My father has gotten worse over the years and I guess I’m glad for the pandemic because we keep further distance from him. I’ve only visited three times (of the usual 6) in 2020. He’s always been a provocative person and I’m unsure if he does it just for conversation or it’s become what he is. But in the past when I’ve challenged him, or simply asked for clarification, it’s become a huge argument — so we agree to “be nice to each other,” which simply means if he does something wrong in my eyes I have to just be quiet about it.
With the pandemic, he’s glommed onto anything right-wing and Fox-presented. COVID isn’t THAT bad. No one wants to use the natural remedies that work because they won’t get money which is all ‘they’ care about. And he’s convinced his wife and brother in law to never get the vaccine and I dare not ask him why. I can only imagine.
I don’t believe people have become anything during the pandemic. Their beliefs were already there, and the pandemic has only amplified them. But when my father advises my 12-year-old to think for herself until she gets married, and then the husband will present the correct way to think, I have to step in and coach her — to continue to question and think for herself her entire life, and to turn away from anyone who would attempt to force her to change her beliefs without her permission. And thus I continue to limit my exposure to the toxic reality that is my father.
If you ask why I don’t cut ties with my parents: my mom is caught up in the churn around my father, and she’s the bright light when we visit. It’s important not to shield my daughter from her grandparents. I also tell my daughter that although he cares for you, his ideas are not ours, and she can see the people she’s going to be amongst when she is out in the world.
The drive home when we visit is always an interesting one. My husband, who is well-read, pokes a bunch of holes in what my daughter has heard, and we always welcome all her questions.