August 10, 2017 at 2:36 pm EST | by Michael Radkowsky
Fight or flight?
Trump voter, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Michael,
 
When is it appropriate to cut a family member out of your life?
 
Although it took my mom some time to come around, she has been supportive of my being gay over the years. Especially considering her conservative and religious background.
 
However, my mom voted for Trump last November. I was furious at the time for many reasons, including, of course, the numerous anti-gay people in his inner circle.
 
When I pushed her on her support, she referred to Trump’s having proclaimed his support of LGBT issues and said she would be first in line to demonstrate against him if he took any steps against the LGBT community. This calmed me somewhat.
 
Well, she has yet to don her marching shoes.
 
I held my tongue over Trump’s demonstrations of contempt for gay people through such moves as his not endorsing LGBT Pride Month. But the latest, his tweet attempting to kick trans people out of the military and his Department of Justice declaring that gay rights aren’t covered by the Civil Rights Act, has me newly enraged.
 
How could my mom support this? She has not replied to this question.
 
I don’t see the point of talking to her. My blood is boiling. Whatever her reasons for voting for this hateful bigot last November, how can she pick him over the rights, safety and well-being of her own child?

Michael replies:

Wow. To have your own mother support an administration that is working to implement and perpetuate discrimination against you is infuriating and heartbreaking.

I can see some benefits if you want to stop interacting with her in the short run. You’ll be giving yourself a chance to cool off and put a little space between you and this painful situation.

But cutting your mother out of your life is not an easy fix, because it doesn’t guarantee you’ll stop feeling hurt and being angry at her. As long as you keep stewing over her behavior, your blood will keep boiling.

Moreover trying to punish her or get her to change her mind by shutting the door on her until she joins an anti-Trump march is unlikely to result in her re-thinking her decision or in the two of you having a loving, warm relationship down the road.

So if you would like to be calm(er) about your mother’s stance, you’d be better off finding a different long-term path than closing the door on her.

But how to accomplish such a goal? How do you make your peace with — and possibly be close to — someone who has voted against your equality in our society?

Some possibilities:

• Accept that your mother, like everyone else, is flawed

• Remember that your mother has her good points

• Do your best to be respectful because she is your mother

• Keep in mind that growth and change are always possible

• Consider that you may yet influence your mother over time, as you have in the past

• Know that retaliating may lead your mother to dig in her heels and justify her position

For all of these reasons, you may want to leave the door open in the long run, cultivating an attitude of patience and open-mindedness while you encourage your mother to shift her position. This is not easy, I know.

Perhaps she will come around. And perhaps she will not.

If she holds to her current stance, you may have a hard time staying in contact with her. That would be sad, I’m sure, as you describe her having been a caring mother up to the present.

One more thought: If you cut your mom out of your life, you’ll be cooperating with Trump’s agenda to divide Americans.

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with gay couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@michaelradkowsky.com.

  • customartist

    “Stay because she, that woman who does not respect you, is your mother and deserves your respect”

    This sort of advice is utter BS.

    While I am wholly opposed to leaving otherwise good relationships, cutting and running,…when time after time the other person demonstrates their lack of respect for you as a person, then that is the Perfect situation to get one’s self out of. Of course all children need the approval of their parents. This need wains as one ages, and as we develop a deeper sense of self respect.

    Finding the courage to stand up for one’s self, by leaving bad relationships, despite the temporary pain, is one of the Healthiest things one can do. So there. Been there – done that, and all the happier for it.

    If one has integrity then nothing else matters.

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