Thursday, July 25, 2013

#234 Daddy-Daughter Dates


Christian culture is way into daddy-daughter dates. Yes. They're exactly what they sound like. To their credit, evangelicals have recognized that absentee dads are more or less a societal menace and they appear be taking steps to rectify this within their frame of influence. But the emphasis they place on the daddy-daughter relationship is wildly disproportionate to all other parent-child interaction, to say nothing of creepy.

Part of the discrepancy can be seen by the quantity of ink devoted to this concept. There are pages upon internet pages about daddy-daughter dates, while the number of pages on mother-son dates that I could find are under a dozen. I found even fewer on daddy-son and mother-daughter dates, but no shortage on the daddy-daughter front. These articles lay out details for how and why and when and where to "date your daughter" (that is really what they call it). This appears to come from a lovely sentiment and honest desire to help shape girls into women who know their worth and won’t settle for dodgy men when they’re adults. And yet an equivalent amount of emphasis is not placed on the mother-son / mother-daughter / father-son relationship, and the tone of fatherly ownership of daughters is remarkable. Christian culture does not appear to have a problem with this.

Not surprisingly, the chatter surrounding daddy-daughter dates is directly in line with Christian culture’s M.O. of Doing Things and Avoiding Relationship. Rather than learn about why your relationship with your daughter or son is important, rather than seek to understand why vulnerability is crucial to emotional health and that bearing each other’s burdens is where relationship truly takes place, lists are given and dads check them off.  If fathers were instead reading about female psychology and relational intimacy, instructions on how to facilitate bonding through dates wouldn't be necessary as they would be organically acting out of their desire to know their daughters and honor them. But we don't live in that kind of world. And so here is some actual advice from an actual Daddy-Daughter Date article

“Keep your eyes on her. Looking at your daughter and not cutting your eyes to what walks by takes a little practice. Sure, you can look up at the server once, but that’s it after you order.” 

Now this appears quite inoffensive and even commendable, but no one seems to be asking why this sort of instruction to grown men is even necessary. If he can't relate to his daughter organically, an article on how to go on a date isn't going to touch the root issue. And his daughter will be able to tell if he is doing what he was told as opposed to whether he is truly interested in her as a person. This advice continues: “Keep a few open-ended questions handy.” “Girls want you to pay attention when they’re talking.” (As if boys don’t.) "So here’s the core list of Daddy Dates ‘Dos’: Do call her up and formally ask for the date. Do hold the door for her. Do tell her she looks nice. Do have her choose the music in the car. Do give her a flower. Do talk to her."

And on and on. The exhaustive instructions beg the question: are dads interested in who their daughters are as people or are they more interested in completing a checklist in order to feel they’ve done the fatherly duties required of them? Why are mother-son / father-son / mother-daughter dates not given one-tenth the amount of attention in evangelical culture that daddy-daughter dates are? It's an epidemic within Christian culture: actual relationships are not emphasized, but instead guidelines are given of what would follow naturally from a genuine relationship. They've put the cart before the horse once again.

40 comments:

Danica Newton said...

Oh, ew. This feels so incestuous to me. I went out to have special 'dates' with my dad as a kid, which eventually devolved into coffee every few months in high school, and now pre-dawn walks before the kids get up when he comes to visit. And my husband also takes our daughter out ... but he takes our sons out, too. And my dad took the rest of my siblings out. And my mom took us out. And I take my kids out individually on 'dates' ---

I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that quality time is great, but the focus on daddy / daughter time in CC is emotionally incestuous.

You can love your kids ... but you shouldn't "loooove" your kids.

Karla Keffer said...

I wish I could unsee that daddy-daughter dancing date pic on the linked article even more than I wish I could unsee Geraldo's naked selfie.

Mr. C. Elliot Stern said...

"Sure, you can look up at the server once, but that’s it after you order."

I find that incredibly offensive. I know that's not the point of this article, but you restaurant server is a person and deserves some eye contact when you talk to them.

Helen said...

This is just really bizarre to me. As a child/teenager I always loved one-on-one time with my Daddy, but I would have been totally creeped out if he had called it a date. This just feel like something to check off the holiness checklist and it rubs me the wrong way. Though, to be totally honest, these days just about everything about CC rubs me the wrong way.

Ryan Robinson said...

