Ask Ava

Ask Ava, Episode 36: Holiday series - "What Can I Do If My Partner's Parents Won't Accept Me?"

December 03, 2020 Ask Ava Season 1 Episode 36
Ask Ava
Ask Ava, Episode 36: Holiday series - "What Can I Do If My Partner's Parents Won't Accept Me?"
Show Notes Transcript

Episode 36: Holiday series - "What Can I Do If My Partner's Parents Won't Accept Me?"

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Today, as part of our winter holiday series, we’re talking about why some parents might not accept you as a partner to their child, and healthy ways to handle it.

This is Jessica Skultety, Community Outreach Associate at Safe+Sound Somerset, Somerset County New Jersey's lead domestic violence organization
, providing services at no charge for survivors of dating and domestic abuse for over 40 years.  

Today's question from local teens is: What can I do if my partner’s parents won’t accept me? 

We have received questions like this from several teens over the years. There are many reasons a partner’s parent might not accept you. This is tricky. If you’re under 18 and living with your parents, you generally have to follow their rules and expectations. 

Keep in mind that it’s not always personal or about you. It’s also possible to earn trust from adults. Let’s talk about why parents might not accept you, and how you can approach each situation in a healthy way. 

During holidays, often relationships might change. Maybe you or your partner are ready to introduce each other to parents or family. Maybe you really want your partner to be involved with this year’s family get togethers. Or, maybe your parents will learn more about your partner even if it’s not time to introduce them yet. No matter what, it’s important that you and your partner talk together about how you want to approach the holiday season. This is one way to maintain a healthy relationship. 

What are some of the reasons your partner’s parents might not accept you? Some parents don’t take teen relationships seriously, which teens tell us is frustrating. Parents might think the relationship won’t last. They might remember when they were teens and how those relationships went. They might be afraid of you making mistakes like they did or their friends did.  

Protection is key. Often parents say or do things to protect their children. For example, some parents have strict religious views – if you’re from a different religion and hanging out with or dating their child, they might not think that relationship should be happening short or long term, and they want to protect from heartbreak. Parents might want their child to focus on school work or activities and might consider you or any relationship a distraction. Remember, it’s not always personal or about you, and it’s important to keep that in mind.  

Another reason is that parents might not think you or your partner are mature enough to be in a relationship, whether it’s casual or serious. They are entitled to their opinions, though of course you and your partner deserve respect. You can try to show them that you deserve respect through mature behavior, like follow rules they set, respecting a curfew, etc. 

But just know that some of these thoughts might get in the way of parents or family members accepting your relationship. Your actions might not be enough. 

Sometimes parental expectations and rules do break up teen relationships. This is a fact and knowing and thinking about this is a healthy way to approach any relationship. If this happens to you, remember that you’re not alone. Lots of other teens deal with this too – probably even some of your friends. 

Also, sometimes it’s hard to look beyond this one moment in time. Generally, as minors living with parents or family, we have to follow their rules, but there will be a time when we have complete freedom over these decisions. 

On the other hand, many teens report that their partners’ parents are accepting and even supportive of their romantic relationships. If you are in this situation, stay in communication with the family as long as your partner is okay with it. Also keep up healthy relationship boundaries, like making sure your partner isn’t spending all their time with you. They should also be hanging out with their family and own friends. This will likely make the family continue to support you and your partner being together. Try spending some time with your partner’s family, and ask them to spend some time with yours. This can also gain trust and support. 

Call or text the S+SS 24/7 hotline at 866-685-1122 for supportive listening and information. 

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