Ask Richard: A Young Woman, a Muslim Boyfriend, and Two Hysterical Parents

Dahlia wrote a long and eloquent letter which I have edited and paraphrased for space reasons. For greater anonymity, I have changed her name.

Dear Richard,

I’m an 18 year old girl from Sweden and I’m in my last year in high school. I’m not really an atheist myself, but I have read Friendly Atheist for quite a while now and know that you give good advice. I’ve always found ways to solve my problems myself, but this is such a difficult problem at least for me.

You see, two years ago I met the most wonderful guy and we’ve been together ever since. He is the sweetest person and a really great guy who has been with me despite a lot of hardships, and if it isn’t already obvious I love him very much. The problem is that he is a Muslim and I come from a deeply fundamentalist Christian home. (Yes, we actually do have a few fundamentalists up here.) I’m not a fundamentalist myself, but my parents are, and they aren’t too happy about my choice of boyfriend.

They have grilled and browbeaten her, using emotional blackmail and have turned her younger sister and the whole family against her. They act distraught and say she’s “ruining their lives.” They have never met the young man, but they use the Bible to qualify their hatred for him. They have even mentioned committing suicide. The mother becomes hysterical and sometimes disappears from the house, forcing the father to go out searching for her.

Her grandmother has met him and thinks he’s a really great guy, saying she understands why Dahlia loves him.

Dahlia has tried to hold her own with her parents, presenting logical arguments to reassure them, but they are relentless in their irrational loathing and disapproval. She is still financially dependent on them and doesn’t really want to lose her family. Without the moral support of two friends, she thinks she would have broken up with her boyfriend just to have peace.

I’m under no delusion that my relationship with him will last forever anyway, but this isn’t really about him for me, it’s really about my own personal freedom, my right to write my own future free of my parents’ expectations and prejudices. Not that they could technically stop me, but I don’t want to hurt them. I don’t even want to think what would happen if on top of all this, they realized how I’m finding it harder and harder to believe in God, especially a personal one, but that’s a problem for another day.

I guess my question is how can I gain my freedom to follow my own path through the strange and varied forest that is life instead of the path of mundane predictability neatly laid out before me by my parents, without losing them, when rational arguments cut no ground and the Bible, which really isn’t on my side, reigns supreme?

I wish to extend my most gracious thank you in advance for helping people whom you don’t even know and likely never will know with problems which are none of your concern. So thank you for that, it is most altruistic.

Dahlia

Dear Dahlia,

Your parents are acting like little children. They appear to be far younger emotionally than you are. When grownups act like children, others can easily slip into acting like parents in response. It is important for you to respond to them as an adult but not as a parent. That would be stepping into a trap.

All these histrionics and other manipulations by your parents fall under the category of emotional blackmail, just as you have correctly labeled it. The basic idea is to try to get you to take responsibility for their hurt feelings and upset, and then use your guilt to make you comply with their wishes. In their more extreme attempts, they escalate to trying to get you to take responsibility for their actual safety, as if they are helpless children and you are the parent. This is the dynamic underlying the oh, so melodramatic tactics such as their remarks about suicide and your mother’s disappearing out of the house, essentially running away like a spoiled little girl. She vanishes thinking that you and your father will be alarmed, he will say something like “She’s in danger and it’s all your fault,” and you will cave in just to protect them from themselves. In a twisted way, that ends up putting you in the role of the dedicated parent and them in the role of your vulnerable children.

Sometimes this kind of manipulation can be stopped by confronting the perpetrators directly and overtly with the childish and selfish nature of their behavior, essentially shaming or embarrassing them into stopping. However, I don’t get the impression that that would work in this case. Your parent’s tactics are shameless.

So another way to deal with emotional blackmail is to ignore it. Like the flu, you suffer at first, but then you become immune to it. It only works on the victim if she keeps taking that first step and agreeing that she is more responsible for what goes on inside someone else’s brain than they are. This is not about becoming cold and uncaring. It’s about staying inside your head and taking care of your feelings. You can care about someone else’s feelings, but you cannot take care of their feelings. That’s their job.

When your parents try to provoke you or guilt trip you, maintain your equanimity. Show no frustration or upset. Respond as if they just said something that has nothing to do with you, and is of no interest to you. Say something like,

“Uh huh. Okay I’m going out now and I’ll be back in the afternoon. I Love you, Mom and Dad. Bye.”

