Winning Your Daughter’s Heart
About the Guest
When Greg Wright realized that he didn't have a clue who his daughter's best friend was, he decided to do something radical to reconnect. That's when the concept of dating his daughters took shape, and he's never looked back. Greg joins another fan of daddy-daughter dates, Rob Teigen, and his wife, Joanna, to talk about the benefits and challenges of spending one-on-one time with their daughters.
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.
Greg Wright joins another fan of daddy-daughter dates, Rob Teigen, and his wife, Joanna, to talk about the benefits and challenges of spending one-on-one time with their daughters.
Winning Your Daughter’s Heart
Bob: Greg Wright remembers taking his daughter on a daddy-daughter date one evening, where he didn’t really have anything all that special planned for them.
Greg: So, 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, we got in the car. I was backing out of the parking space—I’ll never forget this—and she’s crying. I 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’ve just never felt this special in my whole life.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, February 4th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’re going to explore some ways today that dads and daughters can make some great memories together. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. So, I have a great question to start things off here today.
Bob: You—when your daughters were growing up—you used to take them on daddy-daughter dates; right?
Dennis: I did. In fact, one of my favorite pictures is a picture of our first-born daughter and me dancing. It really wasn’t a formal date, as we went out; but we just kind of broke into a dance. She was ready for bed, and the music came on.
Bob: Where were—you’re dancing in her—
Dennis: We were at home. I think it was in her bedroom or something, but I just pulled her up next to my scratchy beard—had her face against my face—and kind of in the true dancing position with—I think she was maybe three-and-a-half / four years old, perhaps. She has that picture / I have that picture. It just was the beginning of a great relationship and a ton of dates with, not only Ashley, but also my other three daughters as well.
Bob: Well, and that may have answered it because I was going to ask you, “If you could save only one memory [Laughter]--one daddy-daughter date you had—only one?”
Dennis: You’re going to cause me to choose one of my daughters over the other. [Laughter] So, I’m not going to do that. I just shared the first memory, though—the first memory I had—kind of where the love affair began with our daughters.
Bob: Your dates with your daughters often included chocolate and high calories; right?
Dennis: Chocolate ice cream, chocolate pudding, chocolate cake.
Bob: Lots of rules broken while you and—
Dennis: We would laugh about what Mommy would be thinking if she could see us now.
Bob: You would say: “Don’t tell Mommy. When we get home, don’t tell Mommy what we did”; right?
Dennis: I didn’t say that—I just said, “We’re going to have fun”; and we did. We always had a good time.
And our guests here in the studio today have to believe in some rule-breaking of their own in terms of developing a relationship with your daughter and having a date with your daughter. In fact, the names of the two books are: 88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates, by Rob and Joanna Teigen, who join us on the broadcast—
Rob: Thank you very much.
Joanna: Thank you.
Dennis: —and the other one is Daddy Dates by Greg Wright. I love the subtitle on this one: Four Daughters, One Clueless Dad, and His Quest to Win Their Hearts. That really is the story of the daddy-daughter dating idea. It’s all about trying to win your daughter’s heart.
Bob: Yes, that’s the whole purpose. I mean, when you sat down and first thought about this—and I’m just wondering, Greg—and by the way, welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Greg: Thank you.
Bob: Did this idea of dating your daughters—did it just come instinctively and naturally to you or did somebody have to prompt you on it?
Greg: Yes. No, my “get-it” factor was really low on the daddy-daughter date scale.
Dennis: So, you had four daughters. Did it come after the third or fourth one? How long did it take?
Greg: Well, I had all four of them on the ground, so to speak. [Laughter] They were in the brood. You know, I suppose it probably started—most commonly, I guess, as the memory in my brain sort of spills out like this—
I’m at the dinner table. I’m listening to my older two talk about their day. One of them says, “And Daddy,”—and she mentions this girl’s name. I said: “Whoa! Hold on. Who’s this girl?” All of them looked at me like I had lost my mind. She’s like, “Daddy, that’s my friend.” And she—
Bob: “You don’t know?”—yes.
Greg: —“That’s my best friend in the whole world!” I thought, “How come I don’t know my daughter’s best friend?” Then, of course, I think I probably went, “Oh, yes!” [Laughter] “I know exactly—with the hair. It’s the girl with the hair. I know who you’re talking about.” [Laughter]
Dennis: “Don’t ask me what color, but she has hair.”
