Connecting to Your Kids
About the Guest
We have e-mail, cell phones, and Instagram. But some of the fondest memories in life are reserved for face-to-face time with those we love. That's why intentional dads Greg Wright and Rob Teigen decided to really get to know their daughters-their likes, dislikes, concerns, fears and passions-by taking them out for regular father-daughter dates. Greg, Rob, and Rob's wife, Joanna, tell how these special one-on-one times have increased the family fun and have built a bridge to their daughters' hearts that will last well into adulthood.
Greg WrightGreg Wright is the author of Daddy Dates: Four Daughters, One Clueless Dad, and His Quest to Win Their Hearts. He is the president and founder of The Wright Track Consulting Co., has traveled the country working with businesses as a motivational speaker, corporate sales coach, human resource analyst and business growth specialist. Greg and his family live in Austin, Texas.
Rob and Joanna TeigenRob and Joanna Teigen are the authors of 88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates, A Dad's Prayers for His Daughter, and A Mom's Prayers for Her Son. Rob is also the author of several joke books, including Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids (under the pseudonym Rob Elliott). The Teigens are the parents of a son in college, a son in preschool, and three beautiful daughters in between. Their family lives in West Michigan.
Intentional dads Greg Wright and Rob Teigen take time to get to know their daughters by taking them out for regular father-daughter dates.
Connecting to Your Kids
Bob: One of the reasons that Joanna Teigen wants her husband Rob to take their daughters on dates is because Joanna remembers some of the special times she and her daddy had when she was a little girl.
Joanna: One of the dates my dad had done with me called “Catch a Falling Star”—waking me up about two in the morning, saying, “Hey, do you want to go to the meteor shower with me?” We’d drive out in the middle of nowhere and threw a blanket on the hood of our big, old station wagon, and just laid there, and looked at what was going on up in the sky. I’ll never forget that—really won’t.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, February 5th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll talk today about what daddies can do so their daughters have unforgettable memories. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us.
Bob: I’m trying to find something here on my phone. Let me show this to you—see / can you see this picture? That’s my son, Jimmy—
Dennis: Oh, yes.
Bob: —at age—I don’t know. He’s probably—
Dennis: Five or six.
Bob: —five or six, dressed up like Batman. And that’s on my daughter-in-law’s refrigerator at their home, right now. She posted that on Instagram® yesterday. The reason I brought it up is because it’s been interesting, to me, to see how the advent of social media—Facebook®, Twitter®, Instagram, these kinds of things—have made connecting with your kids—there’s kind of a new dimension to connecting with your kids with some of these tools. But it’s a different kind of connection than you used to get when you were side by side or face to face.
Dennis: Yes, you can send pictures / you can send notes and texts to your son or daughter; but there is a connection that can only be had—face to face / arm in arm—especially, with our daughters. And I’m speaking about daddy-daughter dates.
Some of my fondest memories, as a daddy, are having my daughter, arm in arm.
I’ll never forget coming back from a date, one time, with one of my daughters—this was back before the seat belt laws were so rampant. I know this is dangerous, and I know there are all kinds of people that would like to write me and rebuke me for being an unsafe daddy [Laughter]—but we had a bench seat in this old Rambler station wagon. One of my daughters was right there—and she was standing right beside me, tucked in under my—underneath my shoulder with her arm around my neck / head leaned on my shoulder—and the glow of that green light of that old Nash Rambler. Some people are wondering, “What’s a Nash Rambler?” But that used to be a vehicle.
Bob: You allowed your daughter to stand up in the vehicle?! [Laughter]
Dennis: But we had had chocolate pie, and chocolate cake, and pudding—
Bob: So, that excuses it?
Dennis: —and we’d been to—
Greg: That means she couldn’t sit still because she was all hopped up on sugar.
Dennis: Yes, exactly; exactly. No, but I asked her the question—I said, “What was your favorite thing about the date?”
I thought: “Well, maybe it will be the smorgasbord where we just hit the dessert tray. We didn’t even mess with the meat, [Laughter] and the veggies, and everything.” She said—didn’t say anything of that stuff. It wasn’t Bambi that we watched at the movie there; but she said, “Just being with you, Dad—just being with you.” She patted me on the shoulder. You know, that’s what it’s about. It’s connecting, heart to heart, and soul to soul with your daughters.
And we’ve got really two great books on daddy-daughter dates: One by Greg Wright—Greg, welcome back to FamilyLife Today—
Dennis: —and the other, 88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates, by Rob and Joanna Teigen. Welcome back.
Rob: Thank you.
Joanna: Thank you.
Bob: And I just have to start off here. Can you—do you still go on dates with a 19-year-old daughter?