Have no hint of disdain or contempt in your voice. You must sound emotionally neutral, as if you were discussing what to pick up at the market. This is what I mean by playing the role of adult instead of the parent or the child. Always include the “I love you, Mom and Dad,” because that is still an important part of the truth you’re saying. You’re just also showing that you’re not going to play their game.

Completely disregard their invitations to argue with them. You’ve already tried your best rational arguments, and they didn’t work. If they say something that is none of their business, you act as if they didn’t say it at all. Ignore anything childish or parental or antagonistic that they say. You only respond to respectful adult speech from them, and you always speak to them as a respectful adult.

Free yourself of the fear of “losing them.” That vague, scary idea could run you around like a frantic slave. Whatever “losing” actually means in real terms is probably not that likely when you really look at it. Keep in mind that underneath their obsession with controlling you they probably have an awful fear of losing you.

When things are less emotionally charged, you might be able to reassure them, in adult-to-adult terms, that you aren’t rejecting them, you’re asserting yourself. If there is to be real peace in your family again, it is not going to be because they accept a boyfriend. It will be because they accept you as an independent adult. Be patient. That may take some time, and it is usually gradual. The last growing up that parents do is to relate to their children as adults. Even if they never do, you must relate as an adult to them.

I think you are wise to acknowledge that your relationship with your boyfriend is not likely going to last forever, and that this is really a larger issue about your independence in general. You’re also wise to not discuss the matter of your fading belief in God until that process runs whatever course it will, and it becomes much clearer in your own mind.

Dahlia, You want your freedom to follow your own path. That is for adults, so play the part. You said that they can’t actually stop you anyway. You’re not yet financially independent, but you can be emotionally independent. Regardless of whatever dramas others choose to play out, walk your path with the composure, poise and dignity of a woman who is her own person. I think you have all that it takes.

Richard

You may send your questions for Richard to AskRichard. Please keep your letters concise. They may be edited. All will eventually be answered, but not all can be published. There is a large number of requests; please be patient.

About Richard Wade

Richard Wade is a retired Marriage and Family Therapist living in California.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    He is the sweetest person and a really great guy who has been with me despite a lot of hardships, and if it isn’t already obvious I love him very much. The problem is that he is a Muslim…

    How nice. Has he introduced you to his other wives yet?

  • Wendy

    @ Reginald:Please tell me you’re kidding. Please?

    /my sarcasto meter is broken this morning

  • Carlie

    Wow, what a rude comment to start off with. Reginald must be embarrassed at having said such a thing.

    I think this is one of the best responses Richard has written yet – his advice has been right-on, and keeps getting better. I’m very impressed at how maturely Dahlia is already viewing the situation and wish her luck in dealing with her parents.

  • JJ

    As someone who has also dealt with childish parents, I think Richard’s advice is SPOT ON and Dahlia would best be served by listening to him.

    Rock on, Richard.

  • http://onestdv.blogspot.com OneSTDV

    I’m curious what HIS parents think. Let’s hope she’s not part of an “honor” killing.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    @Reginald Selkirk, OneSTDV: It’s nice to see atheists eschewing the bigotry that we so often see in the religious.

  • http://backwardsbuddhist.com Backwards Buddhist

    At a recent retreat, a 45 year old man finally realized that this is what his parents were still doing to him. Dahlia has been fortunate enough to recognize the point of conflict early on, before it becomes a habit for both she and her parents. It is very difficult for some parents to realize their parental role ends and something between friendship and enmity replaces it. Friendship is ideal and is to be treasured. Enmity can only flourish fully if both parties feed the fire. Dahlia, you seem to have already grown to the acceptance of your parent’s feelings. You cannot change them. They must do that themselves if they are able. Your adult life is beginning and whether or not you allow yourself the freedom to find your own way is your choice. Your love for your parents will not change if you live your life on your ground. If you try to make them happy at the expense of your own contentment, everybody loses.

  • plutosdad

    Actually from what you write I think you are not taking this seriously enough. The mother sounds like she might be undiagnosed borderline narcissitic personality disorder or bipolar.

    Her behavior is not just “inexcusable” or childish, it is like she has no control at all, and the family needs to get her to see a doctor before she stops threatening violence (against herself or otherwise) and actually harms herself.

    Running out alone into the night is bad enough and that alone could get her in trouble if she runs into someone bad.

  • Ron in Houston

    Dahlia – the lesson to me is that religion and control operate hand in hand.

    While Richard gave you a lot of good advice of dealing with controlling and manipulative parents in the short run, you’re just becoming aware of what will be a lifelong battle for you. (Well, at least for your parent’s lifetimes!)

