I was seated at my desk, barely able to concentrate. I shifted papers, opened drawers, glanced out the window. Shifted papers, opened drawers, glanced out the window. Shifted papers … I felt like I was expecting an important phone call and was just trying to do something, anything, productive while waiting. But it wasn't working.
Neither was I.
Finally, my executive assistant informed me that the young man I'd been expecting was waiting for me in the lobby.
Deep breath, Dennis. You're the adult here. You can do this. I was about to interview the first of many young men who wanted a date with one of my daughters.
I stood to my feet and walked across the room, still amazed at how nervous I was as I stepped into the lobby to meet Kevin—the only person in the building more anxious and ill at ease than I.
"Afternoon, Kevin, glad you could make it."
"Hello, Mr. Rainey."
"How about we get something from the Coke machine. I hear you're a Dr. Pepper man."
Riding a very thin wave of forced, uncomfortable chitchat, I deposited enough quarters to dislodge a cold can for him and a Diet Coke for me. Then, not wanting to be the Ultimate Intimidator, I suggested we go outside and chat in the parking lot. That's where he showed me his motorcycle—which wasn't exactly how I wanted Ashley to go out on her first date!
I popped the tab on my soft drink and looked squarely into the same eyes that enjoyed looking at my 16-year-old daughter. We began with the basics. I asked him about school, his mom and dad and family, interests—just a general get-to-know-you type of conversation.
"God made men and women different"
"Kevin," I said, hoping I'd also remember the rest of the words I wanted to say, "God did a wonderful thing when he made women."
The color fell from his face. This was going to be worse than he had thought. I wondered if at any moment he might hop on that motorcycle and bolt!
I continued. "And, Kevin, God made men and women different. You've probably noticed some of those differences."
Kevin was getting paler by the minute, but he had the presence of mind to nod.
"Actually, God made us different so that men and women would be attracted to one another. Now, Kevin," I paused for dramatic effect, "you have probably noticed that God made Ashley quite attractive. She's a really cute girl. In fact, you've probably noticed that she has a cute figure."
This was less of a statement and more of a question. If Kevin said no, he and I would both know he was lying. If he said yes, however, he was admitting to the obvious: that he had the audacity to notice my daughter's figure!
After a brief pause, I spared him the agony and continued.
"I mean, you're a young man and Ashley is a young lady, and God made men and women to be attracted to one another. It's good." Kevin seemed to be relieved at my pronouncement. I went on.
"And, Kevin, I just want you to know that I am a man and I understand this attraction. I was once a teenage boy, and I know what teenage boys think about. I've even read some research on this, and the studies show that teenage boys think about sex every seven seconds."
At this point Kevin's eyes darted, wondering where I was going next.
"And, Kevin, you and I both know those teenage boys were lying about the other six seconds."
At this point Kevin's eyes began to dilate! There was no dodging this one. "Yes, sir," he said, with a nervous little laugh.
"Are we communicating?"
"Kevin, I don't know how to put this any plainer: I want you to keep your lips and hands off my daughter. And I'm going to help you with that. Because whether I see you at the door after your first date with Ashley—or after your fiftieth date—you can expect me to ask you, 'Kevin, are you dealing uprightly with my daughter?' And I want you to know what I mean when I ask you that question. Are we communicating, Kevin?"
"Yes, sir." His eyes were fully dilated at this point.
I continued. "Kevin, more than likely Ashley is going to be somebody's wife someday. And I don't want you touching her body. Would you want someone touching your wife's body?"
"That's what I thought. So you and I, we know what we're talking about when I ask you to be accountable for protecting the emotional and moral purity of my daughter, right?"
He nodded enough to let me know my vocabulary was in his dictionary.
"And, Kevin, I want you also to take this challenge: If God ever gives you the privilege of being a husband and a dad, especially if He gives you girls, I want you to take your role so seriously with them that you'll talk to your daughters' dates the way I've talked with you today. Will you promise me that?"
At that point both Kevin and I were relieved that the conversation was over. I grinned and patted him on the back. I told him I was proud of him for coming to talk to me and allowing me to interact with him around such important issues.
As he was putting his helmet on, he answered one last question by assuring me he'd take Ashley out in a car!
Young men need to be challenged
That was it. Took maybe 20 minutes.
And over the years, I did a version of this same thing dozens of times as I interviewed young men who wanted to date my four daughters.
I've learned a lot as I've gone through this. I've learned that there are some very specific things I need to know about each young man, and I try to tailor each of these little talks to the particular situation and the young man I'm dealing with.
In the process, I've met some fine maturing men and seen some interesting things happen along the way. In one case, another dad came with his son to sit in on the interview, to observe and be trained. I've also had younger brothers sit in (probably just to see their big brother squirm).
I even had one young man come to me and say, "Mr. Rainey, I'm not interested in asking any of your daughters out on a date, but I was wondering, would you be willing to take me through the interview?" I did. He wanted to go through it so he would know what I said. It reminded me that young men today yearn for older men to enter their worlds, talk straight with them about how to treat a young lady, and call them to a high standard.
Guys, I can't tell you how strongly I feel about this. The statistics don't lie. Despite more than a decade of "Just Say No" and countless sermons on "Love, Sex, and Dating," the sexual conduct of Christian youth growing up in Christian youth groups, worshiping to Christian music, and sitting in Christian Bible studies, is virtually no different than the sexual conduct of any other teenager.
These young men who like what they see in our daughters enough to want to spend time alone with them need us to hold them accountable and call them to restrain their sexual passions. They need older men, dads, to challenge them to protect our daughters and do what it takes to guard their moral purity.
Let's do it.
Adapted from Interviewing Your Daughter's Date by Dennis Rainey. Copyright (c) 2007 Dennis Rainey. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
You can hear more from Dennis Rainey about how to interview your daughter's date on a recent FamilyLife Todayinterview.
Interviewing Your Daughter's Date, by Dennis Rainey
Interviewing Your Daughter's Date (audio book)
What He Must Be If He Wants to Marry My Daughter, by Voddie Baucham
Raising a Modern-Day Knight, by Robert Lewis