FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Eight Steps to No Regrets

with Dennis Rainey | September 27, 2007
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Are you meeting your daughter's date for the first time? What questions should you ask him? Today on the broadcast, doting father Dennis Rainey shares the eight questions every father should ask a potential date.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Are you meeting your daughter's date for the first time? What questions should you ask him? Today on the broadcast, doting father Dennis Rainey shares the eight questions every father should ask a potential date.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Are you meeting your daughter’s date for the first time? What questions should you ask him?

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Eight Steps to No Regrets

With Dennis Rainey
September 27, 2007
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: Over the years, the following conversation has taken place with a number of young men on the back porch at the Rainey house.

Dennis: A woman is God's creation.  She is a beautiful creation, a fine creation …

Date: [thinking] Okay, wow.  Should I be taking notes?  Is this going to be on the test?  Wait, this is the test.

Dennis: … one of the great callings that you have as a young man.

Date: Yes, sir.

Dennis: You're going to get the chance to spend the evening with this fine creation of God.

Date: Right.

Dennis: And, as her father, I am entrusting to you the care, the protection …

Date: The security.

Dennis: Oh, yeah, all of that.  Man-to-man, I'm counting on you.

Date: Yes, sir.

Dennis: This culture would tell you, as a young man, that your passions are normal, just get into them.  But I'm going to tell you, you're never more of a man …

Date: [thinking] This is amazing.  I thought we were just going to Starbuck's.  He's taking this really seriously.

Dennis: … bring them under control, and so I'm going to ask you, as a young man, to guard my daughter's innocence …

Date: Yes, sir.

Dennis: Her sexual innocence, and her …

Date: Oh, no, the birds and the bees.

Dennis: Not just guard her virginity by guard her emotional purity as well; being careful where you take her and what you expose her to.  I'm going to ask you, as a young man, to truly protect her as a young lady.

Date: Yes, sir, right.

Dennis: You know, I want to thank you for asking out my daughter.

Date: Yes, sir, it's my privilege.

Dennis: And I’m glad you're wanting to spend some time with her because she really is a quality young lady.

Date: Yes, sir, she is.

Dennis: And I think you're going to have a good time.

Date: [thinking] Does this mean I passed? Do I get to take her out?  Yes!  Oh, good.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, September 27th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  Has a conversation like that ever taken place at your house?  Do you think it needs to?  Stay with us.

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition, and we happen to have with us today the man who probably holds the record, the American – maybe the worldwide record …

Dennis: Guinness Book, maybe?

Bob: Maybe – as the man who has interviewed more daughters' dates than any other man in the world.  Don't you think?  I mean, you stop and think about …

Dennis: That would be kind of fun.  If there are any dads who have interviewed more than – my guess is I interviewed somewhere between 30 and 40.  I never …

Bob: Thirty and 40 different guys?

Dennis: Yeah, I don't think I notched my belt or my bat. 

Bob: You should have kept a little notch there, shouldn't you?

Dennis: I should have done that.  In fact, I could maybe try to re-create it, but I doubt if our – we could go back in our scrapbooks and look and see all of our daughters' dates because those guys, you know …

Bob: There's a picture somewhere, isn't there?

Dennis: Well, I wore a seat out out there.  I sat on a spot, and I put the guys on the swing on the porch.

Bob: So you're kind of the Babe Ruth of date interviews, is what I'm thinking.  You've probably had more at bats, and I'm guessing that it started off – the first few times you did this, you were kind of making it up as you went along and, over time …

Dennis: Winging it, sure.

Bob: It got better, and you started to add things and figured out what you wanted to accomplish right?

Dennis: No doubt about it.  I mean, over the lifetime of interviewing young men, I interviewed two young men at once.  That's a good way to do it.

Bob: They were not both taking out one daughter, right?

Dennis: They were taking out two of my daughters.  I interviewed a young man and his dad.  The dad wanted to be in on the meeting, so he came to be trained.  I had one young man who came and said, "Mr. Rainey, I don't want take any of your daughters out, I just want to be interviewed."  And so Stephen came, and we had the interview, and it was a great time with Stephen. 