    While you may hope to “change” them, certainly don’t pin any hopes on it. You’re future will involve balancing your desire to have some relationship with your parents with your need to have some sanity by having boundaries.

    Richard used a word I love “equanimity.” That’s actually the key in life – maintaining an inner balance.

  • JulietEcho

    Great advice from Richard, really top notch.

    I don’t know about the mother’s mental health, but I don’t think it’s out of the question that she’s just acting out and being hysterical about her daughter’s choice. Histrionics work far too often, and she could just be throwing tantrums because it’s how she deals with things she doesn’t know how to handle.

    But maybe she does need serious help. Dahlia and her other family members are in a better position to speculate on that than Richard or we are.

  • Aj

    Some atheists don’t recommend that other atheists tell their fundamentalist parents if they’re financially dependent on them. Some atheists call themselves “diplomats”, meaning that they don’t tell religious people what they don’t want to hear. Plenty of teenagers keep their romantic lives separate from their parents, even if their parents would respect their freedom.

    The fear of hell and God’s punishment is very real to fundamentalists and other types of Christians. It may not seem it, but they might be acting proportionally to what they believe. I don’t know enough about them, but I think it might be a huge mistake in thinking that their reaction is just a tactic, and that Dahlia can just carry on without them escalating.

    Dahlia won’t be free until she is financially independent and willing to chance losing any kind of relationship she has with her parents. That’s not an easy choice.

  • Deiloh

    Another great response from Richard and best wishes to the young lady and her boyfriend.

  • Aj

    *double post*

  • George

    I want to take all parents who are like this and just SHAKE them so hard. STOP IT.

    But if she does need mental help, how would she get it? Dahlia is not in a position to tell her mom to go see a psychiatrist.

    The only way would be if something were to happen and the family had to call the police on the mom.

  • JJ

    I just want to say that while I acknowledge in my previous response that I labeled her parents’ behavior as “childish” rather than pathological, I do not mean to dismiss that possibility. However, the rest of the family (sans, perhaps, the grandmother) doesn’t appear to be doing much about the situation, either, and indeed seem to be supporting such abusive behavior–so it is likely that even if there is some psychopathology present, she still needs to deal with her family.

    I really like what someone else previously mentioned about religion and control going hand-in-hand. That was certainly the case with me, growing up with two fundamentalist Christian parents who both had bipolar disorder (well, technically I was only raised by one of them while the other was too busy jet-setting around the world to be anything more than an acquaintance). She should not let them EVER further insist on limiting her control over her own life and her own choices; a pattern will emerge and she will never have a life that is hers. However, when I stopped my parent(s) from controlling me similar things happened, actually–freak outs, running away from home, shouting matches meant to suggest his/her true victimization, etc. But did I survive? Yes, absolutely. Dahlia will, too, and she seems to have figured all of this out years before I dared to. I commend her.

  • http://apologyandconfession.blogspot.com/ David

    I hope that someone has stopped to consider the possibility that her perspective may be skewed in this letter. After all, she is a 17 year old adolescent… not the world’s most stable age by any means. I am not saying that she does not have an important point to make, or that her observations and accusations may not be completely justified; I am saying that the overwhelmingly negative response against her parents is perhaps more of a knee-jerk reaction against a “fundamentalist” family than anything else. Perhaps when we apply reason to this, and maybe some of that glorious postmodern skepticism that appears to be reserved for religion alone, we will have a more balanced and realistic/rational discussion.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    Dahlia, As others have said, your parents behave that way because they think it gets them results. As you become more comfortable and self-assured in who you are and what you want in life, your parent’s may start to desist from those childish tactics.

    If all else fails, you could always tell your parents that in a vision Jesus told you that you are supposed to date this Muslim guy. ;) (I’m kidding… That would probably set them off).

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    Excellent advice from Richard.

    Maybe if these new tactics make a difference Dahlia may even get to introduce her boyfriend to her family. I know the stereotypes and tabloid stories paint Muslims as raving misogynists who want to dress “their” women in sacks but I’ve never met a Muslim like this. They are exactly like the rest of us in that we all want a life with a bit of fun and not too much trouble. You never know but they might just get on. They do worship the same God after all. ;)

  • Killer_Bee

    I bet if they accepted him, you’d lose interest immediately.

    How many Muslims are in Sweden? Some odds! Of all the nice Swedish boys who probably wouldn’t present a problem to your parents you chose a Muslim.

    I’m sure you “don’t want to hurt your parents” that’s why you went out of your way to find someone who would drive them insane. They may be bigoted and childish, but they probably have your best interests in mind. At 18 and dependent, you should listen to them. You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.

