There is a wonderful story on Muslim speed-dating in the New York Times. Neil MacFarquhar paints a vivid picture of a "matrimonial banquet" at the Islamic Society of North America's annual meeting in Chicago. 150 women sit at small tables, while 150 men circulate among them for ten short conversations. They had to ban parents from sitting at the tables, too. Instead, the mothers cluster along the walls, watching and swapping information about their accomplished, eligible children. The parents are allowed to mingle with the young people only during the social hour that follows.
The organizers don't even call it "speed dating," because the very word "dating" suggests pre-marital sex to the potential participants and their parents. Yasmeen Qadri, an education professor who spoke in a panel discussion about dating said that what American Muslims really needed to create was an American version of arranged marriage. Since that term would probably seem too directive for freedom-loving Americans, she suggested "assisted marriage."
With the eldest Gruntled daughter now at college, Mrs. Gruntled and I have been trying hard not to be the kind of "helicopter parents," hovering over our child, that college deans come to dread. But, as our eldest said, she is a "helicopter child." Like many in her generation, she wants her parents involved in her life, and values their opinions as she is considering her choices. She makes the choices, but she wants to talk them over with us first.
Could any parent ask for better? Is that not the most civilized arrangement – the children do make their own decisions, but seek the wisdom of their most loving elders? And when better to ask for parental help than in making the most consequential and permanent choice of adult life, the choice of your husband or wife?
Assisted marriage sounds good to me.