Greg: I mean—and I remember walking away from that thinking: “What am I doing? How come I don’t know anything about—it’s okay that I don’t know their sort of idiosyncratic things that they do when they are at school; but why do I not know these important, pivotal things in their lives?” I think that’s what started me realizing that I was really kind of checked-out, and I didn’t really know what to do. I grew up in a very male-centric society. My dad’s a rancher. I grew up in a sort of a very male-dominant way of thinking.
I don’t get the girl-thing. I don’t understand what they’re talking about most of the time—not just because they speak at the speed of light. They talk so fast is the problem with me; and when they are saying things, I don’t really know what they mean. You get to that spot in the conversation where like: “I’m so sorry. You’ve been talking for 11-and-a-half minutes. I missed like most of that. Can we just—can I get like a Cliff Notes® version of what you just said?” [Laughter]
Dennis: Or how about an interpreter?
Greg: “I want an interpreter,”—like I don’t—yes, so that’s sort of how it works out. So, for me, it was really more of an epiphany of, “Gosh, I really do not know these girls as well as I think I am supposed to.” I didn’t know really where that came from. I didn’t have some sort of preceding notion that I should know that. I just knew that I ought to know that.
Bob: And you realized, at that point, that you are going to have to have some one-on-one time because you really get to know a child in the one-on-one time differently than if it’s the whole group going out together; right?
Greg: Yes, because the whole group going out together is essentially chaotic—
—I mean, especially, when they are all young. The only time you ever really get to get front and center, in the theater of a kid’s mind, is to just have the world closed off and it’s just the two of you, eyeball to eyeball; and you’re not like—
One of my principles in Daddy Dating is—we don’t do movies because there are two hours of unoccupied time, staring at a screen. Then, when you’re done with the movie, you’re talking about the movie—like you’re not really connecting on any real level.
So, I had to kind of figure out—and I mean—I stumbled around. Frankly, I’m still stumbling around, trying to figure it out and getting into the space where we can actually sort of—I can let her just unveil her experiences of where she is in her life and where her thoughts are.
Greg: I get to actually get a front seat to watching the migration of where she was, even six weeks ago, to where she is now and what’s happening there. I’m excited about that part.
Dennis: I grew up with a brother. So, this concept of dating my daughter—I’d never seen it before. We had a daughter and then, two sons, and then, another three daughters that followed.
The thing that I stumbled on—I think it was a buddy of mine who shared about a date that he’d been on with his daughter when she was little. When I finally went out on a date, I discovered what you are talking about. It’s in those one-on-one times you really do find out who they are, apart from the herd. I mean, when you’ve got six kids, it’s hard to complete a sentence; you know?
Dennis: So, those dates helped us really connect with one another.
Rob, you guys had three daughters and one son. How did the idea of dating your daughter come to you, as a dad?
Rob: Well, and I would say it was similar to Greg’s. I mean, I started with this idea—I mean, I grew up in a home with four boys. So, when Joanna and I found out we were having a girl, I had been married long enough to know that I just didn’t have girls quite figured out. [Laughter] So, I walked into it a little bit with some fear and trepidation as far as, “How do I raise a girl?” I had read about how important the dad is in the daughter’s life and how valuable that is.
So, I had the passion / I had the desire, but I had no clue how to connect with her on that personal level. So, fortunately, our son was born first. That gave me a little time to work on it—but that’s kind of—it started that same journey. I didn’t feel like I had the tools or the equipping to know what to do, but I had that passion / that desire.
Bob: Joanna, were you nudging your husband in this direction? Were you seeing the need for him to connect with your daughter on that one-on-one space before he saw it, or did he see it first, do you think?
Joanna: Oh, no. Rob was on it—he really was. I do think the driving force was that he started having a lot of business travel when the kids were really small. It created more of a sense of urgency, “If I’m not a hundred percent here when I am home; then, there is no hope for us.” So, it really started when the girls were pretty tiny—him trying to make up for those bedtimes that he’d missed and story times that he’d missed. He’d come home and get stuff on the schedule pretty quickly.
Bob: So, Rob, what would a date with a four-year-old daughter look like when you’re home from a business trip? What did you have planned and what did you guys do?
