March 29, 2020
Today’s Self-Help Sunday is something I am sad that I have to write, but which I know I do have to write: you need to do everything humanly possible to maintain good relationships with your family.
Stephan Molyneux, the YouTube libertarian, has long held the position that all parents are evil and harmed their children and the only solution to that situation is to dissociate from them. He calls this “defooing.”
I’m not sure he still promotes this, but he definitely did for a long time. He had a really bad childhood, apparently, having been raised by a single mother. He basically used this “hate your parents” premise to create an internet cult.
I am now seeing that many right-wing groups on the internet, which are becoming increasingly cultlike, are promoting this idea of disconnecting from your family. They will tell people to tell their families about the Jews, and then tell them that if their families won’t listen to them about the Jews, they aren’t worth their time and they should cut them out.
I am 100%, diametrically opposed to this.
I am the anti-Stefan Molyneux, in that I believe that it doesn’t matter what your parents (or any other family member) has done to you, you should never disconnect from them. Literally, whatever they did.
I’m not coming from a background that is the opposite of Molyneux’s – I don’t have the greatest family ever and so assume everyone else does too. My parents were typical boomers, who were concerned enough about their “personal happiness” that they were able to justify a divorce. But this was the standard behavior of the time, and why millennials have pretty much cut marriage out of the equation.
I don’t blame them for that. I mean, I hold them responsible, but they were caught up in a social ideology that prized personal happiness above all else and they were told that children get over divorce (they never do – children of divorce carry that to the grave).
They didn’t do anything darkly horrible either, of course, and so on some level, I’m not in a position to speak on people who have a situation like Molyneux allegedly had. If you have a situation that is absolutely horrible, I can understand keeping a certain amount of distance from your parents. But you should always maintain a relationship to whatever extent is possible. And you should always make doing this one of the top priorities of your life.
What you should not do is go to your parents or other family members and start ranting about Jews. That only hurts relationships. And there is more or less no chance that people the age of your parents are going to get on board with an anti-Semitic agenda. They don’t benefit from you ranting about it, and you don’t either. There is absolutely no point to it.
If they ask you what you think, you can tell them, of course, just don’t push it in their faces. Don’t even make smart side comments. In general, just be very careful what you say to family members, because this stuff can overwhelm people and when you say things that are obviously true that they don’t want to know, they can end up resenting you for it and not wanting to be around you.
If you live with them, this creates extreme and immediate problems, but whether or not you live with them, this creates life problems. Your parents and your siblings are not relationships that you choose, but they are the single most important relationships you will ever have, because you share DNA with each other. This applies to cousins, aunts and uncles as well, though to a slightly lesser extent.
Your family is all that you know you will always have, because they are literally a part of you. The fact that you didn’t choose the relationships often means that you will need to work harder to maintain them, and have to shape your behavior in a way that you wouldn’t have to do if you had chosen the relationship. But you just need to do it.
In the technological age, we’re further away from our families than we ever have been in history, but we do have the technology to connect with them. If you don’t live with your parents and siblings, you should text them regularly, and call at least once a week for each of them.
Just call and say “I’m just checking to see how you’re doing and wondered if there’s anything I can help you with.” Chat with them inanely about movies or current events (without going into conspiracies or anything political) or whatever else. If your mother is single, you should really call her more than once a week. If your parents are married, you should call them separately as often as possible, instead of just calling and talking to both of them.
Do the same about once a month with any of your aunts and uncles or cousins. And if you have grandparents, visit them as often as you possibly can, because they won’t be around forever, and hopefully they have something to teach you. Bring them food and things, and ask them a lot of questions. Again, ask them if there is anything specific they need help with.
And do whatever you can to help them. Be the kind of family member that they know they can call on when they need something, and almost all family members (again, I know there are some really bad situations, but speaking generally) will reciprocate this, and be there when you need them. The bond is already naturally so strong, that it doesn’t take very much to make it extremely strong, even if they are broken people.
Note: Obviously don't give money to drug addicts or do anything else destructive or outrageous that is asked of you. That probably goes without saying, but I am saying.
You should also of course see them as often as possible. If your family isn’t accustomed to getting together, you should take the initiative to organize gatherings of the whole family as much as you can. At the very least, try to stop by your parents’ houses as regularly as you are able (obviously avoid being pushy or intrusive).
For what it’s worth, the better you are as a person, the stronger and more helpful and caring you are towards your family, the more likely they are to become interested in your political views and life philosophy. That probably doesn’t apply very much to parents, but it will apply to brothers and male cousins in your age range.
But more importantly, this will satisfy emotional needs you have that you might not know you have. Being with your family, and helping them or being helped by them, brings joy to human beings, because we are biologically wired to be close with people who share our genetics.
Of all of the advice I give, this is the most important. It is even more important than my health and fitness advice. So if you have a strained relationship with your parents, I want you to spend a lot of time thinking about what I’ve said here, and figure out how to fix things.
Once again: I know that you can’t fix everything. No relationship can work based on the effort of one person. But the way all but the very most toxic kinds of relationships work is that the more one person gives, the more the other person is naturally inclined to give. This is just the way human beings work.
The key to making things work with your parents is to forgive them for everything they’ve done that hurt you. You have to accept that no one would hurt their own children on purpose, unless they had something seriously wrong with them, and so you can’t hold whatever they did against them.
We grow up thinking that our parents are gods, because to a child, parents literally are gods. They have the absolute ability to determine everything that happens to you. Forgiving them will liberate you, and enable you to view them as what they are: just people.
Part of the whole situation with no one having a wife, and thus thinking constantly about finding women to have sex with, is that we neglect the most obvious and most important relationships. And who knows? You might end up meeting a woman through one of these family relationships. That is certainly the way things used to work.
Being locked in your house is the perfect time to get going on this. Make a list of your family, including extended family, and give them all a call and say “I’m just calling to see how you’re doing” and ask them “is there anything I can help you with?”
Some of them may well be in ultra-hysteria mode and not want to go to the grocery store, which you can do for them. Obviously, don’t be weird or pushy about trying to help them with something. Most of them probably won’t ask you to do anything for them.
But you are doing something just by calling. The mind is put at peace by knowing that there is someone willing to do something for them if they need someone to do something for them. So the “is there anything I can help you with?” is a very important element to this.
It will also make them inclined to do things for you, and that will put your own mind at peace, even if you don’t need them to do anything for you.
Of all the things in life you will never regret doing, having a strong relationship with your family members is the most important. You will thank me for this.
Related: Self-Help Sunday Archives