Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Our requirements or our children requirements

For the past few weeks I have been writing about making a list. It might sound obsessive, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to start a shidduch search after having narrowed down and isolated the non-negotiable character traits that our children cannot live without.

First of all with the list, our children have provided us with clear black and white directions on what is necessary for them to build a Beis Neeman B'Yisroel. As explained earlier at length, we as parents were fully involved in the list-making, so we're now on the same page as our kids.

This list will help us tell the shadchonim, our family members, our friends, and our entire network precisely what we are looking for.

It may be compared to going to a trade show where there are hundreds of vendors. Some vendors we must see; some we will pass by if we have time, and others we can skip altogether. We only have 6 hours at the show, so our time is precious. We look at the catalog of the show and plot our way, listing all the vendors we must visit in their order of importance. Subsequently, we list the ones we would like to see if we have time. Now with our plan, we will accomplish the most we can in the time we have.

Similarly, we do not want to go aimlessly looking for a "good" boy or girl. We want to be specific, and we want the search to be as quickly and as easily accomplished as Hashgocha protis lets us do it. Therefore, yes, it is a painstaking job, and it will take quite some time. It may be acrimonious at times until we all agree on the goals we are all working for, but it is absolutely and unequivocally necessary to do this at the beginning. Furthermore, when our child will go out on their first date, they will have a frame of reference to see how close the date came to what they really are looking for.
How many of those indispensable character traits were matched?
What additional pleasing traits did they find?
Which trait can be compromised on?
The list becomes a signpost to our destination, and anyone who has driven in a strange city where the streets are not well marked, knows exactly how helpful clear directions are.

A caveat to us parents at this point. We wish the best for our children, and often they will pleasantly surprise us with what they can accomplish or with what direction they want to take.

The shidduch is theirs; the life is theirs, and the Bais they will build is theirs. I mentioned it before, but it bears repeating, the list has to be of their requirements, not of ours. The character traits have to match our children characters and goals, not ours. If the list we have arrived at reflects more our wishes than theirs, we have wasted our time and theirs.

I have spoken to mothers who when asked what they were looking for in a shidduch for their child would say “What I am looking for or my son/daughter is looking for?” Is that a question?

Of course what you child is looking for, you are married already! Let us have parents-child communication! Let us hope this was built into the parent-child relationship from when they were little, because at this point in time it is essential. Know what you child wants, direct and advise them, but what they want is foremost.

I personally know of a case where the parents on both sides liked each other so well that they did not even look at how compatible their children were. The important thing was to be mechutonim. I do not have to tell you how that marriage turned out.