The date terminology is definitely creepy, and why a one-on-one-time discipline shouldn't also be applied to sons I don't understand, especially since evangelicals love to point out how we need to better raise up men.

But I do understand and even applaud the impulse that probably started the trend. Absent fathers is a big issue and I'm not sure I see it as a problem to make sure you spend time with your daughters (and sons). Maybe where I've encountered it has just been less legalistic than what is talked about here, but it seems to me that the criticisms are exaggerated to speak of it as just another checklist item for a good Christian Dad. I've never heard it put in terms of an obligation.

James said...

It seems to me that the elephant in the room is being missed here. Just as in the OT, girls are property, only worthwhile as long as their "virtue" is intact.

The job for dad is inculcation of the girl in what a "nice guy" should act like, but also to watch the henhouse to make sure the foxes don't come in and steal the goods. If dad is dating her, it is every bit as good as a burqa.

Karen Eaton said...

To answer your question, "Why are mother-son / father-son / mother-daughter dates not given one-tenth the amount of attention in evangelical culture that daddy-daughter dates are?", you can look directly to the beliefs regarding complementarianism and the general sexism and misogyny practiced in evangelical culture. In their view, moms don't need to be told to spend time with their kids because that's what all good evangelical moms do naturally, and women are made, first and foremost, to be moms. Any other purpose for a woman, except perhaps to be a "hot wife," is unnecessary. Similarly, dads don't need to be told to spend time with their boys, because men and boys like to do men and boys things, and dads don't need to be told to do those things with their sons.

An evangelical dad has to be TOLD to spend time with his daughter because an evangelical dad would never voluntarily engage in the activities that an evangelical daughter would want to do. Because we all know that any *good* evangelical daughter wants to play house, have tea parties, bake cookies, go shopping, etc.--stuff a *good* evangelical dad would never want to do. He'd rather watch sports, fix cars, go fishing, etc. Heck, if the evangelical dad actually wanted to engage in something his evangelical daughter likes to do (or vice-versa), one of them may be in need of some sort of "correction" regarding proper gender roles (and you may even wonder if the dad or daughter is secretly gay). Hence the need for daddy-daughter dates: because no evangelical dad serving in his proper male, head-of-household role, would ever willingly spend quality time with his daughter.

The Blog bites better than the Bullet. said...

Dating is for two people who are sexually attracted to each other. Calling hanging out with dad a date is way creepy, and so is the way it's being done by some families in evangelical circles. I don't plan on dating my sons! I enjoy spending time with them, but when they hit puberty I sure plan on staying out of the way while they muddle through opposite sex relationships. I'm here, but I'm not their date! For all their fear of psychology, evangelicals are taking the whole Oedipus thing a little far...

Abby Normal said...

What is it about CC that makes these folks take an initially good idea and push it to the totally-jacked-up extreme?

A dad spending some individual time with his daughter is a good idea. But, no, they can't just leave it at that, they have to call it a "date" and turn it into some kind of icky control measure.

Just like how "waiting until you're emotionally mature enough to have sex" isn't a bad idea, but a CC person can't just do that--they have to do all kinds of extra ceremonies and wear a special ring, or if they're super hardcore they wait until they get married to even kiss. Because lip virginity is even better, I guess?

I'm thinking that all this crap came about out of some kind of twisted one-upsmanship. "Oh, you won't let your daughter date until she's 18,, you say? Well, I only let my daughter date me!"

Anonymous said...

A co-worker presented this concept to me as a "practice" date that he would hypothetically have with his daughter. He wanted her to experience what a date might be like and asked my advice. I was completely creeped out by the role playing that I imagined and told him I thought she should be able to navigate dating by starting with the small steps. (Group dating, dating in a family setting, etc.)
Even though this was years ago, and I still feel sorry for his daughter. This was the same Christian who went to Hooters for the food, but whined that the waitresses spent too much time talking to other men and not to him.

Peg


Anonymous said...

Who says there is a lack of mother-son dating opportunities? Can we forget Motherboy: http://bookriot.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Great-Gatsby-Arrested-Development-Mash-Up-Motherboy.jpg

This practice seems designed, along with the suggestions others have come up with, to let daughters know that they should relate to their dates in the same way they relate to their fathers, as a patriarchal warder who will keep them in hand. Bleh.

