Challenges you may face when meeting the family of your interracial love

Posted by Ria, 17 Jul

Most parent have no problem with their kids being friends with people from other races... until their kids introduce them as their boyfriend or girlfriend and then some go: "You can be friends with them but not date them."

Well, this is what John's parent's (Chinese) told him when he told them about his white girlfriend, Jocelyn. The thing is, Jocelyn had previously been forced to end an interracial relationship with another Chinese guy because he couldn't take her to meet his parents since as his parents didn't want a 'foreign' daughter-in-law. So I am thinking Jocelyn felt "NOT AGAIN!!".

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"How was I supposed to know that meeting the parents in China was as serious as an engagement announcement, a promise of wedding bells in the near future? For that matter, how could I have ever guessed on the many other cultural pitfalls on the pathway to becoming the foreign wife of a Chinese man?", she writes.

Jocelyn writes about 3 challenges one might encounter when meeting the family of an interracial love.

  • For starters, let's begin with what we just mentioned above... family being ok with the two of you being just friends but NOT dating. Much as John - being the gentle man he is - reassured Jocelyn that it wasn't a big deal, it kind of is because Jocelyn knows that statement means no blessings. Imagine knowing you are getting into a family that may never accept you. Imagine your better half being put in a position where they have to choose between you and the family. Who wouldn't smell a break-up just around the corner?

    Luckily, John and Jocelyn survived this. And the only reason was because he stuck by her side despite all. Much as such a scenario may cause headaches, if both of you are totally committed to the relationship, then your relationship should pull through. But brace yourselves... it won't be easy.

  • The other challenge is having in-laws saying inappropriate things about your relationship. Some family members may drop one or two racist lines, knowingly, jokingly, innocently... More often than not, these comments are based on stereotypes that society holds about particular races and cultures.

    When such comments come from your spouse's close family member, it becomes a war you can never win when you point out that some comment - which probably seemed like a joke to the rest of the family - is racist. So you ignore them?

    Hell No!! The best way to go about it is talk it out with the family - if they give you a chance. But most of all, make your spouse understand the things and comments that are inappropriate. If he or she cares about your feelings and the relationship, he/she will definitely set them things straight.

  • Now imagine family members getting confused about your interracial relationship - they are not opposed to it but they just don't get why you would want to be with someone from a different race. Imagine being asked why you would even think of dating this person you love so dearly. I's like they think its weird.

    This can really be hurtful coming from people you are hoping would be your future family. You end up being left with the question: Why can't they just understand that we are in love?

    With interracial relationships, not everyone will welcome your relationship with open arms. Expect the questions and weird looks if not outright opposition. And hope that that things will get better once they get to know you as a person.

There are more interracial relationships these days. And things are getting better... parents are family are more accepting. But if you meet one's that aren't, you are not alone. Just hang on to the fact that others before you have experienced such situations and many of them have survived.

Ever been through "meet the parents" challenges and came out on the other side much stronger? Share your experiences and advice on how your interracial relationship survived.

2 responses to "Challenges you may face when meeting the family of your interracial love"

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  1.   NyxAeterna says:
    Posted: 03 Dec 15

    Thank you for posting this article. I'm currently in a long term (3+ years) relationship with an Indian man, and his family is a bit apprehensive about this whole dating a white American woman thing. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one struggling to earn the approval (and dealing with the fact that I probably won't) of his parents, so it's nice to know that I'm not alone. To those who are also facing the struggle, be open with your partner and especially do your best to both respect their culture and your own.

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  2.   TarzansJane says:
    Posted: 23 Aug 15

    Meeting and getting to know potential in-laws or family of a new relationship is bad enough on it's own without adding race to it. In my experience, I have seen it best that if you and your new love or partner are even thinking your relationship is seriously approaching any permanence to get this meeting of friends first and then family arranged as soon as possible. This is especially important if one or both of you are very close to your families. It is usually best to meet at either the parents home or a neutral and I prefer outdoor setting. The background of nature and activities like barbequing beg for many hands to be helpful and can sometimes help diffuse anxious feelings. It also helps to have places of refuge to alleviate tensions. I know at our family activities, the men usually gravitate to either a place where they can talk without children or women and the women are usually in the kitchen or another room and people have a tendency to travel from room to room or area to area listening and adding to conversation as seems comfortable which makes it also less stressful. At any rate, if you are the person that is meeting the family wherever it is, I would highly suggest that you be yourself, but on your best behavior ever. Be humble, don't boast, be considerate, SMILE, show the family that you LIKE their child and that you chose each other. Do not be overly affectionate. Holding hands and maybe a peck on the cheek depending on the family and what they deem appropriate. If you are a touchy feelly person, ask your significant other about this. IT MATTERS!. NO father wants to see his daughter mauled in his house and no mother wants to see ultra sweet kissy sounds at her son. If this is a serious relationship for you, you will want to not so much impress the parents, siblings or other family members, but give them no reason to object to you. Manners are very important in any culture or family. No matter what the family dynamics, I ALWAYS refer to the parents as Mr. and Mrs. unless otherwise instructed and if I am given permission to use their first names, I generally stick with "yes sir", or "yes ma'am" when spoken to directly. If I show respect to the parents and the rest of the family sees and hears this, I am half way to the hearts of the siblings because I respect their parents. To this day, my ex's siblings prefer me to any one he brings to meet simply because I respected his parents and they came to love me. Once our relationship had been firmly established I would often get invitations to come visit them without him and even though we are not together I still get invitations from his family from time to time even though we have not been together for years. I don't usually go, but for certain events I do show up. Generally this is when there is a funeral or when extended family members have asked me to their house for a wedding or graduation or major event. Most times I decline, but for family loss I always show up. Again out of respect for his parents and respect for him. For any first meeting, whether it is formal or casual, dress well. I mean make sure that your clothing is not offensive has holes, by design or longtime wear. On that note make sure that you are generally clean and trimmed up. Women I would suggest a modest manicure and men please shave and wear clothing that is appropriate for the occasion. Don't show up to a family sit down dinner in sports gear or shorts and if you usually go commando...DON'T. I have personally seen this go very bad in way too many situations where I actually had to tell a man including my own that he needed to change or sit appropriately so as not to set the women on a sparkly eyed gossip fest. The same goes for women. Wear underwear and apparel that covers your treasure chests. You don't want to become the thoughts of the men in the family and have those comments at a first second or any family occassion where the men are in the corners of the house where they are either staring or trying to avoid staring. Guys can 't help it. Women can't either. It's really common sense. If you want to stay with this man or woman for the rest of your life or at least you are thinking about it, do everything within reason and within your power to be who you are, but respectful. You may not win every family member at that first meeting. You may not win anyone, but don't give the family a reason to rule you out. It's harder when a family can find no fault with you and you actually give them reasons to think "Hey! They actually compliment each other and he or she is not so bad. They actually see you and not your race. Win. Win. WIn!

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