Dear Dating Coach,
I grew up in a non-religious home, but I have been frum for two years now. I recently became engaged to a wonderful girl, but my parents are very unhappy. Our engagement seems to solidify my new religious differences for them, and they want nothing to do with the wedding. This is causing us all tremendous pain! Please, tell me how I can make them see reason?!
The concept of a dog park so amuses me. A park just for dogs! What about cats, hamsters, and other household pets? They must band together and fight for their right to a private park just for them to frolic and play. Dogs must think they are better than all those other animals! (But I digress.) Near our home, there is a lovely dog park, that has a special enclosure for the dogs to run around. Every time we walk by, we see that the dogs that remain outside the gate bark and bark, making our hearts beat faster as we take a step back. When the gate is opened however, and they are allowed inside, they sniff and roam for a few moments, and then they run to happily play with the other dogs. (Of course, all animals that would like to sign an all-inclusive animal park petition, please contact me immediately.)
Mazel Tov on your engagement! You have made so many positive changes in the past two years, with this special gift of your bashert as the cherry on top. What mazel to have found someone that you are so happy with and I’m sure you will build a beautiful home of Torah and mitzvos. Undoubtedly, this must not be the first time in 2 years that you have clashed with your parents over your new commitment to Yiddishkeit. However, their refusal to participate in your wedding plans must be especially hurtful. You believe that seeing you with your kallah solidifies that this is the life that you have chosen – and it can no longer be dismissed as a “phase” or passing whim. You and your bride are committed to a frum life together and that is not subject to change. They don’t understand why the way they raised you wasn’t “enough” and they must feel hurt that you have “rejected” their lifestyle and choices.
So, we need to take a step back. Your parents have raised you to be strong, to question, and to seek answers. They raised a son who cares about growth, learning, and self-improvement. Your strength and desire to change is a testament to their parenting and love. They have given you the foundation for who you were and who you have become; and for that you must always be grateful. When you speak with them, make sure your appreciation and admiration come through, and that you are careful to never disparage their life and the choices that they continue to make. You owe them. Show them that you deeply respect and understand this.
Instead of building a life of “us versus them,” build a life of inclusion and mutual respect. Instead of telling them that this is what you have decided and there is nothing they can do about it, “open the gate” and include them in your decisions. This can be as simple as asking your mother to help you select the menu for the wedding “because she has always prepared such beautiful meals.” Or asking your father to offer you advice on which renters-insurance he believes is best, or how to make prudent financial decisions, “since he always seemed to make great choices for your family.” Invite and include your parents wherever you are comfortable and as often as possible. Perhaps they can’t advise you on which Hashgacha you should choose for the wedding, but there are a million other choices that they can help you with. Apartment hunting, coffee strategy sessions, and whether you need to invite your great uncle’s cousin’s brother to the wedding. Embrace them at every turn and they will ultimately realize that you love them, value them – and that regardless of your new choices, you will always need them as your parents.