Do you remember how exciting it was when you first started dating your husband, spouse, or partner?
I can still remember being a young teen, dreaming about what it would be like to go on my first date. Years later, I can still remember my “last first date”, the one I went on with my husband. It was nothing fancy, pizza out and and a movie, then hours of conversation. Years later, I still get so excited when we plan a date night. I bet you do, too. We’ve all been told how important it is to keep dating our spouses, long after we’ve said “I do”, and long after the kids have come along. And it’s true.
But did you know that it’s also important to date your daughter? Yes you, Mom. It’s true that daddy/daughter dates are precious and do so much for our girls, but WE have to invest in those girls, too. So, to that end, it is a great idea to start dating your daughter. Here are just a few reasons why.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO DATE YOUR DAUGHTER
1. It sends her a message that she matters to you.
We take time to pursue the things that matter to us. If we’re invested in our health, we spend time at the gym. If our careers are important, then we invest time and energy into them. The same thing goes for our daughters. Being intentional and purposeful about carving out solo time with your girl will send a clear message that she’s important to you. This message is crucial. She needs to know that she matters to the people around her. Let that message start with you.
2. It opens the door to comfort and conversation.
it’s funny to consider that we need to get comfortable and connected to our teen daughters. I mean really! We are their mothers! We have been raising them for 13, 14, 15 years or more! We should be comfortable with them, and they should be comfortable with us. But I’m not so sure this is the case once they move into those tween and teen years. Their bodies are changing, their brains are developing, their social groups are confusing them, and they are finding themselves uncertain about a lot of things. And chances are, they probably don’t feel too comfortable sharing it all with you. So you have to open the door, Mom. Yes you! Not her- you! You have to open the door to comfort, trust, and talk. You do this by investing time in her, most powerfully by taking her out somewhere (even if that’s a date in your living room).
3. It reminds her that you are a safe space.
This ties a bit into that last one, but safety is a very critical piece of this puzzle. As we just noted, our girls are entering a whole new world when they become teens. So many things out there can confuse her, scare her, endanger her! She needs to find a space where she feels safe. By investing time in her, by spending time taking her out, you become that safe space. I shared, in an earlier post, a great metaphor of the mother/daughter relationship and how our teen girls venture out into the waters of the world, and how we must be their “pool wall”. We must be their safe space. We do that by taking time to take them out. (If you have no idea what metaphor I’m referring to, you can read that here.)
4. It creates an example for her on how she should be treated by anyone she dates.
Usually, this falls on Dad. We send our daughters out with their daddies early on to teach them what it’s like to be with a man who treasures them. It’s a wonderful concept, and one our daughter is learning from her dad. But why stop there? Why can’t I show her, too? Simply put, the more both parents are pouring into her about how precious she is and what a treasure, the more she will realize that she should be treated similarly by any person she chooses to date in the future. Give her an example by treasuring her.
5. It cultivates one of the most important relationships she’ll ever have in her life.
I have been gifted with a mother who openly loves me, and who has poured love and safety into me from the time I was a baby. Not every girl can say that. But every girl SHOULD BE ABLE to say that. Let your girl be able to say that. The mother/daughter relationship is one of the most powerful and purposeful relationships a girl will ever have- for good or for bad. We moms get to make the choice which side of that statement we want to fall on. I want to leave a lasting impression on my daughter for GOOD. It is obvious that you do too, or you wouldn’t be reading this. Making the mom/daughter date a regular thing is a great way for us to do that.
So how then, do we date our daughters? Simply enough, we just ask. Go find her today, and ask her if she’d like to go out with you this week. If your daughter’s a young tween like mine is, then chances are she’ll be thrilled over the idea. But you might get some eye rolling if she’s older, or if this is a new concept for you both. Don’t worry. With a few good “date ideas” and a positive mindset, you’ll be dating your daughter in no time! And for that reason, I’m sharing with you five of my favorite mother/daughter date ideas.
MY FIVE FAVORITE MOTHER/DAUGHTER DATES
1. Starbucks and The Local Bookstore
OK, I’m going to, of course, lead with a favorite! Even if our girls are too young for coffee, or if we’re not into it ourselves, there are endless yummy treats at Starbucks, or the local coffee shop. And even better, head to that Starbucks that’s near the bookstore! You can splurge on a new book, or just browse. I always have a list of a dozen books I want to read, so the bookstore is my favorite place. My daughter LOVES all the trinkets there- the colored pencils, the journals, the bookmarks, and more. We can browse alone for a bit, then grab our new book, head to coffee and sit and share what we found. There is no need to get “deep” into any conversation. The purpose here is to just enjoy time together!
