This is one of my all-time favorite topics to talk about. Dating your child. Dating is a way for two people to bond, get to know one another and discover attributes that are positive or negative about the other person.
As a mother, I want to know that my child is growing spiritually, has a good understanding of what it means to be a man, that he is happy and content in life and that he is confident and likes who he is. By dating my son and spending time, just the two of us, I will learn those things. And the bonus will be that he knows I want to spend time with him and that I care.
Only having one child, date nights are fairly easy for me to accomplish, however I have a friend who has four children and so her solution looks quite different. Once per week she has a date night with one of her children and they rotate so that each person has a turn. Sometimes she chooses the date night plans and sometimes they do. She has worked out with another parent that they babysit the other children during these outings and she babysits for them when they have theirs.
After speaking with her and compiling my own list, we have some great ideas for you as you venture into this bonding time with your children, one-on-one.
1) Putt Putt Golf/Glow Golf
2) Movies can are good, but since you sit without talking, do dinner or something else before/after.
3) Dinner at their favorite restaurant.
4) Scavenger Hunt around town.
5) Bike ride to a park where you have a picnic.
7) Frozen Yogurt
8) Go somewhere scenic and watch a sunset. (beach, mountains, park)
9) Try on outfits at clothing stores with no intent to buy, but just to have fun.
10) Get pedicures.
11) Go to a state/county fair.
12) Museum, Aquarium or Art Gallery. A lot of places have kid-free days.
13) Take a walk together.
14) Go somewhere to look at the stars.
15) Pick him/her up from school a bit early and get an ice cream.
16) Make Dr. or Dentist appointments more than just getting business done. Have lunch after or grab a fun snack.
17) Walk around an indoor or outdoor mall.
18) Exercise together.
19) Go to a community pool.
20) Make something together. Artwork, pottery, clothing, blanket, a meal.
21) Water gun fight outside.
22) Play with their toys, with them.
23) Wash the car or pet with them.
24) Bless someone else with them. Make someone a meal, dessert, etc. and take it to them, together.
25) Make "thinking of you" cards and take them to a retirement/elderly home.
These are just some ideas but there are so many more that are cost-effective, as well specific to where you live. Being able to talk and converse about topics important to your child is number one. They need you to care about them and what they care about. When you show an interest in their thoughts and life interpretations it enables them to feel important to you. They are likely aware of how busy you are and whether they say it or not, the time you take to spend with them will stick in their memory banks forever. But, even if your child is very young, begin this habit of dating them and you will be glad that you did. Be sure whatever you choose for your date night, that you are able to hold conversation and good listening time.
Dating for the idea of bonding is the main reason that I am an advocate for this, but there are great side effects. As a parent, you will know your child better and be confident about where he/she is in their life journey. You will teach them how to date someone (i.e. my son opens my car door and learns how to act respectfully) and you will be building memories that will last a lifetime. The more you date your child, the more the habit will be instilled that they can talk to you and most importantly, that you will listen. Something to remember is that you listen without giving advice unless asked. Simply give them a platform to share and let them venture into their own decision making. Guide but do not shut them down or date night will no longer be a positive experience for you both. Your children are watching you and likely how you bond with them is how they will bond with their future children, friends, spouse, etc. Be a good example. Both of you will be better for it.