Monday, April 2, 2012

Does Your Family Choose Who You Love?

As much as we'd hate to admit it, family, in some way, influences the decisions we make. No matter how old we get.

As children, we look to our parents and other family members to guide us on the road to adulthood. How we dress, how we speak, what we think. Our beliefs are shaped by the experiences of those wise in their years. Why? Because as blank sheets, we have to learn how the world works.

Then we hit the dreaded teenage years. Our desire to become individuals, independent of those who taught us, and stand out from our peers emerges. What we now think, feel, and believe does not always coincide what we were taught. Our style of dress, word choices...our minds are now our own. Our personal experiences begin to break the mold of what we were taught.

But what about our beliefs? By beliefs, I'm not refering to religious ones, because everyones personal beliefs are their own. The beliefs I'm refering to are what determines who we fall in love with.

No matter where you go in the world, race - in some places more than others - is an issue. Who you decide to become friends with and whom you fall in love with is influenced by those closest to you. If the one your heart guided you to is not of the same race, the relationship may be frowned upon. Family, friends, and society as a whole often feel they have the right to give you their opinions.

But what about your opinions? At what point do you put your foot down and go with your heart?

Nearly everywhere you look, families of mixed races can be found. The reactions to interracial relationships depends on where you live. The youth of today have learned to embrace the racial and cultural differences between them and their school mates. They look at the quality of a person and ignore skin color. I applaud this. What remains of prejudice comes from older people who are set in their ways, or from young ones who are still living under the raciest influence of those around them. When it comes to finding love, your heart should be your guide. Not family, not friends, not the people in the town you live in.

Family influence is a subject that is brought up in A Heart Not Easily Broken. Ebony Campbell comes from a black family in North Carolina. Her family has taught her to be open minded, to never judge anyone because of the color of their skin, and to make her own decisions. Ebony's parents are in their late 50's and grew up when racial relations were tense. Their experiences taught them that races don't mix when it comes to family. The constantly try to introduce her to every available black bachelor, which causes Ebony to be warry about getting involved with a man of any other race than her own.

Brian Young sees things differently. Growning up in southern California, he comes from a very liberal family. He has been taught to see a person for who and what they are, no matter what race. When Brian meets Ebony, he is interested in who she is as a woman, the color of her skin only intrigues him. Brian has to work to break down the barrier Ebony sets up and convience her he has more to offer than just friendship. When their relationship progresses to more, Ebony must chose. Does she allow how her family will feel about her dating a white man cause her to loose the happiness she has found?

Here's this week's question: Does your families' opinions continue to affect the major decisions in your life? Where do you draw the line?

9 comments:

  1. Wonderful post! Personally, I believe we are of one race: Human. That is the way I was raised, that is the way I have raised my children and that is the way my daughter is raising my grandson. As a matter of fact, as a 10 year old boy raised this way, he thinks everybody thinks the way he does; the way his mom does, the way I do. I can only pray he is not negatively affected by others' ignorance as he gets older.

    As a single woman, I date people of all financial, cultural and racial backgrounds. I don't see anything wrong with that as I feel everyone has something special to offer. Some of my friends only date within their racial/cultural backgrounds and have expressed concern about how I deal with their families' potential opposition. Interestingly enough, I have only encountered that within my own culture.

    Some of my friends have gone so far as to ask "what's wrong" with me for not sticking to "one kind".

    My response, "I don't care what you think." Bottom line is I've never been one to worry too much about what people think about my choices in men.

    So, to answer your question: no, my family's opinion does not affect my final decision, particularly when it comes to dating; and where do I draw the line? I draw the line the minute the question or opposition is presented.

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  2. I think our family influences us even on a sub-conscious level. Fortunately, I had a very positive upbringing and was raised to think independently. Nice thought-provoking post. ~ Peggy

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  3. I'm white, for the record, and with an old-school family. And it's rather disheartening when I realize that neither my family nor most of my friends ever liked it if I didn't date a "nice Jewish boy". I got "Stick with your own kind!" regularly, and still do.

    I don't look at color; I'm friends with and have dated across the spectrum, from Aussie to Jamaican. If someone intrigues me, it's because of who he is as a human being, not as a skin color. My friends (and relationships) are of every color of the rainbow - what, then, am I not supposed to enjoy their personalities, their ability to make me laugh, them being there for me because their skin contains more melanin than mine? Seriously. It makes no sense.

    I tell anyone who has a "date your own kind" opinion to never speak to me again. Yes, I lost friends over it, but I'm hardly one to care. If the next person I fall in love with happens to be black, then you know what? That's what it is. I'm not going to give up a good thing because someone else's mouth is flapping.

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  4. Jamallah BergmanApril 2, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    When I was growing up, I lived mainly within a spectrum of races and nationalities and cultures so I've always treated people like they have always wanted to be treated....with honesty and respect. I've always been attracted all races of men throughout my teenage years but being the way I have always been (extremely shy) I honestly have never had that chance to date anybody during my teenage years.

    My mom always wanted me to be happy which is something that she knows I totally deserves after all that I've been through over the years. As far as influence from her or the rest of my family as far as who I date, they can't tell me what my heart will know when I meet that special someone.

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  5. great question. I care what family (and friends too) think of my choices, but over the years have gained the self-confidence in most situations to know what is best for me and to trust they will support me.
    That said, even up to the time my mom died just a few years ago and well into my adulthood, I sometimes kept things from her rather than debate when I suspected she would not approve

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  6. Thank you, ladies, for taking the time to post your thoughts and experiences. I like the fact this subject matter, although sensitive to some, has began a dialogue. Hearing someone else say they follow their heart and not their families advice all of the time can be encouraging to those who feel restricted by family pressure. Please, share this blog with others so we can keep the conversation going!

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  7. I've always been friends with people of all races, religions, and colour. And yes, some people in my extended family still hold to the 'stick to your own kind' mentality. Or, what you get in the Indian-origin community = a relative's son/daughter is with someone from another race, and your family is 100% behind it. But if you are with someone from another race, prepare for WWIII, because that is simply 'not done in OUR house!' See the double standards here? It's okay for 'others' but not for 'you'.

    The two times I've been in a serious relationship, I've definitely gone against my family. My first husband was half-White, so that meant he had 'corrupt morals'! My second, and current, husband, is of the same race but has darker skin than I do, so that was a point of contention too. We won't mention the over-the-spectrum dating here, because 'good girls don't date' - they simply get engaged after one under-the-lashes look at a boy across the parents' living room. :)

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