In looking for a shidduch for our oldest daughter, my husband and I tried very hard, but she is now 24 and still single. When she came home from seminary, we put together a résumé for her. But she rarely got any dates, and the dates she did get were not for her, because they didn’t match who she was at the time. We kept changing her résumé as her education and hashkafah naturally changed. But the shadchanim kept sending her original résumé to the guys they suggested.
We now have a 19-year-old daughter who will be coming home in January after spending a year and a half in a seminary in Israel. Our older daughter told us that she is OK with her younger sister dating. So, we went ahead and put our 19-year-old “on the market.” We are now sending résumés and speaking to shadchanim on her behalf.
What can we do so that our daughter who is now in the parashah ends up more successful in the shidduch system than her older sister?
By Baila Sebrow
Although your letter makes it appear as though you might have written off your older daughter from the shidduch parashah, with due respect to her I will address her situation first. While it is chivalrous and selfless of your 24-year-old daughter to state that she is OK with her 19-year-old sister dating, that is great as long as she has not given up on her own chance for happiness. The worst thing that any person in the shidduch parashah can do to themselves—regardless of their age—is to make peace with the idea that they will forever remain single. Even more detrimental is when parents communicate their sense of hopelessness to the single child.
The shidduch crisis has placed an almost demonic fear into parents, to such an extent that they believe that potential dates need to be lined up for their daughters before the plane from their year in Israel has landed. I and many other shadchanim receive frantic calls from mothers every chol ha’moed Pesach requesting to meet their daughters who have come home for vacation. They do so because they expect shadchanim to line dates up for them, so that by June, when they are done with their year in Israel, they can immediately start dating. Some shadchanim go along with this absurdity—falsely believing that they are doing a wonderful thing in making sure that there will be fewer older single girls. This school of thought is harmful to the future of the dater.
Back in the day when society did not mandate that every girl go to Israel after graduating from high school, some girls attended the local seminaries while working part-time, and others immediately attended college or vocational training. There were even those who went on to join the workforce as a secretary, receptionist, or assistant teacher. As a result, by the time these girls were 19 years old, their emotional level of maturity was usually developed as much as that of women in their twenties, or nearly so. When 19-year-old girls of that day dated, there was very little difference in their outlook from that of their 24-year-old unmarried counterparts.
Times are different today. Despite their physical maturity and intellectual talk, the 19-year-old girl who returns from a year or a year-and-a-half of study, like your daughter, is still a child. Furthermore, the spirituality that engulfs seminary girls from the holiness of their surroundings also generates within their personalities an aura of innocence and unquestioning trust. In addition, these girls are naturally inclined to be more idealistic and less materialistic when they first come home.
That said, when the résumé of a 19-year-old girl is written, it describes a very specific type of girl. Within a year or two, if she is not married yet, this girl may be vastly different from who she was when she first stepped off the plane. Education, life, and dating will naturally contribute to her change in viewpoint and attitude. The type of guy suitable for the newly arrived seminary girl will be very different a few years later.
I compliment your astuteness as parents in recognizing the character transformations in your daughter, and adjusting her résumé as needed. Unfortunately for her, the shadchanim you dealt with sent the original résumé that accurately described who she was at the time. Not surprisingly, this has kept your daughter single. What you need to do now is compose a new résumé on behalf of your eldest daughter, and find new shadchanim who have never met her before to assist and hopefully help her find her bashert.
To ensure that your younger daughter does not suffer the same experience in the shidduch system, my advice is that which I give to all mothers of 19-year-olds: Wait a few months. You read that correctly. Unless your daughter is dying to get married, give her the chance to emotionally unwind and find herself. There is nothing wrong with a girl starting to date when she is close to 20 years of age and above. There are many boys who refuse to even date a 19-year-old who has never previously dated.
The advantage of waiting a little is twofold. Not only will you eliminate the need to continually fiddle with and update your younger daughter’s résumé, but you will also have fewer burnout issues to deal with. I meet countless girls who by age 20 are burnt out from a full year of their horror stories in dating. Dating burnout is dangerous, as the burnt-out person in all likelihood becomes jaded. Worse still, she oftentimes requires a long break from dating. Depending on the reason for the burnout, such as pain from recurrent rejection, the sufferer may need a longer period for the healing process. And because young daters today are prone to frequent changes in hashkafic outlook, they typically find that they cannot connect with those whom they date.
Whether your daughter is planning to attend college or a seminary/college program, allow her to settle in emotionally before pushing her into the shidduch dating scene. Wait until she tells you that she is ready and wants to start dating. May her path to finding her bashert be smooth, uncomplicated, and trouble-free.
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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