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How Do You Navigate Different Wold Views between Yourself and Your Loved Ones?

voce

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May 13, 2018
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Before you pass judgement on the dilemma I'm about to tell you, here's some context.

I am Chinese-American. Born in China, immigrated and became a naturalized citizen. As a precocious reader, I've been educated in both countries and am fluent in both cultures. I try to pick and choose the values from each one that I want in my life. I am fortunate to have been selected to enter and graduate from an elite university, which embraces liberal values.

My mother is hard-working, honest, and never tried to harm anyone. She has a kind heart. She never had the innate talent for languages as I do. I take after my dad's side of the family, the side that was persecuted heavily under the Communists for being descendants of ministers of the highest rank in the imperial bureaucracy back in the 1800s. My mom was never able to learn English well, so she has worked almost exclusively at Chinese restaurants and has not been able to get a good education. Because she is only fluent in Chinese, she only follows Chinese language media.

Do you see where this is going?

Whereas my dad also prefers Chinese media because it's easier for him to understand than English media, my dad has the sense to listen to Taiwanese media and Mandarin-speaking HK media in order not to be subjected to too much CCP propaganda. My dad will argue but does so with facts.

My mom, although she won't argue, is very much prey to her own experiences. She doesn't care about statistical facts. In her experiences, the robberies at the restaurants she has worked at, and the more frequent dine-and-dash incidents were all perpetrated by blacks.

I am not interested in checking out exactly what she listened to, but a week ago, she was jeering at how ridiculous the chaos was over George Floyd protests. I told her I was not interested in deriding a movement that was trying to demand justice against racism.

My mom just came out and said she was a racist, and that she will never get over witnessing the crimes at the restaurant committed by black people. She will always suspect them of violence.

I didn't know how to respond and had to end the conversation. I don't know how to intellectually respect the woman who had ever only sacrificed for me, taught me to be kind, and treated me with love and kindness. She's unwilling to change her opinions by separating out her own experiences with more objective measures. In her world view, she sees the CCP as good for lifting people out of poverty, and cannot contemplate a China without a communist party.

My parents already feel like I don't respect them, because I don't listen to all their requests. Because in instances when they confuse their own experiences with objective truth, I express disdain. I love my parents but sometimes feel superior to them too. This conflicts with Asian expectations to honor your parents.

Is there a more graceful way to handle things apart from disengaging in conversations, when it comes to certain topics? My parents, due to their upbringing in a Confucian culture, completely reject letting their kids influence what they think or do and so are not open to changing their opinions. I understand what they think but vehemently disagree with some of it. It's unfortunate that I'm not able to give them the respect they desire, when particularly my mom doesn't care about anything beyond the scope of her personal experiences.
 
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mellowyellowgirl

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You've described my friend's mum perfectly. She's exactly like your mum! Extremely kind hearted lady (I ran into her at yum Cha once when my son was a baby. I'd had a rough day. She only vaguely knew me but recognized me and said hi. Upon seeing that I was overwhelmed that day she proceeded to bounce my fussy baby so that I could eat in peace) however she's had limited education and simply cannot see anything beyond her own views.

My friend just tries not to get into these discussions with her mum. They ALWAYS have a fight if she goes there so she tries really really really hard to be the bigger person and just not say anything because anything she says makes no difference.

I don't think it matters that you disagree. You don't necessarily have to let them know that you disagree?
 

Maria D

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Oh @voce , what a deeply personal dilemma! I don't know anything about Confucian culture but I am experienced with being both a daughter and the mother of a daughter. Part of becoming our own person is to analyze and sometime reject the ideas of our parents. My advice is to let love reign. You love your parents and you do respect them as parents. Try to focus on your love for them to guide interactions.

Personally, I think disengaging is a good strategy. At least your mom admits to being racist! I find it far more maddening when someone clearly has racial biases and won't admit it. Is your mom openly discriminating against anyone? That is something that I would be willing to argue about if it was my mother. But I feel she's entitled to her (wrong) opinions - doesn't mean you have to listen to them.

