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Estrangement

How to react to racism in newly reconciled daughter?

(48 Posts)
PetitFromage Thu 18-Jun-20 08:15:16

I have recently reconciled with my eldest daughter after a three year period of semi-estrangement during which she moved house without giving us the new address, got married without telling us, and had a baby but didn't inform us until DGD1 was 14 months old. I am happy to say that we are now reconciled, although the hurt still runs very deep, as some of you will already know from my posts on the Estrangement threads.

DD1 has, in fact, now gone to the opposite extreme and is constantly telephoning and sending texts, photos and videos of the DGDs (a second DGD was born after the reconciliation), which is all good. However, I am all too conscious that relationships can be very fragile and, given that DH has terminal cancer for which he is currently undergoing palliative chemotherapy, the last thing I want to do is 'upset the apple cart'.

My problem is that DD1 and SIL have racist, Islamophobia, xenophobic tendencies and, in SIL's case, I also suspect misogynistic tendencies. It saddens me a great deal, as it was not how she was brought up and her two sisters are at the opposite end of the political spectrum, very concerned about BLM and gay and transgender issues etc. I abhor racism and all forms of discrimination and a big part of me feels that I should, as DD2 says, 'call her out' on DD1's comments etc.

It is not just comments, it is the links which she sends me and DH to inflammatory articles, although she sends them more to him than to me. DH studiously ignores them. I don't know why she sends them, perhaps to genuinely engage in a discussion. She doesn't seem to have anyone else to discuss things with really, apart from SIL and his parents, who live close by - 100s of miles away from us - and SIL's parents are of a similar persuasion to us ie liberal, inclusive etc. DD1 told me in our last conversation that they object to FIL's views. DD1 cut off contact with her friends when she met SIL and moved away and she is still estranged from her two younger sisters.

Anyway, last night DD1 sent me a video link which I find particularly offensive, although I suspect that I am expected to find it amusing. It has really upset me and made me realise just how far apart we are, not only physically but also mentally, spiritually, every which way. I know that we live in a democracy, but I feel ashamed that a child I raised could espouse such vile views, and I worry that the DGDs will be infected - although I did say to DD1 that children usually hold opposite views to their parents.

I would be grateful for some advice as to how to respond. Do I do as DH does and just not respond at all? Do I try to engage in a discussion in the hope of seeking to persuade her that her views are misguided? Or do I just say that we will not agree, so please stop sending these things to me? I absolutely don't want to jeopardise the reconciliation, but some things are just too important to ignore.

Starblaze Thu 18-Jun-20 08:35:27

That's a tough one. I come across 5his problem between parent and child often but literally never this way around before.

I wouldn't give up hope, I was very ignorant young and have educated myself over the years. I am an ally now.

Your relationship is very delicate so obviously you can't get into big discussions here but what you can do is either A: simply say, please don't send me things like this or B: ignore it completely.

If the relationship breaks down over you not wanting to receive these things, it probably would have broken down for another reason anyway.

janeainsworth Thu 18-Jun-20 08:44:23

You could try responding with calm, reasoned articles like this one
kenanmalik.com/2020/06/16/racism-is-a-problem-white-people-are-not/
And see what happens.

Davidhs Thu 18-Jun-20 08:58:01

May I say, with all the other issues here you should not be concerned about the odd racist comment. She is under a great deal of stress and doesn’t need extra because of an out of character comment.

vampirequeen Thu 18-Jun-20 09:02:02

Thank her for the links but tell her that your views and her views are diametrically opposed, you're worried it could become an issue at some point and you don't want to risk your relationship with her so it would be better if she didn't send them

Riverwalk Thu 18-Jun-20 09:21:03

I usually avoid the Estrangement threads because they often end up in a bun-fight when non-estranged offer a view, but the central issue of racism is something we can all comment on.

From what I understand you will always be on tenterhooks with your DD in order to avoid another estrangement from her and your DGC, so I can understand your dilemma.

