A lot has changed in the months since Donald Trump was sworn into office, both on a political level and a personal one. Bustle’s State of Our Unions series looks at how millennial women's relationships with their friends, family members, and romantic partners have been affected since the 2016 election. Today's topic: Millennial women reveal how their relationships with their parents have changed since the 2016 election.
It's one thing to disagree on politics with your co-workers, friends, or strangers protesting on the street, but it's a completely different thing when your own parents don't share your political views. People have been debating the issues of gun control, health care, immigration, and so on before the current administration and will continue to debate these issues for many more administrations to come — guaranteed. But because Donald Trump is president, it adds another layer to discussions that go beyond the typical politics. Ever since the 2016 Election, Trump has been dividing the country not just by his politics but by his character, too. “My husband and I are on opposite ends of the spectrum," Dr. Kathryn Smerling, NY-based family therapist, tells Bustle. "He’s more hopeful and optimistic and wants to see what President Trump can do with taxes or with the economy, while I’m usually cursing at the television whenever I see him on the screen. Personally, I feel the President lacks any form of social conscience whatsoever and I think it’s very sad."
If you don't agree with your family on Trump, it can be difficult, to understand how your own parents can support someone who is nothing like them or the woman they raised. "As a psychologist, I’ve seen countless patients come in with doubts about the current administration and problems with family members who fail to see their point of view," Smerling says. "The tension that the election has caused between loved ones is surreal. It really has sparked a divisive feeling that I believe will last for years to come.”
Ever since the election, studies have found that Trump has affected relationships of all kind, all over the country. Some are for the better, but many for the worse. Here are 13 millennial women on how their relationships with their parents have changed since the 2016 election:
"My relationship with my parents started to change drastically before the election took place. The relationship between my parents and I has never really been much of an issue. I did not grow up very politically charged. I was raised by catholic conservative parents in a suburb of Detroit, MI. I understand moral value but have chosen to not practice organized religion in my adult life. It also seems that my parent's strictly conservative outlook was not really passed onto me either. Our relationship pre-2016 election was a more understanding time. I think we thought we saw eye-to-eye, or at least we could understand where the other was coming from. As things unfolded in 2016 and politics started taking a forefront in most people's lives, it was more evident that we had very conflicting view points. I could not see past the disgraceful and hateful rhetoric from Donald Trump throughout the campaign, though it did not seem to bother my parents. Because of that, it was confusing and personally hurtful.
We agree on a few fiscal things and gun control (surprisingly enough), but mostly disagree on social issues and health care. Today, we don't intentionally talk politics anymore. I know my parents mean well and are loving and caring people, but the lack of understanding to even try and comprehend someone else's experience, truth or the mere facts of this administration is lost, which (IMO) is a true disservice to themselves and to everybody else as well."
"The frequency of time I see them hasn’t changed but the conversation has. For me, I’ve always seen my parents as people who are smarter than you and know better. This election season has really shed a light that they aren’t perfect, which of course they’re not, they’re human. But the people that taught me to love and stand up for what I believe is right are standing behind this person that goes against all of that because of a political opinion. It’s been frustrating to see them micro focus on things that might benefit themselves but be such a disaster for other people. I was raised better than that, and by these people. I was also raised in a church and this election has distanced me from that, which results in a distance from my parents. I’ve seen so much hate spewed by a religion that’s supposed to be driven by love that it’s hard for me to get behind it.
I know that my family is privileged because of my skin color and where I grew up. I believe it's my responsibility more than ever to speak up against the marginalized and I can’t do that without being educated. So I continually try to push that and my parents obviously push back. I've been told I’m not allowed to talk politics with them anymore. The last several times, my dad has gotten up and walked out of a restaurant. It’s tough because I think his views and my views are probably a lot more similar than he would like to admit. Out of loyalty, he sides with my mom and likes to stay uninvolved. But when he was in high school he was protesting Vietnam, which makes me sad that he’s not more involved now. But I think he’s in a similar situation with me. His parents had very opposing political views as him growing up and I think he feels some sort of a guilt now that they’ve passed since that was a clash they had. So in order for him to not have that clash with me, he avoids it completely."
"This election has ignited my family’s collective desire to act and be involved in politics. My dad was active in the Berkeley protests when he went to college there, but we’ve been much more on the sidelines until this recent election. We went to the protest march in Los Angeles together — my mom and I wearing matching pussy hats knit by her friend. We talk and share ways to protest and be active, including Wall of Us and resist bot. My dad even sends articles like these to my brother and I all the time."
