You don’t have to be an avid reader of my column to know that I will not advise people what to do in whatever situation they are in. I may provide my opinion, I may share different points of view of the same situation, but I won’t make a decision for someone. We must be free to choose what we want, and live with whatever happens after. It’s like a parent not helping a child with a math problem or even riding a two-wheel bicycle. No parent wants his or her child to fail at something or to get hurt physically or emotionally, but children will never learn from their mistakes if they don’t make any.
This is what I say to the very well-intentioned mother who emailed me requesting that I tell her daughter to do something. First of all, who am I to tell anyone what to do? And secondly, I do not want to be held responsible for what I may tell people to do and it not be the answers they wanted and then get blamed, “You told me to…, and now look at things! It’s worse than before I wrote to you. Thanks for nothing!”
My daughter is 23 and recently told me and my husband that she wants to take a long hiatus from dating to focus on herself and her career. She said that she has had many mismatched dates and maybe it was a sign from Hashem to work on herself and to focus on her career (and maybe get an MBA). I can understand that she feels frustrated that she has been on bad dates, but if she stops dating for a “long hiatus,” she may be considered “older” when she begins to date. Shadchanim and boys may wonder why she took a break, that maybe something is wrong with her.
What can I do or say to her to convince her that she can concentrate on herself, her career, and date at the same time?
Thank you for your email, CM.
My very first article for the Queens Jewish Link focused on a fellow whom I dated once who was not ready to date following the breakup of his engagement. In that article and in others, I have always said that if a person isn’t ready to date, too busy to date, doesn’t want to date, he or she should not let others talk them into it, because the results could be disastrous. A person must want to date, want to get involved in another person’s life, want to make time for this person in his or her life, want to make the person a priority, etc. There is a lot of “wanting” going on, but if your daughter specifically said that she wants to take a “long hiatus” from dating, she is telling you that she does not want to date for whatever her reasons are.
Your daughter didn’t tell you how long the hiatus would be because she herself probably doesn’t know. I don’t think anything is wrong with her asking for time to “work on herself” and to pursue a degree. I’ve always said that people have to like themselves before they can ask others to like them. I’m not sure what your daughter has in mind, but obviously something is bothering her and she wants to make changes in her life. I understand that you love your daughter and only want what’s best for her, but it has to be what your daughter feels is best for her, not what you think is best for her. For you and your husband to try to convince her to date while working on herself, studying for a degree, and working a day job (you mentioned her career) is wrong in my opinion. Maybe you and your husband would be able to handle all of that, but your daughter is telling you that she must put the brakes on that part of her life. Listen to your daughter.
The world of shadchanus is a difficult one to navigate. What may be viewed as “normal” in the secular world is seen as odd in the frum shidduch world. Here is an example: A young woman or man of 25 or 28 years of age is probably judged as an “older single” by the frum world, whereas in the secular world if a couple marries before either is 30, is seen as marrying too young. Do you care more about how shadchanim and men (not boys) think of your daughter more than not helping your daughter try to better her life? You want to push your daughter to accept and go on dates so others won’t think she’s old or something is “wrong” with her? But your daughter is telling you what she needs, and it’s a break and time to work on herself. You may think that your daughter is hurting herself in the long run, but she may be hurting herself by not taking this time that she feels she needs.
Sorry, CM, I don’t agree with you and I’m not going to tell you what to say to your daughter. If you’ve read my column regularly, you would know that I would never tell someone what to do – especially talking someone out of what he or she wants to do. I will advise you to listen more. Even when your daughter isn’t talking, just listen. Don’t push or nudge, just be her mother and available for her. You may not be able to kiss this booboo and send her back to the playground, but you can listen to when she wants to tell you why she wants to take a break. True, she may not tell you why she wants to take a break, but she should know you are there to support her and you are her number one cheerleader. Don’t mention what others will think; obviously your daughter doesn’t care or else she wouldn’t have put thought into this and actually told you about it. Be on her side and, when the time comes, be an advocate for her to find the right fellow.
Hatzlachah to you all!