When redding a shidduch, it is my preference to speak directly with each single as the shidduch moves along. Of course, I am always happy to speak with the parents as well, but I feel it is important to speak with the single themselves after each date to be sure that I am hearing and understanding their feelings on the match.
In some cases, this works fine. However, in other cases, the parents have reprimanded me and disallowed me from speaking directly with their child. Rather, they required me to speak with them after the dates and they would relay their child’s decision.
It seems to me that speaking directly with the single helps to ensure that I am understanding firsthand their dating experience and removing the possibility that the parent may be reporting their own needs or wants out of the shidduch, not those of their child.
What is the opinion of the panelists?
In short, I believe that your approach is both appropriate and correct. What I would like to offer you then, through my answer, is a little bit of elaboration on the matter and to flesh out the topic some more as it relates to a few specific situations.
It is to be understood that parents want the best for their children, and there are few things more frightening than imagining one’s child in a difficult, or, chas v’shalom, disastrous marriage. As such, it is perfectly fair and reasonable for parents to be involved, to some degree or another, in the progression of their child’s shidduch. Additionally, there are often certain matters pertaining to a shidduch that are best discussed with a parent, and not the single.
However, it is also not uncommon for a parent to interject their own personal biases regarding a shidduch, which may be contrary to the needs or wants of their child. Although it is rare for a parent to do so malevolently, in a best case scenario it happens inadvertently, and in worse case scenarios it is done intentionally – when a parent feels they must mollify a poor decision that they worry their child is making, and does so without involving the single in the process. Whatever the case may be, often there is no right or wrong, just a conflict between what the single wants for themselves and what the parent wants for their child.
Consequently, speaking with only the single, or only the parent, will generally leave the shadchan with an incomplete, or even incorrect, picture. And when that happens, it becomes a very complicated struggle for the shadchan to properly guide the shidduch in the right direction.
It is therefore of paramount importance for the shadchan to be able to speak with both the singles and their parents – directly and separately – in order for them to be as successful as possible in their role. They must be able to speak with the single privately, so that they may hear out their honest and complete perception of the shidduch, without the pressure of the single distressing about how their parents might react. It is, after all, the single who is looking to get married here, and it is, ultimately, their decision. Once that conversation is complete, the shadchan may then discuss the matter with the parents to hear how they feel about the shidduch, if the parents are interested in doing so.
If it appears that the single is indeed not grasping a serious concern that the parent has picked up on, the shadchan will respond in accordance with that reality. And if it appears that the single is on point, and that the parents just have other designs in mind for their child, the shadchan will then respond in accordance with that reality.
As an aside, sometimes the parents only want general reports every few dates, either from the shadchan or from their child, and if that works for that family, and nothing is slipping through the cracks, that is also A-Okay.
The other matter worth mentioning is the age of the single. When working with a much younger single, who has only recently entered shidduchim, it is to be expected that the parents usually will, and should be, the primary contact – both when looking into the shidduch and when seeing it forward. The shadchan should still have the opportunity to speak privately with both singles after each date so that they may be able to best gauge the true feelings of the couple as the shidduch either continues or concludes.; and at the same time, they should also be welcoming of the parent’s involvement in this new stage for their child.
However, when working with a single who is “older” and has more experience in dating – and I am very intentionally not putting a number here as a cut-off – there comes a point when the parent should be more removed, and the single should be the primary contact for their shidduchim. It is part of the maturation process of a single who is moving further into adulthood to be the one making most, if not all, of their dating decisions.
As with almost all things, it is a matter of striking the proper balance and finding the middah hamimutzah where the shadchan can gather all the necessary information and do so while keeping all parties as calm and pleasant as possible.
May Hashem give you unbridled hatzlacha in the redding of many more successful shidduchim as you continue with your invaluable dedication to the Klal as a partner in the nais of being m’zaveig zivugim yachdav.