Good luck @voce! You sound like a very loving daughter.
 

voce

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@mellowyellowgirl @Maria D thanks for your input. I don't actively try to change their opinions. But my parents just like to talk about politics! So I just have to disengage, and they don't like that I disengage. My mom's content to disengage, but my dad's the type to want to argue over every point and likes to play the devil's advocate.

I can't help but feel sad that they feel they're deprived of the respect they feel they deserve from me and my little brother.

No, my mom isn't openly discriminating. She fears blacks if anything and will only air her opinions in private.

But, jaaron and missy both posted thread topics that made me think of my mom. It's not that easy, if at all possible, to objectively (in a scientific manner) prove my mom's world view false. I think that's why we need to accept that the world is not ideal and it can't be helped if some people have some mistaken beliefs.
 
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mellowyellowgirl

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Voce even if you can prove it, would they believe you? People believe what they want to believe. You can only hope that the beliefs are not dangerous.

My mother thinks cold air rises amongst other things. Nothing I say or do will change that.

Totally agree with your last point!
 

MrsBlue

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Jan 30, 2013
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I've been having similar conversations with my own friends. Parents immigrate to the US and work hard to give their kids a better life and Ivy League educations. Now those same parents are dismissive of their children' expertise in their areas of study and essentially treat them like idiots. Unless they're talking to other parents--then they'll brag like crazy!

We call our parents regularly and express care and attention but we avoid certain topics like the plague. My mom, for example, will never understand feminism because of her own life experiences. When I was young I used to argue with her a lot but it was completely useless and only led to uncomfortable silences. I navigate our conversations a lot more carefully now and have come to the realization that in many ways, she is a victim of the society that she was raised in. I've learned to empathize rather than blame her for having those ideas (even as I vehemently disagree with her.)

Your point about exposure to different ideas and news sources is especially important. In my group, older parents who actively read and socialize have a much clearer worldview. Conversely, those who who are homebodies who hear the same news all day are much more closed in their thinking. It makes perfect sense and has taught us to be mindful of this tendency. As we ourselves age, we have to keep pushing ourselves to read, socialize, and expose ourselves to new ideas.

Thanks for the amazing post!
 

mellowyellowgirl

Ideal_Rock
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Oooh I find that if I step back and try (note the word try here) to see why people believe what they believe I accept things better.

I think a person's upbringing, life experiences, status, past all play a huge role in why they think the way they do. I know I react in certain ways and hold certain views because of my experiences, not necessarily because I'm "correct".

So when I see people with views that I think are "wrong", stepping back and looking at who they are and why they think this way really stops me from engaging in an argument with them or resenting them. I may still think their views are rubbish but I can see why it's the "correct" view for that type of person/personality.
 

PreRaphaelite

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I’m opposite politically, culturally, intellectually, etc from my partner. We work well together as a team because we both dislike confrontation and are well-meaning. I accept that we will never see eye to eye on most things. Our relationship is an exercise in tolerance for both of us. I suspect that most marriages in the distant past were like this, and that 21st century marriage expects much more than what we have. C’est la vie.
 

Dee*Jay

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I’m opposite politically, culturally, intellectually, etc from my partner. We work well together as a team because we both dislike confrontation and are well-meaning. I accept that we will never see eye to eye on most things. Our relationship is an exercise in tolerance for both of us. I suspect that most marriages in the distant past were like this, and that 21st century marriage expects much more than what we have. C’est la vie.
PreRaphaelite, so YOU'RE having a relationship with TR too?

Seriously, I could have written your post... Big hugs to you; I know how hard this is. Do you drink? If not, it might be a good time to start...
 

voce

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Seriously, I could have written your post... Big hugs to you; I know how hard this is. Do you drink? If not, it might be a good time to start...
Me? I'm allergic to alcohol. My chosen addiction is bling. :lol:
 

stracci2000

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My father is a racist. He uses the 'N' word freely. My Mom takes his lead, and is the same way, though maybe not so bad.
He was raised by European immigrants and he learned this thinking from his own parents.
When I moved out of their house, and eventually across the country to a very liberal city,
I finally saw that the area I grew up in was so strongly racist.

The last time we visited them (they are in a different state), I was horrified and embarrassed for my DH to hear the way my dad talks.
But there is no way I will change my Dad. So I just avoid all discussion of race or politics with him.
 

