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Her family is full of hate

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  June 14, 2010 08:41 AM

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Good morning. Go Celtics.

Q: Hi Meredith, I have a difficult situation regarding my girlfriend.

We met nine months ago, and everything has been great. Our personalities click, we enjoy similar activities, and our friends and (my) family think we're a great match. There is only one problem: her family.

Her parents disowned her a couple years ago because they are members of a church that opposes many groups – gays, lesbians, etc. My girlfriend was raised to hate a lot of people in this world, but by the time she got to college, she began to change her views and now disagrees with most of the church's beliefs (she is no longer a member). Her parents were furious about this and disowned her. So did her brainwashed siblings. Now I know there are two sides to every story, but my girlfriend's friends have told me similar stories about how sick the parents were in terms of their beliefs, and how they brainwashed their kids to hate almost every ethnicity and minority group in the world.

My girlfriend moved hundreds of miles away to Boston two years ago for a fresh start. Even though my girlfriend grew up in an environment of hate, she is now an amazing young woman in her mid-20s who loves instead of hates. If you met her at a party you would instantly want her as a friend and you would never guess the environment she grew up in. We even have friends who are gay!

So what's the problem? Well, despite the religious differences, my girlfriend still somewhat misses her parents. She would like to patch things up with them so they can have a relationship in the future. However the parents don't want anything to do with her unless she rejoins the church and lives by their beliefs. Now I'm not a controlling person, but if I were to marry my girlfriend and have kids, I really don't want her parents to have anything to do with us. I'm half Jewish and they would never approve. I wouldn't want my kids to hear anything about their hatred. The thought of her parents meeting my loving parents makes me cringe.

So what happens if in one, two, or 10 years her parents suddenly decide they miss their daughter and want to start a relationship with her again? In that scenario, I think I would be willing to meet the parents so I can see in person if they're really as bad as everyone says, but if I hear any bigotry from them I would never talk to them again and it would probably be hard to continue a relationship with my girlfriend.

What advice would you give me Meredith?

– Dealing with Bigotry 101, Somerville

A: DWB101, my first piece of advice is to trust your girlfriend. She misses her parents -- she's human, after all -- but at the end of the day, she moved hundreds of miles to escape them and has done everything in her power to live by her own value system. Frankly, I'm not so sure that there's any chance of her parents regaining control of her life or influencing your kids if the two of you happen to procreate.

Based on what you've shared, your girlfriend wants no part of that church, and she wouldn't want to be involved with her parents other than to see them on occasion in safe spaces, to catch up on family, and know that if she called for a quick hello, they would answer. Based on your letter, my guess is that if they demanded anything more from her, she'd accept the loss of family.

You're her family now, or at the very least, you want to be. You can explain your fears and set some boundaries with her. You can tell her that you wouldn't want your kids to be alone with grandparents who hate all the things you love. You can explain your comfort zone. You can also ask her about her comfort zone and find out where she'd set boundaries.

I wouldn't be surprised if her boundaries are similar to yours. That's why she lives miles and miles away. That's why she has embraced your family. My advice is to continue to communicate so that you can navigate this issue together.

My guess is that she's going to wind up reaching out only to be disappointed by her family. Good thing you'll be there to love (as opposed to hate) when she needs help getting through it.

Readers? Is there something I'm missing? Am I underestimating the power of her parents if they reconnect with their daughter? Would you even consider meeting her family if you believed they spread hate? Should he be worried about children even though they've only been dating for nine months? What advice can you give? Talk.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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