I would do as your DH is and ignore links/comments that you don't agree with, which is probably what her in-laws are doing. If such topics come up in phone conversations then I think you can say well I don't agree with that but you're free to have such opinions. As we all know, emails/texts can be so misinterpreted!

I wouldn't waste time worrying about how she and her husband have these views, that's just the way it is, nothing to do with how you were as parents. But I can understand your disappointment.

Smileless2012 Thu 18-Jun-20 09:22:32

I was sorry to read this PF it's been a long, painful and stressful journey so far, to get to this point with your D. You're also of course very mindful of your H's health which is an added source of stress and worry.

My advice FWIW is to ignore it. I agree that there are some things that are too important to ignore. I also agree with Starblaze that If the relationship breaks down over you not wanting to receive these things, it probably would have broken down for another reason anyway.

That said, if it were to break down because no matter how reasonably you do so, you express your disagreement with her views, you could end up feeling that the breakdown is your fault entirely.

Your s.i.l. is a very strong influence on your D and as her views appear to have changed to be in line with his, I worry that he might regard any obvious lack of agreement with 'their' views as a reason to once again distance her from you.

You say your DH is ignoring them and I suggest for the time being at least that you do the same. I'm assuming that she isn't bringing these views into conversations, which makes it easier for you to ignore them and not give an opinion.

If at some point she asks you what you think to the links she sends, that would be the time to say for example that your views are not the same as hers.

It appears for the time being at least, this may be a case of egg shell walking with regard to this particular issue. I hope that your D will see her parents not commenting on the material she sends, your way of letting her know that you are not in agreement, and she'll let it go.

Being unable to be upfront and honest with our AC is not how we want to be. Walking on egg shells for fear of saying or doing the wrong thing makes what we always thought was a natural relationship, feel unnatural.

Saying nothing may be the best wayflowers x

Dee1012 Thu 18-Jun-20 09:28:51

Some great advice already here...do you think that it's your SIL who has influenced her at all or has she always held these views/opinions?

You have your husbands health as a priority and of course, your own well being.
Perhaps this problem can wait.
It must be hard though.

Luckygirl Thu 18-Jun-20 09:34:58

The priority in your life at present needs to be your OH. I agree that the ignoring tactic is the best under these particular circumstances. You will not change her views - she is clearly under the influence of her OH - so why engage with her on this at the present moment?

Normally I would say you should respond, as we all should, to overt racism, but it sounds as though you will not alter hew stance, and you have too much on at present to flog a dead horse.

I am sorry that you find yourself in this uncomfortable position.

vickymeldrew Thu 18-Jun-20 09:39:20

Difficult though it may be, the only course of action is to ignore it. There is no way you will change her mind by responding. Reasoned debate is obviously impossible . Concentrate on looking after yourself and DH.

ladymuck Thu 18-Jun-20 09:43:44

She is entitled to her opinions, just as you are. Simply tell her that your feelings are different to hers and it's a subject best avoided.

mumofmadboys Thu 18-Jun-20 10:37:04

Could you say something like'Thanks for the article you sent. I cant say I agree with the writer as I think all people are equal but he ( the writer) is entitled to his point of view just as much as I am entitled to mine' And then try and move on to another lighter subject. Good luck. Remember if anything stops her talking to you again it is not your fault.x

Bibbity Thu 18-Jun-20 11:21:16

I think at some point you need to accept that while Lobster Boy is a horrendous and horrible person your DD1 is not just some innocent victim anymore. She believes and is spreading this hate. She is accountable for her choices and actions and she caused your pain.
She is selfish.
You can’t deal with that right now.
It must be so so painful to see what she has grown to be. It’s not your fault. Look at DD2 & 3. Focus your energy on DH, you and them.
Personally I agree with a pp. Your entire relationship is now solely dependent on you being a good girl and doing what you’re told as and when you’re told.
That will blow at some point. I honestly can’t see a situation where she stays with him and you get a relationship with her long term.

