father daughter dance

What I Learned at My First Father-Daughter Dance

She was so excited about the father-daughter dance that when I arrived home from work she was already dressed and waiting at the window. When I pulled into the driveway, she started jumping up and down. It was one of the sweetest moments of my life. Her face was beaming when I walked in. I remarked how beautiful she looked, before heading to my room to make myself look worthy enough to stand next to her.

Then I slipped out the back door, went to the car to get the corsage I bought for her, and then knocked on the front door to pick her up. Surprisingly, I was nervous. Really nervous. I had a similar feeling when I took her mom out on our first date. I wanted the night to be special for her, one of those unforgettable memories. We held hands to the car where I opened the door for her and off we went.

The night was everything I hoped it would be. We danced, got dessert, took a walk along the river and stayed out past her bedtime. What I couldn’t anticipate were the things I learned through the experience. Here are a few.

The night meant just as much to me as it did to her, and maybe even more.

Sometimes when you least expect it, a significant moment happens as a parent that you know you will remember forever.As we walked along the river, we reached the end of the path so I suggested we turn and head back. My daughter asked me for one more dance. So I put a song on my phone, slipped it into my front pocket, and we danced one more time. That was a gift to me from her. Sometimes when you least expect it, a significant moment happens as a parent that you know you will remember forever. This was one of those for me. Our dance by the river will flood my mind at her graduation, wedding, when she has kids of her own, and so on. These dates are not just for them, they are for us too. Times like that night make life rich and full.

Kids are different one on one.

My wife is a flight attendant so she travels quite a bit. So when we are all together, we are hesitant to break into one on ones. So I hadn’t been alone for a significant amount of time with my daughter. My son is a more dominating personality than my daughter. She tends to be quieter. I prepared myself for there to be lots of silent moments on our date. I even had a list of questions to ask her. I didn’t have to ask a single question. The moment we got into the car she was a chatter box and didn’t stop talking the entire night. Once she had space to talk, I realized that she isn’t quiet at all. It reminded me of the importance of these one-on-one times. I also need to create space for her to talk.

Teaching her how to dance.

Finally, when she goes on her first date with a boy (many years in the future, thank goodness!), she will look back on this night and know how she is supposed to be treated. At least, that is my hope and prayer. I did my best to set the bar as high as I could. I don’t expect any of the young men who are lucky enough to eventually date her to be me. But I do expect them to shoot for a gold standard of treatment. She’s worth it and I hope she knows that more than anything.

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “How do you like to be treated? Do you treat others the same way?”