    Upon further reflection: Is this even a real question? You seem to have been able to date this boy since you were 16 with impunity. You, yourself, say they can’t stop you. What freedom are you looking for? The freedom to piss off your parents without feeling guilty?

  • http://mimi-n-moe.blogspot.com/ Karen

    Great advice from Richard and some other readers. I would do my best to keep the peace–even if it is on a superficial level–for my own peace of mind. You are 18, so I assume you’ll be off to college, trade school, military, or something soon? You are at the age where separation is normal and natural. It is harder for some parents to let go…Soon you will have far less conflict in your life.
    Good Luck to you!
    Karen

  • aproustian

    Killer_Bee, way to assume she’s a lying liar who lies. Why should she choose someone just because it’d be easier with her parents? This is the person she fell in love with.

  • Blasphemous in KS

    Sad story, and great advice.

    *whoosh*, that was the sound of the point going over Killer_bee’s head.

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Dahlia
    Been in a similar situation, and while Richards advice is good , it’s almost impossible to implement (IMO). We are emotional beings after all. It is difficult to not argue , to not justify or to not try to convince your parents (though in hindsight futile). There are only two things that help.
    1. Your boyfriend had better be worth it and should support you and be nice and reasonable and all of that when you are not. You need his support. Im not sure how serious you are about this guy, but if you arent then I’d probably say this is not a battle worth fighting , no matter how much you believe this is about your personal freedom. if it is about your personal freedom then you might choose a more gradual approach.
    2. Time. In time your parents will accept (thats my story anyway).

  • http://thinkingforfree.blogspot.com Eamon Knight

    My wife’s grandparents could be like Dahlia’s parents at times (though not as over-the-top). I got to see some of it, and the after-effects on my MIL (who succeded in not passing the pattern on to her daughter).

  • Jeff Purser

    The behavior of Dahlia’s parents, as described, is obviously something everyone here finds objectionable. At the same time, their fundamentalist Christian faith may be only a part of the reason they object to the relationship.

    Is the boyfriend a Swede by birth and culture who converted to Islam or is he a recent immigrant from the Middle East or other predominately Islamic culture? It matters.

    As recovering christian with evangelical atheist tendencies, I would be extremely concerned if my daughter came home with a boyfriend whose cultural traditions and values varied widely from those of my own family. Let me tell you why.

    Over the years I have had personal experiences with three friends of mine here in the US who met, fell in love with and married guys from the Middle East. In each and every case what started out as romantic, exotic fairy tales ended up as painful disasters. While they were here in the US, the guys were open-minded, progressive in their views on women’s rights and respectful of OUR culture. In every case promises were made about remaining in the US and raising the kids here.

    Before long, pressure from the guys’ families in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iran, caused the men to insist on moving back ‘home.’ Again, promises were made and my friends were naive enough to think they could adjust to life over there. They were treated like crap by the in laws while their husbands did nothing to protect them. These were all educated, accomplished women with careers here in the US who followed their hearts, only to have them broken in the middle east.

    Fortunately two of them had no kids and were able to return to the US, get divorces and move on with their lives. My other friend came back to the US without her kids. (I lost touch with her many years ago so have no idea what ultimately happened.)

    I have a daughter. If she became temporarily insane and fell in love with a Muslim from the Middle East, I might very well do everything in my power to get her to reconsider – knowing full well that rational thought is usually not involved in matters of the heart.

    I would probably have less concern if she brought home someone from the UK, Western Europe, South America or Australia. If you find that to be racist or bigoted, then so be it.

    Look, I’m an old fart. Most of my opinions are based on life lessons and experiences, not just philosophical beliefs.. Personally I think Dahlia needs to decide whether or not her family is important to her. If it is, then perhaps she should reconsider the relationship. If not then go for it. Life is filled with compromises and in spite of my differences with my fundamentalist parents, I’d give anything if they were still alive so I could have them in my life.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    Good advice from Richard as usual, but Jeff Purser makes some valid points. I was raised in the Muslim faith and spent quite a bit of time in the Middle East (going back in two weeks, in fact) and I have a sister who married someone from the old country. There’s nearly a 100% chance that this will end in disaster for the girl.
    But, there are always exceptions. My dad is one such exception. Of course, he was always a closet atheist and never a Muslim at heart and he’s wired different. Loves animals, treats my mother like a queen, etc. The only other man from a Muslim culture I met that was even close to being like that was one of my I/T’s (interpreter/translators) when I was working
    force protection in Saudi. Actually, his wife beat his ass all the time. Pretty funny.
    As for the stereotypes put out there by Reginald Selkirk and OneSTDV, well, as someone raised by an Arab father and raised Muslim, I don’t take offense, but I really wish you hadn’t written those things. You’re just making it tougher for the rest of us who see Islam as being a bigger threat to world civilization (than Judaism or Christianity) by getting us all labeled and lumped together as bigots. We need to reign that in just a little…:-)

