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posted: 1/19/2013 11:12 AM

A mother's racism is affecting her daughter's wedding hopes

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Q. I'm very lucky to be with the most supportive, kind, brilliant, hardworking, and genuine person I've ever met. We've been together more than a year, and discuss getting married.

My mother, however, has been extremely negative because I am white and my boyfriend is African. My mom agrees he's a great guy, but she remains judgmental. She makes a big deal of keeping our serious relationship "secret" from extended family. She genuinely thinks it would cause my grandmother, already dealing with multiple illnesses, horrible emotional pain if she found out.

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This puts me in the position of having to put my plans aside for my family's racism and small-mindedness. And it's unfair to my boyfriend, who has always been wonderful to me and my family.

I would elope, but he really wants to have a wedding. How am I supposed to plan one when my mother is openly racist and my grandmother would apparently be devastated?

L.

A. Your mother has put you in a position of having to select from a menu of unappealing choices, not "of having to put my plans aside for my family's racism." That's something you've done by choosing that dish from the menu.

Other dishes to choose from:

• ignoring your mother's wishes, involving your boyfriend (with his informed consent) in your extended family as you would any other boyfriend and letting the pearls get clutched as they may;

• having the wedding he wants, but without your family;

• severing ties with Mama over her hateful and selfish stance;

• or giving her a chance to choose between accepting your boyfriend and remaining in your life, or rejecting him and losing you.

All these too severe for you? OK, it's your prerogative to find them so and veto accordingly. You can also choose to discuss each of them with this wonderful man and devise a course of action together, one that draws from your combined wisdom and addresses both of your needs.

Even if that brings you right back to your decision to defer indefinitely to your mom's racism, then at least you'll know it was your decision and so will he.

Q. My husband and I have been struggling with whether to have a baby. We're sort of at loggerheads about it, and it's clear one of us is just going to have to give in to the other. I know it's wrong to force someone to have a baby; is it equally wrong to force someone not to?

If I decide not to, how do I make peace with that, versus blaming him? (I don't want to leave him.) Thanks.

Tough Decision

A. It's not equal, because forced childlessness doesn't create an innocent baby unwanted by one of his parents.

I wish there were some way to make this fair, but there isn't one. If your husband will not get fully behind the idea of dedicating himself to a child, then you have to decide: him or children.

Choosing him does mean, though, that he's not the one forcing childlessness anymore, it means you're choosing it fair and square. If you must, blame fate for not rolling the man you love and an eager father into one guy. Owning that is how you get your peace.

• Email Carolyn at tellmewashpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

2013 The Washington Post

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