Sunday, April 25, 2010

Parents and dating

Recently a friend of mine was telling me how her parents are always trying to find reasons why she’s not married yet and giving her advice on what she should do in order to get married. “Did you try talking to this shadchan?” Other friends’ parents always seem to be telling them how they need to get married, or making side comments implying that they hope their children will get married very, very soon.

What kind of message are these parents giving to their kids? Is marriage the most important thing in life? I understand that they want their children to get married, all parents want that. But is it urgent for them to be married as soon as possible, right away? Is it more important for them to be married than to be happy? These friends have enough pressure on them to get married, when there are people younger than us getting engaged and married and having babies left and right, and they don’t need the added pressure from their parents, who they want to please.

It’s as though it doesn’t matter if they are the top of their class and become a doctor; if they are not married, the parent isn’t fully satisfied. This is unreasonable because marriage isn’t in our control; it’s up to Hashem as to when we will find the right person. Wouldn’t these friends be married if it was up to them? Of course. It’s not that they don’t want to get married. They are putting in effort and doing the best they can. It’s not their fault that they aren’t married. The only thing that happens when parents pressure their children to get married, is the children become resentful and more frustrated about dating, which is hard enough as it is, unless you are lucky to find the person right away. Unfortunately, that is not the case most of the time.

Thank G-d, my parents are great when it comes to dating. Of course they want me to get married, like all parents, but they make sure to tell me and emphasize that the most important thing to them is that I’m happy. If I don’t get married for a while then the only reason this would upset them is if I’m upset about it. Whenever my friends express frustration about their parents, it reminds me how thankful I have to be for my parents.


  1. What more concerns me with regard to parental pressure is the potential underlying parental belief that their child is . . . pathetic? Bullying her to call a shadchan (I'm not sure who that's ever worked for), questioning her behavior? Sure, my parents are bordering on frantic, but they never question ME. They blame my siblings for not looking out for me, they question the neighbor who gave odd info, they certainly don't bother with the so called shadchanim who never call back. Do parents who bully their children believe their child is wonderful and deserves the best? Who else is going to build you up in this world except your parents?

  2. I like to assume that their hearts are in the right place and that they do believe their child is wonderful and deserves the best. I don't think they realize that they are being frustrating.

  3. Not that it is a valid excuse, but parents can fall into societal pressures just like anyone else. Why did they want their child to be the top of the class? To get into a good school? Why did they want their child to go to a good school? So their child can get a good job. Parents like to verbally shep nachas over their child, as well. So once your child has gone to the right schools/camps/gotten involved in the right organizations, what is left to accomplish? I don't cvs mean to convey that parents simply use their children as rights to bragging, but sometimes they push too far. I think it is rooted in their desire to see their children happy, and sometimes, instead of showing pride in where their children are at the moment, they push them to move to the next step.

    b"H my parents are also very understanding. Hashem really blessed me in the parents department.

  4. My parents are a bit out of the loop when it comes to frum dating (being BT and all), combined with the face that I'm in NY and they are quite a long drive/flight away, basically means I'm on my own. That doesn't mean they don't offer input, and certainly like to know what's going on. They offer more marriage-related advice, since their experience in making theirs work for over 30 years is clearly worth hearing about, but they don't say too much about dating since their dating history is not parallel to what I'm trying to do.

    Having said that, they are also very understanding and do their best to make sure that *I* don't rush or get in over my head in a relationship before I'm ready for things to be serious. Granted, they did get married a little later and hence think that may be more of an ideal model, but they are definitely correct in trying to ensure I think things through and not make rash decisions, one way or the other.

    This probably also depends on what number child a person might be, as well as what the parents' friend's children are doing (getting married, having grandchildren). I know my own parents are definitely a bit jealous of their friends who married younger, had kids earlier, and thus have grandchildren to play with. So although the occasional comment about "It'd be so great if we had some grandchildren around, then we'd have something to do!" (I'm the oldest) they also temper those moments of longing with a healthy dose of reality to make sure that I end up marrying the right person, whoever she will be.

  5. coralcap- very insightful comment. Parents do want to shep nachas from their kids and can get carried away. I guess the same way singles feel pressure to avoid being the nebach older single who people pity, parents don't want to be the parents of the older single who is sometimes viewed as a nebach.

    Shades of Grey- I know what you mean. My parents are BTs, so even though they've been frum for a long time now (since before I was born) and understand the shidduch system, sometimes they still say jokingly, "So why can't you just meet like we did?" Despite having not gone through the shidduch system, they still have valuable advice to offer about dating, having been married for so many years- like your parents.

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