Guess who’s coming to dinner?: Meeting my husband’s parents for the first time

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Being in an interracial relationship, one of the first things people ask us is “what did his parents think?”

People usually ask what they thought before asking what my parents thought. I’m not sure why, because he’s the lucky one. … I mean that in a non-conceited way. Of course I’m lucky too but when people ask me what his parents thought it comes across–to me–as if they would be the ones, if any, to disapprove. But why?

I’ll admit, I was more nervous about meeting his parents and family than I was about him meeting mine, despite my having a strict father who tried to tell me I needed to marry a “strong black man.” I knew ultimately it wouldn’t matter to them what my intended husband looked like, but how he treated me. The hesitation I felt toward meeting his family was more based on past experiences with people I was friend with, and their families reactions.

My white friends growing up didn’t always seem to have parents who would have supported them either way. I mean, maybe they would have had it come to that, but based on what I heard–Things like “it’s against the Bible to date outside your race” or “My father would not like it if I had a black boyfriend” their parents weren’t so keen on the idea.

Having been raised hearing those things in the Georgia, I never knew what to expect if a white guy were to bring me home.

So… This new boyfriend of mine–a white guy from Utah–and I, had only been dating something like a week when he told me his parents wanted to meet me. What the…?

I can’t remember asking him flat out if they knew I was black, but I knew they did. Something about the way he was so overly excited about me meeting them. I had an inkling they’d be fine with it.

It’s weird even writing this down just now. That they’d be fine with it. I wasn’t ashamed of being me, being black and who I am, but I worried about a possible supremacy attitude I sometimes saw and heard growing up in Georgia. I worried because I liked this guy so much, and I’d hate for some punk parents to screw it up for us.

“My dad is excited to talk to you about BYU.” That’s one of the only prefaces I remember him telling me before going to his house.

Ok, great. I thought. There’s at least one thing we’ll have in common.

But we actually had a lot in common.

I don’t remember much of what I talked about with my then-boyfriend’s dad, but I remember thinking he was very nice and very funny–of course still true to this day.

His mom wasn’t home during all of this, and I was actually most nervous about meeting her. I heard she grew up in Atlanta and well… I did too and I know all to well that everyone isn’t so friendly, especially when it comes to racial issues.

I’ll never ever forget the moment I met his mother. This smooth guy I was dating had an awesome idea that we should go downstairs and watch some TV white we waited for her to get home. Of all the shows he chose to watch he picked the movie Friday.

If you aren’t familiar with Friday, it’s basically a stereotypical comedy about some pot-smoking friends (Ice Cube and Chris Tucker) in an urban neighborhood avoiding drive-bys and gangster thugs. If you know me, you know this isn’t my typical choice of movie. But he’s always found this kind of stuff hilarious.

So amidst his laughter, his mom starts walking down the stairs to the basement. I tell him someone is coming–Thinking he’d get the hint to change the channel. But instead he pauses the movie. And the frame he just so happens to stop on was something between this…

And this…

So his mom, who’s never met me before joins us downstairs with a giant freeze-frame of thugness all over the big screen, and her son is hanging out, watching this with his new black girlfriend.

I’ll be honest. I don’t remember that conversation at all because I was so horrified. I’m a big believer in first impressions make a difference and I didn’t feel like that was the best one for me to give.

When she left I asked him what he was thinking… ‘Great, now your mom is going to think I’m some kind of bad influence on you.’

But he laughed it off and assured me his mom knows him and knows he watches stuff like that all the time.

It’s true. Growing up he asked his mom to buy him Snoop Dogg cassettes, and probably other hip hop and R&B music.  I’ve even seen pictures of him as a young boy, with his blond hair and pretty blue eyes wearing his wind breakers, listening to his Walkman (he says Snoop was playing at the moment) and his Paula Abdul poster hanging behind him. He’s always been very… Cultured. I guess you could say.

The following weeks I joined him and his family for Sunday dinners, and family parties. I met all of his local extended family just a week later, including his uncles, aunts, and cousins. And shortly thereafter I met his grandparents, who had just returned from a mission trip to Australia. Not one person batted an eye to the fact that he was dating a black girl. No one cared.

I even remember later having conversations with some of his family about the fact that nobody cared. I think part of it could be because religion was a more important commonality to them, but since then I’ve seen even that doesn’t make them disapprove of someone.

Looking back and remembering this experience has really made me realize not everyone has the same opinions on interracial relationships. Growing up I felt like it would be a lifelong battle if I decided to marry someone outside of my race, but luckily for me, it hasn’t been.

