I am secretly engaged to my boyfriend of two years and I am getting into a panic about introducing him to my parents. I’ve kept our relationship secret because my father is a snob, while my mother goes along with him for the sake of a quiet life. My boyfriend is what they would call lower class because he didn’t go to a private school, his parents have modest jobs and they rent rather than own their home. My parents on the other hand have a detached house with a drive in Kent. My father went to a snooty private school, is now a QC, while my mother is a lady who lunches and does charity work.
I admire my boyfriend hugely because he is the first in his family to go to university – he got a first in engineering and has a job working for a large company.
None of that will count for my father. I couldn’t bear living with his snobbishness and left home as soon as I could. I teach at a nursery school which they think is pretty poor show and my father keeps asking why I want to wipe children’s noses all morning.
Despite this deep down I want them to accept my boyfriend and me for who we are. Any ideas how I can go about it?
First of all congratulations on getting engaged to someone you love and admire, despite having grown up immersed in your father’s snobbish attitudes. As your father has not recognised your training or profession either it’s unlikely that he will accept you or your fiancé for who you are and what you both stand for. Keeping your boyfriend and parents apart must mean you knew your parents wouldn’t change their attitudes. It’s a shame but not surprising you find yourself in this difficult position.
We recommend that you open up about the problem and share your views and concerns about your parents with your fiancé and how they are their likely to respond when they meet him. At the same time reassure him of your love and future plans together. Then work out a strategy for how to introduce him to your parents. You have several options and go for the one that is likely to cause least upset. You could, for example, work towards announcing your engagement by gradually letting them know that he exists and subsequently that you are getting close. Or you can go head on and tell them you are engaged.
Whatever plan you make, you know they are not going to be thrilled and so steel yourself to any criticism. Hopefully they will at least behave well in front of your fiancé. If they don’t you have every right not to allow them to be offensive and calmly leave, start to distance yourself from them and feel proud that you have decided to live your life your way.