Recently Nina attended a forum on the topic “When Children Date—the Complex Role of Parents.” The evening was co-sponsored by YUConnects and 18 synagogues from Teaneck, Bergenfield, New Milford and the surrounding local communities. Although the room at Bnai Yeshurun was full, there is no question in our minds that there were numerous people in the community who scoffed at the topic. There are those who have older children in the “parsha” who are so full of hurt and frustration that these parents no longer see any benefit in such a forum. There are also parents who feel hurt by the fact that their suggestions are nowhere as important to their children as the suggestions of their rebbeim or teachers. The dating world has become so radically different from what it was years ago that many have thrown up their hands in total frustration.
Panelists touched on topics such as what parents should do when children do not discuss with them who they are dating, when the correct time is for children to introduce their parents to whomever they are seeing, how long parents should be supporting children and more.
Panelists suggested that parents should encourage their children to marry at young ages. Rabbi Neuburger suggested that as soon as young people return from Israel they should be encouraged by their parents to partake in co-ed activities. Many parents mentioned how they could not even dare bring up that notion to some of their children. When asked how young people studying today can afford to support themselves and their partners while being full-time students, it was suggested that in the same way that parents supported their children while attending school they should do so in their early stages of marriage.
What we are observing and from what we hear from friends is that when young people are not married at a younger age it gets much more complicated for them to meet people. We all know the huge number of singles who are living in their own worlds, where the possibility of marriage seems to become more and more unrealistic.
As Mordechai has often said, “The world is no longer the same. Women do not need to be supported because so many of them have great professions. Years ago women needed men to support them.”
It is common today that a woman’s salary can be equal to that of a man, and people are extremely concerned about “settling.” How many times have we heard, upon suggesting a shidduch for someone who, for example, might be an optometrist, that there is no way that she would consider going out with a lovely, religious, Torah-observing man who is a plumber? How many parents today would encourage that type of shidduch for their child? We have noticed that what parents think would be appropriate for their children greatly changes as that child gets older. Maybe a plumber is not so bad! Anyone who has used the services of a plumber lately knows that such services are not inexpensive. Another bonus might be their hours, which would allow them to spend more time at home with their spouse and children. But—it “past nisht.”
At the forum, Rav Moshe Tzvi Weinberg told the story of a lady who went to the Lubavitcher Rebbe to inquire if he would know someone for her very fine beautiful daughter. She listed all of the daughter’s attributes. When she finally finished, the Rebbe turned to her and said, “It seems to me that your daughter would require three men to meet all of those requirements.”
A major issue apparently is that what parents want for their children is not necessarily what a child wants for himself. It was discussed that parents need to be more open to their children’s wishes. One might dream that their beautiful, sophisticated daughter should marry a boy from a majorly “yichisdik” family, but what happens when she tells her parents that she met a fantastic person and his parents are divorced or, even more catastrophic but not totally unrealistic in the religious world, that his father is in prison? Only a white collar crime—does it really count? Should a young girl or boy be penalized in shidduchim by the acts of their parents? These questions are being faced by families more and more these days.
Every panel member felt strongly that parents need to more open to the types of people their children are bringing home. Not every child wants to live the exact lifestyle, either religiously or materially, as their parents. How many times have we heard complaints by parents that their child is bringing home someone who is “too frum” for them? Something as small as wearing a black hat has caused parents great feelings of discomfort. Do we need our children to be exactly the same as us?
There is so much more to say and we will continue to discuss this issue. As we all are aware, the dating world, the dating scene, has lost its glow. What at one time was a pleasurable stage of life is now taxing, frustrating and heartbreaking. Something must be changed, and the sooner the better. Hopefully through future discussion we will be able to come up with some valid suggestions. We welcome reader suggestions as well.
By Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick
Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick are living in Bergenfield after many years of service to the Montreal Jewish community. Rabbi Glick was the rav of Congregation Ahavat Yisroel as well as a practicing clinical psychologist in private practice. He also taught at Champlain Regional College. The Glicks were frequent speakers at the OU marriage retreats. Nina coordinated all Yachad activities in Montreal and was a co/founder of Maison Shalom, a group home for young adults with special needs. They can be reached at [email protected]