Sure, there are occasions where we encounter things that make us go “hmmm” but that hasn’t happened with his family. Nor with mine… But I’ll go more into my side some other time.

I know for a fact I don’t care about race in regards to who my daughter decides to date or marry. What about your children?

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  1. I want my daughter to marry a kind, caring, hard-working worthy Priesthood holder who can take her to the temple. I want my son to marry a woman who values herself, family, God and her faith. Someone who wants to be married in the temple.

    The color of their skin does not matter to me in the slightest.

  2. I’ve dated the entire rainbow and haven’t had any problems when it came to meeting the parents, thank goodness. When I met DH’s parents 10 years ago I was nervous because they were his parents and I really liked this guy, not because they were white and I was black. I guess I just didn’t expect it to be an issue for them, so it wasn’t an issue for me. I was more concerned with them having a lot of cats. lol

    My kids are going to marry awesome mates who are loving kind conscious and treat them very well. They could be yellow with green polka dots for all I care.

  3. Coming from a racially diverse families, my husband and I wouldn’t have issues with our children dating outside of their race. I dated outside of my race before but until your husband’s mom, this guy’s mom did have an issue with me having brown skin. Needless, to say I it quits before it got too serious.

  4. ditto! Our parents didn’t mind at all! my imagination took me to places though, I remember thinking before he asked me out, Does he find Black beautiful? I even lent him my copy of save the last dance just to test the waters. backfired but thats how my 15 year old self thought.silly eh? In the UK, there are racial divides but I don’t think its as tense as the USA.

  5. I’ve never dated outside of my race, but not purposefully. I find men of all races attractive. My mom pulled the “good marriages are based on similar backgrounds” talk on me in high school, quickly adding “not that I’m racist or anything.”

    To a point, I agree that relationships are easier with similar backgrounds- race, religion, socioeconomic status, etc., but love is love. When it’s the right person, nothing else matters.

  6. My husband and I share your same “makeup”. I am black he is white. We have 2 children. My husband was alone when he met my dad for the first time ( I was at a wedding rehearsal). My husband says when my dad opened the door the first thing he said to him was ” She never told me you were white”. My dad would NEVER say that in a million years! My husband still sticks to this story– he thinks it’s pretty hilarious.
    It makes no difference what color partner either of my kids choose… if they are treated with respect and love-that is all I want.

  7. My husband and I share your same “makeup”. I am black he is white. We have 2 children. My husband was alone when he met my dad for the first time ( I was at a wedding rehearsal). My husband says when my dad opened the door the first thing he said to him was ” She never told me you were white”. My dad would NEVER say that in a million years! My husband still sticks to this story– he thinks it’s pretty hilarious.
    It makes no difference what color partner either of my kids choose… if they are treated with respect and love-that is all I want.

  8. My husband is black, I’m Latina, I thought it would be an issue, my family loves loves loves him because he’s a wonderful man, and amazing father, and that’s all that matters! Hugs,

  9. My mother-n-law told me she has no problem with me being black. However my mother has a problem with my husband being white. Go figure.

  10. I have two beautiful daughters. One is white and one is black. I certainly hope that race is not on the list of concerns for either of my girls when dating/marrying!

  11. Well, I think you two are fabulous. Live your love.

    It’s so silly to me, when in fact we are living in such tough times for marriage/family that anyone would care about race. I think it’s great that people are willing to get married period!

    I remember we had kind of different experiences at the Y, but I’m glad you had a great one!

    Brian’s a great guy!

  12. It won’t matter in our family who our children date as long as they are loving, kind, respectful people to our kids and love for their Savior. My Husband’s siblings married Polynesians, and his step-mom is Filipino. We wouldn’t mind adding any other cultures to the mix because it would mean more awesome food at family get togethers. I am already looking forward to the Kahlua Pork and Lumpia at Christmas haha…

  13. I’ve been back and forth about writing a post regarding my hubby and I, and our families. As you know I’m black and he’s white. For the most part things have been ok, but there were times when I felt extremely uncomfortable. Maybe I’ll write about it one day, but if/when I do, I know there may be problems. Don’t mean to digress, I’m glad you’ve had a wonderful experience.

  14. My husband and I are more like your husband’s family, we could care less who our kids date, as long as they are nice to each other. I can see some of the older family members having issues, they’ve already remarked on some of the friends that my daughter has brought home. But, as long as she and her friends get along, I could care less what they look like. It makes me sad to know that some people get all hung up on stuff like that. Just seems a little silly to me, I mean, really, what does skin color really do? It doesn’t tell you what a person’s really like, it just tells you what they look like on the outside, and aren’t our friends/significant others supposed to be more then just about looks?

