Posted on August 18, 2021

Help! My Daughter Is Marrying a White Man Against My Wishes.

Jenee Desmond-Harris, Slate, August 14, 2021

Recently, I learned that my adult daughter was getting married within the year. I was surprised to learn this because I knew nothing of her dating anyone, let alone seriously enough that marriage was in the near future. I’ll admit my daughter and I are not as close as we could be, not since her mother and I divorced when she was a preteen and I moved out of state. Our contact was more limited after I remarried, but I still thought she would inform me of her beau. I arranged a trip to go visit her and see him in person. I was taken aback to learn her fiancé is a white man; she is black. I didn’t say anything at the time, but after I left and thought about it, I felt I should talk to her about it. While the man seemed nice enough, I felt she didn’t know what she was getting herself into.

I gave her a call and expressed my concerns, trying to make sure I wasn’t being judgmental. However, my daughter became angry and argued it wasn’t my business since I’m not a part of her life. She also said that if I didn’t agree with this, she could comment on my marrying a younger woman while forgetting about her growing up. She hung up and later sent a text telling me that I was perfectly free to skip the wedding if I felt so strongly about it. She even went as far as to say that if I had been a better example of a black man, she might not have gone for my “physical opposite.” Honestly, I largely don’t want to go to the wedding not only because I don’t approve of the relationship but her disrespectful attitude. I’m worried that if I don’t, though, it’ll solidify a strained relationship. What should I do?

— Hurt but Concerned

Dear Hurt,

My advice boils down to this: Stay in your lane. And the name of the lane is: Absentee father.

A lot of people would say one of the problems here is that you care about her fiancé’s race at all. But I don’t agree. I can see a Black father who is close to his daughter reasonably saying, “Oh wow, he’s white? Just checking, how does he feel about raising Black children? Have you two talked about what you’ll do when racism inevitably rears its head in your lives? What has he said about how his relatives will treat you?” In that sense, I don’t think it’s totally inappropriate to express concern. But it’s a weird thing to do if you haven’t shown the same kind of care about other issues in your daughter’s life. I also think it’s strange that you brought it up after having a chance to meet the guy, feel out his vibes, ask him questions and get to know who he was as a whole person, not just a white person. Taking all that together, I’m not at all surprised that she’s upset by the combination of your absence in your life (which has obviously hurt her) and your misguided comments.


The way forward is to apologize for overstepping and assure her that you would love to attend the wedding if she can forgive you. {snip}