Ask Amy: Political Views Causes Parental Rift
You don't have to agree with each other – but can you still maintain a relationship?
Dear Amy: I am a 53-year-old woman. I have always been very close to my (now 80-something) parents, but our recent national political drama has forced us into different corners.
See, I try to think critically and independently. My husband and I have both had more conversations about politics recently than our entire 31 years of marriage.
Now both of my parents are forwarding long email chains full of falsehoods and dangerous conspiracies written by “anonymous” authors and not fact-checked in any way.
They spend time on Facebook posting threads and repeating things which are cringe-worthy and preposterous. They expect me to agree with them or else “forever lose their respect.”
It is breaking my heart that we cannot find other subjects we can discuss without devolving into the same arguments and ugly rhetoric.
I am avoiding their calls and not responding to those emails.
I am expected to “pick a team” and have drawn some boundaries, but my dad (especially) is trying to bait me into verbal conflicts, and I’ve had enough.
Amy, I feel as if his attempts to trigger me are insulting and hurtful.
I know I’m not alone in alienated family relationships these days, but I’m not sure how much I can take.
I don’t want to spend the last years we have together having arguments about being recruited or evangelized to their “team.”
– Dumbfounded Daughter
Dear Dumbfounded: One way to cope with this tension and pressure would be for you to deliberately reduce the material that triggers your reaction. Create a “rule” on your email in-box where you direct email from your folks’ accounts directly into a folder. You could then scroll through during a time when you’re prepared – or ignore these emails altogether.
“Hide” their posts on Facebook (or better yet, disengage from that platform entirely).
Breathe through your personal contact with them. Be firm, consistent, and deflect: “Dad, I’m not going to discuss this with you. Let’s find a different topic, OK? Tell me, did you and mom play golf last weekend?”
Rinse, repeat, and don’t bite the hook.
At their age and stage in life, they will need a healthy, balanced, and calm person in their corner.
In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068
© 2021 by Amy Dickinson