I’ve long wondered about the following. How come we, as parents, allow our children to go out with those whom we have never met before? What I mean is that when a shidduch is redd, we do research, and then, if we like what we hear, we give a yes and the boy and girl go out. If we’re the girl’s parents, we get to meet the boy for a few minutes before the date begins, but there’s no giving a no at that point; it’s too late. If we’re the boy’s parents, we don’t get to meet the girl until a few dates in.
Why is that? Shouldn’t the parents of a boy and a girl be meeting with their child’s prospective date before they even go out to see if they pick up on any red flags? Shouldn’t we be able to screen the prospective date before sending them out with our child?
To be certain, I can wholly appreciate the apprehension reflected in the question presented, and the natural concern that all parents have for the wellbeing of a child at any age and stage. After having devoted one’s entire body, heart, and soul to their child for years and years and years, the notion of casting them off into the dark of night with a virtually unknown individual is no small ask or task, to say the least. Nonetheless, when it comes to shidduchim, simply stated, the parents are not the ones doing the dating. Indeed, it would be rather unseemly, in my opinion, for a single man or woman to have to be subjected to what is essentially being described as a grilling session with the progenitors of a prospective shidduch, and moreover, to have to endure that before there has even been an acquiescence by those aforementioned parties for their child to actually go out with the person being interrogated. And especially so after all of the research and investigation that surely occurred. Who in their right mind would put themselves in such a fundamentally peculiar and potentially intolerable position?
Once a young man or woman has reached the platform of potential matrimony, they need the full and unconditional trust of their parents that they have the capacity to make astute and prudent decisions that will last a lifetime, b’ezras Hashem. And if a parent genuinely believes they cannot confer such lofty levels of loyalty upon their son or daughter, it may be a sign that their newly-minted adult child is yet unready for marriage, or perhaps it is symbolic of a far larger internal barrier that the parent themself is need of overcoming. Of course, every dater must have ample opportunity to seek feedback when they are unsure about something, or feel the need to tease out a particular area of unease – both with their parents, and with someone else who specifically is not their parent – but when all is said and done, it is the daters themselves who need to come to their own conclusions.
Furthermore, it is not at all clear to me that parents have an inherently greater ability to pick up on red flags than do their dating sons and daughters. The only thing I am positive that many parents do have, with respect to the topic at hand, is a penchant for thrusting their own biased interests and desultory idiosyncrasies upon their children, and sometimes, there is even an accompanying and misguidedly regnant philosophy that it is 100% their business to do so. Such impositions are typically rooted in a combination of the parent’s own experiences as a married person, along with their personal longings when it comes to a future son- or daughter-in-law, and these encumbrances have no due place in the realm of their children’s shidduchim, regardless of how well intentioned they may be. Every parent has already had their day in the sun of dating, and hopefully, they remain steadfast, secure, and satisfied with their selection. And when the next generation steps up to the plate, they deserve all the space they desire to make their own determinations, learn from their own inevitable mistakes, and handpick their own future spouse in consonance with their will and in accordance with their adjudications.
May the Yodeia Yetzer Kol Yitzurim grant us the wisdom to understand the depths of our innermost motivations, and the strength to follow through in action on that which we earnestly know to be the honorable path, so that all of our resolutions will prove truly propitious.