Advice: My parents don't approve

Last updated 05:16 22/05/2014

He loves her, but his parents don't approve. Their reason for not doing so seems absurd but their threatened action if he doesn't listen is very serious. What should he do? 

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Hi,

I am a 28 year old first-born son of Asian decent and I am extremely close with my parents.

Because of their continual support, I am now quite comfortable financially. I currently work in Wellington and have just bought a house here. It is their hope that I will return to Auckland (where they reside) soon so I can look after them when they get older.

I have no problem with the above as I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for them. My only problem is that they don't approve of my girlfriend of one year and have asked me not to bring her up to Auckland again.

The reason? She's too short and they're afraid that me and her will have kids who are short. They're afraid that the kids will be discriminated against due to their height because, according to them, they've experienced that throughout their lives (both of them are shorter than me and I am 171cm). 

One might chuckle at the irony of that if it weren't so serious. Just as an FYI, they have never been so absurdly unreasonable until now (they've even said they will cut me out of their will).

My mum basically collapsed and went into the room to cry when I sent her a mother's day card with the message "please trust and respect my decision".

My girlfriend and I love each other deeply. We share similar family values and enjoy each other's company immensely. How can I let my parents understand that this is not their decision to make and help them along in accepting her? 

Cheers,

Confused

Hi there Confused, 

This is a difficult situation being of Asian decent, the role a first born son plays in a family is very important, together with the responsibility you carry to care for your parents when they get older.

It is wonderful that you acknowledge the part they have played in your success, you must feel very torn right now. 

This is a difficult one to answer as I am mindful that your parents may very well hold a different worldview to the one you may now find yourself a part of. Perhaps their worldview allows them to believe that they have the right to make such a request of you regardless of how absurd that request might be.

Perhaps your worldview supports you having the right to choose your life partner, however it would appear that that choice may cost you a relationship with your parents, and your inheritance!

That being said, there is an element of control being exercised by your parents in the hope that they can persuade you to make the decision they want you to make. I use the word persuade, some may prefer 'manipulate'. You ask 'how can I let my parents understand this is not their decision to make?' They may have difficulty accepting your decision or they may never accept it in which case you need to be prepared for any action they make take as a result of you not 'obeying' their request.

If you are hopeful they might one day accept your decision it might be helpful if you sit down with them and tell them how much you love them but that you need them to respect your decision and that you want to honour your responsibilities to care for them, but in order to do so they will need to come to terms with the decision you have made.

If they are unable to do that you may have to help them to understand the consequences - but you too will need to come to terms with their decision if they are true to their word.

Can you be happy without the extremely close relationship with your parents? Or being cut off from the family cut out of the will?

Your dilemma is all about choices and boundaries and complicated by ultimatums. The consequences could have long term affects - you may want to speak to someone before you proceed to help you come to terms with any consequences and the emotional costs. 

All the best in your decision making, 

Louise

For more advice and information on counselling, visit Relationships Aotearoa online or join them on Facebook.

We'd love to hear your take on this week's issue. Before you comment below, though, remember that this is a real-life situation. This reader has bravely shared their personal life with you; please show them respect by refraining from hurtful or abusive comments.

- Stuff

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