I have spoken to my mother once in the past 8 months. She has done things which were disrespectful to my fiancee and her family, and she holds views which I feel are morally reprehensible. I want to be able to have a relationship with my mother, but I also want to stand up to the things that she says and does which I feel are wrong. I don't know how to balance these things.

How can I have a relationship with my mother when I stand in moral opposition to what she believes?


I'll try to divide this into a few sections, but it is mostly chronological.


My mother and I have had a complicated relationship. I moved home after college and started a master's program nearby. At that time I lived in her house and drove her car, she was supporting me. We did a lot of things together, including regularly rock climbing, going out to breweries and trying different foods. My parents are divorced (my dad cheated), and I feel that my mother came to treat me as a sort of partner, fulfilling that sort of emotional role in her life. Although to external observers, our relationship looked good (I would often get comments about how cool she was or that it we seemed to have a great relationship), there were issues of boundaries and communication. I wound up being essentially her chauffeur because she didn't renew her driver's license (no one understands why ultimately). My mother has a very dominant personality and I do not. I avoid confrontation. Many of these boundary issues were therefore my own fault for not dealing with them sooner.

My relationship

In 2016 I started dating a Muslim girl, and my mom treated her and her family rather suspiciously. Nothing extremely overt initially, but she started expressing occasionally her dislike of Islam, that she thinks Muhammad was a pedophile, that she thinks that halal slaughter is inhumane, that Muslim women who wear the headscarf are oppressed. I had been pretty much single for my entire life up to then, I had not had any serious relationships. My mother would call while we were on dates, or be constantly texting me to get my attention, she would get angry that I was coming home late or not informing her of where I was or what I was doing, she referred to my then-girlfriend as "that girl". She can be quite passive aggressive as well, not directly communicating what she is feeling.


My mother over the past few years has become more and more right-leaning conservative. While she used to be relatively centrist politically, being pretty socially liberal while being economically conservative, in the past few years her politics have veered decidedly towards the racist (she is white). In the past years I have heard her say things such as Black Lives Matter is an anti-white hate group or that Michelle Obama is racist against white people. She is strongly against any sort of affirmative action types of programs which benefit minorities because she feels that this means treating them "differently" than white people. Roughly speaking, she thinks that racism only means the in-your-face blatant racism, and doesn't believe that there is such thing as systemic racism, she thinks that minorities who speak out about racism are complainers who want to be treated different than everyone else, etc. When the movie "Hidden Figures" came out, she lamented (without having seen it) "I'm so tired of all these white guilt movies."

Islam and Donald Trump

I decided to convert to Islam in January 2017. I have been spiritual and religious for many years although no one in my family is and I never discuss it with them. I felt attracted to the path and I decided to convert. This didn't cause any major changes in my life at that time, my religion and spirituality are very personal and I don't share them with others much or discuss them openly. So it's not like I changed at all who I was around my mom or how I acted. However around this same time, my girlfriend discovered that my mom was on Twitter, and she was posting as much as ten times a day all sorts of Islamophobic, anti-Islam, anti-Sharia law, anti-hijab, etc etc sorts of things. She also started posting more anti-immigrant things and around this time came out in strong support of then-candidate Donald Trump. I personally strongly oppose Trump and everything he stands for, I have a very humanitarian view of politics, I identify as a "radical" leftist (I voted for Bernie but I am much more left than his platform, I am anti-war, I strongly criticize the US for its military and clandestine actions which have led to the deaths of millions of people around the world, I am anti-Capitalist, anti-Imperialist, and anti-Colonialist, I am not exactly a Marxist but I agree with Marx's assessment of capitalism, I'm a big fan of Noam Chomsky, etc etc).

Confrontation and moving out

Shortly after discovering my mom's Twitter, I confronted her about it, she defended herself, and I moved out. She accused me of abandoning her. We hardly spoke. I got engaged. My mom had always refused to meet my fiancee's parents, who are rather socially conservative Muslims who do not support dating before marriage etc (they don't know that we were dating but my mom of course did, my mom didn't like this because "this is America and in America we date and they need to assimilate to our culture." Not in those exact words but that was the gist of it), but about six months after moving out, last September, my mom called my fiancee's mother (having never spoken before) and apparently went on a tirade about how I was abandoning her, accusing my fiancee of stealing me from her, and various other things. I sent my mother an email outlining how I felt about what she had done and I stopped talking to her.

Last contact, failure to address the issues

I called my mother about two or three months ago simply to ask her whether or not she supported my fiancee and I. She picked up the phone and immediately started talking as if everything were fine and we had just spoken the day before, when we hadn't spoken for six months and the last thing she had said in reply to my email was not to contact her. I was quiet, and after she was done I said very calmly but directly that I had just called to ask her if she supported us getting married. She said, very seriously then, that she never had any problem with my fiancee but she doesn't support "the way you treat your family". My relationship to the rest of my family has not substantially changed, so really she means the way that I treated her. I said okay and then she immediately went back to being pleasant and started asking about something else. I told her I had to go and she got angry and hung up on me. Her behavior clearly indicates she does not want to confront the problems and wants to ignore them.