Greg: Just went on one on Sunday night, actually.
Bob: I mean, she’s not going: “Okay; Dad, I’m kind of over this. I’m—”; you know?
Greg: No. I say this with every ounce of seriousness. I expect to be dating that one when she’ll have to pick me up from the old folks’ home and take me out. [Laughter]
I don’t know that there is a termination period on daddy-daughter dates. I don’t know that you finish doing that. I think it just becomes more difficult perhaps, but I think you just keep going with that.
Dennis: Well, I can vouch for it being more difficult—
Dennis: —because my daughter, Ashley, who is our first-born, who only lives 90 minutes from our home—the other day we were talking—she said: “Daddy, we were going to go out on a date again this year. It’s been a year since you and I have been out on a date.” We met in between—about 45 minutes in between—go out to dinner—and really just fire up the relationship.
So, to let you know—it does continue to happen, afterwards, and it may be different because of the ages of children—grandchildren, in this case—
Dennis: —but you have to continue to pursue them.
Bob: So, what was your most recent date with your 19-year-old? What did you do?
Greg: Well, we met at a little place called Opal Divine’s in Austin.
It’s just this cool little vibe joint. We sat and had a sandwich together. But that was the night that we just needed to spend eyeball-time. And so, Sunday night was just a very low-key connection night. We just needed to get, eyeball to eyeball, and that’s exactly what we did.
Dennis: Anytime you set an objective like this—of having a date with your daughter—there’s going to be obstacles. Things come at you from all different angles. Rob, you talk about this in what you’ve written as well. What are some of those obstacles that dads have to overcome if they’re going to have a relationship with their daughter?
Rob: Yes, I think there are several obstacles that we can let get in the way of that connecting relationship with our daughters. One is, I think, our past—you know, whether we didn’t have a great role model in our life or struggling to figure out this whole thing—and so, we just kind of pause and wait. It’s really hard, when you’re constantly looking in the rear-view mirror of your life, to see what’s happening in the present and have hope for the future.
That can get dads kind of stuck on: “Why do I start? Where do I start? It’s too late for me.”
I think the other obstacle could be entertainment—kind of mistaking entertaining instead of connecting or taking it as connecting. I think we, as men, tend to connect by doing things. We go to the football game / we go to the movie. Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in watching the thing in front of us, we don’t see the child sitting next to us. So, being mindful of that and not making that all the dates.
And I think the technology that we have today is another—I see this even—we’ve got a Wii™ game at home. All my daughters have DS™ games. When we play the Wii, we’re interacting—we’re having a blast. When my daughters are on their DS games, they’re in the corners—each, in their own corner—I’m doing my thing. There is no connection / there’s no interaction. So, I think being mindful of that, too—that technology is a good thing, but it can also drive us apart from connecting with our families.
Greg: I think Rob touched on something that is super important. I want to communicate this, just as a regular guy. There may be some guys listening that—maybe they have really blown it with their kids, or they’ve blown it with their lives, or blown it with their marriage, or blown it with their job—or whatever it is—and they just feel like they are the worst possible candidate to keep parenting these kids. Maybe, you’ve got a teenager that won’t talk to you, and you’ve really blown it in that way.
I was reading Genesis 38 this morning—it was kind of a funny moment in my daily reading. I was reminded that if you look at Genesis 37 and you look at Genesis 39—and you pull out 38—the two line up perfectly, like there is no scene missed there. God just throws this weird Judah/Tamar story in from out of nowhere. It’s got nothing to do with the end of Genesis, and it’s a horrible story. It’s this ridiculous, pathetic, “Dear God, why are You telling this story? It doesn’t—it’s not even germane to the end of Genesis.” It’s just about Judah really making some horrible mistakes with Tamar, and all the stuff that happens with that; but there’s a hint of encouragement there.
I feel like God is always picking the wrong guy. I feel like church culture would pick the best person—who has this kind of pedigree and this kind of a resume—but God always picks the worst guy possible for some of the coolest stuff. David was a knucklehead, for crying out loud—and he chose David to be this really amazing guy. And he was still a knucklehead—had a guy executed and slept with his wife—for crying out loud. I mean, there is all this craziness going on.
So, if you are listening and you’re feeling like you’ve blown it, fellow, let me tell you—you haven’t blown anything. This song is not over. There is still a lot of singing to do; and you’d be surprised what a little girl really wants, on the inside. You could be an old man and your daughter could be in her 20’s, 30’s, or 40’s—I don’t know—but I just really do feel like God picks the wrong guy and maybe you are it. [Laughter]
Dennis: Greg, I’m glad you brought that up because this book, the Bible, is all about redemption.
