Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Dating Coach,

My parents refuse to see reason! I am just starting to date and my parents envision a different kind of girl than I do. All they care about is the length of her skirts! I am an adult and my own person and they think they can force me to date and marry a specific type. It’s a waste of time! This is who I am and I know what I want! I have yelled and shouted and begged – but they don’t listen! I am beyond frustrated and feel like I will never be set up with the right girl as long as they are doing the picking. Are my parents a lost cause or do I stand a chance?

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Off-White Sheep

 

Dear Sheep,

I love a bean hunt. If you’ve ever been to overnight camp, you are nodding your head right now, and if you haven’t you are probably thinking this is a chili recipe reveal. (It’s not, but if you have a good one, let us all know.) A bean hunt is an intense game (rigorous physical training is recommended. Not.) that requires players to seek out different beans hidden in muddy grass by clever (evil) counselors that are then converted into “points.” The points are used as currency at a Gala Auction. (There are tablecloths. Okay, plastic tablecloths.) Various gifts are wrapped so the players have no idea of their value, and then a cutthroat bidding war begins. Top prizes could include a trip to the coveted ShopRite, a full bottle of Off-Brand Cola, or the ultimate Late-Night.

One year, the counselors upped the ante and wrapped the valuable prizes in foil and newspaper, and the worthless gifts (think pebble, gum wrapper with used gum attached, and toilet paper roll sans toilet paper) in fancy wrapping paper. Naturally, those beautifully wrapped were furiously and expensively bid on immediately. It was a memorable year for me – I won a solitary sweaty sock. Sadly, I did not keep it as I was busy bathing in Purell.

 

Speak softly…

I hear you loud and clear. You are frustrated and feel like you are not being heard. You worry that you will waste months and even years meeting and not connecting with girls who you believe are not your “type.” You wonder why your parents refuse to cooperate with you and are exasperated by their refusal to see your point of view. Finally, you think they only care about image and perception, versus looking for girls that share your views and vision of the future.

 

And carry a big stick…

To me, your question cannot be answered until we address your tone. Until then, this is less about your inability to see eye to eye with your parents than about your struggle to communicate properly with one another. Sure, there are things to discuss in order to make sure that you are set up with appropriate girls, but before that, you must be able to hear one another. To expect your parents to listen and treat you respectfully when you shout and yell is short-sided at best, and at worst, smacks of disrespect. Your inability to talk to them calmly has them shutting down the minute you open your mouth to share.

 

You will go far…

If you would like to be heard, you must conduct yourself with decorum. In this, presentation means everything. This means setting up a meeting to discuss your goals with your parents at a time that they agree to (preferably when everyone is relaxed, not hungry, and calm). This means clearly thinking through and then carefully communicating your view and LISTENING as they respond. This means sharing with maturity and respect, even if they disagree with your choices. When you act like a child by yelling and screaming, it makes sense that they would then treat you like one. Reevaluate your current strategy and instead present yourself as an adult; and you may be surprised at the clarity you both can achieve.

As to consolidating your different viewpoints in hashkafa, we will address that next week.

To be continued

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Henni Halberstam is a Dating and Marriage Coach whose expert advice will help you navigate dating and relationships in order to ensure a successful marriage. You can contact her at hennihalberstam@gmail.com to schedule a phone session.