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My parents do not approve of my relationship. I am 23 years old and I have lived with my boyfriend (who I plan to marry) since February 2019. Since then, I am constantly getting told that this was a bad decision and I am constantly being asked by my parents to leave my boyfriend behind when I visit them (especially with holidays). I told them that for holidays this year if my boyfriend isn’t welcomed then I won’t be coming because I feel it is like me abandoning my other half because he isn’t welcomed. I am welcomed with open arms in his family, so it is hard for me to drop everything with my parents. They have belittled my decision, begged me to come home and live with them. My mother and I recently fought over whether I will be coming for Christmas. I don’t know what to do about my family anymore. I almost don’t want to speak to them anymore because nothing is ever a nice conversation- it’s always about how wrong my life is. My mother wants to see me but what I want is for her to respect my boundary. It hurts that their feelings are causing a rift between us, but my boyfriend of 1 year is my family now too. I am not just a daughter, I am someone’s significant other now. And they have not respected that part of me since day one nor have they respected my feelings about how hurt I am by how much they believe my life has gone “so wrong” according to them. Do I visit my family without my boyfriend or do I put my foot down with them and tell them that if I don’t show up for the holidays, it’s on them? Please help me. -Charity

Greetings Charity,

It can be difficult for parents to realize that their children have become adults and are in charge of their own life choices. As an adult: who you date, who you love, who you live with—these are all choices you get to make for yourself.

Your parents don’t have to approve. Frankly, if they’ve been good parents, they’ve spent many years raising you to achieve what they believe is a successful life. It sounds like they have strong opinions about what type of choices are going to lead to your long-term success and happiness and what type of choices are going to lead to failure and regret.

They might be right, and they might be wrong. It really doesn’t matter for this specific question about the holidays.

Specifically, you ask “Do I visit my family without my boyfriend, or do I put my foot down and tell them that if I don’t show up for the holidays, it’s on them?”

The answer:

It sounds like your parents have set a boundary: Your boyfriend is not welcome in their home. As much as you dislike that boundary, it’s their boundary.

Hence, it seems you have three options.

  1. You could choose to spend the holidays with your boyfriend’s family, and not see your family at all.
  2. You could choose, even though your boyfriend is not welcome, to spend the holidays with your family.
  3. You could choose to split your time. To visit your family alone, but also spend time with your boyfriend and his family.

Of course, your long-term hope is that your parents will grow to accept your boyfriend and your life choices—and see that the choices you’re making are going to lead to a happy and successful life. It seems they’re not there yet.

Charity, I hope this answer is helpful to you, or at least helps to provide some clarity.

Anthony Centore

Anthony Centore

Anthony Centore Ph.D. is Founder and CEO at Thriveworks--a counseling practice, focused on premium client care, with 80+ locations across the USA. He is Private Practice Consultant for the American Counseling Association, columnist for Counseling Today magazine, and Author of How to Thrive in Counseling Private Practice. Anthony is a multistate Licensed Professional Counselor and has been quoted in national media sources including The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and CBS Sunday Morning.

Check out “Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book” written by AJ Centore and Taylor Bennett."

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