SparklieBug

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Feb 23, 2013
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This sounds like a dilemma, @voce !

Over time, my viewpoints have changed as I've grown, stretched and interacted with a variety of different people from different cultures, countries—and perspectives. Visiting my parents, I'd often choose to be quiet and just listen if either of them got revved up about something (generally, politics and or my mom's unfounded and erroneous beliefs about _______ (fill in the blank, LOL!). If they went "over the top" (in my opinion), I might offer a counterpoint. I came to realize that they were fairly set in their ideas... which then led me to think about my own beliefs/ideas/thoughts, etc.

Just this morning I was speaking with a friend, and we both chuckled at our incredulity in having other friends (who appear to be sensible, logical, rational individuals) spout all manner of conspiracy theories about COVID-19, chemtrails, political hoohah, etc., that are going around these days. It's definitely caused me to pause and wonder whether some of my beliefs might be considered way "out there" by others.

In the end, for me it comes down to three basic things when I consider commenting in a charged situation:

1. Is it kind?
2. Is it necessary?
3. Is it true?

A fourth one could be added, "What would love do?" =)2
 

kenny

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28,662
Just get an AK-47 and take em out.
LOL

Seriously, I have only one loved one, my SO.
That's perfect for me!
So in this way my life is wonderfully simple.

I do have a guitar student, a grandpa, who's a very devout Catholic, and passionate Trumpie.
We're also very good friends; we hang out drinking Scotch and playing music.
He knows my world view, and knows I know his.

We get along great, we just don't go there.
I guess we've been walking around long enough to get that people just vary.

But then, of course we don't have to live together.
 
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SparklieBug

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We get along great, we just don't go there.
I guess we've been walking around long enough to get that people just vary.

But then, of course we don't have to live together.
Well said, @kenny . We have acquaintances that we do the same thing with. It's enjoyable to visit with them but to stay in "safe" territory, topics-wise. LOL! And yeah, much easier when it's an occasional visit rather than living in the same household. :bigsmile:
 

PreRaphaelite

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PreRaphaelite, so YOU'RE having a relationship with TR too?

Seriously, I could have written your post... Big hugs to you; I know how hard this is. Do you drink? If not, it might be a good time to start...
Lol Another thing we are opposites about: I love a nice Jameson and Vernor’s cocktail, and he’s 28 years in AA.

Another example: He will be voting for trump.
Ugh.
 

Begonia

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1,914
Whew! That's a tough one, and I don't have much to add beyond I deeply respect how clearly and honestly you've communicated here in that post. I'm impressed by how in tune you are with all of the variables of the situation. That speaks well of you.
 

lovedogs

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11,198
Lol Another thing we are opposites about: I love a nice Jameson and Vernor’s cocktail, and he’s 28 years in AA.

Another example: He will be voting for trump.
Ugh.
Edit. I tried to tag @Dee*Jay in here too but the multi quote didn't work.


I certainly do not mean to derail the thread and please know I ask this with the utmost respect for you and your partners: how does it work for both of you? I feel like it's one thing to have different political beliefs if the underlying core is the same, but this seems different. To me (and maybe I'm not being fair to feel free to disagree), a vote for trump is a vote for racism/sexism/xenophobia. Or at the very least it means that the person voting for trump doesnt find those things to be dealbreakers. In your cases, does your SO feel like Biden is worse so are holding their nose voting for trump?

Again, I understand if this is too personal, but I am just trying to understand how this would work in a romantic partnership (as opposed to an acquaintance, which is much easier bc you can avoid sensitive topics).
 

Matata

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You have to pick your battles carefully. It may be wisest to simply repeat as often as necessary "I understand that your experience is the basis for your opinion and I respect that but we have to agree to disagree on ____. Then tell whichever parent it is that you love him/her and give that person a hug before you walk away.
 

voce

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You have to pick your battles carefully. It may be wisest to simply repeat as often as necessary "I understand that your experience is the basis for your opinion and I respect that but we have to agree to disagree on ____. Then tell whichever parent it is that you love him/her and give that person a hug before you walk away.
I should add that at that point, my dad would take the hug as an insult because it negates the respect children should have for their parents. Respect = distance when there is disagreement.

