I’m writing because I just can’t deal with my father anymore. He’s a 65-year-old super right-wing conservative who has basically turned into a total asshole intent on ruining our relationship and our planet with his politics.
This is the beginning of a letter to a columnist named Andrew that I came across today.
My post will make more sense if you read the entire thing, but here is a snippet of Andrew’s response for those of you who don’t like clicking links:
Love your dad because he’s your father, because he made you, because he thinks for himself, and most of all because he is a person. Have the strength to doubt and question what you believe as easily as you’re so quick to doubt his beliefs.
Here’s the thing: I don’t think this letter is about politics at all. It’s about belligerence.
There are some people in this world who are always right. It doesn’t matter if the topic is religion, politics, a recent, controversial news story, or which side of the bread should be buttered.
They’re right. You’re wrong. The world is going to hell in a hand-basket. End of story.
Love isn’t the answer here. Don’t get me wrong – I completely agree with being merciful and kind under difficult circumstances. People who need love and acceptance the most are often the hardest ones to give them to.
There comes a time when you need to set healthy boundaries. The only person any one of us can control is ourselves. Caring about someone is not a synonym for believing that if you do or say the right thing they’ll make better choices.
Even Superman has had to deal with the fact that he can’t save everyone.
I can’t tell the letter writer what to do. It’s something he has to decide on his own based on everything he knows about his father, his family, and what has (and hasn’t) worked in the past. Every situation is unique, and he’ll find no judgement here from me.
But what I would say is this: love isn’t always about fuzzy emotions and bending over backwards. Sometimes it’s about making hard choices. You can love someone from a distance, or with less frequent visits, or with certain restrictions placed on the topics you will and won’t discuss with them. There’s no reason why the rules can’t change next month or next year when you’re ready to try again.
I believe in having mercy for yourself and for other people. Life isn’t a zero-sum game.
11 Responses to My Response to “My Dad Is a Right-Wing Asshole”
“I don’t think this letter is about politics at all. It’s about belligerence.”
This. Just exactly this. And no, you don’t have an open-ended obligation to respect your parents, and anyone who says you do is engaged in harmful, manipulative BS. Respect is earned; respect must go both ways; and there is absolutely no point in attempting to be respectful towards someone who doesn’t and/or won’t respect you.
And a related thought:
And that was a great post, Michael.
I have a similar issue between my brother and me. Almost exactly as the letter writer described. Our relationship has been strained because he won’t abide by my wish to leave certain subjects at the door, for the sake of us. I pride myself on being able to disagree with people without being offensive (usually), but he makes it nearly impossible sometimes. I really just wish some people would learn that their opinions are theirs alone, and not everyone is required to agree with them. That and they need to start minding their own damn business.
Yeah, it’s a really tough thing to go through.
I love that belligerent cat 🙂
Good thoughts. I remember 20 years ago – learning that boundaries are needed even for those closest to us.
He made me grin!
I remember you reading book on this topic back then. Good stuff.
Thank you for the invite. I haven’t been a person of faith for a long time, but I’ll leave your link up in case anyone else in interested.
Lydia, that’s very kind. Thank you! Also, if you’re interested you can always request Speakeasy books on culture, philosophy, social action and more. Thanks again for helping us get the word out!
You’re welcome. I’ll keep that in mind for the future. Good luck with Speakeasy.
Thanks Lydia! 🙂