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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 9/12/08

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Dear Rachel,

I don’t even know where to begin. I am so depressed and disappointed with how things are turning out with one of my children that it is hard for me to get up in the morning and get through the day.

As a mother of four young single adults, ages 18-25, my problem is with my oldest daughter who is 25-years old.

To give you some background, my husband and I are both ba’alei teshuvah and have raised our family in an Orthodox environment. (I went to yeshiva all my life and my husband became a ba’al teshuvah in his early twenties.)

My daughter attended a Bais Yaakov elementary school, then moved on to a high school that was a little more to the left but still very Orthodox. For her year in Israel, she chose a seminary that was considered quite frum and returned from Israel very observant and devoted to Yiddishkeit. She davened three times a day, took laws of tzniut very seriously, and desired to date boys who are “kovea ittim” and sincerely religiously committed.

The suggestions for shidduchim were plentiful. My daughter greeted each date possibility with enthusiasm and assumed that it was just a matter of time before she would find her bashert. After all, she was doing everything right.

As time went on, she attended a secular college but still went to shiurim and maintained a very frum lifestyle. However, I could see her patience waning with each successive shidduch prospect, though she received encouragement and moral support from her family and other single friends.

When she reached the graduate level of her education, she again attended a secular university with a good reputation in her chosen field of study. Gradually she befriended Jewish but not necessarily frum girls in her program and became especially close with one non-Jewish girl. Even though they are quite respectful and intelligent, they obviously are not of the same mindset as my daughter should be in the area of wanting to find her bashert, marrying and starting a family.

Fast forward to the present: my daughter almost exclusively socializes with these girls in her spare time. They go to movies together and hang out in each other’s homes. Most of my daughter’s frum friends are married with children and she does not fit in with them as much anymore. She now claims that she doesn’t want to marry the way some of these girls did, following relatively brief dating periods and hardly knowing their future husbands.

My husband and I encourage her to attend singles and social events, and sometimes she agrees but she always comes back dejected. I try to be very diligent with networking for her, but I guess that due to her age the suggestions are fewer and far between.

She prefers not to hang out with her frum still-single friends because all they talk about is their single status and this depresses her. I don’t know what to do at this point. After all, although she is still living at home, she is an adult and should be allowed to make her own decisions. I don’t know why Hashem allows this to happen. Had she found her bashert a couple of years ago, she would not even have entered the other world and been perfectly happy and settled.

I feel totally paralyzed and don’t know how to help her get back on track. I would appreciate your insight and any suggestions you can give me.

In need of help

Dear Need,

It is understandably exasperating when all your children are shidduch-aged adults and there’s no outlook for a viable match. That said, there seems to be much negativism in your home atmosphere that would do little to foster a relaxed and pleasant ambience.

The reality is that your oldest is only 25 – many young ladies of today are connecting with their zivugim in their late 20s versus their early 20s or teens. Instead of wallowing in discontent, you should be luxuriating in your good fortune: being blessed with healthy and well-adjusted children. Instead of losing sleep, you should be saying a verse of Tehillim and directing an extra prayer at Shabbos candle-lighting time to the Arbiter of all shidduchim.

Regarding your daughter’s lifestyle modification, one’s environment plays a largely influential role – as you yourself have witnessed upon her return from a “quite frum” seminary in Israel and later in her attending a secular university. You would be wise not to badger her about her way of life. Like you say, she is an adult. Be grateful that she lives at home and is fine and frum. Pestering her will only serve to widen the distance between you.

You say that you are “so depressed and disappointed” that it is hard for you to get up in the morning and get through the day. Considering the big picture, you should be greeting each new day with enthusiasm for each new sunrise brings you one day closer to the time that Hashem has set as your daughter’s big day.

Though you bemoan her gradual transformation, it may just be that her bashert, divinely determined from long ago, is more suitable to the person she has become rather than to the style she had adapted right out of school. Timing is everything and outstandingly so when it comes to shidduchim.

Excessive worry demonstrates a lack of faith in the ways of our Creator. Ours is to expend reasonable effort (hishtadlus), practice patience, and leave the rest to Him Who we trust and believe knows best. When the time is right, it will be.

Your children need a healthy mother from whom they can learn to be joyful of their blessings, optimistic about their future, and to have emunah in a Higher Power.

Really, there’s no need to despair. Thankfully your cup is half-full – before you know it, it will be overflowing with nachas galore. May that day be upon you very soon!

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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