What to Do When a Parent or Parents Object to a Prospective Mate?

Why Parental Objections

  • Concern that your choice is not right for you. Remember, they know you, your quirks, strengths, and weaknesses. Hence, they can see a bumpy road ahead.
  • Concerned for your safety. In some manner, they may be aware of unseeing behaviors, have observed anger, or you are shutting down under certain circumstances.
  • They may have observed your behaviors or interactions, raising red flags.
  • Your prospective mate may not have related well to and respected them, which is a red flag—he/she will not respect you.
  • They might disapprove that you are marrying someone from outside of your cultural or religious background; that is, they may have serious questions about this person’s relationship with Jesus.
  • They may have observed a lack of respect for appropriate boundaries. 

What to Understand

Parental disapproval is almost always rooted in genuine concerns. Once a young person senses or is fully aware of parental disapproval, they terminate the discussion. This is a serious error. Conversely, parents tend to lecture, even get angry, and express their distaste in distasteful language. In doing so, they lose any chance of influencing the young person.

What to Do

Talking and listening to one another rather than accruing and defending is essential. Praying together and individually is an absolutely necessary ingredient to resolving this issue. Practicing the fruit of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5: 22-27) along with affirmation are the tools that facilitate talking, listening, and raising questions to be pondered.

Parents need to make every effort to get to know the individual their child wishes to marry as early as possible in the dating/courtship process. Doing so is not tacit approval but an intelligent approach to evaluate and lay a foundation for the future relationship. 

Maintaining a good relationship will more likely enable parents to request premarital counseling.

When the Decision Is Made

In the final analysis, parents should be committed to accepting this person if their child is determined to marry them. It is not necessary to like the person, but it is necessary to love the person. Remember, Paul, exhorts us, as does Jesus, to love our adversary. 

 If the parent’s fears prove correct, their child will need their support and have the confidence that they are loved and can seek assistance. Furthermore, this person will be the parent of the grandchildren. An adversarial relationship will ensure that the parents have no influence on the grandchildren. Parents must keep the big picture and the long view in view. They can best do so by truthing in their sovereign, loving, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent Father in heaven.

When Godliness Reigns, Marriages Flourish

Some thirty-plus years ago, a couple came to my office. Both were aeronautical engineers employed by the Lockheed Corporation. He was Korean, and she was American Caucasian. They were both believers in Jesus Christ. They both were members of a conservative Presbyterian Church. They came for premarital counseling after a year of dating. They were both in their early thirties. Even though there were two cultures involved, there were no red flags, but one. His father was very opposed to the marriage because she was an American Caucasian.

They very much desired the parent’s blessing and were willing to postpone the marriage and work with me to seek a godly resolution. They willingly followed the pathway outlined which concluded with inviting his parents to join in the counseling. It was a pleasant surprise when his father agreed.

His father was a first-generation immigrant and very attached to his culture. However, we developed mutual respect and spoke very frankly. After three meetings that, in many ways, were Bible studies on how Jesus takes down racial barriers, his father conceded with words along these lines. “I still don’t like it, but as a Christian, I can see that it is not sinful. I will have to learn to live with it.”

While not every situation will be favorably resolved, walking a godly pathway will at least give the couple peace of mind that they have done all they can do in a godly manner and will need to choose to love their parents while they move forward with their marriage. Such a pathway, though painful and will continue to be painful, keeps the way open for the parents to repent and begin to build a relationship. The coming of grandchildren may be the catalase. 

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