How to Deal with Bigoted Family Members

Date posted: April 11, 2016

family-disagreement

Dear Ashley,

Any advice for how to deal with bigoted and close minded family members? It’s a struggle for me! It’s hard for me to write people off, when or if they get mad about an issue…what do you think?

This is a tough one. Unfortunately, with all the political rhetoric going on currently in our country, and politicians like Trump spewing vileness out there, a lot of people are feeling emboldened to share their hateful views. This is also a product of our internet-age in which anyone can go have his or her views validated and confirmed (correctly or incorrectly) on the web.

With family members, I’d say that you have 2 options here: You can either “keep the peace” so to speak, or you can confront whichever family member(s) are being closed-minded. Realize in either case that most likely their views on this probably come from a place of ignorance and fear, and depending on how strongly they hold their views, you likely are not going to change their mind.

If you want to “keep the peace” and not cause waves with your family; that is an understandable decision. Hopefully most families out there are able to handle differing opinions every now and again and still love and care for one another. That’s what families should be for, and expressing different viewpoints can help families to grow and evolve.

However, if you want to confront your problematic family member, I would consider asking them where their views of whatever issue comes from (religious, political, etc.). Try to help them examine their preconceptions about the issue. Again, you may not be able to change their mind, but at least you’ll begin to understand where their bigotry originates.

You can attempt to educate them by sending them links to educational information or articles that defend your point of view, which may only annoy them, but maybe that will be enough of a deterrent for them not to voice such onerous sentiments (at least to you).

In either case, I would emphasis that you find their views hurtful and won’t tolerate such narrow-minded, offensive garbage, at least in your presence. Tell them you’d rather that they not subject you to their hate. If all of this doesn’t work, then I’d consider whether attempting to maintain a relationship with this person is actually worth it to you. If not, good riddance!

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