Birthday dinner dates with your kids

Having a one-on-one dinner date with your children on their birthdays can build a strong bond that will last a lifetime. Also, it will prepare them as they encounter future social occasions. Here are step-by-step suggestions on how to do it.

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  • Celebrating your child’s birthday is a big deal. All children need to feel that their parents are happy beyond words that they were born. Everyday actions will prove that, but making their birthday worth remembering will seal the deal.

  • One way to make the birthday girl or boy feel loved is to take them on a one-on-one dinner date with Mom or Dad. The daughters go out with Dad, and the sons with Mom. Having one parent and one child going out together creates an atmosphere where the two can talk freely with no one else stealing the limelight or taking over the conversation.

  • Here’s a step-by-step description of how the dinner date can work.

  • FOR THE DAUGHTER’S BIRTHDAY

  • The Mom’s Job

  • She prepares her daughter for this special date with Dad by talking to her about how to be a lady. That means letting Dad be a gentleman by allowing him to open the door for her, help her with her coat, or help her be seated. Mom lets her know this will prepare her for when she is older and will be dating young men. She will know how a lady should be treated and how she should treat a gentleman.

  • She helps her dress up for the occasion by encouraging her to wear a pretty dress or best jeans and top; making sure her hair looks nice, too.

  • She teaches her that since her Dad invited her to dinner, it will be his responsibility to pay for the meal and leave a tip. Dad will be prepared to do that.

  • She teaches her to express gratitude to Dad for all he does for her on that date by saying thank you for every nice thing he does. Using good manners is an important part of being on a date.

  • The Dad’s Job

  • He invites her on the date a few days before her birthday so she can be looking forward to it. Dad’s can be creative in how they do this, or can simply take her by the hand, look into her eyes and say something like, “I would like to take my beautiful daughter on a dinner date for your birthday.” Set the time and place. She will love this attention.

  • He will dress nicely for the date, and treat her like a lady.

  • He listens with interest as she shares her thoughts with him; never preaching or reprimanding while on this date. It’s the perfect time to tell her how proud he is of her, how happy he was when she was born, and how he felt when he first held her in his arms. Make it a joyful experience for your daughter.

  • FOR THE SON’S BIRTHDAY

  • The Dad’s Job

  • He teaches him how to ask Mom for this date.

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  • He prepares his son by helping him know how to treat a lady by doing the gentlemanly acts: helping with her coat, opening the doors, and seating her at a table. He demonstrates how this is done.

  • He makes sure his son is nicely dressed.

  • He gives him cash to pay for the dinner. He explains how it’s done, including how much to leave for a tip.

  • He teaches him to thank his mom for going on the date with him.

  • The Mom’s Job

  • She accepts his invitation for the date and tells him she’s looking forward to being with him on this special birthday date. She confirms the time and picks a restaurant. If he’s older and has a license, she lets him drive.

  • She dresses up for the occasion. She allows him to be a gentleman by patiently waiting until he opens the door; giving him a gentle reminder if needed.

  • She engages him in conversation. Sometimes it’s harder for boys to talk openly. Be ready with a few questions that will pique his interest such as “What did you think about the game last night?” Or, “If you could choose any celebrity concert to go to who would you choose?” Discuss his reasons for choosing this one. Do not preach or criticize his choice. This is a time of sharing and getting to know your son better. It’s also a time when you share the joy you felt when he was born and how you felt when you held him in your arms for the first time. Pleasant memories can be fun to share at this time.

  • Thank him for a fun evening. Compliments can abound on this date.

  • The results

  • If you do this with the intent to have a good time with your child, and honor your son or daughter on this special night, it will do wonders to bring a loving relationship between you and your children. The bonus is that they will know how to treat others when they are in social situations. Being treated like ladies and gentlemen prepares them to do the same for others throughout their lives.

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Gary Lundberg is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Joy is a writer. Together they author books on relationships.

Website: http://garyjoylundberg.com

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