You see how differing world views makes communication and perceptions difficult?
 

Matata

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should add that at that point, my dad would take the hug as an insult because it negates the respect children should have for their parents.
Then do something that in their eyes affirms your respect for them as the parents who raised you to be an awesome person. When they're dead, it won't be the arguments or fundamental difference in belief systems that you remember. You'll remember the love and opportunity they gave you.
 

voce

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Then do something that in their eyes affirms your respect for them as the parents who raised you to be an awesome person. When they're dead, it won't be the arguments or fundamental difference in belief systems that you remember. You'll remember the love and opportunity they gave you.
I appreciate the advice, but my parents think I'm anything but an awesome person. Sometimes it feels like I'm under constant siege for the faults they perceive in me, and if we have an argument, which is a few times a year, they're fond of rhetorically asking what kind of sin they committed in their past lives to deserve such an unfilial daughter. Nope, not the affectionate type, my parents.
 

PreRaphaelite

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a vote for trump is a vote for racism/sexism/xenophobia
I don’t disagree with you on this. I would add homophobia as well, as a result of convos with partner and his family members. I’m unhappy that we disagree on gay marriage rights, as it is especially relevant to me personally.

Sorry for the threadjack, OP.
 

Matata

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You described your mom as "honest, and never tried to harm anyone. She has a kind heart." So I assumed (incorrectly) that you benefitted from those qualities.

I appreciate the advice, but my parents think I'm anything but an awesome person. Sometimes it feels like I'm under constant siege for the faults they perceive in me, and if we have an argument, which is a few times a year, they're fond of rhetorically asking what kind of sin they committed in their past lives to deserve such an unfilial daughter. Nope, not the affectionate type, my parents.
I was speaking of my personal opinion of you. As you represent yourself here on PS, I think you're awesome. What type of relationship do you want with your parents? Below you say you can't give them the respect they desire and you're searching for a better way to handle disagreeable conversations other than disengaging. I'm not sure, given what you've described thus far, that there is a better solution. Given that neither your parents nor you will change to the satisfaction of either side, perhaps the humane thing to do is to not engage.

Is there a more graceful way to handle things apart from disengaging in conversations, when it comes to certain topics? My parents, due to their upbringing in a Confucian culture, completely reject letting their kids influence what they think or do and so are not open to changing their opinions. I understand what they think but vehemently disagree with some of it. It's unfortunate that I'm not able to give them the respect they desire, when particularly my mom doesn't care about anything beyond the scope of her personal experiences.
 

nala

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Lol Another thing we are opposites about: I love a nice Jameson and Vernor’s cocktail, and he’s 28 years in AA.

Another example: He will be voting for trump.
Ugh.
Add me to this group. How do I cope @lovedogs—I have to remind myself that my vote cancels out his! Lol. But seriously, he has never demonstrated racism or homophobic, etc., behaviors—that I could not handle. I’ve questioned how I could have respect for a man that supports Trump— like wtf is his common sense? But then I came to realize that he just votes for his party, but still—it makes me angry. But then I realize that people change. I raised my daughter who is now 21 and sometimes I don’t see eye to eye with all her beliefs. So I’ve resigned myself to some very lively discussions—which we set rules for before engaging!
 

ItsMainelyYou

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You've gotten some very wonderful commiseration and sound advice. I also somewhat understand your plight as it pertains to my in-laws. It was another factor that also caused me to be separate from some of DH's extended family unit in a fundamental way. The racism etc wasn't exactly overt, but it was enough. It made me an outsider; compounded with a completely different upbringing/background and you get 'subtle otherness'. That was hard. Time mellowed it somewhat, but it is what it is. We can't change who they are. They do love us as best they can. We don't publicly confront them as much as we used to. They know our stance. It was futile. We just ended up using them as an object lesson for our own children by not letting their views go unchallenged if they are diametrically opposed to our own. Much of this happens in the car on the way home. The positive is that their worldview will end with them.
You are doing everything you can in the best way there is given your situation, even though it's painful. I admire your strength. You are showing them the utmost respect. You are wise. It's all you can do.
 

