Dear Dr. Yael,
I was very triggered by your column about the husband who felt left out when his wife decided to have a private lunch out with their daughter to discuss seminary issues. Why should the father, who is a caring parent, be excluded from this important meeting? The father clearly supports the family. The father, according to what the mother wrote, is a loving parent. You recommended therapy for the father. Maybe the mother and the daughter need therapy not to exclude the father. I personally can identify with this father. I am in a loving marriage, and I am very devoted to my children. However they all seem to exclude me, and turn to their mother for all advice. I do like to joke around and I never understand why this is offensive to my children. They will often start crying (especially the girls) and tell me that my joking around about their serious issues makes them feel hurt. I never intend to hurt them. I just want to lessen the intensity of their problem. Please print my letter and respond.
Another excluded father
Dear A. O. H,
I appreciate your letter and I am sorry if my response was not sensitive to the father. It is difficult to write this column as there are so many variables in human relationships. Generally, when I receive a letter, I only hear one side, so my responses are usually geared towards the letter writer’s perspective. You are correct that the father likely feels unimportant and excluded. However, your letter indicated that you identify with this father because you also like to use humor to diffuse a situation. Perhaps your children, especially your daughters, may feel invalidated by your humor when they are talking about sensitive issues. Although you are trying to lighten the atmosphere, it sounds like the humor in these situations is sometimes damaging to your relationship with your children. Maybe a better response to the letter writer should have been to seek family therapy so that all parties can present their issues. It may be helpful for you to also seek out family therapy to help your family learn how to communicate with each other better, so that you can be included more as well. Hatzlacha
The following paragraph is what the next letter writer objected to.
Our community is very focused on being married. Single people, in general, feel they have no place in our community. If it’s in fact true that your ex-wife is ready to move on and get remarried, then in order for you to move on as well, you need to work on trying to put your love for your ex-wife in the past. Once you work on loving yourself, you will be ready to find a new wife to build a life with and to have a healthy future.
In Dr. Yael’s column (JP 7/15/22) in which she provides advice to a recently divorced man she makes the following statements without qualification: “our community is very focused on being married” and “single people feel they have no place in our community.” How are such statements supposed to make this man and other single readers feel about themselves and their place in the community?
Being married is certainly a worthy goal, especially in the Jewish community. However, for a variety of reasons, there are many single people among us. Marriage doesn’t occur for everyone or when it does, it often takes a while to find a suitable spouse. Dr. Respler should be sensitive to the feelings of all members of our community when writing her columns.
The editor sent me your letter and I wanted to apologize for any insensitivity. You are correct that these statements, on their own, are very insensitive. I never meant to hurt anyone and if I did, I am asking for mechilah publicly. If you follow my columns in general, you know that I prevail upon our community to be more sensitive to our singles by inviting them over and trying to set them up instead of asking nosy questions. I appreciate your letter and will attempt to be more sensitive in the future. Hatzlacha!