Chris said...

Everything you said and more. It feels like an attempt to reinforce gender stereotypes, with the girl supposed to be daddy's little flower. We could take this a variety of directions: is it part of purity culture's attempt to safeguard their daughters? Is it part of trying to enforce patriarchy? Very weird.

Andee Zomerman said...

If it gets me a couple of hours alone in my own house, I don't care what the outing is called. Just take the girls and leave already!

Anonymous said...

Because in CC, men and women are to be totally different from each other and be segregated and only coexist via split gender roles in a marriage. And in CC everyone is expected to marry. There is thus no other path for a CC guy to have anything in common with his daughter and the only way these guys (and their wives) know for him to relate to their daughter would be to do the only CC sanctioned activity for both genders to engage each other which is a mini version of dating. Gross and messed up.

The other parent-child gender combinations are ignored because they don't have (a) the male as the boss and (b) the female as the subordinate and dependent. The father-daughter combination thus gets elevated because it parallels CC 's idolized version of marriage.

Anonymous said...

This whole concept is creepy because it is playing on a pedophilia-like theme. I mean in what other context is it acceptable for an adult man to go on a date with a minor?? Fathers spending time with their daughters is great and necessary. But why dress it up as something that insinuates pedopholia??

Elisabeth M said...

Wow. On several levels.

"Doing Things and Avoiding Relationship" - I have for a long time thought that Lack of Relationship was the big problem with evangelism in general; that there is an audacity which is not virtuous which demands that we ignore the complete disconnect between ourselves and whatever stranger we happen across to witness to them out of a genuine love for their soul. Doesn't work for me. Well, this phrase nails it. And makes me consider how the same pattern might apply to the rest of Christian culture at large...

And yes! the creep factor is huge. How does a girl not feel oddly sexualized by her father when he deliberately takes on the forms and language of a romantic partner? Why can't he just, I don't know, act like her father instead?

Anonymous said...

So when the father asks his daughter out on a date, does she have a right to reject him?

Rachel S. said...

To piggy back on what another commenter is saying, I think this all points back to the idea that in CC men are told over and over again that their parental role is the most important. Women doing a good job as a parent is the de facto expectation. Men doing the bare minimum as a father gets a gold star and a round of applause. We talk so so much about how important it is to have a Good Father (tm), while mothers get very little credit, and a lot of blame when things do go wrong. Same thing with men getting a pat on the back for "babysitting" their children. Also, yeah, the dating terminology is hella creepy.

Jennifer said...

Came across this little jewel today on Pinterest. Yikes

Anonymous said...

I've always felt adult male religious rightists were creepy by nature and now I know one reason why

Unknown said...

just one word---eeeewwww!

Mara said...

I get the creepiness of this whole daddy-daughter date thing, but I have to quarrel with your last few paragraphs. As someone on the high-functioning end of the Asperger's syndrome (similar to autism) spectrum, I can promise you that there "what would naturally follow from a genuine relationship" _doesn't_ "naturally follow" for some people. Some of us need guidelines, and some of us need tacit social rules spelled out explicitly, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Anonymous said...

Re your suggestion over on EE's blog, you bring the booze, I'll bring the lube. And wear something sexy for me baby, damn.

Bill said...

Intolerance at it's best. I'm amazed at the Christian bashing, and on top of that feeling good about it. Every Christian man I know that engages in relating well with his daughter is trying his level best to raise her in a healthy way. I'm sure each of you are trying the same in vital relationships. As you bash the Christian Culture, I challenge you to become more well-rounded and research daddy-daughter dates from other religions--you'll find similarities--then bash those as well. Except of course if you wish to live by double standards and not do so.

Greg said...

Well said, Bill.

Stephanie F. said...

Bill- I don't think that it has anything to do with the bashing of developing a relationship between a father and his daughter. However, what is being bashed isn't the emphasis on developing relationship, its the lack of emphasis in developing a quality relationship with your daughter (or any of your children, which is what it should be). The point Stephy was trying to make was that in these Daddy-Daughter dates, many men are simply using a checklist, or subscribing to an ideal that is popular within their Church circle, without lending it any true depth. If a father should want to engage in an appropriate relationship with his daughter, then he ought to focus on getting to know her... and that doesn't require a formalized (and very creepy) "date". I'm sure you have a point about other religions following the same ideals, and that's fine. It doesn't make it any less inappropriate and creepy.

