What Do You Do If Your Parents Don't Approve Of Your Partner?

What Do You Do If Your Parents Don't Approve of Your Partner?

I recently got an email from a Jewish woman who was agonizing because her family doesn't approve of her non-Jewish partner. She's agonizing because she loves them and wants to respect their wishes, yet doesn't think they're being particularly fair. They've even said they'd stay home from the wedding if she went through with it.

Now I may not be a parent yet, but this is not good parenting.

Good parenting means giving your children the tools to make good decisions, NOT making decisions for them.

It means understanding the fine line between their own good and bad qualities.

So if your parents are very attentive, they’re likely to be overprotective.

If they’re intelligent, they’re likely to be opinionated.

If they’re the CHOSEN people, they’re likely to look upon others as NOT chosen people.

Is it possible that I'm making your religion the unfair scapegoat for your parents’ judgment of your boyfriend? Sure. Maybe he’s a drug dealer. Maybe he’s a slacker. Maybe he’s got a tattoo of a skull over his left eye. There are some genuine concerns that parents can have about who’s dating their daughter. But in the absence of tangible “you’re hurting yourself and risking life-long sorrow” reasons?

Your parents just need to back off.

EVERY SINGLE HAPPY PERSON I KNOW is happy because of independent choices – not predetermined plans foisted upon them by overbearing parents.

When I declared in 1993 that I was cancelling my LSATs and becoming a comedy writer, my parents supported me.

When I decided I wasn’t going to pursue screenwriting anymore and that I was going to film school to be a professor, my parents supported me….

When I told them I was dropping out of film school to promote my first book “I Can’t Believe I’m Buying This Book”, my parents supported me.

That’s what good parents do. I may have broken their hearts and drained their wallets and destroyed their dreams of having a professional son, but they knew that I was driven and competent and had to find my own way. Nothing could have sown the seeds of strife MORE than putting their foot down and telling me where I was going to work and what I was going to do.

Am I concerned with what my parents think? Of course. If you love your parents, you probably want to make them happy. But once you put their happiness above your own, you’re screwed.

Good parents recognize this. Many parents don’t. They think that because they brought you into this world and sacrificed tremendously for you that they have a right to tell you how to life your life as an adult.

Uh uh.

YOU are the architect of your own life.

YOU are the one who has to live daily with the consequences of her own decisions.

YOU are the one who is in her own mind when her head hits the pillow at the end of the night.

Whatever anybody else says is irrelevant. They don’t have to live your life. You do.

Still, I’d be remiss if you thought I was suggesting that all parental wisdom is worthless. Sometimes, we are so blinded by love that we can unwillingly steer our lives into a ditch. But there’s a big difference between Mom cautioning you not to settle down with the heroin-shooting rock star and her commanding you not to marry Patrick because he doesn’t have a masters degree and his family goes to church instead of synagogue.

Only you know what your own unique circumstances are. But if your parents find it more important to be “right” than to be supportive, I feel confident that you’re better off without them on your very special day.