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I am white and have been dating a black guy for eight months. He is a great guy, I am very fond of him, and my friends like him too. My parents know I am dating someone but do not know his ethnicity. I fear they won’t accept him due to his skin color. They have some rather old-school Southern attitudes about interracial dating and marriage. They’ve even said half seriously that they would disown me if I ever dated inter-racially. What should I do?
Your parents seem to apply old views to a current day situation. This is 2012, not 1950. They might fear betraying their own cultural norms or are afraid of how society might treat you. I see this a lot with my clients: fears based more on stereotypes and old-school thinking than on facts. Their attempt to influence your love life by guilt or through threats of disowning you shows their insecurities and rigidity.
Here’s what to do:
- Create an opportunity for your parents to get to know your boyfriend so they can learn to appreciate the same qualities in him that you’ve grown to like.
- Have a frank talk with them about specific reasons why they are opposed to such relationships
- Let them know you don’t share their views and won’t live according to their values either.
- Ask them if they prefer you to live your life with someone who makes you happy or to live it according to their values, unhappily.
- Address their fear about society accepting your relationship. Assure them that you’re a big girl, all grown up, and are prepared to face any challenges or stress that may lie ahead.
Jonathan Alpert is a Manhattan psychotherapist and author. He appears on national TV commenting on sex and relationship issues as well as lifestyle, mental health, and hot-button issues. Get more of Jonathan’s great advice in his new book, Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days. And you can follow Jonathan on Twitter at @JonathanAlpert