 You know, we had all kinds, Bob, and that's the point I'd make here, is you don't have to follow my list of eight things that I talked about young men with – just make up your own and decide what you're going to do.  But kind of the bottom line is what are you going to do to protect your daughters and, for that matter, your sons, as they begin the process of showing interest in the opposite sex.

Bob: We haven't gone through those eight things yet.  We're going to do that before we're done here, but you have a friend who just did his first date interview for one of his daughters.

Dennis: Actually, he had two of his daughters who had two young men who asked to take them both out at the same time on a date, and it was some kind of prom-like experience in the fall, and he was just introducing the idea of the interview to all of his daughters, and so he decided, "You know what?  I'm going to take this concept, and I'm going to create what I called 'Interview Lite.'"

Bob: So you'd told him what you do, and he said, "I'm going to" …

Dennis: That's too much for the first interview.

Bob: And we asked our team after talking with your friend, to kind of re-create for our listeners what that experience was like for this dad and for those two young men, so they can hear a modified version of the Rainey Interview.  This, again, is from your audio book for interviewing your daughter's date.

Dennis [Narrating]: Now, if all this seems a bit too intense, if the thought of telling your daughter that you'll be interviewing her dates makes you break out in a cold sweat, not to mention the prospect of actually doing that interview, let me tell you how my friend, Steve, handled it the first time.  He calls it "Interview Lite."

 When Steve told his two daughters about his plan to interview their dates, they pushed back.

Girls: Dad, please.  What are you going to say to him?

Dennis: Steve's responses let them know that he had given this a lot of thought, so they tried a different approach.

Daughter #1: Dad, it's not like it's a date or anything.  We're just hanging out.

Daughter #2: We're just going to hang out and talk.

Daughter #1: Yeah, I mean, doesn't a date require, I mean, going someplace nice or something?

Dennis [Narrating]: If they were looking for a loophole, they didn't find one.  Steve made it clear that a date was anytime a guy and a girl got together alone, in a group, and, most definitely, when just hanging out.

 But to make it easier on all of them, Steve decided to warm his daughters to the idea by interviewing both of their dates at the same time.  For both girls, it was their first date, and they'd been invited to a Homecoming party.  They planned to double-date as sisters, so Steve invited both of the young men to come over to his house for a little chat just before the date.

Steve: Oh, hey, guys, come on in.

Date #1: Good evening, sir.

Date #2: Hello, sir.

Steve: The girls will be down in a minute.  Boy, we've got great weather for the party, don't we?

Date #1: Yes, sir, we do.

Date #2: It's sure nice out there.

Steve: Have a seat.  Michael, Susie says that you have a convertible with a temperamental top, is that right?

Date #1: Yeah, yeah, she would be right about that.

Steve: So it's probably a good thing it stopped raining.

Date #1: Yes, sir.

Steve: Well, this is going to be quite a night.  Were you guys nervous when you asked the girls out?

Date #2: Well, yeah, kind of.

Date #1: Yeah, a little bit.

Steve: I remember when I was in junior high, there was this girl named Tina in my science class.  She was the first girl I was going to ever ask out.  We were lab partners, and we got along great until I tried to get around to asking her to go to the dance with me.  Then I couldn't talk in whole sentences, and I'd get stuck on "Would you like to uh," I couldn't get it out.

Date #2: Really?

Steve: And then she started finishing my sentences, you know, "Would I like to what?  Clean out the petri dish?  Throw away the frog?  What are you trying to say?"  And then I finally pushed through, and I got the words out, and I was shocked when she said, "Sure, that would be cool."  So I understand what it means to be nervous when you're asking a girl out.

 But, you know, I wanted to talk to you guys a little bit before you actually leave with the girls.  The first thing I want to say is thank you for coming over here and talking to me, I really appreciate that.

Date #1: Thank you.

Date #2: You're welcome.

Steve: And the next thing I want to talk to you about is a little more serious.  I just want to tell you a little bit about the girls and how we view things with them, okay?

Date #1: Okay.

Date #2: All right.

Steve: I look at being their dad as a kind of stewardship.  Are either of you familiar with that term?

Date #1: Well, no, sir.

Date #2: Not really.

Steve: Okay, well, it's a person who manages another person's property.  You know, takes care of something valuable that actually belongs to somebody else, and that's how we see Susie and Emily.  We're their parents, but we don't own them, you know?  In a bigger sense, we've been given the job by God to be stewards, to take of them, to take good care of them.

