I am a single young man who is divorced. I was married for less than a year and do not have children. Some of the shidduchim being redd to me are wonderful young women who have a child or two.
How am I supposed to know if I should be considering a shidduch with someone who has children? I understand that being divorced is a “strike” against me, so to speak, but where do I “compromise” and where do I not?
First and foremost, I would strongly encourage against the usage of terms such as “strike” and “compromise” when speaking about oneself or others. Each person has their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses, accompanied by one’s background and circumstances, and the amalgamation of these many components make us who we are. Each one of us is a gem, seeking out another gem to complement and complete who we are and who we aspire to be.
That said, regarding the inquiry presented, and at the risk of oversimplifying an immensely complex and multi-layered topic, I would like to posit the following. When one is unsure about the suitability of a shidduchdue to external factors – that is to say, elements which are not directly related to the compatibility of the two people with respect to personality, hashkafah, and life goals – the uncertainty essentially and ultimately boils down to either substance or pride. This applies to daters of all ages, and is relevant to any worriment rooted in potential superficiality. And while offering parallel examples might be illustrative, I fear that doing so will only cause pain to those who may find themselves in those specific conditions. As such, I will speak only to the scenario provided.
When one has been redd a shidduch with a person who has children from a prior marriage, hesitation likely emanates from one of the two aforementioned places. On the one hand, they may feel unable to raise children whom they did not bear, supposing that they will be powerless to provide proper parental love and support to those children, or that they lack the tools to nurture a child from behind the eight-ball, not having had the opportunity to acclimate through the developmental stages of the parent-child relationship from the start. Alternatively, one may simply be uncomfortable with the reality that these children are not their own. On the other hand, one might believe themselves to be superior to such a person, and thus, are chagrined at the thought of dating someone whom they erroneously see as positioned lower down on their totem pole of contrived human hierarchy. Similarly, one may sense that the greater public frowns upon such unions, and is therefore embarrassed to be seen in that light by their coterie, or their community at large.
The former set of concerns are indeed valid, and are worthy of serious deliberation, as accepting the responsibility of wholly welcoming in and caring for someone else’s progeny is no small charge. The latter grouping of apprehensions, however, are far less vindicable, and are perhaps deserving of our collective opprobrium, as they remain firmly rooted in ego, or result from succumbing to the arbitrary and subjective whims of society.
Consequently, in these types of situations, it is incumbent upon a dater to engage in some deep soul-searching. And should one discover that their reluctance stems not from matters of material meaning, a rather heavy corollary question will then have to be addressed. Namely, “Am I really going to let my vanity, or that of my culture, stand in the way of dating a person whom, by all accounts of significant importance, I could cherish for the rest of my life and build a beautiful home with?” I would hope the answer is no.
May the Rosh Divaro Emes aid us in uncovering and identifying our true motivations, and grant us the fortitude to accordingly and astutely act upon them.