Dealing with in-laws is difficult for lots of couples, but when you and your spouse are from two different cultures, it comes with a whole other set of challenges.
A mom on Reddit admitted to staring this down with her own in-laws, and it could cause a major rift in their family.
The mom was furious about the disrespectful sleepover prank her daughter’s aunt and cousins pulled on her.
As much as we may have advanced in recent decades, intercultural relationships are still disproportionately rife with conflict, and it’s not just because of societal stigma. Conflict arising from insensitive or unaccepting family members is incredibly common too, often with devastating impacts.
The situation a South Asian mom on Reddit faced offered a perfect example of these kinds of family conflicts.
The mom is married to a white man whose entire family is also white. Recently, their 14-year-old daughter Amara started to lean more into her South Asian culture, and it caused a conflict with her white aunt and cousins during a recent sleepover.
The girl’s cousins bullied her for wearing a bindi as part of her culture.
Bindi are adornments worn by many Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain people as a reminder of the ajna chakra, or “third eye.” In many Asian cultures, this chakra is considered the seat of “concealed wisdom” and the bindi is believed to strengthen concentration and ties to one’s intuition.
Amara recently decided to wear a bindi and had begun carrying a bindi bag with the necessary supplies anytime she’s away from home for an extended period, like a recent weekend trip to her white aunt Bree’s house.
“Amara called me crying and told me that [her cousins] Danielle and Chase had been teasing her about the ‘dots’ on her forehead since Friday,” the mom wrote.
The bullying escalated from there. The next morning her cousins “grabbed the bag out of her room and dumped it into the pool as a ‘prank.’ It sank to the bottom, and since Amara can’t swim, she wasn’t able to grab it.”
When confronted about the disrespectful sleepover prank, the girl’s aunt refused to do anything about it.
Obviously, this disrespectful sleepover prank was not just mean, it was downright bigoted. But Amara’s Aunt Bree couldn’t possibly be more unbothered. “Bree took Danielle and Chase’s side, saying it was kids being kids and that they did Amara a favor with that prank.”
When the mom confronted Bree, she maintained her stance, so the mom told Bree “that Amara wouldn’t be coming over until they all apologized.” Bree replied, “That was unfair and that I was punishing her and her kids over a dumb prank.”
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Her husband’s parents took Bree’s side as well, with her mother-in-law calling to say “that I was horrible for not letting Bree see her niece and that both Amara and I needed to get over the incident” and let “bygones be bygones.”
Interfaith, interracial, and intercultural marriages frequently suffer these kinds of issues with family and in-laws.
The in-laws’ behavior was shocking, to say the least, and people on Reddit were disgusted by their minimization of a bigoted episode as simply childish pranks. “These are teenagers who are fully aware that they’re making racially insensitive comments,” one person wrote. “Amara doesn’t have to be the one to ‘get over it,’ since she didn’t do anything wrong; wrong was done to her,” another added.
But sadly, incidents like these are not uncommon in families where partners are of different races, religions, or cultures.
People in interracial marriages, for instance, have been found to have higher incidences of anxiety disorders as well as depression, and scientists say this is in part due to the negative experiences they have within their families. Unsurprisingly, this frequently leads to estrangements.
The same is true of interfaith couples, though they are becoming more common. For instance, 27% of millennials report having interfaith parents, compared to 20% of Gen Xers — people in these relationships still struggle more with psychological health due to their families’ lack of acceptance.
It just goes to show that for all the progress we may have made when it comes to diversity and acceptance, we still have a long, long way to go.
John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.