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Part of being in a relationship means occasionally watching things you may not ordinarily watch. “Real Housewives of Atlanta” would happen to be one of those things. Every Sunday evening, my girlfriend is planted in front of the TV for 60 minutes and occasionally I’ve “glanced over” to take a look and largely found myself unmoved by the theatrics. One thing that did catch my eye, though, was the relationship between Kandi, Todd, and Mama Joyce. Having watched Mama Joyce and the antics she’s pulled on Todd over the last few weeks, the theme of my responses have always been the same.

“Tuh. Couldn’t be me.”

My official stance on all parental interactions is that I don’t go out of my way to appease them. I’m an adult. They’re adults. At a very basic level, there needs to be a fundamental foundation of respect. I’m always courteous, respectful, and acknowledging of the role my girlfriend’s parents play in her life, but respect travels both ways. When it comes to dealing with parents who won’t stop interfering in their adult children’s lives, (particularly if that interference has to do with the woman I’m dating), I either 1) I leave it up to my girlfriend in hopes I never have to say or do anything, 2) I make ONE good faith based effort to try to clear up any misconceptions, or 3) I cut off all ties with that particular parent and, if necessary, the girlfriend in question. Here’s why.

Firstly, it’s up to my girlfriend to mediate any situation that deals with the relationship between myself and her parents. I’d prefer it happened before it’s brought to my attention. Those are HER parents. These are the people that raised and cared for her, so she is the one who has to maintain the relationship. Her parents are permanent fixtures in her life and our time together could very well be a temporary one. Since she’s stuck in that situation, I believe it best to avoid dealing with it. The issues between her parents and I, might not have anything to do with me, in particular. Knowing that I may never know for sure, I just don’t think it’s my place to be involved. (This is assuming I haven’t done anything. If I have done something, then my feelings on this change.)

If that doesn’t work, I’m always willing to speak to her parents or go out with them so they can get to know me. That doesn’t mean I’m down for interrogations or putting on a front to appease anyone. As stated earlier, I’m always courteous and respectful to parents because I would want the same courtesy and respect shown to mine. If there are any misconceptions that need to be cleared up, I’m happy to do so. The conversation between her parents and I needs to be one of three adults engaged in a regular conversation. I’m not going to be interrogated by anybody.  At this point, her parents are technically strangers and they have no more right to that information than any random person on the street. This is supposed to be a “getting to know me” talk, not a “vet him to see if he’s good enough for our daughter,” talk.

Lastly, this paragraph is for the “Mama Joyce’s” of the world. In extreme circumstances like this, the actions of the previous two paragraphs have been exhausted and now a choice has to be made. If I were the Todd in a situation like that, I’d seriously consider walking away from Kandi. I don’t have patience for being constantly disrespected every time I’m in the presence of someone else, no matter who it is. If my lady was there to witness the disrespect and said nothing, or spent more time trying to discuss the situation with me than the person who was actually agitating the situation, it’d be problematic. I’m dating “Kandi.” Not her mother. If she can’t stop her mother from interfering in our relationship while we’re dating, I don’t have any faith she’d be able to stop that interference if we got married. The thought of being entrenched in a war with someone’s mother who dislikes me for the entirety of our time together isn’t something I’m interested in. So either she has to go or I do. And being that she’s a permanent fixture (being her mother and all) I’d just remove myself.

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