"My parents have made it abundantly clear that they disapprove of my relationship with my girlfriend and will not be supporting or celebrating us in any way, including coming to our wedding and being involved in the lives of our future children. Every time I try to talk about it with them, they shut down and/or wave a bible at me. At what point do I stop trying to convince them and start letting them completely miss out on my life?"
- Question submitted by Anonymous
Okay, here’s what I think. KEEP IN MIND I’m not a doctor or a therapist and this answer isn’t based on math problems and neurons or whatever. HOWEVER, I’m a human who cares about my family and I’ve had to make tough decisions concerning them, so I’m yammering based on that fact.
There comes a time in your life when you have to decide what’s best for you. FOR YOU. You’re starting a family now and I want you to think about how you want your kids to grow up and what you want your family to look like. You are creating the rest of your life RIGHT NOW. You want to be happy, comfortable, supported, loved, and you want your children and wife to feel the same. You want your kids to grow up in a positive and loving environment.
Unfortunately, in this situation, your parents are not providing that for you. I can’t guarantee that it’ll change anytime soon and I can’t guarantee that it will always be this way. All I can do is tell you that if I were in your situation, I think I would make the VERY DIFFICULT decision to leave my parents out of certain parts of my life.
Your conversations with them can continue and you can keep trying. Hopefully one day you will get to a place where they understand the meaning of unconditional love and you respect their beliefs. A strong faith is a powerful and incredible thing when used correctly. Love without judgement is key.
I have found that, in situations where close family members are disapproving, ‘trying to convince them’ never gains much ground. Most people have a guttural instinct to defend their beliefs when challenged—and when the relationship is between parents and children, there is an extra layer of complication because they are your PARENT, so they’ve been involved in your life and your upbringing for many years. They are used to saying DON’T TOUCH THAT IT’S HOT, or BE HOME BY MIDNIGHT, and so the fact that they now cannot tell you who to love can be very overwhelming and create an environment where it is exceptionally hard for them to hear anything at all.
You have to live your own life. You have to, at some point (and it sounds like that point may be now), sit your parents down for a talk that is no longer about changing their beliefs, but rather about communicating your beliefs, and your plans, so that they know that they are always welcome to be a part of that life should they so choose. Tell them that you love them very much. Tell them that you know who you are, and you know what you need right now. Tell them that you need to be with the person who makes you happiest, and that you are excited to create a life and a family with that person. Tell them you have every wish that they will be a part of that family, but that you can no longer fight for that… now it is up to them.
Make sure that they know that the door is always open, and remind them of that fact as you move forward in your life.
There is a good chance that, given time and space (and also seeing your life as it unfolds), will help them begin to understand your love and your life in a different light. Allow for that shift. Let them surprise you.
There is a chance that they may not be a part of your life. There’s no getting around that possibility, and it f*cking sucks. It is something that will hurt, of course… how could it not? We all want our parents to be a part of our lives. You will be creating your own family, though, and so that hurt will have it’s place among many other sources of happiness in your life.
I am so sorry that you have to go through this hurt.
Stay true to yourself, and know that you will still be able to find happiness—even if it doesn’t look exactly how you imagined it.