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September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
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Degrees Of Rejection

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Dear Dr. Yael:

I am a 20 years old and dating. While I know that people consider me to be an attractive young woman, I have been getting rejected – quite a lot. This might be happening because I am painfully shy. For the most part I clam up while on a date; I become very anxious and don’t know what to say.

Then there are the times when I do speak and end up saying something that makes me look stupid – all that does it make me feel insecure. On the other hand, I am comfortable speaking with my friends who are girls.

I’m confident that I will make someone a good wife, as I am a loving person and enjoy cooking, baking and cleaning – and I adore children. I am just not good at the dating game. What can I do about my dating problem?

B.T.

Dear B.T.:

It is unfortunate that in our dating “system,” people sometimes have a hard time getting married since they find it difficult to relate to someone from the opposite gender. At times we wonder to what extent being a “good date” relates to being a “good marriage partner.” An individual can have a hard time with dating, but still be an excellent marriage partner.

Clearly, chassidim have found a way to resolve some of the dating issues and are generally more successful in marrying off their children. This is because they do a lot more in-depth research about the prospective mate and his or her family. They certainly do not face the crises with older singles that those in the more litvish/yeshivish groups face. With that in mind, here are some social skills tips that will hopefully help you during your dating experience:

1) Don’t put yourself down! Self-deprecating remarks can be your own worst advertisement.

2) Accept compliments graciously. A simple thank you with a smile will suffice.

3) Compliment your date subtly and specifically. Comments like “that idea sounds very interesting,” or picking up on a comment by your date and building on it will make him feel that you were truly listening and that his idea helped you come up with another point.

4) Prepare interesting material for your dates – stories, jokes and interesting accounts of your life experiences that you can access when you feel as if you are freezing up. Spend some time practicing doing this; you will have an easier time relaying them when you are anxious. In all likelihood, you will feel calmer because you will not feel pressured to immediately come up with something.

5) Make your date feel like you care about his life by asking questions – then listen enthusiastically to his answers, commenting on them with interest. These questions can also be prepared and practiced in advance so as to enable you to feel calmer and more ready. Also, try some deep breathing techniques before a date in order to calm yourself.

If after implementing some of these ideas you still find it difficult to connect with your dates due to your shyness, you should seek professional help. Social-skills training, part of cognitive-behavioral therapy, can be most effective in ameliorating your difficulty. I hope these ideas are helpful. Hatzlachah!

Dear Dr. Respler:

My wife and I disagree on a crucial point regarding the issue of childrearing. I believe in discipline but not in hitting. My wife, however, becomes angry and hits our children. Thankfully she hits them on the behind and not too hard, but I believe she does this too often. The children listen to me more than to her, and I even overheard my eight-year-old son say, “I don’t care if Mommy hits me; it doesn’t hurt anyway.”

My wife is also inconsistent. After she hits the children, she kisses them and buys them gifts. I feel that I am strict but loving and fair, and believe that the children respect me more than they respect my wife. My wife agrees with my assessment, but she says it is because I spend less time with them. I believe that it is her inconsistent methods and the fact that she hits them that leads them to disrespect her. I know that she loves our children, but I am upset with her relationship with them. What do you think?

A Concerned Father

Dear Concerned Father:

I agree with your ideas vis-à-vis childrearing, believing that parents should be loving and strict but must not hit their children. A chashuvah rav was once asked about his opinion on hitting in today’s world. He answered that in previous generations tzaddikim hit their children gently when they were not angry. Today, on the other hand, most parents hit their children to rid themselves of their own anger and frustration. Based on this the rav paskened that hitting in our day is prohibited al pi halacha, since parents are not allowed to hit their children while angry – but only when they are calm (for the purpose of chinuch). Since today’s parents are not on that madregah, hitting is not permitted.

If your wife is hitting the children to rid herself of her own frustration, she is violating halacha. Additionally, it is not a healthy parenting approach. Please help your wife deal with her anger by being more understanding and loving toward her.

Here are some questions that you should ponder: Does your wife need more help in the house? Getting help for her with the cleaning may be a good investment, as it will help her become more relaxed. Whatever you can do to reduce your wife’s stress can be helpful, as most people strike others when they are frustrated or angry. Those feelings often result from stress.

Perhaps your wife needs some outside help with her parenting. People generally do not just change overnight. Furthermore, your wife has to want to change the way she conducts her parenting, and must try to change in order for change to occur. There are some wonderful parenting classes and books that focus on consistent and positive parenting methods.

Finally, if you and/or your wife feel that she needs extra guidance, it may be worth it for her to see a professional for a few sessions. This may help her better manage the children, along with improving her own reactions to their behavior. Hatzlachah!

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