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Daughter’s Rude Boyfriend
Dear Emuna

Daughter’s Rude Boyfriend

Is it superficial or is my daughter dating a real jerk?


Dear Emuna,

My daughter's fiancé is rude quite often. He seems to lack knowledge of the basics, like saying "thank you," and consistently interrupts others when they are speaking. We think it has much to do with his upbringing. My daughter has been with him for quite awhile so I guess she doesn't mind all that much. I would be interested in your thoughts on this. Thank you.

MIL to Be

Dear Future MIL,

My first thought is (probably like yours!) that there is no excuse for rudeness. Even if his parents were neglectful in that area, if he would look around the world, it seems hard to believe that he hasn’t noticed that his behavior is out of sync with the rest of the “civilized” world.

In general, I am a big proponent of keeping your mouth shut but in this case, particularly since they aren’t married yet, I believe you may want to speak up.

I see (at least) two possible areas of deeper concern:

Someone who never says thank you and constantly interrupts isn’t just rude. They are completely self-centered. Clearly their conversation is much more important than that of the current speaker. It is all about them (or in your daughter’s situation, him). Why say thank you when you believe it’s all coming to you? This is such a fundamental lack of gratitude and appreciation for others. Neither of these qualities are a good foundation for a lasting marriage.

Additionally, if his upbringing lacked such basics of common courtesy and decency, I would be concerned about what else it lacked.

The key to success with your daughter will be in your approach. Reassure her that you will support her, whatever her decision and that you will love whomever she marries. Then, lovingly and gently, begin to explore your concerns (and pray for the right words). Make your point, then stop and let her process. Don’t keep repeating it. You have done your part. The rest is up to her.

-- Emuna

Promiscuous Daughter

Dear Emuna,

My 19-year-old daughter is away from home in her junior year at a Liberal Arts College. All is going very well in her life, she’s very mature and responsible with her school and work, except for the fact she has chosen to experiment with a promiscuous lifestyle which she informed us about during the holidays. Not only that but she now writes a blog about her escapades for the school paper.

My husband and I expressed our concerns about the negative consequences her choice would bring to her life, while simultaneously demonstrating our unconditional love. We do not judge her or feel embarrassed because of her; we only pray she will change her path sooner rather than later. My mother, on the other hand, has judged her severely and has shunned her from her home, The whole family is torn in half by this: my parents, sisters, cousins, including our two younger daughters (16 and 12). She went back to college after the holidays without any desire to return home although we still speak regularly and remain very close to each other. I don't know how to balance my obligation to honor and love both my mother and daughter unconditionally. This makes me profoundly sad, how should I approach this?


Dear Torn,

You are choosing the only path a truly loving parent can choose with their child and I respect and admire you for it.

It is not a lack of love or honor for your mother to recognize that she has chosen a destructive path. Judging your daughter and pushing her away from her family will definitely NOT lead to any desire to return on her part. It may even work to push her to pursue this lifestyle more aggressively.

You need to do what’s best for your daughter and maintain an open home and heart. And you need to stand up to your mother, tell her how hurtful her behavior is, and ask her to stop.

If she is incapable of keeping her mouth shut around her granddaughter, she should not be invited over when your daughter is home.

Unlike the fiancé in the previous letter, you have rejected the harsh upbringing of your parents for a more loving one.

In Ethics of Our Fathers, we are taught that any love that is dependent on something (i.e. conditional) won’t last; only unconditional love will. The love a parent (or grandparent!) has for a child should be the latter and lasting kind.

-- Emuna

The Girl for Me

Dear Emuna,

I am from a secular reform family. My Jewish education is comprised of my Bar Mitzvah tutoring, a 6-week summer program at Aish HaTorah, and occasional study sessions and lunch and learns. Several years ago I met a modern orthodox girl. She has the most beautiful neshama (soul) I have ever seen. At the time I had no idea how to deal with these feelings so I just tried to push them away. Now I am at a much more observant place in my life, however not where I want to be yet. I want to say something to her father, but I have no idea what to say, and every time I try to approach an observant friend of mine for advice, I clam up.

I understand the basics of dating in religious circles: no touching and it is short term to decide if you want to get married. I am learning lampworking, and want to be a glass artist for a living in Israel. I don’t know if he would be okay with his daughter potentially marrying an artist who only has an associate’s degree, deals with clinical anxiety that has kept me from completing a 4 year degree after 9 years of trying, and has to take medication. I have a trust fund and a portfolio with about $150K to support myself until I can get established. How do I approach him and say how I feel, and ask for his permission to date his daughter?


Dear Confused,

I understand why you are! That is a lot to handle in one email – and probably a lot for a potential father-in-law as well.

If you decide to pursue this further, I would NOT recommend approaching the father directly. You need to find someone in the community – a friend, rabbi, matchmaker – who can broach the topic with the father. It is much less awkward for everyone that way.

That said, I must be frank and suggest that you have a few strikes against you. At the moment, your ability to earn a living is limited and it’s unclear what the future potential is. Without having a prejudice against artists, most fathers would prefer a steadier source of income. The father has never met you and has no reason to be predisposed in your favor.

