Dear Thelma: My parents disowned me over my relationship with Mr Right


I AM 28 years old. I consider myself successful as I have excelled both academically and professionally.

I have a Master’s degree from a prestigious university and am currently holding a managerial position in a top corporate company. This is my first time working abroad, away from home.

I started dating a few months ago. I got to know my boyfriend when I was doing my Master’s. He is four years older than me and is also well accomplished. We have never dated anyone before and we are each other’s first love. We were friends for two years before we started dating.

My parents have been very protective of me since young. I was a very obedient and studious child.They met my boyfriend once and have since disapproved of our relationship, to the extent of disowning me. We were both inexperienced in dating, and we were both very nervous during our first meetup with my parents. My boyfriend behaved quite awkwardly during the meeting. They think that we are not compatible and that I deserve someone better and richer.

My boyfriend has a close girl friend, A, who is very much older than both of us. They used to travel together once a year.
I’ve met her in person before, and I can tell that he only treats her like an elder sister. My parents knew about the existence of A (judging from the pictures from his publicly set Facebook profile) even before we started dating, and are worried that he is a playboy. Their impression of him was not very good even before we became an item. I have to admit that I had the same negative impression of him initially but not anymore. I trust him fully after meeting A.

How do I make my parents accept him? I do not know what to do.

We are both on par in terms of education level, religion and professional and educational qualifications.

I love both my parents and boyfriend very much. Please help.


You’re an adult, clever, successful and you’ve fallen in love with a man who makes you happy. Your parents want you to hold out for a man with more money. And unless you toe their line, they don’t want to talk to you.

If you want to have your parents in your life, you’ll have to do some deep thinking.

First, we’re not living in the stone age. Why didn’t you date?

Marriage is for life and as relationships are difficult to manage, dating gives us an opportunity to learn to manage our relationships and to figure out what we want. You were deprived of that opportunity. Why?

Second, disowning family is an extremely serious move. It’s usually a matter of self-protection where individuals who are violent, abusive or who embroil them in endless criminal matters due to addiction or other issues are kept at a distance.

You are none of those things.

When a child dates a partner parents don’t think is suitable, a loving parent speaks up and offers an opinion and advice. But an adult doesn’t have to take that advice.

If the child goes ahead, a loving parent stays close and hopes that they were wrong. And if they were right, sticking around means they’re there to help pick up the pieces. That’s what love is about.

Your parents use the withdrawal of affection as a weapon. That is not right. Do your parents make a habit of using nuclear options in order to make you toe the line?

Think about these issues. Ask yourself, if one of your staff told you this story, what advice would you give them?

My advice would be this. As the way your parents handled this suggests unhealthy control strategies and emotional abuse, I think you need to gear up and fight this battle.

If you roll over now, your parents will ruin your relationship with your boyfriend. They’ll also bully you for life.

Stand firm. Tell them they can be polite to your partner or absent from your life. They’ll scream and try to bully you. Don’t give in. See this as an exercise where you reset your relationship. You’re an adult and you deserve common courtesy and basic respect.

Most likely, they’ll cave when they see they can’t bully you. When they do, be pleasant but make it clear they’re to behave themselves. If they’re rude to your partner, withdraw and give them a time out. It’s a shame to have to treat adults like naughty children but it’s effective.

Look, reading between the lines, I suspect you’ve had a lifetime of indoctrination that tells you you’re inferior. That’s a big legacy to overcome, so this bit of advice may give you the shivers.

Talk it over with your boyfriend. If you need more input, pick a therapist who is skilled in dealing with emotional abuse issues.

Also, make lots of friends. Life is challenging and friends who support you make a big difference. As you’re abroad, join expat groups, sports clubs and go out and mingle. As a plus, it will take your mind off this fight.

Above all, trust yourself and look out for yourself. Because you deserve to be happy.

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