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Family First Inbox: Issue 856

“Tell me that beautifully designed canteens, with pastrami and beef-laden menus aren’t creating tremendous peer pressure for campers”

A Hair-Raising Experience [Second Guessing / Issue 854]

I’m really enjoying the Second Guessing column. The most recent installment — about a sheitelmacher who decided to raise her prices upon learning that a new and more expensive sheitelmacher was attracting her clients — was the hot topic on the park bench last Shabbos.

The sheitelmacher’s dilemma really hit home! I actually recently had a very similar situation. I dropped off my three wigs to get done by someone who’s always charged me $45. That’s more than the cheaper girl in my neighborhood, who takes $35, but I’ve always felt like it was worth it since I think she does a better job. But I was shocked when I asked how much I owed her, and she told me $180 for three wash and sets. Apparently she’d raised her prices to $60 each — without ever mentioning it to me. I was very upset. I think a warning and a sign are definitely needed.

Name Withheld


Know Your Worth [Second Guessing / Issue 854]

The Second Guessing story about a sheitelmacher who raised her prices highlights a very important point — understanding the value of your services and charging accordingly.

This woman, upon realizing that she was undercharging and therefore being perceived as less up-to-date and skilled than her more expensive competitor, decided to raise her prices — and I applaud her for it.

Many of us women struggle to assert ourselves. We worry about being called out for overpricing or about accusations of arrogance — we avoid challenge. We want to please everyone and make sure everyone is happy with us. We feel uncomfortable asking for money, and fear being deemed “greedy” if we ask for more of it. But if we don’t value ourselves, then who will?! If you’re a skilled professional who brings value to your customers, you could and should be charging accordingly.

The protagonist in this story could definitely have handled her price increases more sensitively. Communication is key, especially when one is upset about losing customers — antagonizing an actual paying customer is definitely a unique sales strategy!

But in general, if we respect ourselves and our work, then we will receive equivalent respect from others.

A frum female entrepreneur who struggles with the same


Small Acts of Self-Care [Redefining Self-Care / Issue 854]

I very much enjoyed reading "Redefining Self-Care" by Naomi Rubner. She redefined self-care as creating a lifestyle based on your values, interests, and passions versus small, isolated acts done as self-care. Essentially, this means creating and designing a wholesome and rich life that nourishes me in all aspects — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Wow! What a rich and fulfilling life that would be!

However, I do want to add that, nevertheless, small acts of self-care, such as getting a manicure or buying your favorite lunch, are vital and necessary. It is in these small moments of quiet time when we get to nourish ourselves and fill up our tank for the hours to come. That half hour to 45 minutes can be a game changer and enough time to restore our equilibrium and calm. It is in those few minutes when we can regain control and regulate our nervous system.

Of course it’s ideal and better to create such a lifestyle where self-care is naturally built in. That’s the ideal. However, small, isolated acts of self-care can be and are just as important to maintain one’s calm and composure.

Saralah P.


More Than Manners [Modern Etiquette / Issue 853]

As I read the column about modern etiquette, I thought about how often we agonize over the right words to say and getting them just right. I’d like to suggest that if one can truly empathize with another person, then the words will flow more easily. We aren’t going to get it perfectly right each time, and we aren’t responsible for fixing everyone’s issues and solving all of their problems. But when we truly care, that’s palpable.

Shabbos invites in particular piqued my interest, as I am the guest. I know I’m a good guest — always offering to help, stripping my linen, and bringing gifts that my hostess appreciates because I think long and hard about them.

But now I’d like to enlighten hosts about what it’s like to be a perpetual guest. Due to life circumstances, some of us are forced to spend each Shabbos as a guest if we don’t want to be alone. It’s nice when people extend open invites — but these cannot compare to the feeling of receiving an invite at the beginning of the week. When I’m invited for Shabbos on Thursday, that means I’ve been worried about my Shabbos plans all week long.

And yes, there are times when no one invites me and I have to invite myself. I can call ten people, without exaggeration, each of whom has a legitimate reason why they can’t have me, which is totally understandable. However, what they haven’t considered is how many other calls I’ve made, and how the heart feels to hear no after no….

Just last week, my Shabbos hosts had to cancel on me late Thursday night. They apologized profusely, but it would have meant so much had they thought to call on Friday to make sure I had made other plans or if they’d sent something as a thoughtful gesture — or even called me early the next week to invite me when it would actually work out. These actions would have done so much to make me feel good.

If we keep an open heart, we’ll learn to listen to the unspoken word — and help everyone feel comfortable.


