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home : columns : dear harriette May 13, 2021

4/8/2021 8:04:00 AM
College student questions mom's engagement

DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm a 20-year-old college student, and my mom recently got engaged to her boyfriend of two years. She's been a single mom for pretty much my entire life, and I'm nervous about her taking this next step. Her boyfriend seems cool, but I really don't know him all that well since they started dating while I was away at school. I want her to be happy; however, I'm also insecure about losing our closeness. My mom and I are best friends. It's been just the two of us for so long. How can I be more accepting of this change? -- Mom and Me

DEAR MOM AND ME: Your mother's relationship is only one of two significant changes that you are facing right now, even if you don't realize it. You are becoming an adult, and you need to step fully into that, which means that you need to be able to be independent of your mother, even as you stay close to her. Interestingly, the fact that she is soon to be married may be a good thing for both of you. Why? Because both of you need to discover how to be independent of each other. Chances are, your mother went through something like this when you went away to college. Becoming an empty nester can be devastating to some parents, especially when they are very close to their children.

Instead of worrying, make a decision to welcome this man into the family, to be happy for your mother and to remain close to her. Talk to your mother about your feelings. Perhaps she will share some of hers, as well. Yes, your relationship will change, but that was going to happen anyway. Welcome the changes, and choose to enjoy the journey.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm a Black man living in Columbus, Ohio. My girlfriend -- who is white -- and I have been together for three years and are now discussing marriage, but my parents seem to feel uneasy about this. I asked my fiancee if her parents, being white, were comfortable with us being married. They said they were. But for some reason, my parents aren't quite comfortable with the idea. When I pressed them on it, they said that there's no way a white woman would be able to fully understand me for who I am, especially in a post-Trump America. I disagree, but I don't want there to be strife between our families. What do you think I should do? -- Family Feud

DEAR FAMILY FEUD: Sadly, we live in a country that is still plagued by racism. Even so, many mixed-race couples marry and build beautiful lives together. For conditions to be optimal, it would be great if your families got along with each other and with the two of you. Your parents can have their skepticism. Rather than arguing with them about their beliefs, focus on building your life with your fiancee. Talk through all of your issues and concerns. Be open about race, discrimination and social justice issues. Figure out where each of you stands on the hot topics of the day -- and where your values lie. You will have to stand up to plenty more people than your parents, so test it out to see how strong the two of you are in your beliefs and willingness to fight for your life together.

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