Is it better for a single to meet with a shadchan alone or with a parent?
Based on conversations with shadchanim, and my own experiences and understanding, I believe there are four primary areas worthy of examination regarding the topic at hand.
1. Comfort. For some single men and women, meeting with shadchanim is a welcome opportunity to meet someone new and enjoy a pleasant conversation about future hopes and ambitions. For others, it produces sensations of anxiety and discomfiture which they are loath to thole. And for many others, the perception of the endeavor can be found somewhere betwixt the aforementioned opposite ends of the spectrum. Similarly, some singles enjoy having their parents with them at these meetings, others feel mightily apprehensive without complete privacy, others lean more temperately in one of the two directions, and yet others do not seem to mind one way or the other.
As such, for daters who would benefit from moral support and a trusted advocate at their side, meeting shadchanim together with a parent can go a long way towards attenuating their diminished levels of security and ease at these encounters. And, parenthetically, generally speaking, the more comfortable one is, the better and more accurate their presentation will be. Conversely, for those who are entirely relaxed and composed without a dependable patron, and certainly for those who prefer parental distance, going it on their own is presumably the best route. And for those in the middle, with or without a parent are equally viable options, and should thus be openly discussed in order to reach a conclusion that is amenable to all parties. Ultimately, whatever will most aptly augment the single man or woman’s comfort is the primary concern.
2. Exactitude of expression. When sitting down with a shadchan, it is crucial that a reasonably precise depiction of who one is, what their general hashkafos and life goals are, and what they are looking for in a spouse are all reliably conveyed. And, for the most part, the more successfully this can be achieved, the more matim the suggestions one receives will be.
For some, this comes quite naturally, and there is little opacity in mind or mouth when it comes to sharing these most personal of subjects. For others, however, it may be a challenge to conceptualize and/or verbalize such matters. Consequently, if one is distressed about a propensity to walk away from the meeting leaving the shadchan with an incorrect or muddled summation, having a parent there to elucidate and expound on their behalf may resolve the potential for discordance. Provided, of course, that it is solely the genuine interests of the dater, as opposed to brummagem priorities or substitutions, which are being relayed via proxy.
3. Family norms. Each family approaches shidduchim in their own way, inclusive of the degree and nature of parental involvement. Correspondingly, for families in which the parents play an openly prominent role for the duration of the proceedings, it may be expected that they attend the meetings with shadchanim, and that may work well for everyone. Contrastingly, in other families, it is conventional that the parents are more inconspicuous when it comes to shidduchim. Likewise, there are circumstances where, despite family standards, the dater prefers to occupy the driver’s seat, and strict adherence to familial standard operating procedure proves counterproductive, to say the least. In either of these scenarios, it is most plausible that the process will progress at its smoothest when it is the dater who takes the lead, in all shidduch related undertakings, and meets with shadchanim on their own.
4. Age. When a man or woman first crosses the threshold into shidduchim, it is perfectly commonplace to have a parent in tow. Accordingly, it is highly improbable that this supplementary presence will belie the dater’s true level of autonomy or self-sufficiency. Contrariwise, there comes a juncture in time – one that I am rather reluctant to ink on paper vis-à-vis a specific or definitive age – when having one’s parent accompany them to meet shadchanim may raise an eyebrow or two.
While this may be unfair, and though there are certainly exceptions to every rule, it remains a consideration that ought to be given proper attention, as one should always strive to confer the best impression possible when engaging with shadchanim. To be abundantly clear, this is not to say that any particular single man or woman should feel unequivocally precluded from having parental assistance when meeting with shadchanim. It is but a point to ponder; a reality deserving of awareness, and one that should be consciously addressed before decisions are made, with respect to the inquiry du-jour.
Of course, in all of the aforementioned exemplars, these are but a few of countless possible variations in internal outlooks and family dynamics, and they have been presented somewhat stereotypically to illustrate several concepts. In practice, each family must examine their unique modes when it comes to parental involvement in shidduchim, along with how those methods resonate individually with each of their sons and daughters, and make determinations accordingly, apropos of who will be appearing at the shadchan meetings.
May the Mefoar B’fei Kol ensure that all the single men and women of His Am Hanivchar are afforded the most befitting of environments and companionship throughout their journey in shidduchim.