smitcompton

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Hi,

I think I hear something going on in your relationship with your parents. Your mother dislikes blacks because she thinks they are criminals because she has had first hand knowledge of robberies in the restaurants where she works. In fairly recent history half of America thought this way, including me.
Media and arrests certainly portrayed blacks as criminals. This is why we have what we have today.
Voce, you do want to feel superior to them, at least your mother. I think any person who experienced one group of people, Russian, Chinese, Mexican, etc. committing crimes in plain sight would react as your mother has done. Natural defenses come into play. I can see why she feels the way she does. You want to tell her shes wrong and she should change. She may be in a high crime area and her thinking may protect her. The only thing you can say, is not all blacks are criminals. This is true. Why negate her thinking. Introduce her to a black friend.

Voce, you really are very smart. But, you may not be superior to your parents because you know facts. We all make assessments on situations. Some incorrectly. Matata is right. Its the love and opportunity that these flawed people gave you that you will remember. Accept them as they are.


Annette
 

OreoRosies86

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I don’t have close relationships with people I clash with on what I believe to be moral issues. Political, maybe. I can understand that there are people I love dearly who hated Obama and all his policies. I know that doesn’t make them racist. If someone literally said “I am a racist and I think black people are criminals” I would have to seriously distance myself.
 

Emerald City

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Jun 1, 2020
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I don't engage with my relatives anymore, because they're very toxic. But when I did interact with my father, he had a lot of anger about how he was treated. He is from an Asian country and when he came to the US, he barely spoke English and was treated with obvious racism from day 1. Growing up, I never looked 'white' even though my mother was and was treated differently at school and by the neighbours. I don't use this as a reason to hate mainstream US culture; I put it aside as the actions of fools and go about my business. My father and I both worked for a mostly black university and we both experienced a great deal of blatant racism from the black employees. It makes the cries that only blacks experience racism a bit disingenous.

This site has a lot of left-leaning opinions and it makes a conservative like myself reluctant to post my political opinions.
 

Mekp

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I don’t have close relationships with people I clash with on what I believe to be moral issues. Political, maybe. I can understand that there are people I love dearly who hated Obama and all his policies. I know that doesn’t make them racist. If someone literally said “I am a racist and I think black people are criminals” I would have to seriously distance myself.
I agree with this.
I acknowledge I'm likely not understanding the cultural context, but I'm big on boundaries in my relationships. Someone says something that is racist/homophobic/etc? I'm going shut that right down. I don't want to hear it and I won't get drawn into a debate about it.
I'm guessing, based on what you said, you don't feel permitted to set boundaries with your parents. But what could happen if you did?
 

voce

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Hi,

I think I hear something going on in your relationship with your parents. Your mother dislikes blacks because she thinks they are criminals because she has had first hand knowledge of robberies in the restaurants where she works. In fairly recent history half of America thought this way, including me.
Media and arrests certainly portrayed blacks as criminals. This is why we have what we have today.
Voce, you do want to feel superior to them, at least your mother. I think any person who experienced one group of people, Russian, Chinese, Mexican, etc. committing crimes in plain sight would react as your mother has done. Natural defenses come into play. I can see why she feels the way she does. You want to tell her shes wrong and she should change. She may be in a high crime area and her thinking may protect her. The only thing you can say, is not all blacks are criminals. This is true. Why negate her thinking. Introduce her to a black friend.

Voce, you really are very smart. But, you may not be superior to your parents because you know facts. We all make assessments on situations. Some incorrectly. Matata is right. Its the love and opportunity that these flawed people gave you that you will remember. Accept them as they are.


Annette
I feel superior because I value different perspectives and am aware of my personal biases, because I think self improvement should be an ongoing thing throughout life, because I want to look beyond my personal circumstances and look beyond my own experiences to guide my future thoughts and actions. I feel superior because I doubt sources and search for facts, trying to discern truth, rather than accepting opinions and conclusions handed to me on a silver platter. In my view, my "knowing facts" is not accidental. It's intentional.

I know there are people who don't live with the intent to pursue the objective truth.
 
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