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December 06, 2011
It is unlikely that I am the only father who is more than a little bit intimidated at the thought of raising daughters. Terrified and overwhelmed is more like it. If I didn’t have strong, Christian role models to emulate (my own parents among them), I might just despair. One of the early lessons I have learned (I’m still relatively new to this—my girls are just 9 and 5) is the value of daddy dates, which is to say, taking out my daughters and spending time alone with them.
Greg Wright is a motivational speaker and executive coach whose challenge is twice as tough as mine; he has 4 daughters. Wright is the author of a new book titled Daddy Dates: Four Daughters, One Clueless Dad, and His Quest to Win Their Hearts. The book showed up in my mailbox the other day and I just had to read it. This wasn’t a tough thing to do since a) it’s only 210 pages long, b) those 210 pages are quite small with a lot of them being blank, c) the book is meant to be easy-to-read and d) I know that I need help in this very subject.
What this book is not is yet another parenting book on how to lead your children from the cradle to the wedding day. The focus is narrower than that. Wright seeks to help fathers pursue the hearts of their daughters. He does this primarily by pointing to his own example; the book is a memoir of sorts in which he shares lessons—the good and bad—from 18 years of raising girls.
And this, where he points to his own example, is where the book shines. Where it lags a slittle bit is where he goes along on brief forays into some kind of personality profiling. He has great advice on pursuing daughters, from asking them on a date (He just calls them and asks if they’d like to go on a date with daddy that night), to what not to do on those dates (Hint: leave your cell phone muted and in your pocket), to specific suggestions for activities and special events, to teaching how to understand the ways in which girls communicate. It’s all quite helpful, hopeful and, perhaps best of all, doable.
I know that it can be unfair to criticize a book for what it is not, but you’ll have to indulge me for just a moment. As much as this book contains a lot of practical advice and sound wisdom, what it does not contain is gospel. There is not a Bible verse to be found. There is not a single mention of the role the local church can provide in raising daughters. And, in fact, the only way you could guess that Wright is a Christian is by his publisher (Thomas Nelson) and the fact that he mentions a brief time of prayer the family enjoys each morning. As much as the book is useful and practical, it could have been much more so had Wright explicitly grounded what he teaches in the words of the Bible. While that is not a fatal flaw in the book, it is a noteworthy one.
I suppose I see this book as being like a recipe—the kind of recipe that looks good, but not quite delicious. Yet you look at that recipe and know exactly what you need to add to really make it a masterpiece. If you take Daddy Dates and add to it the gospel and spiritual conversation—perhaps by also reading Jay Younts’ Everyday Talk or another book like it, you will have the makings of what I hope can be some beautiful, meaningful, memorable times with the girls the Lord has entrusted to you. And for that reason and in that context I gladly commend Daddy Dates.