Ask Alea: Hi Alea, I need your help. My parents literally HATE my boyfriend. So annoying my parents don’t like my significant other. I’m not sure why either. He is smart, funny, pretty good looking (I mean, I think he is), and he is awesome in general. What is up with my parents? (22, NC, F).
*One thing to keep in mind that often increases the dislike of parent to their child’s significant other (SO) is cultural, ethnic, religion, socio-economic status, age, or sexual factors. I often find when there are more discrepancies between these factors that parents have more dislike for the SO.
*Another factor that increases tensions between parents of a child and the SO is the value of trust a parent has in their child. If a parent perceives their child to have a history of making “poor” decisions in life then they may be more apt to find fault with the SO.
*It may appear that this phenomenon happens more with parents of women because culturally women are often objectified and seen as something to be obtained with/without consent.
*However, in general most parents want their child to be happy, successful, and with a loving SO, and when a parent sees that may not be possible, even in the slightest it is often that man or woman, a parent will jump to conclusions. A parent may globalize all behaviors from one behavior, catastrophize such as making one small indiscretion in to a catastrophe, project (etc. – these are CBT examples of maladaptive thought patterns).
*After marriage parents typically don’t want to alienate their child and feel they have done all they can do. Marriage is a symbol that seems binding.
*How to minimize your stress: Communication is the best way to minimize stress. Discuss the relationship, or the parent’s concerns, with each other and thus find healthy ways to either accept differences, or solve the problem. This may mean creating healthy boundaries between the partners, or between the partners and parents.
*How to minimize your partner’s distress: Again communication and honesty should come first. The child of the parent should discuss with parents their concerns, to determine boundaries and appropriateness of concerns. Another option is to potentially seek family therapy if an outside party is needed to mediate. Keep the gossip to a minimum. Focus on the people involved at hand only.
*It is important to remember sometimes parents do see qualities a child may not see. In the case of domestic violence the DV pattern is manipulative and destructive. Parents and family members often see their loved ones in this pattern and without intervention, therapy, or support the cycle will continue.
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