Dating My Children

FAMILY

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My wife was reluctant to marry me. I can’t say I blame her. We met at a church campout in Kamas, Utah. She introduced herself. I mumbled something in reply. She had me at hello. Over the following year, I tried to convince her that I was worth the investment. It began with dinners,
candles, and flowers. But that didn’t win her heart. Looking back, I’m not exactly sure why she finally fell in love. It might have been the chicken soup when she was sick. Or skipping class to scrub her kitchen floor before an imminent cleaning inspection. Perhaps we both realized there was something more to this relationship when she told me she only wanted to
be friends and we still were. Twelve years, six children, and countless adventures later, I continue to work on my soup recipes and she is still my
best friend.

But the story doesn’t end there. With career demands, crying babies, and relentless doses of real life, it is easy to forget that courtship is a lifelong pursuit. Simply stated, relationships need nourishment to survive.
I think we have understood this for our marriage, but this week I learned something new.

After a challenging day at work, I was less than my best self. Desperately needing an evening of peace, I instead returned home to the whirlwind of our daily life. As two of our children started fighting over who knows what, I lost my temper. Our six-year-old daughter became instantly silent. Tears filled her eyes and she ran to her room to hide from her daddy. My quiet knock on her door was returned by an appropriate reproach: “Go away! I don’t like you!” I entered anyway to attempt an apology. “Daddy is so sorry,” I tried to explain. “It was wrong for me to yell at you.” Her response: “I still don’t want to talk to you!” “Sweetheart,” I petitioned, “sometimes daddies make mistakes. Are you ever going to talk to me again?” Her next answer altered my approach to fatherhood. “I might want to talk if you take me on a date!”
I immediately knelt down on one knee and asked my daughter out on a date. Thankfully, she accepted.

My wife chose me. My children got stuck with me. For me, the birth of
each of my children was a case of love at first sight. Perhaps for this reason,
I sometimes forget that they might need more time to feel the same way. And so, I have some work to do. And it won’t be about the extravagance of any one-time event. Enduring relationships, I am learning, are built upon consistent acts of service and love. This will be as true with my children as it was in college when an awkward boy actively sought the girl of his dreams.
I don’t always know how to be a dad, but I have an opportunity to learn more tonight on a mid-week date with a beautiful six-year-old. I look forward to falling in love all over again.

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