Rob: Well, we did all kinds of fun things. I mean, sometimes, it was skating, bowling—whatever we could come up with together. It was that same idea—it’s about the connection / it’s about being with your daughter. It’s about learning her—about her—who she is / what she enjoys. I’ve noticed that, as I’ve had more girls and done that, they are all different people. We always have that kind of, “How did these kids come from the same set of parents?”
Rob: The only way you are going to really know that is to get to know each of your kids individually.
Dennis: What hit me, Rob, is that, after trips, I’d come back and I’d have some natural ways that I could get together with my sons. I could go hunting with them. I could go fishing—although, I could fish with my daughters / ultimately, my daughters went hunting as well.
I saw all these natural tendencies of, as a dad, to connect with the guys; but I needed to fight that inner current, within me, to connect with our daughters. The sport for my daughters was shopping. [Laughter]
Dennis: You know? Go to the mall and bag one; you know? And that’s not—you’re shaking your head, Greg—like that’s not your idea of a fun date.
Greg: That is the worst thing for me. I hate that! I just—the mall is—I don’t know—I think it was invented by women for women to kill men. [Laughter] Like—it’s—nothing will suck the life out of a good guy than showing up at a mall and just letting the energy drain out of him. [Laughter] I get vertigo when I go to the mall—everything starts spinning sideways.
Bob: But is that where your daughters—I mean, would—if I were to go to them and say, “What’s your best daddy-daughter date?” would they say, “Oh, I’ve always loved it when we went to the mall”?
Dennis: Oh, they’re—he’s from Austin—he’s going to say a Longhorn game. [Laughter]
Greg: No, actually, here’s what they would tell you. In fact, I didn’t know the answer to that question, by the way. I didn’t know what they would actually say until they were interviewed by Pat Robertson’s son, Gordon Robertson.
Bob: Gordon Robertson.
Greg: Gordon asked this question of Hailee—he said, “What’s your favorite date ever?” She’s like: “I like it when we just hang out. I like it when we’re just out on a picnic at a park—just hanging out, doing nothing.” And she’s referring to specific times when we’d just go—there’s a park in Austin called Zilker Park; you’re probably familiar with Zilker. We’d like to go to Zilker, and just sit on a blanket, and just talk—just have conversation about whatever. We’ll just sit, and just goof around, and just talk. She digs that!
Where, I have another daughter, Maddie, my youngest—she’s more the activity-date gal. We did this—you know these Segway®s? Have you seen those?
Dennis: Oh, yes.
Greg: It’s like those little two-wheeled Segways. Well, Austin has a Segway tour—where you can sign up, and they’ll put you on these things, and give you a ridiculous- looking helmet. Your cool factor drops like to zero as soon as you put that monster on. You just sort of scoot around town, and they show you all the sites. You go see the Texas capitol—and they show you where this building was and that building was.
It’s just like this really cool—she digs the activity things.
And so, I’m just saying—like the mall for me—if you all do that, more power to you. If any guy is listening and he wants to brave that, “Dude, you are a bigger man than me!”
Dennis: Well, here’s the deal, and here’s why I did it—it was the love language of my daughters. I mean, they really enjoyed going and looking at clothing. So, you know, as a husband, you do things like that for your wife. You certainly did before, when you dated her.
Dennis: You did some things you didn’t necessarily consider cool.
Dennis: So, after you get married, if you want to keep that romance alive, you better go join her in what she enjoys doing. That’s the way I looked at it.
Dennis: Was it my favorite place to go? Just like you said—I mean: “Kill me—kill me, an inch at a time.” [Laughter] But I went because it was where my daughters wanted to go.
Bob: Well, and this is part of what I’m thinking. I mean, you described the blanket in the park—just sitting and talking. I’m thinking, “I don’t know that I’d say, ‘Hey, Sweetheart, let’s throw a blanket in the car and go sit in the park and talk.’”
I mean, I’d rather be on the Segway—I’m more the activity guy. Rob—the guy/girl—I mean, guys like to be active, generally; girls like to be relational, generally. So, at some level, we have to fight our natural tendencies just to engage; aren’t we?
