I SINGLE LIFE
Special to The Jewish News
better than one.
1 ut I just want you to be
happy!'" Ironically, this
phrase has triggered mother-
daughter crossfire for ages. Es-
pecially when it's issued by a
mother who thinks "single" and
"happy" are mutually exclusive.
Few single women — or men, for
that matter — have passed their
30th birthday without enduring
pointed probes about their mar-
ital plans and prospects.
Such probes can be subtle: "I
see your old college roommate
just got engaged, and to a doctor!
Have you met anybody special
lately?" Other times, they can be
shockingly insensitive: "You're
not a bad looking girl; it must be
something about the way you
act," or to a son, "What's the mat-
ter, aren't you interested in wom-
Although most parents want
the best for their children, they
often unleash destructive criti-
cism based on distorted perspec-
tives. "Parents could be reacting
from old stereotypes without be-
ing aware of it," says Dr. Daiid
Raznick, clinical director of Bal-
Thirty years ago, society pro-
vided no singles nightspots, cruis-
es or support groups. Being
single, especially for women,
meant living with parents, scrap-
ing by, being lonely. And while
it's mothers who typically dredge
up insecurities, fathers also stir
the pot — worried that daughters
need a protector in this risk-filled
What's more, many over-anx-
ious parents came of age at a
time when marriage was a goal
complete with life-defining roles.
Says Dr. Raznick's partner, Dr.
Samuel Berkowitz: "Marriage
was once the standard, a need to
satisfy, an achievement. Today,
values have shifted."
Times change, but it takes
much longer for attitudes to catch
up. Many parents today forget
their adult children are single
not by default, or character fault,
but by choice.
The trend to marry at later
ages is endorsed by many thera-
pists. "I see so many [dysfunc-
tional] couples who have grown
apart," says Dr. Raznick. "How
can people choose a compatible
partner before they gain a clear,
healthy sense of who they are
and what they need in life?"
This is one good reason not to
pressure anyone into the mar-
riage track. But it's easy for well-
intentioned family members and
friends to press hot buttons of
even the most self-reliant, self-
tion aside, movies ,
continue to present a soul-mate,
good or bad, as life's multi-pur-
pose wonder . drug. Magazines
bulge with articles about landing
Mr. or Ms. Right.
Even worse are those alarmist
research studies, such as the in
famous mid-'80s report warning
that women who wait will be too
late — and find themselves ban-
ished to a statistical spinster-
hood. The. report eventually came
under fire for faulty research
methods, but not until national,
damage was done. Recalls Lau-
rie, an unattached banking ex-
ecutive: "My mother was so upset I
— she sent me a copy of the arti-
cle, and I was only 25!"
So what are the chances of get-
ting hitched if you choose to wait?
According to the U.S. Census,
those not married by age 30 have
a 58-66 percent likelihood. For