2. A Morning Workout at Our Campus Gym
My daughter and I enjoy this one, too! Our gym is on our school campus, and we usually have the place to ourselves, so this is a super fun date for us. We pump up the music (although she hates my 80’s stuff) and we get to it. She usually ends up dancing around and skipping the burpees, but we are together, we’re sweating, getting healthy, and we’re miserably happy. And (for us at least) this one is free! And good for everyone!
3. A Shopping Trip to The Mall (or Her Favorite Boutique)
I don’t think I know a teenage girl who doesn’t LOVE shopping, so this one is kind of a no brainer. But sometimes we forget. Or we think we can’t afford it. No worries. You can tweak this one to just go window shopping. Or you can save up a few bucks and surprise her with the trip, announcing that she can choose one thing. The point is to go together. Soon enough (if not already) our girls will be shopping at the mall without us, so let’s try to enjoy this one while we still can. One note of warning though- remember to keep it light and fun. Don’t argue about clothing or what’s appropriate. Try to find the good in the experience. Remember this is about building connections and pouring that message into our daughters that she matters to us. That’s a bit harder to do when we’re fighting with her about how the shorts are too short!
4. A Late Afternoon Hike at The Local Park
My local peeps will appreciate this one the most, but even my non Coloradans can do this. There is beauty everywhere. You just have to see it. I remember a few walks just around the neighborhood with my mom, and growing up, our neighborhood was nothing spectacular. It was just the time spent that mattered. Of course, like I said, if you live out here in the Rockies, then you’re a lucky mom, and you can hike anything from the lovely flat trails of Fountain Creek Park, to the Incline, to Pikes Peak! Seriously, we are not quite ready for the steep stuff, but there are trails everywhere- even in our own backyard. Just get outside together. There is something wonderful about walking side by side, not having to look eye to eye. It creates comfort in sharing, and some of the best conversations happen that way.
5. A Portrait Shoot at The Location of Her Choice
You knew this one would be on my list of favorites! Seriously, I have been photographing teen girls for about a decade now, and honestly I am having more fun than ever photographing my daughter. Because it’s so much less about the photos and so much more about the date. We choose a fun new spot, make a date of it (this usually involves a frappe for my girl!), and just enjoy time together. The portraits are the icing on the cake, but here’s where this date becomes extra special for me. Because those photos do become the icing. What other date can you go on, and then have evidence of it long afterward? Sure the jeans you bought on your shopping date are a nice reminder, or the book you picked up, but there is something about seeing those photos of my daughter. I laugh all over again reliving the date. And without fail, every time we do the portrait date, my daughter gets in the car and exclaims, “Mom that was awesome! We should do this again tomorrow!” Now I know my daughter is still a young teen, but that’s the foundation I’m trying to build with her. I don’t know that she loved the click of my camera. What she loved was the laughter, the funny expressions I made from behind my camera, the way I made her pose that cracked us up, or the way random strangers jumped into photos with her (yes, this has happened and we loved it!). So yes, this date is my favorite. And yes, I can teach you how to use your camera so it can become your favorite too (because it could also be one of those free ones, thanks to digital photography).
I hope you found one of these dates a great inspiration for you. Or maybe all of them! Don’t forget to grab the free checklist for even more date ideas for you and your daughter.
I challenge you to go try one of these! Go ask your daughter on a date and cultivate that relationship with her. You’re the only mom she’s got. Invest the time and energy into her. You both deserve it.
If you found this blog post useful, and you want to dive deeper with me on the topic of how to cultivate closeness with our teen daughters, and how to build a trusting relationship with them, I have a brand new course coming out very soon! It's called "Cultivating Closeness: Practical Steps To a Closer Relationship With Your Teen Daughter", and its goal is to help moms everywhere foster a deeper and closer relationship with their teen daughters through some simple but powerful steps. If you want to be one of the first to know when this course comes out, be sure to get on my Cultivating Closeness Waitlist! There will be special bonuses and treats for my early bird registrants!