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May 2, 2014
This article was reprinted with permission from The Forward
The Seesaw is a new kind of advice column in which a a broad range of columnists will address the real life issues faced by interfaith couples and families. Join the discussion by commenting on this post, sharing it on Facebook or following the Forward on Twitter. And keep the questions coming. You can email your quandaries, which will remain anonymous, to: email@example.com. This edition of The Seesaw features InterfaithFamily Advisory Board member Ruth Nemzoff.
I am about to finish my freshman year at college during which I have started date, and perhaps have even fallen in love with, a non-Jewish guy. I really don’t think I will marry this guy, but for now I am pretty into him and have no plans to break it off. The question is, do I bother telling my rather traditional parents about this? I know it will upset them. Also, he is off to South America all summer so I won’t be sneaking around or anything. —Dating Out
RUTH NEZMOFF: You might want to wait until after the summer to see if your romance survives the distance or like so many marathoners hits a wall. Long distance tests any relationship. Each of you will grow and change over the summer. Use this time to think about why you asked this question. Is marrying someone within your religion important to you? If so, you may decide to break it off with your beau. If not, you might want to use your reunion to talk about the future with him and to discuss what troubles you.
Certainly you don’t want to lie to your parents nor do you want to hurt them unnecessarily. On the other hand, as one moves into adulthood, one is entitled to some privacy. If your parents ask, have a discussion about your situation. Every emerging adult struggles with the tension between pleasing their parents and finding their own path. Look at this as an opportunity for self-reflection. The ensuing years will be filled with more and more decisions that are complex and ambiguous. Balancing the needs of others with our own desires goes on for a lifetime.
Dr. Ruth Nemzoff, author of “Don’t Bite Your Tongue: How to Foster Rewarding Relationships with Your Adult Children” and “Don’t Roll Your Eyes: Making In-Laws into Family” is a resident scholar at The Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center. She is on the Advisory Board of Interfaithfamily.com.