  • http://onestdv.blogspot.com OneSTDV

    @ Godless:

    Honor killings do happen, even in the US: http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/09/03/muslim.convert/index.html

    I don’t see how it’s racist to merely present the facts or issue a word of caution to people who could potentially be affected by it.

    I see Islam as the ultimate danger to Western Civilization and I’m not going to stand by and be overly tolerant so as to shirk offending someone. If you happen to be a Muslim who has accepted Western values and understands the triumph of civilization that is America, then surely I can respect that. But that doesn’t mean Islam is a benign force.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    Wrong on ALL counts in regards to the words you put in my mouth. That’s not what I wrote, that’s not what I implied and that’s not what I am.
    Adding to an intelligent discourse means more than just being able to regurgitate facts.
    No need to lecture me on “what is what” with Islam, tiger. I’ve seen it, lived it, breathed it and fought it.
    et tu?

  • http://onestdv.blogspot.com OneSTDV

    “If you happen to be a Muslim who has accepted Western values and understands the triumph of civilization that is America, then surely I can respect that.”

    I meant “you” in a general sense. Your name is “Godless”: I’m pretty certain what that implies.

    As for Islam: Are you disagreeing with Islam being a pernicious force against the West? Am I wrong about that?

  • Aj

    OneSTDV,

    Honor killings do happen…

    And that’s all one needs to be suspicious of all Muslims? You do realize that it’s pertinent to have probabilities before making judgements about risk? If not, please state what people should be cautious about when interacting with other religions, other ethnic groups, and with people from groups you belong to.

  • jemand

    who invited the fucking trolls? Dahlia, sorry, Richard gave good advice. You sound like a smart girl with your head firmly planted on your shoulders where it belongs. You’ll be fine.

  • fiddler

    Two points here:
    1) If you love this person you need to defend him against his critics and those that simply hate him for his personal label. As an atheist in America, you would be amazed at the number and viciousness of labels levelled at me. I have no more problems with muslims than I do christians and have many very modern and ethical muslim friends, as I do christians.
    2) Is he going to bat for you as well? Is he willing to sacrifice his family and heritage in order to be with you? Or is he hoping that you will convert in order to maintain the relationship? You need to insure that he FULLY and WILLINGLY accepts you as the confused and “in-love” christian young lady that you are. Anything less is wrong for you to accept and you need to deal with a little heartbreak now to avoid a serious and fundamental religious problem later, one that deals with you and your most important, and immediate, relationship.

  • fiddler

    @reginald
    >How nice. Has he introduced you to his other >wives yet?

    Dude, I’m an anti-theist that has a boatload of problems with islam… and even I think that was a very screwed up comment. Grow up!

  • http://onestdv.blogspot.com OneSTDV

    “You do realize that it’s pertinent to have probabilities before making judgements about risk?”

    Sure but as I said, honor killings do happen. Do they happen to every Muslim apostate or someone who has offended the Muslim faith? No, but that’s a REASONABLE risk someone in her position should be aware of.

    Are you going to walk through Compton at 1 in the morning and act surprised when you get robbed?

  • http://melliferax.wordpress.com/ Melliferax

    A side note to Richard: We don’t say “I love you” to parents/children in Sweden. Nor to friends. The Swedish “Jag älskar [person]” is very heavily loaded with romance (when applied to a person) and just doesn’t occur in other kinds of relationships. So the advice to always include that phrase is pretty much not applicable.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @OneSTDV,
    Thanks for the clarification.
    In regards to this statement:

    Are you disagreeing with Islam being a pernicious force against the West? Am I wrong about that?

    Technically, no, you are not wrong. I would suggest that it is much, much more than that. The way you have it phrased makes it solely an East v West scenario. Being a minimalist, I am often inclined to put things in those terms, so I understand where you are coming from. It is that, but it is so much more. It is a pernicious force against mankind, against people in general. Not only do we need to protect ourselves from its influence, but we need to ensure that over time we can help to lessen its hold on the people already living under it. Education via the internet is a good way to do that.
    If we make it less of a confrontation between peoples and more of a clash of ideas we’ll be on the right track.