  15. It doesn’t bother our family, we are an international united nations between the Samoans, Brazilians, Japanese, English,Canadians and plain boring Kiwi; we speak 6 different languages depending on which portion you are with the slang is always different.

    All the kids are loved as individuals and love their cousins as people who are great to have fun with. For my child (and those to come) all we want is for them to love and be loved with everything they have – regardless of who/what or where the love of their life may come from.

  16. Thanks for sharing your experience.
    In my family we do have interracial marriages, and honestly no one is concerned about the color of anyone’s skin.
    As far as my child, I want him to feel free to date whoever he wants.

  17. It would not matter to me. Character, personality and morality are far more important than skin color. I would warn them that they may encounter some less than friendly reactions, but by the time my kids are grown, maybe they won’t!

  18. Our families never had issues about our relationship. It is more the outsiders that ask questions. One day a guy asked me what my parents thought when I brought a white guy home. I was thrown in the loop, because my mother never cared about colour but more about the goodness of the person.

    Maybe they would have cared a little if I married someone with a different religion.

    I have some more experiences to share on race issues, one day I will :).

  19. As a product of a beautiful biracial marriage, I can’t find anything wrong with it. I think the only negative connotation I’d have would be the fears I have attached from the experiences that my parents had (and that I had as well). Sort of like the fears you had before meeting your hubby’s parents. I have grown up in the south, and I know how hurtful people can be, on both sides of the spectrum. But, as for my family, race is of no concern when it comes to choosing a partner.

  20. Another great topic of discussion. My 15 year old daughter is now dating a young man who is European American. That being said, it is more important to me that the boys that my daughters date treat them well and love them completely, than the color that their skin happens to be. It is more important that they choose their friends, boyfriends, etc. who are good and decent people, than based on race. And speaking of race, scientifically, there is only one race….the Human Race.

  21. I want my children to be happy and loved. I also in return want to show the people they love respect and love. Both my husband and I are white but there were and still are issues with his family because I’m Canadian and they are American. I joke with my husband that they don’t like my “mud blood” but it can and is hard to deal with. I want my children to know that we love them and are a family and when they bring in their husbands and wives and children that we love all of them equally. I can’t stand the fact that my in-laws will do stuff with “just their family” and leave out spouses and grandchildren as if they aren’t really a part of their family. I grew up with and my children are also growing up with “aunts and uncles” that are our close friends but to us they are family. Family is so much more than a bloodline. It is about being loved and having people in your life who will celebrate your good times and comfort you in your bad times and in turn you will do the same for them and I know that being able to do that has nothing to do with size, shape, colour or where you come from.

  22. I didn’t know you’d been raised in GA! Wow. Now you’re married to a Utah guy. Nice!
    I am in a bi-racial marriage as well, I’m Latina and my husband is Canadian. I don’t think his mom ever thought he would marry a girl that was not white, but they’ve all come to accept me. They have an issue when I talk in Spanish with my family, but oh, well.
    I hope my daughters marry good men, good citizens, who will be good fathers. It’s so multicultural where I live, that who knows who they will fall in love with.
    I will not care what they look like as long as they are good.

  23. I loved reading this! My husband and I are just like you two. I’m black, he’s white. I had the same anxiety as you did when I met his family for the first time… but I was also pleasantly surprised by their acceptance. I grew up in a home that embraced the fact that we could date/marry anyone we wanted. Matt grew up in home where it just wasn’t discussed. So yeah, it’s been a fun journey! We’re actually expecting our first child in May…so we’ll be encouraging our kids to fall in love with whomever their heart leads them too. 🙂 Love your blog…and your daughter is so gorgeous! You must be so proud!

  24. I am now not convinced where you will be helping your details, nevertheless good matter. My spouse and i must devote more time to studying a lot more and also knowing more. Appreciate wonderful facts I’m trying to find this information for my quest.

  25. You’re so lucky you didn’t have to deal with in-law issues. My husband’s family disowned him for 5 years because he was with me, a black girl from the south side of Chicago. My husband is half Italian. It didn’t seem to matter that I was a graduate of Northwestern and in law school (exact same credentials as my husband!) We married without his parents approval or attending our wedding (which was a blast!!) and started our lives together. His father eventually invited us back into the family that Christmas after our wedding. We’ll be celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary in April and our boys 21 and 19, are loved by all of their grandparents. Guess it just takes some people a little longer to come around! 😊

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