Date #2: Right.

Steve: And by letting them go out with you guys tonight, we are transferring that stewardship over to you for the evening, see?  We're expecting you to take good care of them and, by that, I mean keep them safe and protect their purity.  That's a big responsibility, guys.  If somebody comes into this dance at the gym with a gun, I expect you to step up and take a bullet for my girls, all right?  Are you with me?

Date #2: Okay.

Date #1: Yes, sir.

Steve: It's that level that I'm talking about here, because basically we're asking you to step up to the plate and be the kind of man my girls would be proud of.  I want to feel confident loaning them to you tonight, because you understand your responsibility – that just for tonight, you are being their stewards.  You're taking good care of them, all right?  You with me?

Date #1: Mm-hm.

Date #2: I'm with you, sir, yes.

Steve: All right, good.  Well, have a great time and, remember, have them back by 11, okay?

Date #2: All right, thank you, sir.

Date #1: Okay, you got it.

Dennis [Narrating]: Later, when his daughters asked what he had said to their dates, he filled them in and finished with …

Steve: Really, so basically I just told them they needed to be ready to be a man and protect you if anybody tried to hurt you, and that they needed to treat you with the respect that you deserve.

Dennis [Narrating]: The girls' response was relief, and they said …

Daughter #1: Well, that's kind of cool, Dad, that you asked them to protect us.  I mean, I like that.

Daughter #2: Yeah, yeah, and you didn't pull out the baby pictures and embarrass us.

Steve: Oh, I didn't say I didn't take out the baby pictures.  That one of you – remember?  Oh, yeah …

Dennis [Narrating]: By going Interview Lite with this first date, Steve earned the early trust of his teenage daughters who now think the whole thing is pretty cool.

Steve: No, I didn't show them any pictures.

Daughter #1: Thanks, Dad.

[end audiobook segment]

Bob: Now, do you think he wimped out by not doing the full thing there?

Dennis: No, no, I think it was a good idea because it built his daughters' confidence in him as a dad.

Bob: He didn't really cover all eight of the things that you talk about a dad covering.

Dennis: That's right.

Bob: Walk us through those eight, will you?

Dennis: All right, number 1 – and, by the way, this first point, which I call "Eight Steps to no Regrets," this first step has been preceded by a lot of small talk.  I mean …

Bob: "Tell me about your mom and dad, where do you work, who is your favorite teacher, what subject do you like in school?"

Dennis: "Where do you go to church and what's been your experience with church and tell me about what's God doing in your life today?"  Those are all good questions that are fair questions to ask.  But I turn the corner at a point after I have set it up, and I've said, "You know, my daughter is extremely valuable.  She's not a possession, but I am a steward of her for a period of time.  So there are some things I want you to know, as a young man, in terms of just you and me having some common points of agreement that we need to talk about.

 And this first one goes all the way back to the Book of Genesis, chapter 2, where it talks about God creating them, male and female.  And my first point is a woman is God's creation.  She is a beautiful creation, a fine creation, and she is to be treated with nobility and respect and care and gentleness.  And that's one of the great callings that you have as a young man.

 It's really funny, Bob, as you being to talk about this, and you say, "You know, you're going to get the chance to spend the evening with this fine creation of God.  And, as her father, I am entrusting to you the care, the protection …

Bob: Mm-hm, her safety.

Dennis: Oh, yeah, all of that.  Man-to-man, I'm counting on you, young man.  And I'm very careful not to refer to them as boys.  I am always careful to speak to them man-to-man, because that's what they are becoming.  They are becoming young men.  I mean, if you can fight and die for your country at 18 …

Bob: Drive a vehicle at 16.

Dennis: I'm telling you, you've got some life-or-death issues there in front of you.  So I talked to these young men, though, about how they have probably noticed that my daughter is pretty and attractive, and I talk about how God made that attraction and how, all the way back in the beginning of time when He made them male and female, that He made a man to be attracted to a woman – and that this young man has probably noticed that my daughter probably has a cute figure.

 Now, at this point, when you say something like that, the young man's eyes may dilate.

Bob: Roll back in his head?