Just my two cents.

Headless Unicorn Guy said...

Why am I reminded of the punch line of an otherwise-forgotten dirty joke:
"Incest is Best"

Why am I reminded of Craster's Keep in Game of Thrones?

Kayfabe said...

Bill said: "I challenge you to become more well-rounded and research daddy-daughter dates from other religions--you'll find similarities--then bash those as well. Except of course if you wish to live by double standards and not do so."

Bill,

This blog is called "stuff christian culture likes" not "stuff muslim culture likes"

Anonymous said...

Some men have a hard time relating to their kids. This idea of a date is just an easy way for a father to get some pointers on how to connect with his child. I am a mother and I take my " daughter" on dates. There's nothing strange or weird about it. My daughter has " dates" with her dad, and gets to the auto parts store and helps him fix the cars. But there is nothing wrong with giving the guy pointers on another way to connect. There is also nothing wrong with showing the daughter the way she deserves to be treated and a father looking at ideas on how to treat his daughter special. My husband also looks up ideas for dates with me. Helps with creativity. Pinterest anyone?

Kayfabe said...

Yeah this typoe of thing is too mechanical, leave it to the Intstitutional Christian Church turn a decent idea into a formalized creepy chore. On it's own, not a bad idea but all the little details are where the creepiness comes in. Like the no making eye contact with anyone else, are you kidding me? My daughters would think that something is wrong with me if I did that because they know how social and friendly I am. Also there is nothing worng with Dad's being more naturally prone to engage in traditional boy activities with their sons and vice versa moms with their daughters. Its just more natural for me to watcha football game with my son than a romantic movie with my daughter. That being said, we Men do need to relate to our daughters and make a point of doing so. I love my daughters but point blank I have more in common with my son just due to us both being males. So yes I take my daughters on dates but we don't get all weird about it and make it mechanical and formal. My daughters are not my property and they are not my most "chersihed gift" as some Christian Men like to lable their daughters. I love thyem eqally along with my son and I would hope they would all excersice sexual discipline until they get married. I also have no problem with them moving out when they are of age unlike al ot of these Institutional Christian Dads that pressure their little girls to stay at home unti lthey get married.

Anonymous said...

Calling it a "date" is so gross to me. I guess it falls in line with the increasingly modern use of the term, what with "play dates" being a thing and all, but I still don't like it. Why can't it just be "quality time with your kid(s)?" Why does it have to be a date and then for extra grossness, follow a stereotypical teenage boy interested in teenage girl date? Jeez, this stuff is so creepy. Second only in grossness to Purity Balls.

Anonymous said...

I really don't hear any Christians ever saying the other relationships (father /son / mother /son) aren't important, that is absurd. There are numerous books and articles written about father son / mother / son relationships so I am not sure why one would harp on that point and act as if it is lacking? No one will argue absentee dads is the bigger issue. The emphasis Christians place on dad's dating daughters is not to promote incest (which is a stupid position to take although some probably feel vindicated in a twisted way by typing or thinking this) it is to encourage dad's to teach them about respect, as many girls seek to fill the void of an absentee dad with a man who shows interest but doesn't respect them, and perhaps abuses them. This is not a hard concept to understand, seems like a lot of venting over a very innocent and well intended emphasis. Sit back and laugh if it makes you feel better, i for one applaud the focus cc has put on building relationships with kids, far better than the days when kids were told to shut up while the adults speak. Jesus took interest in Children too, had nothing to do with gross incest. Quit twisting good intent, go take positive action rather than point fingers at people who mean well. Negative blogs never got much positive change accomplished.

sassafrass said...

"It's not a date. It's an appointment."

Anonymous said...

I'm a father of two daughters. I came across this site in search of ideas that would help me stay connected with them as they grow and change. I've found some great ideas. Unfortunately not on this site. It was a total waste. Now, had I been searching for examples of sour grapes, I'd consider this article a bulls eye.

Anonymous said...

The reason why father-son/ mother-son "dates" aren't popular is because of a complintarian family structure. If a mother is at home and a father is working then there is no need to schedule a "date". Gender roles should be a part of a Christian home as well. When a father and son have accepted there role based on gender they will share interest. So no need to schedule time for that either.

