The Delicate Relationship Between Your Parents And Career-Stifled Partner

May 15, 2018  |  
12 of 15 African American male wearing hat and grey shirt working at desk.

My parents—like all parents—worry about their kids. They want the best for me. They want me to wind up with a lifestyle that is at least as nice as the one they provided for me in my childhood, if not better. And I was fortunate enough to have a very nice childhood. I lived in a gorgeous suburban, safe, town. I went to a college preparatory high school. I was able to take piano lessons. My parents hope that I can provide my own kids with a life like this one day. So, it can be hard for them that I chose a career path that is less-than-conventional and not exactly stable. It can be even harder for them that I chose a partner with a similar path. I know we’ll be okay. My partner is incredibly talented, resourceful, and driven. He’s already making tremendous inroads into the places he needs to be. But my parents won’t believe it until we own a four-bedroom home in the suburbs, and that can put me in an awkward position sometimes. Here is a look at the delicate relationship between parents, and a career-stifled partner.

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You play up his accomplishments

My parents don’t understand the implications of certain advancements in my partner’s career. So I have to play them up, put my own spin on them, and explain them in a way my parents will understand this is a big deal. Otherwise, they don’t give him the excitement and praise he deserves when good things happen.

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And play down his disappointments

I also have to pretend my partner’s disappointments and setbacks aren’t as devastating as they seem. Since I feel like I’m already constantly pushing away my parents’ doubts, I can’t give them anything else to worry about.


He doesn’t want to visit when he’s down

When my partner is going through a slow time or a rough patch, he doesn’t want to come home with me to visit my parents. He’d just rather not face their line of questioning. It’s hard for me, but I get it.

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He asks you to keep information from them

Sometimes my boyfriend asks me to keep certain information about how his career is going, from my parents. He just knows it will worry or upset them. I understand his point of view but, sometimes, I also just really want to tell my parents what’s happening in mine—and my boyfriend’s—life. And I hate secrets.

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You warn them not to say anything discouraging

When I bring my boyfriend home to see my parents, I call them in advance and softly request that they not say anything negative or discouraging about his career. Yes—this call is necessary.


Sometimes, you tell them not to mention his work at all

Sometimes, when my partner has to come home with me (say for a major holiday), but things aren’t going well with his work, I set a “No work talk” rule with my parents.

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You argue about them believing in him

My parents’ doubts about my partner’s career path really anger me. They are the cause of many of our arguments. I love him so much and am protective of him—and I wish my parents would encourage him the way I do.


You apologize for your parents a lot

I often have to apologize to my boyfriend, for my parents’ comments. Sometimes, they’re not as sensitive as they could be when he’s going through a hard time, nor as encouraging as they could be during his victories. My parents don’t even realize I make apologies for them.


His parents can resent yours’

Word gets back to my boyfriend’s parents that my parents aren’t always very positive about his career. And since his parents are protective of him, too, this information can make them resentful of my parents.

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You assure them you can take care of yourself

I have to assure my parents over and over again that I can take care of myself—that my bank account is in good condition and that my financial needs are being met. For some reason, I have to assure them of this more than I did when I was single.


You can feel they’re being sexist

I get a little upset that my parents are so concerned with how my partner’s finances will affect me. It’s a bit sexist—he isn’t expected to take care of me.


Sometimes, you avoid their calls

There are some weeks when I just avoid my partner’s phone calls. I don’t feel like telling them what’s going on at that time. I don’t have the heart to lie, or hear their judgmental words.


You twist your parents’ words

I usually need to twist my parent’s words. After a dinner when they said some questionable things to my partner, I need to lie to him, and tell him he just misunderstood them.


You wish they’d drop it and see that you’re happy

Can’t my parents see that I’m happy? I become pretty upset sometimes that they don’t look at the bigger picture and see that I am happy—that my choices are making me smile every day.


You wish they’d see him for more than his career

I also really wish my parents would see my boyfriend for more than what he does for a living. He is so much more—he is caring, generous, gentle while strong, compassionate, and hilarious. He does take very good care of me in the ways that count.

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