Rob: Absolutely. That is what I kept hearing as I would talk to other dads. It’s like you were saying, Dennis: “The son—I can connect with him easily. You know, five minutes—we wrestle on the ground, and we’ve made a connection. It’s great. But with my daughters, it’s different. I don’t know how to always approach her. I don’t always know what to say. I don’t know how to get the conversation going.” So, it really is about being a student of your daughter; you know?
That’s why—in our date book—we put all these different ideas: Take her out—find out what her interests are, what her love languages are, what she loves. I have a daughter, too, that loves the mall. When we go to the mall, a piece of me is dying inside, as you said, Greg; but she comes alive, and I enjoy seeing that.
Then, I have another daughter. I’ll make suggestion after suggestion: “You want to go play putt-putt? You want to go do this?” She is more of the relationship person—more the quiet person—who just wants to sit at the coffee shop and talk about her day or what’s going on in her life. I wouldn’t know that if I wasn’t actively taking that time with them.
Bob: Yes. We’re talking with Rob and Joanna Teigen, who have written a book called 88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates. Greg Wright is here as well. Greg has written a book called Daddy Dates. Rob—all 88 of the dates in your book—have they all been Teigen-tested? Have you done all 88 of these?
Rob: In some form or another, I’ve done most of them. Some of the ideas I got from other dads—just talking to other dads—figuring out what they do that works—especially, dads that I saw that had a relationship that was working. But in some form or another, we’ve adapted some of them over time; and I’m redoing a lot of them too.
Bob: So, if I told you, “You can pick any of the 88, and do your favorite daddy-daughter date,”—which one would you gravitate toward?
Rob: I did one a couple weeks ago with my youngest. It actually—again, this is one where I walked into it with a little intimidation but ended up having a great time. We went into the kitchen and baked about five dozen cookies. We got some bags—we decorated the bags / filled the cookies. Then, we went around to our neighbors and gave the cookies out.
Dennis: That’s cool—that’s cool.
Rob: And we prayed for each neighbor before we brought the cookies up. So, we kind of just talked about our neighbors and what it means to be neighborly, as a Christian. We had a blast! It was really fun going up to these houses, and knocking on the door, and having them open the door, and look at us like, “What are you selling?”
Rob: And then, handing them—and to watch my daughter’s reaction when she got to give them these. One of our neighbors is pretty elderly, and she just gave her a big hug. You know, just to watch that connection—so, that was definitely up there.
But another date that I remember with my oldest—when she was 12 and she was just a few weeks away from turning 13—so, we’re going into those scary teen years. This wasn’t exactly a planned date, but it ended up being one of my favorite ones. We got in the car. We knew we were going to the dollar store because she loves it there. So, we went and looked. We picked out some things—we ended up getting army hats, these little grenades that make the tick-tick sound and then blow up, we got these Nerf® balls—and we went to a park. Her birthday is in November—so it was getting cold. We were the only ones at the park. We ran around and played war and had a blast!
That will always be in my mind because it was this time when she was going from girl into the teen years. I knew things were going to change—we both knew. Then, after we were done, we sat in the car and ate our candy from the dollar store and just laughed. We still talk about that, and that was a really special date.
Dennis: I couldn’t help but notice, Joanna, when he was talking about being in the kitchen, making the cookies—you kind of winced.
Bob: You gave us this little—
Bob: —glance like: “Oh, this one. Yes.”
Joanna: I leave—I love that they do it, but I just can’t watch—it’s too painful. [Laughter]
Dennis: Barbara can’t either. Barbara can’t either. Since your daughters aren’t here to answer the question, is there one or two of these daddy-daughter dates that they’ve mentioned or talked about repeatedly or called up from memory that you, as a mom, had heard them reflect on?
Joanna: Well, we were talking about the mall; and that’s always the spot to go. Rob has a date called the silly sock date, or something like that, where you have to travel through the mall and find the craziest socks you can possibly find—the dad included. Then, they would take pictures of the socks with his smartphone. Then, they’d take a break. They got something to drink and looked at all the pictures. They could decide which ones were the funniest—then, go back and buy them. So, now, if they were to pull those out and actually wear them, they can remember the fun time they had with their dad.
Rob: That’s my advice—that’s my advice to dads who hate the mall: “Make it an adventure,”—you know.
Bob: Turn it into kind of a hunting trip.
Rob: Yes; exactly.
Dennis: Yes—kind of a scavenger hunt of sorts.
Joanna: Right; right.
