Confession: My Jewish boyfriend tried as hard as he could to keep me away from his mother for the first month of our relationship. Not because he didn't think she'd approve of me, but because he wanted to enjoy our early courtship without her influence. Four years later, I love her like a MIL (mother-in-law), but my boyfriend did the right thing. His mom means well (of course), but she can also be that stereotypical, overly curious/involved -- okay, I'll just come out and say it ... crazy Jewish mother! Hey, listen, I have one, too, after all, and oh man ... someday, I'll be one.
In the world of Jewish dating -- and in other cultures, too, from Italian to Arab -- the crazy meddlesome, matchmaking mama is not uncommon. For better or worse, for cultural and/or religious reasons, lots of parents want to have some say in who their kinder (kids) get cozy with.
I get it -- Jewish/Indian/Greek moms want Jewish or Indian or Greek grandchildren. And they don't trust that their mid-20s "Me Generation" son is going to get his act together soon enough to find that nice [insert cultural identity] girl, so they'd jump at the chance to set him up with one.
Enter TheJMom.com. Founded by Chicago siblings 26-year-old Danielle Weisberg and 30-year-old Brad Weisberg, the JDate alternative attempts to let NJS (Nice Jewish Singles) give their CJM (Crazy Jewish Mother) the steering wheel to their love lives. Or, I can imagine, plenty of Jewish moms will sign up without permission from their offspring, e.g. "But David won't take the initiative, so I just had to do it for him already!" (Hopefully they are aware if David wouldn't just prefer a Nice Jewish Boy instead.)
On TheJMom.com, mothers are "offered the chance to network with other Jewish families seeking a match for their son or daughter."
Oy vey. I get why the Weisbergs thought this would be a brilliant idea. They figure NJS in their 20s and 30s are mostly superficial, looking for a non-meeskite, whereas “a mom is paying more attention to their interests and similarities and family values."
It sounds good on paper, but this modern day play on Fiddler on the Roof is woefully misguided. What happens if Mom picks out someone with awesome family values, and Rachel still isn't physically attracted to the guy? What if Mom has absolutely no idea what Jason is really looking for in a partner? And those are just the surface-level issues.
My generation, which has a bad reputation for being "entitled brats," seems to have enough trouble taking off the training wheels. (i.e. Do we live with our partner for five years before getting married? Do we swallow our pride and move back in with Mom and Dad when we get laid off?) And here's a site that basically gives us the free pass to say, "Yup, I'm too lazy/superficial/clueless to find my own romantic partner, so MOMMY, will you do it for me???"
If you can't figure out how to make a match for yourself as an adult, maybe you shouldn't be dating. Any time I've heard of parents getting overly involved in their adult kids' relationships, it's a toxic disaster. If the kid is allowing it voluntarily, it's a handicap, a crutch -- no adult woman wants to be with a mama's boy; no adult man wants to be with a woman who can't do anything without consulting her mother. No adult relationship can thrive under those circumstances. And if the parent is doing it without the kid's knowledge, then they're probably overstepping their boundaries.
Sure, it would be nice if a mom signs on and just happens to find her son or daughter their bashert (soul mate). But if her matchmaking experiment is really just perpetuating co-dependency, that's pretty much the most counterproductive situation to finding and sustaining love. These meddling mamas have gotta know when to back off, and a kid's gotta know when to tell them to!
I do have to thank my boyfriend's mom, really, because she's probably who suggested that he get on JDate.com and find himself a nice Jewish girl. But, in the end, I'm thankful he's the one who took the initiative to find me, and he's the one who chose me. (I'm sure she'd agree.) It's only icing that she now loves me like a daughter.
Should a parent be involved in their adult son or daughter's love life? (Would you want your mom to pick out dates for you -- or would you ever pick out matches for your child?)
Image via Jennie Faber/Flickr