Present Day

Now to the present day. My family wants me to make up with my mom. They say I should just put politics aside, we should accept our differences, but we're family and need to have a relationship. They want me to just make things right, and none of them have pushed back against my mother in this, they all excuse her actions and no one has called her out for any of it, which is why I moved out in the first place. I couldn't support what she was saying online or how she treated my fiancee and her family. She has since made a new Twitter account and as far as I can tell she is even more of a Trump supporter than before, she repeats everything he and his administration say pretty much, calling the Mueller investigation a witch hunt, praising the withdrawal from the Iran deal, pushing for the removal of illegal immigrants, etc. She shares memes which compare Trump to Obama and praise Trump for undoing Obama's legacy. I have even seen her make fun of trans people, which was shocking to me. The particularly sad thing is that my mother is a very well-educated person who has an extensive library and is very well read. Yet she does not critically examine any of the things she is saying or even bother checking whether they are even true. I accept people can be Donald Trump supporters, I recognize that many people disagree with me and that's fine. But what my mother is supporting goes beyond just Trump. She has become more and more nationalist, xenophobic, and racist.


This is all very disheartening to me. I stand against everything she stands for. I am diametrically opposed to her political position. But this is also about more than politics. I am not willing to just ignore our differences on political opinions, because I believe that she is supporting racism, bigotry, and oppression of minorities. I believe she is supporting an administration which is causing the deaths of innocent civilians overseas, which is likely pushing the world towards war with Iran, which supports Israel despite the plight of the Palestinian people, which refuels Saudi bombers as they commit what amounts to genocide in Yemen, and more. To me this is a matter of morality. And more than just those things, I feel she was disrespectful to my fiancee and her family, and I want her to apologize for the things she did and said. I want to be able to have a relationship with her but I also want to stand against what she stands for, and I don't know how to do both. Today is mother's day, I am thinking that I should call her. I also want to meet with her in the coming weeks as I am heading back to my home state, and I want us to meet together with a counselor because I don't feel comfortable having a one-on-one conversation with her.

How can I have a relationship with my mother when I stand in moral opposition to what she believes, and how do I approach a conversation with her given how she has behaved in the past?

  • 1
    I feel that the implied but unsaid goal here is conflict resolution. If you could confirm this and make it clear in your last paragraph it may be a bit easier to answer. Having a relationship/approaching a conversation are not goals, you arguably already have a relationship with your mother (a difficult one), it would help if you could outline more clearly what you hope to happen from this conversation – Jesse May 14 '18 at 1:54
  • I posted an answer but I tried to only address your goal of having a relationship with your mother. You might want to post another question on how you should approach a conversation to maybe ask her to ease up on your wife and maybe keep her hate speech to herself or at least away from you. – Clay07g May 14 '18 at 4:32
  • You have my sympathy. A more focused version of this question might be on topic on Parenting SE, which is typically oriented towards parents, but sometimes deals with relationship issues between parents and adult children. – Chris Sunami May 17 '18 at 18:33

Here's an interpersonal skill that I think everyone needs to work on, given the polarization of many of us to very strong beliefs.

People with opposing beliefs, even amoral, do not make you a bad person for having a relationship with them.

Think about it. Where does the chain of responsibility end? Are you supporting terrorism because you have a friend who has a friend who has a parent who donated to a terrorist organization? No.

Putting political, even moral differences aside is one of the strongest interpersonal skills you will ever have in today's climate. If you can't do this, then all of your conversations will be stupid, pointless, petty arguments that change nothing. And you'll always be upset and angry on top of that.

We all have friends who make objectively bad choices. Drugs, people, etc. Do they simply deserve no friends or family because of their choices, their beliefs?

Being a nice person to someone is NEVER a bad thing. Ever. It doesn't matter if they are literally evil. Being nice, friendly, etc does not do anyone any harm. If it harms you, that's your problem.

If you want any chance at having a relationship with your mother, you need to adopt this belief. You need to get over it and approach your interpersonal communication with these things in mind.

Here are some tips:

  • Avoid politics like the plague. I've literally known people for years and they still have no idea what my religion or political affiliation is.
  • Be accepting. It's not your job to "correct" people. If you only associated people that were perfect, you'd be alone until you died.
  • If they start talking about something you disagree with, change the subject.
  • Keep conversations light. You don't need to have deep conversations with your mom.
  • Forget the past. Yeah, it sucks, your mom hasn't been great. But if you want a relationship, and she refuses to make it right, you need to do it.
  • You don't have to passively agree. If she forces you to agree or disagree with her, simply say "I don't agree with that, or your beliefs", and move on. Say you don't want to talk about it. In fact, you need to make it clear that you don't agree and that it's not a good subject to talk with you about if it happens.
  • Ignore her social media posts. It clearly just makes you angry. You can't be mad because someone you know has some messed up beliefs. You'd die very early of a heart attack or you'd live very long alone.

If you can't accept these things, you are basically asking us "how do I have a relationship with my mom when I don't want to have a relationship with my mom?"

The answer: you can't.

Now, if your mom constantly brings up politics or constantly disrespects you or your wife, you need to come back to this website to solve those problems specifically. You can even ask us how to go about asking your mom to consider other viewpoints and opinions. In fact, if you think it's possible for you to help your mom stop being racist, you should consider it. However, you may not be in a position to do that and it's honestly not worth losing a relative over (some may disagree).

But I'm going to give you something to take away:

Nearly every person you've ever come in contact to believes in something you don't. Most of them believe in something you believe isn't right, or moral. If that is a problem for you, then your only viable life is one in which you are alone. Completely.

Plenty of Christians, Mulsims, and Jews have a belief that Athiests are morally wrong. Yet many of them (nowadays) aren't going to end relationships because of it. That's nonsense.

Now think about the religious people who do end relationships because of their beliefs. Christians who disown their homosexual children. People like that. Do you want to be one of those people? Who end relationships because of your interpretation of what is moral?

You know that your beliefs are moral. But you know what, so does your mom. Be a better person, and use your interpersonal skills to show that you're better. That you know how to communicate effectively. That's how you win, here.

If you truly think your mom doesn't deserve a son because of her politics, no interpersonal skills can help you

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