Dennis: And if you ask him – and you've got to call this on your own, whether or not you do this – but I have, on occasion, asked a young man if he's noticed …

Bob: … her cute figure?

Dennis: That God created her with a cute figure.  And, you know, if you think about this, how is a young man to answer that?  Because if he says "No," you and he both now he's lying.

Bob: Who's lying, right.  That's right.

Dennis: If he says, "Yes," it's like you've caught him, and that's good for a grin and a chuckle, at that point.  But, you know, it's good to talk about these things.  You know what, young man?  That's good, because God created you to notice those things.  I mean, that attraction goes all the way back to how God designed men and women to be attracted to one another.

 A second thing that I say is just hitchhiking right off of that is that the attraction of a young man to a young lady is both normal and very good, and at that point I get a chance to say, you know, "I want to thank you for asking out my daughter, and I'm glad you're wanting to spend some time with her, because she really is a quality young lady, and I think you're going to have a good time with her, and I'm okay with that, and I hope you do have a really good time together."

 And we may talk a little bit about that, but then, number 3, I say, "I understand and remember what the sex drive of a young man who is in his late teens is really like."

Bob: Wow, you're diving right in there.

Dennis: Yup, and at that point, I'll basically say something to the effect – I say, "I just want you to know that although, right now, I may be in my 40s" or 50s or however old I may be, "I want you to know I have not forgotten what it was like to have this burst within me, this, all of a sudden, an awakening to the opposite sex, and then this compulsion to want to be close and near a young lady and how much you like the way they smell, and the softness of their skin, and their beauty, and it's a wow.

 And I want you to know, I know how a young man thinks," and I've actually said to a young man, on occasion, that because of my work, I've done a certain amount of research in how young men think, and I've found out that for teenage boys who are 17, 18 years old, that they think about sex every seven seconds, and I know, because I know young men, that both those young men who were researched and surveyed that they were lying about the other six seconds.

Bob: [laughs]

Dennis: So in other words, young man, we know, we both know …

Bob: It's on your mind.

Dennis: It is on your mind all the time.  And, you know, at that point in the conversation, you need a little joke like this, and don't expect him to bend over double laughing.

Bob: It does get a little intimidating here.

Dennis: It gets a little intimidating at that point.  Number 4, I'm going to hold you accountable for your relationship with my daughter.  You need to expect to hear me asking you questions about how you're dealing with my daughter in all areas of her life – whether or not you're protecting her physically, whether you're protecting her morally, sexually, and whether or not you're keeping your hands and your lips off of my daughter. 

 And that really leads us to point number 5 – I'm going to challenge you, as a young man, to set a different standard than this culture would give you.  This culture would tell you, as a young man, that your passions are normal, just give into it.  That you'll never be more of a man than when you just go ahead and allow your passions to rule.

 But I’m going to tell you, you're never more of a man in God's eyes than when you rule your passions, and you bring them under control.  And so I'm going to ask you as a young man to guard my daughter's innocence and her purity and not just guard her virginity but guard her emotional purity as well – being careful where you take her and what you expose her to.  I'm going to ask you to truly protect her as a young lady.

Bob: So you were asking him not to kiss her?

Dennis: Yeah, yeah, I actually ask guys to keep their hands and their lips off my daughter, and I'm no dummy.  I know that some of those guys probably kissed.  Now, had I seen them, I would have asked them, "I thought we shook on that.  I thought we agreed to that?" 

 What am I trying to do here, set up a failure?  No, I'm not.  I'm trying to set up a high bottom.  In other words, I'd rather set a high standard and fail from there than to have no standard at all, and allow kids to get sexually and emotionally and passionately involved and find themselves over the cliff with no standard whatsoever.  I think this is a call every parent's got to make, but, for me, I felt comfortable talking to young men about setting a standard of purity that protects my daughter from going anywhere near the edge of the cliff.

Bob: Think of it in terms of grades.  You can challenge your child to get 100 on the test, and if they get a 95, you know, that's still great, right?

Dennis: It's still an A.

Bob: But if you challenge them to just pass, and they don't, then that has significant consequences.

