re in.
And that might open the door a little more as well. Yeah, and another part of the way we as parents need to think of dating our children is that we’re wanting to just enjoy this period of time, these couple hours with them.
And so, to tell your child that you just like being with them and sorry that you’re so busy, but can we plan a time to spend together?
You know, if your child is a little bit resistant, be patient and pray for them, because I’m pretty sure that they’re going to get used to the idea and ask the Lord to give you creative ideas of how to approach it, what you can do to soften your child’s heart if they’re kind of resistant and not wanting to do it.
[15:58] But deep down inside, every child wants to be loved by their parent and they want to know that their parent loves them and likes to be with them.
So if you’ve been a busy parent, you work full time, you don’t get to see your child very much, they’re busy with their school and sports or whatever, if you start taking initiative showing them how much you want to be with them and that it matters to you, I think that’s gonna start softening their heart.
Continuing to Date and Connect with Adult Children
[16:27] And just to give you a little vision for what this can look like, we currently have all of our kids out of the house, the youngest one’s in college, and we live near some of our kids, and we try to schedule regular dates with them and with their spouses to just go, out and find out how their life’s going, to encourage them, to pray for them, find ways we can pray for them, all those kinds of things.
It all flowed out of doing this as little kids, they just got used to it.
Right, and because they matter.
Personally, they matter to us.
What is going on in their lives right now matters to us. And I actually have a date with my second son tomorrow afternoon.
And I mean, he’s been extremely busy and I’m eager to have that time with him because I don’t know a whole lot of what he’s thinking about life right now.
And so I’m so thankful that he could fit me into his schedule.
Yeah, and when your kids are older out of the house, Obviously, you want to approach it in a non…
[17:29] What would I say, busybody intrusive kind of a way. It’s truly just, I care about you. I love seeing who you are and what you’re doing in life. And I just want to understand and know what you’re going through so I can pray for you better, so I can support you, so I can encourage you, you know, those kinds of things. Yeah. And then just to remind our parents, be purposeful, have questions in your mind prepared or that you’ve already thought of, to ask them, ask the Lord to give you wisdom of what to say, how to encourage them, because God God knows their heart.
He knows what they need to hear from you.
[18:02] So don’t just hang out with them on these dates. Be purposeful.
And of course, you don’t want to be rigid. Okay, now question number three, now question number four.
I mean, not that at all, but just be ready and prepared to purposely show your child, how much you care for them.
Yeah. And I might put in a special word of encouragement to dads.
This was hard for me. I didn’t always know what questions to ask.
I couldn’t come up with things because maybe I’m not wired as relationally as my wife, but my wife would help me.
She would give me insight just like her mom gave her dad insight.
And it’s not a shameful thing to ask for help.
You can ask for help in thinking of what you should talk about. And then just do it.
Don’t let fear take over. Don’t let insecurity or intimidation or any of those things take over.
You’re the parent, be the parent and show care for your child.
The Joy of One-on-One Time with Kids
[18:57] Well, I think we can wrap it up there. This is a fun thing. I hope it doesn’t sound intimidating to you because it really is a fun thing.
It really is, yeah. Yeah, and especially, you know, the more kids you have, the more variety of kinds of dates you have because each kid’s different and you get to see the delightful things about each one of them.
Yeah, and I just had this thought.
I remember feeling at peace knowing that I was able to have that one-on-one time with each of my kids, and that you, Carrie, were able to have that one-on-one time because we’re like, okay, good, we know where they’re at.
We had these good conversations. After Carrie comes home with a date with one of the kids, I can’t wait to hear what their conversation was.
And he can’t wait to hear what mine was with the kids.
It’s healthy, we are where we should be.
And so I just wanna encourage you parents to really think and pray about implementing this in your family life, because it really gives you a peace and knowing where your kid’s hearts are.
The Importance of Staying in Touch with Your Child’s Heart
[19:54] And it can be a consistent, lifelong experience. And here I said we’re gonna be done, but everything you’re saying gives me another thought based on what you just said.
Parents, just consider this. How many times have you been dealing with your child from probably ages seven up to 18, and you recognize you don’t really know what’s going on in their heart?
You don’t know what they’re thinking about a certain subject. You just don’t know.
[20:24] Why has that happened? Well, it’s happened because you haven’t stayed in touch with their heart all along.
And these dates, if you can get these to be a regular thing, are the opportunity to touch base and to get back in touch with their hearts and know how they’re processing things.
So that, I keep saying it, but so that you can pray for them, so you can encourage them. Those are such important things.
And you actually can be a proactive part of their growth.
Lord, we thank You for being faithful to us as parents and for giving us all kinds of ideas. Dates are just one of those creative things we could do to connect to the hearts of our children. Lord, I pray that if this is something that would be helpful in the lives of those who are listening, You would show them ways to make a beginning with it and to really experience increased connection with their kids so that they can guide them in godliness, they can teach them Your word, they can pray for them out of a knowledge of where they’re at and what’s going on in their lives, Lord, and that You would bless their parenting, that You would give them wisdom when they have those conversations. Fill their heads and their hearts with questions that they can ask and through it, communicate to these kids how important they are to their parents. Show them Your greatness through the care of their parents. It really is just an example of Your love for us.