I have a daughter who was dating a non-Jewish guy. In order to be with him and out of our disapproving sight she moved far away. Now she wants to come back home. We are willing to accept her, but not if she is willing to hold on emotionally to this young man. We stand firm in that if he is not a Jew then we can't see her being with him. I am not sure what to do, as I do love my daughter, but not her choice for a possible husband. How do I keep the doors open to my daughter without being too harsh?


You walk a tightrope with your child. On the one hand you must keep the doors of your relationship open, while on the other hand you cannot approve of her doing something that will be terribly detrimental for herself and her future.

It is hard to advise you regarding your particular situation without being familiar with the particulars of your individual situation. Additionally, you do not clarify if she still wants to be with this boy, or if her return home is indicating her realizing her mistake. However, I will offer some general advice which is germane to basically all instances such as this. For more personalized advice, speak to your local rabbi or spiritual mentor (click here to find a rabbi in your area).

Our sages describe the general attitude we must have towards our children—the right hand must bring close (showers with love and affection), while the left hand pushes away (disciplines). Meaning, we behave in a dual mode. We shower them with warmth, acceptance and love, both emotionally as well as practically, in all areas. We encourage them to develop themselves, praise them for their talents and abilities, and demonstrate to them regularly how proud we are of them and how much we love them. This has to be eminently clear to them.

But from the other hand, we are very firm in our beliefs and in our expectations of our children. We decide what is essentially important for them, and we do not bend at all. In this case, it would be the decision that your daughter not marry a non-Jew, or continue in her relationship with him.

I want to emphasize that your daughter must feel that your decisions and attitude are based on HER and her good, and never YOU. This means that you are not acting based on your personal feelings of what people will say, how it will affect you or your own status in your community etc., but rather because you understand that this is detrimental for HER and HER life. It is a huge difference to a child, and our children immediately sense your motives, and react accordingly. If they believe we are acting in their best interests, they are more likely to accept our decisions.

As well, it is important to realize that she is no longer a child who just accepts, but must understand WHY you have come to your decision, and in turn reach the same decision herself. So, if marrying a non-Jew is an absolute no to you, it is time for you and your family to explore more about what makes you Jewish and practice being Jewish. You and she have to be very clear on what is wrong with marrying a non-Jew and why. Children cannot accept contradictions—that a parent does not live Jewishly but then demands that they marry Jewishly. Ultimately, the more Jewishly you, your family and your daughter live, the less of a likelihood that she will want to marry someone who is not Jewish, because her Jewishness will really matter to her and become integral to her life.

Wishing you success in the days ahead,

Chana Weisberg for