Far Rockaway, NY

Leave Those Beds Alone [Modern Etiquette / Issue 853]

While I do agree with most of your answers to etiquette questions, I must draw the line at guests definitely stripping bed linen. I think guests should always ask their host if they want the beds stripped. There are many times that linens may not be washed the next day — maybe the host has household help later in the week, or she’ll only get to it days after the guest leaves. In the meantime, the bedroom looks like a mess, instead of more or less neat. If the host asks you not to strip, you should neaten the beds somewhat. They do not have to be made perfectly. As someone pointed out to me, not everyone’s mattresses are new and look appealing, and removing sheets would reveal that, too. Just leave them on unless you are told to strip them.

A Frequent Host


A Better Approach to Shidduchim [Inbox / Issue 853]

To the woman who is having difficulty getting résumés for her son, who is not “learning full time,” I am sorry for your difficulties, although I am honestly a bit surprised. I know a lot of girls who’d be thrilled to go out with your son and would be happy to connect with you (or any other mothers) through Mishpacha so we can brainstorm together.

I’m not an experienced shadchan, but from my experience, a lot of my friends  are very interested in redting shidduchim and have access to a large pool of single friends (as well as sometimes husband’s friends). While busy with our own young families, we want to help!

Our shadchanim are wonderful shalichim, but many shidduchim do not come through “official” shadchanim. Take advantage of the young women in your neighborhood (or perhaps the married daughters or daughters-in-law of your neighbors). Chances are, they have at least a few unmarried friends and they may just have an idea. Also, if you are given a suggestion, it would be so appreciated if you can follow up with whoever redt the shidduch. Even if you will not be pursuing the shidduch, getting back to the person and saying something like, “I just wanted to let you know that we won’t be pursuing the shidduch, but thank you so much for the suggestion,” is not only menschlichkeit, but also makes it more likely that the person will continue sending suggestions in the future. Sharing why you said no can also help the person’s suggestions be more on target in the future.

A mother might respond that while this sounds very nice, she’s “drowning” in résumés, and it’s just too hard to call back every person. Which brings me to the next point. My father has long held that résumés are as unhelpful as they are helpful. While they are a convenient way to access information, years ago, when someone was redt a shidduch (girl or boy!), they heard the suggestion and then made the necessary inquiries before giving a yes or a no.  Today, boys’ mothers are left to sift through piles of résumés, which leads to a “shopping mentality,” comparing between the most minor and insignificant points. Résumés seem to be here to stay (and they do serve a purpose) but perhaps if boys would also look into one girl at a time (and not start researching and comparing four different girls at the same time), it would be helpful.

May Hashem help everyone seeking their bashert find their zivug with ease and clarity b’karov!

H. Green


The High Cost of Camp Canteens [Kitchen Encounters / Issue 853]

Canteens have always been a part of camp, but in recent years it seems as if they’ve evolved from places for kids to buy the occasional ices or a sweet indulgence into full-blown restaurants, as described in a recent Family Table article.  With fresh sushi, loaded hot pretzels, and poppers readily available, I have no doubt that many campers skip supper and head for the canteen instead to buy dinner.

While it is important to teach kids to live within their means and that there will always be someone who has things that they don’t, some of the canteens described here have seating for dozens of people, making it clear that they are being designed to entice hungry kids to come spend money. Clearly they are doing a great job, with one camp reporting they sell 180 to 200 orders of poppers on a daily basis.

You tell me that beautifully designed canteens, with pastrami and beef-laden menus aren’t creating tremendous peer pressure for campers, leaving parents who are already spending thousands to send their kids to camp facing yet another extra to cover.  The fact that the camp canteen article appeared the same week as a Mishpacha Double Take highlighting the problem of differing expectations for pricey summer entertainment is probably the best example of irony that I have seen in a very, very long time.

Sandy Elsler


Stingy — or Smart? [Matchquest / Issue 853]

I read the Matchquest written by the woman who wants to marry a learning boy but is worried that the boy she’s dating is stingy based on his behaviors during their low-budget dates. She says that she is unsure whether his behaviors are stingy, frugal, or principled, and even admits that this is making her question whether she even knows what it means to be frugal.

If I could speak to this young lady, my first question would be, “Are you really prepared to live the life of a kollel wife?”  And if I could speak to the young man, I would alert him to the fact that the question itself is a red flag.  Is there anything wrong with taking a half-empty bottle of drink home and putting it in the refrigerator to drink later? Is it stingy to walk two blocks to save $20?

This woman wants to marry a learning boy but Daddy’s unlimited credit card is going to stop one day. Half-finished lattes will be a thing of the past.  Comparing prices of diapers and looking for the one that’s a dollar cheaper will be the new reality. Is she up to turning down friends’ invitations to join them for lunch because it is simply not in the budget?

Young lady, it sounds like you have a wonderful boy — don’t throw him away over half a bottle of Snapple.

I’d sign my name but I have great grand-children in shidduchim, so I’ll sign

Old Geezer in Jerusalem


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 856)

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