Cancel culture can break family ties

US marriage and family therapist, Patrick Ward has written about clients who are heartbroken by a new family pattern. Even a simple difference of view in a Facebook post can trigger family estrangement. Our wider cancel culture can break family ties now.

This is how it goes: Some parent shares an opinion or maybe they didn’t hit the “like” button in support of what their adult child posted. The adult child gets offended and cuts their own parents out of their lives. This is really happening, and it’s happening even in “normally” functioning families in which there is no abuse or neglect.

Patrick Ward, Marriage and Family Therapist

Patrick Ward explores a number of factors behind the new cancel culture, when people cut off individuals or groups they find offensive.

Patrick Ward, Marriage and Family Therapist
  • Social media platforms bolster our own beliefs, not challenge them.
  • With good intentions, education has been subjugated by the fear of being offensive or offended.
  • Intolerance and avoidance of anything that makes us feel uncomfortable is a perfect definition of anxiety.
  • People insulate themselves from diversity and affiliate only with supportive and “safe” people.
  • Social media is the place to find like minds and to cut off from others.
  • So the vicious cycle continues.

It’s nothing new for an older generation to hold differing views than their children. It’s nothing new for parents and their children (adult or teen) to argue or debate these different views. What is new is that the differences are viewed as intolerable by the younger generation. . . .

Tribalism has surpassed the importance of family ties for a growing number of young adults.

What to do about it?

Patrick Ward says that:

  • We’ve got to stop being so afraid and intolerant of different views.
  • We should value and prioritize our family bonds over our political views.
  • Even if we don’t respect their stance on some issue, we can respect people and honor their personhood.
  • We can model and teach our kids how to do this.
  • Mix and mingle with people “on the other side” and . . .
  • We might find ourselves caring for the person, even though we don’t agree with them.

Equality cannot be achieved by making everyone the same. We need diversity to be healthy. This is just as true in families as it is in society.

Patrick Ward

If cancel culture can break family ties, then we can also rebuild a culture that values what families are for.

Image: Unsplash by K Mitch Hodge