When Adult Children Turn Away From You Because of Ideology

Advice for keeping the family together
August 11, 2020 Updated: August 11, 2020

Dear June,

I believe I represent a large percentage of your readers, as an older, recently retired, conservative American with adult children, who have been persuaded that all we believe in is evil and destructive—the Constitution, the greatness of America, the traditional family, a free market, equal opportunity not equal result, God and the Church, the condemning of violence to achieve a political end, and the need to reopen the economy and schools if we want to survive as a nation.

Like all those in our shared demographic, we love our children, having sacrificed greatly in raising them, only desiring their happiness and success.

But our children, young and old, are being taught to marginalize and be suspicious of us as enemies of all they have been programmed to believe in—the liberal agenda, which includes … [that] we will live in fear of COVID-19 until we have a vaccine.

We see this in their now guarded conversations, in warnings about not visiting small groups of friends, about not returning to church services even though social distancing and masks are part of these acts. They are terrified that contracting COVID-19 is equal to death, as has been implied by the media.

In this new, “woke” era, we are agonizing about this divide that has been created by the education system and the press.

One important concept they are being taught is that it is “better” if we all think alike. I was told that when I was told not to discuss God with my grandson.

When that does not occur, they begin to distance themselves in sharing their thoughts and lives with us. Much like college campuses shouting down conservative ideas, they are silently closing us off from their lives.

We respond with Christian love, ignoring their rebuffs, praying for the distancing to recede, but would appreciate your perspective on this.

Joyce M. California

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Dear Joyce,

In my experience, situations like yours are very common these days. Here is what I would suggest, in addition to your prayers:

Make connecting and bonding with them your main priority. This means you must not let ideas—either yours or theirs—get in the way.

Do this in a way that feels right and natural. What fosters good feelings in your family? Perhaps spending quality time together? More hugs? Maybe some verbal appreciation—letting them know what makes you proud of them? Or are they the sort who feel loved and appreciated when they receive thoughtful gifts? Or maybe just helping them around their house brings you closer? In short, do those things that only family does for each other and that make it such an indispensable part of our lives.

So, then, what to do about those highly concerning ideas they espouse?

Just ignore them (I will explain why shortly). From the depths of your heart, forgive your children for believing in them, and allow yourself to be at peace with where your children are. This probably won’t be easy. It is, of course, right and natural for parents to be concerned about their children! But when your children are grown, making life decisions out of their own free will, they may feel put off by strong parental concerns. It may be helpful to give over your concerns to divine grace.

Now I will explain why I think it is best to largely ignore these ideas. I am referring here to this class of ideas that contain a grain of truth but remove it from relevant context. These ideas then criticize and denounce, using this small slice of reality as justification. Although these ideas have captured the minds of many, they don’t hold up to logical inquiry, and thus they amount to propaganda.

Part of what makes propaganda so powerful is that it grabs ahold of us at a visceral level, hijacking our emotions and thus bypassing logical reasoning. So, even if you present a person with indisputable facts, or they themselves bear witness to a contradictory event, they may still believe the propaganda.

Another element that makes these ideas so powerful is their ability to polarize us. They decry our most cherished institutions and values because they know that by doing this, they can divide us. And their intent is destruction, with polarization being a key means to this destruction. So this is why I advise not letting these ideas come between you and your family. When they injure your familial bonds, they are succeeding.

I know what I am proposing here is not easy. To remain unmoved by these ideas requires us to practice a saint-like forbearance. But imagine the power that an army of saints has.

I really do think the joy and peace that come with practicing virtue are a big part of the answer. Faith, compassion, and forgiveness are powerful antidotes for bad ideas. What I cannot say is how long it may take to see change.

About the situation with your grandson: For the time being, it may be better to honor his parents’ wishes regarding conversations about God. However, this does not mean you should let his moral education go completely. Rather instead of words, let your kind actions, your gentle manner of being, the warm tone of your voice show him a moral path. And hopefully, one day he will ask of his own free will, “Grandma, what makes you so good?” And then I think you have the right to answer him honestly and fully, and he will be impressed with the power of your faith.

Sincerely, June

Do you have a question for our advice columnist, Dear June? Whether it’s a frustrating family matter, a social etiquette issue, a minor annoyance, or a big life question, send it to DearJune@EpochTimes.com or Attn: Dear June, The Epoch Times, 229 W. 28th St., Floor 7, New York, NY 10001

June Kellum is a married mother of two and longtime Epoch Times journalist covering family, relationships, and health topics.