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A dad’s role with his daughter’s suitors

In the Christian school our kids attended, they sometimes stood out. Once when I discovered that one of our daughters was having a more exclusive relationship with a boy from school, I felt that he was trying to circumnavigate me. So, I asked her to tell him to apologize to me for going aroun…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

In the Christian school our kids attended, they sometimes stood out.

Once when I discovered that one of our daughters was having a more exclusive relationship with a boy from school, I felt that he was trying to circumnavigate me.

So, I asked her to tell him to apologize to me for going around my authority. She did and, abashed, he called me up to apologize.

When he asked if they could still go out, I said, “No.”

She later thanked me, realizing that the guy didn’t respect her.

That same daughter has struggled with falling for guys too quickly on several occasions. Each time I’ve held to a hard line. I can hear the brickbats coming my way, “You’ll push her too far. She’ll think you’re controlling.” And I won’t deny there aren’t risks. But look at the risks on the other side! Purity of heart is worth fighting for!

This same daughter, now away at college, told the family that she has one criterion for her future husband, “Daddy’s got to like him.”

Wow! What a responsibility. This is not a girl that struggles to make up her mind. She’s one of the most strong-willed of our brood. What sounds arcane to our modern ears is borne out of a respect for standards and purity that flies in the face of society’s dictates.

One Christmas, her present to me was particularly thoughtful. I have four daughters fast approaching a marriageable age. She bought four little silver locks for each of them. Then she gave me four little keys, one for each lock. One day, if they meet the right man, I’ll give their future husbands “the key to their heart.”

My point in relating this is not to give some system for you to copy. But for goodness’ sake, we parents need to wrestle with this issue! Some of us need to get some backbone! How many adults are modeling a lifestyle of purity? How many are passing it on to the next generation?

Comments (10)

  • My Dad had a different method, but the same concept. I could never seem to bring home a guy that would pass the test. Many years later, Andy and I are now approaching our first anniversary and he and my Dad spend countless hours together . The first time they met, they spent three hours discussing everything under the sun and Andy got the approval. Dad had always said, “Dads know these things, trust me.” I’m glad I did.

  • I’ve been talking with my girls about ‘giving away their hearts’ since they were old enough to understand the concept. They know that they are only supposed to give their hearts to the man who is to be their husband.

    They also know that they’re not going to date, in the traditional sense. (If you think about it, that’s an ironic statement. Dating has really only been around since WWII. IMHO, there’s a direct correlation between the onset of dating and the increase of the divorce rate) Why would I put them into situations that even I’m not allowed to be in? Alone with a sixteen year old of the opposite sex, for instance.

    If he wants to get to know my daughter, he can have dinner, play cards (we’ll see what he’s really like when he wins/loses), watch a movie, all here at my house. This is a much more realistic situation than a date. Come on, admit it, which do you do more of now? Date or stay at home? Even the most romantic of us spends more time at home.

    Ironically, as with homeschooling, I get more flak about this from my Christian brothers and sisters than from people in the world.

  • This is the one area that I’m most afraid of in my Christian life… raising pure daughters. Mine are 6 and 5.

    Any advice, tips, books, recommendations, or anecdotes that you have on this topic, I’ll take!!!

  • Seth, you just hit the spot for every dad with young daughters who read this blog. And Mark, all you wrote is well stated. It’s a fact that the dating/breakup cycle lays a cracked foundation of “mini-marriages/mini-divorces.” For all Christian dads: think again if you believe dating is harmless. It’s not. Take charge and protect your daughters from a needless and destructive emotional rollercoaster. And I’d rather catch the flak, even from ignorant brethren, than try to piece together my daughter’s broken heart.

  • Not having had the strongest of father/daughter foundations, it’s been God’s grace to show his presence in my “personal” life. Being a mature woman, widowed and with one child, “dating” has not been easy. Growing in my relationship of trusting the Father with all of my life has required an education in how He sees me. It requires new programming. It’s been awesome to see doors shut from the Heavens the way you human daddies describe shutting out the “wanna be’s” of your daughters’ lives. At times I’ve seen “Big Daddy” show up at the door of my life with a bat. He usually does it by reminding me of my Holiness,my precious worth to Him and His love for me. When women believe this about themselves,it speaks volumes to potential suitors.

    I commend you as earthly fathers for taking such a deliberate role in the lives of your daughters. While you may know it is the right thing to do, you couldn’t possibly know the impact even one slight look from you has on your daughter. It all matters.

    It would be great to have more dads like you stand in the gap for the orphans of the world. Many of them actually have physical fathers that are simply absent. While I am filling the mother role to the best of my ability and teaching of God and godly principles, there is simply no substitute for a male figure investing in a little girl’s life. It all matters.


  • The original post sounds a bit over the top to me.. a daughters partner choice should be hers and not a great deal to do with over-bearing dads.

    Be there when their heart is broken, support them, pick them up and they will be stronger tomorrow.. don’t try and interfere all the time.

  • A wise young woman knows to take advice from someone who loves her, and knows her well. A wise person, in general, takes advice from elders. I know it’s in Proverbs more than once.

    As the bride of Christ, sometimes we choose idols. Thank God, Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted. God doesn’t force us to choose Christ, but He is in our best interest…. the Father would know.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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