Meet the Parents - Interracial Edition

Dear Relationshipper,

My parents are not bigots but I'm a little nervous how they'll react when they meet my boyfriend for the first time.  We've been dating for about a year and have what I think is a good relationship.  We are accepted as a couple by our friends and co-workers and haven't really noticed any prejudice when we go out.  I must mention that we live/work in a very large city.  My parents live in a small town halfway across the country and are coming to visit me soon.

His parents live nearby and treat me very well.  We have spent a lot of time there, including last Christmas, and I feel very welcome.  I don't think that a negative reaction from my parents would have any bearing on my relationship with my boyfriend but of course I would prefer that they like him.

Should I tell them now (via phone/email) to give them the chance to change their plans to visit?  Or should I just act like there's nothing different and let them come ahead?

My boyfriend is of Japanese ancestry.  He was born in New York but his parents were both born in Japan and lived through WWII.  Both my parents had many relatives who served in the military in WWII and a few were killed.

Cautiously Optimistic

Dear Cautious,

I don’t think that there should be any problem between your parents and your boyfriend – but if you think that they may have an uncomfortable reaction, you may want to give them a heads up about his nationality before they come to visit.  I’m actually somewhat surprised that you haven’t mentioned it at any point in the past year!

My own grandparents emigrated from Germany to the U.S. in 1950.  Some of the folks that were the most helpful to them during that awful and trying time, were Jewish people who, out of the kindness of their hearts, helped them get a job and find a place to live.  If they could help Germans only five years after WWII ended, then I think your parents can manage to accept your relationship with your boyfriend.

Sometimes you need to give people the freedom to exhibit narrow-mindedness opinion.  They are allowed to be themselves, as long as they are respectful to your boyfriend.  But you know what?  You also have to give people the opportunity to rise above their prejudices, and really get to know and like your boyfriend.  If everyone else has been accepting of him, maybe they will too.

I can understand why you would want everyone to love your boyfriend, and never want to see him being judged.  And I have a feeling that if you give your parents a chance, they may surprise you.

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