When considering shidduchim for my daughter, how and when may I take the interests of my wife and myself into the equation? For example, say a shidduch is redd from out of town and my wife and I don’t want to consider out of town because of the practical difficulties it will entail, is that legitimate? Of course, my daughter’s best interests are paramount, but how much of her parents’ interests can be taken into account when considering whether to say yes or no to a shidduch idea?
To put it quite bluntly, as I see it, there is no room whatsoever for these sorts of parental-personal-preference considerations. For a parent to exercise complete control and reject a shidduch on behalf of their son or daughter based merely on areas of subjective and comparatively trivial discomfort, without even presenting the idea to their child, is not only illegitimate and inappropriate, it is downright cruel. Furthermore, when a parent does present an idea to their child, I believe that there is no place at all to even hint at, let alone verbalize, these types of personal hankerings. Doing so is unfair, and moreover, only serves to overcomplicate and obfuscate the dating process for single men and women.
Figuring out one’s own internal motivations, thoughts, and emotions, and identifying what one is looking for in a spouse and whom they would like to date, is hard enough as it is without having to worry about somebody else’s hang-ups. And whether or not it is outwardly expressed, it is natural that all children want to please their parents and earn their respect and validation. Accordingly, being made to feel that it is somehow a dater’s responsibility to compensate and account for their parents’ longings and conveniences further detracts from one’s ability to filter through to what they actually need and want in order to build a happy and healthy home.
It is not a question of what is paramount and what is valid, albeit on a lower level of import. It is solely a matter of what is relevant, and the only matter of relevance in terms of personal interests in a shidduch is what each dater believes will allow them, not their parents, to accomplish their goal of orchestrating and cultivating a pleasant and growing bayis ne’eman b’Yisroel. That assessment is for the dater to make, and the dater alone.
To be abundantly clear, the life experience of a parent is a critical tool to be used in guiding and protecting one’s child, and when a parent discovers a noteworthy concern about the single man or woman who has be redd, or about that person’s family, it is a parent’s duty to be as unambiguous as possible with such revelations. However, when it comes to matters of pure personal preference – such as the bother of travel, how tall a prospective shidduch is, how revered their family may be… – it is absolutely beyond the rights of a parent to thrust their own interests onto their child. Thus, provided that there are no objectively meaningful issues or glaring red flags that demand disclosure, the parent’s role then becomes reasonably simple at this stage. Relate the factual information to one’s child, give them the space to make decisions, trust in their judgement, be supportive of their conclusions, and help out specifically if, when, and where a child asks for input.
And should that request for advice be made, the task is confined to reflecting back based entirely on the dater’s concentrations, objectives, and desires. Nothing more, nothing less. Indeed, even when a parent senses a potential nuisance or bother that they surmise has not been picked up upon by their child, it is generally unwise to be vocally direct and on the nose about such apprehensions. Rather, it is best to use open-ended questions and conceptual prompts which will assist the dater in teasing out the concern on their own, and determining whether or not it is of significance to them. In fact, many topics which are ever so irksome to a parent are often wholly inconsequential to their child.
All told, each and every person has the right to exercise some degree of fastidiousness when finding a spouse, and we are all given that chance in life when we are dating. But that freedom to be a little bit persnickety is a time-limited opportunity that expires once a person finds themselves married. It is not a liberty that is meant to be perpetuated downstream generationally by imposing one’s whims onto their children. And if that means a parent has to travel from time to time, or that their new son- or daughter-in-law does not work in the profession they had imagined, look how they had hoped, or come from the type of family they had anticipated, the nachas from their child’s happiness and success in marriage and childrearing should more than compensate for any disappointments vis-à-vis relatively negligible personal interests.
May the Gibor L’Olam ensure that all of His children are able to maintain proper boundaries, even at the most tempting and trying of times.