"The election brought us even closer. My mother and I have always discussed politics. I have memories of me telling her who I'd vote for in second grade. Since I could vote, we have gone over the ballot in detail and discussed our points of views. We did so even more this year and discuss current affairs more frequently. On almost every call we have a current political matter is brought up even for a moment. My father, not typically as heavily involved in the topic of politics, has jumped in more and also believes we need to stay informed, now more than ever. They taught me to think for myself but it works out we all agree on major political issues which brings us closer together."
"The election of President Trump has had a significant impact on my relationship with my mother in particular. Three months following the sudden death of my father in December of 2014, I had to the overwhelming, blood-boiling urge to tell my mom the truth about myself. I didn't get the chance to be honest with my dad, so I knew I had to be as authentic as possible, as soon as possible, regardless of the outcome. Simply put, "Mom, I'm gay."
Fast forward two years later to the 2016 presidential election, things have been interesting. While there is a bit of fear, to say the least as a young, gay millennial in this country, the election of President Trump has done nothing but good things for my relationship with my mother. Even with our differences of opinions at times, this election has allowed myself to be really open and raw with my concerns for my future. While I don't ever want to feel as though my future is hindered due to political scrutiny, the tears that I have shed over the matter have only shed light on the fact that my mother loves me regardless and will always march in my corner."
"I am a liberal LGBT social worker and business consultant in NYC, with traditional conservative Italian-American parents in New Jersey. I always knew my family would vote for Trump, despite the thought of this hurting inside. As someone who has worked at the United Nations, advocated for LGBTQ rights on a global front, and worked to support refugees and migrants in Switzerland, I struggled for a long time when I saw that not all people understood the importance of standing up for humanity. I became personally and deeply hurt by the election of Trump, which validated the ugliest parts of the United States — the xenophobic, misogynistic, homophobic and racist tendencies deeply rooted in a large part of society. It was hard to balance the hurt that I felt from Trump supporters with the love I know that I should have for my family members.
To this day, I continue to find this balance and understanding, while still knowing it is my duty to bring truth to the situation and to generate conversations that may not be easy, but will be worthwhile. At this point, the goal shouldn't be to convince people that voting for Trump was wrong — but instead, we need to further connect and unite humanity, challenging others to have the same type of open dialogue that I strive to have with my opposite-view family members.
It has not brought my family closer together. I can't discuss the pain and disappointment I feel because they won't be able to understand. We disagree more so than ever, but at least we have that dialogue. That's the most important part. But I do wish that the pain and disappointment that I feel could be transported into someone, like a family member, who just can't see it yet. Their perspectives are shaped by their own experiences, and in their eyes the points are valid. But they will understand eventually. We know that Trump's policies won't truly support the average middle working class person in the long run, and they will come to the same conclusions in time. You just don't get it until you're impacted."
"My co-creator and I were both raised in incredibly conservative households. In fact, we are the only ones in our families to escape the alternative fact loving political views of our households. Thanksgiving was a knock down drag out, Christmas was tense and awkward, even Mother's Day was tainted when I explained why I was in no hurry to bring a child into this sh*t show. I am sure they'll start talking to us again sometime. For now, instead of calling home, we call our members of Congress."
"I am a 27-year-old Psychiatric/Mental-Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) with two parents who voted for Trump and it has caused a major dissonance between myself and these people I looked up to and thought so highly of beforehand. Before the most recent election, I’ve always known my parents and I would not necessarily have the same political beliefs. Now for this last election, I had a tendency to avoid those conversations because they don't typically end with anyone being very happy. So going into it, I wasn’t really aware what their decisions were going to be.
But post-election, my sister who’s two years younger than me, informed me that she learned that both of our parents had actually voted for Donald Trump. I was not only unhappy with that information, but I found myself feeling like I didn't really want to know that information. Hearing it instantly created a schism in my heart between the people who I thought my parents were (the people who raised me to be the woman I am) and the people who could vote for someone who during the campaign was not shy about his misogynistic beliefs and pretty much hatred of women. It just broke my heart that they could put myself and my brother and sister, who have their own personal reasons to feel disgusted with Donald Trump, in this position. For one of my siblings, there’s even potential for them to be majorly negatively impacted by the bigotry and intolerance that his presidency can bring about and the policies that can be put in place. So it was really difficult for me to even come to terms with the fact that my parents could do this to me, to my siblings, and to the country. It was just unsettling to learn.
