Undue Parental Pressure – A Shidduch Problem, or Beyond That?

How much of your dating life is shaped by your parents? How much of your life is shaped by your parents?

I recently read an interview with author Yael Levy, focusing on her new book Brooklyn Love. While my perspective is limited by the fact that I haven’t yet read the book, the article (and especially the title of the article) give over the impression that one of the key bumps in the road of the dating process is the pressure of young women’s mothers.

“Levy’s debut novel spins the story of three young women on their journey toward the chuppah: Rachel, an artist who falls in love with an aspiring rabbi despite her mother’s entreaties to marry a wealthy man; Hindy, who says she wants to marry a Torah scholar but falls for her accountant boss; and Leah, who dreams of becoming a doctor but must balance her studies with intense pressure from her mother, an immigrant who sees marriage as her path to a better life. [bolding added]”

“Levy recently spoke by phone with The Times of Israel, explaining why even well-intentioned mothers often cause anxiety for single women…

Is this issue only limited to shidduchim – and once the woman gets married, it will be solved?

Unlikely.

Issues that surface during the dating process, whether between the dater and his/her shidduch, the dater and his/her parents or the dater and his/her self – are meant to be taken as a hint to issues that need to be dealt with, or they’ll rear their ugly head and cause issues later on, when the stakes are higher.

If a woman feels stress and anxiety due to parental pressure as regards her dating life, is that going to disappear once she gets married? Or is it more likely that stress caused by parental pressure will continue to be an issue as regards:

  1. Where the couple lives?
  2. The couple’s financial decisions?
  3. The couple’s child-rearing decisions?
  4. The couple’s personal relationship?

Does this sound like a recipe for a calm and happy marriage?

Don’t think I’m putting the responsibility for this issue solely on the parents. While it might be the parents who are overly involved and invested in their child’s life to the point of pressure, one can have parents who try to be involved in a healthy way – but the child herself is underconfident and dependent on outside opinion, and so she takes any indication of her parents’ opinion to an unhealthy extreme. Different percentages of parent-over-involvement and child-over-dependence can create a recipe that’s unhealthy during the dating process… and even more so down the line.

If parental pressure causing stress is an issue during the dating process, the time to deal with it is NOW… so that you’ll increase your chances for a less stressful marriage.

It’s not a simple thing to deal with (hard issues are rarely simple), but if you’re fortunate enough to see it and deal with it now, it’s worth thinking about the following questions:

1) How much influence do my parents have on my decisions?

2) How much influence do my parents have on my emotional state when I’m making decisions?

3) How much responsibility do I feel for the emotional state of my parents?

You may or may not be able to change your parents’ responses, but you certainly do have the ability to change the internal dynamic and effect it has on your life: both your life now, and the family life you will eventually build.

If you’ve experienced working through the effect negative parental pressure had on your life, and you can share constructive tips and ideas – please do so with all of us in the comments below!

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