I would say please stop sending me these I disagree completely.
Or just say nothing and black hole her.

sodapop Thu 18-Jun-20 12:54:10

So difficult for you PetitFromage At this stage given your husband's state of health and recent estrangement from your daughter I wouldn't take issue with her views. momb had good advice to keep things low key. It is disappointing when our adult children hold views like this but once they leave home other people influence their thinking.
Enjoy your grandchildren and put this to the back of your mind.

lemongrove Thu 18-Jun-20 14:24:21

What a horrible bit of advice from you Bibbity I sincerely hope that the OP disregards it!
Sodapop and other posters have the right idea.😃

Callistemon Thu 18-Jun-20 14:37:27

Reading Bibbity's post makes me understand why relationships may break down.

I would ignore that post, PetitFromage and read the more sensible and caring posts on here.

You could, if you felt like it, just gently say that you probably won't read the links and then change the subject to chatting about the children, your DH, or something else non-controversial of interest to you both.

It's difficult walking on eggshells but your DD does sound as if she is very much influenced by your SIL.

Keep it low key and cheerful as advised on here.

Bibbity Thu 18-Jun-20 14:44:41

What exactly have I said that is so horrible?!
Her daughter is racist. This is a time to call out racists.

But she can’t right now. She has so much on her plate and she needs to block out the bad.
The daughter is not an overly good person. That’s sad and upsetting but the OP can’t fix her. She is not a child that can be swayed.

PetitFromage Thu 18-Jun-20 15:07:14

Thank you all so much for taking the time to reply. I really appreciate it!

I am going to mull over the excellent advice before I reply to DD1. I can't afford to get it wrong. There is a lot of hurt and pain here but my first priority has to be DH and if I pick a quarrel, however inadvertently, it will drain my strength, which is desperately needed elsewhere. So I feel a bit of a coward, but I don't have any emotional reserves at present, so I suspect that I will let it go, but slightly despise myself for doing so. However, those of you who have said that I am wasting my time in trying to change her views are right - at least for now.

I thank you each individually for your posts and @Bibbity, her reference to Lobster Boy indicates that she has read my posts on MN where I have had fantastic support and my thanks to her for her understanding of my position.

I welcome all of your views and am truly grateful. Xx

Alexa Thu 18-Jun-20 15:12:04

Do what Socrates did and reply with brief questions. E.g. "How do you know?" "Is there really evidence for that?"

Smileless2012 Thu 18-Jun-20 15:22:57

You're not a coward PF I've been telling you how much I admire your courage for going down the reconciliation route with your D.

Take care of yourself and your DH xx

MissAdventure Thu 18-Jun-20 15:51:43

It's never cowardly to prioritise what you need to do to 'stay afloat' emotionally.
Continuing to put one foot in front of the other is exactly what's needed.

Other stuff can wait. flowers

Callistemon Thu 18-Jun-20 19:26:36

Bibbity

What exactly have I said that is so horrible?!
Her daughter is racist. This is a time to call out racists.

But she can’t right now. She has so much on her plate and she needs to block out the bad.
The daughter is not an overly good person. That’s sad and upsetting but the OP can’t fix her. She is not a child that can be swayed.

Worrying that you can't see that.

Callistemon Thu 18-Jun-20 19:32:54

Well obviously there is a long back story to which we are not privy but Bibitty is so I am sorry if I misunderstood.

I thought lobster boy must be some racist who posts online.

I still think that saying *black hole her^ is extremely unpleasant. But obviously a MN term unsurprisingly.
Black holes crush anything that disappear into their depths.

GagaJo Thu 18-Jun-20 19:37:00

I speak as a mum/granny with a mixed race family. In any other situation, I would say 'Challenge her!'

Try to ignore her racism. You want to keep your relationship with your grandchildren. YOU will be a positive light in their lives and will in some way be able to offer a positive, non-racist perspective for them.

Callistemon Thu 18-Jun-20 19:38:49

Good post. 👍