DEAR HARRIETTE: I come from a mostly Puerto Rican background, and I visit my father in Puerto Rico frequently. On my last visit, I flew with my boyfriend so he could meet my father. While we were there, my father volunteered to fix us some food. We thanked him and told him to let us know if he needed any help. After about 10 minutes in the kitchen, he began berating me in Spanish about how my boyfriend won't want to stay with me if he thinks I can't cook. I've grown up with that kind of thinking, and I let it roll off my back. My father didn't know that my boyfriend has a pretty strong understanding of Spanish and caught on to what was happening. This created a generational awkwardness, and now I fear that my boyfriend doesn't respect my father as much as he used to. There's no way I can take back what my father said to me, but I want to know how I can paint my father positively in my boyfriend's eyes. -- Speaking in Tongues, Charlotte, North Carolina
DEAR SPEAKING IN TONGUES: Start by speaking honestly with your boyfriend about codes of conduct and mores in your family. Be candid about your father's views, and compassionate as well. Explain to your boyfriend that your father, in his own way, was trying to ensure that the two of you will be able to have a positive relationship. In his eyes, that requires you to follow old-school rules. Tell your boyfriend that you appreciate that he loves you for who you are. Ask your boyfriend to forgive your father for his old-school ways.
Tell your father that you really like your boyfriend and want the two of them to get along. Let your father know that your boyfriend understands Spanish. Encourage your boyfriend to speak to your father in Spanish.