Racist dad won’t accept her boyfriend

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have been with my boyfriend for 6 1/2 years! I am so in love with him. We get along fine, no complaints in the relationship. Well about the 1st year we had been dating my dad shoved me up against my closet door and kicked me out of the house for dating my boyfriend because of his color. While out of my house during year 2 of me and his relationship i was allowed home because my dad got into a really bad car accident. He soon recovered and started walking again. For the past 4 years my dad just assumes that i dont have a boyfriend. He always talks about me getting a boyfriend. I am 22 years old, in love with this guy that my dad doesnt approve of because of his skin color. I am stressed out as about the time i leave my house and either move in with my bf or live by myself how to deal with my family not talking to me, because i know they won’t because of when i was kicked out the first year. I want to know how to deal with this? when is the right time, after i get a job, to tell them about me and my boyfriend being together for so long? I’m scared of what it may come down to, I’m happy it’s my life, I’m responsible, mature, and understand life. Please help me with what i should do.

A: As you’ve discovered: Avoiding a problem sometimes creates yet another one. You now have both the issue of who you are dating and the fact that you’ve been living a lie for so long. Your parents will rightfully see this as an indication that you aren’t as mature as you think you are. Further, they are likely to think less of your boyfriend because he participated in the lie and didn’t insist that the two of you work it out with your folks.

You have a very, very difficult decision to make. If your father represents the feelings of the whole family, making a life with your boyfriend will mean losing your family of origin – at least for a time. People don’t change just because we want them to. What you can hope for is that the family will eventually come around. They are more likely to do so if you and your sweetheart make a good life for yourselves and if it is clear that you love and cherish each other. Further, people are more likely to make up if they part ways without loud, angry words, incriminations, and accusations. If instead you simply, clearly and, above all, calmly tell your parents how much you love them, how much you appreciate all they’ve done for you, and how much you regret that your choice is something they can’t support, they are more likely to reach out to you after they’ve had more time. After all, they love you and don’t want to lose you as much as you love them. If there is someone in the family who can be an ally, do have a conversation with them to see if there are ways they can lend their support.

I don’t know enough about the situation to know about timing. I do know that the longer you live a lie, the harder it is to undo it. I suggest that you get yourself a counselor. You need an ongoing relationship with someone who can look at the situation objectively and who can help you through the difficult conversations and decisions that are coming your way. Your boyfriend should participate. If the two of you want to be together, you need to take on this big challenge — together.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 28 Jul 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). Racist dad won’t accept her boyfriend. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/07/28/racist-dad-wont-accept-her-boyfriend/