So it comes down to the word "date" and that is what this article is about. I will agree that it is weird to claim you are dating your daughter. Seriously, who cares? Some guys are spending time with there daughters and calling it a "date" and because they are Christians you rip on them?

Think about this, you don't like Christians because some not all force there beliefs on others and spread hate against homosexuals and other groups. As I had said this group is some not all, in fact this is a minority in the Christian community. You respond to this aggressive minority of Christians by being an aggressive atheist.

Some Christians pass assumptions about other groups and you don't like that so you pass assumptions about Christians.

You are what you hate.

Click here for protection said...

Let's just step back, breath and take it for what it really is. Good dads trying to make their daughters happy. Let's come together and appreciate that. Yes there are a lot of sick things in the world and we can't turn our heads to that, but making broad assumptions to cast negative implications is fueling problems. We are all Gods children.

Michael Sewell said...

Wow, I just stumbled on this sight, and I have never seen so much judgement doled out in one place. I know just how terrible and dehumanizing Evangelical culture can be, but I see nothing here that is any better. This is the same kind of extreme absolute, black and white thinking that makes it's so difficult to have any reasonable conversation in much of the evangelical pop culture environment.
Our daughter is 18, and she and I had many times together over the years, when we would go out without mom. I would completely focus on her and what was important to her. Sometimes we called them dates and sometimes we didn't. So many of the posters here have alluded to something perverted in that. We also had pretend wedding ceremonies and reenactments of Disney movies, and scenes from Star Wars etc. It was innocent play. Does everything I do have to be viewed as sick and manipulative just because I'm a Christian?
My daughter, is one of the healthiest happiest, most fascinating people I have ever known. She graduated from high school with a 4.15 GPA, and has managed to get close to a full ride in college due to her achievements. She is well rounded, well traveled, well adjusted, and has been exposed to very point of view her mother and I could introduce to her. Our relationship continues to be one that we both enjoy. I am thrilled to watch her launch, and will once again be very sensitive to make sure that I adjust my role and see to it that I facilitate her by being supportive and loving in a way that will be most beneficial to her.
I understand that the purpose of this site ostensibly is to point out the foibles of evangelical culture, and give voice to people who have been harmed by it, and hopefully affect some positive change, but this thread is falls short.
Currently I am working with a psychologist to develop a child development program that institutes acting and music for social and neurological development targeting socially impaired children and children with Aspergers. The most recent research shows that role playing is one of the most effective ways to model healthy and appropriate relationship styles and encourage neurological development.
If you don't believe me because I'm a Christian, check out the work of Adele Diamond. She's Jewish.

Lee said...

Your post as well as most of those that commented show how culture is warped. A date does not mean having sex. When I have a date with my wife, something that both Christian and non-Christian friends have, it is not an appointment to have sex but a time to be together where the focus is on them. It certainly can and should enhance romance because that's a key part of the relationship. A dad/daughter date is the same. It enhances the relationship, not encourages romance and especially sex as many here seem to think. If this was so(!) undesirable by everyone except evangelical Christians as you try to indicate, why are my daughters friends, non-Christian and Christian, jealous of those "dates" I have with them? Is it because they wish to have sex with their dads because they think that's the point of the "dates"? I hardly think so.

By the way, you're not even remotely entertaining as the blog you ripped off and for the most part looks like you have a chip of bitterness on your shoulder whereas the other is mostly humorous.

Divine Chiteve said...

This whole "daddy-daughter date" thing is somewhat creepy. I grew up in a home with a very present father figure, who played with me when I was little girl, helped me through tough situations as a teenager and up to now will send me an sms if I'm out late at night to know what time I'm coming back. We spend quality time together,and we never have to schedule it! I also happen to have a little brother who is every bit as protective and loving as my dad, with whom I have a healthy loving relationship, and as if that's not enough my Mom is absolutely amazing and literally my best friend and sister! Now, I'm not saying that Fathers shouldn't spend time with their daughters, I'm just saying that we need to learn to balance the family unit. If you are stressing one relationship more than the others then there is a definite problem, and it is not going to be fixed by putting in place rules and regulations to change that. Just a thought.

Spike Morden said...

This is entirely scriptural. As early as Genesis, we have an account of Lot dating both of his daughters.