David Mandel
Chief Executive Officer, OHEL Children's Home and Family Services

Purim for childless couples

Purim can be a very difficult day for childless couples. In fact it is truly painful.

Mothers are helping their son into a Spiderman costume or putting makeup on their little Queen Esther.

Fathers are busy driving their sons and daughters around the neighborhood delivering shloch manos to their friends.  And parents of teenagers hope they don’t drink too much at the Purim seudahs.

What should a childless couple be busy with?

One in seven couples understand what you’re feeling. Everyone else may try to sympathize or empathize with you but there’s no way they can fully comprehend what you’re going thru on this day made especially for children.

In shul at the reading of the Megilla you’re sitting with a room full of people but you feel completely alone.

(You experience a similar feeling on Simchas Torah the other special child focused festive day in our calendar. And for that matter we understand why you’ve come to despise going to a sholom zachor, a bris, yet another wedding. And why the nite of going to the mikvah can be such a difficult time for both of you).    

You really don’t feel like going to the Purim seudah at your in laws where your siblings will be with their kids. Surely it will be a delicious meal, your beautiful nieces and nephews whom you love will all be running around dressed in their costumes, the table conversation will be relaxed and enjoyable. You do love them all but you’re just not up for all this.

That’s ok.

You don’t want to answer the door to greet the revelers collecting tzedakah for this yeshiva or that organization.  That’s also ok we totally get it.

You may not even want to stay home and instead take a quick trip out of town to run away and not have to deal with all this. 

That may not be such a bad idea if the place you’re going to will bring you good memories or you’ll have an enjoyable Purim.

What should you do on Purim?

The answer is whatever you two want to do.

You should both discuss your options, the invitations you have or the people you want to invite over to your home. Consider which shul you want to go to and whom you want to deliver shlach manos to. You don’t have to place additional pressure on yourself to go places where you’ll be uncomfortable or unhappy.

You can choose to explain to your parents and siblings that you’re just not up to joining them for the seudah and they should please understand and respect you.

Plan a nice day together. Go for a walk in the park, take a drive, buy each other small gifts for shlach manos. Spend time with people whose company you enjoy.

Was there a Purim that you both really enjoyed? What did you do? Do it again.

Don’t make it harder on yourself.

Only stay home alone close the door and ignore the bell if that’s an active decision you make. We understand Purim will be a hard day but let’s figure out how to make it  less awkward and even enjoyable.

A quiet dinner, seudah, for two at home can  be very enjoyable.

A word to family, friends and shul mates.

Think of a most stressful moment you’ve had at home, in your business, anywhere.

Picture it and multiply it by a factor of N.

This is what Purim may be like for a childless couple. We needn’t pity them nor be unnecessarily solicitous. Treat the couple normally and permit them space if on this day they shy away a bit. A Purim sameach is not equally sameach for all.

We hope everyone can have a truly freilich Purim however they choose to celebrate.

About the Author
David Mandel is CEO of Ohel Children's Home and Family Services. For more than 50 years, Ohel has provided a safe haven for those suffering in the community. Ohel cares for more than 17,000 individuals in the New York metropolitan area and across all communities offering a broad range of mental health services including outpatient counseling, trauma, anxiety, eldercare, respite and housing.
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