HELP! My Family Member Is A Racist, Trump-maniac!

5 Min Read

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HELP! My family member is a racist, Trump-maniac!

Dear Armchair Psychologist
My cousin Lisa is married to a sometimes generous and helpful guy named Kevin. They have small children that I adore and often babysit. Kevin wears the pants in the relationship and my cousin Lisa is a very sweet, non-confrontational type. Recently, I've learned that Kevin is a staunch Trump supporter and wants to buy a gun. He posts obnoxious, angry, and racist rhetoric on social media such as "keep out Syrian refugees" etc. My family (and thus Lisa's), come from a long line of hard-working immigrants who have thrived in America and his posts are therefore beyond offensive to me. My cousin is sad and scared, but she is not speaking up for herself. I also am worried about their children living with a gun in the house and Lisa is equally worried. I am sure the recent events in the world have left everyone discovering something ugly about their "friends" and family. I really don't know how to logically approach the situation without making our relationship worse.
- Anti-Trump

Dear Anti-Trump,

I am sorry to hear about this troubling situation. Also, Dear Readers, let this be a warning that before you marry someone one — no matter how rich or funny or attractive they may be — if you don't share the same values and ideals, your marriage is going to suck.

So now on to the question, let's first establish what you're worried about. I suspect it's not necessarily his political views, we are all entitled to our own opinions, but rather the anger and aggression behind them? Are you (or your cousin) worried about the politics, bigotry, and impact on the children or her social standing, or is the worry for her safety and her freedom? If it is the first, that's understandable. Having your children under the influence of a typical "angry white man" can be devastating to the family. I would recommend a two prong approach:

1) Engage the children in a safe setting away from the husband and have an open discussion about people and bias and let the children know they have role models who strongly disagree with this view while letting the children know that good people who they love can have horrible opinions. 2) You have to begin to create a firm dialogue with the husband, in conjunction with your cousin, about how personally you take these negative racial and bigoted statements. This problem is discussed in quite a bit of literature online about how to deal with a parent when one parent is a racist. Trump just happens to be a new, special phenomenon but the effect is the same.

Now, if you are worried about the safety of the family, that's an entirely different recommended approach then the above, which can take many months or years to affect change. Safety is priority #1! Make sure any firearms are equipped with the extra firearm locks and that all ammo is safely hidden away (yes, convincing the angry white male that having a gun lock and remote ammo might delay his response when the inevitable mob of foreign Muslims led by Obama sneak in to take his gun at night will be hard but it's doable). Furthermore, make the issue about safety and immediately tell your cousin to seek counseling with someone who can Q&A her (a therapist) and monitor the danger signs of abuse or swings in temperament. Lastly, of course, save the day by deleting the husband from your social media feed, because hate never trumps love.

- The Armchair Psychologist

HELP! Am I running from my life?

Dear Armchair Psychologist,
Lately, I've heard the same question over and over again. Now it's almost ringing in my head: "What are you running from… What are you running from? What are you…?" I'm hooked on working out, I run marathons, I go skiing for hours, and tomorrow I'm heading to bicycle around a lake (300K). I don't do it to look good (lost hope of that long time ago), and I'm not an elite athlete, so there is no chance I would win anything. And it's far beyond the feel-good because I'm healthy as can be.Frankly, I have no idea why I do it and it's getting out of control. I used to sign up for races to have a goal so that I would get my butt out of the sofa and my hand out of the candy bowl and go out to run. I signed up for a few races every year and those races were my goals. But now I'm so fully-booked that it's getting in the way of my family life and I don't have any friends left because I don't have time to be with them. I have to cancel dinner plans and I would rather join a 10K race than my brother's engagement party. Am I addicted or just really healthy?
- Running Woman

Dear Running Woman,

I am sorry you're conflicted about your running activities and I can imagine that it must be difficult for you to learn that you may be alienating your friends and family. It sounds like you sense it's out of control and you're struggling with that notion. I think the question that you really want to explore is: Are you running TO something or AWAY from something?

For example, do you dread going to your brother's engagement party or do you simply think a 10K is much more fun? If you find that you dread going to the engagement party and these things generally cause you social anxiety, you could be running away from something. Understandably, life is complex and, at times, overwhelming but taking a break to examine one's life is a positive direction. If you find that you simply have much more fun running a 10K that you forget all else, including your friends and family, it's simply a matter of re-prioritizing what's important to you and developing better time-management skills. I recommend picking up a new exercise of exploring with a qualified therapist what it is you may be running away from if that is indeed the case.

- The Armchair Psychologist

Need more armchair psychologist in your life? Check out the last installment or email armchairpsychologist@swaaymedia.com to get some advice of your own!

How to Learn Much More From the Books You Read

It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.

Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.

Read with a Purpose

Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.

Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.


When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.


Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.

Speed Read

You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.

Quality Reading

Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.

Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.


If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.

Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.