Family disapproval

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Disapproval from family members of your romantic partner continues to be a major issue faced by multicultural couples. 

It often highlights different generational views, and can damage family bond relationships.

Disapproval can be presented in different ways - from uncomfortable first meetings through to "demonstrated anger, issued ultimatums, and name calling". Even the extreme cases where people feel they have to hide their relationship entirely, even over a significant number of years.

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Of course this is often linked to racism as an ongoing issue in society

Fueled by stereotypes or fear of the unknown.

But before jumping into conclusions about your family, they may have good intentions and protection in mind behind their reactions. Nevertheless it is still worrying that in 2021 we are still seeing many cases of these reactions on social media.

💻 ‣ What To Do When Your Parents Don't Like Your Significant Other | HuffPost (Article)

"Disapproving parents can be genuinely looking out for your happiness and well-being... Many times, parents’ reasons for disliking their kid’s partner don’t have anything to do with how happy their child is in the relationship."

It's important to recognise the impact of family disapproval on the mental well-being of the individuals in these relationship. Especially for particular cultures and family units where family values are strong.

There is enough research and personal stories to support that couples can simply wait it out and allow for time to help families adjust.

If both sides are willing, family counseling is also an option to mediate discussions, and a service that specialises in multicultural relationships like the London Intercultural Centre can add extra insight.

Still, despite your best efforts, it may never be resolved. You will need to mentally prepare yourself to live with this potential reality.

If you're facing this situation, perhaps the most comforting thought is to know that you are ending the cycle in your family of prejudiced attitudes, and will create a new path in your family line.

We've curated a few resources that share tips on how to deal with disapproving parents.

💻 ‣ Tips to Handle Criticism of Your Mixed Race Romance | Liveaboutdotcom (Article)

"Don’t Spring Your Relationship on Loved Ones, Dialogue With Disapproving Family and Friends, Protect Your Partner, Set Boundaries, Set Ground Rules"

💻 ‣ What To Do When Your Parents Don't Like Your Significant Other | HuffPost (Article)

"Plan some low-key get-togethers. Talk about what you’re going through with a trusted friend, relative or therapist."

✍️ ‣ In-law relationships among interracial couples: A preliminary view | Research (2020)

Moves the research forward by looking at the in-law relationship of couples


✍️ ‣ Parents' Perceptions and Reactions to Their Child's Intergroup Marriage  | Research Study (2021)

Moves the research forward  by providing the perspective of the parents and this changes over time.

✍️ ‣ Exploring Parental Approval and Disapproval for Black and White Interracial CouplesResearch Study(2015)

"When parents approve... the parental homes become safe havens where the couple can relax and rely on their parents to assist them with their relationship goals in the face of society’s prejudices. ...but consequences from parental reactions may be damaging to their child, their child’s relationship, and may affect the family’s responses negatively."

Facing this issue?  

NEW GUIDE: How To Speak With Disapproving Parents