Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Revisiting Parental Acceptance

I’m not the only pardesi blogger dealing with this issue right now. My friend over at Me and India also recently had a life defining moment with her parents. You can read that post here

I hesitated to tell my parents how deep my relationship with my now hubby had gotten. I didn’t tell anyone in the early days. Things were pretty serious before I ever even mentioned anything to my parents at all. When I did tell them I approached my mother with the idea that I had a “friend” in India that I was going to visit. 

My mother was not happy to say the least. She immediately became concerned about whether or not he was Muslim; was he the controlling, wife-beating type; or was he going to kidnap me when I got there and she would never see me again. Of course I also got many other questions that would make anyone’s mouth drop in disbelief. I was a little surprised as my mother has been to 5 or 6 other countries in recent years. I expected her to be a little more cultured but I was wrong. 

Now that I’ve been to India and came back I’ve noticed some changes. She now has a good relationship with my husband but I’m noticing some new potential issues. My mom talks to my hubby on Facebook. They pick at each other just as if he was blood related. But I’m not sure how she will handle the relationship once he’s here and we settle into our own place. I know she won’t be against us, but I think she’s going to worry about me more than she should. 

There are a lot of unknowns that families of intercultural couples have to face. Our parents don’t always understand our feelings or our acceptance of the alternate culture. They don’t learn about the culture the way we do and they don’t see what goes on behind closed doors. So unfortunately they are left with the impression that what they see and hear from other people (and unfortunately the TV) could be real. 

In the US we have the misfortune of having Harold & Kumar and my mom thinks they are completely vile. That’s just not a good example of what Indians do and I’m not just talking about the drug use. I may have also misled my mother a little by bringing in too many Bollywood romance movies because now she thinks that all Bollywood movies are about is someone getting married lol. I guess this is still worlds better than Harold & Kumar because at least now she associates Indians with love, singing and dancing. I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t let her watch Ghajini right? I can only imagine the nightmares she would have about me going to India after that one. 

I don’t have extended family to justify myself to. I severed ties with them long ago. But I think a lot of my parents and the things they will face. When hubby comes here to live with me they will definitely face adversity from the community. My mom doesn’t care, she has the same attitude as me and will promptly tell them where to shove it or she will ignore them completely. My father will brag about us. But that doesn’t mean the morons around them won’t still try to say bad things (just like my in-laws deal with in India). 
There may be other fears as well that I just have not seen manifest themselves yet. I talk a lot about how good of a person/man/provider/etc. that hubby is and I'm hoping that helps ease some of them but I know there's going to be more adversity to face. It's difficult for me because I know my mother's upbringing, the story of her life and I know how her hometown is. There's a lot of adversity to face in all of that.

What are some issues you faced with your parents when you married inter-culturally?
How did your parents address these issues?
How did you address these issues?


  1. Harold and Kumar, though crude, opened up a huge door for South Asians to be viewed in media as something other than terrorists and corner shop owners and wacky "gurus." Show her something with Senthil Ramamurthy (Heroes?) or Aziz Ansari or Mindy Kaling or any of the other South Asians who now hold regular roles on TV.

    That said, you can't have any understanding of another culture at all via only TV and movies. That is why people in India think all white women are slutty. Because on Friends, everyone just sleeps with everyone else. So all white women must be like Phoebe and Rachel and Monica. And never mind Sex and the City.

    My family did not really have a problem as mine is not the first inter cultural relationship. It's kind of not a thing. My grandparents don't necessarily want me living in India because it is far and they worry, but I seem pretty rooted in the US for now.

  2. Thanks for the mention :-)

    I did the same by not telling anyone whilst things were getting serious, in hind sight I think that was a mistake. As far as my parents were concerned he was only a friend for almost the first year we were together, which I think adds to the fact that they freaked out so much at my other half talking about our future.

    I didn't say because I thought they would worry, it wasn't a decision I took easily either as I never keep thing from them, I still feel bad about it now :-(

  3. I think it was a mistake not telling my parents more in the beginning too. I was afraid of how they would take it and unsure of how to tell them. There were so many reasons I didn't want to tell them everything.