What can I say to my teenage son whose girlfriend is not Jewish? Would love some guidance but trying not to alienate him too.


It's a delicate balance. He needs to see your disapproval. On the other hand, there's the teenage impulse to rebel against what they perceive as parental manipulation and authority. Somehow you need to communicate both acceptance of him as a son and disapproval of this particular action—both at once.

Here's a tip: The most important thing a 17 year old son needs is companionship with his Dad. Just some non-judgmental time spent doing things together. Just Dad's quiet, physical presence in his life leaves a strong impression.

He also needs to see a close relationship between his Jewish Dad and Jewish Mom. He needs to see the pride and pleasure they take in whatever Jewish activities they define themselves by. That "social modeling" has more impact than any words can have.

One more tip: Is there someone else, aside from his parents, who can speak with him? Someone who won't be seen as an adult figure of authority?

Perhaps speak to someone who knows a bit more about your family and lifestyle, who could add a few more practical suggestions. In the meantime, I hope these few words may be of some help.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman for