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Dear Rachel Week by Week

Emotionally Abusive Mother
I have had a difficult relationship with my mother my entire life. While I was never physically abused, I definitely suffered severe emotional abuse. Still today when I am around her I revert to being a hurt child and don't feel I can protect myself. Should I cut off the relationship or somehow pretend to ignore what bothers me?
Family Vacation
My in-laws think we should take the kids away over the summer and have offered to pay for it. But we really don't enjoy family vacations with young children. I'd love to use the money to send the kids to camp instead, but my husband is worried that his parents would be insulted if we don't take them up on their offer...
Not Knowing What I Need
My husband and I had a great relationship. But since giving birth, I find that I am frustrated often with needing to ask him to do things that he should just figure out on his own...
Unhealthy Friend
I have a friend whom I have known for years. More recently, however, she has been really depressed and non-responsive, and seems to blame everyone else for her problems. I am concerned for her and fear that her recent behavior will really create major problems for her. But she is not open to any advice...
Terrible Rumor
I recently overheard a conversation where people were saying terrible things about a friend of mine. Meanwhile, my friend has no idea that this rumor is going around...
Unappreciated
Whenever someone is having a crisis, they call me. The problem is that I am also quickly forgotten. As soon as the person gets back on her feet, I seem to no longer exist. It is not that I want flowers or a gift, but I guess just some kind of acknowledgement for what I did to help...
Husband Hates Socializing
I am a very social and outgoing person, yet I am married to someone who is just the opposite. He never wants to attend social functions or socialize really at all. I am meanwhile feeling trapped and just want to go out but I feel strange attending an event without my husband. What do you suggest?
Spoiled Children
We are, fortunately, quite successful and have always been able to give our children everything they need and want. When they were younger this never seemed to be an issue, but now that they are all tweens and teens, we are having a real problem...
Step-Grandchildren
My son recently remarried and his new wife has three children from her previous marriage. Her three children are close in age with my son's three children. In addition to us being a bit overwhelmed and trying to adapt to this new Brady Bunch situation, I am not sure how to really integrate my new grandchildren into our lives...
Makeup at Thirteen?
I am the mother of a beautiful thirteen-year-old girl who always seemed to be quite confident and happy with herself. Recently, however, she has been spending so much time worried about her clothes and how she looks...and now she is trying to go out all the time now wearing makeup...
He Won't Propose
I've been dating a great guy for over a year now, and we are extremely happy together. The issue, however, is that I want to get married and he seems perfectly content with how things are right now. I agree that things are going really well, but I am ready for the next step and don't want to keep on dating...
I Hate My Job
I have always had a passion for art but never pursued it because it wasn't the practical thing to do. Rather, I got my law degree and have been a practicing lawyer for a number of years now. However, I hate my job and would love to do something creative. I know that in this economy leaving a well-paying job would be ridiculous...
Jealous Sister
I'm fourteen-years-old and I am having an issue I hope you can help with. I'm happy most of the time, I like my group of friends, and I'm excited that we're going to be starting high school this fall. The problem is - I can't help being envious of my younger sister...
Stressed Out Mommy
I am the mother of three young children whom I absolutely adore. However, I feel like I am falling apart running after them. I grew up with a mother who was always stressed out and I don't want to be that to my children. Yet I don't know how to take care of all their needs and keep my home together...
Clingy Friend
Recently a newly married couple moved to our neighborhood and I wanted to make them feel welcome, so I brought them a cake and invited them over for dinner. They are extremely nice and friendly. The problem is that the woman now won't leave me alone...
Father Needs Assisted Living
I am incredibly close to my father, and he has always been a tremendous pillar of strength for me. However, I can't really say he has aged gracefully; and while he has always loved to protect and give to me, he doesn't really want any help in return...
Daughter Wants Abortion
My daughter is single, unemployed and just found out she is pregnant. She is 21 years old, a legal adult, and she has decided that she is going to have an abortion...
Mother’s Day
I have a very strained relationship with my mother and I always have. Perhaps it is that we are so different, or maybe that we are so similar, but we are rarely able to spend time together without us both blowing up. I do love my mother but I have a hard time being around her . . .
Money & Friends
I recently lost my job and am struggling terribly financially. Meanwhile, my best friend for many years got married not long ago to a very wealthy man. While I can barely pay rent, they are jet setting around the world and she is constantly telling me of all her new gifts and purchases...
Husband Won't Stick To A Budget
I am very newly married and now that we are sharing a bank account, I see for the first time that my husband is really spending more money than he should be...
Husband's Children Hate Me
I am recently married to a wonderful man who has two teenage children from his first marriage. The problem is that they have decided they hate me, even though they don't know me, and they are really making my life miserable...
Is the Truth Always Best?
Years ago, when I was in high school, I did something very cruel to my best friend when we were fighting. It spiraled out of control and was far more damaging than I had ever intended. I feel like this is something that I will never come to peace with. Should I tell her what I did?
Friend is Embarrassing Herself
My very close friend recently gave birth to her first baby, and has had a really hard time losing the pregancy weight. The problem is that she has started wearing clothes that are too small on her and really make her look terrible. I would love to somehow let her know, but I don't know how to address it...
Friend Owes Money
I loaned some money to an acquaintance who was in a really desperate situation. I didn't ask for it back until I knew the situation was better, and then I emailed. I never heard back. I know Judaism teaches that you shouldn't bear a grudge, but don't I have the right to be angry?
