Shidduchim: How Parents Can Help
By Tzivya Rieter, L.C.S.W.
From the August 26, 2005 issue of The Jewish Press
The most unbearable feeling that many parents experience is being helpless in the face of their childís suffering. Parents dream
of raising their children to become happy, healthy and fulfilled adults who then go on to raise their own families. Yet for more
and more young men and women today, finding the right person with whom to build their families is not happening so easily.
The increasing number of singles in the Jewish community is well-known. The pain, rejection and self-doubt that are
experienced by those who have spent years searching for their mates can be unbelievably devastating.
Who suffers more, the children who remain single, or their parents? Why is it that so many singles report that the last person
they feel comfortable confiding in is the person who loves them most in the world? Why do so many singles feel so alienated and
alone? What is the best way for parents to help?
The following are some suggestions that may help parents of singles during this challenging time:
The most important thing you can do: Manage your own anxiety about your childís single status. Many people today develop
extreme and excessive anxiety about their childrenís shidduch status, often from an unduly young age; i.e., the mother who is
panic stricken about her 21-year-old daughter being single. Donít let her feel you anxiety, it will only add undue pressure and
turn this potentially productive and growth-oriented time into one of strife and worrying. Find outlets to manage the stress that
you feel due to this situation by talking to friends, your rav or rebbetzin, or seeking support from other parents in similar
Do not define you child by his or her single status. Focus on your child as a whole person. Value him for his personal
achievements, spiritual development, loyalty to his friends, commitment to chesed and professional accomplishments. If you do
this, it will help him to do the same. Talk to him about what is going on his life aside from his social life. Express interest in his
job, friends, learning, extracurricular activities, etc. and he will be more likely to feel supported and appreciated during this
Do not make your childís single status the focus of your household. Do not allow the mood in your home to be influenced by
whether or not she has a current dating prospect.
Know that whether or not your child finds his or her mate has nothing to do with your success as a parent. In todayís society,
there are unprecedented numbers of accomplished, well-brought up, intelligent and attractive individuals who remain single
despite their impressive pedigrees.
Donít place your expectations onto your child. Separate your childís expectations from your own. Recognize his differences from
you and allow them.
Donít hover or push her to talk to you after a date. If you are approachable and not judgmental, she will choose to confide in
you. Remember that listening is almost always better than talking.
Validate her feelings when she does confide in you. Platitudes such as "you never know, one date canít hurt, itís better than
sitting home alone, etc." only serve to increase her sense of alienation and her alienation and her feeling of being
misunderstood. To many singles, one highly incompatible date can hurt and is not better than sitting home alone where at least
you are comfortable and are not subject to rejection or disappointment.
Donít ask people you meet in new social situations if they know of anyone for your child in front of her. Donít gesture in an
obvious manner when trying to point her out to someone. Definitely do network on her behalf, but do so discreetly.
Support and defend your child in front of intrusive family or community members. Create boundaries so that they understand
that unless they have constructive suggestions to make, this topic is off limits. Do not allow them to blame your child for his or
her single status with statements such as "heís too picky, what is she waiting for already? etc." A good example of this occurred
between a father and his single daughter when he overheard a family friend ask her, ďNu, when are you going to give your
parents nachas already?" He jumped in and said, "She already gives us so much nachas. We couldnít be more proud
Donít tell other people in the family about your childís dates unless he gives you permission to do so.
If you have knowledge of a shadchan or singles event that you want to share with your child, give her the information and leave
it at that. Make it clear that it is her choice whether or not to pursue it and that you support her decision.
Recognize that your child may need some time off from dating, and it doesnít mean that he doesnít want to get married.
At no time is it ever appropriate to make any comments about the urgency of getting married in order to have children.
Donít think that just because your child may be engaging in vacations, interesting trips, classes and Shabbatonim, while single,
she is too busy having fun and doesnít want to get married. She wants to get married, she is just trying to make the most
productive and interesting use of her time while she is waiting.
Assume at all times that your child really, really wants to get married. Donít doubt that fact, donít question it and donít blame
him for his single status.
Too much emphasis is placed on the ultimate goal of "getting married." Getting married in and of itself is not an
accomplishment. Creating and sustaining a successful, loving and giving marriage where husband and wife treat one another
with sensitivity and respect is an accomplishment. Continually developing oneís middos to become a caring and sensitive
person who will make an excellent friend, son and, eventually, husband is an accomplishment. That is the message that should
be given to your child.
The time that your child spends as a single is not wasted. It is a period where he will be faced with challenge and stress, yet it is
a period that, with your support, will develop his traits of perseverance, sensitivity and compassion.
May you soon merit the day when you can walk your beloved child down to the chuppah, with your head held high and your hands clasped together with newfound strength, understanding and the unbreakable bond forged by overcoming this challenging time.