Me and my Chinese boyfriend have been dating for six months. His parents are happy that he is dating with me and have nothing against me. This is totally different with my own parents! They cannot understand why I don’t want a western man, but prefer an Asian one. In their opinion (especially my father’s) Chinese men just keep their wives as slaves, hit them, sleep with prostitutes after work and have child-wives. I really don’t know how to make my parents to believe that my boyfriend is certainly not like this! My parents are very prejudiced against any other nationalities except our own. My mother actually dared to ask me if I was sure that my boyfriend is not engaged to some Chinese child in China!
Do you have any advise how I should cope with this situation? My boyfriend and I live in the UK, but my parents and his don’t. However my mum is coming here this summer and I’m hoping to reduce his prejudices when she sees my boyfriend 😉
I’ve written so much in the past on disapproval from Chinese parents, and it’s high time for a little balance. So here goes — parents from Western countries are just as capable of mucking up your relationship with their own prejudices and expectations. (In your case, stereotypes about Chinese men as wife-enslaving, wife-beating jerks who visit whores in the evenings and have a prepubescent girl at home awaiting their marriage. Yikes.)
Your question reminded me of something I wrote for the opposite scenario – when the Chinese parents say no to your relationship. And in fact, a lot of the same advice would work for you.
First of all, I recommended getting support from family members. Why not do the same? Contact your favorite uncles or aunts, or a sympathetic grandparent, or even a sibling – whoever you think would do a great job of convincing your parents they’re completely wrong about this guy. If you happen to have relatives in the UK that could help, now’s the time to get in touch and arrange a meeting with your boyfriend, so they can then update your parents to start slashing away at those ridiculous stereotypes.
Second, I talked about finding common ground. So think about what your Chinese boyfriend might have in common with your own parents – such as hobbies or pastimes, beliefs and values, and even shared popular culture references. Maybe he plays a fierce round of golf like your father, or studied biology just like your mother did. Perhaps he attends the same church they do, loves the same television shows or can’t get enough of the bangers and mash your parents adored when they visited London. Whatever it is, tell your parents about it. When they start imagining him doing or liking the same things they do, it’s that much harder to dehumanize him and write him off.
Third, you mentioned your mother is coming for the summer. This is the perfect opportunity – after doing the legwork suggested in my first and second points –to introduce your Chinese boyfriend to her in person, and further chip away at their crazy ideas. I’m willing to bet part of the reason your parents are prejudiced against other nationalities except yours is this – they’ve never really had the chance to know people of other nationalities. When you introduce him, he’s no longer a faceless, imaginary entity that they can just dress up in stereotypes, but instead a real live person (who – hopefully, in their eyes — comes off as a super-nice guy).
Of course, not every introduction will lead to a happily ever after. I’m reminded of what happened with Bruce and Linda Lee’s marriage. Linda’s racist mother refused to accept their relationship, so the two married without her approval. Yet years later, after Bruce and Linda had Brandon, her mother came around and reconciled with the family. Even the most resistant parents can change their minds, so don’t give up.
But let’s just hope it doesn’t take marriage and children to turn your parents around. 😉
What do you think? What advice do you have for M?
Do you have a question about life, dating, marriage and family in China/Chinese culture (or Western culture)? Every Friday, I answer questions on my blog. Send me your question today.