Dear Harlan: I am 17 years old, and I have a boyfriend. The problem is that he is from Iran and a Muslim. My dad is kind of racist, even though he doesn’t admit it. He thinks everyone is the same in Middle Eastern countries and he doesn’t like them. His biggest fears are about Muslims. When my dad found out about my boyfriend, he got really angry and said that if I live in his house, he won’t allow that. He started shouting and saying that he is going to send me back to my country if I didn’t end this (a year ago, I moved to another country with my father. I used to live with my mom). I really love this boy. He is kind, funny and social. I really want to convince my father that he should at least meet him and give him a chance, because I am really sad without him. It’s my life; he can’t control my feelings. What should I do? — Disappointed Daughter
Dear Daughter: Your dad is NOT “kind of racist” – he’s totally racist. You have three options: (1) Do what your dad says; (2) Pretend to do what your dad says; (3) Do whatever you want. Here’s a warning: Racist dads can be a nightmare. They usually have control issues. This is why I’m leaning toward option No. 1. Do what he says – for now. The “for now” is important. You need to choose your battles carefully and know the best time to pick them. This is not the best time. You are too dependent on him for too many things. You need to be independent and better prepared to stand your ground. Instead of breaking up with your boyfriend, tell him that you are going to hit the pause button. Postpone things. Tell him that your dad is extremely protective and doesn’t want you to date. Hold back on the ugly details. Appreciate that soon you will be free to make your own choices. Use this situation to commit to being the last generation that thinks like him. Work to find people and places where you can be supported. Feel free to express how you feel to your dad. Make it clear that you’re uncomfortable and confused to know that a boy who respects you, your culture and your family is not good enough for him because of his religion. Your dad might surprise you and actually explain his feelings instead of just telling you what to do. And if you don’t like any of this advice and decide to stay with this guy, make sure you a support system in place. Your dad might make life impossible for you.