Relax! This is a Good Thing

It is great that you acknowledge it’s your teenager’s job to explore. She sounds like she’s doing awesome at things that teenagers often struggle with: making friends and dating. Hopefully she’s doing well in school too!

I, for one, am very excited that your daughter is making friends who aren’t exactly like her and don’t have the exact same background. This can only be enriching. It can also make her appreciate her culture and values more, rather than taking them for granted. I went to school with a whole mix of people, and you can bet that my non-Jewish friends loved coming over to my family Shabbat even more than my Jewish friends did. As I got older, I became more strongly rooted in my relationship to my Jewishness because I lived far from my family and I always hosted my whole mashed-up community for the holidays. I learned what being Jewish meant to me and not was I was told it should mean to me.

The more you try to push her towards the Jewish experience you remember her having or want her to have, the more she’s going to back away (note to the entire organized Jewish community: This also applies to you.). She is a teenager, after all! Instead, think about how to create a totally welcoming environment for all of her new friends into your home and into your Jewish life. Invite them and the boyfriend over for Shabbat dinner or ask them if they might want to cook and take the lead one week. The holidays are coming up - ask for her participating in making plans that are exciting to her, and invite her friends.

Your daughter seems like a smart young woman. Giving her your respect and trust will go a long way in helping her be connected to where she comes from.

Rebecca Lehrer is the Co-Founder and CEO of The Mash-Up Americans, a website and consultancy representing the hybrid culture and new face of America. The Mash-Up Americans is exploring Spanglish, kimchi + more, just not on Shabbos.

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Relax! This is a Good Thing

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