Do I Have an Excuse?

There are some things that we consider an excuse for bad behavior. Severe physical pain (like giving birth or having your guts torn open or skin burned off) or distress (extreme deprivation of food, water, and sleep) are generally considered passable excuses for actions and speech that might otherwise be considered unacceptable (short temper, snappishness, foul language, antisocial attitude). Psychological pain (PTSD) is also understood.

But there’s a limit to how much leeway we’re willing to give people. Missing a night’s worth of winks doesn’t excuse heckling the rabbi during his speech, and even if your brain is in a jar next to your bed, you will be frowned upon for hurling expletives after a would-be visitor retreating from your hospital room. In a more common scenario, we do not condone shooting people because, say, they made fun of you throughout elementary and high school.

There’s a threshold for what counts as severe distress, and there’s also a threshold for acceptable unacceptable behavior. And what causes me distress is when people lower the bar for things that they really, really shouldn’t. (My response is blogging, which some people will assure you is unacceptable, so maybe I’m in a glass house here.)

What I’m referring to is giving young single people extra allowances for being persnickety and obnoxious because they’re still single (and none of their friends are).

Yes, it’s distressing. Yes, it’s… well, people tell me it’s painful. I find that a rather strong adjective, personally, but I’m willing to assume that some people take their single status very much to heart and find it painful. Still. This is life. Life has difficulties. Struggles. Moments of distress and pain. As adaptable human beings, we are expected to have sufficient suspension to absorb the bumps, roll with the punches, and basically, keep going even when the going is tough.

Members of a society behave according to its standards. People will try to get away with whatever we let them. Parents know this. So does the IRS.   And failure to condemn is to condone. So if you create an atmosphere that condones being a sourpuss or disrespectful or a plain ol’ jerk on the excuse of being a spinster or bachelor… Well, some of us are going to be lazy and let out the sour, disrespectful jerk within for some exercise, just because – why not?

That’s pretty much what I was thinking when I saw this thread wherein a mother asks if it’s normal for an adult daughter to lecture her mother, and two of the respondents say to be understanding, it’s the stress of shidduchim. (!!!!!!) (link credit to the Rebbetzin). Now, that’s the kind of behavior you can’t let pass in a teen. How does a twenty-something believe that it’s okay? Maybe the problem is related to the fact that her mother seems unsure if it’s okay behavior or not. Or maybe it’s because it’s been intimated that it’s okay for her to be a jerk because she’s still single, and therefore in severe emotional pain. (The others excused her for being hungry from dieting. That doesn’t strike me as a weighty excuse either*, but that’s for a different blog.)

Pardon me while I go blow spitballs at married couples passing on the street. It’s the pain. It’s getting to me. I need some relief, but my mother wouldn’t stand for me yelling at her. Callous of her, wouldn’t you agree? I might lecture at her about that too, but I’m too grown up to blame other people for my problems.

*No pun intended.

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33 thoughts on “Do I Have an Excuse?

  1. Hey, I have to lecture my parents sometimes. Respectfully. And before I even started dating, too.

    This girl (yes, she sounds like she deserves that title) didn’t lecture; she screamed. There’s a difference.

  2. Imamother? Wow. Well, that is not the funniest thread on that website by a long shot.

    But let’s put this into perspective.
    The thread was more about the fact that the daughter was upset at the mom for having helped cheated on her diet. Okay, so she acted in a chutzpinyak way- but only a few of the responders said that it had anything to do with shidduchim- and more with the fact that she was frustrated about her weight.

    And sometimes people are still teenagers in their twenties- they vent and yell, and act chutzpinyak. Could be she’s not ready even to get married.

    But your post was very true and I agree with the other points that you made. Although- singles tend to form support groups of others like them before they get to the ‘yelling at other random people’ stage.

  3. I can’t believe this. You think married people don’t have stress, pain, annoyances that sometimes make them behave badly or want to behave badly? The problem is bigger than I thought. Since it seems no one explained this, let me inform you that you will still be a human being once you are married.