Keeping Up With the Cohens
We live in a very affluent area, one that is far above our means and economic level. The problem is that our children go to school with these other children, and expect to have the same clothing, gadgets and lifestyle that all of their friends have...
Taking the Good From the Bad
I am the type of person who likes to make the best of everything, but I end up miserable a lot of the time. Because nothing is so terrible, I have a hard time justifying that I should change anything...
A Bad Match
My best friend has been dating a guy for a few months now, and she really seems to like him. The problem is that no one else does. Being that in the past year a number of us got married, we are concerned that she is with him just in order to be with someone...
Another Baby?
My husband and I are happily married and have two beautiful children. The problem is that I really would like to have a third, and he is very happy with two. I know I should be grateful for what I have but I really want another child...
My Sister's Children are Out of Control
What do you do when you are in someone else's home where the kids are out of control? We are staying with my sister this summer but her kids are violent, disrespectful and basically, a terrible influence on my children. What can I do?
I'm Scared to Tell My Friend I'm Pregnant
I am pregnant and thrilled over the news! The problem is that I am struggling with how to break this news to one friend who deserves to hear it from me, in person. This friend had a miscarriage about one year ago. Sadly, only six months later her husband died unexpectedly...
Badly Behaved Neighbors
I live next door to a woman whose children are terribly misbehaved and a horrible influence on my children. Worse yet, the parents don't seem to notice or care. Every time my kids see them they ask to play. How many times can I tell my children "no, not today"?
Husband is Terminally Ill
My forty-year-old husband has cancer that is "always deadly" and according to our doctors, there is neither a cure nor hope for any future. While he has battled it for twenty months now and our rabbi always tells us that we should never give up, I do not know where to find the hope...
Depressed Friend
I am worried about my friend and fear that she is depressed. She has a few kids fairly close in age, and since her second child was born, her whole personality has changed...
Outgrown My Friends
I have a group of friends that I have been close to since we were in junior high school. Yet now that I am twenty-five, I am finding that we really have different interests and desires in life...
Husband Doesn't Want Children
My husband and I have a wonderful relationship and love each other dearly, but there is one issue that we cannot solve. I desperately want children and he doesn't...
Grandson or Great-Aunt?
My grandson is in a play with his kindergarten class and very much wants me to come. I had been planning on making the trip, but just the other day I found out that my aunt, who is turning ninety, is having a birthday party that day...
Ending an Engagement
I am engaged to be married yet recently reached the conclusion that I don’t want to spend the rest of my life with this man. It is not a case of cold feet, it is a situation where our goals and desires in life are just so different. What should I do?
Sibling Rivalry
My children play beautifully together when I am not around. Yet as soon as I enter the scene, the ‘Who is going to win Mommy’s attention?’ game continues in full-swing. Their constant bickering is driving me crazy and is turning their winter break into a nightmare...
Learning Issues
My husband and I are highly educated with doctorate degrees. Our oldest son though is in 1st grade and isn't able to read yet and is falling behind. Not only isn't he the best, he is really the worst...
Men Not Interested in Me
I am really starting to get concerned with the fact that I haven't found a nice Jewish man to spend the rest of my life with. I think that I am a good catch... I'm healthy, smart, in shape, well educated and traveled. What can I do about my single situation?
Addicted to Video Games
My sixteen-year-old twin brother is out of control and my mother doesn’t seem to be able to deal with it. We had always been very close, but now all he does is play video games...
My Daughter Says She Hates Me
I am a single mother of a teenage daughter who blames me for everything wrong in her life. I have always done everything I could for her but she doesn’t seem to appreciate any of it and recently left home to live with a friend. I am in so much pain and want her back home but can’t live with a daughter who hates me...
Unapologetic
My close friend recently accused me of doing something very hurtful to her and she will not speak with me until I apologize...How can I say sorry for something I never did?
Public Tantrums
I am having an incredibly hard time with my preschooler and I am starting to think I have the worst-behaved child in the world. He screamed the whole time in the store and people began staring. What is wrong with my child?
Moving to Israel
I met a wonderful man and we are engaged to be married. We very much want to live in Israel, but my mother is totally against the idea. I want to respect her, but I also want to start a new life with my husband...
Friend is Blindly in Love with Wrong Guy
My close friend is seriously dating a man that she is thinking of marrying. Granted, he treats her well, but he is rude to me, insensitive to others, has a quick temper and needless to say, doesn't have a good reputation...
Quality Time
My husband also loves the kids, but he feels that since we had them, we no longer do anything as a couple, only as a family. I agree but have no problem with this. He wants to go away for a few nights without the kids but I feel like I just couldn't leave them.
Father Not Loving
My father has never in my life told me that he loves me and it is so painful to me. A part of me tells me to just accept that he will never say it and another part wants to tell him how I feel. What should I do?
Do I Have a Soulmate?
Is there any guarantee that each person will meet his or her soul mate and will find someone who truly loves them? Time and again I have had my heart broken and my hopes dashed...Is there really someone out there for everyone?
Attracted to Co-Worker
I thought I was happily married but find myself incredibly attracted to a co-worker. I always thought if you love someone you will not think about other people, and yet I find myself constantly thinking about this guy...