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They’re excited to welcome baby

But how does this couple get would-be grandparents with very diverse views onboard?

Our elder helps sort through the issues and come up with a plan.

Dear EWC:

I’m currently pregnant with my wife & my first little one and we’re super excited! She has a pretty strained relationship with her parents because they don’t like that she’s gay (they use their religion as an excuse.) But they have been nothing but kind to me and seem genuinely excited to be first-time grandparents.

Here’s where I mention she & her folks are white, my folks & I are Black. Now, however, her parents seem to be taking a hard stance against folks supporting racial justice for Black people, and anyone seeking accountability for law enforcement. They even tried to scold their church pastor when he mentioned supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and removing confederate statues.

When my wife tried to talk to them about their behavior, they didn’t take it well, accusing her of alienating people who love her. They’ve now taken to flying a large “pro-police” flag that is associated with white supremacists & the Klan. It’s honestly scary to me. My wife is in a rage about them and talking about cutting them off. While I’ll definitely not be returning to their house while that flag is up for the safety of my unborn child and myself, I don’t know if cutting them off is the answer. I’m just not sure about completely blocking our kids from any love from grandparents or family, but I also understand we have to keep them safe.

My side of the family has a lot of issues too (extreme homophobia & transphobia, struggles with substance abuse) but rather than cutting them off, I just told my wife we can’t leave our kids alone with them. I feel like this could be the middle ground we take with her folks as well. Am I being unrealistic? Is there some way we can make it work with them?

Ketchman replies:

I’m with you. I don’t think that cutting off your wife’s parents is the answer. Your in-laws may harbor political and religious views very different than yours but that, in itself, shouldn’t warrant cutting off a child from the love that most grandparents want to offer their grandchild. In today’s troubled world we all – especially our children – need all the love we can get.
In my opinion, some of the people who profess to be against the BLM movement are doing so, not out of racism but because of the portrayal, by some media outlets, of its protests as being violent. I think that’s especially true for many older people to whom the cries of “defund the police” are frightening. As to your in-laws, I suspect that any racist tendencies they may, or may not, have would be difficult to maintain in the face of a biracial granddaughter.

Of course, your very first priority must be the safety of your child and I quite agree with you that if the flag your in-laws are flying is truly associated with any white supremacy groups it would make visiting them, to say the least, a little unsettling. Would it be possible for you and your wife to meet with her parents and work out a few ground rules? A good start would be to agree that political discussions are off-limits during visits. If their flag is directly associated with white supremacy groups they need to understand how uncomfortable, and unsafe it makes you feel. As a last resort you might want to take the position that they will always be welcome to come to your home to visit their granddaughter, but until you’re comfortable with conditions at theirs you won’t be able to return the favor.

I think the middle ground you’ve taken with your family is an excellent model for relating to your wife’s. In spite of some of the egregious views they might have, they, very likely, still love their daughter and will love their granddaughter from the moment they first meet her. It would be unfair, and detrimental, to all parties – especially your daughter – to push away any source of love and affection. You’re, most certainly, not being unrealistic.

You sound like a caring and clear-eyed person threading a difficult path between some serious obstacles. I think you’ve found the best way to accomplish that. There’s the old saying that “Love conquers all.” I very much hope it works that way for all of you.
I appreciate the opportunity you’ve given me to offer a few words of advice and opinion. I hope they help. Please understand that whatever I’ve said was based entirely upon what you’ve related. If I’ve misunderstood the situation please let me know and I’ll be happy to start again.

Family
#463235

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