As the product of not only a bi-racial marriage (Black and White) but also a cross-religion union (Christian and Jewish) I always looked at my life as being blessed. I have the ability to live in multiple worlds at the same time. For those who are coming into a new cross-cultural relationship however, the holidays can be stressful.
These 5 steps will help you meet the parents and make a good impression even if you are coming from separate worlds.
1. PREPARE YOUR PARENTS – Give your parents advance notice about what to expect. Make sure that you highlight the benefits of getting to experience your partner’s culture instead of allowing them to focus on the differences. Then, ask ifthere is anything you can do to make sure that the introduction goes smoothly for them.
2. UNDERSTAND ONE-ANOTHER’S CULTURES –You need to make an effort to understand what your partner is about. Don’t be afraid to ask questions like “Why do you wrap your hair at night?” or “How come you don’t eat fish on Fridays?” Your partner might not even realize that you do not understand certain behaviors because it is something they have always done and if you can’t ask the tough questions of them, you’ll never be able to have a deep, open relationship.
3. KNOW HOW YOU WILL HANDLE HATERS – People are going to talk, look, and make assumptions about you somewhere you go in the world. Discuss your feelings with your partner about being with someone of a different background and acknowledge their feelings as well so that you can respond as a united front if or when you meet resistance from the outside world.
4. NO NAME CALLING – I have heard slurs and labels that initially were thrown about in relationships in jest turn into real issues and hurt feelings. No matter how comfortable you get with your partner’s culture, boundaries with name calling are tenuous and you risk injuring them and the relationship if you use them incorrectly or at the wrong times. Safest to just avoid them altogether.
5. BRING A PEACE OFFERING TO HOLIDAY DINNER– Bringing a dish to pass that introduces your family to your partner’s culture and includes them in the cross-cultural experience will endear them to your mate and make them curious to learn more. Try to choose a dish that will have similar to ingredients to what they are used to eating so you can ease them into the cuisine.
Watch Damona’s Facebook Live chat with PBS on Overcoming Holiday Dating Drama on their Facebook Page www.facebook.com/tptrewire