So Gramps is a Racist: How to Deal with Conservative Relatives

The whole family was there, everybody. We had just made the trip to my brother’s college campus to watch him walk across the stage and celebrate his recently graduated/unemployed status.

Afterwards, my grandfather pulled me aside as we made our way to the parking lot. He started to tell me how proud he was of me, of my accomplishments, and to always go after what I want in life.  Sweet and supportive, this was classic grandpa advice.  What came next, however, was not: “You have a bright future…But I just hope you never fall in love with a Muslim. A Muslim man will trick you into marrying him then make him your slave. I just hope you have a good enough head on your shoulders to not do something like that.” I was stunned.

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I love my grandfather.  He is a generous and loving man.  He is also an old white man and a die-hard Republican from a small town in the middle of the United States who received his education many, many moons ago in a different time.  All political correctness aside, though, what he said was fu*ked up and just an example of comments he has made to me over the years about liberals, people of color, immigration… the list goes on.  That is the end of my story.  My point of sharing it, however, is how to deal with overly conservative relatives.  Here is my advice:

Stay away from politics. Nothing good will come from this conversation.  Stick to talking about sports, the weather, school, your job…Anything but politics because bringing politics up over brunch with your older conservative relatives is the equivalent of opening up the gates of hell.  While I am all for having healthy political debates about controversial issues, there is a point in time where you need to smile, nod, and move on.

Do, however, hold out hope for the younger generation of your relatives.  Without being scornful, talk to them about what they believe in.  We could all benefit from hearing from both sides of the political spectrum.  

Anybody else got crazy stories about fu*ked up stuff your relatives said?

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