Dear Rabbi and Shira,
I am responding to the lovely girl who was upset that she was not getting any dates due to the mother’s of the boys who rejected her. She was upset that the mothers go through the resumes looking for the best girls for their sons. I want to know what is so wrong with that? Baruch Hashem my son is flooded with resumes and so why shouldn’t I look for the best girl for him? If you would like to argue that my son isn’t as religious as us and that I should settle for someone more of his type, I can counter that hopefully with a more religious girl he’ll grow and she will be able to refine his middos. If my son can date a richer girl than his background, why is that a bad thing? It would be nice for him not to struggle financially.
I do feel sorry for the young lady and I wish her well but I’m having trouble understanding what is wrong with a mother looking out for her son’s best interests, helping him limit the number of resumes he gets weekly , and helping him find the right one. What mother wouldn’t be selective?
Flooded in Flatbush
Of course, everyone wants the best for their children. They want them to avoid the pitfalls and missteps which they experienced through the benefit of their gained knowledge of life. They also are subject to pressures within the community, (aka keeping up with the Goldbergs or the Dwecks.) Unfortunately, the problem is that they can very easily conflate an ideal match with what’s real.
We spoke about the capacity of parents to be gatekeepers, but also the need for the parents to maintain realistic expectations about who your child is and what they want, despite any discreet educational/financial agendas which you might have.
For example, we have spoken with many couples after they are married who have different expectations regarding minyan attendance. The kallah had assumed that her chasan is an avid minyan-goer, meanwhile, he only goes late if at all. If you had asked before, they both were “the best girls and the best guys.” We know that both mothers dissected the “resumes” vigorously and curated only the best for their children.
We another discussion with a mother who said, “I don’t want a girl who wears short skirts.” But the son had no problem with it. Just because the shidduch meets your needs, it does not necessarily meet the needs of your child.
In parenting in general, and regarding shidduchim as a whole, parents must have realistic understandings of their children’s world. We are not doing anyone any favors by setting them on a path with a life which is a perfect fit for someone else.
You cannot hope that a more refined girl than your son will be a “good influence to grow.” If there are small differences between people, they can impact each other positively. But you can’t expect them to turn their lives around entirely. This will only breed strife and resentment between the two people.
In summary, of course parents should be involved in their children’s shidduchim, and be helpful in clarifying with their what their child’s wants and needs are. Please be sure that you are clarifying their needs, and not merely telling them what you think they want.
Rabbi Reuven and Shira Boshnack