  4. NO excuse is good enough, but everyone seems to have one anyways. It seems like self control and respect for elders went out with bell bottoms…

  5. tesyaa- That is very true but you have the “support system” of marriage to back you up. You aren’t going out every other night and having people judge you. It can be a very disconcerting process. Some people are able to deal with it better than others. If everyone joined a mussar support group many of these issues will be diminished.

    She got upset over the food and she yelled, the mother was looking for the other mothers to tell her that her daughter was wrong and all they did was come up with excuses for why she may have been too frazzled.

  6. If this girl is on a diet, her whole family has to suffer lest she be tempted? Does she leave the house, lest she be tempted? Does she shut her mouth, lest she be tempted?

    Control issues, methinks?

    In the end, it doesn’t matter if the girl’s mother torched her favorite shoes. One cannot yell at a mother. Ever. The girl didn’t back down, even when the mother called her on it, letting me think this is not an isolated incident.

    If we go back to the original concept that how one treats one’s parents reflects their relationship with the Eibishter, I would say our generation is failing with flying colors. And parents don’t demand respect nowadays; they’re scared of their own children.

    I admit I slip from time to time, but this girl seems to have no awareness that her behavior was unacceptable.

  7. Being hungry is always an excuse to be grouchy 🙂 I mean in dating if I know i was hungry on a date and I didn’t have a good time, I will chalk it up to being hungry and go out again. Yes, certain environmental/social conditions cause you to act differently but controlling your impulses is also important.
    When you get stressed out in marriage because something went wrong at work, that would be no excuse to yell at your wife. Frustrations happen, and even if it is a once in a long time flare up, you apologize and try to work out the hurt. There are no easy things in life, and the easy things are rarely worth it anyhow.

  8. It sounds like she is just a moody sort of person with an easily triggered temper. That has nothing to do with being single. Of course, she was out of line. So was my (married) best friend who yelled at me once because I was in a hurry to go and she was waiting on an endless line in the ice cream store and refused to leave without her getting her ice cream cone.

    (I’ve gone on that forum a couple of times, solely for the entertainment value. The posters seem very sincere and earnest but I really wouldn’t take a lot of their advice or comments too seriously.)

  9. These are all linked issues here: She’s probably on a diet BECAUSE she’s still in shidduchim. (I’m not saying this is good or bad.)

    As for the stress of being in shidduchim – Part of the problem is that people in their 20s should not be living at home with their parents. It breeds a sort of infantilization which makes both children in their 20s less independent, and makes parents think that children are no different than they were in their teens and can still determine what they do and when they do it. People stuck living with each other when they should be out on their own with snap at each other.

  10. >2, I just checked out Imamother for the first time and the tag line says “connecting frum women”. It doesn’t say married women, wives, mothers, or anything of the sort. You have to read into the more detailed info to find the married bit. I’m not sure if that says that you’re only considered a woman once you’re married, or if it says that if you’re a proper frum woman, then of course you will be married.

  11. LOL “…and even if your brain is in a jar next to your bed, you will be frowned upon for hurling expletives after a would-be visitor retreating from your hospital room.” 😉 I love your visuals!
    ————
    The daughter needs to accept responsibility for her own life.

    Her mother needs to stop carrying her daughter’s luggage and enabling her:

    “Daughter-Dear, I’m sorry if you found it difficult to refrain from eating the muffins. We generally go out of our way to help you. However, ultimately, you need to take responsibility for your actions. Grow up.”

    Best4

  12. I think the mother goes to far in accomodating her daughter, so she thinks she is entitled to everything.

    Basically, the mistake lay in having the whole family go on diet because daughter wants to loose weight (even though a healthy diet may be beneficial for the whole family).

    I think those diet things start getting a religious connotation. “You made me sin because you put the muffins on the table…”

  13. “One cannot yell at a mother. Ever”

    You’re sure?

    I yelled at my mother when whe treated me like a liar while I was telling her a truth she did not want to hear.

    Not that it helped.

    It’s just that I could not help it.

