It’s All Kosher (No. 12): The Price of Freedom
I’m an OTD girl, former Bais Yaakov student, etc… etc…, and now I’m dating a secular Jewish guy. We’ve been dating for a year now, and my parents want us to get married. My parents aren’t happy that I’m OTD, but they’ve come to accept it. And they say they want the ‘nachas’ of seeing me build a family. In return, they promise to help us financially with buying an apartment, and they might even help me with college costs. (I’m in my third year, and I’ve been covering it with student loans, but their financial support would be a HUGE help.) My boyfriend is not really opposed, but I’m not ready. To be honest, while I tell my boyfriend I love him, and I mean it when I say it, I don’t see us being married, at least not yet. More importantly, both of us resent the fact that my parents are pressuring us. We feel that this should be a decision we come to on our own.
How is it, I must wonder, that you had it in you to leave the Bais Yaakov lifestyle and stand your ground with your parents and the community, but when money is baited to lure you back, that same strength isn’t there? You sacrificed so much comfort and security for your freedom. Did you walk away from the shidduch system so you can practically give MONEY your hand in marriage? Is MONEY worth your ability to choose whom you want to marry and when?
Your parents are not just giving a gift; they are offering money under conditions. They are asking you to let them decide when you should get married. Think about it: Is giving up the right to make such an important choice something you can put a dollar sign on?
“Say: I do” your parents’ check will say. Say: I do get married to the boyfriend; I do have the grandchildren; I do send them to religious schools. I do dress more in accordance with tsnuis; I do behave more as they wish; I do live as they want so they can have ‘nachas’. Say I do!”
Don’t let the buck whisper sweet nothingness into your ear about financial security and your own apartment. No amount of money can make giving up your right to choose how you want to live your life worth it. I am sure you paid a price at every step of your journey out of your community, and you continue to pay a price. It is a sacrifice worth making, and it pays back with interest.
Many people who leave the fold encounter a difficult world of financial challenges. Without family support and solid work preparation, the struggle to come by can be a real one. Many of us have tasted the feeling of hunger ourselves as we make our ways as immigrants in this country. It is a sacrifice we make for our hopes of a better life; it is a pain we absorb for a greater good.
Accepting your parents’ gift will be an agreement that will put you into debt with them, and they want you to pay off that debt with something far more valuable than money. You will owe less in student loans but a lot more to parents who leverage the debt to make choices for you. Ask yourself if selling your rights is worth it.
Your parents’ offer may be a tempting compromise. To you the offer may be more than money; they offer to accept your lover and parts of your lifestyle — if you compromise on the rest. If this offer puts a strain on you and causes conflicts about your relationship, have a talk with your parents. Explain to them that while you appreciate the offer, you want to do things on your terms. Ask them not to bring it up anymore. Be kind and firm: say you don’t want to discuss the offer again. Tell them you can use the financial help and you’d appreciate anything, so long as it’s an offer with no strings attached.
Wishing you the best of luck.