Ask the Expert: How Do I Make My Girlfriend’s Dad Like Me?

He doesn't like that I'm a non-Jew dating his Jewish daughter.

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Question: I am in a relationship with a Jewish girl and her father is very disapproving of our relationship because I am not Jewish. Is there anything that we could do to help resolve the rift that is forming between her and her father? We have both decided that we aren’t going to end our relationship. Any advice or guidance would be much appreciated.
–Zachary, Groton CT

expertAnswer: You’ve got your work cut out for you, Zachary, but the fact that you’re asking is a good sign.

One of the most important ways of getting your girlfriend’s dad to understand where you’re coming from is to be comfortable with your own position. So my first suggestion is to sit down and talk to your girlfriend about what Judaism means to her, and what it means to her father. You should also discuss what your religion and/or cultural background means to you. Before you even begin to address your girlfriend’s father, you should be sure you’ve talked about these issues as a couple. This is a healthy thing for any couple to do, but particularly an interfaith couple.

It may make you uncomfortable to talk about marriage and children at this point, but it’s worth doing anyway. If you get married, is it important to you what kind of clergy performs the service? Do you care where the wedding is held (church/synagogue/non-religious space)? Is it important to your girlfriend that her children be Jewish? What kind of religious education would you like to give your children? All of these are probably questions that her father is worried about, so before approaching him, it’s a good idea to come to some kind of consensus as a couple.

When you’re speaking with your girlfriend’s dad, it may be helpful to ask him about specific fears and concerns he has about your relationship. Is he concerned about future grandchildren? Is he concerned his daughter might leave Judaism entirely? Hopefully you’ll have already spoken about these issues with your girlfriend, so you can address them directly and honestly with her dad.

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