Additionally and unfortunately, I think the anxiety is an even more problematic issue. You yourself acknowledge that it as “kept me from completing a four-year degree after nine years of trying”. That is a complicated scenario for parents and a young girl to walk into and it will take a very special young girl and parents who can both see past that to your own “beautiful neshama” and will have the patience and ability to deal with your unique challenges. It may happen but I think you need to recognize that it is unlikely.

That doesn’t mean you should give in to despair. There are many girls out there who would be kind and loving and open to your situation, as well as many people (like the friends, rabbis and matchmakers alluded to above) who would work on your behalf to find such a girl.

In general, it is not a good idea to fixate on one girl (especially one you don’t know that well) and assume that she is the only one for you. Put yourself out there, open yourself up to other possibilities and I’m confident that the right one will come your way.

February 1, 2014

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Visitor Comments: 16

(12) Boca Mom, January 10, 2017 5:37 PM

I think you missed the mark

I also have to respectfully disagree with your advice to the young man with anxiety. I don't know if you printed his full letter, it seems like maybe some pieces were taken out, so maybe there are other reasons you said what you did, but my first question would be: Is the girt interested in him? If she is, then he must be given a chance. She actually knows him, And he met her several years ago and she is still apparently single, so she may be looking for her 'one' and you might have just told him to not even try. If she would like to get to know him better and decide on her own, he can tell her his situation, and then she can understand what their life might be like together. He sounds like he would be sweet and devoted to her. That might be a lot better than a man who maybe makes a lot of money but would not care about her as much. You forgot the most important part of the equation by leaving her opinion out of it - hers is the only opinion that matters, really.

(11) Ana, December 14, 2015 12:08 PM

Anxiety prevents marriages? Really?

A great percentage of people suffer with mental issues, stress and anxiety being fairly common. Most people I know who have it so bad that they take medication some of the time (for times of excess stress or when they do extra scary things) or all the time (because their bodies and brains simply can't stay calm on their own) are actually married and well loved. Only unkind, impatient, narcissistic, and uncaring people wouldn't understand. General anxiety is a more intense form of anxiety everyone feels at times, and the people can't help it any more than people who need the adrenaline rush of driving fast cars, jumping out of planes, and doing all kinds of stunts. Some people would call them adventurous and others may say it's an issue in their brain. My point is that saying this young man doesn't have a chance because of anxiety is really cruel and irresponsible and wrong. This is advice for mysoginistic sociopaths, not for someone with anxiety and the medication to help him. Why shouldn't he date and marry? He is a sensitive man who noticed a girl for her soul, and he is now able to work in a field he loves, which proves he is capable. People burn out in schools and jobs they hate; this man, instead, stressed out. So? It's true this girl may or may not be the one for him, but she was the spark, and she might like to know that. But please, do not think and do not counsel that people with anxiety will be shunned or have no chance in love. What century are you in? About money: In the future, "confused" might make money from his art, the father might support them, the girl might also work, or they all might not care. The man might make for a very devoted husband and maybe even be an excellent stay at home dad. Also, from what it sounds like, this man is not so filled with anxiety that he can't ask questions and personally go to express his gratitude and hope to this family - and as for his job, he already seems rich beyond words in the areas that matter.

MESA, March 13, 2018 2:26 PM

I don't think Emuna was advising that people with anxiety (or other issues) should not marry. I think she was advising him to address his issues. If anxiety is not treated properly, it can be disastrous. If this man was treating it successfully and is living a stable, healthy lifestyle, then Emuna would likely have advised him on how to bring these up during the shidduch process. But this man is not yet living a stable lifestyle and he needs to address his issues before getting into shidduchim.

(10) Anonymous, February 17, 2014 6:29 AM

Daughter's boyfriend is quiet...but, I think is rude more than anything.

My daughter's boyfriend came to our house this weekend. We haven't seen him for almost a year and a half. I did all the talking while he, my husband and daughter were entertained by me...the clown.
I feel his visit was pointless...and I am quite anoyed and frustrated. There is a story behind all this. My daughter has spoken badly about me with him because.. I didn't want her to have a boyfriend until she finished her degree...yes, I know I was wrong..she went ahead and started dating him without my husband or I knowing..when she told us I was very upset..but it was my own wrong doing. When I met him for the first time I feel he doesn't like me... and I think I deserve a chance. I am not rude.. I am pleasent... I think.
How do I go about this without hurting my daughter?.. She has become quite reserved like him and also is in a bad mood when we together ( without him).. One day she came to visit us (he lives up north and she lives in London ) for one night and he was comming south that evening to see her..he rang her and I heard her saying "all this is because I came home isn't it?.
I don't know what effect this man is having in my daughter..but I am worried and I feel powerless.. My husband thinks I should leave them alone... Can you imagine having a visitor that eats and says nothing about himself? Or about anything and leaves taking your daughter with him? My daughter says that his father is the same...very little conversation also...oh my god!
Any advice will be very welcome.
I don't want to cause any harm or upset..but this tough.

(9) Miriam, February 6, 2014 4:33 PM

laws of honoring ones parents

"I don't know how to balance my obligation to honor and love both my mother and daughter unconditionally."
There is no obligation to love your mother. The law of honoring ones parents is extremely specific, dealing with taking care of the physical needs and not contradicting them to their face. No where does it mention that you must love your parents. Before you feel guilty about standing up to your parents, talk to a rav and understand the laws. you will feel a lot better doing what is right. gluck!

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