Would you help a racist family member?

posted 2 months ago in Parenting
Post # 31
Member
2449 posts
Buzzing bee

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mg8301 :  The fact that this is your son really complicates things IMO. I think you should go talk to a counselor so that you can talk all angles of this situation through.

Another thing is that there are people out there who are trying to de-radicalize people on the far right and neo-Nazis. I’m not trying to say that your son is a neo-Nazi, but I wonder if there is any way that a consultation with someone who de-radicalizes people for a living might help you shed more light on the situation. Obviously no one can tell you what to do and no one can tell you how your son is going to turn out, but I wonder if it might be helpful to talk to someone who has dealt with even more extreme cases than your son.

I also wanted to let you know that you’re not alone.

Here is a twitter thread that a mom posted: https://twitter.com/iproposethis/status/1161130456286289920

And a NYT article by the same mom: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/12/opinion/sunday/white-supremacist-recruitment.html

And an article by an anonymous mom: https://www.washingtonian.com/2019/05/05/what-happened-after-my-13-year-old-son-joined-the-alt-right/

And a NYT article about Brazilians being radicalized by the far right: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/11/world/americas/youtube-brazil.html

Post # 32
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584 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2018

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mg8301 :  What does his therapist say about his behaviour and what are his recommendations?  I would start from there.  The therapist should have some insight about what is going on by now and if not, I would be looking for a second opinion. 

I am a conservative/right-leaner in a family of left-leaning academics (I’m not American, so no, not a Trump supporter and our right wing here is far more moderate than American right-wing).  We have spirited discussions sometimes on matters of economic or social policy.

However, racism isn’t political (or “just” political in the USA) I don’t think politics or difference of opinion is particularly relevant when discussing pure racism.  As a previous poster said, using Ben Shapiro as an example, while he does show racism towards Palestinians and does argue about the benefit of welfare to the black community, he does not (or doesn’t anymore at least, I’m not familiar with his past) use crude racist language in regards to the black community.  I’m assuming your son probably looks for any source that seems to validate his beliefs, as oppose to developing his beliefs due to videos such as Shapiro’s (chicken or the egg)

Personally, I would not tolerate my child engaging in racist behaviour and/or speech.  When he is an adult, you do not have a say in how he acts, but any sort of financial support enables him and validates him.  I think as an adult, he needs to learn that actions and behaviours have consequences.  I would cut off any financial support. 

Post # 34
Member
23 posts
Newbee

 I don’t have any answers to your questions but you are not alone and are not to blame.  A dear friend of mine is in a similar situation with his son.  He is clergy from a very open minded denomination and he and his wife are, in his words “borderline hippies” living in Austin, TX. His son started watching progressively more right-wing you tubers and following people like Ben Shapiro.  He now parrots their views on immigrants, women, and the like.   Its heartbreaking to watch his father, who ministers to a wide variety of people, have a son who is so hateful.  

Post # 35
Member
460 posts
Helper bee

If he were younger I’d suggest moving, cutting off his internet access and phone– but since he’s nearly an adult I’d suggest following him down into the rabbit hole. Hang out on 4chan’s random board, read the far right news; keep tabs on his internet history and read everything he’s reading. Then engage and educate him on the other side, what true information has been omitted. Just keep the dialogue open, even when he’s infuriating. Would your mixed race relatives be open to talking with him?

I wouldn’t give him a free ride/totally free rent. I’d make him get a job and a student loan, pay a token amount to you towards rent. If he stops being a racist dick in the future after college you can always gift him the money you would have spent- pay back his loans or give him a house downpayment when he’s ready.

Post # 36
Member
689 posts
Busy bee

i would definitely set strict boundaries with them…Make it very clear that any racist bahviour will not be tolerated and if you hear of it, there will be loss of privledges and help.

Post # 37
Member
1375 posts
Bumble bee

I think it’s time to show him that his privilege of being a white man ends at your home. It sucks because you need to balance teaching him a tough lesson and making sure he’s not a dick and trying to keep him from being further radicalized.
Education is one thing that may help him learn to be a better person. Just because he has family that is diverse doesn’t mean he’s connected his family with the “other” he hears about. Maybe seeing diverse strangers and “libs” will help him humanize people he hates. It’s also not really doable to pay for college from a part time job like it used to be. So I’d make a deal with him. You help pay for college, but he needs to get a job and a certain amount of his earnings every month will go to helping you pay for college.
If he continues being racist/sexist you discontinue his phone and internet privileges. After 18 and after 3 strikes he’s got to pay for his own phone plan if he wants to use one. You will not tolerate intolerance.
Decide on your line in the sand for him living with you. Once he’s 18 and a grown up you write up a rental agreement that dictates your house rules. If he passes this line/breaks the rules (either with 3 strikes or have warnings as he approaches this line) you give him a 90 day eviction warning. Once he breaks the rules he’s on his own.
Decide on your line in the sand for paying for his college. Make it clear to him far in advance what that is. Write up a contract for him and make him sign it so that he understands what the consequences of his behavior is. Enforce those consequences.

