Our daughter is 19 years old. She did not go to Israel for her year in seminary. Instead, she spent this past school year in a local seminary.
We are being advised by everyone we know to actively search for a shidduch for her. People are telling us that her current age will make her a more desirable choice amongst boys. Our friends are saying that it’s important to put a résumé together to e-mail to shadchanim. They also say that nowadays a boy will not go out with a girl until he sees a picture of her. How ridiculous!
My husband and I are very new to this parashah. Things were different years ago, and the stories we hear about the shidduch crisis and how there are so many unmarried older girls is scary to us. At the same time, we also feel that she is too young to be put through such stress.
We haven’t discussed this with our daughter yet, because we don’t want to scare her. Please tell us what to do and the best way to go about this new system in dating.
By Baila Sebrow
While you and your husband have recently joined the ranks of those marking a new milestone in a daughter’s life, rest assured that your daughter most likely has been discussing these issues with her friends. In addition, seminary educators frequently mention the current mode of shidduch dating.
The repeatedly used terminology “shidduch crisis” has become a household and oftentimes overused description of the concept. It has evolved into being the answer to anyone’s question as to why someone is single.
The original basis for this phrase came about because there was a feeling amongst shadchanim and even rabbanim that there is a higher girls-to-guys ratio. While there are rational reasons backing up such a claim, the “shidduch crisis” does not explain why every unmarried girl has not yet found her bashert.
There are fewer younger guys who are seeking to get married than in previous years. If a 19-year-old girl wants to date a guy closer to her age—if that is whom she feels most emotionally compatible with—there are fewer options available to her.
You and your husband surely remember how in previous years it was not uncommon for a younger girl to marry a guy ten years or more her senior. Today most young girls do not ordinarily pursue such shidduchim.
To set your minds at ease, please understand that a crisis is relative. What may be a crisis to one is not necessarily a crisis to another. For those who feel that they cannot get what they are searching for in a shidduch, that is their personal crisis.
You and your husband are within the correct belief that a 19-year-old girl is too young to be put though the stress that is customarily experienced by many young shidduch daters. Furthermore, anyone who dates before feeling ready will potentially enter the system with a negative attitude. Unless your daughter expresses a serious interest in dating, do not encourage it yet. Wait until she suggests or alludes to it.
The main complication that frequently arises as a consequence of dating at such a young age is burnout. As a shadchan, I meet countless young seminary graduates who enter this new stage enthusiastically and starry-eyed. There are those who are lucky and get engaged within the first year or two of dating. Those to whom dating is not a successful endeavor will sometimes react to their pain with obvious bitterness and cynicism while only in their early twenties.
With regard to your friends informing you that a younger girl is a more desirable choice amongst guys, my advice is to find yourself a new set of friends to consult and shidduch-brainstorm with. There are plenty of guys who prefer a girl more mature in age. Nineteen is still very young, and many guys looking for a shidduch reject a girl who is so young. There is nothing wrong with waiting at least one year until you all feel comfortable with your daughter’s emotional readiness.
The methods in approaching this system will be something that you and your husband will have to adjust to. As ridiculous as it seems to you and your husband, unless your daughter is fortunate to meet her bashert on her own or though friends, résumés accompanied by a recent picture are the acceptable method in shidduch dating today. There are exceptions where shidduchim have come about without the résumé or picture—but those cases are few and far between.
Familiarize yourself with sample résumés to get a general sense. With exception to specific facts involving your daughter and family, her résumé needs to be kept simple. Place focus on her hashkafic level and that of the type of boy she is seeking. Do not go into long, overdrawn details describing her personality, lest she turn off the nitpicking reader who will come up with various commentaries which will misrepresent what she is all about. In this case, less is more. Do not be afraid to make adjustments to your daughter’s résumé as her achievements and hashkafah may change with time.
Great caution must be exercised when choosing the references listed on your daughter’s résumé. Interview and role-play with your references to ascertain that their words will only benefit rather than harm a potential shidduch suggestion.
Choose one or two trusted shadchanim per community who are not so inundated with shidduchim that they do not have the time to talk to you by phone or in person. Avoid the shadchan whose protocol is to communicate only via e‑mail. Your daughter, being new to the system, still needs that personal touch.
Be proactive. Expand your daughter’s horizons by networking positively to increase her opportunities for suggestions. Do not be shy in informing people you and your husband know that your daughter is in the shidduch parashah. You never know who Hashem has chosen to be His shaliach in ultimately bringing her zivug to her. May the path to walking your daughter to the chuppah be a smooth progression.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. v
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