    There are situations where you get emotional, and the closer the person is, the stronger the emotions…

  14. One thing I noticed in that post is that nobody addressed the fact that the girl is doing Weight Watchers. I know this is a shidduch blog, but as a member of WW, I would be very surprised if they told her to make her parents hide junk food in their bedroom so that she could diet properly. I understand the frustration on both sides, but I think that the commenters were putting it in a shidduch context because they don’t understand why the girl is dieting in the first place. It sounds like she’s taking things to the extreme for reasons unrelated to food.

  15. I just heard this wonderful quote in the name of Lincoln:

    “The worst think you can do for those you love is the things they could and should do for themselves.”

    Best4

  16. anne- Just beacause you yelled at your mother when she was unfair to you does not make it OK. Understandable maybe, but not OK.

  17. I’m not saying one doesn’t want to yell at her mother. Just that there is (1) something called self control and (2) the commandment being one of the big 10.

    No matter the justification, it cannot be justified.

  18. Why are you on Imamother? That’s for married women, only, officially. Not to be mean or anything, but there are things I post there all the time, and many other posts as well, that I wouldn’t want a single girl reading. There are debates all the time about weather or not to open the site to single girls, and I’m firmly in the “no” camp. I actually feel kind of violated.

  19. Anon – It’s the Internet. It’s open to the public. If you want to restrict something, make it invite-only.

  20. If it’s invite-only, how come I can see the thread when I click on it?

    Answer: it’s invite-only to post, but not to read.

  21. No, some parts of it are invite-only. If you click on “forum” you’ll see a list of topics and forums that are locked.

    Some parts of it are open to the public.

  22. Hey imamotherer, if you feel that it’s not right posting in a married people’s forum, why are you posting on a single people’s blog? What’s up with the great divide? A person’s marital status (or lack thereof) does not a mature person make. (I know, I know, this is not the greatest example of maturity but i’m just saying it’s not mutually exclusive.) And btw, the correct spelling is whether.

  23. @GWTW: Um, this blog does not say ‘for single people only- please do not come in if married or engaged’. To register for Imamother- one needs to select a username and then answer questions (hopefully honestly) that include things like: Are you married? (They also include other, seemingly stupid questions about when Yom Tov is, and a halacha of Taharat Hamishpacha, and so on. I assume these are for spam bots.) So therefore- yes, one should be married to use Imamother.

    Where as Bad4’s blog is not invite only, and definitely not singles only. If so- Bad4, please tell me so, and I’ll recuse myself- although I’ll miss your writing. And no one brought up maturity at ALL. Just the fact that married women sometimes post on Imamother things that they would not want a single person reading or judging them on- no offense to the singles.

    Oh, and I’m should be capitalized.

    There. My rant for the day.

  24. I’m not sure I get you. Because I’m single I shouldn’t be reading youre PRIVATE posts that are for MARRIED ppl only? It’s all anon anyway, so why should you feel violated? Stop being such a snob.

  25. @onlyme!- who are you asking, Anon, or me?

    I’ll answer. I don’t feel violated at all. I never mentioned the word. I just said that Imamother is for married people. It has sections (private ones) for different Jewish sects, as well as for divorced and so on. If you would like a website that would allow you to post/read as a single- may I recommend Hashkafa.com? Or, depending on your age- Frumteens? Or possibly Bangitout? Hmmm- I’m not sure of any others.
    And yes- I would not want a single reading my posts on Imamother- but I would not feel ‘violated’ if he/she did.

    My comment was directly in regards to the fact the comment saying as to why a married person posts on Bad4’s blog.

  26. OMG. I don’t read imamother, for starters. I have better things to do, honestly. Someone sent me the link. And since it’s open to the public (you can see just by following the link) I had no compunction about posting it. Also, I didn’t know singles weren’t “allowed.” Now I’m quite tempted to break in and see what isn’t for my eyes, to be honest. Seriously, what on earth could it be?

    Out of curiosity, NMF: is it specifically a single person reading it, or one that knew you, or what? I mean, I don’t get why it would bother anyone for a single person to read a married-person issue. We’re not six any more, and pretty aware of many of the issues that come up in marriage. Or should be.

    Anyway, it’s a free internet (assuming you can afford the service) and anyone on the planet is free to read my blog. I’m not under any delusion that I can or should control who reads it except by what I put in it.

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