Positive reinforcement is important as well. Give him the opportunity to earn privileges back and praise him when you see improvement.

Educate him on the history of various slurs and insults he uses. “Hysterical” for example was a way doctors and men could invalidate women’s emotions and clinically diagnose them as insane. It’s a pretty shitty word to use in this regard against women. There are other ways to show disagreement and disapproval of someone’s beliefs. But hysterical has a long history of being abused against women who wouldn’t listen to men. For example family members could get a woman labeled hysterical and crazy and locked up in an asylum for something as simple as not wanting children!

*Every* time he makes a racist or sexist comment, call him out on it and initiate a conversation about it. Ask why he would say that? How does his race have to do with that? Why do you think their opinion is invalid? Do you have the experience to say that? If you think it’s biological, what’s the mechanism? Do you think I/your mixed family are [example of what he just said]?

Post # 38
Member
3264 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2017

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mg8301 :  he has “oppositional” disorder you said and ” other diagnoses”. Are those other diagnoses mental health issues?  Has he seen an actual Psychiatrist? If not I would pursue one that specializes in children. Even though he is now 17, this had been a longstanding issue that began in childhood.  Counseling has apparently not worked, a child psychiatrist may be helpful I think. Good luck.

Post # 39
Member
1239 posts
Bumble bee

I have no experience with this, but I read one of the NYT articles that MissMarple shared (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/12/opinion/sunday/white-supremacist-recruitment.html) and thought it was so insightful. Especially her point about how you need to understand how these alt-right communities work and what makes them appealing to young white men. Basically they feed off of the idea that white men are being oppressed and are the real victims of society. So when these boys repeat the gross ideas they’re hearing online to their parents, and the parents then blow up and respond by taking their phone away/grounding them/whatever – it has the unintended effect of just reinforcing what they’re reading online about all the alleged oppression, making them that much more attracted to the alt right. It’s a vicious cycle.

An expert cited in the article recommends that rather than shutting down the convo, telling your son something like “I am proud of you that you are trying to develop opinions that weren’t spoon fed to you, and I promise to listen to what you have to say if you listen to what I have to say.” Just trying to have an open conversation about these issues rather than forbidding him from expressing his racist opinions might take the edge off the anger and sense of perceived victimhood that your son is having? I don’t know, maybe he’s already too far gone for that type of thing to work…but I thought the approach made a lot of sense.

I’m really sorry you’re in this situation. At 17 your son is still young though and there’s plenty of reason to hope he will come out of this and one day not too long from now shrink back in shame over the ideas he espoused as a teenager. I’d probably be researching experts in this specific area to talk to though given the seriousness of the situation.

Post # 41
Member
12814 posts
Honey Beekeeper

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mg8301 :  You say “over the years” but has he been recently evaluated by a psychiatrist, ie an MD specializing in young adults with ODD or CD? As I’m sure you are fully aware, mental illness can first manifest or more fully manifest in the older teens or 20s. You also mention that you are monitoring. Is there a person with these kind of credentials on the team currently? 

As I’m sure you know, with ODD there can be overlap with mood disorders, ADD, and depression. A second or third medical opinion might be in order even if you love his current therapist(s) and they have told you they don’t believe any of those things apply. 

As far as college, keep in mind he can always postpone. What are the professionals recommending? If they are not guiding you, perhaps you need to consult someone new. I’ll say this, though. If was in your position and it was an option appropriate to the situation I’d do whatever I had to do, including literally sell my house or take out loans in order to get the best treatment, including intensive or residential. School would be a secondary consideration at this time. 

Bottom line, it’s not just about racism. Unfortunately, no one here is really in any sort of position to answer your question. 

Post # 42
Member
3264 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2017

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mg8301 :  as a pp said,  counselors and psychologists are much different than an actual psychiatrist, who is a physician!  Do yourself a favor and make an appointment today with a child psychiatrist to have him evaluated. You may be surprised what insight and help a CHILD PSYCHIATRIST can  provide. You want to know that you tried everything right?? Good luck.

Post # 43
Member
228 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2021

Wow I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I have serious concerns about young men today (based off browsing online communities like reddit), and I know they can be radicalized entirely through media like internet, YouTube, podcasts etc. 

I’m not sure what I would do. But I feel like the idea of “conditional support” sounds best here. If you just entirely cut him off he will feel like even more of a victim. If you offer support but he loses it eventually due to failing the (clearly established) conditions, at least he will have no one to blame but himself. And maybe he will even have a moment of clarity, like damn my a racism actually cost me X amount of money and is ruining my life. 

Post # 45
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3264 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2017

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mg8301 :  a psychologist is *different* than a psychiatrist. So no, everything has not been tried unless he’s been evaluated  by a child PSYCHIATRIST.  A psychiatrist is a medical doctor, much different than a psychologist…   Note the different spellings,  they are *different* professions and education….

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-truisms-wellness/201601/psychiatrist-vs-psychologist

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