  • It’s Automatic

    Dahlia, I understand what you’re going through. I went through some stuff with my religious mom and racist dad when I was young. My heart goes out to you.

    One major thing I thought of is that if you live in Sweden, I think there are some avenues for you to become financially independent from your parents and move out.

    I live in Finland, and doesn’t Sweden have a similar system? Are you a student? If you’d have to take out some student loans for living expenses, it might be worth it for your freedom.

    You don’t have to tell your parents that it is because of them, you could tell them you are an adult and it’s time to move on, etc.

    Just a thought.

    Also, with the boyfriend in question, I am glad you don’t seem to plan on marrying him, because I think there is a big possibility of having the same kinds of problems with him one day because he is a Muslim.

  • Aj

    OneSTDV,

    No, but that’s a REASONABLE risk someone in her position should be aware of.

    How do you assess that without knowing the number of Muslims in Sweden and the number of honor killings? How do you even attempt to calculate the risk?

  • Killer_Bee

    Godless, your point is well taken. Islamic fundamentalism is an affront to humanity in general, including those who live under its oppressive yoke. But, like physical disease, bad programming is carried and spread by individuals. The best way to guard yourself is not to get entangled.

    but we need to ensure that over time we can help to lessen its hold on the people already living under it.

    This statement, in particular, is applicable to the current topic. I feel sorry for Muslim girls like Hatun Surucu who are forced into a restrictive culture through no choice of their own and are destroyed by it when they finally break free. Sadly, her story is not unique. So, my question is why would any woman choose to move backward in time when she doesn’t even have to?!
    Dahlia’s choice to assume risks associated with a religion that is heavily misogynistic sometimes to the point of lethality can only be explained by a desire to rebel by seeking the “exotic.” As I mentioned earlier she could have chosen a romantic interest without the complicated background.
    As Jeff Purser’s anecdotes demonstrate, the odds are on the side of the culture – operating through family or mosque – winning out and not the good graces of the acculturated European Muslim man. Islamism is on the rise in Europe, moreso than in the past. There are plenty of articles from the BBC and elsewhere, so I won’t bother posting a link.

    There are constructive ways to assert one’s independence. If Dahlia doubts god, then she can research it and discuss the evidence with her family. But, I guess that would be boring. At 16, or 18, or even 20, “love” is usually nothing more than hormones and escapism.

  • Richard Wade

    Thank you, Melliferax, for that side note. That’s very interesting.
    I had a feeling that something I suggested would run into a cultural difference. I included that phrase, an American idiom, to emphasize that Dahlia should try to keep her disengaging from seeming emotionally cold or rejecting. She does love her parents, and she’s trying to find a way to assert her independence yet somehow maintain an acceptable level of warmth and affection with them. Hopefully, she can interpret my suggestion into her own cultural milieu to express the same spirit.

  • CybrgnX

    There is no real problem here.
    Since the only real difference between a muslim and a xtian is the spelling.
    SHE will have to convert to islam, bang her head on the ground in her own room, makes VERY DAMN sure she is never in her husbands presence when menstruating, and remember to yell ‘allah’ when having great sex. And if she doesn’t do any of that SHE gets stoned (not the drug kind).
    She should have a wonderful life!!! Hope she likes wearing a tent!

  • http://supersonicfreedom.net Sonicsuns

    Very intelligent post. Good job.

  • jose

    OK Dahlia, here’s the solution:

    Talk about religion with your boyfriend. Then he’ll probably become an atheist.

    Fundamentalist parents don’t like atheists very much, but at least they don’t FREAK OUT as they do about muslims. And it will be better for him too: right now he has to get on his knees and pray five times a day and all kind of goofy, religious stuff, ain’t he?

  • alt0181

    Old post, nobody will probably see this, but anyway here goes:

    Melliferax: That’s not true at all. Swede here and in my family we all tell each other “Jag älskar dig” quite often. I know we’re probably a warmer family than most people, but I also know many of my friends who still say it every now and then.
    I’ve brought the subject up several times since I can see my family behave a bit different than others, and it interests me to know why.

    Your misconception might have come about from the fact that we wouldn’t do it in public, and it isn’t a subject people normally talk about. I could agree many families probably stop saying it when the children grow up, but I think it is safe to assume that a considerable amount tell their kids very often.

    In fact, many of the friends I’ve asked told me it was part of their daily goodnight ritual.

    Sorry to rant off-topic, it just bugs me how someone thinks they speak for everyone.