My parents and their friends stigmatize me for not being a wife and mother

The issue: I’m a 42 year-old professional woman with an interesting job and good friends. But I now avoid seeing my father and stepmother who are obsessed with me meeting a bloke (and potentially reproducing and being ‘normal’). Their dinner party friends are equally baffled and say things like ‘are you just not very good at relationships?’, ‘do you want to be single?’, ‘don’t you want children?’. My father says, ‘I don’t understand what’s wrong with you because you’re very beautiful.’ It’s as if I am mortally offending them by not conforming to the norms. I go away from occasions feeling violated, confused and at times like a big failure. What do I say to keep this kind of conversation at bay? Is there an easy way to negotiate these situations? Thank you.

Nina’s answer: The thing about not conforming to what society sees as the norm, is that it has the potential to antagonise those who have chosen to conform. It would be easier for your family if you became just like them, as opposed to living a life that they do not understand or do not wish to understand. When you are part of a family where people’s view of life is outdated, you have to do a lot of work on yourself in order to grow as a person and only then will you be able to ignore them and get on with your life. Always remember that it is your life, not theirs.

Interfering relatives is nothing new and the only way to deal with them as in all other situations when people show narrow-mindedness, is to focus on yourself, not them. Ultimately, it is not about them, but rather, it is up to you whether they get to you or not.

Are you happy with your life as it is at the moment? If yes then why does it matter what your family thinks? We often become upset about what others think of us, because we ourselves have not accepted our path wholeheartedly. If you are comfortable and happy with your life, chances are that it will not matter what others think of you. Once you send the message through the way you behave that you are happy with your life, people generally get it and realise that they can no longer hurt you. No one has power over you other than the power that you give them. If you show people that you care about what they think of you, then you have handed them the power to hurt you.

My advice to you is to work on yourself. Read as many books on empowerment and positive thinking as possible. You will be amazed what they can do. We all wish to be part of a family where everyone around us is enlightened and supportive of whatever choices we make, and some people are blessed to belong to such families. Unfortunately, the reality for the majority, is the complete opposite and it is up to each individual person to seek their own truth and find their own happiness. No one will do it for you and complaining about it is not going to make the problem go away, if anything it will end up making you more resentful and unhappy.

As you change, people around you generally get it and their attitude toward you change as well. The mistake people often make, is to put the focus on other people and try to change them. The only person you can change is you, so start now.

Nina Steele is agony aunt. Send any dilemma you may have to: [email protected]


  1. RachaelLondon says

    Great advice. Take the power back and use it!

  2. I am lucky enough to have parents who don’t interfere in my life and support whatever choice I make, as they trust that I know what I am doing as an adult. Yes we cannot all have understanding parents and we have to find a way of dealing with that. Spot on advice.

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