Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Can’t Leave the Nest

Rosie Einhorn, LCSW, and Sherry Zimmerman, JD, MSC

What if your child doesn’t want to leave the comfortable cocoon and get married? How to help your child separate from you and become a self-sufficient individual

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

 Mishpacha image

 

"S

uch a beautiful simchah!” Shani Gold* remarked wistfully to her daughter Chana, as her husband drove them home from Chana’s friend Estee’s vort. “I’m so happy for her.”

“So am I,” Chana replied, dreading what her mother would say next.

“Estee is your tenth friend who is, baruch Hashem, engaged,” Shani said. “And you haven’t started dating yet. You’re 21, almost finished with your accounting degree. Isn’t it time already?”

“But I’m happy with how things are.” Chana crossed her arms and looked determinedly out the window. Shani sighed, knowing the conversation was over, once again.

Later, Shani accosted her husband. “We need to do something about Chana. Will she ever be ready to get married?”

“I’m upset, too,” he said. “What’s the matter with our daughter?”

The Golds described the situation to a therapist. “Chana is a perfect daughter, so agreeable. She hardly fought with her siblings and classmates, always did her homework without complaining, got good grades, kept her clothes in order, and followed all of our rules. As a teenager, she was a dream — no conflicts, no slammed doors, no sullen moods. We felt so lucky with Chana, because her siblings weren’t as easy. 

“Chana was happy to go to the seminary we chose and agreed with our recommendation that she study accounting because she was great in math and could support a husband in learning. But she’s finishing school and still shows no interest in dating. Is this normal?”

 

Mama Knows Best, Right?

All parents want their children to trust them and follow the rules… up to a point. Chana was relying on her parents too much, to the extent that she made no decisions of her own. She went along with their suggestions because she felt they knew what was best for her. To Chana, marriage meant leaving her parents’ house, wisdom, and protection — a terrifying prospect. Why would she choose to do that?

Chana is far from alone. A number of young adults are choosing to stay single because they just don’t feel compelled to get married. They haven’t undergone a developmental process called separation-individuation. 

“Separation” entails achieving emotional independence and meeting milestones such as establishing personal goals, starting a career, marrying, and setting up a home. “Individuation” means developing into a unique, self-aware individual. When these don’t take place, the young adult continues to view herself as her parents’ child, rather than as an independent adult.

This failure to separate and individuate is why some adults don’t “launch” into adult responsibility at the same time as most of their peers. Some are reluctant to start dating, or find it difficult to choose a spouse, or struggle to figure out what to do with their lives. If they do marry, they may have trouble bonding with their spouse, or a few years later, may question who they are and whether they’re living the life they really want.

 

What Do I Want?

After five years of dating with no real relationships, Miriam decided to see a dating mentor. When Mrs. Brooks asked her, “Where do you see yourself in six months? A year from now? Five years from now?” Miriam was floored.

“I don’t even know what I want for breakfast tomorrow,” Miriam responded. “How do I know where I want to see my life going? I don’t even know who I am.” She laughed, but Mrs. Brooks did not — it was clear that Miriam’s lack of direction and self-awareness was impeding her dating. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 602)

Related Stories

Make It Work: So You’ve Always Loved… Art

Miriam Milstein

Meet five women who’ve taken their passion for art and turned it into a viable, enjoyable career

Let the Light Shine In

Binyamin Rose

What happens when certain brave souls enter secular communities to spread the light of Torah? We wen...

Wait for That Perfect Date

Chananel Shapiro

What’s it like being the oldest bochur in the dorm — often by a good few years — wondering if life w...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
Weekly Struggle
Shoshana Friedman Cover text: promise big and deliver what we promise
Only Through You
Rabbi Moshe Grylak A response to last week’s letter, “Waiting in Passaic”
Are You Making a Kiddush Hashem?
Yonoson Rosenblum In communal affairs, “one bad apple…” often applies
Chance of a Lifetime
Eytan Kobre I identify with the urge to shout, “No, don’t do it!”
Work / Life Solutions with Bunim Laskin
Moe Mernick "You only get every day once"
Seeking a Truly Meaningful Blessing
Dovid Zaidman We want to get married. Help us want to date
Shivah Meditations
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Equivalence between two such polar opposites is puzzling
Magnet Moment
Jacob L. Freedman Everyone’s fighting a battle we know nothing about
Secrets and Surprises
Riki Goldstein Top-secret suits Eli Gerstner just fine
Blasts of Warmth
Riki Goldstein Keeping the chuppah music upbeat in low temperatures
Behind the Scenes
Faigy Peritzman The intrinsic value of each mitzvah
Good Vision
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Good or bad, nice or not? What you see is what you get
Day of Peace
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz On Shabbos we celebrate peace within and without