I don’t really hate my family but I wish something was different. My parents and my older brother are very similar- especially when it comes to how they feel about the person that I am dating. I have been together with my boyfriend for over 3 years, and we eventually want to marry each other. A huge obstacle is that my parents are super traditional, Korean parents. They don’t like that I am dating my boyfriend because he comes from a different background (he’s white) and is not college educated and doesn’t have a “successful” and “prestigious” career. My brother is a doctor and he has a girlfriend. Both  my parents and her parents approve of the relationship and therefore their relationship is much easier. My brother is going on a vacation with her and what frustrates me is that my mom doesn’t want me going on a vacation with my boyfriend and his family & friends. She says “when he’s ready to marry (finishes school and makes money like your brother) you then you guys can go on trips together. She goes “Of course my heart aches when I know your boyfriend cannot partake in our family affair but it’s because he’s not ready. When he’s become capable then I will gladly support your relationship and my blessings. 

I told my boyfriend how I couldn’t go anymore and when I told him the reasons he was very upset and offended that they wouldn’t let me go on the trip when his family are going to be there. He’s upset that my parents don’t trust his family. I don’t know what to do. I am angry at my parents for thinking so Korean. They think I should ask for permission to go on trips with my SO. They think they should have a huge say in who my potential husband should be. They think they have made many sacrifices including letting me date my boyfriend even though they do not want us together. Now, I think total opposite. Though I do take their considerations dearly, I don’t think I have to do what they say. But when I say this they think I’m in the wrong. Help. I am going crazy. I can’t talk to anyone because no one understands me. I can’t talk to my boyfriend because he gets emotional. None of my friends can give me advice since they don’t have parents like mine since they are not Asian.

 A: Thanks for writing in with your question. The issues you describe here are probably not as uncommon as you think. It can be very difficult to balance cultural differences and nearly impossible to please everyone. It sounds like you respect your parents and want to make them happy, but it is time for you to think about your happiness and your future. You are an adult now and part of being an adult means making adult decisions, and being willing to deal with the consequences of those decisions. 

I mean no disrespect to your parents, but at the age of 27 I think you can decide who you want to date, and certainly who you want to go on vacation with. Your boyfriend and his family have every right to be “emotional” and upset. I’m sure they are feeling unfairly judged by your family. 

Just because your friends aren’t Asian, does not mean you can’t talk to them about your problems. People don’t have to have the same issues to lend an empathetic ear. However, if you need more support than what they can offer, I suggest that you look into finding a family therapist with a specialty in multi-cultural issues. If you plan to move forward in the relationship with your boyfriend, you may need professional support to help mend bridges with your family. Good luck with this important stage of your life. 

All the best,

Dr. Holly Counts