Advice Column: The Truth About Interracial Relationships

By: Monica Astacio, Photo by Judi Cahill


Dear Monica, my boyfriend is black and I’m Honduran. I want him to meet my parents, but I’m worried about the cultural differences. How can I introduce my boyfriend to my parents?

Meeting the parents is tricky in any relationship. What will we talk about?  Should I cover my tattoo? How do they feel about criminal records? You never know if there will be disapproval or awkward questions.

It can be an intimidating experience. Being in a interracial relationship can add another challenge.

Fifty years ago interracial, marriages became legal and the number of interracial couples is only growing. According to a new report by the Pew Research Center, the share of newlyweds married to a spouse of a different race or ethnicity has increased from 3 percent in 1967, to 17 percent in 2015.

The cultural differences can make you feel further away from your date’s parents. Here are a few tips to overcome that hurdle.

Talk first!

Before introducing your significant other to your parents, make sure to talk about your families. Discuss what your parents think about interracial relationships. Learning about their role in the family as well as their values and opinions can give your date more information on how the parents will react.

If you already know a family member opposes interracial relationships, give your partner additional information. This will give your date further insight on why the family member feels the way they do.

Empathize.

Try to understand the parents’ perspective and give them the benefit of the doubt. When they were growing up, interracial dating was less of an option. Although it may not a big deal to you, earlier generations have a different point of view. Try to pinpoint their objections head-on. Reassure the parents of your perspective without being defensive.

Be quick to forgive any poorly worded questions or statements and try to share your perspective as well as understanding theirs.

Be Patient.

More often than not, you will not win over the parents at the first meeting. Long-standing prejudices are difficult to change overnight — it doesn’t matter how perfect of a match you two are. It’s important to be patient while parents adjust to the change.

Once they see how happy their child is in a healthy relationship, issues like race and background begin to fade away. If the tension continues, assess your own needs in the relationship. How important is it to you that your date’s family accepts you? Is it worth the added stress? Whatever you decide, remember to communicate, understand and be patient.

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