My husband and I watch your show all the time.
This question is for Susan, I have a question regarding our 30-year-old daughter. She was brought up in a Christian home, attended Christian school, graduated, and went off to college. She is an Occupational Therapist.
She is not living a Christian life at all, she is involved with a 31-year-old man that is not a Christian. How can my husband and I speak into her life about the life she is leading?
I believe we need to search scripture and show her God’s love and reintroduce her to Jesus again. From a woman and mother’s perspective, how would handle this?
I appreciate any insight you have.
My heart is really aching for you. But now I have to adopt plural language because every answer provided to an ‘Ask the Rabbi’ question involves the two of us collaborating. We always answer these questions together.
We can well imagine that you and your husband might be finding fault with yourselves and wondering where you went wrong. But raising children isn’t like baking a cake or building a bridge. If a cake or a bridge doesn’t come out properly, chances are you missed a step or measured something incorrectly; whatever it was, you made a mistake. Children are not projects where we follow the latest recommended list of instructions and expect perfect results. Our children have their own souls imparted by God and each is unique. Furthermore, each possesses God’s great gift of free choice. Our job as parents is to raise our children to the best of our abilities. (And, being human, we will make mistakes.) Our children are each unique individuals with their own paths in life to follow. They must choose to have a relationship with God; it can never be an inherited choice.
Your daughter is an adult. While we don’t think that we ever stop being a mother or father, your job is no longer to directly teach her unless she requests that. We feel that “preaching” Scripture to her would be disastrous. We urge you to dismiss the idea that you have the power to “show her God’s love.” She knows that she is not living up to the standards of your family but she has made her choice–for the time being! We are sure that deep inside her, all the lessons you inculcated in her as she was growing up are still there even if temporarily covered up.
Donna, your daughter is feeling pain and anxiety at reaching what she undoubtedly feels is the significant age of 30 without marriage and family. Your disapproval of the man she is choosing will likely drive deep wedges into your relationship with her. We are hoping that your years of Christian upbringing has caused her to choose a good man, if not a religious one. (Given her current lifestyle, a religious man would not have worked.) But if he is a good man, the door is open for them to grow together. Or, the door is open for this relationship to end. Either one will probably happen more easily within your welcoming embrace.
We think that you will do best by consciously and diligently putting aside your concerns and warmly welcome her and her man into your home. If you’ve been less than hospitable to her lately, your change in outlook will baffle her but it will still make her happy. We consider it important to have her and her man around your family while you continue modeling a loving marriage and relationship with God. Please avoid all preaching and teaching. You don’t have to express approval of her choices, but don’t let that disapproval get in the way of your relationship. Make yourself express love and obviously keep praying. Keep an open hand, an open door, and an open heart. We know that this strategy will give you the very best chances of a happy outcome.
Feeling a mother’s pain,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin
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