The Truth About Dr. Ruth's Kids

Since the 1980s, Dr. Ruth Westheimer has been a household name, and her candid, frank, and empathetic approach to the topic altered the way people talk about sex and relationships. It should surprise no one that the world's foremost sexpert is also a parent. While she's put out books on the subject, Dr. Ruth could totally create and sell an easily digestible audio series that parents can just hand over to their children if they happen to be too uncomfortable with "the talk" — or at the very least, it could show parents how to have "the talk." It would probably save a lot of people a lot of time later on.

Needless to say, the woman who escaped Nazi Germany has built quite a legacy for herself around the globe and at home. What's more, both of her children have grown up and gone on to find success in their respective lines of work. Read on to learn the truth about Dr. Ruth's kids.

Dr. Ruth was a single parent for a while

Following the end of her second marriage, Dr. Ruth Westheimer was a single mother to daughter Miriam Westheimer, per Biography. Dr. Ruth acknowledged in her column at Moment Magazine that being a single mother was not really accepted in those days. She ended up meeting her third husband, Manfred Westheimer, when Miriam was two years old. While she was a single parent, however, she worked to support her daughter as a housemaid while also attending English and evening classes at the New School which she was able to do thanks to a neighbor's help.

Ahead of her documentary "Ask Dr. Ruth" premiere, she told Motherly that when her kids were young, she set up a babysitting arrangement with one of her neighbors. "If there's no relatives nearby, then do what I used to do when I raised my child," she advised. "I switched with a neighbor in the building so that one day I went to school and another day I took her children and she went to school. Find somebody, another new mother that you can switch off with."

Dr. Ruth's third marriage was 'true love'

It wasn't her first marriage, but Dr. Ruth Westheimer has called her third marriage her "true love." Manfred Westheimer and Dr. Ruth met during a ski trip in 1960, according to her piece in Moment Magazine. She admitted that it wasn't "love at first sight" because that "doesn't exist." Though she wrote that she knew right away that she wanted to have a relationship with Fred and in less than a year they were married. The two welcomed son Joel Westheimer, and Fred legally adopted Miriam Westheimer. 

Dr. Ruth and her husband lived together in their beloved Washington Heights apartment where she still lives to this day. Though she can't say for sure that her marriage to Fred was beshert — Yiddish for "destiny" — but she wrote in Moment that she does know that he was "the right husband" for her.

Although she talks at length about topics that some find to be risqué, there are things Dr. Ruth will not discuss. Namely, she has never talked about her own sex life and she will never change her mind on that. She told People she believes becoming a public figure when she did had something to do with that choice. "I keep that carefully separated," she told the magazine. "And that had to do with already being 50 when I became famous. And I knew what to keep private and what not."

Dr. Miriam Westheimer works in the education sector

Though not the same subject as her mother Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Dr. Miriam Westheimer followed her mom into the world of education. She has a Doctorate of Education from Columbia University and has dedicated her adult life to social services, nonprofit management, and education. Dr. Miriam is co-author of the best-selling "Focus on Grammar," has taught English in Israel, done curriculum development at various levels of education, and currently serves as Director and Chief Pedagogical Officer of HIPPY International. HIPPY is a home-based, early childhood education program that she has worked with for the last two decades, per her LinkedIn. Hillary Clinton also happens to be a big supporter of the nonprofit. 

Dr. Ruth's daughter married Joel Henry Einleger in 1986 with whom she has two children, Ari and Leora. She, like her mother, also calls the New York City area home.

Dr. Miriam Westheimer received a big honor

On June 5, 2018, Dr. Ruth Westheimer's daughter and son-in-law were honored in the New York House of Representatives for their work with the Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale (CSAIR). Per former Congressman Eliot L. Engel, Dr. Miriam Westheimer and her husband Joel Henry Einleger were chosen by CSAIR to be recognized at the 2018 gala for their work in the community. Dr. Miriam had been part of both the Education Board and Social Action Committee, while Joel Einleger worked on the Design Committee and even organized a Torathon among many other contributions.

The transcript from that day includes a statement about how important the couple is to the CSAIR community: "Both Joel and Miriam are CSAIR treasures, extending the warmth and energy that first embraced them to all who enter our doors. ... I too want to congratulate both Miriam and Joel on this wonderful occasion and thank them for all they have done."

Leora Einleger has written about her grandmother

Shortly after the 2016 election of Donald Trump, Leora Einleger, daughter of Miriam Westheimer and Joel Einleger, published an op-ed with Kveller about how vital her grandmother's role in her life was–particularly in the post-election fallout. Leora, who earned an undergraduate degree from Barnard and enrolled in NYU's law program, wrote about how Dr. Ruth Westheimer kept calling her to make sure she was holding up. She said her grandmother's belief "that everything will be OK" reassured her.

"She reminds me that we live in a big country," Leora wrote of Dr. Ruth's advice to her. "There are many people who are just as upset as I am and now, more than ever, we need to stand up for what's right." She said that her grandmother's wisdom means so much because she knows how much she has "witnessed, done, and changed" in her lifetime.

