6 Ways to Quell Parents’ Concerns about the Person You Love

How to help parents warm to someone you date, live with or hope to marry.

Posted Dec 30, 2013

Matthew Fassnacht/Unsplash
Source: Matthew Fassnacht/Unsplash

Parents may be thrilled with your choice of Ms. or Mr. Right on sight because he or she looks like or reminds them of someone they love or loved. But, they can as readily dislike them for the same reason. Parents’ emotions and expectations collide when they meet the person you love. 

For example, your parents may feel no one is quite good enough for their child. As soon as you introduce your parents to your potential life mate, objections and concerns pop into their heads—and out of their mouths:  “She’s going to raise the children how!?”  “What will the two of you live on?”  “You need to think this through, you’re both so different.” Pedigrees and charm, stability and decency, good values or depth of feeling can easily get lost or overlooked in a parent’s highly combustible and unpredictable reactions. 

Insecurities can crop up when parents feel threatened by a child’s intended spouse or partner. Someone who is smarter or prettier, more successful or more secure in his or her own skin is someone a parent may attack. This kind of response generally has more to do with your parent’s personality than the person you bring home. 

I’d Like You to Meet…

Parents handle the news very differently—by saying nothing, by being stunned or difficult, or even by hiring private investigators to find hidden chinks in Princess or Prince Charming’s armor. If you’re like most adult children, your parents’ opinion is very important to you. 

Rarely is a potential mate welcomed unconditionally without some form of massive scrutiny. More likely an inquisition will take place. It’s a good bet if your parents offer little encouragement or praise, they have strong reservations and in their withholding they are asking you to think over your decision because they are not happy with it.

Parental disapproval may be voiced in a straightforward, blanket rejection that covers their unhappiness about everything or anything from the person’s religion to shallow observations about looks and social status. Or, as happens often, your parents’ reservations could just fall into the simple category of your mate’s not being “good enough,” having no foundation in reality whatsoever.

You may tell yourself not to take your parents’ reactions to heart, but if you love and respect them, it’s hard not to listen to what they say or imply by their silence. There are those, however, who are less swayed and less inclined to have their future husband or wife satisfy their parents’ criteria or concerns.

Common Parent Concerns

  • Ethnic, religious or cultural differences
  • Differing economic background
  • Economic potential
  • Social aplomb
  • Ability to support yourselves
  • Lifestyle choices
  • Finding the “right’ person
  • Not repeating a parent’s mistakes 

Adjustment Periods

Welcoming and getting used to a new person, and ultimately accepting this person as part of the family, take time no matter how fabulous you think that person is. You are probably eager for immediate all-encompassing approval, but your parents have spent years visualizing how your adult life will be making instantaneous amity unrealistic—although some transitions are quicker and smoother than others.  

Adjustment periods come with twists and turns as the relationship between your partner and your family evolves to a satisfactory or better state.  Compromises—large and small—bring good results.

6 Ways to Quell Underlying Concerns

Here are six calming approaches to use with parents who are upset or anxious about your Prince or Princess Charming choice: 

  • Assure your parents that your partner wants them to be part of your life together
  • Encourage acceptance by letting parents know when a partner acts in a loving or supportive way
  • Keep reminding your parent how much you love this person, how happy you are
  • Find common interests between your parent and your mate
  • Keep grating issues at bay
  • Maintain a close bond with your parents so they don’t feel neglected or jealous.

Related: Nobody's Baby Now: Reinventing Your Adult Relationship with Your Mother and Father and When you Don’t Like (Or Trust) Your Parent’s New Mate           

Copyright @2019, 2013 by Susan Newman