Dear Miriam | How Do You Deal With a Politically Divergent Uncle?

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Dear Miriam,

I have an uncle that I really love, even though our political views are polar opposites. He decided that it would be a good idea to send me a really outlandish newspaper full of conspiracy theories and worse. My husband and I read the headlines as comedy, even though it’s more like tragedy that my uncle (and others) believes these things. Should I tell him to stop sending it or should I just let him keep wasting his money?


Not the News

Dear News,

It is notable that you have been able to maintain a loving relationship with your uncle through what can’t have been an easy several years during which to disagree about politics. Typically, the way people are able to stay in those kinds of family relationships through serious ideological differences is by avoiding the controversial topics, which it sounds like you’re doing. But even if he’s not talking to you about this newspaper outright, by sending it to you, he’s either trying to bait you into an argument or trying to change your mind. Neither prospect is great.

You can continue to receive the paper, view it as irrelevant and throw it away when you’re done. That’s a fine way to continue to maintain your relationship with your uncle without making waves, if that’s your goal. This is, ultimately, what you will likely do (and, some would definitely argue, what you should do), but since it doesn’t sit perfectly well with me, I’ll go ahead and play out a few other scenarios.

You could contact the publication and ask for them not to send it to you. You could throw it away rather than engaging with the content for even a short time while making fun of it. You could use it to line a birdcage or similar. To escalate a bit, you could send each issue back to your uncle with a note asking him not to send it to you anymore.

Or you could also take a more dramatic approach which, while it would cause discomfort in your relationship with your uncle, might cause less discomfort in your relationship to your own values. While your uncle, it’s true, is wasting his money, he’s wasting it by supporting a newspaper you find abhorrent, and he’s doing so in your name.

Consider sending your uncle one short email or physical letter saying, “Uncle, I love you dearly, but you know we’ll never see eye to eye on politics. Each time I receive this newspaper, I immediately throw it in the trash. Please stop sending it to me immediately. If you don’t, please know that for every issue I receive, I will make a $5 contribution to …” and then name a charity you believe in that you know he would find just as awful as you find the views in this paper.

None of these possible solutions solve the actual problem of your fundamental disagreement with your uncle. Even considering options other than passively receiving the paper could put you in a different head space to consider the actual problem, which is that your uncle believes things that you find to be extremely problematic.

As is often the case of late, political beliefs have the tendency to tip from the arena of ideological disagreements into the realm of controversy over societal issues with real-time consequences. While I don’t think you’re any more likely to change his mind than he is to change yours, I do encourage you to consider the impact of continuing to be in the presence of his views.

Be well,



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