Dennis: That's exactly right.  And that really leads us to the 6th step, which we really kind of hit on here.  I want you to respect and uphold the dignity of my daughter by keeping your hands off of her.  And I just want him, as a young man, to know that I'm expecting that, and that I'm going to be asking him how he's doing in the future.

 Number 7, do you understand everything I've just said to you?  So it's kind of like what is there about the word "no touch" that you don't understand at that point.

Bob: Are we clear?

Dennis: And that's what I said, "Are we clear about why I'm expecting and what you can expect from me?"  And I wait at that point and, usually, the young man will say, "Yes, sir, Mr. Rainey."  I said, "Well, can we shake on that, man-to-man?"  And I'll extend my hand.  That's a good moment.

 And then I say, "I've got one last thing to challenge you with here.  When you're a dad someday, I hope you will challenge your children to abide by these standards and that if God blesses you with children, that you will interview your daughter's date.  Can I count on you?  Because you've been trained.  You have now been through my interview, and" …

Bob: Got your Rainey MBA.

Dennis: "I'll tell you what, and my prayer is you will never forget this conversation because you know what?  I won't."  And the reality is, Bob, I'll bet you none of those young men I interviewed will ever forget that conversation, because who else on the planet will you ever have a conversation of that kind of gritty intimacy, man-to-man, other than maybe your own father or grandfather.

Bob: Yeah.

Dennis: But young men today, trust men, young men today need older men outside of their families who care enough about them as young men to call them to a higher standard.  Here is the thing – I'd challenge dads who are listening right now, instead of just getting one book, buy a box.  Get a box of these books and then start passing them out to all of your daughter's friends' dads so that they can get a picture of what this looks like as well and step up and help some young men to do that as well.

Bob: Yes, and if you're interested in getting a box of books or a couple of boxes of these books, they are available at a discount as you purchase a quantity of them.  Go to our website,, click the red button that you see on the home page that says "Go" on it.  It's right near the center of the home page.  That will take you to an area of the site where you can get more information on how to purchase either a single copy or multiple copies of the book or now the audiobook. 

 We've just released this in audiobook form, and the team did a great job, you and the team working together came up with a great package.  This audiobook is a single CD, but it has a lot of features on it, a lot of some of the things we've heard this week on our program.  Again, there is more information about the audiobook and the hardback book on our website,  Click the red button that says "Go," that you see in the middle of the home page, and that will take you to the area of the site where you can get more information about all of these resources, or you can order online, if you'd like.

 You can also call us, 1-800-FLTODAY, is the toll-free number.  It's 1-800-358-6329.  Someone on our team will let you know how you can have the resources we've talked about today sent to you.

 I remember being at one of our FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences one time and listening as a speaker asked everybody in the audience, "Who's got conflict in your marriage?"  And, of course, everybody raised their hand because, as he said, he said, "I've got conflicts, and you've got conflicts, and all God's children got what?  Got conflicts."  And that's the reality.  Conflict is common in marriage.

 What is uncommon is for folks to know how to handle conflict biblically, appropriately, and get to a point where a husband and wife are able to resolve that conflict in an appropriate manner.

 A few weeks ago, we had Tim and Joy Downs join us as guests on FamilyLife Today, talking about conflict in marriage, and those programs were very well received.  We thought that we'd like to make the CDs of those programs available this week to any of our listeners who can help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount.

 Because we're listener-supported, we depend on those donations to be able to continue the work of FamilyLife Today, and so we wanted to offer them as a thank you gift to those of you who can support us this week with a donation. 

 You can make your donation online at, as many folks are doing these days, and we appreciate those of you who are using the Internet to make your donation.  As you do that, when you come to the keycode box on the donation form, type the word "seven" in there, and that will let us know that you're interested in getting these CDs from Tim and Joy Downs, or call 1-800-FLTODAY.  You can make your donation right over the phone and, again, just mention that you'd like the CDs on conflict, and we'll know to send those out to you.  And, again, thanks for standing with us, being a partner with us in the ministry of FamilyLife Today.  We appreciate hearing from you.

 Now, tomorrow we want to talk about having no regrets as a parent by persevering, by sticking with it even when things get tough, as a dad.  We'll talk about the benefits of interviewing your daughter's dates on tomorrow's program, and I hope you can be with us for that.

 I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

 FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.


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