Time to Set Some Serious Boundaries

Talking is a good starting point, but when parents continue to create dissension, it’s time to set clear boundaries. Before you go to the lake house, in a warm but firm tone, give your mother some ground rules.

Remind her that you love her and that you express this by respecting her rituals and choices when you are together. Tell her that you need her to behave in an equally respectful manner. Explain that you will participate in Shabbat, not discuss Shabbat observance.

During your stay, if she brings up your lack of Shabbat practice, in a clear but calm way, let her know that her behavior is unacceptable. Every time she makes an inappropriate remark cut short the conversation. Leave the room. Go for a walk. Eventually, she’ll get the message.

I had a related situation with my mother. I was raised in a Jewish home that never celebrated Shabbat. When my son was young, my non-Jewish husband and I started a regular Shabbat practice. Suddenly, my family was “too Jewish” for my Jewish mother.

For years, when she visited she would suggest that we go out to dinner on Friday night. For years, I responded by explaining why we enjoyed Shabbat at home. After many debates, I stopped talking and instead, set expectations.

I told her if she were at my house on Friday night, we would celebrate Shabbat. If my family were at her house, we would observe her ritual and go out for dinner. She stopped suggesting that we eat out.

It’s time to end the fighting about Shabbat. Reassure your mother that you love and appreciate her. Then be firm. Set limits. Give her ground rules. Clear guidelines will help you better relate to each other and enable your celebrations to be more harmonious.

Jane Larkin is the author of “From Generation to Generation: A Story of Intermarriage and Jewish Continuity.” She writes about interfaith relationships and Jewish living for Interfaithfamily and other outlets. She is a member of the board of directors of Big Tent Judaism. Follow her on Twitter @JaneLarkin6.

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Time to Set Some Serious Boundaries

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