It’s all about taking broken, sinful, selfish people who fouled up—
Dennis: —and using them for His purposes; but to your point, you’ve got to get in the game. You have to decide you’re going to risk it, and venture out, and try it. I’m glad you mentioned that your daughter may be in her 20’s, 30’s, or 40’s because we might have a listener, who is listening right now, who feels like he has so fouled up, back then, that there is no redemption now—that’s a lie. That’s a lie. It’s never too late to do what’s right.
One thing I want you to comment on, Rob—when you go out with your daughter, you’re really training her in what she ought to expect from a young man, when she goes out later on; right?
Rob: Absolutely. And the dynamics of that in our marriage relationship—how she sees me treat Joanna is a big part of that as well—but everything I do models to her how she deserves to be treated/respected—the attention she deserves to have. She is my princess; and so, she does deserve to have a guy who is attentive to her every need, in some respects.
I want her to see that. I want her to see how important she is.
The message that keeps kind of coming up is, “Be known.” You know—Psalm 139 talks about, “Search me, O God, and know me.” God knows us; and we all have that desire, in our hearts, to be known. Ultimately, that desire is from—to be known by God and to know God. But as Bob was saying, we’ve been put on this earth, as fathers, to represent God’s goodness to us and our Heavenly Father—our perfect Heavenly Father.
Our daughters desire to be known. When we get in that relationship with them, we want to get to know who they are and let them know that they are important.
Bob: Greg, I’m guessing that your 19-year-old maybe has been on some dates with somebody other than you, by this point?
Greg: My older two have. In fact, my oldest one had a relationship with a guy—and how I do that, by the way—I’ll answer that question, right off the bat; okay—now, that you have a guy knocking on your door, “What’s the plan with that?”
I did probably what I’m assuming what everybody else would do—I said: “Well, listen, I’m happy to let you date my daughter; but you and I have to talk. We have to have a conversation.”
Greg: And there was no gun cleaning of any kind. It was just more of a—just a sit down and talk. So, I sat down with the two of them and said: “Here are the guidelines. I’m willing to let this happen. I’m willing to let you pursue each other, but here are the rules.” And kind of laid out some basic one-, two-, three-step kind of things and what I intended it to look like. When the moment was right, I asked my daughter to excuse us. So, she stepped away.
And so, Junior and I got a chance to talk for a minute. [Laughter] In that moment—bless his heart—he’s a big, old, strapping guy—has a football scholarship. He’s sitting across this table, and he never looked so small. We were talking; and I just said: “Listen. I just need to ask you a question. I need to know: ‘What are you going to do to join me in this fight to protect my daughter and protect her virginity? I want to know what your plan is about that.’” The oxygen left the room. He just—somebody just needed to get him a bottle of water and get a brown paper bag to get his breathing started again.
Dennis: Great question.
Greg: He just sat there for a few minutes; but when it came time for him to show up, he elected really one important answer—that was, “For the next six months,”—what I had told them was—“Over the next six months of your relationship, we’re not doing alone time. Here’s what you do—you can do group dates all you want, you can be here at the house, you can be at your folks house—but we just don’t do one-on-one time.”
He was smart enough to go, “Well, Mr. Wright, if we’re not doing one-on-one time, that’s going to be real hard for me to break that promise.” I said, “Well, that’s a fine answer.” [Laughter] “That will work for now, buddy.”
Dennis: “Keen observation, young man.”
Greg: “So, you’re a thinker! That’s great!”—you know?
Dennis: One of the things that I did, Greg—was when our daughters were young—was I would go out on a date; and I said, “Now, Sweetie, when you get old enough to go on a date, Daddy is going to want to talk to the guy who dates you.”
Dennis: I ultimately put that in a little book called Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date.
Greg: Oh, that’s great!
Dennis: I recently got an email from a friend—that was a cartoon—and I forget what cartoonist—
Bob: It’s Mr. Potato Head—I don’t know who drew it, but it was Mr. Potato Head.
Dennis: It was Mr. Potato Head—the father was Mr. Potato Head. The caption underneath said, “Now, you can go out with my daughter.” And Mr. Potato Head, the father, had ripped the arms off of the young man, who was standing in the door. [Laughter]
Greg: But if I was Mr. Potato Head, I think I’d take his arms off—but then, put my eyes in the car with them [Laughter]—
Dennis: Yes; that’s a great idea. Joanna, we’re all laughing about this and talking about how daddies can really develop a relationship with their daughters. There are some listeners, right now, who are single moms, raising daughters. They don’t have a daddy to date their daughter. What can they do?
