Parental approval matters more to some than it does to others, and as we get older, it probably changes. When I was a teenager, I couldn't have cared less what my father thought of my boyfriends (and he mostly wasn't fond), but as I got older, it did start to matter, especially as I started to think about marriage.
My father to this day will often launch into tirades against one man I dated very seriously in college and I typically ignore him, remembering how smart he was to keep that disapproval to himself when it mattered. Because what is the quickest way to make a teenage girl looooove a boy? Tell her that her parents hate him!
Consider the recent case in Germany where a father disapproved so much of his 17-year-old daughter's relationship with a 57-year-old man that he castrated him. OK, so my dad wasn't that crazy, but there is nothing wrong with a dad (or mom) wanting the best for their child (and not wanting her to be with a creepy old man).
Some parents have unrealistic expectations, of course. If he must be the same religion, have at least a master's, earn more than $100K at 25, and be highly ambitious, then mom and dad are not leaving a lot of wiggle room. After all, people grow and change and the qualities that a man (or woman) possesses at 24 are likely not exactly the same ones he or she will possess in 10 years.
Of course wanting your daughter to be with a kind, age-appropriate man who will be faithful and be a good dad isn't really that much to ask. But do you trust your parents to make that decision?
My father, for instance, would likely only be suitably impressed with a man just like him -- ambitious, well-educated, successful, passionate about his work, same religion (but not actually religious), politically active on the right (actually left) side, able to think outside the box, and highly intelligent. But because I grew up looking up to my dad, that is pretty much what I looked for anyway, minus a couple things (like religion).
Sure I went through my fair share of men who were nothing like that, but in the end, I chose a man who matched those values closely -- and was kind and loyal, to boot! My dad was wise to keep his trap shut. After all, arranged marriage in the US is not all that common among native born Americans. We usually pick our own spouses.
Parents need to hang back and trust that you instilled your children with the values to pick a mate that makes sense. Because the second you come down too hard (castration? Seriously?), you have already lost the battle.
What about you? How important was your parents' approval to choosing a spouse?
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