Parental Relationship Soured Over Interracial Romance
As an advice columnist specializing in Black and interracial relationships, I frequently receive letters from both parents and children seeking understanding and guidance in navigating the conflicts which arise in their relationship. The issue of interracial dating is fraught with the greatest amount of emotional upheaval for both parties.
A reader writes: "My situation is probably typical, but for me it's very confusing. My parents adopted me from Korea. They are White. I am 19, almost 20 years old and seriously involved and engaged to a Black man. I love him dearly for who he is because he is a wonderful person! Anyways before I began dating him, my mother and I used to have a pretty good and close relationship. She has now done a complete 180 on me, telling me over and over that I am a disappointment to her.
She keeps trying to put my fiancee down by pointing out things about him that to her are not right. The thing is he treats me well and he loves me sincerely like no other man before. I refuse to let her run my life or dictate my choices as a woman. Basically, I know what I want and I refuse to give him up. My problem is my Mom. How can I have any normal relationship with her?
When I try to be open with her about my feelings, my needs, or the relationship, she acts unaffected and uninterested. Then when I withdraw and have nothing to do with her and keep my conversation to myself, she becomes hurt and tries to guilt-trip me. My Mom is putting me into a situation where no matter what I do, I can't win or please her. Please help me!"
My response to this young woman follows.
I am going to suggest that you write your mother a letter that asks some pointed questions and gives her something to think about. A letter is the best way to get your point across since she won't listen to you.
Start off by telling her how much you appreciate what she and your Dad have done for you, and how much you love her. Tell her how sad you are that your relationship with her has changed. Point out to her that you are a young woman now and you both have to accept that your separation from her requires an adjustment for you both that is going to be challenging. Let her know that you hope when you arrive on the other side, you two will have a different relationship, but one that will be richer for you both, wherein you relate as peers - as women - not as a mother and child.
Tell her that she forgets you are not White - you are a "minority" just as much as the man you love. She accepted you into her life and home without penalizing you for your skin color or cultural heritage, so ask her why she would not accept another "minority" person? Pointedly inquire if her criticisms are based primarily on racial prejudices because your man is Black?
Remind her that NO MAN IS PERFECT, including your father or hers, but just like millions of other women in the world, you love your man with all his imperfections and bad habits and want to be WITH him more than you do WITHOUT him!
Tell her that you feel she is attempting to manipulate you with her temperamental displays of negativity. Being cold when you try to talk to her (only because you aren't talking about what SHE wants to hear), then providing drama when you leave her alone (which is what she appeared to want you to do) is confusing to you and not doing anything positive to improve the relationship between the two of you.
Be REAL with her young woman. Hold no punches. Your Mom needs to hear these things from you because she needs a reality check.
Life isn't perfect, and our children often do things differently than we might have liked. They make choices we would not necessarily think are the best choices.
But they aren't us.
A parent's job is to RAISE their child to adulthood, educated, responsible, capable of making decisions on their own and taking care of themselves. Seems like she has done her job but is having a really hard time letting go and adjusting to her new role in your life.
I wouldn't worry about this too much. You may have to put some space between your Mom and yourself for awhile, but she will come around eventually. I usually see the change occur with great speed when a child is on the way. The racist attitudes usually are dealt with and put aside. Most parents don't want to miss out on the joys of Grandparenting and usually calm down and start acting like they have some sense!
Wanting to see, hold and have fun, loving family holidays and 1 on 1 time with their grandchild is a strong motivator for parents to grow up.