Bob: I’m just wondering, “Were there ever times, with your daughters, where you thought, ‘We should probably have a date, but I’m probably the last person she wants to spend any time with right now’?”
Greg: You know—can I just say proudly, “No”?
Greg: But I’m going to tell you why—it’s not because I’m not a ying-yang. It’s because a lot of the time—you know, I do this intentional pursuing-thing with them—and I have for years. We already have this sort of grass-rooted connection.
I can promise you—if we were to beam all four of them here, right now—and if you were to ask them, independently: “Look, if you had a busy weekend and you had a bunch of friend-stuff going on and your daddy called and said: ‘Listen, I really need a little one-on-one time with you this weekend. I don’t need all three nights. I just need a couple of hours on one of them. Will you hang with me tonight?’” All of them would drop those plans in a heartbeat unless, of course, they were really cool plans—[Laughter]—of which, I would probably understand!
Greg: But if it was just hanging with a friend, and I asked for a daddy-date night that night, I promise, all of them would flip to me. It is not because I’m a cool dad. It’s because I’ve earned the right to be able to get that attention from them because—usually, if I’m doing something, we’re not at the library, checking out books—we’re doing something of intention and of purpose. I’m putting them and their needs, legitimately, in front of my own, which is all you have to do.
A lot of guys are like, “I don’t even know how to do this daddy-date thing.” You know what? Can I just tell you something? “Yes, you do.”
Dennis: Just show up.
Greg: You totally know what to do—“Show up and shut up.”
Dennis: The thing that I don’t want our listeners to miss here is—this is all about helping a daddy connect his heart to his daughter and his daughter’s heart to him. It’s all about building a relationship. So, anybody knows—when you build a relationship, it’s going to demand self-sacrifice. It’s going to mean you pay a price. You’re not always going to get to go do what you like doing best, but the relationship is worth it.
I always viewed it like this: My daughters are getting ready to go into—when they were little, they were getting ready to go into grade school—and, then, junior high and high school. I knew they were heading into those challenging years / those perilous years of adolescence. I wanted to have the bridge of my relationship with my daughters in place—so the traffic could go in this direction and in the other direction across that bridge—so that there could be dialogue between us. I didn’t want that bridge to go down.
I viewed dating my daughter around the age of three or four as beginning to build that bridge of a relationship so that it was fully in place—and I’m going to tell you something—when you get into adolescence, it takes work to keep the bridge open because there are a lot of obstacles, and barricades, and bombs that get thrown on that bridge to blow it up.
Bob: Well, you were also painting a picture for your daughters of who God is because they’re getting their picture of who their Heavenly Father is from the relationship they’re having with their earthly father.
Dennis: And God pursues us and wants a relationship with us. I think dads need to realize that they do get—to Bob’s point here—our daughters do get their first picture of who God is from their earthly father. So, the question is: “How will they remember you—as a stern, strict, no-nonsense, no fun, never smile, always talking about the rules, and lecturing, and preaching, and teaching? Or will they remember you as getting down on the floor—wrestling with them when they are really little—and then, later on, taking them out on a special Coke® date or a cup of coffee as they get older?” The point is—that, as daddies, we bear this responsibility. Nobody else can do this for us.
Bob: Yes, and it helps to have, you know, a little coaching / some creativity. That’s what you guys have been providing for us today, and that’s what you do in the books that you’ve written. Rob and Joanna Teigen have written a book called 88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates. And Greg Wright’s got a book called Daddy Dates. We’ve got both of the books in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can order one or both of these books when you go, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can call if you’re interested in either or both of these books. Our toll-free number is 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY,”—1-800-358-6329; 1-800-FL-TODAY.
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I’ll just let you know that we really see our Legacy Partners as key friends of this ministry. We stay in touch with you regularly—let you know what’s going on, here at FamilyLife—give you updates and make resources available to you on a regular basis. We’d love to have you be part of that team.
So, again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the button that says, “DONATE,” to become a Legacy Partner; or call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY,”—say, “I’m interested in becoming a Legacy Partner.”
And we hope you’ll join us back again tomorrow when we’re going to continue exploring ideas, thoughts, and ways that dads can engage with their daughters on daddy-daughter dates. Rob and Joanna Teigen will be back, along with Greg Wright. I hope you can tune in as well.
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 will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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