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Monday, Sep 25, 2017
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Daddy Daughter Date Night blooms into a group activity for these fathers

As the latest pop tunes blared from a speaker, girls ages 4-13 ran around excitedly laughing, giggling and learning the latest dance moves while others grabbed warm homemade brownies for a quick snack.

A sense of playfulness and fun filled the air at Pinot's Palette for all the daughters. And their dads.

The camaraderie proved evident for the lighthearted group, and all involved declared another Daddy Daughter Date Night a success.

Daddy Daughter Date Night, "DDDN" for short, is the brain child of divorced dad Jason Cohen, 41, and his 9-year-old daughter Nadia.

What started as a regular outing for them has turned into a small but growing group of like-minded dads who seek to set an example for their daughters. Cohen, who lives in New Tampa, said it's a needed outlet in this day and age.

"She goes through phases where boys are yucky to having a crush on the latest boy band," Cohen said. "I want her to understand how she should be treated as she gets older and begins to date.

"When we are on dates I open the door for her, I try to keep my phone put away, I treat her with respect, I listen to her, ask her questions about her day.

Cohen said with a laugh that he tries to set the bar so high she will reject men.

"We have been doing date nights since she was little," Cohen added. "Last fall we were on one of our date nights and I said I wonder if any of your friends do the same with their dads.

"She said 'No, I don't think so, why don't we start a club?' And I said "we could try, it would be fun.'"

So Cohen invited a few men from his job and their daughters and she invited some friends from school and their dads.

"Nadia and I picked the name (DDDN), got wristbands made and created a Facebook page. We have a website in the works as well."

Although the group is still in its infancy it is growing and they have plenty of ideas. So far group date nights have included painting pottery, ice skating, attending a father/daughter dance at the YMCA and a painting party.

The list of future events includes a concert, cooking class, roller skating and square dancing. Over the summer they have a couple day dates picked out to do kayaking and other outdoor activities.

Another idea they are working on is to have a fashion show where the girls clean out their closets and get to exchange outfits with each other. They would donate the remaining items to charity. Thus, setting an example on another level as well. They would like to make a runway, have a microphone and maybe even get a clothing store to co-host with them.

The group is open to all dads, divorced, single or married.

"I think, even in a healthy marriage I think the bond between the father and daughter is so important" Cohen said. "I also have two sons, Reese, 10, and Spencer, 15. Naturally we have many similar interests so it wasn't as big of a deal.

"With a daughter I really felt called to be a role model for her."

Although they aim to make it affordable for all some activities cost more than others. Some of the dads have been thinking about possibly charging a small membership fee to offset some of the costs so that those with low income can attend.

"We are not looking to make a profit but we would love to be able to invite others that may not normally be able to afford it."

Kyle Childers, 33, of Trinity has three daughters, twins Nevaeh and Isabella, 10, and Makayla, 6. They all especially enjoyed the ice skating event.

"It was a great experience and the girls had a blast," Childers said. "It was also good bonding from two standpoints: on the ice they really had to lean on me for support and stability, just like we do in life as fathers."

Christian Clouse, 42, is father to Giavanna, 13, the oldest girl in the group, so far. He is glad to bond with her during her crucial tween years.

"Admittedly, sometimes she may feel like she is too old for this, but the benefits far outweigh that, for both of us," Clouse said. "I love having this special time with her."

For more information, visit visit Daddy Daughter Date Night (DDDN)'s facebook group page. New members are welcomed.

Contact Karla Gibson at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

 
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