Dr. Joel Westheimer is an education researcher

It seems Dr. Ruth Westheimer's educational influence impacted her family in a significant way. Her son with third husband Manfred Westheimer, Dr. Joel Westheimer, is the University Research Chair in Democracy and Education at the University of Ottawa. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford, is an award-winning author, education columnist for CBC Radio, and has delivered over 400 keynote speeches, according to his personal website. He even ice skates to work–talk about embracing the Canadian spirit.

Dr. Joel is also very supportive of his mother's work. He even tweeted about her a few days before her 92nd birthday to showcase a photo of her attending a vigil in New York. In the photo he shared she is seen holding two signs, while masked, that read "enough is enough" and "Black lives matter." He noted that he was #IncrediblyProud. That feeling is mutual: In an interview with Closer Weekly Dr. Ruth referred to her son as a "big-shot professor."

Son Dr. Joel Westheimer uses his platform to educate

Sex might not be the topic of choice for Dr. Joel Westheimer, but not unlike his mother, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, he continues to use his voice and platform to advocate for important issues. In January 2021, for example, he penned an op-ed for The Toronto Star where he called disinformation a "virus" that "threatens democracy" which can be cured through education. Somewhat fittingly, this piece included a quote about birth which we are sure his mom would appreciate. "More than 100 years ago, the philosopher John Dewey wrote that democracy must 'be born anew every generation, and education is its midwife,'" Dr. Joel wrote. It is great to see how meaningful Dr. Ruth's stance on education has been for not one but both of her kids.

What's more, Dr. Joel became one of the directors of The Inequality Project, a nonprofit "conducting an in-depth examination of what high schools in the United States and Canada teach students about the critical issue of rising economic inequality."

Daughter-in-law Barbara Leckie is also a professor

"Barbara Leckie," wrote Dr. Joel Westheimer in the acknowledgements section of his book "Pledging Allegiance: The Politics of Patriotism in America's Schools," "is my constant support, a kind critic, and the love of my life." Dr. Barbara Leckie holds a Ph.D. from McGill and is a professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. She is, as Dr. Ruth Westheimer said in a 2019 interview with CBC, "a big shot professor." (We sense a theme here.) Leckie is listed with the University's Institute for the Comparative Study of Literature, Art, and Culture, and her research interests include nineteenth-century print culture, the history of procrastination, climate change, architecture, eco-criticism, censorship, and social reform.

She has authored and edited several books in addition to being the founder of the Carleton Climate Commons, per Niche Canada. Leckie and Dr. Joel have two children together, Michal and Ben.

Dr. Ruth's kids 'never' asked her for relationship advice

When your mom is the foremost sex expert, at least the most famous one, you probably still wouldn't want to have "the talk" with her. Luckily doling out relationship advice to her kids was never something Dr. Ruth Westheimer really had to do as a mom — in part, because she didn't want to. As she shared with Closer Weekly, she would leave books around the house to hopefully answer any questions as they came up. And did her children ever ask her for relationship advice? Absolutely not. "Never!" she told the outlet. "I'm glad they didn't. ... [I'd] say 'if you have a question, ask me, and if I don't have the answer I will say so [and] ask an expert." It would probably be hard to find a better sexpert than Dr. Ruth, but her methods seemed to work.

She had a rule against giving sex advice to her children, but Dr. Ruth's grandson probably wishes she had extended that rule to grandkids too. In the Hulu documentary "Ask Dr. Ruth," Ari Einleger said his grandmother gave a sex talk in his fourth-grade class. "[H]e hasn't recovered since," she told reporters at a 2019 TCA event, per The Wrap. She added that her technique of leaving books around the house to answer questions for her kids became a mainstay of both of her kids with their own children as well. If something works well why not pass it on? 

Being a grandparent is very important to Dr. Ruth

After many of her loved ones, including both of her parents, in the Holocaust, family is all the more important to Dr. Ruth Westheimer. The epitome of the proud grandmother, she is absolutely living for her grandkids. She once told The Baltimore Sun, "Whatever I do, I take full advantage of it with my whole soul. I am impatient. Maybe by becoming a grandparent that sense of urgency is heightened. To that know, like I said in the book ["Grandparenthood"], Hitler did not succeed. He didn't want me to live, and he certainly didn't want me to have grandchildren."

Dr. Ruth has four grandchildren, and as she told Unpacked in 2021, all are "thriving." To her, being a grandparent is like "setting a gravestone for my parents and grandparents, who don't have one," she told The Baltimore Sun.

Being a grandmother is so special to Dr. Ruth, she even released a graphic novel in 2018 entitled "Roller Coaster Grandma." In the illustrated autobiography, a family trip to an amusement park acts as the set piece for Dr. Ruth to open up about her life experiences to her grandkids. "It talks about my childhood a lot," she said in Interview. "In the book, I go to an amusement park with my grandchildren, and we get measured for a ride. My grandchildren get on the ride, but I'm too short."