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Do I try to continue having a relationship with family members who still support Trump and in my opinion are inherently racist?
If only we could choose our families! But then think of it: there may be no families-of-origin left on God’s green earth. There would just be a massive shuffling of people into new groupings and lots of lost individuals roaming around aimlessly, like amoebas, wondering what happened to their people. Little did they know that their own relatives never really liked them.
But that’s a little dark, isn’t it? So let’s just go with what we’ve got: flawed, screwed up, imperfect peeps. The definition of family! There I go again, sorry. For better or worse, you’re stuck with the relatives you were born with and some may be obnoxious, narcissistic, unbearable or even dare I say it, Trump supporters.
Here, I am of two minds. My higher, more mature mind says, where better to try and talk about our differences than around the dining room table amongst people who (purportedly) know us best and love us? We could all benefit from really talking to people who fundamentally disagree with us to see what’s behind their reasoning. And, if they’re allowed to explain why they support a racist, misogynist candidate, you should be allowed to explain why you don’t. And just maybe, possibly, there is a ghost of a chance that over time, you may understand each other better.
My less mature mind says, screw them! It is very hard to talk with someone who denies facts or deals in misinformation. So I guess what I’m saying is, give it the old college (respectful) try, and then if you have to give up, give up. Expectations low, boundaries high. Some families’ living rooms are like museums where disagreements never happen, at least out loud. Others are like roller derbys with lots of screaming, yelling and high, sharp elbows. Do the best you can, speak your truth, respect others, and work for voter’s rights, voter access and candidates that support humanity, not hate. Would that everyone agreed on at least that!
My mother is a very stubborn, very controlling and somewhat mean 91-year-old. She insists on still driving despite having shrunk in height considerably. It is hard for me to imagine that she can see over the dash, let alone the steering wheel. And sometimes she will venture 30 miles away to neighboring towns. How do I convince her to stop driving without causing her to hate me?
Boy do I feel your pain. My mother was exactly the same. In fact I wouldn’t let my children ride in her car after a point. Then, while on a breakfast date with my daughter who she adores, she yelled at her because my daughter insisted on driving. Since her grandchildren can do no wrong and basically walk on water, this tells you how stark raving mad this made my mother.
Anyway, enough about me! You are in a very difficult predicament. The question here, to my mind anyway, is the safety of others on the road. It sounds like your mom is pretty sharp, so stealing the keys and claiming that they are lost doesn’t sound like an option (which is what we did for my father-in-law, may he rest in peace). If you think she will lop your head off if you raise this question, perhaps one of your siblings, if you have any, can give it a whirl, explaining that with Ubers, Lyfts, and cabs available, it’s not so difficult to be without a car.
Short of this, I think it would be reasonable to talk to her doctor about these concerns, and see if they have any suggestions. After a lifetime of wild-horses stubbornness, one day (at 89) my mother just gave her car to one of her grandchildren and stopped driving, which gobsmacked us all. Perhaps you can also come up with a grandchild who really, really needs a car. Of course my mother retained her famous stubbornness for other issues, but we really caught a lucky break there. I hope you do too.
Early in the pandemic, my friends on the block and I really enjoyed the videos online of people singing their hearts out from their balconies. Our block is a pretty social and convivial group, but I was slightly appalled when one of the neighbors decided to follow suit. He belts out “O Sole Mio” and various Italian opera arias at least 3x a week. He’s been doing this for months – poorly. He really can’t sing. Not tone-deaf, but honestly, it’s not pretty to listen to. We probably should have nipped this in the bud in 2020, but what do we do now? Can we get him to stop without sacrificing our block’s good vibe?
There’s something beautiful about someone standing on the steps of their house and belting out a tune, uninhibited, for all to hear, regardless of their talent or lack thereof. It takes a lot of guts and gusto. Maybe too much in your opinion. You say “We probably should have nipped this in the bud in 2020,” as though you and your neighbors are the rule makers of the block. But why quash this guy’s spirit? Think of him as a tiny messenger of hope, regardless of how offkey he may be. He should be free to sing, and you and your neighbors should be free to wear ear plugs.
Dear Gabby appears in the RoundTable every Friday. Yes, Gabby is an advice columnist – but not just any advice columnist. Because that would be boring! Gabby combines wisdom with wit. And a pinch of snark. She is not a trained therapist by any means, but has seen and loved many in her day. Her aim is to make you think while she makes you laugh. Gabby welcomes all questions and queries and is only too happy to hear your opinion, no matter how much it may diverge from hers. Write to Gabby at email@example.com.