Joanna: Well, I think you have to really just go on high alert and look around. You know, make sure you are a part of a supportive community where there are men that you can reach out to—pray really hard that God raises up someone that has a heart for your child—definitely. Or if your daughter has a really good friend, whose parents’ household you can admire and trust, put yourself out there and ask if they’ll involve themselves with what’s going on.
Dennis: The key word is “trust.”
Dennis: And not necessarily everyone in the church—
Dennis: —just because they go to church—but there may be that special person—who you really do know them well—and it really can be a winning idea for your daughter.
Rob: Yes, and I think—just to add to that—we, as dads, that are trying to do this—many times, imperfectly—but as we’re trying to do this, keep our eyes open for how we can come alongside each other. When I listen to Greg and Dennis—you talk about what you are doing with your daughters, as they were older, I’m taking notes.
So, being supportive—and even from a dad, who is trying to connect with his daughter as best he can—to be mindful of those dads around there who may be / or those moms that maybe are looking for somebody to come alongside and encourage their kids.
Bob: Joanna, I grew up in an era where dads tended to be more disengaged from the kids—tended to be providers and that was about it.
Bob: I’m just wondering if you have recollections of being dated by your dad—if your dad was a dater—if you have any fond memories of that.
Joanna: I do. We were in a unique situation because my dad went back to college when I was only six. So, he was probably around the house more doing homework while most dads would be off at the office or whatever.
One of the dates that made it into the book actually came from what my dad had done with me called “Catch a Falling Star”—when I was little—waking me up at about two in the morning, saying, “Hey, do you want to go to the meteor shower with me?” We’d drive out in the middle of nowhere and throw a blanket on the hood of our big, old station wagon—
Joanna: —and just laid there, and looked at what was going on up in the sky. I’ll never forget that—really won’t.
Dennis: Yes, and that’s a great illustration of how an impromptu date like that—again, it doesn’t have to be Starbucks® or Froyo—it can just be a spontaneous—just a time to sit on the back porch, and just chat, and take a deep breath—
--and not always, constantly having to be on the go and having to go somewhere to connect with one another.
Now, I’m going to give each of you the opportunity to share your favorite date with our audience because I think they need some ideas / some additional ideas of what this looks like.
Greg: I have plenty of favorites, but I think one that probably resonates with a lot of the folks is the one with Whitney, my daughter two. It was our very first daddy-daughter date. I had done one with my oldest, and this was—it was time to go out with my second one at this time. I was really throwing my back into this one. It was a phone call—I’d call and ask them to go out with me and tell them what time I wanted to pick them up. Then, I would pull up to the front to pick them up. They’d be decked out to the nines, and I’d be in a suit. And I remember—
Dennis: And she is how old?
Greg: She was probably—she was sub-ten—so, probably, eight or nine, somewhere around in there. I pick her up in the car. I happen to know her favorite food was shrimp. She thought that was just the coolest invention that God had ever made—and it’s pretty cool.
So, I picked her up; and we went to a shrimp place—got her some shrimp. Then, after we finished that, her big thing was book reading. She’s just a reader—she’s a huge reader. I took her to Barnes & Noble—we went to the children’s section. We just read books together, sipping hot cocoa, and just letting her read a page / then, I would read a page. Then, we’d just find funny books. The short ones were the best ones. We had a great time.
When we finished, and we were leaving that night, we got in the car. I was backing out of the parking space—I’ll never forget this. I put my hand—you know—how when you’re backing out, you put your hand behind the head rest, and so you’re sort of steering? I’m looking over my shoulder, trying to make sure I’m not hitting anybody. I catch her cheek, and she’s crying. My first thought was: “You big dummy! What did you do?” I thought: “Did I say something? Did I step on her foot? I don’t even really know what just happened.” So, I waited until the appropriate moment, and I had my courage. I finally said, “Honey, are you crying?” She said, “Yes, Daddy.” “Did I say something? Did I do something?” She just smiled; and she said, “No.”
I’ll never forget it—she said, “Daddy, I just—I’ve never felt this special in my whole life.”
So, then, I started crying. So, we were both crying. And we get home from the date—we’re both crying. It’s not a good idea to come home from a date, crying. There are just some rules about dating. If you’re crying, it’s probably a bad idea. It was just one of those moments. It made me realize: “I’m on the right track with this thing—whatever it is I’m doing. If I’ll just show up, take them—one on one— and go do this thing.”
What Rob was saying is—kids want to be known. The best way to do that is to give them a place to be known by presenting your two ears to them, closing the lips, and just letting them say what they say, and think what they think, and be who they are. It will be virtually impossible for a kid not to dig you if you just do that.
