Parents don't approve of interracial relationship

Originally Published: September 10, 1999 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: March 28, 2013
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Alice,

My question is about interracial relationships. I came here from a really small town, very conservative — well, you get the idea. Now, my second week in, I met the most wonderful man. Only he is black. We have been dating now for over a year. He treats me wonderfully but I still get odd looks from people and my parents really don't approve.

I told them it shouldn't matter what color his skin is if I love him, but their small town values seem to say otherwise. How can I cope with the odd looks and my parents without losing my man?

Dear Reader,

Unfortunately, there are still many people who judge others based on their skin color, religion, class, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, or race, not to mention lots of other characteristics. Sometimes, even people who are generally open-minded behave in judgmental ways when they are faced with issues of diversity in their own family. This can certainly be frustrating, and, in fact, hurtful when the judgment is directed toward you and someone you care about.

You mentioned that the man you've been dating treats you wonderfully. Have you spoken to him about your concerns? Part of any healthy relationship is communicating about the things you find challenging in your lives — both together and apart. You might start by saying what you said here, that it shouldn't matter what color his skin is, because you love him, but that sometimes you feel like people react strangely when you are together. Perhaps he has also noticed this, and the two of you can strategize together how you want to deal with it. On the other hand, maybe you need to discuss your own concerns about being in an interracial relationship. It's possible that you are sensing negativity coming from other people because you have some level of discomfort yourself. Having an honest discussion with your boyfriend can help you become more aware of your own feelings in this area.

You might also want to express your disagreement with your parents' views, assuring your guy that you care for him and value your relationship. Of course, approval and support from families can mean a lot, too. Talking with your boyfriend might help you to formulate some ways to broach the subject with your parents. If you do decide to talk with your parents, pick a private place and a time when you are all feeling calm. Approaching the subject right after they've made a heated comment might lead you to respond in an angry, defensive way. You may also want to talk, at least at first, without your boyfriend present. This can help you and your parents to be honest and really understand each other's views. Remember to clearly let them know how their opinions and comments make you and your man feel. You might try saying, "You know, I really care for so-and-so, and I wish you'd trust my judgment. Some of the great things in our relationship are (fill in the blanks). His background is part of what makes him unique and special." If your parents persist, it might help to find out why they have the notions they do. Exploring their past experiences with people from backgrounds different from theirs could help; they'll have a chance to share their ideas, and you'll gain insight into their motivations.

In the end, though, what really matters is how you feel about your boyfriend, and how he feels about you. If your parents and others around you stubbornly stick to the "small town values" you describe, they are missing out on sharing in your life and the richness of your relationship. You and your boyfriend will have to decide whether or not you can ignore the negative reactions and focus instead on finding friends and family who will support you.

Alice

November 13, 2009

21316
Hello!

I am a Japanese girl and my boyfriend is Swedish. Sure enough, my old-fashioned parents thought this was a joke, and my dad especially took it badly, he still makes stupid comments such as...

Hello!

I am a Japanese girl and my boyfriend is Swedish. Sure enough, my old-fashioned parents thought this was a joke, and my dad especially took it badly, he still makes stupid comments such as white men are all players are none are serious, which I find ridiculous. I have been with my BF for a bit more than 2 years now and we plan to get married once he finishes his degree, as he is a few years younger than me. My parents were mad in the beginning, but now, they are calming down. People are just ignorant, back in their old time, they didn't have much contact with people different from them, now for us the young ones, it's not the same. We don't care what the skin color is, we care what's inside the color! Never judge a book by its cover, so the oldies taught us, aren't they going against their old belief then? Silly people.

People do stare at me and my BF too, but I find it amusing. So yeah, like someone has already suggested, I smile, VERY smugly. So does my BF. ;-D They can stare for however much they like. They stare, because we are special. In 50 years time interracial thing would be so common that they won't even bother staring. We are going ahead of others, and they will follow sooner later.

Don't worry, be happy and trust your instinct/feelings.

September 19, 2006

21105

Dear Alice,

This is for Reader: Your parents should learn that your happiness is their happiness. It's not like you are doing anything morally wrong. Any relationship has its challenges;...

Dear Alice,

This is for Reader: Your parents should learn that your happiness is their happiness. It's not like you are doing anything morally wrong. Any relationship has its challenges; this is just another one in a different form. If you can overcome it together with your boyfriend, it will only make your relationship stronger and make you, and people around you, better human beings. People who pass judgment (when they don't even know you!) are ignorant and, most of the time, probably jealous that you are different, interesting, and have the courage to live life to the fullest.

July 11, 2006

21085

Alice,

HA! Just remember, if dating this guy feels right to you, then it is right. Skin color makes absolutly no difference, and even though it is tough to argue with your parents, simply...

Alice,

HA! Just remember, if dating this guy feels right to you, then it is right. Skin color makes absolutly no difference, and even though it is tough to argue with your parents, simply tell them that their approval has no effect on you, because you see this man for who he is, not what color he is. And when people look at you funny, just look at them the same way, or better yet, smile, it confuses people!

— mysterious advice giver

April 13, 2006

21064

Alice,

To the reader whose "parents don't approve of interracial relationship":

I was in an interracial marriage and had it not been for some personal differences that made it...

Alice,

To the reader whose "parents don't approve of interracial relationship":

I was in an interracial marriage and had it not been for some personal differences that made it difficult to truly unite, we would still be married. My family was exactly the same as what you have described, however I chose to ignore their opinions because I believed he was and still is a wonderful person. Keep in mind you cannot let others live your life for you and make your mistakes whatever they may be. So my little piece of advice is this: follow your heart good or bad and you can never go wrong. I have made up my mind that my marriage has helped me and my divorce has too. It allowed me to take a stand with my family. They have lost out on different avenues and experiences in my life, but at least I know where they stand on certain issues and they know where I stand. Hang in there and don't let anyone make you feel bad for loving freely.