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Basics

It is sometimes easier to communicate using visual cues rather than try to put everything into words. So what I will be doing below is to illustrate the steps of courtship as I see them - from a father's perspective. You may want to change the way I have defined the steps of courtship, but this way you will know how I approach the process. It is important not to lose sight of the main objectives - to develop a relationship with your child and to plan ahead.

When does this process start? Much earlier than most people seem to think. Training a child's attitudes and views about marriage takes time. I recommend that this process take place from about 10 years old onward. Starting early gives you time to teach, train and model the attitudes necessary for a successful marriage. Don't wait until someone comes to call for your daughter or your son tells you of his interest.

The foundation of courtship is communication between the father and his child.

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This communication should promote trust, such that the child willingly gives their heart to their father. The father must value their choice and protect their heart.

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Why is this protection needed? It is needed to avoid having a daughter's heart taken piece by piece by a series of boyfriends - leaving some small fragment for her future husband. The objective of courtship is to enable a couple to present the greatest portion of their heart to each other at the marriage altar.

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There are some necessary steps that need to be taken before your child is interested in someone. The essential step at this time is to have your child list the "must have" items they want in a spouse. This takes time and work.

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If your daughter has agreed, then young men should
be sent to you or come to you when they are interested in your daughter.

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As a father, you have been given the responsibility by your daughter to examine this young man to find out if he is qualified. You will have questions to ask as a man.

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You will also have questions based on your daughter’s desires expressed in her "must have" list.

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If you find things that are unacceptable to your daughter's criteria or your own, then you have the obligation to stop the process. You may also opt to give a young man "maturing" projects and tell him to come back later.

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If things seem acceptable, build a relationship with the young man. It will pay great dividends in the future and will increase your confidence in his qualifications. Meanwhile, your daughter has no need to know about his inquiry.

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Finally, you are ready to present this suitor as a possibility to your daughter. You know him well enough to be his advocate.

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Now your daughter can evaluate him before there is emotional involvement. Again, she uses her list to ask her own questions about the essential items.

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If at any point your daughter says he is not the one, the father can end the relationship.

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As a father you are in the unique position of holding key information on both your daughter and the young man. Help them both as they work through the process of answering the question of, “is this God’s one for me?”

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In a relatively short time, the young people should be able to see if this is God’s best for them. They should be able to see if their life purposes and belief systems mesh. Meanwhile, the father’s role fades into the background.

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Finally, the couple has the opportunity to enter marriage without all the baggage of past relationships and regrets over not saving certain privileges for marriage. It is a wonderful thing to see a couple who has waited for God’s best and respected God’s limits because they so value their marriage.

If during the exploration and cultivation the courtship ends in a goodbye, it still accomplishes the purpose - finding out if this is God’s best - and that means success.

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