Rob: Yes, I would say one of my favorites was with my youngest. I think she was about seven, at the time—she’s nine now. It was “All about You” date.
This is a simple date—but we just took a poster board at our home—and we got a bunch of magazines. We cut stuff out all about her. I learned all about her favorite foods, her favorite places to go, where she would want to travel.
And just doing that for an hour and putting—having kind of this memory board of “This is Who I Am,”—she was on cloud nine because it was all focused on her. That was a very special date that I’ll always remember. And I actually gave the book to a friend at work. He was going through it with his daughter. That was the first one he told me about. He said, “It seemed so simple, but I couldn’t believe how excited my daughter was after that date.”
Bob: Joanna, what stands out for you?
Joanna: What came to mind was the backyard camp out because you can’t just enjoy—during the date, the daughter gets to have so much fun helping set up the fire—“Oh, Dad, let me play with matches!”—
—and setting up the tent, and planning the food, and gathering all the games they are going to play out there in the dark with the flashlight. And then, Mom doesn’t have to sleep out there—which is a wonderful thing. [Laughter] So, they get this really fun outdoor experience with kind of unlimited, open-ended amount of time to spend with Dad until they fall asleep—but really, a little bit out of the box from their normal routine.
Dennis: That’s cool / that’s fun.
Bob: It’s just an example of what you guys have done for us in the books that you’ve written, where you share some of what you’ve used—some of what you guys have done with your own daughters as you’ve dated them. Let me just mention to our listeners, Dennis—that we have copies of the book, 88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates, by Rob and Joanna Teigen and the book, Daddy Dates, by Greg Wright. Both books are available in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. Go online to FamilyLifeToday.com, and you can order either or both of these books. Again, the website: FamilyLifeToday.com.
Or call, toll-free, at 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-”F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.” And you can order a copy of either or both of these books.
Dennis: Well, the thing I want our listeners to hear is: “The purpose of these dates is to connect—to connect Daddy’s heart to his daughter’s and his daughter’s heart to his.” And it’s interesting—it really does go against the flow of who we are, as dads, sometimes, if you are going to truly connect with your daughter because she is a woman and you are a man. They may not like to do the same thing you like to do—but the point is: “Fight it through and go the extra mile to meet them there because, in the end, it’ll be great.”
And I want to thank Rob—you and Joanna—for being with us and Greg, you too—for just sharing your passion for helping dads and exhorting them to connect with their daughters because I think that’s a worthy objective and goal of every dad—that he needs to assume. Thanks for being on the broadcast.
Rob: Thank you.
Joanna: Thank you.
Bob: We ought to say, “Thanks,” too, to our Legacy Partners and the donors who make FamilyLife Today possible: “Thanks to you guys for your support of this ministry.”
Keep in mind, during the month of February, we are asking God to raise up, in every state where FamilyLife Today is heard, an additional 20 families--that’s 20 families per state. That’s not a whole lot—but you could be one of the 20 in your state, who step forward and say, “We’d like to sign on, and become Legacy Partners, and help make sure that FamilyLife Today continues strong on our local radio station.” If you’d like to find out more about becoming a Legacy Partner, or if you’re ready to jump in and join us, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the button that says, “DONATE.” The information is there about becoming a Legacy Partner. Or call 1-800-”F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY,” and say: “We’re on the team. We want to join you and become Legacy Partners.”
By the way, we want to say, “Congratulations!” today to our friends, Lance and Christa Troyer, who live in Alliance, Ohio, right outside of Cleveland.
They are celebrating their 16th anniversary today—16 years of marriage. They listen to FamilyLife Today on WCRF out of Cleveland. We, of course, we are the “Proud Sponsor of Anniversaries,” here at FamilyLife Today. We’re celebrating our 40th anniversary as a ministry this year. Really, it’s not about our anniversary. It’s about all of the anniversaries that have happened, in part, because of how God has used the ministry of FamilyLife in the lives of so many couples. So “Congratulations!” to the Troyers as they celebrate number 16 today.
We have some ideas and some thoughts for all of you about how this year’s anniversary for you could be your best anniversary ever. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and give us your anniversary date. We’ll get in touch with you with some pre-anniversary ideas on how you can celebrate this year—we have some thoughts for you about that. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and share your anniversary date with us.
And with that, we have to wrap things up for this week. Thanks for being with us. Hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together in church this weekend. I hope you can join us back on Monday when we’re going to hear from our friend, Alistair Begg, talking about why marriage really is important. It’s a great message that he shared recently at the FamilyLife I Still Do® one-day event that we hosted a few months ago. We’ll hear from Alistair Begg on Monday. Hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. Have a great weekend. We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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