Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: My husband is uncomfortable with our 20-year-old white son dating a black woman. When he asks why his feelings are wrong, what can I say besides, “Because they are”?
What Can I Say?
Dear What Can I Say: His view is immoral on its face to anyone who believes foremost that humans of all shapes, sizes and colors are of equal worth and deserve to be *reflexively* accepted and treated as such.
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But that’s not how he’s seeing it, obviously, so that’s not his “foremost.”
What I’d like to know, and what you need to know to go forward: What is at the front of his mind here? Is he worried this choice will make your son’s life harder? That’s the old I’m-not-a-racist-but-everyone-else-is dodge. Or was he raised amid biases he never questioned? Or is he just a freestanding bigot and circumstances never lined up in a way that revealed this to you before?
I mean, you’ve had over 20 years with the guy; I find it hard to believe there’s been no indication this was coming. At the same time, though, one’s own children and their choices can test our beliefs with a force that little else can.
So find out. You have to do better than “because they are” if you want him to do better than “uncomfortable feelings.” Ask him how he’d feel if a woman’s parents saw your son as an inferior match for their daughter based on his skin color alone. Look into your husband’s heart, and see whether he has the courage to look there himself.
Dear Carolyn: I went on a vacation years ago with one of my closest friends and her friends. On a night on the town, I was drugged and ended up being fondled and kissed by a man my group had met earlier in the day at a bar. The next day I woke up feeling so not like myself in every way imaginable.
I returned home and never said anything about the incident to my boyfriend of almost 10 years. I am now at a point in my life where I want to seriously start considering marriage, however I feel racked with guilt that I allowed myself to be put in such a precarious situation, and that I have never told the one I love. Do you think telling him this long after (almost six years) would do more harm than good?
Here’s what would do far more good than harm: Stop blaming yourself.
This did not happen to you because “I allowed myself to be put in such a precarious situation,” but because you were drugged and assaulted. That’s it. It was wrong and awful and a crime and you deserve care and support, not condemnation – primarily from yourself but from others, too, when you’re ready.
Please tell someone about this who is trained to help you. National hotlines have a mercifully low barrier to entry, since they’re free and anonymous and reputable, and hearing yourself finally say it out loud will make the next time easier. RAINN (1-800-656-HOPE) is excellent.
Discussing this crime – call it what it is – with the hotline staff will also help you decide when and how to tell people you love. Take care.
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