For me, a major point of contention specifically goes back to my father. He always raised me to be assertive, to express my opinions, and to not let anyone tell me that I don't have a right to be anywhere or do anything because of my genitalia. I have vivid recollections of being 15 or 16 — you know that really awkward stage that everyone goes through at some time in their teen years? — and I remember being at a friend's party and going up to my dad after and telling him that two separate people had told me how pretty I was that night. I remember telling him this with so much pride. But my dad just looked at me with a bit of confusion and immediately said, “That doesn't matter. You shouldn't care about that. You should be proud when people say you're kind, when people say you're smart, when people say you're hard-working. When people comment on your appearance, that’s really no compliment at all because you really have no control over that. That's not something to find self-worth in.” So for someone like that to turn around and vote for Donald Trump, is ... it doesn't compute. Those two ideas do not make sense to me no matter how hard I try to understand."
"My husband and I aren't very close to either side of our families (not that we aren't close, but we don't talk much on the phone). Since the election that has changed. We find great comfort in talking with his parents, and we often call the to discuss what's in the news, which we never did before. The morning after the election we called them around 6 a.m. and just talked for an hour. It has really bonded us, which we didn't expect."
"I haven’t spoken to my father since January. He is a Republican, though I don’t know how he voted. We have our issues, so it’s not just Trump. But Trump just reminds me so much of him. Reading, hearing and watching Trump make statements — especially his facial expressions and reactions to challenges or counter-arguments — seem to be the same way my father has been talking to me for years. He too is the king of spin and avoidance of actual confrontation. So, it’s been more than six months. While I know we should reconcile (again, not just because of the election, but other issues!), I can’t bring myself to talk to him because I fear his irrationality and sense danger."
"My relationship with my parents has grown even closer because of Trump and politics. I am finally at the age where politics are important in my life and I can truly form my own opinions on political matters. From day one, our entire family were huge Trump supporters and still are! Now that I have started my own business, the things Trump is changing in the U.S. really impacts me and my business. My parents and I are able to talk about these things and have intellectual conversations with one another, which has grown us even closer than before."
"My dad is a far-right wing Republican, and growing up I was taught that being a Democrat was a terrible, terrible thing. His conditioning worked to an extent, and I've voted Republican in the past because I was taught that was the right thing to do and didn't question it. More recently, however, his fanaticism has led me to be very apolitical and I've chosen not to engage in dialogue with him, or anyone else, for that matter. It's just too exhausting. The most recent election was the first time I really felt passionate about a candidate — and a Democrat at that — in large part because the alternative was just too horrifying. I made a conscious decision not to ask my father who he voted for because I can't bear the thought of him contributing to what's happening under Trump's presidency. Every time politics come up I intentionally change the subject (and make no apologies about doing so) because I'd rather stay in the dark than lose respect for my dad."
"I am a 22-year-old originally from Wisconsin and I am generally quite liberal-minded. However, I grew up hearing two sides of every story because my mother is a democrat and my father is a republican. As you can imagine, this was a point of tension, especially around election seasons. That dynamic influenced me to find the truth in everything, which is why I went to school for journalism and now have a career in the media field. This election season was particularly hard, especially listening to my parents fight about things that they didn't know enough about to form arguments.
The 2016 election changed the way I speak to my father specifically. I know now that when I discuss politics or life happenings with him, he will ask for my sources because Trump has made him so distrustful of the media. Of course, as a media professional, I am trained to know all my sources. The election season also spurred discussions I wouldn't have otherwise had with my parents, including discussions about sexual assault and women's rights. I think beginning that discourse with them has almost made us more understanding of each other and has made my father, especially, more tolerant."
As you can see, the election has changed the relationship between millennial women and their parents in so many different ways. With any disagreement in a relationship it's all about trying to be understanding — no matter how incredibly hard it may be. At a time when compassion and empathy is seriously lacking in the country, it's important to not let things like politics or Trump hurt the positive relationships you already have in your life. Regardless of whether your relationship with your parents was affected by the election or not, keep being kind and at the very least, try to be as understanding as you can. It can be incredibly difficult, but it'll be worth it.