Thursday, November 20, 2008

What Are You Looking For?

A parent may think they have an idea of what their child needs and likes.

They could be totally wrong.

You need to sit down with your child and discuss what each of you wants.
It may sound facetious but think of it as it is sung in “Fiddler on the Roof”: “For papa, make him a scholar. For mama as rich as a king. For me, … if he was as handsome as anything.”

Everyone, parents and children, have requirements. Now is the time to put them on the table. When parents know exactly what the child is looking for, they will not refuse a viable shidduch because of mis-communication. This should be a reciprocal conversation between the parent or the person in loco parentis, and the child. This must not be a confrontational discussion; rather it is a brainstorming session.

Parents! Do not believe only you know best!

You should suggest or direct your child towards important points, but you have to realize that your child is the one who will get married, and therefore, your child’s requests and wishes should be seriously considered. After all, as we have discussed in previous posts, your child is now mature enough to get married, so he is mature enough to know what he wants.

Your suggestions will be welcomed by your S/D (maybe with a roll of the eyes), but the ultimate decision must be theirs. It is their life!
On the other hand, if your child is looking for the wrong type of spouse who will not complement their qualities and character, and will not take your advice, have a third party they respect, such as a mashpia, speak to them. If your S/D is still being unreasonable and will not accept advice or redirection, then maybe this child is not mature enough to approach this step, and the subject may have to be shelved until later.

It is common that new ideas have to percolate and steep sometimes before they are accepted. Give your S/D (son, daughter) time to assimilate your words. Maybe when the subject comes up again they will now see the wisdom in your suggestion and maybe even think the idea is theirs!

This dialogue is actually good practice. Our children will have to be able to see their spouse’s point of view and not remain stubbornly attached to their own opinion. This is a good lesson in compromise and a sign of their readiness for marriage. It is also a very good occasion to see the sagacity of your child. Can they maintain a serious conversation without flying into a tantrum? Can they listen - not just hear- to the other side’s statement without interrupting and then answer in a logical and well thought-out way?
Incidentally, this is a skill which many long-time married couples have not quite mastered!

Decisions reached at this point are not by any means etched in stone. They can be changed, revised, reinstated, crossed off again and again as the search for a shidduch progresses, because priorities may shift or change.

There are times when name after name comes up, and none of them seem right for your child. When that happens, it is time to re-evaluate and see if you are being too picky or too unrealistic. Look over your lists again!

All our S/Ds are precious, but we as parents should not stand in their way by putting too high of “a price” on them. It has happened more often than necessary that a parent has refused numerous appropriate shidduchim because they were not “good enough” for their S/D. This was due entirely to the parent’s inflated ideas and not based on any real fault on the part of the proposed shidduch.

When looking for a shidduch let us not get sidetracked looking specifically for wealth, beauty and other external things. We are derailing our purpose with such narrow focus.

It could be that a proposed shidduch is not a good fit. Certainly do not accept the match, but if too many offers are rejected on spurious reasons, it is time to reconsider. It could be our priorities are skewed or our objective unreasonable or nonexistent — we will discuss this further in a separate section. In such a case, an objective observer, a mashpia, or a friend of the family should be consulted for their opinion. It is best if they know both you and your child. You can then put all the facts before them: This is what we are; this is what we are looking for; this is why we have rejected previous matches. Don’t be afraid to open up and ask for help from a mashpia or a mumche in shidduchim. Your child’s future is at stake, so do not be shy -- ask for advice. It is important to be as fair as possible when we reject a shidduch. More on this important topic another time.