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Colour of love

Published:Tuesday | March 23, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Dear Counsellor,

Q I AM a 21-year-old Jamaican female pursuing a tertiary education in the United Kingdom. While studying for the last three years, I try to keep a close relationship with my parents - using the phone and the Internet - as they cannot afford to fly me home as often as I wish.

The telephone arrangement has been working quite well, as my parents are kept abreast of everything at school and my personal life. They are very proud of me. There is one thing I am afraid of letting them know though. I have recently begun a relationship with a classmate of mine. My parents know him as they have visited and met my classmates, as we are not a big department. I do not know how accepting they will be of me having a Caucasian boyfriend. They have known me to be in relationships with guys of African and Caribbean descent.

My parents are cool and accepting people, but I am just unsure about this. I am usually open with them, but I wonder if I should keep this relationship secret for now. What should I do?

A Congratulations on pursuing your tertiary education, and it is also good your parents are proud.

It seems you are uncomfortable with a relationship with a Caucasian guy and projecting those fears on your parents. It is natural to have jitters and wonder if others will be accepting.

You described your parents as 'cool' and had no problems relating to them, and you did not mention they were racially prejudice or made inappropriate racial comments; then it appears you do not have a serious worry.

Did your parents relate to persons of other ethnicity in a prejudicial way? If not, it should not be a problem to relate your feelings and the possible development.

If you are unsure of this fellow, you do not have to tell your parents at the beginning as you sort out your emotions and feelings. However, if he is courting you with a desire to making a commitment, and you are considering it, then it is time to talk.

Sometimes, young people feel it is only the two persons in love that matter, not realising it is two families coming together with their different personalities, differing value systems and experiences. Therefore, whenever you feel you know this guy long enough and well enough and it has the potential to become a steady relationship, then it is time to share with your parents.

If you have apprehensions about your parents' reaction, then speak to one first, that is, the one you have a better relationship with or the one whom you feel will better understand and be more accommodating to your boyfriend. That parent can then tell the other.

You did not mention if you have met his parents or other significant persons in his life and if they are accepting of you. It is also important to discern what his side of the family's attitudes are. Do they feel superior to other races? Were they brought up in a multiracial environment, neighbourhood, school and church? Have they been to Jamaica or other Caribbean territories? Having ascertained their values and attitudes, you will be better able to answer questions your parents might have concerning his side of family.

Based on your letter, it seems you can trust your parents when the right time comes, and if considering commitment.

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