Love and Relationships

[Two Pronged] I hate my parent’s political opinions, but I still live with them

Margarita Holmes, Jeremy Baer

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[Two Pronged] I hate my parent’s political opinions, but I still live with them

Nico Villarete/Rappler

'I am so afraid that when things get heated enough, they will ask me to leave the house'

Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr. Margarita Holmes.

Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in three continents, he has been training with Dr. Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives.

Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.

Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr. Baer:

I am so sad because my parents seem to be so brainwashed by President Duterte’s PR machine and his paid commentators. It seems VP Sara is following examples with her lies. I thought this would all end after he left the presidency and I could breathe a sigh of relief, but even now, they still idolize him. They believe his prayer rallies are really prayer rallies, they believe that he has nothing to do with our current problems with the West China Sea, and countless other lies that he has the balls to deny.

What am I to do? I still live with them, so arguing with them makes my living there not nice. PLUS I am so afraid that when things get heated enough, they will ask me to leave the house. I cannot afford to do so yet. Is there any solution?


Dear D,

Thank you for your email.

Living with one’s parents often has its pros and cons. You point out that what prevents you from moving out is that you cannot yet afford to live elsewhere, so I would suggest that the point of departure regarding your problem needs to be acceptance that you have to do whatever it takes to keep a roof over your head. This clarity of purpose will make it much easier to work out what options are then available to make the experience more bearable.

When adults clash over a difference of opinion – whether it be the existence of God, decriminalization of abortion, who to vote for, etc. – it is seldom that either party will stand the slightest chance of changing the other’s view. Each is well entrenched in their belief and each is determined to convince the other that they are wrong. Neither is likely to contemplate that the outcome could conceivably be that the other is in fact correct, principally because it would mean a public admission that they were wrong.

With this in mind, and understanding that your parents are therefore totally closed to even considering a change of opinion, whatever the “facts,” your best tactic seems to be to avoid joining political discussions of all sorts. Hopefully there are other less toxic topics that you can all discuss without acrimony and thus keep the peace. If you can always keep in mind that your primary goal is survival until you have the financial means to escape, then you will make your own life just that bit more easily bearable.

All the best,

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[Two Pronged] My parents are extremely conservative, and I feel so guilty going against them

[Two Pronged] My parents are extremely conservative, and I feel so guilty going against them

Dear D:

Thank you very much for your letter. I feel there are two things that need responding to in your letter.  The first is a pragmatic one, which ostensibly is why you wrote us in the first place: is there a solution to your not wanting to move out from your parents’ house when you constantly argue with them? Mr. Baer, I agree that the only solution (for now) is to find things other than politics to discuss. Mr. Baer has also given you a perspective from which to view this approach hopefully without feeling guilty or hypocritical about it.

The second is unstated, I think because it is difficult to put into more words other than: “I am so sad because my parents seem to be so brainwashed by (politics).” It is far less painful than saying what, perhaps, is the deeper issue, which is sadness, maybe even fear, that there is something fundamental that you and your parents disagree about.  

I have a feeling this is the first time you disagreed about anything – much more over a topic you both feel so strongly about. 

If even one of you didn’t feel this strongly, it wouldn’t matter. The one less strongly involved could give in graciously, could tell himself (or, in your parents’ case, could tell each other) pagbigyan nalang natin siya (cut her some slack). This obviously means so much to her, and it doesn’t to us, so let’s just “give in,” and pretend to agree with her. It will keep the peace over something not important enough to fight about.

I think what makes you so sad is realizing that there is now a chasm between how you and they think, love, and appraise other people.  

This is not what it used to be. When you were a child, you were as one with them. Everything your parents told you was gospel truth but they have changed to the extent that their views are anathema to you.

It takes some getting used to. Not only that, getting used to it (which you must if you love them and want to stay close) means you sometimes have to keep schtum when you would much rather say, “How can you be so blind?!!? How can you continue to believe in him?!!?” It takes a lot out of you when you realize that the two people you loved and trusted most actually have different views about what is the best for the country and thus, what they think is best for themselves and for you.

Ask yourself what is most important to you, D. In my clinical experience, people are happier when they give up the “shoulda coulda” feeling, as in, “You should’ve voted for anyone but Duterte,” or, “You could’ve checked his record as mayor before you voted for him.”

Looking back to what “coulda” and “shoulda” is an exercise in futility. This is true, especially now that you are grown up, and your parents feel no need to protect you from the world. Saying goodbye to anything you loved — be it your childhood, or beliefs you felt were immutable — always hurts.  

BUT, if you are particularly blessed, this goodbye can be closely followed by a hello…your realizing that, despite your political differences, you are still a family, you still love each other and can talk deeply and honestly and un-afraid-ly about so many things (as long as it isn’t politics). 

You may not win the battle – of getting them to go over to your political side – but as long as you win the war of continuing to love and care for each other, perhaps battles won (or lost) can be considered not that important. I hope you can feel the same way in time.  

All the best,
MG Holmes


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