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Huffington Post contributor says it might be time to cut her children’s Trump-supporting grandparents out of their lives

Say what?

Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

A Huffington Post contributor wrote in an op-ed that she is considering removing her children's grandparents from the kids' lives because the grandparents, both in their 70s, are conservative Republicans who support President Donald Trump.

What did the contributor say?

Guest writer Hannah Selinger's article, "It Might Be Time to Cut My Right-Wing, Trump-Loving In-Laws Out of My Kids' Lives," did not feature the notion of tolerance and dedication to family being stronger than political ideologies.

Selinger explained that her in-laws' "offensive" behaviors — as well as where they live ("Florida's Gulf Coast in a predominantly white, older community saturated by conservative talking points") — are damaging to the point where she is worrying that her children will be negatively impacted by the grandparents' ideologies, including their pro-life views on abortion.

Here are some of Selinger's key complaints from her essay:

  • "Their tolerance only extends to people they know and understand — and those people are white, straight, 'American' people."
  • "My father-in-law once had to leave the room when two men kissed on TV. 'Disgusting,' he whispered under his breath, within earshot of my son."
  • "My in-laws have said a spate of problematic, objectionable, and often, straight-up hateful things. My sweet mother-in-law, who cries at the very notion of a dog's death, wanted to know why Senate hopeful Roy Moore's teenaged accusers didn't come forth with their claims sooner."
  • "When my 1-year-old threw a tantrum and I accused him of being a 'drama queen,' she gently corrected me: 'It's drama king.'"
  • "My father-in-law clucked when, in a scene in the movie 'Moonlight,' an impoverished black drug dealer pulled up in a decked-out low-rider. It was an expensive car, and my father-in-law wanted us to know that people of that sort were always spending above their means. 'That's just what they do,' he said, shaking his head. 'That's just what they do.'"
  • "They have become completely indoctrinated, and, what's worse, they don't really seem to care."
  • "When I asked them to stop watching right-wing cable news in the living room of our home ... they rerouted to their computers."
  • "My in-laws oppose abortion in any and all circumstances, but they appear unbothered by the idea of migrant kids in cages at the country's border."

Selinger said she even reached out to her unnamed mother-in-law to discuss the impact of the Charlottesville, Virginia, riots and the death of Heather Heyer in an effort to criticize President Donald Trump and his supporters.

"As a Jewish woman with half-Jewish children, I wanted her to know that her support of a president who says incendiary, race-baiting things affects people like me," Selinger said in a text to her mother-in-law. "It affects my kids."

Selinger was apparently put off by her mother-in-law's short response: "Thank you for your note." Selinger then explained that that lack of conversation was causing a rift in the family and insisted that she didn't want to cut them out of the family's lives, but she wasn't optimistic.

"In the case of this deep kind of intolerance, there is no solution," she complained. "I believe it has to be vanquished entirely."

Resigned, Selinger said that she was just simply unable to pretend "that we're a normal family."

"It's not like I can just leave them with the kids for the night and hope they don't say something awful about a marginalized group of people while I'm out enjoying a martini with my husband," she complained. "That safety has been stolen from both of us."

How did the grandparents react?

Selinger's mother-in-law was less than pleased over her daughter-in-law's thoughts.

"You're choosing politics over family," her mother-in-law insisted.

Selinger said, however, that she's not.

"Really, I'm choosing my own family over her politics, over her intolerant behavior," Selinger reasoned. "Exposure to racism, or sexism, or homophobia is dangerous for young children. ... Exposing [children] to bigotry is simply not healthy."

Is her husband involved in any of this?

Selinger said that her husband is "reluctant" to cut his parents out of their lives

"He is more hesitant to cut his parents off than I am, even though we share the same set of values, because, at the end of the day, these are his parents, not mine," she explained. "At night, when it is only the two of us, he tells me what he feels most prominently is disappointment in his mother. He feels like she allowed herself to be hijacked by ideas that were never really hers."

"My husband speaks to his mother on his drive home from work, and lately I rarely — if ever — answer the phone when I know it's her, because my anger has not yet peaked," Selinger added.

So now what?

"The end of this road is where we decide if, as parents, we would rather create humans who have every possible chance of turning out to be good people and who, therefore, may not see their grandparents because their grandparents just can't seem to understand why it's not OK to say that Muslims are bad people," she explained.

Selinger added that she and her husband are currently putting off "having to make a decision" about the fate of the family, but she is certain about two things: "The first is that we want to do the best thing for our kids. And the second is that we don't necessarily know what the best thing for our kids is."

"What I do know is that, as my in-laws' bigotry grows more entrenched, fomented by American radicalism, the idea of them in our lives seems less and less possible," she concluded. "And what I need to be sure of, 20 years from now, when I look at my grown children down the telescope of their lives, is that I did everything to protect them from evil."

Editor's note: This piece has been updated. The original post implied that Ms. Selinger's in-laws are Evangelicals. They are not; they are Catholics.

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