During my 11 or so years of dating, my mother was always involved. She would speak with shadchanim and attend shidduch meetings on my behalf. I also readily shared information with her as well as with my father when a shidduch was redt to me. My mother always did whatever she could to help, and always did her best by me. I can’t say that the same goes for everyone. Sometimes singles, depending on their age, don’t want their parents involved at all in their dating life, and will only tell them what they choose to, or will just introduce them to their kallah/chasan right before or after they have already decided on getting married (I know quite a number of those cases).
Others depend solely on their parents to do all the work regarding finding them dates and speaking with shadchanim. I remember speaking with a shadchan years ago, and she told me that she had to get back to “the boy’s mother in the next day or so because she’s leaving for a cruise next week.” I asked what that had to do with anything. She answered that the mother dealt with everything for her 35-year-old son. All the mother tells the son is the name of the girl and her phone number when it’s time to set up the date. I couldn’t believe it! But yes, there are quite a few people who have their parents serving as their social secretaries.
Anyway, below is a letter I received from a woman who asked for help dealing with her mother, who she feels is taking too much control and being too selective in her dating life.
I am 22 years old and I have only gone out with six guys in the last two years. I’m upset about this, but not for reasons that you may think. I’m upset because I am blaming the lack of dates on my mother.
My mother has taken control of my dating. I know it’s normal for parents to be involved and to speak with shadchanim and to call people, but I think my mother has gone overboard. My father has given over the control to her. He isn’t really involved except, when the time comes for me to go out with a guy, he meets with him when I am picked up, and he talks with him for a few minutes. That’s basically it. I think my dad is far more easygoing than my mom is in this area. Whenever someone mentions a guy to me or my mom, it’s like she goes into battle mode. She interrogates the shadchan or whoever recommended the match. She then calls everyone that she can think of who may know the guy and his family. My mom has a cousin who is into astrological signs, and my mom talks to her about the guys I’m redt to. She asks her cousins if our birthdays match up or if our “signs are compatible.” I think it’s crazy. I can understand my mom wanting to check out the guy and his family to make sure they aren’t crazy and that they and he are normal, but she’s the FBI and CIA rolled into one. I have an older brother who has been married for three years and I don’t remember my mom doing all of this while “investigating” girls for my brother to date. Maybe she did, but I don’t remember.
“I can understand my mom wanting to check out the guy and his family to make sure they aren’t crazy and that they and he are normal, but she’s the FBI and CIA rolled into one”
I have spoken with my mother, telling her that she is doing me a disservice by doing all of this research and then rejecting a guy because of something that she feels is an imperfection about him or his family. We are regular people, not millionaires who have to protect the money or royal bloodline. Both of my parents work and we live average lives, so I don’t understand why she is doing all of this. My mom told me that she is doing this to make sure that I end up with the right person and I will thank her in the long run. Really? My friends are either married or have gone out with at least double or triple the guys I have dated. I know it’s not a numbers game, but I just feel that if I am not out there and dating, then I lessen my chances of getting married before I turn into an old maid and people start pitying me at the ripe old age of 25.
Any advice on what I should say to my mother?
Thank you for your letter, Chava.
I feel for you. I really do. You want to get out there and start dating in order to find your bashert, but you feel as if your mother is being overprotective and preventing you from doing just that. But also, believe me when I tell you that dating dozens and dozens of fellows isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When I was in my mid-to-late 20s, I would tell people that I’d rather have one good date than go out with seven or eight fellows who were not right for me. So you are right when you said that it’s not a numbers game.
I want you to keep in mind one fact: Your mother loves you and is only trying to do right by you. You don’t have to be a royal or a millionaire in order to screen potential suitors who will potentially carry on the family bloodline. You just want the right person. Your mother may be weeding out fellows who are simply not right for you, and she feels that she will be sparing you the pain of dating someone who isn’t right for you. Her heart is in the right place, so don’t forget that.
I’m not sure what your mother is asking of references or shadchanim. Is she asking what shtetl the family came from in Europe and if the fellow colored in the lines in kindergarten, or is she asking about general education, midos, hashkafah, etc.? What is important to one person may not be important to another. Your mother may be asking what she thinks is important to know if the match will work. You mentioned that your mother asks her cousin if astrological signs match up. Personally, I am not a believer in that, but many are. I know a couple of people that won’t date someone if their signs don’t match or if Venus is in the third hemisphere with the red moon. Don’t negate someone’s belief if you don’t share it. But again, I can understand your frustration.
You mentioned that you feel that your father may be more easygoing than your mother is in the area of your dating. Do you know that for a fact? Maybe your father put his trust in your mother that she will find your bashert and she is doing everything to live up to that responsibility and doesn’t want to let you or your father down. If you feel that your father may be the right person to discuss your feelings with your mother, because you said that you tried to speak with your mother, but it didn’t work out, then ask your father to speak on your behalf. I firmly believe that you are your best advocate. You can make the best argument on your behalf for what you want. Can I suggest that you sit down with both of your parents to discuss this?
Hatzlachah to you all!
Goldy Krantz is an LMSW and a lifelong Queens resident, guest lecturer, and author of the shidduch dating book, The Best of My Worst and children’s book Where Has Zaidy Gone? She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.